OnePlus 8 Pro review: big league
OnePlus 8 Pro review: big league, all you need to know.
the OnePlus 8 Pro is the result of a relentless spec battle with Samsung. It’s an Android phone that spares almost no expense in the quest to include the most powerful, best hardware components. The result is the fastest Android phone experience money can buy — starting at $899.
That price is simultaneously high and low. Nine hundred bucks is a lot for an OnePlus phone, but it’s still less expensive than its direct competition. For years, OnePlus succeeded with a two-pronged strategy of appealing to Android enthusiasts while undercutting the competition on price. But over the past few years, OnePlus has grown from a niche company for its fans to one of the most competitive players in the smartphone space. At the same time, its prices have steadily climbed as it got more serious about taking Samsung head-on. And there’s no denying that a $900 phone is expensive, no matter which company makes it.
Samsung’s Galaxy line is the gold standard — not necessarily because it’s the best Android phone (last year, we gave that honor to the OnePlus 7T), but because it’s the most ubiquitous and trustworthy. The Galaxy is the default because it doesn’t lack any major feature, is reliably good, and is sold by every major carrier.
The regular OnePlus 8 costs less and is being sold in both Verizon and T-Mobile stores. It’s the mainstream device most people will see, and you should read Jon Porter’s review of it here. The OnePlus 8 Pro is online-only, and it has a different job: beat the Samsung Galaxy S20.
the OnePlus 8 Pro comes in just one size: big. It has a 6.78-inch screen and blessedly tiny bezels, but few people will be able to use it one-handed. That’s not a problem for people who prefer large phones, but I personally wish there was a smaller version.
What size is my main complaint about the hardware? It’s an incredibly well-built phone with fit and finish that stands up against both the Galaxy S20 and the iPhone. I have the blue version for review, and it has a handsome two-layer matte finish that reflects the light nicely. The camera bump is centered and overly large, but what camera bump isn’t these days, really?
OnePlus phones have a three-stage sliding ringer switch that’s wildly convenient. (I am the psychopath who turns his ringer on sometimes when he’s at home, so I love it.) It is also rated for IP68 dust and water protection. OnePlus has historically chafed at paying for that IP rating, but, again, the goal here is clearly to ensure that it doesn’t lose to Samsung anywhere on a spec sheet.
And it doesn’t. It has all of the specs you’d expect on a flagship Android phone in 2020: the Snapdragon 865 processor, support for 5G, Wi-Fi 6, 8 or 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 128 or 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. It’s $100 more to get the model with more RAM and storage. There’s an in-display optical fingerprint sensor, Gorilla Glass, and even dual-SIM slots (a relative rarity in the US).
“It’s designed to be fast” is the thing you should take away from the previous paragraph. And indeed it is. It’s the fastest, most fluid Android phone I’ve ever used.
It helps that OnePlus’ software philosophy seems to be “First, do no harm.” Its version of Android is called “Oxygen OS,” and the extra features it adds are primarily there to support the phone’s hardware features. Unlike Samsung, OnePlus is not trying to corral you into using its ecosystem of services. The small additions it makes to Android are not as impressive as what you might find on other phones, but they’re also never annoying.
But what provides the greatest sense of speed and smoothness on the OnePlus 8 Pro is neither its specs nor the software. It’s the screen.