I finished off my OnePlus 7T review saying it was one of my top three phones of 2019, and the only reason I could think of for not picking one up was lack of 5G.
Fast forward to April 14th 2020 and the announcement of the OnePlus 8 complete with new processor, new technology and yes, 5G support, as you can imagine I was really excited to get hands on a device to review.
One thing to point out at the very start is this not your normal review like I have done in the past on the site, we will all know of the current situation with COVID-19 not allowing people out of the house apart for medical reasons or to get essential food supplies, and with this in mind there will not be loads of photos, plus also my usage will be different from normal due to being indoors for most of this review.
However when OnePlus reached out and offered me the chance to get hands on a review device before launch to be part of a special group of early influencers, I had to jump at the opportunity so a big thank you to the company for letting me be one of the first to get hands on.
This is a review on the normal OnePlus 8 and I was sent the 12GB with 256GB Glacial Green colour which looks stunning, the company also announced a OnePlus 8 Pro device which I hope to cover in a different review shortly.
Just a quick note that although OnePlus provided me with a loan review device to do this coverage, they have had no input or influence on this review, they are seeing it the same time everyone else is and the device will be returned to them at the end of the review period so has not been gifted in any way.
When it comes to design, the OnePlus 8 is one of the better looking phones out there with beautiful design both front and back, a redesign on the location of the front facing selfie camera, and beautiful glass back in a new Green colour which really stands out.
One thing I noticed right away was how light the OnePlus 8 felt to use when compared to some of the other phones I had been using recently.
At 180g in weight, this is lighter than the 186g on the S20+ and 194g on the iPhone 11 that a lot of people have been using at around this same price point.
The screen is a decent 6.55 inches in diameter and is 1080p resolution display with a PPI of 402, and still keeps that 90hz refresh rate which people have come to love on the OnePlus 7 Pro, this is one of the key standout features that make OnePlus different, although others are starting to catch up such as Google with their Pixel 4 and the 4XL, and Samsung have come out with their 120hz S20 range.
With 1080p and 90hz you get a fantastic screen which makes video and photo content look as beautiful as ever, and that small pinhole camera disappears after a while as you just get used to it being there.
As with most recent OnePlus devices there is a fingerprint reader and this is built into the display and not only is it fast it’s very accurate and makes unlocking of the device or using for authenticating purchases on Google Pay a breeze.
Looking at the top of the device you have one of the dual microphones used for noise cancellation as well as for capturing audio when in video mode.
There is also one of the antenna lines which allow for better quality network connection due to the aluminum and glass structure.
On the bottom you get the loudspeaker which is actually very decent quality and the only puts out loud volume but very clear as well it sounds very handy when playing games such as Call of Duty and watching videos such as Netflix and YouTube
Next this you get the USB C port which is used for data transfer, it also can be used for charging of course featuring the new 30T Warp Charge technology which charges you from 0% to around 50% in under half an hour.
Whilst you get this super fast Warp Charge feature, you do unfortunately lose out on wireless charging which is only built into the Pro model of the 8 Series, but this has never been included on a OnePlus phone before so would not be something existing users miss out on.
Next to the charging port you get the SIM card tray which pops out using a pin, this allows you to access the dual SIM trays where you can use either one or two SIM cards at the same time.
However there is no expandable memory support so you’re have to depend on internal or online storage only, but it is nice having two SIMs in one phone which be handy for people like myself who have a work and personal SIM.
Something lacking even again is a headphone jack which seems to be very common these days, however also missing in the box is a USB-C headset, or even an adapter to use your own, instead you either have to use an existing pair if you have or go for a Bluetooth option.
Over on the left side you just get the volume up and down buttons which as you would expect just control the system volume as well as voice call volume when in a call.
Over on the right hand side you get the power button which when double tap quick opens the camera if you need to take a quick photo without pressing the on-screen button
You also get one of the features of a OnePlus phone that many take for granted but is actually really handy to have, and that is a three-way switch allowing you to quickly switch between Normal, Vibrate and Silent mode with a quick flick.
Over on the back you have a very familiar design if you have looked or come from the OnePlus 7 Pro with a vertical camera placed near the middle, I will go into the camera’s in a lot more detail later on in this review as there is a lot to talk about.
Below this you have the newly designed 1+ logo with the new font the company is using as well as the ONEPLUS wording at the bottom, again the first phone with this new design the company is looking to show off as being more modern.
The back is made from glass using 3D Gorilla Glass for extra protection, this is very slippy to hold without a case
Thankfully OnePlus give you a free one in the box and it is not just an ordinary clear one you now have the NEVER SETTLE tagline included so when it is on the phone this stands out and you can show off your support to the brand.
There are of course other options out there including two official cases I was supplied with, one was a nice Cyan Sandstone and the other was a Black Nylon that was popular on older models.
These normally cost around the £30 each but are superb quality and have their own feel and protection, the Cyan Sandstone adds a rough like texture which is great for gripping so you are less likely to drop, where as the Black Nylon has a nice grip surrounding so it fits in the hand nicely and still looks great.
One of the original reasons people loved using a OnePlus device was their custom version of Android they call OxygenOS, this was the original Dark Mode champion and being able to change settings such as accent colours was ahead of it’s time, something we all take for granted these days.
They have taken the Pixel stock design, added some tweaks where needed and have made what a lot of people consider the best skin of Android there is right now, backed up with some impressive results when people were asked.
Something that really stands out is the whole OnePlus community, there is an app installed on the phone, and you can visit them on the website too and this is full of existing and new users coming up with ideas they would like to see, and the company listen and take some of these on board and include in updates that roll out.
The OnePlus 8 comes with Android 10 out of the box which is the most latest version and with it brings all the new security improvements you would expect as well as a new way of navigating called gestures.
There is a whole load of customization options available from changing between light and dark theme as well as changing the accent colours, icon packs and font choice just to name a few.
The good thing with OnePlus is they don’t bog the phone down with bloatware, instead only include there switch app allowing you to transfer content from one device to another,
OnePlus are not fussed about making health apps or well-being apps, instead you can download one of the multiple versions from the play store instead they just give you a clean Android experience.
The OnePlus 8 (and Pro) come with a new version, 10.5 which brings a better more enhanced Dark Mode 2.0 as well as Dynamic Wallpapers as well as a few other handy improvements.
One of the biggest and something you will never know of unless you dig into settings or read here is the smart charging built in, over time your phone learns when you plug it in to go sleep, and when you take off charge in the morning.
So with this information when you plug in to charge the device will only start charging when it knows you will hit 100% in the morning, say an hour before you wake up.
This not only saves on your electric bills, but also ensures the phone does not overcharge and in the long run have a negative impact on your battery.
Performance is an area that OnePlus really excel in, they always offer a huge amount of RAM and storage to stand out from others, although the competition has started to catch up in some areas.
The OnePlus 8 comes in two versions, a 8GB RAM with 128GB storage, or the larger one that I was sent which is 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, of course this is not expandable at all but should not be a problem for most people.
Processor is a speedy Snapdragon 865 which brings you right up to date with the latest the company has to offer, and with plenty of RAM and software optimization and that beautiful 90hz display, the OnePlus 8 is a powerhouse that impresses in all areas.
I’ve got much more into mobile gaming recently thanks to Pokémon Go and more recently Call of Duty Mobile, these games ran fantastic on the display and smooth as anything thanks for the 90 Hz refresh rate which made everything look so much clearer, so much smoother and a much better experience than I’ve had on other devices.
The networking side of the device is also top notch with 5G now included thanks to the X55 modem allowing for the existing NSA networks and the next generation SA in theory allowing near to 7Gbps speeds when supported in the future.
For anyone else not lucky to be in a 5G covered area yet, you still get great performance on the 4G+ network thanks to CAT13 LTE-A allowing up to in theory 1.2Gbps over a 4G network, again if supported.
Of course you also get the most up to date WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS for keeping connected at all times and using apps such as Google Pay and Google Maps
The battery is a fixed 4300mah capacity easily lasted me a full day and that was with 2 SIM cards in use as well as quite a bit of Call of Duty Mobile playing online.
Pokemon Go is my other game I play a lot which would hammer the battery but was not able to really use with being indoors all the time.
The Warp Charge 30T out-of-the-box does a great job at getting you from zero to 50% in around 22 minutes however as mentioned before, you do lose wireless charging which is reserved for the more expensive Pro version.
When it comes to storage you get 256GB of built-in memory which will be plenty for even the biggest movie download fan, especially when you consider your photos can be put on Google Photos for unlimited storage online.
Even 128GB on the base model will be plenty for most people unless you download movie after movie over the 5G network in highest quality.
Having a good camera on a smartphone can be for some people one of the biggest decision makers when making a purchase, with many out there (myself included) not owning a standalone camera and using their phone for everything, and the phone cameras are getting better and better.
OnePlus are always improving their camera setup with software updates, but often it is the actual cameras themselves that make the biggest improvements as there is only so much you can do with software.
Looking over on the back you have a triple camera setup which features a main 48 megapixel lens for capturing detail, a 2 megapixel macro lens for getting in really close to your subject
Finally you get a large 16 megapixel super wide angle lens with 120 degree field of view for getting even more in to that important photo such as a landscape or group shot.
There is a pro and a con to the camera setup, first of all having a dedicated Macro camera is great for anyone who loves getting those up close and detailed photos to share online.
This comes at the cost of the telephoto lens which gets you in closer to your other situations, plus OnePlus did a great job enabling the Super Macro mode on the 7T using a non dedicated Macro lens.
The camera interface is very easy to understand and navigate through, on the left-hand side you have controls for the flash, timer, changing the camera viewer size and enabling the super macro mode.
On the opposite side you have a slider to navigate through the different modes such as portrait, nightscape, video etc.
You will see in the camera UI screenshot a toggle that has 1 tree on one side, and 3 trees on the other, this is where you tap to switch between the wide angle or telephoto cameras depending which you need.
Night mode has been given a big upgrade in Nightscape with some of the best low light photos I have taken on a phone, although not quite up there with the magic of the Pixel or what Huawei have right now.
What OnePlus have managed to produce is a very capable all round camera experience, even in poor lighting.
Overall image quality captured was excellent, in fact one of the best I have had on a smartphone thanks to the impressive sensors used and some clever software getting the most from the different lenses and scenarios.
The front facing camera is 16 megapixels and also includes features such as HDR for better photos as well as using the screen as a selfie flash to help with lighting.
The location has moved from the middle area dewdrop notch to a smaller pinhole cutout located over on the left hand side which some may like, some may not
I personally didn’t mind the change as the hole is so small anyway it almost disappears when you start looking at your content.
Quality is very good and is more than decent enough for social media sharing which will be the main use for apps such as FaceBook, Instagram, Snapchat or other services where you don’t really need a high resolution image.
Video mode is also very good and great for video calling services such as Google Duo, WhatsApp or Skype which were all tested with pleasing results.
Even indoors where video calling has more recently been more essential than ever before so a good quality experience is needed, and provided.
Video mode is very good when in good lighting, quality does go up to 4K resolution if you want to use this, however standard HD is good enough for most situations.
Stabilisation is also very good as I found when recording video handheld with no tripod and there is even a super steady mode which tops out at 1080p but is great for when you are walking or unsteady.
It really does keep things all steady and smooth even whilst walking, you can see it working as you are moving about and looks great as you can see in the samples.
Below are a few sample videos to check out.
OnePlus have come a long long way since they launched the original device many years ago, their status of ‘Flagship Killer’ has continued by offering a lower price than the opposition
With some great hardware, and a software experience loved by many to make it one of the best brands available in a smartphone.
Whilst I did love the last range, especially the OnePlus 7T and called it one of the best phones of 2019, it was the lack of future proofing, mainly 5G which let it down, especially with pricing creeping up over the years.
Thankfully this concern has been covered, and along with the latest Snapdragon 865 processor, plenty of RAM and improved performance comes the addition of 5G for anyone who wants the fastest speeds on their smartphone.
Battery was also very decent, this was having both SIM cards in the device at the same time which drains the battery even faster because it’s looking for two networks
I did notice that in the software build we were given in review devices, if you had both SIM cards working then 4G was the highest possible, if you disabled one and just used a single SIM it gave 5G, there was a warning though that this will be resolved in a future update.
Considering I have no 5G near me anyway, I was happy to stick with 4G and use two sim cards at the same time, and the battery held up very well considering it was searching for two different networks as well as running a 90hz display.
With the OnePlus 8, the company has taken what sold well on the 7T and given it a bit of an update with faster processor, 5G and a new colour, the Green I have been using which again, looks great!
However those of you who want the real top of the range experience will no doubt save the extra £200 and go for the OnePlus 8 Pro to get the 120hz larger display and the better camera setup with newer lenses plus telephoto.
However if you want a decent device which looks great, has a software experience some say is the best out right now, and have a great dual sim 5G phone with a good everyday camera design then the OnePlus 8 is a great option.
The only downfall I can think of is people who do not want 5G and do not want to pay the extra over the last years 7T as it is a bit of a jump in price, and the 7T is still on par with a lot of other flagship phones on sale these days.
Again as mentioned at the start of this review, it was not based on my normal scenario of going to work, watching lots of video, taking loads of photos etc.. this was down to the situation with COVID-19 meaning I had to stay indoors most of the time.
Thanks again to OnePlus for loaning the device and to be able to review here and for being part of the launch group.