OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition hands-on: our time with the grimy future phone

OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition
(Image credit: Future)

Cyberpunk 2077, perhaps the most eagerly-anticipated game for years, is nearly here to bring a grimy neon future to your living room... and, if you’re lucky enough, your phone. 

OnePlus has released a version of its most recent flagship that looks and feels like it would fit right into the game’s tech-dystopia landscape. Sadly, it’s only available in China, but TechRadar was lucky enough to take the OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition for a spin, and here’s what we thought.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: the OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition has the same specs and features as the standard OnePlus 8T. Unlike the souped-up McLaren-themed versions the brand used to release, this snazzy new edition just focuses on a redesigned exterior and some exclusive software perks.

This isn’t a negative per se - we genuinely like and recommend the OnePlus 8T - but if you're able to get a Cyberpunk 2077 Edition, don't expect it to take you into the future on its looks and interface tweaks. There aren't any revved up internals here.

Looks from an alternate future

OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition

(Image credit: Future)

As for that appearance - well, it doesn’t look like any other phone released this year, with a mix of glass and glitter-speckled matte black body with faded yellow accents matching Cyberpunk’s color branding. 

These amount to classy yellow tabs that frame the lock button and volume rocker, a subdued yellow lip around the bottom third of the phone, and the varied text etched on the back cover. 

The signature OnePlus logo is in the center third, a black square on the glittery matte black section. 

The glass front is unchanged from the base OnePlus 8T, but the rear camera block on the top left has been extended all the way from the top right. That isn't to fit in more lenses, but it's to leave room for yellow script: a huge ‘2077’ and below it, ‘Neural Connection Status: Active,’ a cute nod to the cyberified future of the game. 

OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition

(Image credit: Future)

In the middle of the camera block is even smaller text reading ‘Netrunner Edition,’ citing the game’s term for hackers. We doubt that will catch on over ‘Cyberpunk 2077 Edition,’ especially since the game’s logo is prominently etched into the lower glass third of the back.

Otherwise, the phone is set up just like the standard OnePlus 8T, with the aforementioned volume rocker on the left side and lock button on the right with the usual OnePlus ringer/vibrate/silent switch above it.

Will people gawk at the Cyberpunk 2077 Edition when you take it in public? Perhaps, but it’s not the most futuristic-looking phone we’ve ever seen - like the Asus ROG Phone series and their Decepticon-like angles. 

On the other hand, this OnePlus phone looks less gamer-chic and more like a stylized curiosity. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this on a red carpet rather than in a sci-fi world.

OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition

(Image credit: Future)

Software from your cyber dreams

Looks matter, of course, but the interface touches matter just as much. Booting up the phone shows the typical Android launcher, and then there's a string of red nonsense code ending with an innocuous ‘Never Settle’ - OnePlus’ motto. 

It’s a bit silly, but given how little care gets put into phone launch sequences, it really sells the theme of the device.

Then there’s the Cyberpunk 2077 theme itself, an overhauled dark mode that alters the text, menus, and app icons with neon flair, making them look ripped straight from the fluorescent signage spattered over Night City, the main setting in Cyberpunk 2077. 

There’s also a preset wallpaper with a flickering neon logo for Samurai, the rock band of Keanu Reeves’ character Johnny Silverhand. This is why you’d go the extra mile to secure this version of the phone: so that it looks and feels like you’re in the game’s world - or at least, the closest we’ll get to it right now.

OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition

(Image credit: Future)

There are other nice touches to give it a cyberpunk feel, like a scanning-effect animation for the fingerprint sensor (with an accompanying scan-beep) as well as custom cyber-chirps when you navigate in and out of apps. 

Fittingly, you can’t disable Dark Mode when you’ve set the 2077 theme - the game is set in a place called Night City after all.

This is all to say that using the phone is lovely, with each little wink to the game’s world making it more engrossingly fun to use. They’re the kind of cyber-styled whiz-bang effects most love to see in products tailored to popular IP, and they’d be very easy to add to other phones… if OnePlus and CD Projekt Red would allow it. 

Sadly, we doubt you’ll see these software features outside the Cyberpunk 2077 Edition.

Given this phone doesn’t pack any extra specs or hardware features over the stock OnePlus 8T, folks outside China aren’t missing much if they don’t get this specific version of the phone. 

But for those Cyberpunk 2077 fans lucky enough to score one, it’s got enough perks to justify the trouble of getting one. And if it takes odd backchannels to secure a unit, well, that sounds like something Johnny Silverhand would approve of.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.