The OnePlus 8 series is currently on pre-order in Singapore exclusively till 7 May. Pre-order customers will get a gift pack with 2 bumper cases and 1x Bullets Wireless Z earbuds worth S$149. It will then go on sale from 8 May. Retail price for OnePlus 8 Pro (IN2023) is $1,298 (128GB) and S$1,398 (256GB). I received a review unit this week and had been using it as my primary device, so in this article, I will share my review experience so that you can form a better purchase decision. I have also completed my review of the OnePlus 8 and you can read over at this link.
Unboxing and Design
The media kit comes in a elaborate packaging box with extras like a reviewer’s guide book and two bumper cases. The OnePlus 8 Pro retail box is in solid red and elongated, similar to the OnePlus 7T, but more subtle without the wordy description.
It comes with the basic necessities: phone, charger, cable, soft silicone case, SIM ejector pin, stickers, quick guide and some other essential write-ups.
OnePlus drives their “Never Settle” motto a little more aggressive by imprinting on the case. I’m sure fans would not mind that, but if you prefer a little more subtlety, you could always fit it with the free bumper case – exclusive to pre-orders only, so do now at Lazada!
The green sandstone case offers the best grip but easily soiled. The black nylon case is more durable for rough use, though does not feel as fabric-like as the Pixel cases. The Karbon case (separate purchase) is thin and has a smooth matt texture, offering the least grip among the three designs.
The usual hardware buttons and sliders are present. OnePlus remains the only Android smartphone with a dedicated alert slider that you can switch from silent to vibration to ring. I’m one of those who find this redundant: I could easily set the phone to vibrate or mute by reducing the volume. Also, I’m one of those who always leave the phone in vibration mode. The phone supports stereo speakers playback, and the channels are oriented correctly when you listen in landscape mode.
After so many years, the OnePlus 8 Pro finally gets an official IP68 water rating.
There are some notable comparisons with the display specs of OnePlus 8 Pro and OPPO Find X2 Pro. Both have curved edges, supports 1 billion 10-bit colour display, 3K QHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, DisplayMate A+ rating. The hole-punch camera is also at the same position – top left corner.
There are technical differences too. The OnePlus 8 Pro is 6.78-inch while OPPO Find X2 Pro is 6.7-inch (however, the pixel density for both is 513 ppi). OnePlus 8 Pro can reach up to 1300 nits while Find X2 Pro is 1200 nits max. The OnePlus 8 Pro uses Fluid AMOLED while the Find X2 Pro is just OLED, according to their official website.
Well, even though you think they could be using the same panel, comparing similar colour modes on both phones shows different white balance, as evident in the below comparison photos. OnePlus 8 Pro appears warmer in most of the modes, but both has options to fine-tune to achieve the desired comfort viewing level.
I’m happy with the punch-hole design but not a fan of curved-edge displays as it always results in accidental triggers, or worse, when I did not know my finger was in contact with the display, I could not get any on-screen action until I realise that one of my fingers affected the touch reading.
OnePlus 6T was the last OP smartphone I reviewed, and OnePlus 6 before that. I had better user experience on the 6 than the 6T. All these while, OnePlus was known for their customisable UI, responsive OS, and very competitive pricing. With every new releases, the prices keep going up, but justifiably because overall component costs have increased. Years back, flagship phones top at S$1,200, but now it goes closer to S$1,600. Even budget-friendly brands like Xiaomi is pricing their recent flagships close to – and even beyond – S$1,000 price point. You can still buy affordably-priced phone models by compromising on the specs, like a mid-range processor, average storage speed, basic display. You need to be aware which of the phone components are important to you so that you buy the right phone with the right specs at the right price.
Coming back to the OnePlus 8 Pro, it is undeniably a top-performer. Both the AnTuTu and 3DMark results are pretty high, second to OPPO Find X2 Pro. It feels similarly polished and smooth thanks to the Snapdragon 865, LPDDR5 RAM, UFS 3.0 storage.
There are a good number of customisation that would make a new OnePlus owner impressed. For instance, one can choose to show the second of the digital clock at the status bar, or remove the battery icon, leaving just the percentage. I can also change the accent colour of the OS to any shade, choose the shape of the app icon, choose colourful tone for various system icons. I can also double-tap the homescreen to turn off the display instead of reaching for the power button.
Like OPPO, the OnePlus Oxygen OS 10.5 can do more things than stock Android, like supporting multi-user profiles, parallel (or dual) apps. In the Display menu, there are a handful of settings, like Comfort Tone, Vibrant Color Effect Pro, Motion Graphics Smoothing, Screen Calibration. Screen recording, one of the features useful to create demo videos, is available. Like most Android phones, it also has a dedicated “Game Space” feature which lets you focus on your gaming and boost the performance easily.
There are a few missing features that I would love to have, like call recording,
able to delete messages from notification drawer (this feature is now supported after 10.5.9).
Under the Battery menu, there is a feature to slow down charging with the wireless charger because it can get noisy when charging by your bedside overnight. I hope it extends this to wired charging too because when you charge overnight, you do not need super fast charging. Speaking of charging, the Warp Charge is really fast: I can charge the OnePlus 8 Pro from below 10% to 100% in just 60 minutes, or just 23 minutes to 50%. Reverse charging is also supported, so you can charge other Qi devices through the phone.
As for the battery usage, it depends on the apps that you use. For my kind of usage, it comfortably lasts the full day for me. On some days, it was barely enough due to heavy app usages. But I never felt there was unnecessary battery drain unlike some phones. I guess OnePlus handled the background app battery consumption rather well, to an extent where I found that Whatsapp would be disconnected when I was using the web version while the phone was untouched for a while.
From a general usage point of view, a few things kind of felt a little less hassle-free for me. First, there is an option to wake the screen automatically when you pick up the phone, which is great. But the face unlock does not automatically activate until I double-tap the display. For fingerprint sensor users, this would not be a problem, as you can proceed to unlock once the display is on without double-tapping again. However, I have generally stopped opting fingerprint sensor as my primary unlock method because it slows down my unlock sequence. First, I have to see the screen to know where the sensor is, then I have to adjust my phone grip so that my finger can reach for the sensor comfortably. In some cases when the angle is too awkward, the sensor would take a little longer to detect. With face unlock, it’s instantaneous on the OnePlus 8 Pro.
Interestingly, OnePlus 8 Pro does not have Always-On Display (AOD) feature, another minor point about lack of customisation. What it does is that under the Ambient Display option, the phone could light up for a few seconds to show new notifications.
The camera system consists of a 48MP 1/2-inch ultra-wide angle IMX586 120-degree camera, 48MP 1/1.4-inch IMX689 OIS main camera, 8MP hybrid 30X zoom OIS camera, and 5MP photochrome filter camera. There is a short lag when shooting: after tapping the shutter, it took a small pause before the screen blinked and got captured. Taking quick consecutive shots by fast-tapping the shutter would not work, so you should hold the shutter to capture burst shots. It is rather satisfying to feel the haptic response with every frame captured.
Here’s how the camera compares with some of the latest flagship smartphones:
The OnePlus 8 Pro has a slightly punchier colour and more aggressive exposure metering. Let’s zoom into the pixels to see how resolving they are.
The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is the worst of the lot, and the OPPO Find X2 Pro is the sharpest. The Google Pixel 4XL retains more details albeit a more conservative exposure. The OnePlus 8 Pro did good nonetheless.
Next, we observe the hybrid zoom qualities, comparing with Samsung Galaxy S20+ since they both offers the same 30X zoom specs.
At 7X zoom, Samsung has better exposure and sharpness, but loses in the details at 30X zoom.
Here’s another comparison photo, once again demonstrating that the OnePlus 8 Pro has a preference to brighten the images a little.
Finally, let’s compare the performance of Night mode. For these photos, I tapped on the We Bare Bears plushies to meter the exposure.
The Google Pixel 4XL is the most aggressive in exposure and white balance, while the OPPO Find X2 Pro is more balanced, such that the lamp exposure is not blown. OnePlus 8 Pro does a good job too.
Front camera is sufficiently natural even though I applied the highest setting for face retouch. Unlike other models, there is no fine-tuning options like enlarging the eyes or slimming the face. I do like that there is a white ring around the front camera to draw attention to the lens.
In recent years, due to the growing application of AI and neural processing logic on smartphone imaging, comparing smartphone images is no longer just about pixel quality but also on the ability of the imaging processor to process the way that consumer likes. Hence, not everyone will get the same results, as it depends on how the smartphone interprets the scene.
But I think OnePlus 8 Pro camera system is robust and tweaked to look more pleasing, more warmth, and reds. The super macro mode is spectacular, and I could further magnify by selecting the 2X mode.
Instead of trying to compete Huawei in the super-zoom race, OnePlus offered a balanced system to allow decent magnification with usable details in everyday life.
OnePlus has build up a strong reputation, and the smartphone models have grown over the years through community feedback and market demands. The OnePlus 8 Pro is not priced for the masses, but neither is it overpriced. If you are willing to keep upgrading your old Samsung or iPhone to a new pricier Samsung or iPhone, I don’t see why you wouldn’t do it for OnePlus too. The benchmark performance is much better than Samsung Galaxy S20+, the camera is mostly better, and the price is lower too. The UI is responsive, heavily customisable, and the apps load quickly.
From another perspective, the OnePlus 8 Pro lacks the freshness. The curved-edge display is relatively dated, the rear camera layout is uninspiring, albeit timeless and symmetrical. The OS offers small upgrades but nothing that you would die for. It would be hard for me to convince a Samsung owner to switch to OnePlus if the price difference is small, while bearing a higher perceived risk that he might not like the phone. Neither could I encourage a person with a handsome budget of S$800 to pay 50% more for OnePlus 8 Pro. Comparatively, over the last 12-24 months, many iPhone owners I personally know switched to Huawei flagships because they cost at least 30% cheaper and had clearly better camera systems.
Now what I am eager to find out is: would the OnePlus 8 be a more attractive option, given the model starts at S$998 for the 128GB variant? The answer is at the link below after I switched over to the phone for this review!