OnePlus 8 Pro Review

OnePlus 8 Pro Review: When the OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro were launched last October, I was stunned. OnePlus made the 7T just a bit too good and added a 90Hz display, a new triple camera system, the Warp Charge 30T charging system, and the latest Snapdragon 855 Plus processor. It gave consumers no reason to buy the more expensive OnePlus 7T Pro, which only beat the 7T in two categories: screen resolution and battery life.

Last updated on July 21, 2021 12:28 pm

The OnePlus 7T also had a new design that set it apart from the re-profiling of the OnePlus 7T Pro. The OnePlus 7T Pro felt like an afterthought and just didn’t offer enough to distinguish itself from the OnePlus 7 Pro or the OnePlus 7T. This year it is different. Although the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro have the same designs and core specifications, you may choose the OnePlus 8 Pro over the standard OnePlus 8 due to different features.

But one question remains. For a starting price of $899, the OnePlus 8 Pro is OnePlus’ most expensive flagship yet (if you omit the McLaren edition devices). Do the new upgrades of the OnePlus 8 Pro justify the price of the flagship, and are the differences with the vanilla OnePlus 8 worth $200?

OnePlus 8 Pro Review: Design

The design of the OnePlus 8 Pro is what the 7T Pro should have been. Although they share the same core of design ethos, there are subtle differences that make the OnePlus 8 series feel more sophisticated and modern than the OnePlus 7T Pro. It would have been good to see this update last October; anyway, it is nice to see a new design.

OnePlus 8 Pro Review

The OnePlus 8 Pro uses a well-known soft-touch glass back, and an aluminum frame, and the main camera series looks almost identical to the 7 Pro. However, on the 8 Pro, you will find a few extra cameras and sensors on the left side of the array. Furthermore, the body is slightly less rounded, and the camera collision is more pronounced than last year. The OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro also feature the new OnePlus wordmark.

At the front of the phone, the 8 series starts to deviate from the 7T Pro. Gone is the pop-up selfie camera. This time we have a hole-punch selfie shooter, placed in the top left corner of the display. The display is less rounded and has a narrower 19.8:9 aspect ratio. If you have seen the Oppo Find X2 Pro, this panel is, in fact, the same, albeit with a different color adjustment. That’s not bad, because they both look great.

You also have stereo speakers in this device, with the earpiece at the front acting as a second speaker. At the bottom, you’ll find a USB-C port, speaker, and a SIM card tray, which doesn’t support microSD cards. On the left, you will find the volume control, and on the right, you will find the power button and the characteristic OnePlus notification slider.

The stereo speakers are quite loud and do not sound distorted at high volumes. They tend to miss the low-end punch, but this is common for smartphones.

OnePlus finally added IP68 water and dust resistance, long after its competitors did. You do pay for the upgrade because the company has added about a decent amount of cash per unit. The smaller OnePlus 8 has IP68 certification, but only if you buy it via carriers. It does not have IP68 certification if you buy it yourself via OnePlus.

OnePlus 8 Pro Review: Display

OnePlus has increased the refresh rate of this device from 90Hz to 120Hz. Combined with the Quad HD+ panel, this is one of the fastest and highest resolution smartphone displays available. OnePlus ships this device out of the box into Full HD+ 120Hz mode, but you have the choice to push both settings to the maximum if you wish. That is something the Samsung Galaxy S20 family cannot do – at least not yet. The device also uses an adaptive mode for 120Hz, which switches back to 60Hz when the phone displays something static.

When in use, the display automatically switches back to 120Hz. The phone has a touch sampling frequency of 240Hz. OnePlus says this is the best screen on any phone it makes, and our data supports that claim. The color accuracy of the phone’s display is top-notch. The phone comes in Vivid mode, which is not as accurate due to the saturation of the phone but switches to Natural mode and the color accuracy of the display jumps.

OnePlus 8 Pro Review

There is an in-display fingerprint reader that is accurate and works quite fast. This is a standard optical sensor. It’s thinner than the sensor in last year’s device, but it’s not the ultrasonic sensor in the newer Qualcomm, so it won’t work as well when it’s wet. Phones that have used the ultrasonic sensor suffer from poor accuracy when compared to the optical sensors, so I can see why OnePlus took this decision.

OnePlus has also provided a video interpolation setting in these devices, which can scale the video content up to 120Hz.

OnePlus 8 Pro Review: Software

The OnePlus 8 Pro runs on the Oxygen OS 10 out of the box, which is based on Android 10. The software contains minimal bloatware, but Netflix is pre-installed. OnePlus has its apps for some things, like messages, a gallery, and the dialer, but by default, Google is used for other things, like Google Podcasts, Google News, and Google Duo. Oxygen OS supports several useful features, such as a unique read mode, game mode, and Zen mode, which forces you to stop using your device for a predetermined period.

OnePlus has not added any essential new features to Oxygen OS this time. The most significant change is Dark Mode 2.0, which forces Dark Mode on more apps, including eBay, Tinder, Google Pay, PayPal, and Reddit. OnePlus has a good record when it comes to OS updates, and often pushes new Android versions only a few days after Google.

Hardware and Performance

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the company’s most powerful device to date. It delivers features and specs that can finally exchange for the best from Samsung and others. You usually are forced to compromise a bit when you buy an OnePlus phone in exchange for the cost. With the 8 Pro, OnePlus has changed the script and gone all-in on flagship features – even if it raised the price to real flagship levels.

In addition to the expected Snapdragon 865 processor, you get 8 or 12 GB of RAM and fast UFS 3.0 storage. The high-quality specifications in this device lead to outstanding performance, which substantially corresponds to the Oppo Find X2 Pro in benchmarks. The only performance problem I noticed while using the device was jitter in multitasking. Everything else on the phone feels smooth, but switching between apps is a bit fickle. I hope this will be addressed in a future update.

And of course, both the OnePlus 8 models have 5G, thanks to the X55 modem linked to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. The unlocked models come with low-band and mid-band 5G support, but you’ll need to buy a particular model if you want mmWave. However, Verizon is currently the only carrier in the US offering mmWave, and it only sells the OnePlus 8, not the Pro. The mmWave OnePlus 8 will cost you $100 extra at Verizon.

I have low-band 5G in my apartment via Google Fi, and the speeds are exceptional, but nothing to write about. The point of low-band 5G is to reduce the load on 4G networks, which should give more consistent service. Although I don’t recommend requiring 5G on your next phone, most devices using the Qualcomm 865 will have it, because the chipset needs the X55 modem. This expensive chip combo is another factor contributing to the higher price tag of the 8 series.

OnePlus 8 Pro Review: Camera Performance

One of the great things that separate the OnePlus 8 from the OnePlus 8 Pro is the camera system. While the smaller OnePlus 8 16MP offers ultra-wide, older 48MP primary cameras, 2MP macro, and a 16MP front-facing cameras, the 8 Pro goes further. The 8 Pro provides the older 48MP Sony IMX586 as the wide camera in its system, the new 48MP Sony IMX689 as the primary sensor, and a 12MP telephoto sensor that provides 8MP image. In the camera app, you will also find a Color Filter camera for a specific filter and a 16MP selfie camera on the front.

So far, the IMX689 has only been seen in the Oppo Find X2 Pro and has several advantages over other sensors. It is huge at 1/1.43 inches, which makes the individual pixel size quite large, and it uses each pixel as an autofocus pixel, which allows it to focus superbly even in low light conditions. At 1x, the OnePlus 8 Pro produces excellent images with good color and dynamic range. Like the Oppo Find X2 Pro, I loved the 8 Pro in white balance. In low light conditions, the primary sensor also did a good job, probably due to the significant photo positions on the sensor.

The wide-angle camera also performed well, although it shifted to a slightly warmer white balance. It also seemed a bit more washed out than the primary sensor, but it remained quite sharp. The 3x telephoto lens is where it gets interesting. This is a 12MP sensor, but the camera always displays 8MP images. OnePlus calls this lossless 3x zoom; however, this is different from optical zoom. OnePlus is effectively cutting out the 12MP sensor to receive a 3x image field. This makes the image look worse after 3x zoom than if you would use an optical zoom lens.

The selfie camera of the OnePlus 8 Pro is 16MP, which is very good. It has excellent color and contrast, and the dynamic range is good but does not make the image look washed-out. I am a fan.

From a video perspective, OnePlus has added up to 4K to 60fps video to the 8 Pro. There is also a Cine mode, which will crop your 4K 30fps or 4K 60fps video to a 21:9 aspect ratio. Super stabilization is only supported up to 4K 30fps, but OIS still works. Front camera video is limited to 1080p at 30fps. After testing the 4K 60fps video mode, I am impressed. Even without software stabilization, optical image stabilization has done a great job of making the video look smooth. Sharpness, detail, and dynamic range were also pretty good.

The camera app that OnePlus has built into its devices is a bit messy, but shouldn’t be too difficult to navigate. You use the carousel at the bottom to switch between photo modes and have extra options at the top. If you need to open the settings for a particular mode, there is a settings dial at the top right of the screen. In my opinion, it is a bit difficult to reach, but not impossible.

OnePlus 8 Pro Review: Battery Life

The OnePlus 8 Pro comes with a relatively large cell, which can only be used by a few devices such as the LG V60, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and Asus ROG Phone II. In my tests, that battery at work, and I got about a day and a half using the device. I usually disconnected it at 10 a.m. and didn’t see it die until 6 p.m. the next day. I tested for a full day on WiFi and a full day on data, because being stuck inside probably affects my grades. On the dates, the phone got slightly less battery life and died in about 1.25 days compared to 1.5 days.

This is great for an OnePlus phone as the OnePlus 7T has a rather weak battery. It is nice to see that an OnePlus phone prioritizes battery life. For the sake of clarity, I tested the OnePlus 8 Pro in the default configuration, which is set to 120Hz Full HD+ mode. Again you can enforce 120Hz Quad HD+ mode, but I like to see phones coming out of the box.

OnePlus has its OnePlus 30T charger in the box, which the company says will charge the phone up to 50% in 23 minutes. This is one of the fastest charging options you can find in the US. Phones such as the Huawei P40 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, and Oppo like X2 Pro best find the OnePlus at 40W, 50W, and 65W, respectively, although these phones are not sold in the US.

OnePlus 8 Pro Review

OnePlus has also made the wireless charging experience on the OnePlus 8 Pro much better than almost any other device found in the West. The new Warp Charge 30 Wireless charger ($69.95) can charge the OnePlus 8 Pro t0 50% in 30 minutes, the company says. In our tests, the device outperformed that, charging up to 58% in 30 minutes. To do this, OnePlus had to attach a reasonably large fan to the back of the charger. It’s undoubtedly audible in a quiet room when you listen to it, but it’s quite soft. OnePlus included a bedtime mode that drops the charger’s wattage to turn off the fan.

Reverse wireless charging is also possible, but it’s quite slow. With 3W, it is one of the slowest options available, and would only be useful for charging things like real Bluetooth wireless earplugs, which Samsung, not OnePlus, currently sells. For context, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus can reverse wireless charging at 9W.

Price and Available options

The OnePlus 8 Pro price starts at $899 / £799 (approximately AU$1,500) for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant. That’s £100 more than the OnePlus 7T Pro starting price, and you get half the amount of storage in the new 8 Pro (vs. 256GB in its predecessor). On the positive side, however, the 7T Pro was only a 4G phone, while the 8 Pro has 5G connectivity.

There are two variants of the OnePlus 8 Pro, where the more expensive option returns you $999 / £899 (approximately AU$1,700), and you get 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage in the bag. That’s £100 more than the ‘McLaren Edition’ of the 7T Pro, which also came with a 12GB+256GB configuration and 5G enabled.

Although OnePlus fans may be a bit alarmed by the price of OnePlus 8 Pro, it remains cheaper than the competition: the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus comes in at $1,199.99 / £999 for 128GB, while the iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999 / £1,049 for 64GB and jumps to $1,149 / £1,199 for 256GB.

OnePlus 8 Pro Review: Conclusion

Starting at $899, the OnePlus 8 Pro is undoubtedly one of the most expensive OnePlus devices to date. Adding features such as the industry-leading Snapdragon 865 processor with X55 modem, 30W wireless charging, official IP68 certification, and a high-quality 120Hz display just pushed the price tag up. OnePlus had to supercharge the specifications of the OnePlus 8 Pro to distinguish it from the cheaper OnePlus 8, and that’s precisely what it did.

Sure, there will be users who will be angry that OnePlus has shifted its mantra from “flagship killer” to “fast and smooth.” More importantly, some may miss the days when you could score a high-end OnePlus phone at half the cost of competitors.

If you’re OnePlus’ last with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, which starts at $1,199, the OnePlus 8 Pro is a big part of $300 less. Compared to the S20 Plus, you miss an optical telephoto lens and a faster reverse wireless charge. Still, you get a faster wired and wireless charge, several cameras, a notification switch, and several other tidbits.

9 Total Score
Our Verdict

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the most expensive phone OnePlus has ever made, but for $899 it is still cheaper than several competing flagships while offering a superior experience in many ways. With fast wireless charging, an official IP68 rating, and great battery life, this is one of the best phones on the market right now.

  • Fantastic 120Hz display
  • Fast 30W wired and wireless charging
  • Official IP Rating
  • Streamlined software
  • Versatile cameras
  • Good battery life
  • No optical zoom lens
  • 3W reverse wireless charging
  • The sizable rear camera bump