As part of the media engagement, OnePlus sent over units of the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro to me for review. I’ve completed the Pro model and moved on to the next-best OnePlus 8. It retails from S$998 (8GB RAM, 128GB) to S$1,098 (12GB RAM, 256GB). Pre-orders are ongoing till 7 May via Lazada, which comes with free gifts worth S$149, while stocks last.
Unboxing and Design
Overall, the packaging is identical to the OnePlus 8 Pro, and so is the design, except for a cleaner rear camera system while the Pro has additional components on the left of the trio lenses. The Glacier Green colour with Matte AG glass finish is glaringly attractive and fingerprint resistant, definitely a must-get compared to the conventional black variant. It certainly goes very well with the Cyan sandpaper bumper case.
The volume buttons are to the left of the phone, while the power button is to the right and the alert slider above it. Screen protector is pre-applied at the factory.
Major Differences with OnePlus 8 Pro
As highlighted in my pre-launch article, these are some of the differences that warrants the S$300 price difference.
- Display: OnePlus 8 Pro is 6.78-inch 3168 x 1440 pixels 120Hz vs. 6.55-inch 2400 x 1080 90Hz on OnePlus 8
- RAM: LPDDR5 vs. LPDDR4X
- OnePlus 8 Pro supports wireless charging
- Camera: OnePlus 8 Pro has 48MP UWA (120-degree), 48MP Standard (Sony IMX689), 8MP 3X Telephoto Zoom, and 5MP Colour Filter Lens. OnePlus 8 has 16MP UWA (116-degree), 48MP Standard (Sony IMX586), 2MP Macro Lens.
- Battery: 4510mAh on the Pro vs. 4300mAh
Over the weeks of hands-on, I picked up a few more fundamental gaps which could be important for some people:
- The resolution on the OnePlus 8 cannot be changed, whereas the Pro model can opt for lower resolution
- There are fewer display customisation, like no Comfort Tone, no Video Enhancement Engines
- No reverse charging supported
- The rear camera supports up to 10X digital zoom, while the Pro model can do 30X
- With the ultra-wide angle lens, video recording is only possible at 1080p 30fps, whereas there is no such limitation on the Pro model
Another interesting observation: the OnePlus 8 beats the OnePlus 8 Pro (AnTuTu: 566,357) in benchmark tests, which was baffling. I guess it’s something to do with the internal memory: the review unit of OnePlus 8 has 12GB RAM 256GB storage while the OnePlus 8 Pro has 8GB RAM. I had the same observation with the Samsung Galaxy S20 series.
I also feel that the battery life is better than the OnePlus 8 Pro. It could be due to a lower-consumption display, or perhaps I have been using less phone. But I never had a situation where the battery life dropped to single-digit with the OnePlus 8.
Let’s compare further on the screen display and camera system.
It is clear that the OnePlus 8 display is tweaked differently. The yellows and reds are a little brighter, but with a slight cast.
The OnePlus 8 definitely less sharp given the different screen resolution. Generally the white is cooler compared to the Pro. I also find that the auto-brightness gives a lower brightness compared to the Pro.
You can only see the difference if you compare both models side by side. Else, on its own, the OnePlus 8 looks pretty decent. You can also finetune the display warmth to your preference.
The OnePlus 8 uses completely different rear camera system from the Pro, and this reveals a lot about the image quality between the two models. While the OnePlus 8 Pro camera system is a step forward from the previous models, the OnePlus 8 camera is a step backward from the OnePlus 7T, who has a telephoto lens.
The additional macro lens on the OnePlus 8 delivers disappointing results, as it captures just 2MP resolution and the quality is a far cry from OnePlus 8 Pro. Unlike the latter, I cannot get as close using that mode. In fact, I can get better results using the digital zoom.
Moving on to the general image quality, there are some tonality differences. The OnePlus 8 Pro brings out the highlights a little more while the OnePlus 8 tends to favour slightly more contrast.
The below test image further illustrates the differences in the camera processing. The highlights on OnePlus 8 Pro is more while the contrast is more on OnePlus 8.
Moving on to night scenes, the OnePlus 8 Pro looks warmer and redder, while the OnePlus 8 is skewed towards a cooler tone.
For front camera, both the models deliver identical results since they are using the same image sensor.
Grand Conclusion: OnePlus 8 or 8 Pro?
When smartphone companies launch new flagship models, we expect significant improvements over the previous models. Generally the OnePlus 8 comes with overall feature and performance improvements, but the camera system feels a little downgrade from OnePlus 7T.
Should you get the OnePlus 8 or pay S$300 more for OnePlus 8 Pro? If you want the latest smartphone that performs your daily tasks in an outstanding efficiency while not too bothered about the camera quality, then the OnePlus 8 would be an excellent choice. If you need an outstanding camera system and excellent display panel, then you must go for OnePlus 8 Pro.
The OnePlus 8 is the highest performing flagship smartphone I have tested so far this year, and it happens to be the lowest price too. Even the more-premium OnePlus 8 Pro is priced at the same as Samsung Galaxy S20. No doubt there will be more competitive models from other companies, but probably none as iconic as OnePlus. They go on sale from 8 May exclusively from Lazada for 2 weeks, before opening to all other retail channels.