Review: OnePlus 8
Of the two new phones that OnePlus announced today, the OnePlus 8 is my favourite. While I think the Pro version is a fantastic smartphone, the overall package of the cheaper OnePlus 8 is the one I would recommend people buy. That is, if you don’t mind it having slightly fewer features.
The screen on the OnePlus 8 is wonderful. It’s a 6.55-inch full HD display that’s super bright, super sharp, and has exceptional colour accuracy. So, it’s great for watching YouTube videos. But it gets better. The mid range, cheaper, OnePlus 8 has a high refresh rate screen. It’s not the super quick 120Hz refresh rate of the 8 Pro, it instead runs at a slightly slower 90Hz. In use that is noticeably slower than the 120Hz screen on the Pro, but also a massive upgrade over the 60Hz that most people will be used to. Everything just feels so much smoother and more responsive on 90Hz compared to 60Hz. Using the OnePlus 8 in this regard is an absolute joy, and since moving back to my personal phone I miss the 90Hz.
One thing I have found, and I think this might be quite specific to me, is that when I’m given the choice between 90Hz and 120Hz I actually prefer the slightly slower 90. Scrolling on a 120Hz phone screen can make it feel like your content is flying by you at a million miles an hour and I found it quite distracting at times, until I got used to it. The 90Hz on the OnePlus 8 hits the sweet spot for me, where it’s clearly better than what I’m used to at 60, but not too much faster that it disorients me slightly. As I said before, this was just my experience using the two phones side by side, and I would guess for the majority of people 120Hz will be the better experience.
Other than the refresh rate the big advantage the Pro has over the 8 is the resolution. The 8 Pro comes in at 1440p while the 8 sits comfortably at 1080p. The extra pixels are nice for sure, but 90% of the time I didn’t even notice the difference when switching between the two phones.
But the huge advantage of the OnePlus 8 for me, and the main reason I would spend my own money on the 8 over the Pro is not the resolution of the screen, or the speed of it. It’s the experience of using it physically in your hand. If you read my OnePlus 8 Pro review you’ll know I wasn’t a fan of the way that its screen curves around the sides of the phone at an almost 90 degree angle. The curve on the screen of the OnePlus 8 is absolutely miniscule in comparison. Sure it’s there, but it doesn’t make any difference to how you use the phone at all. While I struggled to use the OnePlus 8 Pro one handed, mostly thanks to the curved screen, using the OnePlus 8 one handed is a doddle. Because its large 6.55-inch screen is almost flat and it’s not too wide, I can reach the other side of the phone with my thumb and my palm doesn’t press against the curved area of the screen and cause mistouches. If I need to reach the top far corner of the phone I need to move my hand slightly. But with a screen this size that’s to be expected.
Where the two versions of the OnePlus 8 are pretty much on par is performance, as you’d expect from OnePlus. Like the 8 Pro, the 8 is lightning quick. It’s fitted with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, which, as well as super fast, makes it 5G ready. The 5G on the 8 is just as quick as on the 8 Pro, which means it can theoretically download at speeds up to 7.5Gbps. Not bad! There’s up to 12GB of LPDDR4X RAM, which is slightly slower than the RAM in the Pro, but honestly I didn’t notice it at all. And there’s up to 256GB of high-speed storage. The battery is good, I didn’t need to charge it more than once a day at any point, even with the high refresh rate turned on. It comes in at 4,300mAh, and if you had the screen set to the lower 60Hz refresh rate it will easily last into a second day on just one charge. Warp charging is also upgraded on the OnePlus 8 like the Pro, but because of the smaller battery size it charges even faster. 1% to 50% in just 22 minutes. This is definitely one of my favourite features. Unfortunately the standard OnePlus 8 still doesn’t have wireless charging, which is another way it differs from the more expensive OnePlus 8 Pro.
While the OnePlus 8 Pro has 4 cameras on it the OnePlus 8 only has 3. But that is absolutely not a bad thing. It ditches the gimmicky colour filter and the 3x telephoto camera from the 8 Pro in favour of a macro camera for taking super close up pictures. Losing those two cameras is not a big deal in my opinion. I’m not a fan of the colour filter camera on the Pro anyway, and while you’ll sometimes miss the 3x telephoto camera, I don’t usually find myself using smartphone camera zoom anyway. So what you’re left with is the good 48MP main sensor which takes colourful, vibrant, and detailed photos. And an ultra-wide camera, and they’re always good fun. The macro camera is a nice little gimmick, for which I genuinely found some uses for. I much preferred it to the colour filter camera on the 8 Pro. Like the OnePlus 8 Pro, the 8 has optical image stabilisation when recording video, but doesn’t have the digital audio zoom. The 8 also has the same tiny hole punch 16MP selfie camera on the front, which takes good selfies.
In the UK the OnePlus 8 comes in the exact same colours as the OnePlus 8 Pro. A matte Glacial Green, and a glossy Onyx Black. It also has the same in-screen fingerprint scanner on the front which is one of the fastest I’ve used. And like the Pro it runs OxygenOS on top of Android 10, which has a really nice dark mode, woohoo!
Prices for the phone start at $699 for the model with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. The 12GB RAM and 256GB storage version of the device will cost $799.
So, to conclude, if I were to pick which of the two new OnePlus phones I would spend my own money on, it would be this one. It really does come down to the curved edges of the screen. It seems like such a minor thing, but my experience using the OnePlus 8 was so much more pleasant and easy than the 8 Pro just because of this slight difference. That’s not to say everyone’s experience will be the same as mine. I’m sure there will be people who absolutely love the massive curve on the 8 Pro’s screen, but for me the 8 is just better to use. Having a slightly slower refresh rate is a shame compared to the 120Hz of the Pro, but 90Hz is still faster than the vast majority of phones out there and it’s a joy to use. I didn’t notice any difference at all between the performance of the two phones, and losing the colour filter camera made absolutely no difference to me whatsoever. The only reasons I can see to buy the Pro over the 8 are the slightly larger screen, the slightly faster refresh rate, and the addition of wireless charging. If you don’t particularly care about any of those things, the OnePlus 8 will be a fantastic phone for you.