OnePlus 8: between shore and ship

The OnePlus 8 succeeds the only six-month-old OnePlus 7T. The latest model is a hundred euros more expensive and, in particular, has better specifications. At the same time, it is a hundred euros cheaper than the also new OnePlus 8 Pro. In this OnePlus 8 review we find out whether this smartphone is the golden mean.

OnePlus 8

MSRP € 699,-

Colors Black, Green and Interstellar Glow

OS Android 10 (Oxygen OS)

Screen 6.55 inch OLED (2400 x 1080) 90Hz

Processor 2.84GHz octa-core (Snapdragon 865)

RAM 8GB or 12GB

Storage 128GB or 256GB (non-expandable)

Battery 4,300mAh

Camera 48, 16 + 2 megapixel (rear), 16 megapixel (front)

Connectivity 5G, 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6, NFC, GPS

Format 16.2 x 7.3 x 0.8cm

Weight 180 grams

Website www.oneplus.com 7 Score 70

  • Pros
  • Battery life and fast charging
  • Screen
  • Hardware
  • Software and Update Policy
  • Negatives
  • Not IP waterproof and dustproof
  • No wireless charging
  • Looks a lot like the cheaper OnePlus 7T

OnePlus recently introduced the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, smartphones of 699 and 899 euros respectively. We recently discussed the top model in our OnePlus 8 Pro review, and now it is the turn of its cheaper variant. The 8 succeeds last year's 7T, which you can now buy for less than 550 euros. In this OnePlus 8 review we find out which of the three phones is the best buy.

Design

The OnePlus 8 is made of glass and has a front-filling screen with very narrow bezels at the top and bottom. The display extends slightly over the sides, which makes swiping from corners feel more pleasant. In the top left corner of the screen is a small hole for the selfie camera. The smartphone looks futuristic and lies comfortably in the hand due to its convex housing. The weight is relatively low at 180 grams. The OnePlus 8 is also lighter than the 7T, which has a smaller battery but weighs 190 grams. The 8 Pro weighs 199 grams, which is due to the larger screen and battery. Over the past few weeks, I've put the 8 and 8 Pro into the hands of many family and friends, and most prefer the more manageable 8.

The smartphone has a handy alert slider to quickly switch between ringer volume, vibrate mode and silent mode. At the bottom is a USB-C port for charging and connecting earplugs, possibly via an adapter. A 3.5mm audio port is missing. The OnePlus 8 also lacks water and dust resistance certification, which the 8 Pro does have. OnePlus claims that the regular 8 can withstand some water and dust, but don't take it with you in the pool.

The device is available in three colors: black, mint green and Interstellar Glow. I tested the green version, which I would describe as fresh and hip. Fingerprints are barely visible. The other two colors are sensitive to fingerprints. If you want a smartphone that is as eye-catching as possible, it is best to look at the Interstellar Glow version – which discolours by the incidence of light.

Screen

The screen of the OnePlus 8 measures 6.55 inches and can therefore hardly be operated with one hand. The OLED panel delivers very beautiful colors and high contrast, and is more energy-efficient than an LCD screen of cheaper smartphones. Due to the full-HD resolution, the image looks sharp. Behind the display is an optical and therefore invisible fingerprint scanner, which lights up when you want to unlock the smartphone. The scanner is accurate and very fast, but does noticeably less well outdoors on a sunny day. This is because the scanner works through light.

The maximum screen refresh rate is 90Hz, which means that the screen refreshes itself ninety times per second. Many smartphone screens do that sixty times a second (60Hz). The higher refresh rate provides a smoother image, which you notice in the animations, scrolling in texts and playing optimized games. Since there's a good chance that your current smartphone has a 60Hz display, the OnePlus 8 will feel a little smoother. A subtle improvement, although the higher refresh rate also consumes a bit more power. You can therefore also choose a 60Hz display in the settings. The more expensive OnePlus 8 Pro has an even nicer 120Hz screen. The difference with 90Hz is visible, but not the reason to prefer the Pro version over the regular 8.

Those who are familiar with the OnePlus 7T now know that the screens of the 7T and 8 are identical on paper. I hardly see any difference in practice.

Excellent hardware

Like its more expensive brother, the OnePlus 8 uses a Snapdragon 865 chip, Qualcomm's most powerful processor at the moment. You notice that: the device is lightning fast and will remain so for years to come. The standard version of 699 euros has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage memory. Enough to quickly switch between your recently used apps and games, with a lot of storage space for those programs and other media. Please note that the smartphone does not have a micro-SD slot to expand the memory. Do you think you need more than 128GB of memory? For 799 euros you can buy the OnePlus 8 with 12GB/256GB of working and storage memory. The additional cost is reasonable, that may be said.

Both OnePlus 8 models are suitable for 5G internet. KPN, T-Mobile and VodafoneZiggo are expected to launch their 5G networks in the first form this summer. For the time being, 5G will mainly offer slightly faster and more stable internet, especially in busy locations. From 2023, the network will only really become a lot faster. The smartphone is therefore prepared for the future, but it doesn't do you much good yet.

The OnePlus 8 can also handle technologies such as two SIM cards, WiFi 6 and NFC.

Battery life and charging

The OnePlus 8 contains a 4300 mAh battery that you cannot change. The battery capacity has grown considerably compared to last year's 7T, which has a 3800 mAh battery. I usually didn't manage a long day on one battery charge with that smartphone. The larger battery of the 8 pays off: a long day of use is no problem.

Charging is done via the included Warp Charge 30W plug, with a power of 30W. The battery charges from 0 to 55 percent in half an hour, which is very fast. If you use a different USB-C plug, it will take longer to charge. Unfortunately, the OnePlus 8 cannot charge wirelessly. A downside, because almost all smartphones in this price segment can do this. The OnePlus 8 Pro can also charge wirelessly, but is a lot more expensive.

Three cameras: that's how good they are

On the back of the OnePlus 8 are a primary 48 megapixel camera, a 16 megapixel wide-angle lens and a 2 megapixel macro camera. The cameras deviate from the 7T series and the 8 Pro, which have a telephoto lens instead of a macro camera to zoom three times with minimal loss of quality. The OnePlus 8's camera app also offers a double zoom function, but uses digital zoom with visible loss of quality. A pity, but in many cases the quality of such a zoom photo is fine for social media. Two times zoom is not much. Only when you zoom further (maximum ten times) you see how the quality deteriorates.

With the special macro camera you can take sharp photos from very close by. Handy if you like to photograph flowers, insects, pets or labels. The macro function works very well. Inconvenient is that you have to enable the function yourself in the camera app. It would have been nicer if the camera itself would switch when you are very close to an object. Another downside is the low resolution of 2 megapixels. A macro photo (1600 x 1200 pixels) is sharp enough for social media, but looks less sharp on your television than a regular 12 megapixel photo (4000 x 3000 pixels). Below you see the automatic mode on the left and the macro mode on the right.

Speaking of the primary camera; it takes beautiful, realistic photos with a lot of detail. The quality is comparable to the OnePlus 7T but slightly less than the OnePlus 8 Pro, which uses a newer and better camera sensor. The camera also shoots great photos in the dark, but there is a clear difference in quality with expensive phones such as the 8 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro.

The wide-angle camera takes a wide picture and works properly. Colors look slightly less natural than on regular photos. For example, a lawn is just a bit too green, but there is a good chance that you will not notice it because the picture looks fine. Below you see two photo series with from left to right the normal photo, a wide-angle photo and a 2x zoom photo.

The 16 megapixel camera in the display generally takes 'just good' selfies. Keep the smartphone still, otherwise you will get quickly moving pictures. The camera can also make video calls in full HD resolution.

Software

The OnePlus 8 runs on Android 10 out of the box with OnePlus' OxygenOS shell. This layer differs little from stock Android and mainly adds functions to adjust the operating system more to your own liking. From the animation of the fingerprint scanner and the shape of the quick settings to the color palette and how the game mode works, there is a lot to adjust and that is fun. Four applications are pre-installed on the smartphone: Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Netflix. The first three can be removed, Netflix cannot. OnePlus also provides a handful of apps, including a gallery, weather and calculator. The software works intuitively, is lightning fast and less present than the layers of Samsung, Huawei and many other competitors.

Update Policy

OnePlus has promised – for years – full software support for its smartphones for three years. The OnePlus 8 will therefore receive three Android version updates and a security update every other month for three years. That's neat. For example, expensive Samsung phones get two version updates and four years of security updates, but most brands promise two years of full updates. iPhones get updates from Apple for four years, but don't run Android.

Conclusion: buy OnePlus 8?

The OnePlus 8 is a very nice smartphone without frills, equipped with a luxurious housing, beautiful screen, powerful hardware and user-friendly software with three years of support. The device does nothing wrong, but also knows nothing to stand out. It's not IP-rated waterproof and dustproof, doesn't charge wirelessly, and doesn't take the best photos in its price range.

These three points of interest also apply to last year's OnePlus 7T. The 8 looks more modern, is slightly faster, has a better battery life and 5G, but costs 699 euros. At the time of writing, you can buy the 7T for 529 euros. The improvements of the 8 therefore have a considerable additional cost, and in my view many interested parties are better off with the 7T (review).

Although of a completely different order, the new iPhone SE is also a competitor. Apple's iPhone of 489 euros is lightning fast, waterproof, can charge wirelessly and will receive four years of updates. The two cannot be compared on points such as the screen, the software and format, but the iPhone SE illustrates that a complete and good smartphone does not have to cost 699 euros at all.

Those who prefer the latest OnePlus but do not want to make concessions can go to the 8 Pro. It is IP-certified, charges wirelessly and has an excellent quadruple camera. The device also has a nicer 120Hz screen. Keep in mind that the smartphone is noticeably larger and heavier, and costs at least 899 euros. Read our extensive OnePlus 8 Pro review here.

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