The long-awaited OnePlus 8 has just been announced, following the underwhelming OnePlus 7T Pro last October. The hope we had for this coming out was that it would be more like the 7 and the 7 Pro. Fewer bugs, more functionality, all around just a more attentive and regardful smartphone. Rest assured, this device is exactly what was expected. You’ll be able to pick it up from OnePlus’ own website, and you can use our referral code below to get 15 euro off your order.
There is nothing quite like unboxing OnePlus smartphones. I could sense the care and design that went into the packaging. It felt premium, and I can honestly say that my expectations were set high from just opening the box. The first thing I noticed upon setting up the phone was how sleek and responsive the menus were. Not only was the phone responding to my command instantly, but it was doing it with a wholehearted 90hz worth of smoothness. As an avid supporter of higher refresh rates, it is a delight to see 90Hz and higher becoming the normality with most smartphone manufacturers.
Oxygen OS made it very simple to set up the device, I had all my photos and some accounts backed up with Google which made the transfer significantly easier. This is to be expected of all smartphone devices these days, as a market as competitive as the technology industry requires adaption most nimble. A good start, but for now, let’s take a look at the specifications.
The OnePlus 8 we received was the 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage model in Glacier Green. We received this device directly from OnePlus UK on the 9th of April, 2020, although the company had no input towards our findings in this review.
|Display||90Hz Fluid AMOLED 6.55”|
|Software||Oxygen OS based on Android 10|
|Rear Cameras||16 MP Ultra Wide Angle
48 MP Main
|Front Camera||16 MP|
|Sensors||In-display Fingerprint Sensor, Accelerometer, Electronic Compass, Gyroscope, Ambient Light Sensor, Sensor Core|
|Storage||8/12GB RAM LPDDR5+ 128/256GB ROM|
|Battery||4300 mAh (non-removable) + Warp Charge 30T (5V/6V)|
|Audio||Dual Stereo Speakers, Noise cancellation support, Dolby Atmos|
|Unlock Options||In-display Fingerprint, Face Unlock|
|Connections||5G Support (X55 5G)
Nothing too bold, nothing too out there. The battery size is a significant upgrade, and the 5G support was always going to be one of the bigger selling points for smartphones this year. But what are specifications if they are not matched with an appropriate design.
The OnePlus 8 comes in 3 colours, Onyx Black, Interstellar Glow, and Glacial Green. I, personally, adore the Glacial Green. It’s a lovely calming shade of green, with a stunning shine to it that gives the impression of a well-put-together device. It is a matte glass, which I very much liked. The other 2 colours are both gloss-finish glass, however. The unit I received also came with a case that was of a sort of turquoise that complemented the body shade, which can be seen in around the camera and the alert slider.
Speaking of the Alert Slider, this was something new to me that I had never used on a device before. And let me just say, I’ll be looking out for it in the future. I change the alert settings on my devices all the time, depending on the time of day or what I’m doing. This simple switch has a suitably tactile feel, while also being stiff enough that you wouldn’t knock it by accident, even if it happens to get worn down after a little with use.
The body itself is 8mm thick, with, sigh, a slight bump for the camera. Of course, this is really only a minor criticism given that the case was of such high quality that I used that for it all the time anyway. The overall build quality is excellent. I feel like I’m holding a meticulously and carefully designed device at all times.
The OnePlus 8’s display is crisp, smooth and ideal for a range of uses. The 6.55” Fluid Display delivers sensational colour accuracy and supports HDR10+. The screen is suitably spacious while also maintaining the usefulness of not having an over-sized mobile phone. And with an aspect ratio of 20:9, it ensures comfortable usage with both portrait and landscape usage. To further this point, I’ve never been one for watching YouTube or Netflix on my smartphone – but for some reason, it was just too comfortable not to on the OnePlus 8.
The 90hz refresh rate means the phone’s screen refreshes 90 times per second, creating a silky smooth experience from just scrolling to intense mobile gaming. OnePlus have also improved the display response time, ensuring more accurate touch feedback. This improves the quality of life usage of the phone by ensuring you know when and where you’ve pressed the screen. OnePlus have introduced an internal luminescent material that displays images clearer than ever while outside or in bright places.
Another big focus on the Fluid Display of the OnePlus was its “Eye Care Plan”. With Dark Mode enabled the display filters out blue light for a comfortable nighttime experience too. As someone who uses their phone in darker environments a lot, this feature saw heavy usage from me, especially when watching videos. It’s no surprise that the OnePlus 8 was awarded the TÜV Eye Comfort Certification for its functionality in minimising the harmful effects of blue light. Reading Mode also has a similar effect, but I’ll touch on that further on.
The OnePlus 8 features only 3 front cameras, laid out in their standard triple format. The 3 rear cameras are:
- 48 MP
- 12 MP
- 2 MP Macro
The rear cameras all support 4k video at 30 or 60 fps, 1080p video at 30 or 60 fps, Super Slow Motion 720p at 480 fps (or 1080p at 240 fps) and Time Lapse. The overall quality and lack of noise in the photo quality quite remarkable.
A key focus of OnePlus cameras has always been their “Nightscape” mode. I put it to the test with… varying results. Let’s take a look.
This photo above was taken with Nightscape off.
This photo was taken with Nightscape on. It’s a little darker, which was interesting, but there is significantly less noise, especially around the darker areas.
Nightscape off, flash on.
Nightscape on. As you can see, the low light in this scenario was a struggle for the camera mode, it appears as if you’re looking at it through frosted glass.
Nightscape off, flash on.
Nightscape on, slight background lighting from my porch light. This was probably the best recipe for results with the Nightscape mode. Which is understandable, it’s a Nightscape camera mode, not night-vision goggles.
In regards to the front camera, they removed the pop-up feature from the last few models and went for the punch hole design. Personally, I much prefer this, but it is subjective. I know many others prefer pop-up designs. Here are some photos I took with the OnePlus 8. Some use the 48 MP camera, some the 12 MP, and some the Macro.
As I said before, opening the box was an experience that set high expectations for this device. So far, it has definitely lived up to those expectations. Upon opening the box, I was presented with three cases. It is a nice touch from OnePlus to include them for reviewers, as it says to me that the company cares about its accessories as well, while also caring about the aesthetic by including multiple colours (one of which was a clear one that comes with the device). The cases themselves are very good quality, snug fit, easy to grip, and tasteful colours.
The box also contained a Warp Charge charger and cable, a collection of stickers, and a sim removal tool. A styled booklet detailing the specifications of the device was also included and made for some good reading material on the technology used.
OxygenOS makes an expected return – based on Android 10, and we saw it first with the OnePlus 7. Well, it’s still here, and it’s ever-improving. In fact, I would consider it as one of the main selling points of buying OnePlus phones. The lack of bloatware, and the features such as App Locker, tweaked gestures, Parallel Apps and much, much more. It is convenient, comprehensive and complete, and despite this, OnePlus still manages to make improvements and make it even better.
App Locker and Parallel Apps
Let’s start with App Locker. A really simple concept, yet very under-utilised. On the OnePlus 8, it functions as expected – no hiccups. The same can be said for Parallel Apps – being able to run more than one instance of an application has benefits I didn’t even realise until I started using it. It is especially useful for apps where you might have more than 1 account, but the app itself does not inherently support switching accounts without the tedious process of logging out and logging in with new details.
This was my second smartphone that supported gestures. And allow me to say, the OxygenOS gestures are exemplary. On-screen buttons will soon be a thing of the past. Somehow, OnePlus have managed to make gestures more comprehensible and more responsive than they were before. I found myself rarely ever doing the wrong thing while gesturing – the primary culprit being opening menus from the side. But once you get in the habit of clicking open those menus instead of swiping, gestures are, for the most part, flawless.
Dark Theme 2.0
Another personal favourite feature of OxygenOS is its Dark Theme. Dark Theme 2.0 is a dark mode for OxygenOS built from the ground up over version 1.0, and it’s compatible with pretty much every app I used on a regular basis that didn’t already have a dark mode in it. It was first introduced with the OnePlus 7 and has since been brought to a very wide variety of applications that don’t already have a built-in dark mode or a dark theme feature. Having an AMOLED display just solidifies this more – true black picture where it should be, while also saving battery power is a personal favourite of mine. And the OnePlus 8 did not disappoint in this regard.
The display also has another mode that is very useful – Reading Mode. Reading Mode isn’t something new to OnePlus, it was with the OnePlus 6 that we first saw it, however, they are constantly making improvements to it and I found myself using the phone with it enabled when reading longer passages. Reading Mode allows you to completely monochrome the screen, or use their Chromatic effect (which I preferred in most cases). Having Reading Mode easily accessible from the drop-down menu makes it convenient to enable it when you feel the need. Convenient is a word to be used often when talking about OxygenOS – it seems to focus heavily on accessibility.
The battery on this phone really ticked all the boxes for me – it is big, it doesn’t get too hot when using while charging, and it lasts. In my testing, an hour of social media use, frequently switching apps, all while using mobile data took it down about 10% per hour. The 4300 mAh battery boasts a significant increase over the 4025 mAh of the OnePlus 7T Pro.
In terms of the actual screen on time for a full charge duration – I am impressed. I’ve always been of the opinion that I don’t mind a slightly chunkier phone if the battery will last longer – OnePlus have managed to make it last longer without increasing the size at all. In fact, the phone is actually 0.8mm slimmer than the OnePlus 7T Pro.
Warp Charge 30T, OnePlus’s latest fast-charging system (introduced with the OnePlus 7T), claims to charge this device from 1% to 50% in 22 minutes. To clarify, this phone has a 4300 mAh battery – that is a sizeable power source. So I put this claim to the test. My conclusion is that this is not only true, but it’s true even when using the whole. Furthermore, the heat from the phone while using and charging was barely more noticeable than regular usage.
My testing in relation to gaming on this phone was primarily around PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile. And one thing that is definitely a fact is that this device keeps cool. Typically, gaming is one of the more heavy end things you can do on a phone. While gaming, with mobile data enabled, this device didn’t even feel like it was getting any warmer than it would through regular usage. Which isn’t very warm at all, in fact. While actually trying to get it to heat up, I could only do so while using a hotspot while it was charging, while using it. And even then, I’ve certainly felt phones that were more heated under less.
In terms of stability and performance, no complaints. Smooth as butter with the 90hz display, and as stable as can be with the Snapdragon 865 and 12 GB of RAM. In other words, if you’re going to be gaming on this phone, you won’t have a problem. The 4300 mAh battery ensured that I could play for a couple of hours before making any sort of a bite into the battery percentage.
Bugs & Feedback
I set aside a short section for any bugs, feedback and criticisms I’d have for the device, and short it will be. All in all, this is an excellent phone, there are no problems with it that would even deter me slightly from it. There were really only 2 issues I encountered that were easily fixed or worked around.
Gboard? Where are you Gboard?
The first issue I encountered was when I went to set up Gboard, a personal favourite app of mine. I searched it up to find it was already installed. Marvellous. I searched for it on the phone and… it was nowhere to be found.
Turns out, somehow, Gboard is only accessible through Android Settings, where I was able to set Gboard to my default keyboard. From there, I had to click “Virtual Keyboard” only then did it present me with the Gboard app icon, that I could click to take me into the app home screen. This is the only way to change Gboard settings. A minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience that could be avoided with a small change on the OS end nonetheless.
The other issue I had was to do with scaling in the Google Discover page, which is located to the left of the home screen. The menu seemed to be stretched further than the screen would allow, as seen below.
The only way to fix it was to restart, again, a minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless. This happened twice while reviewing the device.
No Wireless Charging
Another criticism is the lack of wireless charging. Wireless charging is perhaps the most convenient method of charging for anyone who does not use their phone while it charges. Drop it on a desk, drop it beside your bed, no need to fumble for a cable. It’s simple. Note that the OnePlus 8 Pro does support wireless charging, so you will have that option if it’s a dealbreaker for you.
The Aux Port, or lack thereof
My last criticism might be a tad controversial. It’s certainly subjective – perhaps I’m just old fashioned or in denial, but I still miss the aux port on modern phones. To this day I still leave my house, forgetting the adapter, and have to commute without any music because my fancy headphones aren’t Bluetooth. The adapter is a viable compromise since this is becoming the norm – but I wouldn’t have complained if I chanced upon one in the box. I think now is the time when the people who were holding on to their older devices, that still have Aux ports, are due to upgrade. A small addition like an included adapter would make the transition, for some, a lot less painless.
The OnePlus 8 will be available for purchase in Ireland, the UK, and most of the rest of Europe. It will also be available in the US and Canada, as well as Mainland China, Hong Kong, and India. It is available for purchase now from all supported carrier stores. The OnePlus 8 starts at €719.
The OnePlus 8 is a massive step in the right direction from the OnePlus 7T Pro. It’s just a solid mid-to-high range smartphone, beautifully crafted with a meticulously thought out design. The software ensures a premium experience, highlighted by the flush display and smooth-as-butter 90hz refresh rate. Thoughtful features such as Reading Mode and the tweaked Night Mode solidify this device as an excellent utility for a wider variety of users than smartphone devices prior. This device highlights what it means to own a OnePlus smartphone, and reminds users how functional OxygenOS is.
There are no stand-out unique features on the device, but that’s somewhat expected for the target audience of the non-Pro model. And that’s okay, as long as it ticks all the other boxes, which it does. Its performance is remarkable, stable and consistent, its temperature is cool, calm and collected – its value is probably going to be a little more than a typical mid-range phone, but that seems like a worthy compromise to me for the quality smartphone you’re getting. Not having any new mindblowing features is acceptable when OnePlus have implemented so many useful features in the past – features that are present and largely improved and updated on the OnePlus 8, optimised for the next generation of smartphones.
I would without a doubt one hundred percent recommend this to anyone hoping for a worthy successor to the previous generation of OnePlus phones, as well as for anyone who wants to dip into the world of Oxygen OS. OnePlus seem to have hit the nail on the head with this one, and produced a solid smartphone ready for release.