OnePlus 8 Pro: A Premium Phone That Won’t Break the Bank

You don't have to pay a king's ransom for a great phone

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Tshaka Armstrong
YouTube Host, Mobile
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June 30, 2020
5 min read

Top-of-the-line communications devices have become our lifeline to everything from business, to connectivity, to cartoons, and so far, you think you 'd have to pay a king's ransom to get all of that. Considering some prices of cell phones lately, many of you have paid quite a premium for a top-of-the-line smartphone.

Not today though. What if you didn't have to pay as much as you pay for a laptop to buy a beast of a phone? Enter the OnePlus 8 Pro. We tried it out for a week and have a lot to report on. TL;DR, this is the phone your mother warned you about … because it's probably going to steal your heart.

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The design of the OnePlus 8 Pro

The OnePlus 8 Pro is available in eye-catching colors. We tried out the Glacial Green variant of the entry-level Pro model with 8 GB of fast LPDDR5 RAM and the new UFS 3.0 storage, 128 GB of it. This was part of the Reviewers Kit that OnePlus sent, and we’re really impressed with quite a few of these products.

The sandstone case has a gritty texture that gives you the feeling of extra grip.

The Warp 30T charger with the OnePlus 8 Pro has a fan built into it, helping to keep everything nice and cool.

You get the charger in the box when you buy it at retail, as well as a clear case. There is no screen protector built in or pre-installed.

Impressive display and well-placed features

The right side of the phone is where you'll find the power button, which can also be used as your voice assistant button if you like. This is a feature we believe every Android manufacturer should be adopting.

On the left side is the volume rocker, and on the bottom of the phone is the USB-C port, a microphone, half of the stereo speakers, and dual nano-SIM tray. There is not an option for expandable storage.

On the top side of the phone is another microphone. Skirting the top edge of the front of the phone is the second half of the stereo pair, and just to the left of that is the hole-punch camera.

Around that hole punch is the vibrant 6.55-inch viewable display, which is capable of resolutions up to QHD+ (that's 1368x1440), and you get the ability to view the display at 120 Hz, even at its highest resolution, which is something you won't get with some of its competitors. You will take a hit to the battery for that display decision, should you choose it. This is one of the best displays on the market right now. There aren't any other devices at this size and price point which match this display.

Below the display is the fingerprint scanner, which we consider best in class in the Android category. Unlocks are fast, and it won’t feel like you have to be exacting with finger placement to unlock successfully.

This phone also supports Qualcomm's top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865 processor with the X55 5G modem and the Adreno 650 graphics processor. What does all of that even mean? Well, you're getting a relatively future-proof flagship phone. Relatively is a keyword here, because of what Qualcomm's next 5G modem is purported to be able to do.

Gesture navigation could be better

One issue that is irksome is gesture navigation. If you're going to get rid of the traditional navigation, having a case with a cutout at the bottom, is the best way to go, since you're going to find yourself swiping up, from the bottom of the screen, frequently. However, by turning on the feature that hides the navbar, the bottom of the screen becomes more sensitive to swipes and the problem solved. It still isn't 100%, but it's a lot better than it was before, and hide navbar is just one of quite a few customizations you'll find in Oxygen OS. This OS has a lack of bloat compared to previous versions.

Marathon battery life

The battery with everything on maximum—meaning screen brightness, auto adapt off, with the slider set to maximum, the refresh rates set to 120 Hz, and the screen resolution at QHD+—went for 27 hours, with almost six and a half hours screen-on time, and still had 11% left.

Your mileage may vary, but this 4,510 mAh battery is highly capable of getting you through your days. You will see better battery life than that if you set the screen to a lower resolution and 60 Hz. If you're a battery hog, it is optimal to set the screen to that lower resolution and keep the refresh rate at 120 Hz, which will give you the best of both worlds: solid battery life and beautiful navigation experience and display.

The OnePlus 8 Pro's quad cameras give sharp, crisp photos

This Pro model features quad cameras, and during an early morning photo test, the colors were vibrant and images sharp, ultra-wide, and telephoto. The OnePlus 7T's super macro mode does a fantastic job of capturing detail with the 48-megapixel shooter.

But how about those low-light Night Mode shots? Sharp and crisp. Colors are solid as is contrast, and both the main camera and the ultra-wide-angle lens captured respectable images. You can go pixel peeping and find the flaws, but they're no different from any other camera on the market right now, even though the extent to which those flaws are expressed are going to be greater or lesser to varying degrees.

So that's three of the four cameras, but what about that color-filter camera? The best way to think of this is as a hardware version of an Instagram filter. What's different on this camera than the OnePlus 8 is the Photochromic mode filter. You can't really control the output of this filter, but it does net some interesting results. It mimics an old film processing technique, which adds color to black and white photos. The color it adds back to photos is really dependent on the items in the photos, but it tends to favor restoring, or rather replacing, colors with this kind of eerie grayscale or sepia and copper tones.

This Photochrome feature actually comes with some controversy. It uses infrared technology, which imbues it with the ability to see through certain materials. This could potentially be a major issue for OnePlus, but we tested it out and only could get the X-ray pictures with a couple of items around the house. It was definitely finicky with clothing, and according to a OnePlus spokesperson, they're disabling the functionality on Hydrogen OS, the OS that they use in China, but Oxygen OS, which we use here in the States, will not have the feature disabled but instead be opted for a push OTA update in the future, which will disable some functionality of the Photochrome feature.

Recap: Is the OnePlus 8 Pro smartphone worth it?

In the end, there really is so much to like about the OnePlus 8 Pro, but what helps it stand out in the flagship race is the price. For a similarly specced device in both the Android and iOS spaces, you can pay hundreds more. But do you really need to? This year's crop of flagships calls that into question, and the OnePlus 8 Pro answers with a resounding "No."

OnePlus definitely has a solid hitter on their hands, or better yet in your hands, with this device as it is definitely worth it, and if you're someone who's looking at this phone and the standard OnePlus 8, if you have the budget, we recommend going with this one. If you're going to pay near that amount, it might be worth it to pay the extra and get the wireless charging and larger screen.

Tshaka Armstrong
Written by
Tshaka Armstrong
Tshaka is a nerd and Griot. Founder of the non-profit digital literacy organization Digital Shepherds, he’s also been a broadcast technology reporter, writer, and producer. In addition to being an award-winning broadcast storyteller, he’s also covered tech online and in print for everything from paintball gear technology, to parenting gadgets. He blathers on about his many curiosities on social media everywhere as @tshakaarmstrong.

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