OnePlus 8 Pro Review
The OnePlus 8 Pro finally gets IP-certified waterproofing and wireless charging, after the company stubbornly ignored these trends for years. It’s like a dream come true for OnePlus fans. Other component improvements are a given, but by adding these two features, we finally get a OnePlus flagship smartphone, seemingly, free of compromises.
It gets better. Prices in India start at Rs. 54,999, which is lower than the international pricing, and only marginally higher than what the OnePlus 7T Pro cost when it launched last October. Other than the Mi 10 (Review) from Xiaomi, the OnePlus 8 Pro doesn’t have any major direct competition. Samsung’s S20 series is still priced a lot higher, there’s barely any chatter about Asus’s 2020 flagship yet. If you don’t count older flagships which have dropped in price, there’s a pretty open playing field for OnePlus right now.
So, is the OnePlus 8 Pro the best phone in the market at around Rs. 55,000, and should you pay the premium and buy it over the OnePlus 8?
What’s new in the OnePlus 8 Pro?
In a nutshell? Quite a bit. The OnePlus 8 Pro is now IP68 rated for dust and water resistance, and there’s fast wireless charging at up to 30W. You also get new camera sensors, a bigger battery, a more powerful processor, and a higher refresh rate display. Compared to the OnePlus 7T Pro (Review), that’s a pretty big upgrade right there. We’ll get into more detail about each of these new features, but suffice it to say, the 8 Pro packs in a healthy mix of updates, which is something I really like.
OnePlus 8 Pro Design: Keeping it simple
The OnePlus 8 Pro has a similar design as the OnePlus 8 but with some subtle changes. Its display is actually rounded on the sides, rather than just having curved glass like on the 8. As a result, the display offers a more immersive feel, but this also means your fingers are almost always touching some part the screen whenever you hold this phone.
Palm rejection works well, and I was able to use the OnePlus 8 Pro even when the sides of my hand were clearly in contact with the display. Trying to take photos with one hand gets tricky, though. I would inevitably end up touching an icon for another shooting mode or menu unintentionally. The bundled case is actually of big help here.
The Glacial Green colour unit that I received looks beautiful, and I love the feel of the frosted glass back. It can get a little slippery, but at least fingerprints aren’t a big problem. The OnePlus 8 Pro is lighter and slimmer than the 7T Pro, but the camera bump is gigantic and makes holding this phone a little awkward. Once again, the bundled case helps with this issue.
Similar to the OnePlus 8 (Review), the SIM tray, Type-C port, and speaker are placed at the bottom, while the volume and power buttons sit on opposite sides of the metal frame.
Overall, the OnePlus 8 Pro feels solidly built and very premium, and looks incredible in this colour. It’s a little big and heavy, but I did get used to the size and heft after a few days.
OnePlus 8 Pro Display: Big and smooth
The OnePlus 8 Pro has a pretty big 6.78-inch QHD+ (1440×3168-pixel) AMOLED panel, with a claimed high colour accuracy and HDR10+ support. New this year is the 120Hz refresh rate, which is bump up from last year’s 90Hz. The OnePlus 8 Pro can run at 120Hz at the QHD+ resolution, which is something you still can’t do on Samsung’s S20 series. Of course, using the phone with that combo will put more strain on the battery, but as I noticed, it wasn’t a big problem. More on that later.
Out of the box, the screen is set to 120Hz and full-HD+ resolution, so you’ll have to manually increase it to QHD+. Content looks good even at the lower resolution but I personally preferred native QHD+ for the added sharpness.
Another feature exclusive to the 8 Pro is Motion Graphics Smoothing. When enabled, it bumps up the framerate of any video for a smoother, soap opera-like feel when viewing it in fullscreen. It’s compatible with most video players and streaming apps. It works well, but at times it can cause some parts of a scene with fast motion to flicker or clip. The ‘Comfort tone’ toggle in the display settings is also new, and behaves similar to Apple’s True Tone. It adjusts the display’s colour temperature based on the ambient light around you.
The display is vibrant, colourful, and bright. I didn’t really notice any ‘black crush’ issue either, which others have reportedly faced. Like the OnePlus 8, the 8 Pro also has a cutout in the upper left corner for the selfie camera. I didn’t find it to be intrusive, and most apps tend to block out the area when used in landscape mode.
The 8 Pro’s in-display fingerprint sensor works very well, without any fuss. You can also use face recognition, which I found to be equally quick.
I’m generally not a big fan of pre-applied screen protectors on smartphones, and the one on the 8 Pro is especially annoying. Due to the pronounced curves of the display, the screen protector always gets in the way when performing a side-swipe gesture.
OnePlus 8 Pro Software: Lean, yet functional
At the time of this review, the OnePlus 8 Pro was running OxygenOS 10.5.10. This was after it received two updates in the week we spent testing it. Some users complained that an earlier update had downgraded Google’s Widevine DRM to L3, which limited video streaming to sub-HD resolutions. However, this seems to have been fixed with the firmware we had.
The software experience is very similar to that of the OnPlus 8, with the exception of controls for some additions such as reverse wireless charging and video playback enhancement. The interface feels snappy, and OxygenOS in general runs very well.
OnePlus 8 Pro Performance: Top-notch
The OnePlus 8 Pro is larger and heavier than the OnePlus 8, and is not the most comfortable phone to use one-handed. However, I’ve absolutely enjoyed using it. The build quality and display more than make up for its bulk. The first thing I wanted to try out was that IP68 rating, and while I didn’t go too crazy, it easily survived splashes and being dunked in water a few times.
With that out of the way, app and gaming performance was pretty solid too. I tested the base model, which has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and is priced at Rs. 54,999. There’s a second variant, which has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage that retails for Rs. 59,999. One key difference compared to the OnePlus 8 is that the 8 Pro uses LPDDR5 RAM, which is supposed to be faster and more power efficient compared to LPDDR4X RAM.
Benchmark numbers were similar to what I got from the OnePlus 8, since both feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC. AnTuTu returned 5,71,936 points, while GFXbench’s Car Chase graphics test returned a solid 45fps. The 8 Pro got a little hot while running tests but that’s not unusual.
Games also ran just fine, no matter what I threw at this phone. Real Racing 3 looked great on the 8 Pro’s display. Games with colourful graphics, such as Hungry Dragon and Hawk, looked especially good. Some titles such as Fortnite can take advantage of the higher refresh rate display and run at a higher framerate.
The stereo speakers sound great, just like on the OnePlus 8. They’re loud and balanced, and the Dolby Atmos setting helps improve quality and spatial separation. HDR content looks very good too, and most streaming apps such as Netflix had no problem playing HDR content on the 8 Pro.
OnePlus 8 Pro Cameras: Nailing the basics
The OnePlus 8 gets four rear cameras, compared to the three on the OnePlus 8 and the 7T Pro, but the fourth camera is a rather unusual one. OnePlus calls it a ‘Color Filter’ camera, and it has a 5-megapixel sensor with a special filter over the lens. Images captured with this camera are said to have a “surreal” look, like when you invert colours of an image in Photoshop.
While this seemed quirky at the time of this phone’s launch, not to mention a bit gimmicky, OnePlus faced a lot of privacy backlash when users realised that they could use it to ‘see’ through thin materials such as some plastics and types of clothing. Due to this, OnePlus has disabled this camera in the latest firmware update. The company has said that it will fix this and re-enable this camera soon with a future update.
Moving on, the primary camera gets a big upgrade. It’s a 48-megapixel Sony IMX689 sensor, with a much larger native pixel size of 1.12 micrometres, compared to sensor used for the 7T Pro. It supports optical stabilisation, and has an aperture of f/1.78. It captures 12-megapixel oversampled photos by default.
The telephoto camera has an 8-megapixel resolution, with optical stabilisation. Finally, the wide-angle camera gets a big upgrade too, and now uses a 48-megapixel sensor with autofocus, which gives it the ability to shoot extreme close-ups. For selfies, you get the same Sony IMX471 16-megapixel sensor as on the 7T Pro, but with a narrower f/2.45 aperture.
The OnePlus 8 Pro supports 3x hybrid zoom and up to 30x digital zoom. The true optical zoom level between the main and telephoto sensors seems to be much lower, around 0.36x going by the difference in focal lengths. The 8 Pro uses the main camera till the 2.9x zoom level, after which it switches to the telephoto camera all the way to 30x. Like the 7T Pro, the 8 Pro’s autofocus (AF) system uses a mix of PDAF, contrast AF, and laser AF.
There’s an HDR mode for video too, which captures wider dynamic range. OnePlus has skipped 8K recording altogether with this series but that’s a feature which could be added with an update later on. Another feature that’s still sorely missing is 4K video recording for the selfie camera, which is still stuck at 1080p.
When shooting under good light, the main camera captures very good details with a neutral colour tone. The edges of objects are well defined, textures look natural, and there’s no noticeable noise even at the sides of the frame. Dynamic range is also particularly good, with lots of visible detail in the shadows and highlights. Photos taken with the wide-angle camera look good too, and like the OnePlus 8, colours are well balanced and in line with what the main sensor captures. Wide-angle shots are also saved as 12-megapixel images, although you can shoot at the full 48-megapixel resolution if you want.
The OnePlus 8 Pro automatically switches to the wide-angle camera and enables ‘Super macro’ mode when you bring the phone close enough to a subject. This is very handy and it saves you the trouble of doing this manually. Macro shots look very good and are miles better than what you can capture with the dedicated 2-megapixel macro camera on the OnePlus 8.
Next, we put the 8 Pro’s hybrid zoom to the test. Naturally, we had to compare it with one of the best zoom camera phones around — the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (Review). At 3x zoom, the 8 Pro and the Galaxy S20+ are quite evenly matched. The Samsung has slightly better exposure overall and is less aggressive with sharpening, but the OnePlus 8 Pro isn’t far behind. 10x zoom is usually the sweet spot for the Galaxy S20+, and the Galaxy 8 Pro manages to match Samsung in texture quality and colours. The only difference between the two shots is that the Galaxy S20+ lifts the shadows, giving objects more depth. Other than that, the two are very similar.
Finally, at 30x zoom, the Galaxy S20+ does a better job of cleaning up noise, but at the cost of detail. The 8 Pro on the other hand actually manages slightly better detail, but the tradeoff is slight grain in the image. Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the OnePlus 8 Pro’s zoom capabilities and also quite surprised that OnePlus isn’t making a bigger deal about this.
In low light, the main sensor captures well-lit landscape shots, with good details. Nightscape helps fix the exposure a bit and also produces slightly better textures. The wide-angle camera suffers the most in low light but Nightscape can help salvage shots. The 8 Pro doesn’t switch to the telephoto camera in very dim lighting, and simply uses digital zoom with the main sensor.
The selfie camera is possibly the weakest of the lot. It handles HDR well and captures decent skin tones, but skin textures look heavily processed even under good lighting. Indoors, with good artificial lighting, we managed to get decent results. In very low light though, skin textures appeared soft and details weren’t great. The screen flash is quite effective for exposure, although it doesn’t help improve details or textures.
The OnePlus 8 Pro can shoot video at up to 4K 60fps in regular 16:9 and a 21:9 aspect ratio that OnePlus calls 4K CINE. I don’t think the lack of 8K recording is going to put many people off, although it would have been a nice feature to flaunt. There’s a new HDR mode that captures a much wider dynamic range, allowing you to shoot objects directly against any light source and still get well-exposed video. This only works at 1080p 30fps or 4K 30fps, and you can’t switch between sensors when using it. However, the results are pretty impressive.
In standard video mode, image quality is very good, exposure is handled well, and footage is stabilised. Here, you can switch between the main, wide-angle, and telephoto cameras while recording at up to 4K 60fps, which is something not many flagships offer.
Other shooting modes include panorama, slow motion, timelapse, portrait, and pro. The OnePlus 8 Pro doesn’t have many frills in the camera app like some competitors, but it does nail the basics. Having said that, I would have liked to see a pro mode for video with manual controls for exposure, focus peaking, etc. Tracking autofocus would also have been very useful.
OnePlus 8 Pro Battery: Solid as always
I was expecting OnePlus to ship a higher Wattage charger with the Pro model, but like the 8, this one supports the proprietary Warp Charge 30T standard. The 8 Pro has a slightly bigger 4,510mAh battery capacity, which can be charged to 100 percent in under an hour.
The big addition is of course wireless charging, which we’ve seen for the first time on any OnePlus smartphone. For fast wireless charging, you’ll need the special Warp Charge 30 Wireless charger, which costs Rs. 3,990. Unfortunately, OnePlus didn’t send it to us along with the phone, so that’s something I couldn’t test. The 8 Pro does work with any Qi wireless charger though, so it’s not a big problem. Reverse wireless charging works well too. Simply turn it on and place any compatible device on the phone’s back to begin charging it.
In general, I found battery life to be excellent. The OnePlus 8 Pro easily lasted a day and half with typical usage, with the display resolution and refresh rate at their highest respective settings. Our HD video loop test also ran for around 22 hours, which is very good. I didn’t really feel the need to drop the resolution or refresh rate, as even with gaming and heavy camera use, I still managed to wrap up a full day on one charge.
Verdict: Should you buy the OnePlus 8 Pro
OnePlus has had a good streak over the years, but few of its phones have felt as complete as the OnePlus 8 Pro. We are now dealing with a proper flagship smartphone, the kind that can go toe-to-toe with the best out there. Compared to the OnePus 8 (Review), the 8 Pro offers enough new features to differentiate itself, and that helps justify its price. I would say, if you have the budget, skip the 8 and go for the 8 Pro.
Cameras have always been a hot-button subject for OnePlus devices, and this time, it’s no different. I’m curious to see how the company will redeem this color filter camera, but other than that, I have no complaints with the rear sensors. However, I do think it’s high time we got a better selfie camera in the Pro models.
At a starting price of Rs. 54,999, the OnePlus 8 Pro is a lot more affordable than the Samsung Galaxy S20 series, which starts above Rs. 70,000, and the iPhone 11 Pro which still costs above Rs. 1 lakh. Even though the prices of OnePlus phones have increased over the years, it’s still producing ‘flagship killers’ in the grand scheme of things.
Is OnePlus 8 Pro the premium phone with excellent pricing that you always wanted? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.