Many phone makers have taken over the small/large telephone occupancy. Apple, Samsung, Google, and others sell different versions of their flagship, where size is often the main differentiator. OnePlus, looking for a complete leap in the battle for the flagship does the same. The latest OnePlus 8 is 80% of the larger, more feature-rich OnePlus 8 Pro. OnePlus has reversed the size and specifications of the 8 to make it more attractive to specific buyers – while also lowering the price of the entry. The result is a phone that is more diluted than it should be, yet in some ways still takes on the challenge. This is our OnePlus 8 Review.
|CPU:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865|
|Storage:||128/256GB UFS 3.0 2-LANE|
|Display:||6.55-inch AMOLED, 2,400 x 1,080 (20:9), 90Hz refresh rate|
|Rear camera:||48MP (f/1.78), 16MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 2MP macro (f/2.4)|
|Front camera:||16MP (f/2.0)|
|Video recording:||4K video up to 60 fps|
|Battery life:||4,300mAh, 16.5 hours of video playback|
|Fast charging:||Yes, Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)|
|Size:||6.3 x 2.9 x 0.31 inches|
OnePlus 8 Review: Design
OnePlus has been using the modern and simple design for a long time. If you look back at phones like the OnePlus 5 and 6 series, you will see that the OnePlus brings simplicity to the point of blankness. The company began to shake with the OnePlus 7 series, which introduced larger sizes and bold colors. The OnePlus 8 takes the next step on this evolutionary path.
The colors are the biggest giveaway. Sure, OnePlus offered some beautiful blues on its older phones, but the OnePlus 8 steps on the color selection to Glacial Green, Onyx Black, and Interstellar Glow. Too bad, the Black and Green only come with 8GB of storage. You need to upgrade to the $799 Interstellar Glow color if you want the best RAM/storage combo.
Just like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 family, OnePlus 8 has a mirror-like finish that changes hue depending on the angle you view it from. It looks like a sunset on the west coast. Even though there is a good chance that you will hit a case on the phone (and in fact, I recommend that you take a look at these options), this is one of the most eye-catching phones of OnePlus. It’s worth looking at and showing off. I wish it weren’t so good at collecting nasty fingerprints.
Besides the beautiful color, the design is what you expect from a 2020 flagship. Curved glass encloses the front and rear, separated by a thin layer of aluminum that supports the chassis. OnePlus has done an excellent job combining metal and glass; the seam between the two is almost invisible. The frame is chrome-like in its reflectivity.
About the dimensions, the OnePlus 8 is nothing but barely millimeters smaller in its dimensions compared to the larger 8 Pro. It is 5 mm shorter, 1.45 mm narrower, and 0.5 mm thinner (or only 13% smaller in volume). More importantly, the smaller phone is 180g lighter compared to the 8 Pro’s 199g. There is no doubt that the 8 is a more comfortable phone to hold and use, but I would never call it small. It has almost the same dimensions as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, Google Pixel 4 XL, and the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro.
Other aspects of the design differ little from other OnePlus devices. The famous triple-action ringer switch is present and is also included in the design. This is one of the best hardware features. It stands high on the right edge. The screen lock button is just below it, and the volume knob is on the left side. You can see the USB-C port, SIM card tray, and speaker slots at the bottom edge. A small pinhole microphone is the only element on the top side.
The latest, international and unlocked versions of the phone do not have an official IP rating, although they are, to some extent, protected from dirt and liquid. However, the US carrier-branded OnePlus 8 models do have an IP68 rating. Almost every recent flagship – including the OnePlus 8 Pro – has such a classification.
The OnePlus 8 is an excellent piece of hardware that – in terms of fit, finish, and function – matches its peers for the most part.
OnePlus 8 Review: Display
The OnePlus 8 Pro has one of the best displays we have ever tested, especially in terms of color accuracy. The smaller display of the OnePlus 8 plays in a different ball field, although it is still really, really good. OnePlus was one of the previous adopters of high refresh rate displays. We saw a 90Hz screen on the OnePlus 7T last year. The 8 Pro jumped to a Quad-HD Plus screen at 120Hz. However, the 8 has a Full-HD+ display at 90Hz. That means it is less pixel-dense and not as fast to refresh, although it matches the speed of Google, Huawei, and Xiaomi screens.
The factory settings for most phones that support these high resolutions and refresh rates (including the 8 Pro, S20, etc.) are Full HD+ and 60Hz. In other words, you should do your utmost to find a better experience. Despite the inferior specifications, I can’t damage the screen. It impresses the eye, especially when set to 90Hz. The movement is smooth, the colors are vibrant, and the resolution is more than sufficient for the needs of the average smartphone owner.
Unlike older OnePlus panels, it has a punch hole for the selfie camera. (No more pop-up cam!) The hole is located in the top left corner, where it is practically out of sight. I like the fact that with OnePlus, you can hide the cut-out of the camera to some extent by checking the color of the status bar. I think it looks better when it is visible.
Finally, the fingerprint scanner is under the glass at the bottom edge. Now that we have several generations in under-display scanner technology, I can tell you that this is one of the most acceptable interpretations of it. It took a while to train it, but it was fast and consistent. I’d call it as fast as with a pattern, and even quicker than with a four- or six-digit PIN code. The OnePlus reader is superior to the Pixel 4 XL, V60, and S20.
It may not be as pixel rich as competing screens, but the OnePlus 8 screen is absolutely everything a person needs to be satisfied with his or her smartphone experience.
OnePlus 8 Review: Software
OnePlus has long shipped one of the best launch systems of all Android phones, called OxygenOS. The company has not tampered with too much success, which is a good thing. This year comes the significant changes in Dark Mode and the Shelf. First of all, Dark Mode 2.o is playing a stricter role by forcing the system in dark mode on apps that may not have adopted it yet. In other words, it forces bright white apps to go black. It only works for those apps that OnePlus supports explicitly.
A surprise move, OnePlus left its Shelf, a custom home screen panel that focused on notes, calendar appointments, and other widget-y content. Instead, you will find the Google feed, which makes me happy and which is now standard on most phones, except for Samsung.
The rest of the UI remains excellent. It’s clean, modern, and full of useful, tasteful features that help you use the phone day in and day out. For example, Zen mode can force you to ignore your phone for a while (and thus chill), or block messages when you’re deep in a game session and don’t want to be disturbed.
Hardware and Performance
Whether you run OnePlus 8 with the display set to 60Hz or 90Hz, you get world-class performance. The phone did well on benchmarks, beating 99% of other devices in 3DMark, Geekbench, and GFXBench databases. It delivered comparable results to other 865-based phones and destroyed phones based on the Snapdragon 855/855 Plus. Impressively, the phone performed our Speed Test G metric, which combines the performance of the CPU/GPU, in a record time of 1:27:54. That’s the fastest test yet, beating even the recent crown winner, the S20 Ultra, by 1.3 seconds.
More importantly, the phone is a pleasure to use. Everything about OnePlus 8 is fast and furious. I looked at Destiny 2 in Google Stadia and found it ran perfectly. I didn’t see any fallen frames, and the phone kept track of the game without any problems. Regular apps loaded in the blink of an eye, Play Store updates installed in the blink of an eye, and even heavy apps like the camera launched in the blink of an eye.
When it comes to competition, OnePlus 8 may not be a “Pro” or “Plus” model, but it still has it where it counts. It’s a sneaky smartphone that surpasses the class.
OnePlus 8 Review: Camera
Besides the display, the cameras are the most significant difference between the OnePlus 8 Pro and the regular OnePlus 8. The Pro has a newer primary sensor and a telephoto, while the vanilla model recycles an older sensor for the primary camera and exchanges the telephoto for a macro. I just don’t get it. I could understand the macro if OnePlus kept the same primary sensor.
The primary camera is the reputable 48MP Sony IMX586, which can be disposed of up to 12MP. Almost every flagship of 2019 relied on this sensor. There is no optical zoom on this phone, so zooming is done digitally. In any case, OnePlus was smart enough to record an ultra-wide angle. The OnePlus 8 skips the eccentric color sensor of the 8 Pro. We thought it was a bit more than a gimmick.
The photo quality varies from very good to bad, depending on the type of photo you take. Most of the pictures taken with the primary camera were strong. They showed sharp sharpness, right colors, and usually accurate exposure. Wide-angle camera shots were bright and clean, but slightly distorted and slightly washed out. The macro did surprisingly well. One problem I noticed across the board was the inconsistent HDR performance. The phone did a good job of taking details out of the shadows in some shots, while it was utterly lost in others.
The zoom is rough. Everything beyond the 2x starts to lose detail and clarity. Zooming to the full 10x is a complete disaster. Several new phones (S20, P40) have advertised long-range zoom lenses with periscopic optics. Without the optics to support this, I am not sure why OnePlus bothers with digital zoom up to 10x. While the exposure is excellent, the detail has been erased. I mean, it just doesn’t make sense. The OIS/EIS does nothing to help.
On the video front, the phone can record up to 4K at 60fps. This isn’t as impressive a specification as the 8K forces of the S20 and V60, but it’s lovely for a phone in this price range. Many people still don’t have 4K TVs, let alone 8K TVs. The 4K images I recorded were excellent, although it showed some of the same problems (e.g., HDR) as the primary camera. Sharpness and clarity were excellent. There is a 4K CINE mode, which stretches the aspect ratio to 21:9.
This is where the content of the movie goes, so you can be ahead of the curve if you want. A bonus? Smaller video files than the full resolution 4K. Super slow motion is available, but only up to 480fps at 720p resolution.
OnePlus never nails the camera, which is also the case with the OnePlus 8. Not only does the phone offer a confusing mix of lenses (seriously, no one asks for macro), it only runs in mediocre quality recordings.
OnePlus 8 Review: Battery Life
Along with a compact chassis and screen size, yes, you should expect a smaller battery. The power source of the OnePlus 8 drops from the 4,510mAh of the 8 Pro to 4,300mAh. That’s a drop of only 4.6% in terms of capacity, although it’s much larger than the 3,800mAh package in the OnePlus 7T. Competing devices, such as the Galaxy S20 Plus, are in the same park as 4,500mAh.
The phone has withstood one and a half days of regular use consistently, and sometimes almost one and three-quarter days longer. That means I unplugged the phone at 8 a.m., and the battery wouldn’t die until after dinner the next day. That’s better than most phones on the market. In terms of screen time, I routinely saw over seven hours. Most competing flagships place numbers in the six-hour range, so the OnePlus 8 is, again, a rare performer. My usage includes listening to Spotify with Bluetooth headphones, lots of Twitter and Slack, lots of emails, and browsing.
Unfortunately, the Oneplus 8 lacks wireless charging. This is a pity because most competing flagships today offer wireless charging, even smaller flagships such as the Galaxy S20 and Pixel 4. To compensate for this, OnePlus has ensured that the OnePlus 8 charges as quickly as possible when connected. The included 30W charger pushes the current into the lithium-ion battery at a fantastic speed. In just thirty minutes, the battery will be 66% charged, which is more than enough when topping up between work and a night out. A full charge only took 63 minutes.
The bottom line is that the OnePlus 8 is a battery camp and uses its unique features (relatively smaller, lower resolution, slower display) well where it counts the most. The only current flagship I can think of is the LG V60.
Price and Availability
You can now buy the OnePlus 8 in the US and the UK, because the phone went on sale in April 2020. It is still not clear if the OnePlus 8 will be released in Australia. In a statement, OnePlus told us: “We are working hard to create a seamless experience for our fans before we go on sale in Australia.
The OnePlus 8 starts at $699/£599 (about AU$1,100), making it above the launch price for the OnePlus 7 (£499 – the phone was not released in the US or Australia), and the OnePlus 7T ($599 / £549 / about AU$950). That initial price is for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage option, which goes up to $799 / £699 (approximately $1,372) for the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage version.
OnePlus 8 Review: Conclusion
The OnePlus 8 is not the best, and may come across as disappointing for some who find it too “lite” compared to the powerful, formidable OnePlus 8 Pro. Think about it; it’s the iPhone 11 or Galaxy S20 from OnePlus phones – which means it’s the phone most people should buy. It may not have the all-encompassing appeal of the 8 Pro, but it does have the features that count the most.
The price jump, compared to last year’s $559 OnePlus 7, can be a bit much for some. Those looking for the “affordable flagship” now find they have to pay, in fact, a near-flagging price for OnePlus 8. In India, Asia, and some European markets, Xiaomi, Realme, and Redmi phones may represent the better overall value.
Overall, for $699, OnePlus 8 is cheaper than the majority of competing flagships, and it still gives you the screen, battery, and speed you want. That’s it for our OnePlus 8 Review.
The OnePlus 8 may not be the best, but it is not necessarily a lightweight one. This Snapdragon 865 phone carries much of the appeal of the larger OnePlus 8 Pro, with features like a 90Hz display and fast charging, for $200 less.
- Gorgeous design
- Good display
- Outstanding performance
- Decent battery life
- No wireless charging
- Average camera