It has become a tradition for OnePlus to launch the T-variant of its flagship phone with Qualcomm’s most powerful mobile processor available. What this means is that if you are picking up a phone from the OnePlus T-series, it will be powered by Qualcomm’s most powerful processor available the year it was launched. However, that will not be the case with the OnePlus 8T this year, and we are sure there are folks wondering why. In fact, we are not surprised by this decision and we’ll explain why.
A brief history of the OnePlus T-series
The very first OnePlus T smartphone was the OnePlus 3T released in 2016. That year, there were two flagship Snapdragon processors – the Snapdragon 820 which powered the OnePlus 3, and the higher-clocked Snapdragon 821 which OnePlus shipped with the OnePlus 3T.
The following year, Qualcomm released only the Snapdragon 835, so both the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T had the same processing power though both devices looked very different with respect to design compared to the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T.
In 2018, there was also just one flagship Snapdragon processor for mobile phones – the Snapdragon 845. This meant both the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T featured the same processor. However, there were other significant differences between both phones.
Last year, Qualcomm returned to making two flagship chipsets. There was the Snapdragon 855 that powered the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro while the OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro launched with the slightly more powerful Snapdragon 855+ among other upgrades.
This year, Qualcomm also has two flagship Snapdragon chipsets – the Snapdragon 865 and the Snapdragon 865 Plus. When the latter launched, we expected it will be the chipset that will power the OnePlus 8T, but as you can see in the tweet above, OnePlus has confirmed that it will come with the less-powerful Snapdragon 865.
Plausible reasons behind OnePlus’ decision to use the Snapdragon 865
There are a handful of reasons we believe may be responsible for this decision and we will take a look at them below:
- Price – the Snapdragon 865 itself is expensive, and as we know, it did drive the cost of flagship Android phones up this year. The Snapdragon 865 Plus definitely costs more which will translate to an even more expensive phone. This year has been a rough one for practically everyone including phone companies; and with folks cutting back on expenses, a phone that costs less while offering value is what they will opt for.
- Low adoption rate of the Snapdragon 865+ across the board – As we have seen, the Snapdragon 865+ has a lesser adoption rate compared to last year’s Snapdragon 855+ which powered a large percentage of the flagships announced in the second half of the year. From the Black Shark 3S to the Nubia Red Magic 5S to the Mi 10 Ultra, all of these phones are powered by the Snapdragon 865 even though they were announced after the launch of the Snapdragon 865+. These manufacturers have decided to offer more than just a slight increase in performance. It is thus not surprising that OnePlus has decided to follow the same route.
- No significant difference in performance – the difference in performance between the two chipsets isn’t a lot and benchmark results have shown that some manufacturers can better optimize the Snapdragon 865 more than others. As shown below, the Black Shark 3S which is powered by the Snapdragon 865 has a higher AnTuTu score than the Lenovo Legion Pro which features the more powerful Snapdragon 865 Plus processor.
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For 3DMark which focuses on GPU, the Snapdragon 865 Plus-powered ROG Phone 3 and Lenovo Legion Pro come out on top with the highest overall scores but the Black Shark 3S and Red Magic 5S don’t trail too far behind.
Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 865 Plus brings a 10% increase in CPU and GPU performance over the Snapdragon 865. Based on the above benchmark results, there is only a 2% increase in CPU performance (ROG Phone 3 vs Black Shark 3S) while for the GPU, 3DMark shows that performance increase (ROG Phone 3 vs Black Shark 3S) is about 6.28%.
The story is not too different for last year’s Snapdragon 855 and Snapdragon 855 Plus. Android Authority reported that the latter offered a 4.5% increase in single-core performance while multi-core performance was a measly 0.5% increase. Where the Snapdragon 865+ really shined was in GPU performance which increased by up to 15%.
This little difference in performance may be one of the reasons why fewer manufacturers have picked up the Snapdragon 865 Plus this year. We won’t be surprised if next year’s Snapdragon 875 doesn’t get a Plus variant for the second half of 2021.
- OnePlus’ positioning of the OnePlus 8T – the main reason behind the decision to go with the Snapdragon 865 instead of its “Plus” variant is most likely because of where the OnePlus 8T sits in the manufacturer’s lineup. According to OnePlus, it is not releasing a OnePlus 8T Pro because the OnePlus 8 Pro has no room for upgrade. If it were to ship the 8T with a Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, it will put the phone ahead of the OnePlus 8 Pro in terms of performance. Let us not forget the OnePlus 8T already has an advantage in terms of fast charging (Warp Charge 65). OnePlus clearly wants the OnePlus 8T to sit between the OnePlus 8 and Oneplus 8 Pro and one of the ways it has achieved this is by not shipping it with a more powerful processor.
Does the absence of the Snapdragon 865 Plus processor make the OnePlus 8T not worth buying?
The shortest answer is no. The OnePlus 8T with its Snapdragon 865 processor will handle anything you throw at it. It is a flagship chipset after all and the same one that powers most of the premium phones announced this year.
Other than the processor, the upcoming phone brings a handful of upgrades when compared to the OnePlus 8. The OnePlus 8T is coming with 65W fast charging, the fastest on a OnePlus device; a higher refresh rate; a bigger battery, and more cameras including a new ultra-wide-angle selfie camera.
So the OnePlus 8T is definitely worth buying if you plan to upgrade your smartphone this year. On whether it is the best option available, that is an entirely different conversation and one we will visit after it launches.
Meanwhile, you can read all we know about the OnePlus 8T from this rumor roundup article.
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