Technically, OnePlus hasn’t gone anywhere. Especially in Europe and India, it has been very relevant for the past few years, churning out midrange devices that perform better than their price points suggest. But in the US, the company feels it hasn’t had the same profile in recent years.
That changes with the OnePlus 10T, a $649 phone focused on delivering high performance. It’s a well-defined niche, and the phone lives up to its promises. It’s not everything to everyone, and that’s a good thing.
If there’s one standout to note on the 10T’s spec sheet, it’s the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor. It’s the most capable chipset — the best you’ll find in an Android phone in 2022. And the 10T has it for less than $700. That tells you a lot about what the whole deal of this phone is. There’s also super-fast wired charging on board — 125W in the US, and it stops there because our power outlets aren’t designed to handle higher voltages.
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Equally telling is what’s missing from the 10T: no wireless charging in the camera system like the flagship 10 Pro offers, and no Hasselblad branding. There’s a large, fast-refresh rate OLED screen that anyone can appreciate, but for extra niceties like wireless charging, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The 10T is a phone for people who care about getting the best performance without spending $1,000. If that’s you, you’ll be very happy to hear that OnePlus is indeed back.
In addition to that top-shelf Qualcomm processor, the base model OnePlus 10T features 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage — no microSD card slot for expansion. There’s also a 16GB RAM / 256GB storage version for $749, both of which are sold in North America. Those are very competitive specs, especially at a price where 6GB of RAM is a more common starting point. I tested the 16GB version and it performs as intensively as a $1,000 phone.
I can seamlessly tap and scroll through virtual 3D home tours on Zillow’s mobile site (who among us doesn’t window shop for a new home for fun?). I played Diablo Immortal For 30 minutes I had to submit to a seven-sided strike, encountering no major problems, except for an angry fire-breathing monster. The framerate sometimes jitters a bit when I move into a new area, but it’s subtle – not a distracting sudden drop that breaks your flow.
In addition Genshin Impact, The game is very smooth and dropped frames are rare. This is one of two games that OnePlus says the 10T has optimized with framerate stabilization technology (the other PUBG Mobile)And it seems to work well.
10T’s fast wired charging does everything it promises. The phone ships with a charging brick and a USB-C to USB-C cable, and the AC adapter is heavy enough that you’ll know it means business when you pick it up. Charging speed isn’t impressive: blink and you’ll lose 30 percent of the charge in five minutes.
Within 10 minutes, I saw a 60 percent charge and a full charge within 20 minutes. That kind of speed can change how you think about your phone’s battery life: If you don’t mind carrying a charger, you can easily add several hours of use in just a few minutes at a power outlet. You don’t have to be precious about how much time you spend gaming or streaming video, even if you spend most of your day away from a power source.
Apart from that the battery life is good. The 4,800mAh cell consistently has about 60 percent charge left in the tank through a day of moderate usage. I tested it mostly on cellular data with high performance mode enabled – and why wouldn’t you use a phone like this? — Using the fastest screen refresh rate mode (by default). It was a day medium usage; If you plan to do a fair amount of gaming, which is the primary use case for this device, you’ll need a quick, late-afternoon recharge to avoid single-digit battery hell.
The 10T has an IP54 water resistance rating no matter where you buy it in the world. This is a point of confusion with previous OnePlus devices that sometimes have an IP rating indicated because the same phone on T-Mobile has one, but the unlocked version doesn’t. It’s IP54, which protects against dust ingress and water spray – not full immersion. That’s smaller than the IP68 waterproof ratings on most flagship devices, but it’s a little insurance against accidental splashes and better than nothing.
One thing is you won’t happen Find it on the 10T: OnePlus’ signature alert slider. The company’s explanation is that to give enough space for the phone’s chipset and heat dissipation system, it had to cut the slider. It’s going to great lengths to emphasize that just because This is Just because a phone doesn’t have an alert slider doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. Still, it’s a fan favorite, and ditching it will undoubtedly be an unpopular move among the OnePlus faithful. For what it’s worth, I got by without it as I used the phone.
With a high-powered chipset and fast charging, OnePlus has taken care to include a serious heat-dissipation system in the 10T. OnePlus claims it has the largest vapor chamber of any device to date. There is 3D graphite and copper foil, and I don’t Enough Understand what that means, but I can say this: it works quite well. The phone heats up, sure – 15 minutes to download 15GB Genshin Impact (with an animated loading screen), and it’s warm to the touch but not alarmingly warm.
Same goes after a good 20 minutes Diablo Immortal: The phone is noticeably warm, but it is comfortable to use. The only time I noticed the phone getting too warm was when I left it on a soft surface like a couch cushion while doing some intensive work like downloading huge game files. That’s more on me, though; A cooling system cannot do its job when it is smoother.
OnePlus 10T offers a wide 6.7-inch OLED with 1080p resolution and a high refresh rate of 120Hz. The panel is flat though the edges of the device are curved. It’s not an LTPO display, which means it can’t drop to very low refresh rates, but the screen automatically adapts between 60, 90 and 120Hz to minimize the drain on the battery. It’s not the brightest screen I’ve ever seen, but the maximum brightness of 950 nits is good enough to make it visible in direct sunlight.
There’s a nice in-display fingerprint reader on the screen for biometric unlocking – after using the Pixel 6A’s less responsive reader for a few weeks, it feels lightning fast. In a device built on speed, the whole premise feels right at home.
Companies like Google and Samsung have increased the number of years they commit to supporting devices with software updates, and OnePlus has followed suit. It’s not offering long-term support — some Pixel and Galaxy devices get up to five years of security updates — but it promises three OS version updates and four years of security updates for the 10T. That’s not the best, but it’s good, and the 10T should be able to keep up well four years from now when it gets its last security patches.
The camera system on the 10T feels like a bit of an afterthought, and that’s actually great. It has all the hardware I’d expect from a premium midrange phone: a 50-megapixel main camera with stabilization, an ample 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 16-megapixel selfie camera. There is a 2-megapixel macro camera on the back panel, which is useless, given its low resolution and fixed focus. If you’re wondering if your photo is going to be in focus, you’ll have a great time with it. Otherwise, OnePlus could have done us all a favor and added close-focusing ultrawide instead, but it didn’t.
Hasselblad branding is conspicuously missing, and at a group press conference, OnePlus spokesperson Spencer Blank explained that the company wanted to position it differently from the higher-priced 10 Pro. Fair enough – using that Hasselblad logo probably wouldn’t come cheap, and Hasselblad integration hasn’t improved OnePlus’ cameras by leaps and bounds anyway. Not much loss there.
That being said, the cameras on the 10T are just average: photos in good light look great and acceptable in low light. It sometimes takes a few shots at the camera to get the right answer, but it gets there eventually. For one, the exposure can move quite a bit — I took three photos of my husband and son that looked a little overexposed, and finally, a fourth with just the right exposure and skin tones. This keeps the shutter speed high enough to get the right number of sharp shots with moving subjects in medium light. In low light, there’s a capable night mode that brings out some great color and detail in static subjects. Exposure is a bit shaky in video recording, but otherwise, clips look great up to 4K/60p max.
The OnePlus 10T isn’t a phone that tries to be everything to everyone, and I think that’s great. It’s smartly priced, and in the US, there’s nothing else available at the same price. It’s slightly pricier than the $599 Pixel 6, with the same 8GB RAM and 128GB storage configuration, but the screen is bigger (if you want that) with a 120Hz refresh rate. If super-fast charging is your thing, that’s a combination of features you definitely won’t get from the Pixel 6.
The 10T isn’t a class leader at all, and despite what OnePlus’ marketing might say, I don’t think it’ll ever really turn out to be one. At this price range — which is a tick below the $849 Samsung Galaxy S22 — the Pixel 6 is still a good bet for most people. It offers a better comprehensive feature set, including a better camera, more robust IP68 waterproofing and more frequent software updates for longer lifespan. OnePlus has made a great phone for the money in the 10T, even if it’s not a good one for most people. In the US market, there is room at that table.
Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge