OnePlus 8 Pro Long Term Review
The OnePlus 8 Pro is the company’s answer to the premium Android flagship market. Notice I mentioned flagship, and the reason for that is back in the day OnePlus was known for marketing their smartphones as flagship killers at really good price points. They didn’t necessarily excel in every aspect that made a true flagship smartphone, but they were pretty damn close. The company’s philosophy changed this year though, and the 8 Pro starts at $900 USD or $1,400 CAD. It’s the most expensive phone that they have ever come out with. It’s meant to compete with the Galaxy S20 series, the Huawei P40 Pro, maybe even the iPhones if you were to consider that as competition in an Android space.
It has been about 4 months since OnePlus announced the 8 Pro and I have been using an extensively over the course of that time period. As always OnePlus did roll out some amazing software updates that addressed a lot of the issues that users were experiencing, but I have still have my beef with the 8 Pro.
Let’s start with the design, it’s a subtle improvement over the 7 Pro, but they have added some tasteful colours to make it stand out from the competition, without going too aggressive. I have got the Ultramarine Blue model and it looks amazing. They have given it a matte texture that is soft to the touch and it doesn’t get super reflective. The camera bump is tolerable, especially when you compare it to the Note 20 Ultra for instance. If it really bothers you I would recommend picking up the carbon bumper case, it’s pretty slim and gives a nice snug fit to the phone. I have been using this for a while and I really like it.
Build Quality & Size
The corners are rounded and the build quality is fantastic. The phone is sandwiched in between two sheets of gorilla glass with a solid aluminium frame, and it’s exactly what you would expect at this price point. They ditched the popup selfie camera on the 7 Pro for the classic punch hole style on the left side of the display. I personally don’t mind that, but I would like to know your thoughts about that. Unfortunately, you are still getting a curved display, which I’m typically not a fan of because I have had numerous issues with palm rejection when I’m browsing through the app drawer or checking mail, especially when using the phone in one hand.
It will just automatically open another app or select another option when my palm gets in contact with the screen. This happens a lot because this is a really big phone, its screen spans across 6.78 inches. It’s about the same size as the Note 20 Ultra, so it’s pretty difficult to reach the top spots. Basically, what I’m trying to say is if you are someone with smaller hands you should probably look elsewhere, or if you are used to bigger phones just be prepared to do a lot of this stretching to reach the top parts of the screen.
Speaking of the display, OnePlus has packed the 8 Pro with a fast 120Hz Quad HD AMOLED panel. For those of you wondering, it can do both Quad HD and 120Hz at the same time, unlike some other phones (*cough* Samsung). I really enjoyed my time with this display, every animation like opening/exiting an app or gesture navigation through the operating system is fluid and fast. It dynamically adjusts the refresh rate depending on the type of content you stare at. For example, if you watch movies or read an article online it’s scales backs to 60Hz to preserve battery life. The only odd thing I noticed was when browsing YouTube, scrolling through content for like using a 60Hz display. I had no issues with consistency on my Pixel 4 XL and the Note 20 Ultra.
It’s also a very bright screen, if you enable auto brightness the screen boosts to a whopping 1,300 nits when you are in direct sunlight, so outdoor visibility is great. It’s one of my favorite features of this phone since I have been spending quite a bit of time outdoors during the summer. It has great colour accuracy, I love the different colour profiles that you can play around with through the settings. I think you are really in for a treat, especially if you are used to watching a lot of videos on your smartphone or if you edit photos for Instagram or other social media platforms. Initially I did have some issues with the display, I was experiencing a weird green cast at the lowest brightness setting, but thankfully that was addressed through a software update, so good job OnePlus.
The in-display fingerprint sensor is still present on the 8 Pro, if you recall watching my 7 Pro review I mentioned how the sensor on that was really fast and accurate. My success rate was really, really high on that phone, but I can’t say the same thing about the 8 Pro. I found myself constantly struggling to get past the lock screen, even with my left thumb or my right thumb. It just errors out every single time. As a result, I had to constantly rely on the unsecure face unlock system, which isn’t as advanced or secure as say something like the Pixel 4. I tried to rescan my thumbprint but that didn’t really help much, it was all really frustrating. Another thing worth mentioning is that if you pull out this phone in pitch black it’s going to literally blind you, because it has to shine a bright light to analyze your fingerprint. It just gets super annoying. Even if you have a Night Mode or the blue screen filter enabled it won’t actually show up on the lock screen. In fact, it will only trigger itself when you get past that lock screen to get into your home screen, which is just weird and annoying.
Speakers & Alert Slider
The built-in speakers are fantastic, just like the 7 Pro the 8 Pro features a dual speaker setup with the earpiece acting as your left channel and the bottom facing as your right, so there is excellent stereo imaging. It gets really loud and I never missed any alarms, so that’s a good thing. I also appreciate OnePlus for keeping the Alert Slider on the side, this thing has come in clutch so many times and I really hope other brands implement this on their smartphones. The haptic motor underneath is all right, it’s certainly not as strong as Samsung’s.
Glancing over the rest of the specs will reveal that OnePlus never disappoints. You are getting a really fast Snapdragon 865 SoC, it’s not the 865 Plus chip but that’s not really a big deal. RAM is plenty sufficient with 8GB base or 12GB if you really want to push it, and storage is either 128GB or 256GB. With these specs this phone just flies through applications. I didn’t experience any slowdowns or any stutters from my general day-to-day usage, apps installed really fast on this phone thanks to the UFS 3.0 storage. I think I can’t really complain about the performance on the OnePlus 8 Pro, it all comes down to the amazing software integration and support that OnePlus has for their devices.
Speaking of software, well there isn’t anything new here if you are familiar with Oxygen OS. You get plenty of customization options, and I really like to stock look. That being said OnePlus is shifting the direction away from this UX design to something that’s a little bit more user friendly. In fact, I made a separate article going over the beta build that OnePlus it’s currently working on, which is based on Android 11. I also want to mention the amazing software support that you get with OnePlus devices, not just the 8 Pro, but the 7 series, the 6 series pack, even the 5 series. Early adopters just get to share their experience, and if they encounter any issues they will post it on the forums and OnePlus will address those issues through software updates as they are constantly listening to user feedback.
Before I get into camera performance, I do want to talk about battery life. OnePlus gave the 8 Pro an extra 5,00mAh compared to the 7 Pro. Now you are looking at a roughly 4,500mAh battery. I think it did this to compensate for the 120Hz display. My phone usage is obviously going to be different from everyone out there, but I’m happy to report that I have been getting really good battery life out of this smartphone. I was easily able to get 3 days worth of use with light usage. Now keep in mind that I have enabled dark mode full time on this phone, so that definitely helps extend battery life. Also my light usage consists of casually checking Twitter, browsing through Instagram, I don’t really watch a lot of videos. It’s mostly messaging and just casual stuff. And I did test a smartphone during the COVID lockdown season, so I never really got a chance to travel and put this to the real test, but if you want ROG Phone 3 level battery life this won’t cut it. Thankfully, if you need to top it up quickly don’t you worry because OnePlus has got your back with their blistering fast Warp Charge 30T. Simply plug in the phone and it will charge the device from 0% to 50% in just 20 minutes.
If you want to take things a bit further, you can wirelessly charge the 8 PRO using the Warp Charge 30 Wireless Dock – which is sold separately by the way – and that charges a phone from 0% to 50% in 30 minutes. This charger is really a unique piece of tech. It comes with a fan to help dissipate the heat because it’s charging at such a rapid pace, and it gets as loud of 30 decibels, which on paper might seem quiet but it’s really not ideal when you have it beside your bed. Luckily, there is a setting on the phone that can turn off the fan, but that will obviously reduce charging speeds. Obviously you don’t have to spend $70 on a fancy charger, in fact you can’t actually buy one right now because it’s out of stock. You can still experience wireless charging on the 8 Pro because this still uses the Qi protocol, so it will work with basically any Qi-enabled wireless chargers that you may have lying around. This one also supports reverse wireless charging, but oddly it won’t charge my Pixel Buds. I did look this up online and it seems like this phone is a little bit picky when it comes to charging devices. It did charge my Note 20 Ultra though, so that’s good. Nevertheless, it’s definitely a feature that I personally won’t take advantage of.
Let’s talk about the camera performance. The 8 Pro features a quad camera setup, there is a 48MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 48MP standard wide angle lens, and an 8MP telephoto lens with 3X optical zoom and up to 30X digital zoom. There is a colour filter camera, which offers different filters and other gimmicky tricks. Do you remember the Photochrom filter? There was a huge buzz about that mode being able to see through certain plastic materials and certain clothing material. People were really concerned about it, but OnePlus did roll out an update to address that issue so it can’t really see through plastic anymore.
Time for address this device’s photographic capabilities. Let’s start with the ultra-wide because the 8 Pro has one of the best – if not the best – ultra-wide angle camera’s ever. It is way, way better than the Galaxy S20 series. The dynamic range is incredible, the detail is spot on, and it performs extremely well in low light scenarios as well. The field of View (FoV) is perfect to get creative, and I really, really enjoyed my time using this lens.
Switching over to the standard wide angle camera and things get even better. OnePlus is using Sony’s highest-end IMX689 sensor and it nails white balanced perfectly. I absolutely fell in love with the colours being captured by the sensor. HDR processing works really well without being too aggressive, there is a good balance between saturation and contrast, and the detail is astounding. You can really take advantage of the 48MP sensor for larger prints if that is something that you are into, and given that it’s a larger sensor with a wider aperture, the depth of field (DoF) is natural so you don’t have to rely on portrait mode.
In low light the sensor does bin itself to produce 12MP images, which is done to reduce noise, and the results look great. I wouldn’t say it’s Pixel-level good, but it definitely puts Samsung’s highest-end S20 Ultra to shame. The telephoto lens is just WOW, this phone continues to surprise me. I’m a huge fan of playing around with higher focal lengths because you can end up with some really cool compositions, especially if you want to get into product photography.
I didn’t notice any shutter lag with all three sensors, so that helped with capturing the right moment. The macro mode on this camera is just nuts. I had a lot of fun with this mode, it won’t disappoint you if you are really into it. The selfie camera is mediocre, I wasn’t impressed with the results. If you are patient enough you can get away with some good shots, but if you really like taking a lot of selfies you should probably look elsewhere.
As far as the video mode on the OnePlus 8 Pro, I’m going to start with the front facing camera. One of the things I’m not a fan of is the fact that you are not getting a wide angle sensor, it’s pretty cropped in. I actually have to stretch my hands all the way to make sure that I’m in frame, so that’s kind of unfortunate. The dynamic range is all right, it’s not really that great, but under good lighting conditions you can get some pretty decent results. What is really cool with the rear facing cameras is that you can use all three sensors to shoot 4K video, whether it’s using the wide angle, ultra-wide, or even the telephoto. Stabilization is also really, really nice. I’m surprised by the footage coming out of this camera, it’s definitely an improvement over the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Now the big question is whether OnePlus has managed to deliver a true flagship Android smartphone that is capable of competing with the $1,000 USD smartphones that are currently in the market. The answer is that is absolutely! The 8 Pro features an amazing build quality and design, the screen is one of the best, the battery life is also really good even with 120Hz mode enabled full time, and the specs are top of the line. You also now finally have support for wireless charging on a OnePlus device. I’m sure a lot of OnePlus fans would love that. It also has official IP68 water resistance rating. Not to be overlooked, camera performance is incredible, I would legit put this right underneath the Pixel 4 and way above the Galaxy S20 series. The results really do speak for themselves.
With that being said, I have still have issues with this phone. The first thing is that curved display, it doesn’t really do justice to the phone. Palm detection is really, really bad and it gets super frustrating to use. Also the fingerprint sensor just didn’t work for me, and honestly the fact that it blinds you in pitch-black is just super annoying. At this point I honestly wish that OnePlus was able to just go back to the traditional standard rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. I would hands down take that over something like an in-display fingerprint sensor, because it’s physical, it’s easy to reach, it’s practical. I also can’t ignore some of the quality control issues that some users have been experiencing with the 8 Pro, specifically when it comes to the display. Also some users have experiencing Wi-Fi connectivity problems as well. OnePlus is constantly working on addressing that through software updates, so that’s a good thing I guess.
Finally, I want to talk about the $900 USD price. It is a lot of money, but I think for that price you are getting a lot in terms of features. I think that it is priced aggressively and compared to the competition the 8 Pro does stand out. Now generally OnePlus phones don’t go on sale that often, but when they do they are worth picking up. So on that note, thank you so much for reading. If you are an existing OnePlus 8 user, I would love to know your experience using the phone. Have you have any issues or has it all just been smooth sailing?
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