review

OnePlus 8 Review: OnePlus 8 Pro…Lite!

Donning those flagship killing genes…or jeans?

by: - Last updated on: September 4th, 2020

It might have got into the premium zone in 2019, but OnePlus still managed to surprise folks with the pricing of its non-Pro devices. They might not have made headlines with their specs but the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7T were priced significantly below their Pro siblings, making them more accessible and keeping OnePlus in some sort of touch with its Flagship Killer roots. The OnePlus 8 is playing that role in 2020, being the more affordable of the OnePlus 8 series. And yes, its pricing did surprise everyone a fair bit, being well below what was announced for the OnePlus 8 in the US.

oneplus-8-review

But even though its starting price of Rs 41,999 was a pleasant surprise for Indian users, there is no doubt that the OnePlus 8 does face considerable competition even at that price point (as we pointed out earlier). This is why unlike the 7 and 7T which were seen as the best options at their price points, the OnePlus 8 has a lot more to contend with, including its own predecessor, the OnePlus 7T. There is very little scope for slipping up or cutting corners.

Turning on the style: lookin’ good

And when it comes to design, the OnePlus 8 delivers in spades. It is a tall-ish phone, but there is no doubting that it looks very classy. More importantly, unlike the 7 and 7T which looked rather different from the Pro variants, the 8 very much appears to be cut from the same cloth as the OnePlus 8 Pro. As we discussed in our initial impressions, the OnePlus 8 comes across as a very good looking device – and this is when we got the relatively plain Onyx Black unit. That 6.55-inch curved Fluid AMOLED display is very bright and gives the phone a very premium appearance (we do not see too many curved displays at this price point).

The back will pick up smudges, so we recommend using the transparent case with the massive “Never Settle” printed on it, at all times. The phone has also a rather odd display on/off button placement – it is rather high and is not very easy to reach. But that apart, the OnePlus is easily the most sleek non-Pro OnePlus phone we have seen. And considering what it packs inside, it is remarkably slim (just 8 mm) and light (180 grams). The absence of an official IP rating is a bit of a minus point, though.

Adding some substance: decent hardware

Which brings us to the specs of the OnePlus 8. And here, as has been well documented, the feelings that come across are mixed. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chip, of course, paired with up to 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage (it starts with a 6 GB/ 128 GB variant though), puts it right up there in the flagship league. As does the full HD+ display with 90 Hz refresh rate (although some had been hoping for a 120 Hz rate), but well, there have been those who have felt a little let down by the cameras.

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And this disappointment stems from the fact that on paper, the cameras seem a slight step down from the OnePlus 7T. The main sensor is still a 48 megapixel Sony IMX 586 but it has a smaller aperture (f/1.75 as compared to f/1.6 on the 7T) and while the ultrawide lens at 16 megapixels is very similar to the one on the OnePlus 7T, not too many people were happy with the decision to replace the 12-megapixel telephoto on the 7T with a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front camera is a 16 megapixel one, which seems to be the standard for most OnePlus phones of late.

On the plus side, there is a large, 4300 mAh battery, which is quite a feat when you consider how slim the phone is. It is slimmer and lighter than the 7T which had a smaller battery actually. No, there is no wireless charging here, but you do get Warp Charge 30T and a 30W charger in the box. There are also dual stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos. And yes, this is a 5G phone, so when the network comes, it will be ready for it.

Oh those flagship killer performance feels

In terms of performance, the OnePlus 8 took us back to the flagship killing days of the brand. Thanks to that processor, backed up by lots of RAM, there is hardly any task that it cannot handle. You can even edit video on it (we did have the 12 GB/ 256 GB variant) without any problems, and well games like PUBG and Call of Duty, as well as the Asphalt series ran smoothly on it. If you are looking for a phone that can handle any game or app that you can throw at it, the OnePlus 8 is a great option. The display might seem similar specced to the 7T but seemed just a bit brighter and also has richer colors – tending perhaps a little towards making them too bright, but well, we do not see anyone complaining. The sound from the two speakers is not the loudest but unless you are in a very crowded place, the sound quality is good and even the volume will more than suffice for most gaming and series watching sessions.

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There might be a few complaints about the cameras, though. Just like in the flagship killing OnePlus devices of the past, the OnePlus 8’s shooters are a notch below the flagship segment. As we pointed out in our detailed review of the cameras, it is not as if the OnePlus 8 has bad cameras, but they are actually not a big step ahead as compared to the OnePlus 7T, with which they have been often compared. You are going to get great shots in good light conditions and we love the way in which 2x hybrid zoom is handled by the phone (as good as the actual optical zoom on the 7T, we think), but we do not see this giving sleepless nights to the iPhone and S20 crowd, or even ifs own 8 Pro or 7T sibling. The inclusion of the macro lens is a little puzzling, as we could actually get better shots by taking a snap from the main sensor and cropping it. Perhaps some wizardry delivered via software updates will change that in the coming days.

Battery life is very good, and actually better than the OnePlus 8 Pro, perhaps because of the lower resolution display and lower refresh rate. You can get through a day comfortably and a bit more if you are careful. Warp Charge of course can get it from zero to full capacity in about an hour. The UI, which is OnePlus’ Oxygen OS, is as clean as ever – some might find it a little too bare – and in best OnePlus tradition, we have already received a couple of updates to it. If you are a stock Android fan, you will love the interface on the OnePlus 8. If you like your UIs with apps already installed, be ready to spend some time installing the apps you love.

The most premium looking budget flagship

Starting at Rs 41,999 for the 6 GB/ 128 GB variant, the OnePlus 8 delivers very decent value for money. Seen in isolation, it is a very good device indeed. In fact, we would say that in terms of bleeding design and good hardware, it is one of the best Snapdragon 865 running phones out there if your budget is tight. Bring the competition into play, however, and the OnePlus 8 loses a little of its sheen.

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Both the iQOO 3 and the Realme X50 Pro bring Snapdragon 865 chipsets at lower prices. The X50 Pro even matches the 90 Hz refresh rate and 5G connectivity of the OnePlus 8 and actually has faster charging, and perhaps even slightly better cameras, whereas the iQOO 3 has a strong gaming tilt that some will prefer and again brings faster charging to the table. And the 12 GB/ 256 GB variant has the same price as the Mi 10, which boasts a much better camera and brings fast wireless charging to the mix.

Yes, we think the OnePlus 8 has a much more refined design and its software runs much more smoothly than those of its rivals, but it no longer commands the sort of edge that earlier OnePlus devices or even the OnePlus 7T had.

So who is the OnePlus 8 for?

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Well, we would say that it is perfect for those who want a budget flagship that looks premium. It is beautifully crafted and performs brilliantly. No, it does not enjoy the price edge that its predecessors did, but on the flip side, it looks closer to its Pro counterpart than the 7 or 7T did – so much so that we would call it a OnePlus 8 Pro Lite. It delivers a lot of the build and feel of the Pro bro, although that lower price tag means it has to compromise on display resolution and refresh rate, wireless charging, IP ratings, and of course, those cameras.

In many ways, the OnePlus 8 tries to occupy the middle ground between a flagship and a flagship killer. And to a large extent, it succeeds. It is not the near no-brainer budget flagship that the OnePlus 7 or to a lesser extent, the OnePlus 7T was, but it remains a strong contender for anyone seeking a flagship-level performer around Rs 40,000-45,000.

The OnePlus 8 carries the flagship killing genes of its parent, but the slightly more pricey jeans it dons are not as snug a fit as they were at one time.

Pros
  • Good design
  • Good display
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • Cameras not a big step ahead from OP7T
  • Pricey compared to competition
  • No dust and water resistance
Review Overview
Build & Design
Performance
Camera
Software
Price
SUMMARY

It was the OnePlus whose pricing surprised everyone in India pleasantly. But that does not mean that the OnePlus 8 has a smooth path in a very competitive Indian market. We take a look at the Pro-less sibling of the OnePlus 8 series.

3.8

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