The OnePlus 8T isn’t just cheaper, it could actually be better than the OnePlus 9R

OnePlus 8T is a solid flagship-killer even in 2021

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the fast-changing world of technology. In fact, no sooner is a phone launched, than the leaked renders of its successor spring up on the interwebs. Now, an unfortunate happenstance of launching phones willy-nilly is that at times, the newer model doesn’t boast enough substance to set itself apart from its predecessor. Case in point, the OnePlus 9R (review), which was announced a while ago as the successor to the OnePlus 8T (review). Now, in its own right, the OnePlus 9R is a solid affordable flagship, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that the smartphone is essentially, a rebranded 8T.

Ideally, that shouldn’t deter anyone from buying the OnePlus 9R. However, the Chinese tech giant recently slashed the price of the OnePlus 8T yet again. So much so, the device is now a good Rs 1,000 cheaper than the newer model. Of course, the question now is – is it still viable to buy the OnePlus 8T, and is the phone inferior to the 9R in any way whatsoever? Well, that’s what I’m here to find out.

Okay, let’s get the pricing out of the way first. The OnePlus 9R starts at Rs 39,999 for the 8GB/128GB variant. Buyers opting for the phone can get Rs 2,000 off should they purchase the device using their HDFC Credit Cards, effectively bringing down the price of the phone to Rs 38K. The OnePlus 8T, on the other hand, currently retails for Rs 38,999 and buyers can avail an additional Rs 1,500 off by using an HDFC credit card at checkout.

So, what separates the OnePlus 8T from the OnePlus 9R? Quite frankly, not much. In fact, both the phones even look quite similar, though the OnePlus 8T’s camera bump sits relatively more flush to the chassis. What’s more, the device also feels a tad more luxurious to hold and the smartphone’s frame feels a bit denser compared to what you’d get with the OnePlus 9R. Other than that though, the two phones draw a lot of parallels in the design department and offer the same glass-metal construction. The devices even come toting Corning’s Gorilla Glass protection on the front as well as the back, and feature an identical in-display fingerprint sensor too.

Now, while you could tell a 9R from an 8T by looking at the phones’ camera modules, it’s impossible to tell which is which from the front. To that note, the smartphones feature an identical 6.55-inch, FHD+, 120Hz AMOLED screen with a punch-hole notch positioned towards the top-left hand side. In fact, the grille for the earpiece (that also doubles up as a speaker on both the phones) has been placed at the exact same spot too. And fret not, both, the OnePlus 8T, as well as the OnePlus 9R, can stream content in HDR from OTT services like Netflix as well.

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So, what about the performance? Surely the OnePlus 9R should offer better performance, correct? Well, not necessarily. You see, the Snapdragon 870 SoC powering the OnePlus 9R is essentially an overclocked version of the Snapdragon 865+ chipset from last year. Consequently, the SoC draws parallels to the Snapdragon 865 platform in more ways than one and features the same 7nm fabrication, the same Adreno 650 GPU, the same Kryo 585 cores…you get the gist.

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And, to no one’s surprise, the chipsets benched the same in our testing too. Heck, I was able to select the Ultra frame rate option in Call of Duty Mobile on the OnePlus 8T. The 9R, on the other hand, doesn’t have that option as of yet and maxes out at ‘max’ frame rate. While I’m sure that the 9R will also support the Ultra preset down the line, as things stand, you will be able to leverage higher frames on the 8T.

I’d also like to add that all other parameters pertaining to the 8T and the 9R’s performance are the same too. As such, both the handsets ship with UFS 3.1 storage and output the same sequential read and write speeds. Moreover, in the CPU Throttle test, both the SoCs produced similar performance graphs and didn’t throttle immensely despite being subjected to a strenuous load for 30 minutes. Lest I forget, both the phones support 65W wired charging and are 5G-enabled too, meaning you will be able to leverage the n78 band to connect to sub-6GHz 5G networks on both the handsets down the line. So, for all intents and purposes, you can expect the OnePlus 8T to match the OnePlus 9R’s performance.

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Unsurprisingly, the camera performance remains the same across both the models too. In fact, our two contenders feature the same quad-camera setup at the back, comprising a 48MP main Sony IMX 586 sensor that has been paired with a 16MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 5MP macro shooter, and a 2MP monochrome lens. For selfies, both the phones come equipped with the same 16MP selfie camera up front. I’ve attached a couple of images to help you visualise the similarities in images shot from the phones better, so do let me know in the comments below if you manage to spot any differences in the picture quality.

So, where does that leave us? Well, if you were eyeing the OnePlus 9R, then I’d suggest you save some bucks and cop the OnePlus 8T instead. As you can tell by now, the OnePlus 9R doesn’t bring anything new to the table when pitted against its predecessor, the 8T. Don’t get me wrong, the 9R is still a formidable flagship and it does have a lot going for it too. In fact, buyers iffy about Android updates should still go for the 9R, as it will be supported for a tad longer. However, if you want the most value per Rupee spent, then the OnePlus 8T is still a stellar phone to buy.