OnePlus 8 Pro review - Key Specs
Screen: 120Hz QHD+ 6.78-inch Fluid AMOLED
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
GPU: Adreno 650
Rear camera: 48MP + 48MP + 8MP + 5MP
Front camera: 16MP
OS: Android 10 \ Oxygen OS 10.5
Welcome to T3's official updated OnePlus 8 Pro review for 2021. Months after the OnePlus 8 Pro hit the scene and proceeded to win both the Best Phone and Gadget of the Year awards at the T3 Awards 2020, it now faces a host of new challengers to its smartphone supremacy.
The iPhone 12 Pro has hit the market from Apple and has been well received, while the brand new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has just taken power and performance on Android smartphones to a new level of premium.
There's extra pressure on the OnePlus 8 Pro, too, from its fellow Chinese phone makers, with the Huawei Mate 40 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro offering big specs and big value as well. And that's saying nothing about the two latest phones from OnePlus itself in the form of the OnePlus 8T and OnePlus Nord.
So, the question today in 2021 is: can the OnePlus 8 Pro still cut it? Let's find out now.
For those who want a quick take-away from the review, though, then you can consider the OnePlus 8 Pro not only the best phone that OnePlus has ever made, but also one of the best Android phones period. It is a phone that I feel completes the maker's rise to the top flagship phone table.
Where OnePlus phones have, in the past, taken down rival flagships by delivering superb core functionality (remember all those flagship killers like the OnePlus 6), the OnePlus 8 Pro does so while also delivering a well-rounded package of advanced features, which had been missing in part on past devices.
The OnePlus 8 Pro also has, without a shadow of doubt, the best screen that has ever been put on a smartphone. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful and premium.
To discover why I rate the OnePlus 8 Pro so highly in more detail read on.
OnePlus 8 Pro review: price, release date, and what's in the box
The OnePlus 8 Pro starts at £799 for the base model and rises to £899 for the top of the range variant in the UK. In the United States the phone retails for $899 and $999 respectively. The phone is available to order right now in the UK and hits stores shelves on April 21st, 2020. US orders are available from April 29th.
The phone comes in three colourways, Glacial Green, Ultramarine Blue and Onyx Black, which represent the device's two different variants. The Onyx Black OnePlus 8 Pro comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, while the Glacial Green OnePlus 8 Pro and Ultramarine Blue One comes with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage space (the model reviewed).
In the OnePlus 8 Pro box you get the phone itself, as well as a transparent protective case and WarpCharge 30T charger. In addition, owners get the now traditional glossy OnePlus look book / manual, which runs through the phone's hardware and software.
As I've said before, the attention to detail placed on how each OnePlus phone is delivered to customers is second to none in my opinion, and the OnePlus 8 Pro is another great example of that. The whole package radiates a feeling of premium.
OnePlus 8 Pro review: design and screen
And, speaking of premium, the first thing we absolutely have to talk about in this OnePlus 8 Pro review is the phone's display, which is the best screen I have ever seen on a smartphone.
How special is it? How does a 120Hz refresh rate and a QHD+ resolution of 3168 x 1440 sound! And, what're more, that 120Hz QHD+ screen is also HDR10+ certified. Yes, we're talking a proper god-tier display here and one that smokes everything else on the market today.
Indeed, unless Huawei or Samsung pull something pretty darn special out of their hats with their Note 20 and Mate 40 ranges later in the year, right now I honestly can't see this display being beaten in 2020.
Other phones have delivered 120Hz, QHD+ and HDR10+ in part but none to date has offered them all up at once. For example, even the mighty Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra could only offer a 120Hz refresh rate with a FHD resolution, meaning if you wanted to run its screen at its most rapid you had to take a hit in visual quality.
That compromise is not necessary here with the OnePlus 8 Pro's 6.78-inch Fluid AMOLED panel (which is also capable of a maximum brightness of 1,300 nits!) and, as we shall see later on the review, the phone delivers this no compromise experience without battery issues, either.
In terms of design, the most notable changes from late last year's OnePlus 7T Pro is that the pop-up selfie camera has now been replaced with an in-screen pin-hole camera, which is located in the top left hand corner of the display.
The pin-hole is, as they go, very small and unobtrusive — both when watching full screen videos and playing games I can't say that I noticed it at all, or was left going, "Damn! If only I could see that extra 3.85 mm of screen at the periphery of my vision then I wouldn't have died playing Call of Duty!"
That said, though, as I have said before I feel smartphone enthusiasts the world over are now just waiting for those teased under-screen selfie cameras to launch, and then we can all finally put the era of the notch, pop-up and hole-punch to bed for good.
Elsewhere, the OnePlus 8 Pro does carry over much of the same aesthetic of the 7T Pro, though, with a vertically mounted and centrally positioned rear camera array, gorgeous curved glass display, and cool to the touch frame and backplate.
The phone's volume rocker is located on the left hand side, while power and OnePlus' now traditional silent/vibrate/ring switch is located on the right hand side. USB Type-C handles power and data transfer and is flanked on the bottom edge by the phone's SIM card slot (which, yes, can take 5G SIM cards).
Lastly in terms of build quality, the OnePlus 8 Pro is the first phone the Chinese maker has produced that is officially IP68 water and dust proof rated. For years I had been highlighting that, while not a deal breaker, this was not an ideal state of affairs for a maker that produced otherwise such great phones, so I am happy to see that OnePlus has made this change.
OnePlus 8 Pro review: hardware and performance
OnePlus has never disappointed in terms of core hardware and that is how the brand attained its reputation as a cult favourite that produces flagship killing handsets.
And, as you would expect from its new flagship, the OnePlus 8 Pro does not disappoint, coming loaded with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 system on a chip, 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, an Adreno 650 GPU, and 256GB of UFS3.0 internal storage space.
The RAM alone is 30 per cent faster than before, which partnered with the best Android SoC in the business (25 per cent performance boost over previous chipset), a rapid mobile GPU, as well as that fat wodge of UFS3.0 flash storage, which also delivers much enhanced read and write speeds, and the OnePlus 8 Pro is astonishingly quick.
OnePlus 8 Pro - GeekBench 5 scores
Single-Core Score: 899
Multi-Core Score: 3320
OpelCL Score: 2985
Vulkan Score: 2641
Indeed, when these components come together with the aforementioned 120Hz, QHD+, HDR10+ screen, the phrase "buttery smooth" doesn't even cut it in describing just how rapid, slick and smooth every application is.
From simple UI navigation, right through to playing gaming, browsing the internet, watching videos and taking and browsing videos and images, the OnePlus 8 Pro is faster and slicker than any other phone I've used to date.
Benchmark scores, as you would expect, are also very impressive. In GeekBench 5 the OnePlus 7T, which I loved on review last year, racked-up a Single-Core Score of 788 and Multi-Core Score of 2,865 in its CPU tests, while also accruing 2,675 points in the OpelCL Score and 2,333 in Vulkan.
The OnePlus 8 Pro, though, hits new heights, bagging a Single-Core Score of 899, a Multi-Core Score of 3,330, an OpelCL Score of 2,985 and 2,641 in Vulkan. Those are sizeable increases across the board on their own, but when you factor in the absolutely smoking-hot display, the everyday usage experience is markedly improved in my opinion over past handsets.
Everything about the OnePlus 8 Pro is just so fast and slick it's almost surreal. As someone who reviews a lot of smartphones, there's normally always one experience where I find myself operating ahead of the phone, and end up waiting for it to catch up. That is absolutely not the case here with the OnePlus 8 Pro, though — the phone is eye-bleedingly quick and, in terms of performance, blew me away.
And that is saying nothing of the fact that the OnePlus 8 Pro delivers full 5G network connectivity (Qualcomm X55 modem), too, meaning that your data downloading and streaming can now be as blisteringly fast as your handset's hardware. Best phone screen ever + smoking hot, flagship-grade internal hardware + 5G = [drooling noises]...
OnePlus 8 Pro review: camera, OS and battery
Hardware and performance have always been strong points for OnePlus, though, whereas camera systems have, traditionally, been an area where it has been beaten by rivals. Which is why I've spent increasing amounts of time over the past few years testing OnePlus' phones in terms of camera credentials.
In terms of tech, OnePlus serves up a rear camera array loaded with a 48MP main snapper (Sony IMX 689), 48MP wide-angle (Sony IMX 586), 8MP telephoto, and 5MP photo chromatic colour filter. In terms of zoom you get a rather standard 3x zoom and 30x digital zoom.
In terms of those two 48MP shooters, as can be seen in the below image gallery you get some really nice results. Image crispness and colour reproduction is good, while noise is also minimal; focus time was also very fast.
Macro photography was also a pleasure, with the OnePlus 8 Pro accurately capturing fine details up close. Vibrancy and low-light functionality is still beaten by a few top-tier rivals in my option, but overall I think the results this camera system delivers are really strong.
Yes, this handset delivers the best camera results OnePlus has managed to date, and I think the phone's UltraShot HDR function, which smartly merges multiple shot frames into one image for optimal colour, light, sharpness etc is largely responsible for that. For regular guys and girls who just want to point and capture the world around them, I think it is well pitched.
In terms of zoom, though, things are very much par for the course here, and the OnePlus 8 Pro is beaten quite comfortably by rival flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Huawei P30 Pro. Scroll though the two image galleries below to get a taste for the OnePlus 8 Pro's zoom abilities.
As can been seen, at 0.6x, 1x and 3x, image quality remains high, however as soon as you stray into the digital zoom levels, culminating in the max-zoom 30x shot at the end the galleries, image quality nose-dives. What you are shooting is discernible (I was impressed actually that I could still just make out the Westbury White Horse in the lower gallery) but there's no way anyone is printing out those images to stick on their wall.
Now, look, a lot has been made of smartphone zoom functionality recently, with the Mate 30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and Huawei P30 Pro each offering systems that take zoom functionality to new heights. And, yes, I think that is impressive and is a nice feature to have at your disposal. Sometimes you do want to capture something at distance and it is nice to have results that are beautiful and high-fidelity, rather than blurry and unusable.
However, crazy zoom functionality alone does not a good smartphone camera system make.
Every other aspect I would argue that you would want from a smartphone camera system is delivered by the OnePlus 8 Pro, though, such as a wide-variety of shooting modes (time-lapse, panorama, portrait, nightscape and pro), a suite of strong lenses, and a fast and easily navigable camera system UI.
And I found using the OnePlus 8 Pro's camera system a pleasure, despite its standard zoom abilities, so make of that what you will. Is the lack of a crazy 100x zoom a deal breaker for me? Absolutely not. Would I ideally prefer the camera system from the S20 Ultra or P40 Pro? Yes, as they are better. But that doesn't mean the OnePlus 8 Pro's system isn't great.
As for the 16MP front-facing pin-hole selfie camera, I thought it delivered sharp images.
Lastly, in terms of camera system, the OnePlus 8 Pro supplies the ability to capture video at a 4K resolution and with optical image stabilisation. It also has a tri-mic setup for audio zoom, meaning that you can now better capture audio at distance when shooting.
Video resolutions to shoot in are numerous, though, an include 1080p at 30fps and 60fps, 4K at 30fps and 60fps, and 4K CINE (so shot in 21:9 like a movie) at 30fps and 60fps. The OnePlus 8 Pro also shoots "'3-HDR" video, which delivers far better dynamic range in captured footage.
Other video functions of note include the phone's Slow Motion shooting modes, which allow footage to be captured at 720p 480fps or 1080p 240FPS. For a taste of what the latter mode is like, check out the below video where I inadvertently unveil my history with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Software-wise the OnePlus 8 Pro runs Android 10 and Oxygen OS 10.5, which is OnePlus' own light skinning. As mentioned above, this user interface combo runs like a dream on the handset and is super fast and responsive under the finger (the screen has a touch sensitivity of 240Hz and uses a technique called Motion Estimation Motion Compensation to deliver this).
In terms of features, this OnePlus phone now delivers wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, which just like the IP68 rating, were things not offered by the maker's past devices. Once again, these are really welcome additions and help the Pro really stand out in my mind as a proper flagship phone, and not just a well-specced wannabe.
Where the OnePlus 8 Pro also joins the true flagship top table is in its battery, which makes a jump up from the OnePlus 7's 4,000 mAh battery to a stacked 4,510 mAh unit.
This stack of cells grants the phone proper use-all-day functionality with all its bells and whistles turned on and, while I wouldn't want to stretch much into a second day without a charge, the fact the phone can be charged from 1 per cent to 50 per cent charge in just 23 minutes thanks to its WarpCharge 30 Wireless charger means that running it as it should, with 120Hz and QHD+ turned on, is super easy. Phone maker equips new phone with suitable battery and charger shocker!
OnePlus 8 Pro review: verdict
Which, in turn, brings us to the end of this OnePlus 8 Pro review. OnePlus has said many times over the years that the thing that separates the maker from others is that they actually listen to the fan base and evolve their phones in line with their input.
Well, the OnePlus 8 Pro feels to me like the best example of this process to date, and one where things that, I for one, had levelled against the maker for years have been well and truly fixed.
Last year when reviewing the OnePlus 7T, for example, I noted that its negative points included "No wireless or reverse wireless charging", "No IP rating for dust or water" and that its "3,800 mAh battery is just acceptable".
In the OnePlus 8 Pro all of these issues have been rectified. And, while I also noted that the 7T and 7T Pro had camera systems that were beaten by rivals, which is something that is still the case with the 8 Pro, I feel that gap has been reduced and to all but real camera enthusiasts should not be considered much at all.
So, OnePlus finishes its journey to the big leagues, to the proper flagship phone table, offering not just its usual fantastic mix of rapid hardware, slick software and eye for design detail, but also a full suite of advanced smartphone features and a strong camera system, too.
Oh, and it does all this while also offering a genuine piece of razzmatazz, a smartphone screen that will simply leave your jaw on the floor. Great job OnePlus!