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OnePlus 8 Pro review: 5 things to know about OnePlus' greatest-ever flagship

OnePlus is back with a phone low on gimmicks and high on specs.

OnePlus 8 Pro review: 5 things to know about OnePlus' greatest-ever flagship
14 April 2020

OnePlus wouldn’t be here without its community. This makes its latest phones, the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, one of its strangest but significant launches yet.

While past releases have had to come with crowd control - OnePlus is synonymous with pop-up shops for fans that allow them to get their favourite handsets first - the OnePlus 8 range has launched virtually; CEO Pete Lau showing off the phones to an audience he can’t see or hear but really hopes is listening.

That’s because OnePlus has been listening. ShortList was lucky enough to be among a select few to test out the phones for a few weeks now and there are some major changes on board, all of which have been guided by what OnePlus users have been requesting.

But is it a case of ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ or time for a change?

Here’s what we think of the OnePlus 8 Pro - the flagship phone from the company…

1. Things have changed

OnePlus 8 Pro review: 5 things to know

On first glance, there isn's a huge amount of difference design-wise from the OnePlus 7T Pro. Both phones have the volume rocker situated in the same place. On the right side is the on button and slider switch above this (to move from silent, sound and vibrate mode).

The screen is contoured on both that moulds into a glass back. When it comes to the model we reviewed, the glass back was matte and had a beautiful feel to it.

Flip it over to the back and things have changed. Gone is the triple camera setup and now we have four cameras: a 3x telephoto zoom, 48MP main camera, 48MP Ultra Wide Angle zoom and something called a colour filter camera (more on this later).

Also gone is the front-facing pop-up camera that OnePlus was originally ecstatic about as it meant its screens were notch and pin-hole free. But there’s a reason: users wanted a phone with an IP rating and mechanical pop-ups don’t allow for this. With the pop-up gone the OnePlus 8 Pro now has an IP68 rating.

The hole punch is pretty tiny, at 3.84mm in size and is nestled on a screen that is utterly impressive to look at...

2. The screen is a dream

OnePlus 8 Pro review: 5 things to know

OnePlus screens have always been impressive but the one on the OnePlus 8 Pro is a jaw dropper. OnePlus was one of the first make 90Hz screens popular and now it has added an 120Hz screen on to the OnePlus 8 Pro.

What does this mean? Well, if something has a very high frame rate, then this phone will be able to play it with buttery smoothness. That means things there's less judder in things like games and fast-action movies.

Now, not many people have been using 120fps for their movies - a recent one was the rather pants Gemini Man. OnePlus knows this and has added a feature called Motion Graphics Smoothing that can be used in movie apps such as Netflix and Prime Movies.

OnePlus is proud of it but it is similar to the TV feature that's been castigated by Hollywood heavyweights. On the small screen, it isn't as noticeable but we prefer our movies without this Botox-like treatment. Lucky, then, you can turn it off.

That isn't the only reason for 120Hz, though, having this amount of a refresh rate trickles down nicely into everyday use.

We found flipping between apps and games with little-to-no judder. There was also a smoothness when we transitioned between different home screens and flipped through our normal handful of apps: Netflix, Flipboard, Twitter etc.

The level of detail when we watched Netflix was top notch, thanks to HDR 10+ supports (which basically offers up lovely clarity between blacks and colours) and the 19.8:9 aspect ratio works well for watching movies. OnePlus' behind-the-scenes tinkering means that there is a 10-bit colour display on offer here, so no wonder things look great.

Resolution-wise, the phone is: 3168x1440 and it manages to pack in an adaptive brightness setting with a whopping 4096 levels. The screen also filters out 40% of blue light automatically which is very much needed given we are all looking at screens a lot more right now.

OnePlus really has outdone itself with a full 120Hz refresh rate that can be used with its full 3168x1440 resolutions, a first for any phone - although you have to change the display settings to achieve this and it will be something of a battery sink.

It's through the screen that you also get into the phone, with an in-display optical fingerprint sensor.

3. OnePlus is in charge

OnePlus 8 Pro review: 5 things to know

While OnePlus has decided that a pop-up camera isn't the future (and we have to agree with them there, although we will miss the thing popping up every time we wanted to take a selfie), it has taken on board the lack of wireless charging on its phones and remedied this.

It has taken OnePlus rather a long time to get to wireless charging and that's because it made a rod for its own back with its Warp Charge technology.

For anyone who hasn't been paying attention, Warp Charge is OnePlus' great speed-charging technology. On the OnePlus 8 Pro, it uses Warp Charge 30T and 23 minutes is quoted to get you to 50% power. In our tests, this was pretty spot on.

The OnePlus 8 Pro wireless charging uses 30 Watts of charging power (nearly double many of its competitors) which will charge your phone from 1% to 50% in a little over 30 minutes. Impressive. The wireless charging pad is an additional, er, charge though so don't expect to get one in the box.

4. No zoom gimmicks, no problem

OnePlus 8 Pro review: 5 things to know

One of the biggest 'innovations' in the camera phone market of recent years has been incredible zooming. The Google Pixel range managed to do this with brilliant software and, more recently, Samsung has shown off a ridiculous zoom on the S20 Pro range. The problem is: you zoom too far and quality is that of a potato.

The OnePlus has shrugged away this technology, opting instead for a 3x optical zoom with optical image stabilisation. It is the OIS that is key here - any zoom without it will mean blurry pictures.

The picture quality in the OnePlus 8 Pro is decent - a f1.78 aperture on the main 48MP sensor makes images bright and crisp, with decent low-light shooting too. The ultra-wide angle camera is ace with a 120 degree field of view.

It's with its up-close macro shooting that it really shines, though. Nightscape gets ultra-wide angle support, too, which is a nice touch.

The final lens is a strange one. The color filter camera is like having your own Instagram filter built into the camera - it offers artistic lighting effects and filters but we think this feature should have really ended up as a software only thing. It's pretty low-res, too.

We get the idea that OnePlus users can use filters and effects that are unique to their (new) phone but can't see this being the killer USP for users to upgrade.

5. Beefy battery, strong performance

OnePlus 8 Pro review: 5 things to know

The OnePlus 8 Pro has been given a lot of big specs. There's a massive 4510 mAh battery for a start that powers it well into the night and then some - battery life varies depending on how much you have ramped up the quality of the screen and the refresh rate, but we never had a day when the battery ran out completely, even on the highest setting.

OnePlus has done something interesting with the charging too. There is now an option to charge not to full capacity through the night. This means that the phone is plugged in and charged to 80% and then the phone waits until a designated time in the morning (say, 5am, before you wake) and will charge the extra 20%. This means that the phone doesn't overcharge at night.

It's a brilliant idea and if your wake-up times are the same everyday, then it's definitely. feature we would recommend.

Performance wise, it uses the up to 12GB of DDR5 RAM (which helps with power usage, gaming and battery use) and an Qualcomm 865 Snapdragon chip.

When it comes to connectivity, it's 5G ready (with Dual SIM functionality) and uses Wi-Fi 6, so you should get the best Wi-Fi strength.

OnePlus 8 Pro review: Final Verdict

OnePlus 8 Pro review: 5 things to know

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the most expensive OnePlus but it's a handset packed with innovation and performance.

It has a meaty processor, fantastic camera functionality and has wireless charging on board. Its new colours are stunning and it has one of the best screens we have seen on a phone.

Couple this with a big battery boost, Dolby Atmos and a new Oxygen OS which is the closest OnePlus has gotten to pure Android yet and this is a superb flagship.

OnePlus has listened to its fans and given them exactly what they want - now it will hope that in these lockdown times, this isn't a handset that passes the world by.

You can get the OnePlus 8 Pro on the 21 April and it will cost £799 (8GB+128GB) or £899 (12GB+256GB). You can also pre-order now.