The OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro rolled out to a ton of fanfare and excitement. Despite an ever-increasing price tag each year, OnePlus looked to be a beacon in a year of incredibly expensive phones.
At $699 it’s still not as cheap as older iterations, but it does try and offer more bang for your buck. Can OnePlus deliver in the new era of 5G phones?
OnePlus design has been very iterative over the last two years, although last year’s OnePlus 7T had a pretty standout camera layout and a pop-up selfie camera. Those are gone this time around, however, and the OnePlus 8 is a little more subdued.
There’s still a curved display, although with a hole punch in the top left of the screen. No pop-up camera this time, so that front cam has to go somewhere.
Otherwise, there’s a lot of familiarity here. The power button and alert slider is on the right side, while the volume buttons rest on the left side. There’s a USB-C port at the bottom beside a SIM tray and speakers.
OnePlus hyped up how big the display is on this phone despite the size of the body, and that’s immediately noticeable when you hold it. It’s a 6.55-inch display in the chassis of something that’s roughly the size of an iPhone 11. For reference, the iPhone 11 has a 6.1-inch display, so it really does help add to the feeling of the phone’s sleek and slim design. I’m not a huge fan of giant phones, but I think the OnePlus 8 is an almost perfect balance of screen size and phone size.
I reviewed the OnePlus 8 in interstellar glow, and it’s a gorgeous color on a smartphone. It’s a very radiant finish with the typical color-changing effects you get depending on the light hits it. Keep in mind, though, that this thing is a huge fingerprint magnet. It’s a shame to cover up such a great looking phone with a case, but you might have to here.
|OnePlus 8||OnePlus 8 Pro|
|Announced||April 14, 2020||April 14, 2020|
|Released||April 29, 2020||April 29, 2020|
|Software||Android 10, OxygenOS||Android 10, OxygenOS|
|Display||6.55-inch AMOLED, FHD+ Resolution (2400 x 1080), 20:9 Aspect Ratio, 90Hz Refresh Rate, HDR10||6.78-inch AMOLED, QHD+ Resolution (3168 x 1440), 120Hz Refresh Rate, HDR 10+|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Octa-core||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Octa-core|
|Memory||8GB/12GB, LPDDR4X||8GB/12GB, LPDDR5|
|Storage||128GB/256GB, UFS 3.0||128GB/256GB, UFS 3.0|
|Rear Cameras||48MP, f/1.78 aperture, 0.8µm, OIS, EIS
2MP macro, f/2.4 aperture, 1.75µm
16MP ultrawide, f/2.2 aperture, 116°
|48MP, f/1.78 aperture, 1.12µm, OIS, EIS
8MP 3x telephoto, f/2.44 aperture, 1.0µm, OIS
48MP ultrawide, f/2.2 aperture, 119.7°
5MP color filter, f/2.4
|Front Camera||16MP, f/2.0, 1.0µm, EIS, fixed focus|
|Hole-punch Front Camera||Yes||Yes|
|Battery||4,300mAh, USB-C, Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)||4,510mAh, USB-C, Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)|
|Wireless Charging||No||Warp Charge 30W Wireless|
|Reverse Wireless Charging||No||3W|
|Security||In-display Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock||In-display Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock|
|Dimensions||160.2 x 72.9 x 8.0mm||165.3 x 74.35 x 8.5mm|
|Colors||Interstellar, Onyx Black, Glacial Green||UltraMarine Blue, Onyx Black, Glacial Green|
OnePlus never skimps on hardware and performance. The OnePlus 8 follows the trend with a Snapdragon 865 and up to 12GB of RAM, plus all the usual OxygenOS speed tweaks to make the phone feel fast and responsive.
It’s hard to really quantify speed increases in phones these days, but rest assured the OnePlus 8 is nothing short of a beast of a phone. I think the 90Hz display really helps to make the phone “feel” faster even though it’s just a better refresh rate; it does give the impression of something incredibly responsive and quick, though, and that matters more than anything. It seems like much less of a battery drain this time around, too, which could be due to the faster processor inside. Coupled with up to 12GB of RAM and UFS 3.0 storage and you’ve got a phone that pretty much won’t slow down no matter what you can throw at it.
Not only is that screen fast and responsive, but it’s also just a great looking display. It’s HDR10+ certified and full HD, making it an excellent choice for watching media. Netflix looks amazing here, and that’s not even talking about some of the better HDR movies available these days. The speakers hold their own, too, and manage to avoid the typical tinny tones from most smartphones. No headphone jack, though; buyer beware. There’s no headphone adapter in the box, either.
The OnePlus 8 packs in a 4300mAh battery that does very well keeping the lights on all day, even with the higher refresh rates on the display. OnePlus does a lot of software voodoo to try and control how apps behave in the background, and this feels like it’s really starting to pay off in the software side of the things.
However, OnePlus did skimp out on wireless charging on the OnePlus 8. If you want to use wireless charging, or the OnePlus-specific fast wireless charging pad, you’re going to have to spring for the Pro.
OxygenOS is a fan favorite when it comes to third-party skins. It’s fast, but it also doesn’t tend to distort much of what makes Android great.
You’re getting a pretty simple build of Android with just a few additions. OnePlus adds their notes app, for example, and there are some theme changes on the app. The calendar app has an icon that better matches OxygenOS, but it’s just Google Calendar in disguise. That’s not the only app like that, either.
There are some actual differences, though, especially in the extra performance-enhancements and customization options that OnePlus offers. There’s a gaming mode that minimizes notifications and bolsters performance on your favorite games, and you can tweak a lot of UX features on the phone. You can easily remove icons in your status bar, for example, which is one of my favorite features on OnePlus phones. There are settings to change the accent color of the software, change up your navigation buttons or use Android’s gestures, and the obvious dark mode options. Even the custom notification and ringtones are a noticeable step above stock Android without feeling out of place.
Some of the extra power-user features are really cool, though, like being able to keep your finger on the in-display fingerprint sensor after the phone unlocks to quickly hop into different apps. This can be a shortcut to starting voice search, taking notes, or opening custom apps, which is great since OnePlus still hasn’t implemented an Always-On Display into OxygenOS. Parallel Apps is a feature that lets you use multiple social media accounts on one device, and there are several OnePlus Labs features that are early, beta-level things you can opt into to try out.
Overall, OxygenOS continues to grow up alongside OnePlus, and it’s one of the best skins around. It stays out of the way, but almost all of the customization options and extra features are worth having for most people. And if you don’t use them, they don’t really affect anything in the background. If you’re a fan of all the extra stuff that gets crammed into a Samsung or LG phone, though, you might find OxygenOS a bit lacking.
The camera on the OnePlus 8 is a step down from the Pro model, unlike last year’s OnePlus 7T/7T Pro configurations. The OnePlus 8, for example, doesn’t have a telephoto lens, so your zoom shots are just digital crops.
And if you’ve kept up with OnePlus phones over the years, you’ve probably noticed the built-up hype around how this year is going to be the year where OnePlus dethrones the smartphone photography champs at a fraction of the price. It’s still not that year, at least not with the OnePlus 8.
This camera is good, for sure. You can snap some pretty great shots outdoors, and it holds up pretty well in low-light, although perhaps not as well as a Google Pixel would.
Sometimes it seems like it struggles to avoid oversaturating or desaturating photos, and that inconsistency is probably the biggest issue. You’ll still get good shots, but a lot of times I was left thinking “man, I wish this one would’ve come out just a little different like the last one.”
In this price range it’s also hard to not wish OnePlus could pull off a Google Pixel and manage to improve image quality in software with lesser hardware specs. This would’ve been especially prudent on the model that nixed the telephoto lens, but there’s still hope; OnePlus phones do typically get a little bit better over time with software updates, even if they still can’t quite catch up to the heavy hitters.
I’m not saying this time will be different, but it’s a hope.
The OnePlus 8 is a very good phone, and it might be one of my favorite phones I’ve ever used. There are some drawbacks, like missing wireless charging and the camera just being average for the price, but if you like everything else, this is a great package.
The software complements the hardware very well, the design is slick, and performance is out of this world. Watching movies is great thanks to the screen, gaming is top-notch with that Snapdragon 865 and OyxgenOS enhancements, and it just feels good to hold and fun to use. Good design in a phone like this is usually understated in favor of just cramming the best hardware under the hood, and OnePlus is really starting to realize there’s more to a phone than just an impressive spec sheet.
However, it is an expensive phone. $699 nets you the OnePlus 8 in a 8GB/128GB configuration, which is fine for most people. But that price point does put the phone close to an older Galaxy S10, which might be a better option if you want a premium camera and Samsung’s truckload of software features. You can go a little cheaper at around $400 and pick up the upcoming Google Pixel 4a, which will probably have a better camera at around half the price. OnePlus has made arguably the best phone of the year, but these price points are getting dangerous if the camera or wireless charging is a make-or-break feature for a potential customer.
But if those things aren’t a big deal, and you just want a good phone with enough speed to last you for the next five years? You’re in good shape here. Check out the OnePlus 8.