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OnePlus 8 review: The power of being simple


Written by Nandagopal Rajan
| New Delhi |

Updated: June 7, 2020 3:41:05 pm


OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 india launch, OnePlus 8 launched, OnePlus 8 specs, OnePlus 8 price, OnePlus 8 price in india OnePlus 8 review: OnePlus again shows that offering a flagship experience is what matters more than listing out flagship features (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

OnePlus is a unique company for many reasons. For one, it makes and sells only one phone at a time – at least so far. Then, it focuses on offering the best possible features and specs at a price point, so much so that it is offering what others are at a much higher price point. It offers a frictionless experience for users by cutting down on unnecessary features, smoothening the software and staying away from gimmicks. And all of this has culminated in OnePlus becoming a dominant player in India’s premium segment.

But market dynamics are changing. For instance, OnePlus is now faced with a more aggressive Apple which has three phones that could at some level eat into this premium pie. Also, the depleted purchasing powers of buyers post the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown could mean pressure on the volumes they can sell in markets like India. Given these challenges, it would be interesting to see how the OnePlus 8 performs. Here is our review.

What is new?

The most significant aspect of the OnePlus 8, is a feature that is useless in India. This is a 5G phone, but in India we are maybe a couple of years away from getting to latch on to such a network. But being a 5G phone, the OnePlus 8 also sports the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 which is best-in-class for any Android phone at the moment. Add to this the 12GB RAM and you have a beast of a phone when it comes to sheer performance.

The OnePlus 8 also future-proofs you be offering Wi-Fi 6, the latest standard which is still very rare among smartphones. The OnePlus has a triple camera set up, but what is new is the Super Macro mode.

OnePlus 8 review The most significant aspect of the OnePlus 8, is a feature that is useless in India. (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

What can make you buy the OnePlus 8?

The first thing anyone will like about the OnePlus 8 is the 90Hz Fluid Display which is really smooth. The dynamic wallpapers are a good showcase of the prowess of the display and you notice how the screen literally comes to life every time you switch on the phone. Also, it was hard to miss the fact that this phone offers one of the deepest blacks I have experiences in recent times.

The design is trademark OnePlus — minimalist and functional. The phone is thin and has a slightly sharp side panel that offers it a better grip. The front panel just has the selfie camera hidden on the top left corner, rarely interfering with what you are doing. On the back, you have the OnePlus logo, the triple camera module, and the flash all aligned in one line. And OnePlus continues with the notification toggle on the right, just above the button that lets you power off as well as summon the Google Assistant.

For me, it is the performance of the phone that stood apart. This is a phone you can buy to power a desktop if needed, it is that powerful. Play a game, try multi-tab browsing or just shoot 4K video, this phone can handle it all without any issues and not heating up. Though not much of a gamer, I am sure the graphics capabilities of this phone will have a lot of them switching over.

When you shoot in Cine mode the frame gets cropped into 21:9 and you have to keep an eye out for what gets cropped out in the process.

The Oxygen OS comes with some interesting tweaks that make life a lot easier. When you are adjusting the volume, you have the option to switch on live captions. This works with anything that has audio, though with English the accuracy is the best. While the captions do come on the screen and ruin the experience a bit, this is a very useful feature of many people. I stick to my stand that OxygenOS is a more useable version of Android because it is far more intuitive.

A triple camera set up is no longer a big deal for smartphones. So the pressure is on companies to offer in the module. OnePlus does this with a 48MP camera. But this is not the default mode and you have to switch it on before you click. But in this mode, the difference is really visible and you get details the other sensors miss out. Use this mode when you want to blow up a frame and keep just one part of it. But these images are really heavy, at about 20MB, and take a few seconds to load in the gallery. So use this mode only when you know the 12MP default will be incapable for what you want to do. The ultra wide-angle is good and offers frames without much distortion.

OnePlus 8 review Photo shot with OnePlus 8 48MP camera mode. This is not the default mode and you have to switch it on before you click. (Photo shot by Nandagopal Rajan)
OnePlus 8 review 48MP image cropped still show good details. (Photo shot by Nandagopal Rajan)
OnePlus 8 review Photo shot by Nandagopal Rajan using OnePlus 8
OnePlus 8 review Photo shot by Nandagopal Rajan using OnePlus 8
OnePlus 8 review Low-light photo shot with the OnePlus 8. (Sample shot by Nandagopal Rajan)

I also loved the Super Macro mode which can give some stunning shots in normal light. This feature is getting popular in smartphones and the OnePlus 8 now offers one of the best implementations of it. The 4K Cine mode at 60fps could make this a go-to phone for lot of creative people, especially since you have 256GB of storage of play with. The 4K Cine Mode combined with the hybrid stabilisation makes this closest you can get to a professional video camera on an Android phone.

OnePlus 8 review Macro shot take from OnePlus 8 (Sample shot by Nandagopal Rajan)
OnePlus 8 review Macro shot take from OnePlus 8 (Sample shot by Nandagopal Rajan)
OnePlus 8 review Macro shot take from OnePlus 8 (Sample shot by Nandagopal Rajan)

If you use this phone with the battery saver mode on, the 4300 mAh battery can last up to two days on a full charge. Even if you do run out, the Warp charge can set you up for another day in just about 20 minutes or so.

What to keep in mind while buying the OnePlus 8?

In a week or so I used the phone, there were no major issues that I noticed. One thing did stand out though. When listening to something at full volume, you can actually feel the music in your hands. This can be a bit irritating but seems to be something acquired because of the thin 8mm frame of the phone.

OnePlus 8 review The first thing anyone will like about the OnePlus 8 is the 90Hz Fluid Display which is really smooth. (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

Who should buy the OnePlus 8 and why?

The OnePlus 8 is a no-nonsense flagship that ticks all the boxes when it comes to what users need. With this phone, OnePlus has again shown that it can keep things simple and focus on what is critical to the user.

The OnePlus 8 makes for a good upgrade for anyone on the models before the OnePlus 7 series. Also, those considering to upgrade from a budget Android to something more superior. Also, I highly recommend this for gamers and those who like to indulge in some serious photography or videography with their phones.

At the moment, this is one of the best Android smartphones you can buy. And again, OnePlus shows that you really don’t need to have a flagship price and a long list of features to offer a flagship experience.

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Updated: June 7, 2020 — 10:28 am

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