Tech review: OnePlus 8 Pro is a true flagship smartphone

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the first OnePlus smartphone to have wireless charging and IP68-certified water resistance.
The OnePlus 8 Pro is the first OnePlus smartphone to have wireless charging and IP68-certified water resistance.PHOTO: ONEPLUS

Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus rose to prominence several years ago with "flagship killer" phones that offered top performance at affordable prices.

But OnePlus' underdog narrative has gradually eroded along with the increasing prices of its phones.

The latest OnePlus 8 Pro and OnePlus 8 - priced at $1,298 and $998 respectively - are almost as expensive as the top Android models on the market.

But at least you would be paying for a bona fide flagship smartphone with all the bells and whistles - 5G connectivity, 120Hz display, quad cameras and wireless charging, for instance - found in this year's top models like the Samsung S20 Ultra.

The OnePlus 8 Pro is also the first OnePlus smartphone to have wireless charging and IP68-certified water resistance.

Like recent flagship phones from Samsung and Huawei, the OnePlus 8 Pro can wirelessly charge Qi-compatible devices such as wireless earbuds through a reverse charging feature.

To complement the wireless charging feature, OnePlus has made a fast 30W wireless charger that promises to replenish 50 per cent of the OnePlus 8 Pro's battery in half an hour. But I did not manage to try it as OnePlus has yet to announce local availability and price.

However, the wired fast-charging feature was rapid enough to recharge the phone by two-thirds in around 45 minutes in my test.

Meanwhile, the cheaper OnePlus 8 lacks wireless charging and is not water resistant. It also has a 90Hz screen and three, not four, cameras.

Unsurprisingly, the OnePlus 8 Pro looks very similar to the Find X2 Pro from sister company Oppo. Both phones tout an all-screen facade with a hole-punch selfie camera at the top left corner and an in-display fingerprint sensor.

I also like the OnePlus 8 Pro's matte frosted glass back, which is resistant to fingerprint smudges. However, I am not a fan of the huge rear camera bump that sticks out slightly even with the phone snug in the included clear case.

The OnePlus 8 Pro has one of the best displays in a smartphone now. It has a crisp screen resolution of 3,168 x 1,440 pixels. Colours are punchy and vibrant - the screen supports a wide colour gamut and can show high-dynamic range videos from Netflix.

This display also has a higher-than-usual refresh rate of 120Hz that feels smoother and more responsive when navigating the phone interface or scrolling a webpage.

Setting the display to its 1,440p resolution at 120Hz can drain the battery faster than expected. I recommend setting the screen at 1,080p and 120Hz, which is a good compromise between battery life and smoothness. With these settings, the phone usually lasts me an entire day without charging.

Among the OnePlus 8 Pro's four rear cameras is an unusual colour filter camera that produces sepia-like photos with predominantly grey and copper tones. It seems like an afterthought though - the feature is buried in a submenu of the camera app and probably will be overlooked by casual users.

Its 48-megapixel (MP) primary camera uses pixel-binning to produce 12MP photos that have better dynamic range and less noise than their 48MP versions.

Photos turned out a tad saturated at times, but generally, the colours looked accurate and the level of detail was good.

While its telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom is not as amazing as the periscope-style ones on some of its rivals, the OnePlus 8 Pro does a decent job at shooting faraway objects.

For low-light photography, the OnePlus 8 Pro offers a long-exposure night mode that brightens up dark scenes and prevents blown-out highlights. But the downside is that colours are not as accurate - plants, for instance, had a yellowish tint in this mode.

In short, the OnePlus 8 Pro has very good cameras that are competitive with the ones on flagship models.

OnePlus phones have always come with flagship mobile chips. For the OnePlus 8 Pro, it is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 chipset, which for my review set is complemented by 12GB of fast memory.

Hence, the phone feels fast and fluid. This is also helped by OnePlus' OxygenOS user interface that uses popular Google apps such as Gmail and Chrome instead of proprietary apps which would have added bloat.

In Geekbench 5, the OnePlus 8 Pro had near-identical scores - 902 for single-core and 3,321 for multi-core - as the similarly-specced Oppo Find X2 Pro.

In The Straits Times video-loop battery test, the OnePlus 8 Pro lasted an impressive 12hr40mins with the screen set to maximum brightness and at a standard 60Hz refresh rate.

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the firm's most expensive smartphone yet, but it is still cheaper than flagship models from other brands.

FOR

Excellent display

Lean user interface with little bloat

Still cheaper than top flagship models

Above-average cameras

AGAINST

Large camera bump

Colour filter camera is not useful

SPECS

Price: $1,298 (8GB RAM, 128GB), $1,398 (12GB RAM, 256GB, version tested), available for pre-order at Lazada Singapore, ships May 8

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (Single-core 2.84GHz, triple-core 2.4GHz and quad-core 1.8GHz)

Main display: 6.78-inch Oled, 3,168 x 1,440 pixels, 513 ppi pixel density

Operating system: OxygenOS 10 (Android 10)

Memory: 256GB, 12GB RAM

Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.8), 48MP ultra-wide (f/2.2, 120-degree), 8MP telephoto (f/2.4), 5MP colour filter (f/2.4)

Front camera: 16MP (f/2.5)

Battery: 4,510mAh

RATING

Features: 4.5/5

Design: 4.5/5

Performance: 5/5

Value for money: 4.5/5

Battery life: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5

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