It is quite rare for a phone to be significantly more expensive than the one it succeeds yet still be great value. That is once all things are considered, including the competition. One of those rare phones is the OnePlus 8 Pro. You would perhaps raise an eyebrow or maybe hurl a few curses for saying a phone that is priced Rs 54,999 onwards is great value—considering the fact that the predecessor, the OnePlus 7T Pro was priced at Rs 53,999 (8GB + 256GB) and Rs 58,999 (12GB + 256GB for the McLaren Edition). I get that. But I raise you the competition check in return. In a way, OnePlus’ only real competition in the pricier tiers of the Android smartphone space is with Samsung. That pits the OnePlus 8 Pro in a battle against the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (prices around Rs 77,990 onwards) and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (around Rs 97,990)—both fantastic phones in their own right, but if you notice, considerably more expensive even after factoring in the deals and offers, than the OnePlus 8 Pro. That being said, this is the battle between two of the most loyal sets of users as well. Give or take a few things on the spec sheet, it is just too close to call.
This is what you get if you are looking for the OnePlus 8 Pro. There are two variants to choose from. Shelling out Rs 54,999 gets you the 8GB RAM + 128GB storage option in the Onyx Black and Glacial Green colour options. The higher spec variant priced at Rs 59,999 gets you 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, and is available in the Onyx Black, Glacial Green as well as the gorgeous Ultramarine Blue colour options. Glacial Green and Ultramarine Blue are two new colours to the line-up.
Design: Dash of colour isn’t the only thing
First things first, the OnePlus 8 Pro is taller than the OnePlus 7T Pro, but at the same time, is less wide and slimmer as well. Critically, it has also shaved off some weight—now 199 grams compared with 206 grams. Still, you will probably only like this if you genuinely prefer large screen phones, but for those who do, shaving off this weight is priceless. It also gets the IP68 dust and water resistance ratings, the first time ever a OnePlus phone has one of those. It is all a part of the growing up process. This year, OnePlus has truly set about differentiating between the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus 8, as far as the features go. What I have is the Glacial Green for review, and it has a very nice matte finish which reflects lights off it in rather interesting ways. If it starts looking blue at some stage, do not rush to get your eyes checked! Yet, for all intents and purposes, you know it is a OnePlus phone from a mile away. You hold it up, and it feels like a well-built yet very modern OnePlus phone.
I have often said that the three-stage switch key, which is unique to OnePlus phones, is extremely convenient. Without having to unlock the screen, you can change the sound profile modes. It lets you toggle between the Ring, Silent and Vibrate profile modes. It is infinitely more convenient than having to unlock the phone, swipe down to access the quick options from the status bar and then tap on an icon to switch between profiles.
Gone is the pop-up selfie camera, replaced by a more discreet and definitely less scary hole punch implementation which sits on the top left side of the screen, as you look at it. A pop-up camera, with all its mechanics at play, was always a bit scary when it came to reliability—dust, impacts, wear and so on. If removing some of those mechanics has also helped in reducing the weight ever so slightly, that’s a swap I would accept any time of the day or night.
Another welcome addition is wireless charging. This makes the OnePlus 8 Pro the first OnePlus phone ever to offer wireless charging as well. There had been calls for it for a while now, and its finally been delivered.
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Performance: It doesn’t need to get much faster than this
It is perhaps an expected upgrade that the OnePlus 8 Pro is powered by the very latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor and with it the Qualcomm X55 5G modem. In a way, the performance is up to 25% faster than the OnePlus 7T Pro’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ chip. The chip isn’t the only performance boost. Things are really getting serious under-the-hood. The LPDDR5 RAM is 30% faster than LPDDR4X RAM modules. The UFS 3.0 storage gets Turbo Write, which significantly boosts the data read and write speeds—as much as 125% faster than just UFS 3.0 storage modules. That means everything is faster, snappier and responsive, even when you may be opening a file which is pretty big in size or a resource intensive app. What we see in the real world as far as performance goes is exactly as per promise—everything is delightfully silky smooth while multi-tasking or opening and closing apps.
The thing is, and we had pointed this out even with the OnePlus 8, that the 8GB RAM version of the OnePlus 8 Pro is most likely more powerful than your current PC or laptop. If you get the 12GB RAM version, you’ll make it cry in envy.
Performance isn’t just a factor of the hardware at play. Great hardware coupled with middling software ruins the entire experience. Something we have seen so many times. OnePlus has always maintained a standard with the OxygenOS that makes it feel like a premium experience. There are significant changes with the latest OxygenOS as well. There is the Dark Theme 2.0 which is the universal dark mode that OnePlus users wanted, and it is compatible with even more apps. There is the Work-Life mode as well that lets you assign important apps for either time of your day. All in all, it is pretty interesting.
The OnePlus 8 Pro has a 4510mAh battery, which has great stamina levels. This not only a day and a half at moderate usage, you’ll also not have any battery anxiety as you head towards the evening on a busy workday, when the world becomes a better place and you step out of home. OnePlus phones have always bundled great fast charging tech and the OnePlus 8 Pro gets from a fully discharged state to 50% charge in 23 minutes. That is with the Warp Charge 30T charger bundled with the phone. Since the OnePlus 8 Pro has wireless charging as well, that clocks in with the Warp Charge 30 Wireless that charges the battery up to 50% in 23 minutes as well. And then there is reverse wireless charging as well, for your second phone or wireless earbuds that may have a wireless charging case.
Display: Silky Smooth and Very Large
The display is what will keep you hooked. For starters, the OnePlus 8 Pro gets an even larger display than the OnePlus 7T Pro. Yes, the 6.67-inch display makes way for a 6.78-inch display. Visually it won’t probably make much difference, but in terms of the screen space, every extra bit does matter. OnePlus has given this screen every bit of goodness it could. This is a Fluid AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla 5 doing the additional bit to make it more robust. This can do the full 120Hz super smooth refresh rate magic at the 3,168 x 1,440 QHD+ resolution. A point to note, Samsung enabled the 120Hz on the Galaxy S20 Ultra at a slightly lower resolution. Set this at 120Hz, and everything just flows across, vertically or horizontally, better than at 60Hz that you may have used all this while. In fact, apps such as Netflix also support 120Hz for videos—the Motion Graphics Smoothing setting that is available in OxygenOS.
Remember, enabling this will drain the battery life a bit, so be careful in that regard.
What I’m not entirely sure about is the Vibrant Colour Pro Effect, which is designed to make colours a bit more vibrant when you are watching videos. I prefer to keep it natural and artificial boosting of colours doesn’t really always come about as the most accurate.
Then there are the gentle curves on the left and the right of the screen, which provide a nice run-off effect for apps and gestures. However, it will be prone to accidental touches as well, so just be a little careful while holding this in your hand with the screen unlocked, and absentmindedly speaking with someone else.
Camera: Point, Shoot and Marvel
Till last year, OnePlus phones always struggled initially with the photography performance, and while subsequent software updates did iron out some bugs, things still weren’t at the sort of level that you would expect. That is set to change, as it should, considering the prices the OnePlus 8 Pro commands.
For starters, the optical hardware. You get a 48-megapixel wide camera, a 48-megapixel ultrawide camera, an 8-megapixel telephoto camera and a 5-megapixel depth camera. All combined, this quad-camera setup is right up there in terms of the potential, as you would expect from a flagship Android phone. Open the camera app, and by default, it is set to capture images at 12-megapixel. That should be great for most users, pulling in data from all sensors, and yet keeping image sizes well in check for sharing or posting on social media. This is also where you get 3x hybrid zoom and up to 30x digital zoom. Switch to the 48-megapixel image size mode, and this is what I prefer, and you will not get the zoom options, but the image size is much larger allowing you to crop as you like.
You might notice the 3x hybrid zoom, which means it doesn’t do optical zoom like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. But persist it a bit, and the results are surprisingly pleasant.
Take the OnePlus 8 Pro out to take photos in a well-lit environment, and it captures very good levels of detailing. Colours are rich yet well distinguished, finer details are well reproduced and you can zoom in without compromising quality to a large extent. The latter is even more true for the 48-megapixel mode. Low light is where most phones struggle in say way or the other, even though almost all of them have a night mode to fall back on. Illumination of a scene is well tackled, but often, colours and detailing struggles. With the OnePlus 8 Pro, low-light photos are handled very well, particularly in the higher resolution mode. This is one of the few phones that can actually take a nice picture of the moon—that says it all.
Macro photos are a strong point allowing you to get really up close to a subject to take photographs that are detailed—and you don’t struggle to get the focus locked in. For once, this is a OnePlus phone that ticks off the camera performance bit as well, right from the start.
The Last Word: You must surely want this
For me, the OnePlus 8 Pro sets expectations high. And it meets them, every step of the way. This is priced like an Android flagship phone, and it very well behaves like one. If you aren’t entirely in Samsung’s corner in this never-ending battle in the Android smartphone space, this is a very solid option for you to consider. It looks great, particularly in the Glacial Green and Interstellar Glow colours. The OnePlus 8 Pro feels great to hold. The display, particularly at 120Hz is fantastic to look at. For once, we have a OnePlus phone that is fantastic with photography, straight out of the box. And well, performance is top notch.
Yes, in the present day, your choices are limited in the Android smartphone space. You have the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, you have the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, some may vouch for the Xiaomi Mi 10 as well. And then there is the latest edition to it all—the OnePlus 8 Pro. It’s all about quality and not quantity, I would guess. There has never been a better time to buy a fantastic Android flagship Android phone.