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OnePlus 8 Pro long-term review: a stellar flagship experience

On: August 29, 2020

The OnePlus 8 Pro was launched alongside the OnePlus 8 back in April this year. However, due to issues with production, the phone only went on sale in India in mid-June. The OnePlus 8 Pro is the most premium phone from the brand yet, bringing in new features like a 120Hz display, fast wireless charging and an IP68 rating, among others. As expected, it’s priced on the higher side too, with the top-end model falling just short of Rs 60,000.

Also read: OnePlus 7T review: a Pro in all but name  

While the initial reviews of the OnePlus 8 Pro have been largely positive, there are issues that tend to crop up in the long run. I’ve used the device as my primary phone for several weeks now to see how it holds up with long-term usage.

Design and display

The OnePlus 8 Pro takes a detour from the OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro, adopting the more modern punch-hole camera design. I quite liked the OnePlus 7T’s circular rear camera module, but that seemed to be just a one-off from OnePlus. The OnePlus 8 Pro instead retains the rather boring vertical camera layout at the centre of the back panel. The camera bump protrudes quite a bit on this phone, and I’d advise using a case to level out the height and avoid scratching the lenses.

Another reason why using a case is advisable is the dual curved display. There’s no denying this makes the phone looks slick and premium, but it’s not ideal for day to day usage. For one, OnePlus has compromised on the thickness of the frame, which has consequently resulted in thinner buttons with sharper edges. This is especially true of the alert slider, which doesn’t feel as sturdy as it did on the OnePlus 7T, and now requires you to stretch your thumb beyond the curved screen to access it. Dual curved displays also tend to have ghost touch issues, although in my usage this rarely happened.

Another gripe I have with curved displays is that they’re more prone to cracks than flat displays, especially if you drop your phone on the side. Since the display curves over the edges, even putting a case on might not protect the screen from shattering.

The curves aside, the display comes with the excellent quality I’ve come to expect from OnePlus. It’s a large 6.78-inch AMOLED panel with QHD+ resolution, HDR10+ support and Gorilla Glass protection. Colours are vibrant and punchy, the blacks are deep and the sunlight legibility is excellent thanks to the maximum brightness of 1,300 nits. The cherry on top is the 120Hz refresh rate, which makes scrolling through social feeds and swiping between photos feel fast and smooth. After having used the OnePlus 7T’s 90Hz display for several months, the OnePlus 8 Pro’s screen feels considerably more fluid.

By default, OnePlus sets the display to 120Hz and full HD+ resolution. You can enable QHD+ resolution, but this will cause the battery to drain faster. I used the phone at full HD+ resolution for the majority of my testing period, and I guarantee you won’t notice the difference. You also have the option to switch to a 60Hz refresh rate, but unless you’re looking to save battery, it’s not worth it.

The soft-touch matte finish glass back panel feels smooth in the hand and stays clear of smudges and fingerprints. I had the Glacial Green variant, which looks nothing like the colour shown in the renders. Instead, it’s got a very prominent blue tint. While you can pick the phone up in Ultramarine Blue and Onyx Black colours, I wish the OnePlus 8’s dreamy Interstellar Glow variant had been launched for the Pro as well.

The OnePlus 8 Pro features stereo speakers, one at the bottom and one integrated into the earpiece at the top. The sound gets plenty loud, and is great for watching videos. I’ve even used it to play music, and the sound has been loud and clear without becoming distorted at higher volumes.

The OnePlus 8 Pro weighs 199g, making it one of the heaviest phones around. This makes one-handed usage difficult. The tall form factor of the phone doesn’t help either, especially if you’re looking to reach the corners of the screen.

The phone features an in-display fingerprint sensor, which is more accurate than the one on the OnePlus 7T. I found it recognized my fingerprint even if my hands were wet. With the OnePlus 8 Pro, the brand has added an IP68 rating, which means the phone can survive a dip in water. The display does get activated when water falls on it though.

Cameras

OnePlus smartphones have typically fallen behind their peers when it comes to the cameras, and the brand is trying to fix that with the OnePlus 8 Pro. The smartphone is the only device apart from the OPPO Find X2 Pro to feature the 48MP Sony IMX689 sensor with OIS, EIS and an aperture of f/1.78. This is clubbed with a 48MP IMX586 ultra-wide camera, which happens to be the same sensor used as the primary camera on the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus Nord. The other two cameras include an 8MP telephoto lens with OIS and 3x lossless zoom and a 5MP colour filter.

I’ve used the cameras extensively over the last few weeks, and have found the primary camera to be a vast improvement over the OnePlus 7T. Daylight shots are stunning, with accurate dynamic range and natural looking colours. The camera is quick to focus and resulting images are detailed, even when you zoom in. Even images captured indoors in low lighting turn out sharp and grain-free, without any compromise on colours.

Night shots can be fuzzy, especially since you need to hold the camera still for a few seconds. Using the dedicated Nightscape mode improves things quite a bit, with the noise being considerably reduced and light flares being eliminated. While the main camera can take decent close-ups on its own, there is an ultra-macro mode available if you want to get even closer. However, unless your subject is absolutely still, you’ll end up with blurry images more often than not.

The ultra-wide camera is one of the better ones I’ve come across, and owing to the higher resolution, captures fairly detailed images. There’s only a very slight fish-eye effect, and the distortion around the edges is minimal. More importantly, you get detailed images with colours similar to what you get on the primary camera.

The 8MP telephoto camera offers 3x hybrid zoom. This isn’t the same as optical zoom, but you can still get sharp, usable images at 3x zoom. I did find that zooming in at 3x skews the white balance towards the warmer side though. You can zoom in digitally up to 30x, but given that even 10x zoom images look washed out, I wouldn’t recommend it.

The final camera in the lineup is the 5MP colour filter camera. It’s an odd choice for a fourth camera, since it’s essentially a filter. You can access it by going to filters and selecting Photocrom. When used, the filter leeches the colour out of the images and applies sepia tones over green, red and brown elements, giving the final image a very retro look. It works mainly outdoors in sunlight, with the effect considerably reduced indoors.

The selfie camera is a 16MP sensor with EIS. While selfies taken in good lighting turn out well, even the smallest light source behind you results in washed out images. Selfies taken in low light are usable, but not great. Even those taken with indoor lighting have a fair bit of noise.

Software

The OnePlus 8 Pro runs Android 10 out of the box with OxygenOS 10.5 on top. OxygenOS is probably my favourite Android skin, given that it comes with a mostly stock interface with several customisation options and useful add-ons like Zen Mode, live wallpapers, a system-wide dark mode and categorised SMS messages, among others.

Unfortunately, with the OnePlus 8 series, we’ve started to see the first instances of bloatware on OxygenOS with Facebook services being installed. While you can disable this, there’s no way to remove it from the phone. Plus, if you have apps like Facebook and Instagram on your phone, they will be updated using Facebook services instead of the Play Store. You’ll be well within your rights to be concerned given that Facebook is known for its shady data collection practices.

Performance

The OnePlus 8 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset, paired with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. I have the 8GB + 128GB version, and unless you specifically need the extra storage, this much memory will suffice even if you’re a power user. After having used the phone extensively, I can tell you that it is as fast and smooth as you expect a flagship to be, effortlessly loading heavier apps and games, and multi-tasking without hiccups. Some apps like WhatsApp do occassionally become unresponsive and need to be restarted though, which is an issue I haven’t noticed on any other phone.

The OnePlus 8 Pro’s battery is a 4,510mAh cell, and you get the 30W Warp Charge adapter in the box. The OnePlus 8 Pro is also the first phone from the brand to feature wireless charging, which can reach 30W speeds if used with the OnePlus Warp Charge 30 wireless charger. Reverse wireless charging is also supported, but it’s painfully slow at 3W. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test the fast wireless charging speeds since OnePlus didn’t send across its wireless charger.

In my usage, the OnePlus 8 Pro lasted comfortably until the end of the day. You can get about 5-6 hours of screen time with this phone, which is pretty good. The first week I used the device I noticed WhatsApp was draining my battery heavily, which is a known issue on OnePlus devices. I restarted the phone a couple of times though, and the issue resolved itself on its own after a few days.

The 30W bundled Warp Charger takes a little over an hour to charge the battery completely from 0 to 100 percent. OnePlus also has a neat optimised charging feature which kicks in when you charge the phone at night. This charges the battery to 80 percent, and then suspends the charging and resumes it 100 minutes before you wake up. The phone recognizes your wake up time either based on your alarm, or by learning it from your sleep patterns over a few weeks.

The competition

The OnePlus 8 Pro is priced at Rs 54,999 for the 8GB + 128GB option, and Rs 59,999 for the 12GB + 256GB variant. The most obvious contender for the phone is the Xiaomi Mi 10. The Mi 10 received a price cut recently, and retails at Rs 49,999 (8GB + 128GB) and Rs 54,999 (8GB + 256GB). Both phones have several specifications in common, including the Snapdragon 865 processor and 30W wired and wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging. While the Mi 10 has a larger battery and a 108MP primary camera as its trump cards, the OnePlus 8 Pro has an IP68 rating and cleaner OxygenOS software to its benefit. While the Mi 10 is a loaded flagship in its own right, OnePlus is the more trusted brand in this price segment, and likely to be the more preferred device among potential flagship buyers.

The iPhone 11 is another option in this price range, available for as little as Rs 59,900 on Amazon at the time of writing this review. While comparing specifications on an iPhone is pointless, it’s worth pointing out that you get a smaller display and battery, and only 64GB of storage for this price. The iPhone 11 has better cameras, particularly for night time photography, and being an Apple device, you can expect it to hold up well for a few years.

Finally, there’s the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. The phone features an excellent AMOLED display and cameras, but gets only a standard 60Hz refresh rate. It also features the Exynos 9820 processor, which doesn’t hold up well against the Snapdragon 865.

Bottomline

Four months after its launch, the OnePlus 8 Pro continues to be among 2020’s top flagships. With features like IP68 certification and wireless charging being added to the mix, it’s right up there with flagships from Apple and Samsung. OnePlus has also made changes where it was due, by getting rid of the clunky pop-up module and improving the cameras significantly. The phone has held up well during my testing period, and given OnePlus’ track record with providing software updates, it’s a good investment if you want a flagship that will last you a few years.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

Pros:

  • Gorgeous 120Hz display
  • Excellent performance
  • Improved primary camera
  • IP68 rating
  • 30W wireless charging

Cons:

  • Unwieldy for one-handed usage
  • Facebook services can’t be removed
  • Average selfie camera
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Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

Ketaki has over 10 years experience writing on tech, having worked at the Hindu Business Line and 91mobiles earlier. When she's not editing copies or reviewing the latest gadgets, she spends her time binge-watching Netflix and reading fantasy fiction.