Of the two new flagship phones from Chinese phone-maker OnePlus, the OnePlus 8 Pro is the higher-end device. In addition to 5G, which both phones have, it has IP certification for water resistance, a total of four cameras — one at 48 megapixels — and a bigger, 120Hz display. Available starting April 22, it’s also pricier at $899 (£799) for 128GB storage and $999 (£899) for 256GB. (Australian prices aren’t yet available, but £799 converts to roughly AU$1,570.) The OnePlus 8 starts at $699 (£599).
Though the phone’s starting price is about $100 cheaper than the Galaxy S20 — and likely cheaper than the upcoming Pixel 5 if Google matches the Pixel 4’s initial price — it’s still expensive by OnePlus’ standards. When the company first launched in 2014, it priced its premium phones aggressively.
Nevertheless, the OnePlus 8 Pro is an excellent phone. Its camera works great, it has a fast and powerful processor and I welcome its newer features, which include wireless charging and reverse wireless charging. But if you’re a bit more cost-conscious and you want a premium Android experience, I’d choose the OnePlus 8. It still has a silky 90Hz display, similar specs and a solid camera. Both phones are available through OnePlus and Amazon, but you can also get the OnePlus 8 through US carriers T-Mobile and Verizon.
OnePlus 8 Pro’s buttery-smooth 120Hz display
As the higher-end phone, the OnePlus 8 Pro packs a 120Hz display that refreshes at double the rate of most phones. That refresh rate makes scrolling through webpages and the app drawer feel as if I’m viewing my phone in 4K. Everything is so bouncy and liquidy that a phone like, say, the LG V60 (which has a 60Hz display), feels like it’s dragging its feet by comparison. Note that there are times, such as when the screen is static, that the One Plus 8 Pro will switch to 60Hz to conserve battery.
But when I compared it side-by-side with the OnePlus 8’s 90Hz screen, it was hard to see a big difference. There were a few times when I thought maybe the 8 Pro felt a hair more fluid, but it was much less than I expected. If you’re not a huge mobile gamer and you’re concerned you’ll be missing out by choosing the One Plus 8, you needn’t worry.
Both the OnePlus 8 Pro and 8 have a sleek, slim design that feels trendy, despite being reminiscent of 2019’s Galaxy S10 line (especially with the hole-punch camera in the corner). I dig the thin bezels and the vertically stacked cameras. And even though the 8 Pro’s camera bump protrudes more than the OnePlus 8’s, it’s not as egregious as the absolute unit on the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
I received an ultramarine blue review model with a smooth, soft texture that keeps the phone from attracting fingerprints. In the light, my phone looked almost velvety, though the cobalt shade isn’t as eye-catching as the OnePlus 8 in interstellar glow.
After years of making its phones water resistant to some degree but forgoing a full IP rating certification, the OnePlus 8 Pro is rated IP68 — meaning it can be submerged in about three feet (one meter) of water for at least 30 minutes.
Minimalist OS with customization goodies
OnePlus’ OxygenOS has always been a minimalistic take on Android 10. But there are a few welcome tweaks. One is that OnePlus added more opportunities to customize the phone’s interface without making it feel too bogged down. As well as different color themes and icon packs, for example, you can change the shape of the icons in the pulldown notification menu.
OnePlus also expanded on Dark Theme so certain apps match the dark background. When I changed the OnePlus 8 Pro to Dark Theme and opened YouTube, the color switched to black, as well. That kind of automation is convenient and makes the user experience feel more coherent.
Both phones have Night Mode and Reading Mode, which are supposed to reduce eye strain, but the OnePlus 8 Pro has an extra feature called “comfort tone,” which automatically changes the tint of the screen depending on the ambient light environment. It works quite subtly — when the light inside my room turned dark, the screen on the 8 Pro became more sepia-colored. Instead of having it change dynamically throughout the day, though, I’d rather just schedule the effect in Night Mode at specific hours.
The devices also have an option to turn on “vibrant color effect” to punch up video colors and contrast and the OnePlus 8 Pro in particular has “motion graphics smoothing,” which is supposed to sharpen motion blur in videos. When I turned on these options and watched a few YouTube clips though, it was difficult to notice the effects on both phones (ditto with the OnePlus 8 Pro’s graphics-smoothing feature).
A few other software features
You can unlock both phones with either Face Unlock (which works super fast) or the in-screen fingerprint reader.
Both phones still have a physical toggle key that you can slide up and down to silence or vibrate the phone.
Like previous OnePlus phones, Zen Mode is built in. It restricts most of the 8 Pro’s functions to aggressively curb phone usage. When it’s activated, you can still make calls and use the camera.
OnePlus 8 Pro’s 4 rear cameras
The OnePlus 8 Pro’s main 48-megapixel camera and wide-angle shooter take sharp and vibrant shots, especially in outdoor lighting. At times the contrast and colors, like the greens in some of these outdoor photos, can be punched up a bit too much. But in general the camera took excellent images.
Nightscape, OnePlus’ low-light camera mode, also did well to brighten up dark environments. But compared to taking a picture in the regular camera mode, which already takes decent low-light pictures, Nightscape images looked only a tad brighter. In addition, the camera’s 3x lossless zoom closed in on objects nicely without losing detail. It can also digitally zoom up to 30x, but photo quality really degrades at this level. I found that 10x was the last level of zoom I could go to get a decent photo.