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In just seven years, the company that some call a “game-changer” has managed to rank #4 in the premium segment behind Samsung, Apple, and Huawei. Like most premium manufacturers, OnePlus launched two devices in 2020, the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro. These phones are somewhat similar to each other, but with features that differentiate enough between them to target different audiences. The OnePlus 8 doesn’t have an IP certification (it is IP68 certified only on T-Mobile and Verizon), has no wireless charging, and has slightly worse cameras than its bigger sibling the OnePlus 8 Pro.
Both phones come with a significant increase in price: the OnePlus 8 costs (Check on Amazon) while the “ultra-premium” Pro version has a price tag of (Check on Amazon) which is getting terribly close to the $1,000 barrier.
If a smartphone wants to go toe to toe with the giants, it must establish itself as an excellent camera phone. Until now, OnePlus models have turned out to be rather good, but never really managed to compete with the best. Can the OnePlus 8 face-off with the likes of iPhone 11 (Check on Amazon), Galaxy S20 (Check on Amazon), and Huawei P40 (Check on Amazon)?
The OnePlus 8 doesn’t have all the bells and whistles the Pro has – it’s missing the telephoto lens and wireless charging – but all the essentials are here: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, 8 or 12GB of RAM, a 6.55” FHD+ 90Hz AMOLED display, a 4,300mAh battery and the Warp Charge 30T charger.
Its specifications are quite impressive and with 5G connectivity, the OnePlus 8 with a price of (Check on Amazon) is the most affordable 5G phone for most people.
OnePlus 8 – Design
The OnePlus 8 has inherited the design of the OnePlus 7T (Check on Amazon), although there are some notable differences. The device has a glass back, but its matte finish makes it easier to grip and less likely to be smeared with fingerprints. It is a very handy phone and despite its 4,300mAh battery, it weighs just 180 grams.
As smartphones are getting heavier and heavier, the 180 grams of OnePlus 8 feel very balanced. The only flagship that is noticeably lighter is the Samsung Galaxy S20 with 163 grams. Most others are much heavier, such as the Galaxy S20+ (Check on Amazon) with 186 grams and the Galaxy Note 10+ (Check on Amazon) with 196 grams, up to the iPhone 11 Pro Max (Check on Amazon) that weighs 226 grams.
- Samsung Galaxy S20+ review: the best 2020 flagship
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review: is this the best smartphone?
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max review: better camera and battery life
The biggest difference is that this phone eliminates the pop-up selfie camera, now housed inside the punch-hole notch on the upper left corner of the screen. This is no more a flat-screen. Similar to the Pro version, the OnePlus 8 uses a curved panel, to our disappointment. While this choice helps enhance its premium appearance, it also comes with an inherent flaw: accidental touches.
The display now measures 6.55 inches and sports a Full HD+ resolution of 1,800×2,400 pixels. Similar to the OnePlus 7T, the screen boasts a refresh rate of 90Hz (set to 60Hz by default).
The viewing experience has been excellent and I haven’t noticed a remarkable difference that justifies the jump to 120Hz. The Quad HD+ resolution of the OnePlus 8 Pro would be nice to have but it only comes in handy when you are viewing high-resolution content from YouTube or Netflix.
The other visible change is on the back of the OnePlus 8. The round camera module is now a vertical strip. In addition, OnePlus has changed the typography of its logo.
Thankfully OnePlus decided to maintain the Alert Slider, a small switch that allows you to select between Sound, Vibrate and Mute with a simple gesture. I often wonder why this is the only phone to offer such a feature as it is extremely practical on a daily basis.
Underneath the Alert slider on the right we also find the on/off button. The volume rocker, on the other hand, sits on the opposite side. I think that this arrangement makes a lot of sense since it’s easier to press a combination of buttons, like when you take a screenshot.
All in all the OnePlus 8 is a very attractive and complete device. It also costs less than a flagship phone but it can stand side by side with one and not feel awkward in comparison.
OnePlus 8 – Display
OnePlus 8’s screen is sublime, there is no other way to describe it. It features a 6.55 inch Fluid AMOLED display panel with a Full HD+ resolution and a 20:9 aspect ratio, that also supports HDR10+. Icing on the cake, it boasts a 90 Hz refresh rate for increased fluidity.
The display does not have the highest resolution and loses against the WQHD+ displays of the entire Samsung Galaxy S20 series. Theoretically, this means that the image is not that sharp, but this only matters if you watch high-resolution content anyway. In practice, the resolution is quite sufficient for everyday media consumption.
The contrast, the colors, and the brightness, everything on this screen is spot on. Compared to the previous models, this screen can be viewed better in daylight, which is important when using your smartphone outdoors.
Oxygen OS provides additional display customization settings. In addition to the Bright (which we do not recommend) and Natural mode, OnePlus offers (via the advanced settings) the option of sRGB spectrum, DCI-P3 (our favorite), or “Wide Range of AMOLED Colors”. Color temperature adjustment is also available for each mode.
Last but not least, OnePlus continues to take care of our eyes with a TÜV-certified filter that reduces blue light emission by 40%. A real treat.
OnePlus 8’s stereo speakers deliver powerful sound but lack accuracy in music listening (low bass that’s way too discreet and mediums that quickly become saturated). Nevertheless, they offer good immersion both when watching videos or gaming.
Luckily OnePlus incorporates a whole host of state-of-the-art technologies such as Dolby Atmos and Bluetooth 5.1. It even adds compatibility with high-definition formats (such as aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, and AAC) for wireless listening.
OnePlus 8 – Features
True to its reputation, OnePlus makes no concessions on performance. Similar to the Pro version, the OnePlus 8 includes a Snapdragon 865 chip paired with a Qualcomm 5G X55 modem, 8 or 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 128 or 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. For the graphics, it relies on an Adreno 650 chip. WiFi 6 connectivity completes the package.
The OnePlus experience would be nothing without Oxygen OS. The software-based on Android 10 shines with its minimalism and efficiency. The OnePlus 8 inherits more than 150 new animations and transitions that enhance this feeling of speed and fluidity.
OnePlus did not revolutionize the interface but improved it wherever it could. The Dark mode 2.0, for example, works with more apps. The new dynamic wallpapers are a joy to see and change color according to ambient light. The in-display optical fingerprint scanner is even more responsive while gesture navigation is even smoother. In short, Oxygen OS continues to offer more than its counterparts and remains to this day the best version of Android.
OnePlus 8 – Camera
In order to compete in the premium segment, a flagship phone has to be able to transform into a camera and, if possible, aim for excellence. In this price segment, Apple (iPhone 11) Samsung (Galaxy S20) Google [Pixel 4 (Check on Amazon)] and Huawei (P40) do that very well.
The increased price of the OnePlus 8 (and Pro) would have been justified, provided that it also offered an impeccable camera. This was a huge challenge since in its seven years of existence, OnePlus has never really managed to offer a camera that bridges the gap. Unfortunately, the OnePlus 8 doesn’t succeed either.
The OnePlus 8 has three cameras in the back. Similar to the Pro model, the main camera features a 48-megapixel sensor (Sony IMX586) with OIS that captures very good results in good light conditions, although the dynamic range is sometimes a bit poor.
Things get complicated indoors and in low light conditions. In these conditions, photos are either blurred, saturated with yellow hues (even if the effect is less pronounced than before) or too deteriorated (too much noise and grain).
In general color reproduction is quite good, true to reality, and with a fairly good definition level. The 2x hybrid zoom is quite decent, but everything above 3x zoom is unusable. However, we found out that flagship phones that are equipped with any kind of optical zoom – even the modest 2x telephoto lens on the iPhone 11 Pro Max – produce sharper images at a long distance than the OnePlus 8.
In addition, since there is no telephoto lens, Portrait mode is also based just on algorithms. Unfortunately, OnePlus is not Google and the results are disheartening. The separation between the subject and the background is too approximate and the bokeh effect (blur) seems far too artificial to make an impression.
Instead of the telephoto lens, the OnePlus 8 sports a dedicated 2MP camera for macro photography. Although the images are quite good, it takes a lot of effort to focus the object and the lens has to be too close, so in many cases the results are very blurry. Other macro lenses, such as those of the Moto G Stylus (Check on Amazon) and G Power, provide much better focus at a short distance.
OnePlus says that this camera was in response to its community’s demand that has fallen under the spell of the Macro mode on the 7T. OK, but why didn’t OnePlus offer this function through digital processing like on the 7T? A true mystery…
The OnePlus 8 also features an ultra-wide-angle lens with a 16MP sensor with OIS that makes good shots, without too much distortion like other phones. Overall it is a solid camera, but it doesn’t excel in anything and doesn’t bring anything new to the table compared to that of the OnePlus 7T.
OnePlus ensures that the improved artificial intelligence makes a difference. However we could not notice any difference and although an expert could possibly identify some differences between the two smartphones, it doesn’t justify the increase in price.
OnePlus makes up with video quality. You can shoot video up to 4K at 60 fps but the super stabilization mode is limited to 4K at 30 fps. Super Stable mode does what it claims, effectively smoothing footage – a feature that will appeal to videographers who are accustomed to using GoPro action cameras.
We will not dwell on the front 16MP sensor (Sony IMX471) since it is also identical to the one on the 7T. Selfies and portraits show the same quality with a slight improvement in backlight management.
Overall, the OnePlus 8 has an array of cameras that are perfectly suited for shooting in a variety of conditions. We suspect that most of you will be satisfied with the results and happy to share them on social media, just do not expect to get epic photos with a camera of this caliber. It is capable enough, but not as versatile or cutting-edge as the ones we find on other flagships.
OnePlus 8 – Performance
The OnePlus 8 is available in two versions. One has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and the other has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. We tested the latter and the device scored 3,400 points in Geekbench 5, which beats the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (Check on Amazon) and its 3,300 points. Interestingly, it also beats the OnePlus 8 Pro, which in our test scored 3,160 points. The only two smartphones that are even faster are the iPhone 11 Pro (Check on Amazon) and Pro Max.
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: redefines the term “flagship”
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro review: worth the wait
What does this all mean? OnePlus 8 is as fast as it needs to be and can switch between apps instantaneously and run any game without delay.
In everyday use the 4.300mAh battery managed to last for a full day even with extensive use and the display set at 90Hz.
After exhausting the battery, you can charge the OnePlus 8 from 0 to 50% in just over 20 minutes thanks to the Warp Charge 30T charger (first saw in the 7T). It also recharges the phone completely in just under an hour.
The big disappointment is that although OnePlus has finally developed a fast wireless charging technology (and reverse wireless charging), the company has reserved that feature for the Pro model – unlike the Samsung Galaxy S20.
The OnePlus 8 (Check on Amazon) is a very good phone; it is very elegant and feels very comfortable in hand, it has a beautiful screen and is very powerful and future proof. In addition Oxygen OS provides the best Android experience. Despite all this, the device leaves me with the feeling that it falls short of what was expected.
I feel like the OnePlus 8 is trying to fill a void (between the best mid-range phones and flagships) that doesn’t exist. And given the recent drop in flagship prices, it is easily overshadowed by rivals such as the Realme X50 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 10, Oppo Find X2 (Check on Amazon), Huawei P40 (Check on Amazon), iPhone 11 (Check on Amazon) and Galaxy S20 (Check on Amazon).
Furthermore, the OnePlus 7T has the same qualities and it can now be found for (Check on Amazon)! The OnePlus 8 does not bring enough to the table to justify its price. OnePlus may argue that this is the most affordable 5G phone in most markets. But that still doesn’t matter to most people.