OnePlus 8 Pro | OnePlus 8 – What ACTUALLY Changed?
You have probably heard the rumors or perhaps looked and the leaks. In fact, OnePlus has been slowly spilling the beans about their new flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 8 Pro. Now the company is taking a different approach this time by launching two new phone, the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro.
These phones are meant to replace the OnePlus 7T and the 7 Pro, respectively. I’m here to give you a complete breakdown of the differences between the 7 series and 8 series, some of the features they have added or removed, and finally discuss the pricing of these new phones. Trust me whenever I say that this is not the OnePlus that we used to know my friends.
Alright, so I’m going to start with the 8 Pro. OnePlus has addressed a few of the issues that I have had with the 7 Pro. The edges of the display are less aggressively curved, but not completely flat like the 7T. The body is slightly taller and slimmer compared to the 7 Pro. However, the camera bump is slightly bigger and noticeably protruded, and I’m not a big fan of that. The corners are less rounded, which I like, and the back looks absolutely beautiful. I have the Ultramarine Blue model, and while it is composed of Gorilla Glass just like the 7 Pro, they added a matte texture giving it a really soft, smooth, and anti-reflective look. Now you can pick up the 8 Pro in two other colour options, one of them is Glacial Green and the other is Onyx Black.
They have still kept the Alert Slider on the side, which is still one of my favorite features of OnePlus devices. Looking at the display you might notice something different about the selfie camera. If you recall, the 7 Pro had a motorized pop-up camera resulting in a notch-less design, but they took a step back this time and went with a hole-punch camera cutout on the top left-hand side of the display. I don’t mind it at all, since it is still the norm with modern Android smartphones. However, it’s really interesting how they bragged about the durability of that motorized camera last year and now it’s gone.
The OnePlus 8 on the other hand is a slightly smaller version of the 8 Pro. The design is basically the same with the exception of the display, as the curve doesn’t extend all the way to the edges, like the 8 Pro. I like that difference. The back is a welcome change over the 7T’s, so you can say goodbye to that huge circular camera bump and treat yourself to a subtle low profile look, just like the 8 Pro. Overall, the 8 looks very similar to the 7 Pro. Now I’m not a fan of this colour, it is called Interstellar Glow, and it is super reflective and a fingerprint magnet. Thankfully, you can pick it up in different colours, just like the 8 Pro.
Moving onto the display, I guess we all saw this coming, it’s a 120Hz Quad HD+ AMOLED screen spanning across 6.78-inches versus 6.67-inches 90Hz with that same resolution on the 7 Pro. Do I notice a huge difference between the two? Yes, but it isn’t that significant and it shouldn’t be your first reason to upgrade from the 7 Pro. I should also mention that it doesn’t stay at 120Hz constantly. In fact, when your phone is idle or when you are viewing anything static, the phone dynamically shifts down to 60Hz. OnePlus did that to preserve battery life. They are also taking a big step forward in providing a good quality display that doesn’t sacrifice on colour accuracy as these screens do come factory calibrated, which is nice.
Unfortunately, my review sample started showing a weird green cast on the top right-hand side at the lowest brightness setting and there were banding issues as well. Now I did end up confirming with some of my colleagues who were also testing this new phone, but they didn’t experience any of these issues. I guess I just ended up receiving a dud sample, but nonetheless this is a great screen for content consumption. Honestly, I can’t tell if there is a difference between the 8 Pro and the 7 Pro, minus that curve, because watching content on the 7 Pro is really not that great with that aggressive curve compared to the 8 Pro, which seems to be a little bit better.
The OnePlus 8 on the other hand features a 1080P+ display – just like the 7T – with the same refresh rate at 90Hz. This is really disappointing because it doesn’t look like they have upgraded anything here. I would have preferred 120Hz at 1080P, because that would have been a clear upgrade over the 7T, while now there’s really nothing new here. Yes, the display on the 8 is a little bit brighter compared to the 7T, but I think OnePlus got a little lazy here. Both of these phones come with dual stereo speakers and they sound great. I didn’t notice a huge difference between the 8 series and the 7 series. They still feature in-display fingerprint sensors. Oddly enough, the 8 Pro felt slower compared to the 7 Pro when it came to unlocking the device, plus the 8 Pro had trouble reading my fingerprint as well. I tried resetting and re-scanning my thumb print multiple times, but it just still feels slower compared to these 7 Pro, which is just really weird.
The specs on these phones are as expected Top of the Line. OnePlus hasn’t cut any corners here. They both come with Snapdragon 865 SOC, 8GB or 12GB of RAM. Keep in mind that the 8 Pro comes with LPDDR5 versus LPDDR4X on the standard 8. I’m not sure if there’s a scientific way to test the difference between the two in the real-world, but I’m going to have to look into that a little bit later. Both also come with 128GB and 256GB of storage, with the 8 Pro having slightly faster storage. The battery area gets a welcome upgrade over the 7 Pro and the 7T, with the 8 Pro increasing to 4510mAh and the 8 to 4300mAh.
As always, both of these phones feature the fastest charging protocol that OnePlus can deliver. In this case it’s Warp Charge 30T, which is basically the same as the 7 series. However, they finally managed to add wireless charging support – but only on the 8 Pro – and WOW is it fast. They are calling it Warp Charge 30 Wireless, which recharges the battery on the 8 Pro to 50% in 30 minutes. The wireless dock charger itself is a unique piece of engineering. This thing comes with a fan to help dissipate the heat, and it gets as loud as 30 decibels, which on paper might seem quiet but it’s not ideal when you have it beside your bed. There is a setting on the phone that can turn off the fan, but that will reduce charging speeds.
I spoke with OnePlus about the backbones of this technology and what they were able to accomplish is quite fascinating. Basically, they are pumping in more voltage and reducing the amps, which then results in a higher charging rate. Inside the phone there are isolated charge pumps that reduce the voltage down to a safer level that can be used to charge the battery. If you are interested in learning more, you can click here to read an article by The Verge explaining the whole process. It’s really good stuff. Now I should mention that you don’t have to get that dedicated wireless charger to experience wireless charging on the 8 Pro. This phone does in fact support regular Qi-enabled wireless chargers. Just keep in mind that it’s not going to charge as fast as the dedicated charger that OnePlus offers. Now this phone also features support for reverse wireless charging, which is something that is nice to have. And finally, the 8 Pro gets the official IP68 water resistance rating, so if that’s something that you were looking for it’s there.
Oxygen OS on the 8 and 8 Pro look basically the same as on the 7 series. You have probably heard me say this before, but this is by far my favorite Android operating system, even compared to Google’s stock offering. There are tons of customization options such as the new dynamic wallpapers that look really good. It’s clean and simple to use. They have added a new feature called MEMC technology (Motion Estimation, Motion Compensation). Basically, using advanced algorithms, it converts 24FPS content to a higher frame rate that should result in a smooth playback experience. Think of it as one of those motion smoothing features that are available on TVs that convert 24FPS content to 60FPS, but you are now getting that on a smartphone. Honestly, I’m not a fan of this feature because if I shoot content in 24FPS I would rather watch it in that frame rate, otherwise you kill the cinematic experience. Now luckily you can turn it off through the settings, so thank you OnePlus for giving us that option.
Finally, let’s talk about those cameras. The 8 Pro features a quad camera setup with a 48MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 48MP standard wide angle lens, and an 8MP telephoto that has a 3X optical zoom and up to 30X digital zoom. Then there is a colour filter camera, which isn’t really a dedicated camera, but it can be used to create artistic lighting effects in real-time according to OnePlus. It looks very limited and quite frankly useless because these filters can be applied in post-processing through any number of third-party image editing applications. I don’t really see a purpose for this feature.
The standard 8 gets three cameras, but they have made it worse this time. You get a 16MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 48MP main sensor, and a 2MP macro camera. That’s right… 2MP. They dropped the telephoto lens that is found on the 7T, 7 Pro, and 8 Pro, and instead they are using a digital crop of the main wide angle camera to get that telephoto effect. Honestly, at this point, I don’t really know what to say… However, there’s only one way to discover how these cameras perform, so I decided to take all these phones for a little photoshoot to see how they stack up against each other.
Let’s start with that 2MP macro lens on the standard 8. It’s awful, I mean this shouldn’t be legal in 2019. The colour balance is off and there isn’t much detail. It’s a very questionable decision by OnePlus in my opinion. Now moving onto the main sensors, OnePlus has improved white balance and that results in true-to-life colours out-of-the-box. However, the implementation of this new sensor comes with major compromises. Dynamic range is significantly worse, especially compared to the 7 Pro and the 7T, and the colours looked washed out on the 8 series. If you look at the 7 Pro and the 7T there is a good balance of contrast and saturation. Generally, I would still pick the 7 Pro because the out-of-the-box pictures look way better than these new phones. If you look at the shots of the fire hydrant it’s just so weird to see the 8 Pro get destroyed by its predecessor. The selfie cameras are noticeably better on the 8 series, but I really wish that OnePlus improved the contrast factor, that is what’s missing here. I didn’t see a major improvement in low light, but who knows what software updates can do to these phones later on so definitely stick around for my long-term review when I revisit the camera on the 8 series.
How much do these new phones cost? Are you ready for this? The OnePlus 8 starts at $700 USD for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. For an extra $100, you get an extra 4GB of RAM and twice a storage. Now the OnePlus 8 Pro starts at $900 USD for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and if you only highest-end variant prepare to spend $1,000 USD on a OnePlus phone. That’s right, OnePlus did it, they finally managed to come out with a $1,000 smartphone. I’m still in shock from learning that. You see this is not the OnePlus we used to know. In fact, they cannot be considered as a so-called mid-range smartphone manufacturer these days, because they have officially entered the elite smartphone market to compete against Samsung and the rest of competition. I can’t quite blame OnePlus for pricing their phones at $700 and $900, because they designed this phone to compete with the Samsung S20 series which starts at $1,000 USD. OnePlus decided to follow that higher price trend and compete with against that price point. While the 8 Pro and the 8 are still less expensive compared to the Galaxy S20 series, it’s just the way the market is going and unfortunately it’s us the consumers paying that premium, which is unfortunate.
OnePlus will continue to sell the 7T and the 7 Pro at much lower price points compared to the 8 and the 8 Pro, and I think that’s a pretty good deal because those phones are still really, really good. I would still recommend them any time or day. That is where I stand right now, but I just don’t know. I can’t give you a full verdict on the 8 and 8 Pro, so stay tuned for my long-term view of these phones later on. I actually have some unfinished business because I have to review the Samsung S20 Ultra, which is in the works, so keep an eye out for that too.