OnePlus isn't just a phone brand, it's a personality brand. The company carved out a niche for itself among Android enthusiasts and power users with its “never settle” motto and flexible yet slick software. Even as its growing popularity pushed it into the mainstream and prices kept rising, it remained different enough to keep its fans happy. However, all of that is now changing. OnePlus has been absorbed into sister company Oppo, their software efforts have been merged, and that differentiation is eroding.
The brand new OnePlus 10T 5G is a bit intriguing since the ‘T' designation is usually used for mid-year refreshes, but there was no OnePlus 10. It's newer than the OnePlus 10 Pro (Review) and has a few features that could be considered more modern, but it being launched as a successor. In terms of price and positioning, the 10T 5G starts at Rs. 49,999 for the base variant with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There's an option with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for Rs. 54,999, and if you want to go up to 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, it will cost just a little more at Rs. 55,999.
So what exactly do you get? Is this just any old phone or has OnePlus found a new way to stand out? Here are our first impressions of the OnePlus 10T 5G.
Instead of the usual tall OnePlus box, we have a pretty standard design now. It contains a protective case, a Red Cable Club membership card, some stickers, and a letter from OnePlus in addition to the phone it self, a huge 160W charger, and a red USB Type-C cable.
You can see that there's some resemblance to the OnePlus 10 Pro 5G in the way that the cameras are arranged, but rather than a separate band, the rear panel of the 10T 5G just bulges a little. You'll also notice how extremely reflective the rear panel of this phone is. The volume buttons are on the left, the power button is on the right, and there's no alert slider. There are small speaker and mic holes on the top, and the bottom is where you'll find the dual-SIM tray, USB Type-C port and primary speaker.
The OnePlus 10T 5G in its two finishes - Moonstone Black (top) and Jade Green (bottom)
I didn't get a very premium feel from the 10T 5G even though the rear is made of glass. It's quite bulky and heavy, at 8.75mm thick and 203.5g. This phone is available in a slightly textured Moonstone Black finish, but what we have here is the glossy Jade Green.
All variants of the 10T 5G support 150W charging, and if you're worried about safety, OnePlus has a laundry list of measures it has taken which we'll talk about in the full review. You can use the included brick to charge other devices including some laptops, since it is compatible with USB-PD up to 45W.
During the setup process, you'll see options for privacy and personalisation. You can choose a system font, set up security, and even practise navigation gestures. We see a few preloaded apps including Netflix, OnePlus Community, and a game manager. This unit came running OxygenOS 12.1 based on Android 12 with the July security patch. If you dig through the settings you'll find quite a few personalisation options. Considering that OnePlus has also just announced OxygenOS 13, it's unfortunate that the 10T 5G doesn't ship with it.
OnePlus calls the design of the 10T 5G “burdenless”, which is supposed to convey a sense of purposefulness and precision. That's a euphemistic way to soften a fairly controversial blow – OnePlus has ditched the familiar alert slider, one of its most visible ways to differentiate itself from other Android players. This simple switch apparently needed too much space within the body, and OnePlus says it chose to prioritise those few square millimetres for battery capacity, better cooling, and better antennas. It's likely that there were some cost savings for the company as well, but much like "courageously" losing the 3.5mm headphone jack years ago, I don't really see how this improves anything for the user.
The lack of an alert slider will probably annoy some long-term OnePlus fans
Other features that OnePlus seems to think its fans can live without, even at this price level, include wireless charging, an official IP rating, and eSIM support. Even the Hasselblad camera branding has been dropped. Considering that this built its fanbase by with “never settle” as its battle cry, this is quite a surprise. OnePlus says the 10 Pro 5G is still the flagship option for those who want the best camera capabilities, while the 10T 5G will appeal more to gamers and those who want fast charging.
On the plus side, you get the top-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC with an elaborate cooling system, up to a staggering 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. OnePlus says you can have over 30 apps running in the background so you can always pick up where you left off, with the top-end variant.
The 6.7-inch fluid AMOLED panel has a full-HD+ resolution, a 120Hz peak refresh rate, and an integrated fingerprint sensor. The borders are slim all around, and there's no thick chin. It supports HDR 10+ and is made of Gorilla Glass 5. The OnePlus 10T 5G also features a 4800mAh battery, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC and GPS.
The main rear camera uses a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 sensor with optical stabilisation and has an f/1.8 aperture. There's also a pretty basic 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera and 2-megapixel macro camera. The front camera has a 16-megapixel resolution. These specifications aren't really inspiring but OnePlus promises rich detail even in low light thanks to 10-bit colour capture support and improved processing algorithms. Video recording goes up to 4K 60fps.
OnePlus' most recent launch before this, the 10R (Review), is physically identical to the Realme GT Neo 3 (Review) and doesn't fit the OnePlus mould at all. Now, the launch of the 10T 5G continues on that trajectory and raises a lot of questions. Who is it for? Where does it fit relative to the heavily discounted OnePlus 10 Pro 5G? Are the tradeoffs worth it? And most importantly – is OnePlus still OnePlus?
All that aside, we're in the process of testing the 10T 5G to see how it balances its SoC power with camera quality, battery life, charging speed, design, and of course the OxygenOS experience. Do stay tuned to Gadgets 360; a detailed review is coming up very soon.
Disclosure: OnePlus sponsored this correspondent's flights and hotel for the launch event in New York City.