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Review: OnePlus 8 Pro

by : Jonny Lee on : 14 Apr 2020 16:54
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After all the leaks, the OnePlus 8 Pro that so many of you have been waiting for since last year has finally been revealed! Yes it has a high refresh rate, yes it has 5G, and yes OnePlus still makes one of the fastest phones money can buy. I’ve been using the phone for about a week now, these are my thoughts.

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Let’s start with the screen. This is the OnePlus 8 Pro’s big selling point. And when I say it’s very possibly the best screen I’ve ever seen on a smartphone I’m not exaggerating. The screen is really what gives the OnePlus 8 Pro its ‘Pro’ name. It’s a bold and beautiful 6.78-inch OLED 1440p HDR screen that looks incredible in any situation. It gets extremely bright, up to 1300 nits, so it’s great even on a sunny day. The biggest and best thing about the screen though is that it runs at a buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate with a 240Hz touch response time. Because of this anything you do on the 8 Pro feels great. Oh, and unlike some other phones, you can set the screen to 1440p and 120Hz at the same time, thank you OnePlus. It makes an already quick phone feel even faster. For me personally, the 120Hz refresh rate took a little while to get used to. Initially I wasn’t totally sold on it, and was leaning towards maybe preferring the 90Hz refresh rate of its older brother the 7 Pro. But after further usage, I got increasingly used to it. Going back to my 60Hz phone has been hard. I really do miss it.

However, what I don’t miss are the curved edges to the screen. I’ll preface this with a disclaimer, I don’t like curved screens at the best of times, so it comes as no surprise that the OnePlus 8 Pro’s ultra curved screen was just way too much for me. At each side of the screen, the edges curve back into the body at what feels like an almost 90-degree angle. On any background other than white it does look good. But when you’re using your phone with a white background, because of the massively sloped viewing angle the screen looks like the colour has just completely bled out of the sides, which I personally don’t like.

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I’ve also found myself struggling to use the phone with one hand because of these curved edges. When I’m just scrolling through social media it is absolutely no problem, but if I want to touch something on the far side of the screen my palm will naturally rest on the curved edge and the phone will register that as a touch. On occasion it just doesn’t have a clue what I’m trying to do. This is worse on some apps than others, I found it particularly challenging on the Google Play store, but on Twitter it seemed absolutely fine. Hopefully this is something that can be tweaked with updates because as it stands this, coupled with the huge screen, makes using it with two hands practically a requirement. The super curved screen does have one use case which I did enjoy though. It’s so curved and sits so flat to the side of the phone you can run your thumb up and down the curved edge of the phone and use that to scroll – this feels pretty cool. 

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I know this is a review of the 8 Pro, but the slightly smaller and much less curved screen of the standard OnePlus 8 felt MUCH better in my hands. And while I do like the design, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was hoping the 8 Pro would stick with the all-screen futuristic look of the 7 Pro. But the hole-punch camera is tiny, so small that you pretty much don’t even notice it.

Anyway, enough of the screen, let’s talk about the thing that OnePlus always nails. The performance. You will be happy to hear they’ve done it again. This is by far the fastest phone that I’ve personally used. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and up to 12GB of super-fast LPDDR5 RAM make the OnePlus 8 Pro an absolute joy to use. Everything is snappy and responsive. The storage memory is super quick as well, adding to the feeling of speed. Pair this impressive performance with the snappy 120Hz screen and you have a winning combination. The X55 5G modem inside the 8 Pro means you can theoretically hit peak download speeds of 7.5 Gbps. A download speed which perfectly matches the speed of the 8 Pro itself!

The battery is great too. Even set to 1440p and 120Hz at the same time (which is glorious) it holds up. Of course it drains faster than it would with just one of those things turned on, but the 4510 mAh battery is more than enough to ensure that I only ever needed to charge it once per day. OnePlus Warp Charge speed has been increased yet again, it now charges at an insanely quick speed, 1% to 50% in half an hour. The cutting edge LPDDR5 RAM lowers power consumption by 20% which helps to provide some extra juice. Some more good news, the OnePlus 8 Pro is the first OnePlus phone to support both wireless charging and reverse wireless charging! And, obviously as it’s OnePlus it’s Warp Wireless Charging that can also charge your phone from 1% to 50% in 30 minutes. At the moment this will only work using the proprietary OnePlus wireless charger, but that’s still pretty damn awesome. It also has smart charging so if you leave your phone plugged in all night, it will only charge up to 80% until the point where you actually need your phone. Then it will charge the rest of the way. It learns your usage patterns and uses those. Say you wake up at 7am, your phone will learn this, and start charging the remaining 20% at 6am. So when you wake up it will be at 100%. This is a great way to keep the battery healthy.

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Now let’s talk about the cameras. On the back of the OnePlus 8 Pro you will find four different cameras. A standard wide-angle camera, a 3x telephoto camera, a 0.6x ultra-wide angle camera, and a funny little thing called a colour filter camera. I’ll sum up the three standard cameras in a sentence. They are good but not great. The main camera is 48MP and takes good enough shots, but when compared with pictures from other phones like the iPhone 11 Pro and the Samsung S20 it is evident which cameras are better. That is not to say the OnePlus 8 Pro has a bad camera by any means. The pictures are vibrant, sharp and when not directly compared to pictures from phones with superior cameras they look fantastic. The other two ‘normal’ cameras also produce colourful good looking pictures, which are only slightly softer than the main camera. There’s also a night mode for low light or night time photography. I was not disappointed with the main 3 cameras at all, and you won’t be either. 

I was however, a little bit perplexed by the colour filter camera. It’s the first of its kind on a smartphone, and I’ll be honest, I don’t get it. First of all it was very difficult to even find the option to use it in the camera app, so much so that for a while I genuinely thought it hadn’t yet been added to the phone and was going to be added later on in an update. Eventually, when I did find it I was excited to give it a try and took a picture of some plants outside my house, and this is the result of that:

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It’s just straight up weird. The camera itself is only a 5MP sensor, and the shots it takes have next to no detail in them and look very fuzzy. Personally, even if it was higher quality, I’d still think the pictures just look weird. I used the colour filter camera once, and I don’t think I’ll ever be using it again. OnePlus have added an extra camera on the back that might be useful to some people, but I’m gonna guess it will just be a gimmick to most. It doesn’t make any of the other cameras worse, so I can’t really complain about it being there, I just don’t really understand why it’s there. The fact it’s buried so deep in a menu inside the camera app, and not right there, in your face when you open it up, letting you know it wants to be used, suggests to me OnePlus don’t really know why either…

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The selfie camera is a tiny little 16MP hole punch at the top of the display which takes good selfies. And the main camera on the back can record decent quality video at 4K which makes use of optical image stabilisation and digital audio zoom, which makes audio louder the further you zoom in.

OxygenOS is still great. Paired with Android 10 it’s still (in my opinion) the best version of Android. It never gets in your way. It feels snappy and easy to use. And with this latest update it gets a proper universal dark mode, so that’s lovely. 

In the UK the OnePlus 8 Pro comes in two different colours: Glacial Green which has a very nice matte finish, and Onyx Black, which is glossy. It comes with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. The 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model will cost $899 and the top spec version will set you back $999.

Overall I do really like the OnePlus 8 Pro. There are a few things I wish were slightly different. I wish it still had the all-screen display of the 7 Pro, I wish the screen was just a little bit less curved, and I really do not understand the decision to include the colour filter camera. But those minor things aside, the OnePlus 8 Pro is an extremely good smartphone. The screen is stunning. 1440p and 120Hz together really does have to be seen to be believed. But a word of warning, once you do see it, I promise you won’t want to go back. The experience of using the phone is second to none. It’s the fastest Android phone I’ve ever used. The cameras take great pictures, which anyone should be more than happy to put on their Instagram feed. These positives I experienced using the 8 Pro massively outweigh the niggling little negatives, and make it a very easy phone to recommend.

Topics: Technology, camera, Cell Phone, OnePlus, phone, smartphone