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OnePlus 10T Review: The Inexpensive Performance Powerhouse

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OnePlus cut the right corners to make an ultra-competitive smartphone.

OnePlus 10T
$649
Rating
star star star star star_empty
Pros
  • Incredibly fast charging
  • Charger still included in the box
  • Brilliant, flat 120Hz display
  • Extremely competitive price point
  • Textured back makes it easier to hold onto
Cons
  • No Alert Slider
  • Big Camera downgrade compared to 10 Pro
  • No Hasselblad influence
  • It's not a LTPO display

OnePlus provided us with a 10T to review. We’ve been using the OnePlus 10T for well over a week before forming this review. This is the Moonstone Black OnePlus 10T with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage on-board.

The “T” phones from OnePlus have always been a bit odd. They always seem to come out just a few months after their recent flagship smartphone. Kind of cannibalizing those sales, but OnePlus also needs something new on the shelves for back to school and the holiday shopping season. So that’s where the “T” model comes in.

This year, however, the OnePlus 10T takes a slightly different approach. It’s a cheaper, and less premium flagship phone from OnePlus. It removes quite a few things, to bring the price down to $649. That’s a full $250 less than the OnePlus 10 Pro was at launch (with the 10T announcement, the 10 Pro is now $799 permanently).

But the real question is, did OnePlus cut out to much from the 10T to hit this price point? Is it still worth buying? Let’s find out in our full review.

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Familiar, yet refined design

The design of the OnePlus 10T does look pretty similar to the 10 Pro that was released back in April, but it’s been refined a bit. The camera bump isn’t quite as thick. Of course, that is also due to the different cameras being included here. The flash has been moved to the top of the camera module, and of course the Hasselblad branding is gone.

It still has a textured back, but it’s not a sandstone texture this time. It kind of feels like a mix of vinyl and sandstone. It’s pretty tough to really describe, but it feels really good in the hand. And throughout this review, I haven’t been afraid to use this phone without a case.

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The other big design change you’ll see here is the Alert Slider… it’s gone. OnePlus says that it removed the Alert Slider so that it could use that space to add a larger battery and the new 360-degree antenna system. It’s probably moreso for the latter. As the battery is actually smaller than the OnePlus 10 Pro’s battery was. Yet it’s the same size phone.

It’s sad that the Alert Slider is gone, at least on the 10T. OnePlus has said that it is not gone for good. My theory is that this is how they will differentiate the regular flagship from the T model. Keeping the Alert Slider on the most premium flagship that they sell. The Alert Slider was really nice to have, easy to quickly turn off any interruptions when you head into a meeting, without even needing to turn on the display.

Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 shows how powerful phones are these days

Interestingly, the OnePlus 10T has an upgraded processor over the 10 Pro, but it’s a very small upgrade. It’s the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which we’ve seen in a few phones already this year – like the ASUS ROG Phone 6 and Zenfone 9. It’s mostly just an overclocked version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. So, expect about the same type of performance.

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And that’s been the case while using the 10T. It performs about the same as the 10 Pro did earlier this year. It’s plenty fast, even when playing games. It also doesn’t really get too hot. Only after I’ve been charging it. Which is expected, when it’s charging at around 125W. But it’s not too hot to handle either. So pretty impressive there.

With this 16GB of RAM model, OnePlus says you can keep around 35 intensive apps open in the background, compared to about 6 on the 8GB model. I’m not sure how accurate that is. As I’ve had Twitter open, then switched over to the Google app to check out some news, and went back to Twitter to see the app have to redraw. Neither app is particularly power intensive, in my opinion. So it looks like OnePlus might be a bit aggressive on closing background apps to conserve battery.

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Good battery life, with impressive charging speeds

Perhaps the biggest upgrade that the OnePlus 10T has over the 10 Pro is the charging speed. The OnePlus 10 Pro was charging at 80W (65W in the US), which was pretty cool. But the OnePlus 10T said “hold my beer”. The 10T charges at 150W (125W in the US). Which is not quite double, but pretty close.

What does this added speed mean for charging times? Well, OnePlus says that you can go from 1% to 100% in just 20 minutes. We tested it, and the exact time depends on a bunch of factors. Like how hot the battery is, if you’ve plugged the charger into an extension cord of the directly into the wall, etc. But we’ve gotten between 20 and 35 minutes to go from nearly dead to 100%. Which is still quite impressive.

Of course, you might be wondering, what does that mean for the health of the battery over the life cycle of the phone. And that is an accurate question, since fast charging does typically affect the battery, and degrade its health faster. But OnePlus has added a few features here to keep that from happening. Like the Battery Health Engine, which uses the Smart Battery Health Algorithm and Battery Healing technology to keep the battery fully charged and doesn’t degrade its health.

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Now let’s talk battery life. It’s good, like really good. I was able to get 10 hours of on screen time on the OnePlus 10T, multiple times. That right there is the bar that puts it impressive for me. In the many reviews I’ve done, I can count on one hand the number of phones that have hit double-digit number of hours on screen. And the OnePlus 10T is one of them.

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I was actually shocked at how good it was, seeing as it is a smaller battery than the OnePlus 10 Pro, which didn’t have great battery life. But don’t forget that the 10T does have a FHD+ display instead of QHD+.

The stunning, flat display

Perhaps the biggest reason to get the OnePlus 10T is going to be the display. It’s a flat display now, instead of curved. While a curved display does look cooler, it’s less practical. The sides do end up getting lots of scratches, which can look pretty ugly after six months or even a year. It also causes a lot of accidental touches. But with a flat display, that’s not an issue.

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This display is still 6.7-inches like the 10 Pro, but the big difference is that this is a FHD+ panel and it’s not LTPO. It’s still an adaptive refresh rate, but it only moves between 60Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz. So you don’t get the same battery benefits as the LTPO display, which can go all the way down to 1Hz.

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The actual display looks amazing, even with a FHD+ panel. Let’s be honest, FHD+ panels are so good these days, that it’s hard to tell the difference between it and QHD+. So the downgrade here is not an issue to me. And that’s a corner that I’m okay with OnePlus cutting to make this price.

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Oxygen OS 12.1

While OnePlus was hyping up Oxygen OS 13, it’s not yet available on the OnePlus 10T. And that shouldn’t be a surprise, since it’ll be based on Android 13 – which is not yet out, only in beta still. Don’t worry, the 10T will get Oxygen OS 13, but the 10 Pro will get it first.

While we’re talking about updates, the OnePlus 10T is guaranteed to get three years of Android updates and four years of security updates. So it should get updated at least until Android 15. Since Android 13 is about to come out in another month, we could see it actually get Android 16. But Android 15 is guaranteed.

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As for the actual software, it’s mostly the same as the Oxygen OS 12 build that’s on the OnePlus 10 Pro. The big changes are AI-based changes. Like the HyperBoost Gaming Engine. Which helps to power three features on the 10T to make gaming smoother and more responsive. That includes the General Performance Adapter (GPA) Frame Stabilizer, GPU Load Control and LSTouch.

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Otherwise, it’s mostly full of refinements, that make Oxygen OS run even smoother on the OnePlus 10T.

The lacking camera

Unfortunately, the camera system as a whole got a big downgrade, compared to the OnePlus 10 Pro. There’s no Hasselblad influence at all here. OnePlus swapped out the telephoto lens for a 2-megapixel macro sensor. And it also swapped out the 50-megapixel ultrawide for a 8-megapixel. It does have the same 50-megapixel main sensor, so that’s good. But outside of the main sensor, it’s really a huge downgrade.

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Let’s start with the bad – the macro sensor. OnePlus had had a macro mode for a few generations now. However, they’ve been using macro on the ultrawide lens. Which, when it’s a 50-megapixel lens, cropping in for a macro shot still gives you a really great picture. But when you’re using a 2-megapixel macro lens, it’s not. I was able to get some good macro shots, but only with a ton of light. I had to turn on my studio lights to get a good macro shot in my office. Outside, it’s rather hit or miss, depending on what you’re taking photos of.

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The ultrawide sensor is pretty decent. I don’t know about you, but I mostly use ultrawide outside, where there’s plenty of sunlight. So the downgrade in megapixels isn’t as big of a deal here.

Now the main camera. This is the Sony IMX766 sensor, which is 50-megapixels and a f/1.8 aperture. So on paper, it sounds pretty good right? Well, in practice, it’s good. But not great. I’d still prefer the colors of the Pixel camera, and Pixel is still faster with the shutter than OnePlus is. Usually, OnePlus will send out a bunch of updates right after launch for the camera, so this will probably improve in the coming weeks.

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When compared to the OnePlus 10 Pro, the 10T is really lacking in the camera department. But OnePlus said that the 10T is more about performance. So it’s cutting corners in things like the camera, to give you better performance at a better price. The 10 Pro is the phone that has the best of everything, and that’s how OnePlus wants to position these two.

Should I buy the OnePlus 10T?

While parts of this review likely sounded very negative, I actually really like the 10T. I think it’s a very competitive smartphone, at this $649 price. Even at $749 for the 16GB/256GB model, it’s still ultra competitive. Now we don’t know the price for the Pixel 7 series, or the new Galaxy Z Fold 4 which is set to launch next week, I’d put money on the fact that they won’t be cheaper than the OnePlus 10T.

If you’re one that wants performance more than the best camera you can get, then the OnePlus 10T is a great buy. The only downside for OnePlus here is that it is coming out right around the time of the iPhone 14. Since the US pre-orders for the 10T are set for September 1, and launching on September 29. And that might sway some away from the OnePlus 10T and wait for something else.