The term being bandied around for the new OnePlus 10T is ‘side grade’ not upgrade. That fits this freshly launched smartphone in some ways, while in others you get something you haven’t seen before on a OnePlus phone.

The OnePlus 10T was launched at an actual physical event on August 3rd in New York. The device is already up for pre-order on Amazon and elsewhere. It will be available almost immediately.

While the new phone stays consistent with the look of the flagship OnePlus 10 Pro, it’s also beginning to look more than ever like its parent Oppo’s phones.

Having seen the entire lot beginning with the first OnePlus One I see how the 10T is a far cry from that original in just about every way.

But perhaps design is a bit over-rated because in the end the majority of users pop their phones into a case. More importantly, there’s one signature piece missing, as it has been from the least expensive Nord phones—that quick action button that mutes the phone.

Goodbye Alert Slider

It may be illogical but even if you don’t use the special slider button on the right edge of a OnePlus phone very often, you hate the idea of it being removed. This slider clicks into three positions to silence or un-silence the device or put it into vibrate mode. I certainly don’t use it everyday, but the very thought of it being taken away makes a phone feel like any other phone.

And it looks like OnePlus doesn’t have a quarrel with that at all because it’s selling more phones than ever even if it means it has veered away from its original proposition and position to tech enthusiasts and power users.

We have the Jade Green (that should be jade blue because it seems to have more of a blue tone) which has a super glossy finish and seems made of a single piece of glass, undulating to include the prominent camera square.

The Hasselblad branding has also been dropped but users aren’t about to miss it as it wasn’t clear what benefit this was really leading to. This device is really slippery so a case might be warranted not so much because of fingerprints but because of the fear of dropping it - despite the Gorilla Glass 5. There’s a nice silicone case in the box but OnePlus sells a lot of others that are worth exploring.

You certainly can’t call the 10T a light or slim phone. You will feel its weight in your hand, but thankfully, it’s not so broad as to be uncomfortable. I would say the ergonomics are mixed. Slippery and a little heavy but grippable and definitely a large phone at 6.7 inches of screen. The Moonstone Black variant has some texture to it and will offer a better grip.

Watch that charge

There’s a 4,800mAh battery in this phone, but that’s not a rating that’s unusual in the Android world. That’s what is making it a little heavy. What’s annoying is that the removal of the Alert Slider was supposed to make space for new technologies and keep the phone thinner and allow for a bigger battery, but the battery turns out not that big after all and the phone is no thinner.

The battery is supported by a mammoth 160W SuperVooc charger and this is unequivocally not a ‘side grade’. The device charges in just 20 minutes. The speed with which it charges actually makes it fun to watch as the percentage goes up every few seconds. This effectively takes away the whole need for overnight charging. There’s no wireless charging - not that one expected it.

The 120Hz refresh rate on the Fluid AMOLED display that has become fully expected on a phone at this price is very much present though it’s not adaptive. You can drop down to 60Hz manually. In other respects the display is really nice. It is bright, crisp and has the right amount of depth and contrast. Brightness goes up to 950 nits. Slim and symmetrical bezels border an screen that has a tiny hole for the camera. It’s a FHD+ screen that supports HDR10+ and lets you binge on Netflix and Amazon Prime without losing the visual appeal.

Taking it up a notch

One of the highlight features the 10T brings is an upgrade (no side grade here) 8+ Gen 1 chip, a refresh that’s supposed to avoid the heating issues of the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 and of course perform faster. The boost in speed is most evident in benchmarks while in real life the OnePlus is already really fast. There are few situations when anyone can tell the difference. Gamers may notice and indeed they make up a chunk of the customer base that OnePlus is aiming for. The sheer power is just right for the processor intensive games, though there are of course phones like the ROG that are wholly focused on gaming. The phone is also ready for all the connectivity you’ll need.

There are three variants of this phone. OnePlus 10T starts at a price of ₹49,999 for the 8GB RAM 128GB storage variant. The 12GB RAM 256GB storage is for ₹54,999. There’s also 16GB RAM & 512GB model for ₹55,999. So one can take whatever seems to suit one’s needs. Either way, you can have thirty apps running in the background and the phone won’t object. The only slight warming up I found was when the phone was on charge.

The software on a OnePlus was once one of its biggest strengths. Now it’s close to ColorOS from Oppo. Perhaps this is of greater appeal to everyday users and it’s just techies who want things back the way they were. It’s now on OxygenOS 12.1 being replaced now by version 13 which is to be ‘borderless’ and smoother, faster and slicker. There will be a host of changes such as to the always on screen, to widgets and other customisations. It is and will be free of bloatware. Android will be supported with upgrades for three years and security updates for four.

The 10T comes with a 50MP Sony IMX766 main sensor and it has OIS and EIS. Hasselblad is gone - and the camera click is back to normal. There’s the expected 8MP ultra-wide lens with a 119.9-degree field of view and naturally a 2MP macro.The front camera is a 16MP. The cameras support 4K video and have lots of features, but the setup is naturally some notches below the 10Pro’s. I generally speaking the camera does great for everyday shots.

Overall, the OnePlus 10T may have settled as far as its original users are concerned, but for the larger mainstream of users it has settled down and dug its heels in to offer one of the most powerful phones around at a reasonable price.