OnePlus 8 Pro on long-term test: Still a top-class flagship smartphone

This top-of-the-range OnePlus handset remains a firm favourite after a lengthy period of evaluation.
Written by Sandra Vogel, Contributing Writer

The 6.78-inch Snapdragon 865-based OnePlus 8 Pro in Glacial Green, Ultramarine Blue and Onyx Black.

Images: OnePlus

Back in April I reviewed the OnePlus 8 Pro and concluded that it was a worthy flagship handset. For £799/$899 you get 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, while £899/$999 gets you 12GB and 256GB respectively. I was sent the Glacial Green (12GB/256GB) version and can confirm -- even in lockdown when social contact is minimal, and even among those who are used to seeing me with different phones -- that it turns heads.

But looks are not everything. So how has the OnePlus 8 Pro performed while it has been my primary phone?


Replacing the OnePlus 7T Pro's pop-up front camera (left) with an in-screen punch-hole camera (right) was a good move.

Images: OnePlus

Reading Mode is a useful OnePlus feature.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

OnePlus's decision to ditch the pop-up camera it used on the 7T Pro was a very good one. After just a few weeks of use by someone who doesn't take many selfies, the 7T Pro's camera became a bugbear. It was slow to emerge, and got caked in dust. Fair play to OnePlus: it tried the idea out, and dropped it like a stone. The tiny punch-hole 16MP front camera on the OnePlus 8 Pro is a much better solution, not least because replacing the pop-up mechanism helps the 8 Pro gain an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

There are two features that I find a huge bonus. One of these is OnePlus's Reading Mode. This pops the screen into either monochrome or a 'chromatic effect' with dialled-down colour. It can be set to kick in whenever specific apps launch, or you can launch it as required. There's even a button on the quick settings menu; it's tucked away on the second screen by default, but I moved it to the main screen and used it a lot. This is different, by the way, from the blue-light filtering Night Mode, which is also present, and which can be set to toggle at sunrise/sunset, at scheduled times or be manually selected. It's also different from Comfort Tone, where screen colours automatically adapt based on ambient lighting conditions. I tried this and rather liked it.

The other feature I find superb is the Alert Slider. This little three-position button on the handset's right side makes it easy to switch between silent, vibrate and ring modes. Both the Reading Mode and the Alert Slider have been OnePlus staples for a while now, and they are defining features of the line. Long may they last.

The curved screen has benefits and drawbacks. It looks fantastic, and having curves on both back and front of the long edges makes the 6.78-inch handset more comfortable to hold. But it can be problematic in use: notably, there's no touch-rejection along the screen's curve, which meant I sometimes made accidental screen presses.  


The 6.78-inch Fluid AMOLED screen curves at the edges, resulting in an 90.8% screen-to-body ratio. The Alert Slider, above the power button on the right side, is another useful feature on OnePlus handsets.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The Fluid AMOLED screen has a 19.8:9 aspect ratio, making this a pretty tall phone to carry around. Having said that, it's only slightly taller than the handset I switched over from, so the change wasn't too noticeable. You can opt for either 2,376 by 1,080 resolution (385ppi), which is the out-of-box default, or 3,168 by 1,440 (513ppi). The higher resolution made minimal visual difference for me, and is a battery drain, so I stuck with the default option and didn't feel I was missing out on anything. Nor did I often need to use the full 120Hz screen refresh: sticking with 60Hz was plenty good enough for my regular usage pattern. I did appreciate the 1,300 nits maximum screen brightness though, as this allowed me to use the phone outdoors on some of the sunniest days in May.

Battery life remains as good as I reported in my original review, where I didn't see it drop below 35% in regular usage. In fact, I even finish some lighter-workload days with the battery closer to 50%. However, I rarely indulge in gaming, GPS use or long stints of video watching, and power users will deplete the 4,510mAh battery faster than I do, in which case they'll appreciate the fast charging.

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Fast charging is a feature I expect as normal these days, and so here it just became part of my daily routine. The same can't be said of the (optional) OnePlus wireless charger I was sent, which was returned to its box pretty quickly. I couldn't really justify the desk space it needed, or the fact that the handset must be in portrait mode to function. Instead, I placed the OnePlus 8 Pro in my own handset stand, in whatever orientation suited at the time, and charged it via the supplied 30W USB-C charger. This is capable of delivering 50% charge in 23 minutes -- slightly faster than the 30W wireless charger can manage (50% in 30 minutes).

I have not had many opportunities to test the OnePlus 8 Pro's cameras -- 16MP f/2.5 at the front; 48MP f/1.8 (wide), 8MP f/2.4 (telephoto, 3x), 48MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide, 120°) and 5MP f/2.4 (colour filter) at the back -- during lockdown. Everyday images look fine, although it's fair to say that other flagship handsets have better camera setups and I still can't see the point of the colour filter camera -- isn't that what on-device post processing software is for? For the record, the OnePlus 8 Pro is currently 10th in the influential DxOMark smartphone camera rankings, with an overall score of 119 (126 for photos, 103 for videos). The leading handset at the time of writing is Huawei's P40 Pro, which scores 128 (140 photo, 105 video).

Overall then, although I have found some drawbacks with the OnePlus 8 Pro, it's still a top-class flagship phone, and I could certainly live with it as my main handset.


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