Today, smartphones with the ‘flagship killer’ moniker have become mainstream, with several brands offering flagship specs with few compromises at reasonable prices. The flagship killer trends, which started off with Chinese brands, has now even been adopted by companies like Samsung and Apple. But none of this would have been possible if one company hadn’t kicked off the trend, to begin with.
It has been a while since OnePlus launched its first flagship killer in 2014, since then the company has been consistently delivering quality handsets at excellent prices. However, OnePlus ditched its ‘long flagship killer’ strategy in 2019, with the launch of the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro, the latter designed to entice new premium customers. But in terms of expectations, the OnePlus 7 Pro fell marginally short of the premium experience promised.
Now, over a year on, we have the OnePlus 8 Pro, a worthy successor to the OnePlus 7 Pro and the company’s latest premium smartphone. We’ve had the OnePlus 8 Pro for a few months now and stick around for this long term review to find out if OnePlus 8 Pro is truly worthy of the ‘premium’ moniker or if it falls just shy of greatness like its predecessor.
OnePlus 8 Pro Specs
OnePlus 8 Pro
6.78-inch QHD+ Fluid AMOLED, HDR10+, 120Hz, 1 billion colours
128GB/256GB UFS 3.0
48 MP, f/1.8 (PDAF, OIS, Laser AF) + 8 MP, f/2.2 Telephoto (PDAF, OIS) + 48 MP, f/2.2 Ultrawide (PDAF) + 5 MP Colour Filter
16 MP, f/2.5
4510 mAh, 30W Fast Charging, 30W Wireless Charging, 3W Reverse Wireless Charging
Android 10.0; OxygenOS 10.0
Rs 54,999 / Rs 59,999
There’s not a lot to complain about on the design front; the OnePlus 8 Pro looks phenomenal. The phone is available in three finishes Onyx Black, Glacial Green and Ultramarine Blue. Our model arrived in Glacial Green, which is a unique colour and definitely the best of three options. The shimmer does tend to change from green to blue when ambient light hits the surface.
The Glacial Green colour option features a matte soft-touch frosted glass back and a sandblasted matte aluminium frame. Not only does the matte finish give the phone a more premium vibe, but it also eliminates fingerprint smudges. However, the trade-off here is that the phone is slightly more slippery, although that seems like an acceptable trade-off. It is worth noting that in the long run, you will start to see some smudges if you don’t use the included case, but those are easy to wash away.
The reason we said ‘wash away’ was because unlike any OnePlus phone that has come before, the OnePlus 8 Pro has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. An IP rating is premium smartphone one-o’-one. The other changes on the OnePlus 8 Pro are the bigger camera bump that does cause the phone to wobble on a surface and the punch-hole camera cutout on the screen as opposed to the machinal pop-up selfie shooter.
Since we are on the subject of the display, let’s take a look at what has changed from its predecessor. Unlike the Galaxy S20 phones, the OnePlus 8 Pro retains the screen curvature. While the display’s curved edges do not offer any utility, they sure do look good. But there is so much more to this display than just form factor.
The screen features a QHD+ (1440*3168 pixels) resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate, a step up from the OnePlus 7 Pro’s 90Hz panel. Unlike the Galaxy S20 series, the 120Hz refresh rate on the OnePlus 8 Pro can be used in the full QHD+ resolution. Additionally, the panel also boasts HDR10+ capabilities, a peak brightness of 1,300 nits, and support for 10-bit colour. It is also protected by 3D Gorilla Glass 5.
The AMOLED screen on the OnePlus 8 Pro is arguably the best out there. You can find several colour profiles in the ‘Screen Calibration’ section. We already know about the 8 Pro panel’s record-breaking A+ DisplayMate score, but how does that translate to real-world performance; well, to sum it up in one word, ‘dazzling’. The screen looks more vibrant and punchier, with accurate colour representation. Another ‘pro’ here is the 1,300 nits of brightness, which makes the device excellent for outdoor use.
The screen also has a couple of cool and utile features, including
Comfort Tone – Uses the RGB sensors to change the screen’s colour temperature according to the ambient light.
SDR-to-HDR up-mapping – Automatically converts SDR content to HDR.
MotionEngine – Powers Motion Estimation/Motion Compensation, which interpolates frames to boost the frame rate of videos. This will upscale videos from YouTube and Netflix from 24fps to 120fps to match the OnePlus 8 Pro’s refresh rate. This also works on Amazon Prime Video up to 60fps.
You also get Brightness Smoothing, for finely tuned brightness transitions, and DC diming 2.0.
So, let’s talk about that 120Hz refresh rate. From smoother animations to dynamic wallpapers, OnePlus is doing everything it can to remind you that the display refreshes at 120 hertz. If you are coming from a 60Hz panel, the 120Hz refresh rate is a huge step up. The difference is noticeable even if you are coming from a 90Hz screen, although the 144Hz panel on the Asus ROG Phone 3 did seem smoother.
Overall, the screen on the OnePlus 8 Pro is the best in the business. The QHD+ resolution may not be noticeable unless you are actually looking for it, but the high levels of brightness and the vibrant colours really make this a standout display. OnePlus has also fixed the black clipping and green tinting issues that were popping up before. However, the only shortcoming of this display is its curvature, apart from looking good, it does not offer any utility and can be a nightmare to use at times.
We’ve been using the OnePlus 8 Pro for quite a while now, and there is literally nothing that the phone cannot do. The OnePlus 8 Pro is powered by a Snapdragon 865 SoC paired with a 5G modem. The chipset is paired with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. The LPDDR5 RAM boosts memory speeds by 30-percent while lowering power consumption by 20-percent. Additionally, the UFS 3.0 storage standard offers a significant bump in read and write speeds over UFS 2.1. Our model arrives with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, although the 8 Pro doesn’t have a microSD card slot for storage expansion.
.@FortniteGame at 90fps on the #OnePlus8Pro #NoobGoingPro pic.twitter.com/zzT8cdBtlh
— Carlsen Martin (@Carlsen0491) September 13, 2020
Because the OnePlus 8 Pro features flagship specs, gamers can enjoy gaming at 120fps on supported games. While playing Fortnite, we noticed that the phone did get a little toasty in the start but settled down after 20 minutes. Because of its capable hardware, the OnePlus 8 Pro can manage high frame rates in any game that supports it. If you are looking for a list of games that can support the high refresh rate, you can check the link at the end of the review. Performance is definitely a ‘no-brainer’ on the OnePlus 8 Pro.
Now, to one of the most exciting aspects of the OnePlus 8 Pro, the camera. The camera is the main aspect that separates a flagship from a flagship killer. And OnePlus has made big improvements to the 8 Pro’s main camera setup. The primary sensor has been updated to a 48 MP Sony IMX689 sensor, which is 35-percent larger than the sensor on the OnePlus 7 series.
But it isn’t just the main camera; even the ultrawide camera has been updated to a 48 MP sensor, similar to the primary rear camera on the OnePlus 7T. The two cameras on the OnePlus 8 Pro are a telephoto shooter and colour filter; the latter lets you apply artistic filters as you’re shooting. On the front, the hole-punch camera cutout houses a 16 MP selfie shooter with an f/2.5 aperture.
The new Sony sensor on the OnePlus 8 Pro nails white balance perfectly. Additionally, the sensor produces great images with good dynamic range and impressive levels of detail and colour accuracy. HDR processing works very well without being too aggressive; photos offer a good balance between saturation and contrast with astounding detail.
You also get a natural depth of field while taking photos because of the sensor size. In bright outdoor lighting, the OnePlus 8 Pro can go head-to-head with the best in the business. The camera also does a great job in low light, far better than any OnePlus phone that has come before it. The company has also made huge leaps in Nightscape processing, not quite on Pixel level, but definitely on-par with Samsung and Apple.
Telephoto and Colour Filter
The telephoto lens can achieve 3x “lossless” zoom, which is not quite the levels of the Galaxy S20 Ultra or Note 20 Ultra but is pretty decent. While you can go all the way to 30x zoom, images tend to fall apart after 10x magnification. Overall, in the right light, shots taken on the telephoto camera are detailed, while colour and contrast are consistent with the other cameras. Lastly, the colour filter camera lets you add artistic filters as you’re shooting.
We really don’t see the point of having a dedicated lens and sensor for colour effects. Because of the low resolution, it is not much better than applying effects in post. Remember the Photochrom and all the buzz of being able to see through certain plastic and clothing materials. Thankfully, OnePlus has already rolled out an update to address the issue, so you can’t really see through plastic anymore.
A new and improved primary sensor is not something out of the ordinary and is standard with most generational upgrades. However, OnePlus has also given quite a bit of love to the ultrawide camera here. The improvements are massive over the OnePlus 7T Pro and OnePlus 7 Pro. It is safe to say that consistency across all camera lenses on the OnePlus 8 Pro has caught up to the top-end Galaxy S series and iPhone 11 series.
The dynamic range is incredible with solid detail, while the 119-degree field of view is excellent to capture more in your frame. The images taken from the ultrawide camera on the OnePlus 8 Pro are some of the sharpest and most detailed of any smartphone. Even in low light, the ultrawide does a pretty decent job. You can also take close up shots using the ultrawide camera’s macro mode.
Video and Selfies
Moving on to video, and the OnePlus 8 Pro can record videos in 4K resolution across all camera sensors. Stabilization is excellent, while consistency across all three lenses is pretty good. It’s not iPhone level video quality, but it is certainly better than most Android phones, and can easily go toe-to-toe with the best Samsung, Google, and Huawei have to offer. The selfie camera on the OnePlus 8 Pro is quite good. The camera produces great colours and contrast, while dynamic range is also pretty good. We’d say the front camera is pretty good, but not flagship-grade and still has a lot of catching up to do if it is to rival Samsung, Google, or Apple.
One of the best parts of using a OnePlus phone is the software experience. OxygenOS offers a clean UI experience, akin to stock Android on the Pixels. OxygenOS brings some nice additions on top of Android 10. There is an improved dark mode that is compatible with more apps. The launcher now integrates Google’s Discover feed instead of OnePlus’ Shelf. Other excellent features on OxygenOS, include Parallel Apps, Apps Locker, OnePlus Switch, Zen Mode, and more.
Additionally, the software experience has also been optimized for the 120Hz panel. The software now features smoother animations and new dynamic wallpapers as well as support for custom icons. OxygenOS is one of the biggest strengths of the OnePlus 8 Pro, and in our experience is one of the best software skins for Android.
The OnePlus 8 Pro packs a 4,510 mAh battery, the biggest battery used on a OnePlus smartphone. The battery on the OnePlus 8 Pro was quite impressive considering its QHD+ resolution, 120Hz panel, and flagship Snapdragon chipset. The battery is more than sufficient to get you through a full day of use and then some. It is worth noting that while using the phone, we defaulted to FHD+ resolution and a 60Hz and scaled up refresh rate only while gaming.
OnePlus has also added a 30W power adapter in the box that is capable of delivering a full charge in little over an hour. Additionally, this is also the first OnePlus phone to feature wireless charging, and we’ve only had to wait until 2020. While we haven’t tested the Warp Charge 30 Wireless charger, it is said to be almost as fast as the wired charger included in the box. The OnePlus 8 Pro also supports reverse wireless charging with Qi-compatible devices.
The OnePlus 8 Pro features a stereo speaker system, with one on the bottom and the earpiece doubling as the second. The speaker setup is one of the loudest of any smartphone but does not manage to deliver a balanced output. The speaker system supports Dolby Atmos, delivering a decent experience when listening to music or watching movies. There’s no headphone jack, so you’ll have to rely on wireless or USB Type-C headphones.
The OnePlus 8 Pro is by far the most impressive OnePlus phone we’ve seen. OnePlus has addressed all the shortcomings of the OnePlus 7 Pro to make this device more than worthy of the ‘Pro’ moniker. With the OnePlus 8 Pro, the company has finally made a complete transition from flagship killer to flagship. But what’s even more impressive than the improvements is the fact that OnePlus has made all these improvements while maintaining the same price as the OnePlus 7 Pro (At launch).
The OnePlus 8 Pro features some massive improvements in the camera department, making it a viable alternative to the Galaxy S20 series and iPhone 11 series. Additionally, the screen is definitely the best we’ve used on a smartphone. And then there is the added benefits of superb performance and excellent battery life.
Even shortcomings like the lack of wireless charging and an IP rating have been addressed. Sure, if we’re nitpicking, you will find problems with the curved display, audio, and charging speed, but these issues weren’t too bothersome. The only bothersome issue for us was that the selfie camera had not been upgraded to flagship levels like the other areas of the device.
If you were hesitant about switching to OnePlus because of compromising on certain features; rest assured that isn’t the case with the OnePlus 8 Pro. In fact, we’re going to take it one step further and say that the OnePlus 8 Pro is currently the best phone of 2020. It’s true that value diminishes as price increases, but with the OnePlus 8 Pro you get a whole lot of value for the price – “As far as flagships go”.
The OnePlus 8 Pro has all the makings of a premium smartphone, without the price tag, especially when you consider premium phones that adopt a no-compromise approach, often start from Rs 70,000 in India.