The OnePlus 8 isn't one of the best known phones. Samsung and Apple might still be the titans of the industry when it comes to the best smartphones (opens in new tab), but OnePlus has been creeping on them for years putting out excellent phones at a fraction of the cost. Its latest efforts, the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro are just around the corner. Does OnePlus finally have a smartphone to topple the giants of the industry?
Powered by a Snapdragon 865 CPU (the same chip inside the Samsung Galaxy S20) and with 8/12GB of RAM, the OnePlus 8 is certainly throwing itself into the heavyweight smartphone division. It's the same story on the camera array too with a triple lens setup headlined by a 48MP Sony lens.
The OnePlus 8 is 5G enabled too for faster download speeds and better connectivity. And while some other niche brands like Huawei don’t have access to the Android store, the OnePlus 8 runs on an Android-based operating system so you’ll have access to all your favorite apps like Instagram, Spotify, and TikTok. But the most impressive stat of all is the price, which starts at just $699. So what’s the catch? Is it cursed? Or do the specs not tell the whole story?
Average Price: $699
Operating System: OxygenOS
Screen Size: 6.5-inch QHD Fluid Display
Storage: 128GB, or 256GB
5G Ready? Yes
Headphone Jack? No
Charging Type: Warp Charge via USB-C
Also consider: iPhone 11
OnePlus 8 review: Design
- Available in Glacial Green, Onyx Black or Interstellar Glow.
- 128GB or 256GB versions.
Visually, the OnePlus 8 looks almost identical to the previous model, the OnePlus 7 with its rounded edges and vertical strip of cameras positioned in the center of the handset. On the front there is now a pinhole camera in favor of the old pop-up camera that previous OnePlus smartphones have used.
The OnePlus 8 comes in three color options: Onyx Black, Glacial Green and Interstellar Glow, though that last variant is only available in some markets. Color isn’t just an aesthetic choice though, as the Onyx Black version comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, while the Glacial Green variant comes with 12GB RAM and 256GB of storage space.
At 6.3-inches long, 2.9-inches wide and 0.3-inches thick, the OnePlus 8 is slightly bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S20 and iPhone 11 (opens in new tab), but not quite as big as some of the more monstrous handsets out there. For comparison, if you’ve held a Google Pixel 4 XL (opens in new tab) in your hand before, it’s almost exactly the same size.
OnePlus 8 review: Screen & audio
- 6.55-inch QHD screen.
- Dolby Atmos stereo speakers.
While the OnePlus 8 Pro might be stealing the show with it’s new 120hz display, the OnePlus 8 is still rocking an impressive 90hz refresh rate on its 6.55-inch Fluid Display screen. This means that screen transitions feel smooth and responsive. There’s also HDR 10/10+ support which means that colors on screen are more vibrant and true to life. We tested the screen out by watching videos on several streaming platforms and they all looked fantastic. It’s not going to replace your TV at home, but if you’re stuck on the train and want to watch a movie then the OnePlus 8 will make it shine.
If you’re listening to music at home then the dual stereo speakers offer surprisingly good volume and sound quality. Obviously they can’t compete with a dedicated sound system, but the OnePlus 8 will happily fill a room with tunes while you’re tidying up or getting ready for work. There’s Dolby Atmos support too, which simulates surround sound through regular speakers. We’re actually rather impressed by this after checking out the Dolby Atmos tech demo and watching some action movies scenes.
Of course you’re a responsible citizen and would never blast tunes out of your phone in public, so you’ll be dying to hear about the headphones right? Well there aren’t any included, but you can purchase a pair of wireless earbuds separately. There’s no headphone jack either, though we don’t expect to see them in many smartphones these days.
OnePlus 8 review: Battery life
- Excellent battery life.
- Warp charge goes from 0-50% in 22 minutes.
It’s often overlooked when people buy a new handset, but battery life is one of the most important factors in a new smartphone. Who cares about your billion megapixel camera if it only holds a charge for half a day? OnePlus seemingly understands this having fitted the OnePlus 8 with a 4300mAh battery that packs a serious charge.
During our testing the OnePlus 8 never even came close to running out of battery after a day of normal use - we were usually left with around 50% charge which is impressive. What’s more, the OnePlus 8 comes with a Warp Charge 30T charger, which charges the handset up to 50% charge in just 22 minutes. Battery life essentially isn’t a concern if you’re using a OnePlus 8.
OnePlus 8 review: Camera
- Triple lens camera: Standard, ultra wide and macro.
- Zoomed image quality isn't great.
- 4K video recording.
On the camera front, the OnePlus 8 is packing a triple lens set-up, with a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor as the main camera. This is backed up by a 16MP ultra wide angle camera and a 2 MP macro camera for taking up-close photos of small objects. The main camera is great and the ultra wide holds its own too when taking wider shots, but the zoom is bit lackluster if you’re snapping distant objects. The sensor supports 2X zoom, and then after that you start to get some seriously grainy images if you zoom in further.
The front-facing selfie camera is a 16 MP Sony IMX471 pinhole camera, which is embedded into the screen. OnePlus fans might be sad to see the old pop-up camera go, as it was certainly a unique novelty amongst high-end smartphones. With that said, 16MP is plenty for a selfie camera and we were suitably impressed with the images it kicked out.
If you’re looking to record video on the OnePlus 8, then you’ll be pleased to hear that it supports 4K video recording at up to 60 fps on the rear camera, and 1080p on the front camera.
OnePlus 8 review: Software and assistant features
- Oxygen OS 10.
- Alexa enabled.
The OnePlus 8 is running on OnePlus’s proprietary Android-based operating system, called Oxygen OS. This latest iteration, Oxygen OS 10, is more of a refinement of the formula than a revolution, so owners of older OnePlus handsets will feel right at home, as will anyone who’s used to Android phones if we’re being honest. There isn’t much worth shouting about other than some new dark themes and dynamic wallpapers, but the OS itself is slick, functional and intuitive, so why fix what isn’t broken?
The other talking point on the OnePlus 8 is the addition of Alexa functionality. Once you’ve downloaded the Alexa app, you can choose either the hands-free or push-to-talk mode. Alexa is the best AI voice assistant out there (she certainly runs rings around Samsung's Bixby), so it's great to have built-in compatibility.
OnePlus 8 review: Price
OnePlus phones have always offered exceptional value for money when compared to more popular brands, and we're happy to say that trend continues with the OnePlus 8. Price start at $699 for the 8GB RAM/128GB storage version and $799 for the 12GB RAM/256GB storage version. Considering what's on offer here, that's an absolute bargain, especially for a flagship-quality phone.
Should you buy the OnePlus 8?
Absolutely. Honestly, if you’re looking for a solid mid-to-high tier smartphone then you’ll struggle to find anything out there that’s this good, for this cheap. The Samsung Galaxy S20 has similar specs and costs a whopping $300 more and we really can’t see why, other than the price of the Samsung badge and a slightly better camera set-up.
The OnePlus 8 isn't a budget smartphone by any means, but we don't think you'll find this kind of performance, feature set and build quality for anywhere near this cheap elsewhere.