This is the OnePlus 10T, and if you’re confused by the purpose of this phone, you’re not alone. See, this is not the successor of the OnePlus 10 Pro that I praised earlier this year. Instead it’s meant to be a follow-up to the OnePlus 10 we never really got to see. It’s technically better in certain ways than the 10 Pro, as is every T launch in the fall, but in general, the Pro is still the Pro.
As such, this is the phone OnePlus makes for its core audience. The flagship killer that’s meant to give you more for your money by skimping on a couple of things to keep the price down. In the past, this would be the no-brainer phone to recommend given the amount of value OnePlus would provide, but let’s just say that this year, it’s not so simple. Not for the amount of money the company is asking for.
OnePlus became famous for two things. The first was spending its early days defying the establishment. It was hard to resist their virality for pricing phones in ways that completely disrupted the market. We can thank them today for forcing even the most powerful players to have their own flagship killers, but then that is what leads to the second reason. See, OnePlus is also known for repeatedly admitting its lost its way, and a lot of it with being the hero that lived long enough to become the villain. It’s been complicated to recommend their phones for the last three years as prices grew and their implementation didn’t. It really wasn’t until the 10 Pro that I felt there was a light at the end of the tunnel as that phone was great and very well priced, but then the 10T is not necessarily that.
It may share a lot of the design language of the 10 Pro, but looks can be deceiving. This is a plastic frame instead of aluminum, Gorilla Glass 5 instead of anything more modern. You’ll love the textured finish of this Moonstone Black, but I’m not exactly sure going glass unibody even on the cameras will age well. In its defense I do like the light feel given its large footprint, but I wouldn’t call the experience premium, nor will I celebrate the death of the Mute slider.
All these sacrifices were made for the sake of giving you better internals, and boy does this phone pack a punch. We have the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 powering the show with up to 16 gigs of RAM, up to 256 gigs of the fastest storage, and then the latest Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and flavors of 5G are all in the package. The battery might not be the largest, but its dual design paired with the 160 Watt charger that comes in the box will charge this phone from 0 to 100 in just 20 minutes. Yeah, I know that in the US it’s more like 120 watts given voltage limitations, but still, crazy numbers. If you’re already wondering what’s the catch, well wireless charging took a hit, and as usual the IP rating depends on your carrier, even if you and I know splash resistance is a given.
Another thing to like about this phone is not just the screen, but the fact that it’s flat. It might not have all the resolution of the 10 Pro, but it’s got fantastic color reproduction, the viewing angles are top notch, and the adaptive 120Hz refresh rate is pretty smooth. If anything, I know some will nitpick the speakers not being balanced, but I find content consumption to be pretty top notch.
Actually, the overall the experience using this phone has been pretty awesome. This is OxygenOS on top of Android 12, and in typical OnePlus fashion, it’s pretty fluid and well thought out. It’s no longer more stock than what Google provides in the Pixel, and if anything more inclined to ColorOS than before, though with the added value we’ve known OnePlus for. Lots of speed in every single interaction, lots of flexibly in whatever UI element does, and the advantage that you can easily disable whatever you don’t like. I know some of you complain about the shelf, so just switch it off. I actually like having that extra pane of widgets, but again, it’s whatever you want this phone to be. The added advantage is that this phone barely sips on power. This is a two-day phone, regardless of how much you tax it, and its reliability in remaining connected to data, and during phone calls on the AT&T network, is all flagship territory.
You’d think that things would drift completely sideways when it comes to the camera, but that’s not necessarily the case. Yes the Hasselblad branding is gone along with the color science, and yes, the spec sheet might not be amazing if you were to consider that one of the three camera sensors is useless. To be fair though, more expensive iPhones ship with only two cameras, and what you should care about is the results.
In that regard, photos during the day are actually better than expected. Colors are not over-done, detail is pretty sharp, and as opposed to previous T OnePlus phones, color is consistent, where before you never knew what you were going to get. Actually, don’t trust the view finder. Clearly there is a lot of computational photography going on because the end results show far better dynamic range than when you’re taking the shot, which could also be that the screen is just not bright enough in certain scenarios. The Ultra-wide is good, and the 2X digital crop is fine, but just don’t push it too hard.
Sadly at night you’re pretty much left with only one camera. The ultra-wide is completely useless by getting the detail completely wrong and ruining the rest with lens flares, and I think the same can be said about the digital crop. Here it’s the primary or bust, which is not necessarily bad for phones at this price range. The results from this primary even in tough conditions are pretty good, but then that’s just about it.
I do love the portraits from this phone, handling skin tones and dynamic range far better than before, and I feel the same about selfies and the portraits from the front shooter as well.
What I can’t forgive yet again is video, because this phone is just a mess. For starters 4K from the primary doesn’t support the ultra-wide, the zoom controls are horribly inconsistent, and then those overdone colors you’ll notice are because this camera records in the REC 2020 color space that very few people buying anything in this price range will be willing to appreciate.
Flip on over to the selfie camera and notice the REC 2020 is gone, so there goes the consistency, and make sure you enable stabilization for the camera because that doesn’t come by default. Oh, and yes, seven years after OnePlus started doing 1080p selfie video, we still can’t get 4K from the front camera. Overall, the photos are good enough, but not as good as the 10 Pro, though video is still something neither phone gets right.
To Conclude I think you understand why it’s complicated to review this phone. If seen in a vacuum the OnePlus 10T is a pretty good phone. It packs a lot of power, some interesting innovations, the experience using it is pretty awesome, and even the camera is what I would call decent. It almost reminds me of one of the gaming phones you’ll see around the market lately given how much it prioritizes specs over design, build or the camera.
The problem is that the store shelf is not alone, and especially not in the United States. You can save $50 and get a better build and cameras with the Pixel 6, or save nearly $200 you sacrifice a bit more for the Pixel 6a. And sure, you can dig in the rabbit hole and find an even less expensive Galaxy S21 FE and others. It would really depend on how much you value the 120Hz, the crazy fast charging that even includes an expensive charger in the box, and if getting better cameras is really not important to you. Heck with the recent price drop of the OnePlus 10 Pro, I’d even say you should look in that direction as well.
Bottom line, I don’t think the $649 price is bad, but at a time when everyone in the younger demographic wants to become a content creator, this is not even close to the first phone I’d recommend or buy for any of my teenagers. It’s a good phone overall, but not the impulsive buy in today’s market like OnePlus phones used to be many years ago.
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OnePlus 10T is the latest affordable flagship from the BBK-owned brand. It comes with Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 4800 mAh battery with 150W fast charging, up to 16GB of memory, and much more. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.