OnePlus 8 Pro review – the wait was totally worth it!

OnePlus 8 Pro - Mr. Phone - 4

Rating: 9.1/10

Pros:

  • Refinements to design are smart
  • Best display on any smartphone
  • Vastly improved rear camera performance 
  • Oxygen OS 10.5 is love
  • Blazing fast performance
  • Surprisingly good battery life

Cons:

  • Selfie camera needs work in lowlight
  • Camera algorithm inconsistencies 
  • MEMC is a pointless addition
  • Curved part of the display has issues with registering touch sometimes
  • No Hi-Res audio support

Introduction 

The OnePlus 8 Pro has had a bit of a – Will they? Won’t they? – lifespan in India as far as sales are concerned. After the lockdown delayed the launch, sales plans were also affected due to the closing of a manufacturing unit in Noida after the pandemic started infecting employees. However, everything seems to be coming back on track slowly and sales for both the phones are starting again on June 15th. 

Anyway, while the global reviews of the OnePlus 8 Pro are already out, it is very important to look at this phone from an India perspective. Mostly because the phone is far more affordable in our country. 

By the way, the OnePlus 8 Pro could be the culmination of OnePlus’ quest to become a premium brand. I don’t think OnePlus is going to increase the prices of its future phones any more than this. Why? Because the company has officially confirmed that it is going back to making more affordable products; across categories. Starting with a TV priced under Rs 20,000. 

OnePlus 8 Pro Design – well-refined premium goodness

The OnePlus 8 Pro’s design has had a bit of a nip and tuck to make it even more refined. You do get the same frosted Gorilla Glass 5 glass back design with a thin metal railing that separates it from the Gorilla Glass 5 front. And, a vertical camera module with three cameras and another camera is lined up next to it above the laser autofocus and flash modules. What’s changed is the pop-up selfie camera module from the OnePlus 7T Pro is now gone. Which has helped OnePlus shave off a few grams and make it thinner too.

In fact, compared to all the Snapdragon 865 phones in India today, the OnePlus 8 Pro is the slimmest and the lightest phone around. The chart on your screen right now should give you a fair idea of the differences. To be able to keep the thickness to 8.5mm and the weight under 199g is great. The only other phones that are lighter and slimmer are the Galaxy S20 and the S20+ but in India you get only the Exynos variants of the phone. 

And, considering it’s reduced width compared to the OnePlus 7T Pro, coupled with the matte glass finish and the extreme curves of the display makes it easier to hold and use with one hand. Having said that, the camera module does jut out a fair bit from the rear making the phone wobble on a flat surface. Moreover, it makes the phone top heavy. I feel the weight distribution was slightly better on the Mi 10. 

As for the cosmetic changes, you get two new gorgeous colours now – Ultramarine Blue and Emerald Green. I absolutely love how the Emerald Green variant looks. Also, if you hadn’t noticed the OnePlus logo at the bottom also looks slightly different now. I like it. 

But the most important changes to design are the functional ones. You now get a wireless charging coil inside the phone with support for 30W Warp Charging speeds wirelessly. Additionally, you can also reverse charge other wireless devices at 3W speeds. Apart from this, you finally get the one feature we’ve all been waiting for. Yes, an IP68 rating which makes the phone fully resistant to dust and immersion under 1.5 meters of freshwater up to 30 minutes. Hell yeah!

The rest of the standard additions include a Type-C port at the bottom along with the speaker grille, which doubles up with the earpiece as a stereo setup. And, no headphone jack. The volume buttons on the left side and the power button right side are super clicky and tactile. And of course, the ever-so-awesome alert slider is also present. By the way, now, by default, you need to actually press the power button and the volume up button to shut down the phone. Just pressing the power button brings up the Google Assistant. 

So yeah, the OnePlus 8 Pro has one of the most polished designs on an Android smartphone and the whole ID has matured beautifully over the years. I don’t think I would change anything about it except for maybe the weight distribution.

OnePlus 8 Pro Display – the absolute best you can find on a phone

The 6.78-inch Fluid AMOLED display with QHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and HDR 10+ support is the best damn panel you can find on a smartphone till date. You can jump to the next section if you don’t need any more convincing.

Anyway, the best part is the OnePlus 8 Pro can touch 120Hz refresh rate at full QHD+ resolution, which is not possible on Samsung’s S series flagship. This display can get extremely bright outdoors, reaching up to 1300nits on automatic brightness. Plus, the colour accuracy is impeccable if you switch from Vivid to Natural colour profile from the settings. GSMArena measured an average deltaE of 2.5 in this setting and that is great for a smartphone display. Now add the excellent HDR10+ support and you get a visual experience matched by nothing out there. 

Also, all that hue and cry about the Black Crush and Green Tint issue, I didn’t face any problem during the usage. I got a clean image most of the time. 

I had a blast playing games and watching videos on this display. Now, the other new addition to the display is MEMC or motion interpolation by increasing frame rates of 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps video clips to 120fps to match the screen refresh rate. You can toggle this feature from the settings and it works only with a few supported video streaming apps, and only in landscape mode.

To be honest, I found it to be a really pointless addition for a phone and the whole interpolation looks very janky to me. The soap opera effect is something I absolutely abhor and so do filmmakers. Instead, I wish OnePlus could’ve added Dolby Vision support along with HDR 10+. I know it takes money to get certification, but it’d be so worth it! 

Talking about the touchscreen, the 120Hz refresh rate is coupled with a 240Hz touch sampling rate. I mean the experience of using the phone is just next level. It just glides across the system with consummate ease. That said, the display on the OnePlus 8 Pro is really curved, almost to the extent of a waterfall display. And, I was worried about ghost touches but I didn’t face any as such. 

However, I feel the palm rejection built into the software is really aggressive. The flat part of the display on the top is responsive but sometimes tapping menu elements in a game on the curved part of the display wouldn’t register a touch. That was a little annoying. Finally, you get a punchhole camera on the top left corner, which is not very distracting while using the phone. 

Oh, and the in-display fingerprint scanner is built into this display, which is super fast to unlock as usual. 

Software – great experience despite fewer feature updates this time

The OnePlus 8 Pro runs the latest version of Oxygen OS 10.5 on top of Android 10. There is no doubt in my mind that this is my favourite OEM skin by far. It has little to no bloatware, well-optimised performance, near-stock Android experience, a truckload of customisation options and more. That said, there are a few new additions. 

  1. The Work-Life Balance mode is here. Now, you can mute notifications from a bunch of apps across categories – which are automated by default. For example, you can schedule your work timings from 10am to 6pm, set the location to office, and mute notifications from social networking apps. I feel this could really come in handy. 
  2. The -1 page now has the Google Discover feed by default. However, if you wish you can also go back to the OnePlus Shelf. 
  3. Android 10’s coolest features, Live Captions is finally here. The easiest way to invoke it on Oxygen OS is by pressing the volume button. It works really well. 
  4. The in-built Ambient mode is great. You can view notifications, battery life, and clock but I wish we had an Always-on display. Plus some more customisation options. Currently, it looks sparse. 
  5. There’s also the Horizon light feature that is very sparse at the moment. I feel OnePlus should either give more flexibility when adding cosmetic features like these or eliminate them entirely. 
  6. However, the customisation options for the accent colours, Dark mode, tones, icon shapes, etc. are still stunning. I absolutely love it. 
  7. Messages are now bunched into card-based stacks such as OTP, Transactional, and Promotional. Pretty convenient but nothing new. 
  8. Apart from Google Assistant, you now get access to Amazon’s Alexa, which also works with screen off as well. Useful addition, if you ask me. 

I did face a few issues though. Chrome froze a few times and I had to restart it. Plus, notifications from chat apps such as Whatsapp and Telegram came in late sometimes. I guess this has something to do with the aggressive battery management of Oxygen OS. 

OnePlus 8 Pro Camera – baby steps to greatness 

The OnePlus 8 Pro comes with four cameras on the rear. You get a 48MP Sony IMX 689 primary camera, a hugely upgraded 48MP ultra-wide angle camera, the same 8MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, and the controversial colour filter lens. In fact, OnePlus has removed the controversial feature that could see through t-shirts. By the way, on the front you get a 16MP snapper. 

By the way, I have a detailed camera comparison of the OnePlus 8 Pro against the S20 Ultra and the Mi 10. Do check it out but let me put down my thoughts for you here. 

  1. The 48MP Sony IMX 689 is a very capable sensor. It offers extremely crisp textures at 100% crop. The colour processing is fairly natural too but I’d probably shoot it a couple of stops lower for more even exposure because the images look slightly brighter than usual. The dynamic range performance with the new always-on HDR mode and Spectra 480 ISP on the Snapdragon 865 has been improved by a lot!
  2. The IMX 689 is attached to an f/1.8 aperture lens. This big sensor+wide aperture lens means you can’t capture close up shots of subjects less than 3ft away without having parts of the subject out of focus. This is the same problem with the 108MP camera on the Mi 10. 
  3. However, the ultra-wide angle camera can do macro shots. And, they look extremely crisp too. Much better than the 2MP macro solution on the Mi 10. In fact, the ultra-wide angle shots by themselves look very crisp but the barrel distortion correction could’ve been better. 
  4. The selfie camera does a decent job in good lighting conditions with fairly accurate facial tone representation. But, in low light it struggles. The resulting images were really soft. You’d have to resort to the screen flash. 
  5. The telephoto camera with its 3x optical zoom takes fairly crisp shots but it could’ve been upgraded if you ask me.
  6. The one area where OnePlus has made big strides is in video recording using the rear cameras. You can now shoot 4K 60fps video using the Main camera and the Ultra Wide angle as well. You get plenty of details, excellent colour, good sound recording and great dynamic range. The stabilisation at 4K 60fps is good when you are not panning. Panning causes frame freezes that look odd. One other addition is the new Cinematic recording mode where you can shoot videos in 21:9 aspect ratio. It looks really good. 
  7. My only grouse is the front camera video recording is a bit of a letdown. 
  8. Thanks to the IMX 689 sensor and a fairly good Nightscape mode, the OnePlus 8 Pro just shines in low light shots. I got such crisp details in low light shots. It was even better than the S20 Ultra and the Mi 10. Very good job, OnePlus.
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All OnePlus needs is some more fine tuning of the algorithm. An excellent telephoto camera. And, higher quality selfie video recording. That’s it, it can easily take one of the top three spots in smartphone camera performance. But even in its current state, don’t believe anyone who says the OnePlus 8 Pro’s cameras are bad. At least not when you look at the India pricing of the phone. They are definitely fairly competent.

OnePlus 8 Pro Performance – fast and smooth as expected 

The OnePlus 8 Pro comes with a Snapdragon 865 coupled with fast 8/12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 128/256GB of fast UFS 3.0 storage. The benchmark numbers are great for the most part but when it comes to Snapdragon 865-toting Android phones, the iQOO 3 still tops our testing numbers. You can take a look at the chart to judge for yourself. 

Anyway, I don’t think anyone can have any complaints about the blazing fast and smooth performance of the OnePlus 8 Pro. Gaming was so much fun on the phone. Every high graphics game runs at the best setting. I didn’t face any heating issues either. This is a dependable performance from a robust phone. 

Now, when it comes to the stereo speakers, these can get pretty loud and are one of the best setups out there. But, I am slightly disappointed that the OnePlus 8 Pro is not Hi-Res certified. The audio quality through my Samsung Galaxy Buds+ was great but the Mi 10 is actually a tad better. However, considering most of us will use a Type-C to 3.5mm active dongle with an in-built DAC, the DAC inside the phone rarely matters these days. So, I can’t complain too much. But if you are an audiophile like me, the Mi 10 is the best you can get now. 

As for the earpiece, it is good enough for calls but not the best. Xiaomi and Samsung’s phones sound better and cleaner. The call quality was good too over Airtel’s robust 4G network in Gurgaon. However, I’d have loved to test 5G on the phone. Alas, that’ll have to wait for a long time. 

OnePlus 8 Pro Battery – 7nm fabrication process comes in handy

The OnePlus 8 Pro has a 4510mAh battery. I have very detailed battery stats based on resolution and refresh rate. As you can see on your screen right now, the phone managed 5hr 34mins of SoT on QHD+/120Hz and the best SoT I could get was 6hrs 40mins on FHD+/60Hz. The 7nm fabrication on the SD865 ensures that you get an improved battery performance even on high refresh rate settings. You can easily squeeze a day or two worth of battery life from the OnePlus 8 Pro depending on your settings and usage patterns.

The phone also charges from 0 to 100 using the Warp Charger in about 1hr and 15mins. But, I was more excited to test out the wireless charging feature but alas we didn’t get the compatible wireless charging accessory with the review unit. However, I tried Qi Wireless charging and it worked fine. So did the reverse wireless charging. I am fully satisfied with the battery performance and the charging capabilities of the OnePlus 8 Pro. 

Should you buy the OnePlus 8 Pro?

So, all in all. If you want the best Android phone out there right now, just buy the OnePlus 8 Pro. I am not going to say anything more. It is a kickass package that has everything going for it. All the negative points that I mentioned can easily be overlooked. Plus OnePlus has finally added wireless charging and IP-rating; two features a lot of folks were craving for in a future OnePlus flagship.

 

Alright, so starting with the OnePlus 8 Pro, we are starting a new Mr. Phone Stamp of Excellence for the best products reviewed by us. So yeah, the OnePlus 8 Pro gets the very first Editor Stamp of Excellence. 

However, let’s also take a look at the three best alternatives in and around the same price range. 

iPhone 11

The first phone that I could think of was the iPhone 11. For anyone who wants an iPhone, will possibly look past the OnePlus 8 Pro. But trust me, the 8 Pro is possibly better than the iPhone 11. You get a better design, display, and battery life. The performance on the two phones should be neck-to-neck as well. The iPhone 11 will definitely offer a superior camera experience but the OnePlus 8 Pro is no slouch. So yeah, think deeply before plonking the extra moolah on the iPhone 11. 

Mi 10

When it comes to the Mi 10, I like the ergonomics of Xiaomi’s flagship and the Hi-Res audio capability. In almost every other department, the OnePlus 8 Pro is better. 

Samsung Galaxy S20/S20+

I really like the Galaxy S20+. It is slimmer than the OnePlus 8 Pro and One UI 2.0 is almost as good as Oxygen OS. The cameras are better too but not by a big margin. Although, the OnePlus 8 Pro is more affordable, has a better display, significantly better battery life, and better performance. Making it a better overall purchase. 

So, what do you guys think of the OnePlus 8 Pro? Do let me know in the comments section below.

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Ershad Kaleebullah
ershad.kaleebullah@u2opiamobile.com

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?