OnePlus’s latest range-topping 8 Pro phone puts Samsung on notice, featuring a slick design, 120Hz screen, 5G, improved cameras and even wireless charging.
Starting at £799, the 8 Pro builds on the success of last year’s £649 7 Pro and £699 7T Pro, but with a higher price on par with its premium rivals. In offering it, OnePlus has shifted from its self-proclaimed cut-price “flagship killer” roots to directly competing with the likes of Samsung and Apple without a massive price advantage.
The 8 Pro simplifies the design of last year’s models. Gone is the novel popup selfie camera, replaced by a more traditional hole punch situated about one-sixth in from the top left of the screen. It’s small and fairly unobtrusive during use.
The large industry-leading QHD+ 6.78in screen is the star of the show, filling the entire front of the device. New for this year is a bump up from 90Hz to 120Hz refresh rate, matching Samsung’s S20 line and a smidgen smoother in slow scrolls than last year’s phones or the cheaper OnePlus 8.
The difference between the previous standard 60Hz screens and a 120Hz screen is quite something: scrolling through lists, sites, content and other animations is just so much smoother at 120Hz. It’s difficult to go back.
The screen can be used in either FHD+ or QHD+ at 120Hz, unlike Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra, which is limited to FHD+ at 120Hz.
A glass back is not just for aesthetics this year, as the 8 Pro is OnePlus’s first phone with wireless charging – more on that later.
The 74.4mm-wide, 199g 8 Pro is 1.5mm narrower and 7g lighter than last year’s models, making it far more manageable than most, including the oversized Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. I didn’t feel the need to immediately put a Popsocket or phone ring on the back to help me hold it. However, it is a full 2.7mm longer than the 7T Pro, which makes it more difficult to comfortably fit in a pocket.
The 8 Pro is also the first OnePlus to come with an official IP68 water resistance rating.
The 8 Pro ships with the same OxygenOS 10.5 based on Android 10 as the cheaper OnePlus 8.
Google’s Discover feed now features on the home screen, alongside nice touches such as the ability to choose which icons show in the status bar, full theme support and choices for animations such as that around the fingerprint scanner.
OxygenOS has developed into the best version of Android you can get on a phone, balancing features, aesthetics and speed like no other.
OnePlus only offers software support for three years from release, including two years of Android version updates and then a further year of security updates on a bimonthly schedule. Samsung offers four years of support for its S20 devices and Apple offers five for its iPhones, so there’s still work to be done for OnePlus.
The camera on the OnePlus 8 Pro is a significant step up from previous efforts. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The 8 Pro has a quad-camera on the rear of the device, combining a 48MP main camera, a 48MP ultrawide camera, an 8MP telephoto camera and a 5MP colour filter camera.
The main 48MP camera is great, producing some excellent, highly detailed and well exposed shots. The auto-HDR mode handles high-contrast scenes well, while low-light performance is much improved from the 7T Pro and 8 without needing the dedicated Nightscape mode. It shoots 12MP images by default, with a 48MP mode available, which suffered more from camera and object shake.
The 48MP ultrawide-angle camera is also one of the better modules on a phone, producing some good images in bright light in 12MP mode. It was weaker in middling light, producing more noise and artefacts than the main camera, but it can use Nightscape in really dark scenes to help.
The 8MP camera is good too, but as can be expected has significantly weaker low-light performance than the main camera. It has a 3x hybrid zoom, which is very good, and a further digital zoom up to 30x that rivals all but those phones with telescopic optical zoom lenses, such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. If your subject is still you’ll get pretty good images all the way up to 24x zoom in good light.
The 5MP photochrom colour filter camera is a gimmick that can be safely ignored, producing poor images even in good light. You can do better with software colour filters.
The front-facing 16MP camera is really good too, producing highly detailed and well toned images in good light. It gets slightly softer in poor light, but still respectable.
- OnePlus’s excellent alert slider toggles between silent, vibrate and ring.
- The stereo speakers are pretty good.
- A pre-applied screen protector and good clear-plastic case are included in the box.
- Call quality was excellent on both sides of the call.
- The first phone tested had a faulty screen that showed a green tint to dark. colours with the screen brightness set to under 40%.
- The new optional textured sandstone cases (£22.95) are the best for adding grip to a phone I’ve ever used.