Reviews

OnePlus 8 Pro review: Best of the best

True blue flagship

Published

on

Before we dive into our review, let’s take a quick trip back in time to exactly a year ago. When the company launched the OnePlus 7 Pro — their first phone to get the pro branding — it marked a new direction for the company.

Known as the flagship killer, OnePlus sold phones with top of the line specs at a fraction of the cost of any other Android favorite. At US$ 669, the OnePlus 7 Pro was priced unlike anything that came before it. 

With that pricing strategy, it was clear that OnePlus wanted to compete head to head with the likes of Apple and Samsung. While a valiant effort — particularly when it came to its superb display — there was one big area where the OnePlus 7 Pro fell short: its camera.

Don’t get me wrong, the phone took good photos, just not great, and certainly not what you’d expect from a phone at that price point. That made it a good buy, but not an easy one to recommend. 

This year the new OnePlus 8 Pro is even more expensive; so the stakes are even higher and expectations greater. Is the OnePlus 8 Pro a phone I can recommend?

Premium looks

On the outside the OnePlus 8 Pro looks very similar to last year’s model — from its shape, to its curves, to the positioning of the rear camera system — except that the curves meld more into the frame so it doesn’t feel as sharp when you wrap your palms around it.

It’s a tiny bit taller, thinner, and narrower. Whatever millimeters they shaved off from its sides makes a huge difference. Last year’s phone felt big. This one is more manageable. It’s still bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and Huawei P40 Pro, which are, at least to me, the perfect size.

The button layout is the same. The physical mute switch which everyone loves is still there. Ports, antenna bands, speaker grilles are all unchanged.

The OnePlus 8 Pro also finally has official water and dust resistance rating: IP68.

The biggest design change is the removal of the pop-up selfie camera. Punch hole it is this year. 

It’s not intrusive, although I would much rather have it in the middle like on the S20. I also personally would pick a punch hole over a pop up camera any day. I’m just not a fan of moving parts. I also like how there’s a white ring around the punch hole so people know where to look when taking a selfie. 

The official name for this lovely finish is Ultramarine Blue — a color that’s exclusive to the Pro Series here in the US. It’s also available in Glacier Green, and for those who want something more classic there is Onyx Black. 

OnePlus 8 in Interstellar Glow

The non-Pro OnePlus 8 has its own exclusive color in the US as well: Interstellar Glow. This has a mirror finish that picks up colors from its surroundings. 

If you follow me on social media, you’d know of my affinity to the color blue so forgive me if I write a few more sentences about this lovely color.

The finish is matte satin that still glistens in the light. It isn’t much of a fingerprint magnet, and is a little bit slippery.

One con is that this finish scratches easily so you won’t want to put keys or coins in the same pocket. 

It’s more royal blue with brighter tones than last year’s Nebula Blue. As Blue is the Pantone Color of the year, it’s no surprise there have been a host of blue phones this year.  As a lover of all things blue, however, this has got to be my favorite out of everything I’ve seen this year. 

Best display on a smartphone

One thing you’ll find on any 2020 flagship worth its salt is a display with a fast refresh rate. While 120Hz displays have been found on gaming phones long before OnePlus put one on last year’s OnePlus 7 Pro, the company deserves credit for being the first to bring them to mainstream devices.

With the OnePlus 8 Pro, it gets even better. On paper it’s the best display we’ve seen on a smartphone.  

It’s got everything you could ask for in 2020, if display technology is important to you: An AMOLED panel that provides rich colors and great contrast, a level of color accuracy that Display Mate calls “visually indistinguishable from perfect,” 120Hz refresh rate at quad HD+ resolution. 

Other phones like the Galaxy S20+ that offer the same refresh rate do not support higher resolutions. Gamers will love the 240Hz touch sampling rate as well. Baked into the display is a fingerprint scanner that’s fast and accurate. 

What does this all mean? With Oxygen OS optimized to benefit from the 120Hz display, this phone — long known for feeling fast — feels faster than ever.  

Coupled with HDR boosting and Dolby Atmos dual stereo speakers, the OnePlus 8 Pro is one heck of a content consumption device — which is a godsend during quarantine. 

Really loud speakers

I quickly wanna talk about how loud these speakers actually are. I noticed it when I left a YouTube video playing in the background while I was in the shower. 

Usually the water will drown out whatever it is I’m listening to — whether it’s music or a podcast on Spotify, or even a YouTube video — but not on this phone.  

Best of everything

The best of everything narrative continues when you peruse its spec sheet. You name it, the phone’s got it: Snapdragon 865, X55 5G modem, Wi-Fi 6 support, 8 or 12GB of RAM with fast DDR5 memory, 128 or 256GB of storage with UFS 3.0.

While this might seem overkill, OnePlus tells us it’s all about building phones that will last several years. The goal is for the phone to still be powerful and fast enough 3-5 years down the road. 

“You don’t need to pay for a feature you’re not going to be able to use most of the time.”

I played plenty of games while reviewing the OnePlus 8 Pro — from Asphalt 9 to Marvel Contest of Champions — and the OnePlus 8 Pro took it like a champ.

Long battery life and fast charging

Battery life on the OnePlus 8 Pro is impressive. Consistently in the week that I used it as a daily driver the phone often lasted me a day and half of average use.

I was indoors the whole time, but I did my best to mimic outdoor use. Some days I used the phone exclusively on WiFi, some days entirely on LTE.

I averaged about 7 hours of screen on time watching plenty of YouTube videos and spending a lot of time on social media, as well as some online shopping and games. What else is one to do during quarantine? 

This marks the first time a OnePlus device gets wireless charging — and it was well worth the wait.  

Do you need wireless charging? Usually my answer is no; but with wireless charging speeds just as fast as wired charging, why even bother plugging it in?

In my tests a 30 minute wireless charge got the phone from 0 to 55 percent and it took a total of 70 minutes for a full charge. With the bundled cable and adapter, a 30 minute charge gives you 60 percent, and a full charge takes 68 minutes. 

The 30W Warp Charger is an optional purchase and it retails for US$ 69.95. 

Camera performance that matches its price tag

The OnePlus 8 Pro has 4 cameras: 3x telephoto, 48MP wide angle, 48MP ultra wide angle, and a dedicated photocrom filter.

I’m not convinced that last camera is necessary — OnePlus even recently disabled it in China via an over-the-air update.

The main 48MP wide camera uses the same Sony sensor that OPPO says was customized for the Find X2 ProThey produce very similar results, although the OnePlus 8 Pro is better at not blowing out highlights and better at white balance, more often than not. 

At night some results vary, but in most cases they still came out similar.

The question everyone is asking, myself included, is if it’s any better than the Samsung Galaxy S20+, Huawei P40 Pro or the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro. The short answer is it’s really a matter of personal preference.

During the day, shots like this one come out so similar, differing mostly in saturation and warmth. 

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro vs OnePlus 8 Pro vs Huawei P40 Pro vs OPPO Find X2 Pro.

Through blue hour and night fall I was thrilled to see the OnePlus 8 Pro hold its own.

Here are more camera samples.

Is it worth the upgrade?

The biggest differences between the OnePlus 7 Pro and One 8 Pro are an updated processor with 5G Support, a 120Hz display vs 90 Hz, fast wireless charging, IP68 rating, and an entirely different camera system. Of these improvements it’s the camera upgrade that means most to me. 

OnePlus is keeping the 7 Pro around for a reduced price of US$ 449. So if an excellent camera is not your priority save the US$ 450 bucks and get the OnePlus 7 Pro this year.    

If you already own one, my recommendation is to wait at least another year before you upgrade. I even recommend the 7 Pro over the OnePlus 8 — its camera is betterThe difference between Snapdragon 855 and 865 will be hardly noticeable unless you intend on pushing it real hard.

And no, you don’t need a 5G phone in 2020. If you see yourself upgrading in a year or two, skip for now. You don’t need to pay for a feature you’re not going to be able to use most of the time.

Is the OnePlus 8 Pro your GadgetMatch?

We recently reviewed the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro and the OPPO Find X2 Pro, brands that were known to dabble in the flagship killer space previously. These phones retail for about US$ 1,000 in Europe, which is disappointing to say the least.

It’s something I feel really passionate about. I know at the end of the day that these are all business that need to make money, but these brands made their name on being able to offer the best for less. That’s why I became a OnePlus fan from the very beginning. 

As the OnePlus 8 launch drew closer, my biggest fear — which many of you shared — was that OnePlus would follow the same route. 

Fortunately, this is not the case, and it’s funny how perspective changes based on context. With all other flagship phones breaching the thousand-dollar bracket — with the LG V60 as en exemption — the OnePlus 8 Pro is looking very appealing at US$ 899, even if it’s US$ 230 more expensive than last year.

This pricing strategy is the smartest thing OnePlus could have done this year. The hardware on this phone is the cream the crop; performance is great, photos are excellent, and the experience? Possibly the best in the Android space.

The OnePlus 8 Pro not only gets the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval, it also earns a space in my pocket as my new Android daily driver.

Laptops

Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen review: 4 months after

Published

on

Huawei MateBook D 15

The work from home and online class setup had us all adjusting to this new normal. You’ll see a lot of inquiries on Facebook groups about LED ring lights, microphones and midrange laptop recommendations. Huawei’s MateBook D series is among the ones you’ll see that has gotten a lot of popularity for this purpose.

It makes perfect sense, since back when I first reviewed the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen, I had a lot of good things to say about it. After four months under regular use, there are quite a few more that I came to realize about this device that I think you guys might find interesting.

It can get things done

A quick refresher on its specs, the D 15 2021 we have with us has an 11th gen Core i5 with the Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. 

It’s no question, if you’re just going to use this for online classes or regular zoom meetings, the D 15 probably won’t even break a sweat. However, I consider my power requirements to be somewhat on the heavy side for my photo and video editing needs.

What surprised me was I didn’t find myself having to go back to my main editing workstation and have actually done more work on the D 15 than I expected. It may not be as fast, but it also wasn’t drastically slower.

Plus the fact that this has a more accurate display with its 100 percent sRGB color gamut, the 15.6-inch LED display is perfect for my daily Photoshop use.

Portability also applies at home

Huawei MateBook D 15

Working from home for a long time and looking at the same thing over and over, not having to be able to go to places, had many of us bored and unmotivated. I personally always had that urge to look for another spot just for the change of scenery.

Thankfully, weighing only 1.56kg, it gave me the flexibility for me to place it in different places. I didn’t worry that the surface wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Battery life

The capability to place the D 15 on different places wouldn’t really matter if you’re still stuck near an outlet because you’re constantly required to plug it in. Fortunately, the 42Wh battery of the D 15 keeps us away from the charger for around nine to ten hours before needing to plug it back in.

Huawei addresses issues and gives regular updates

Huawei MateBook D 15

During its time with me, the D 15 had quite a few driver and software updates. Along with one of the updates came a fix for an issue I had with its fingerprint scanner where it frequently had trouble recognizing my fingerprint. While it shouldn’t have had that issue to begin with, the regular updates are an indication that users aren’t abandoned and issues are in fact being addressed on Huawei’s end.

I also learned from Huawei’s website that the MateBook series has a Windows 11 upgrade rollout plan. That’s something nice to look forward to.

Undesirable camera angle

Huawei MateBook D 15

Sadly, not everything is praise worthy on the D 15. The hidden web camera, while innovative, came at the cost of an awful camera angle. Since it is placed on the keyboard, it is also pointed upwards.

Using it, you’ll mostly see an unflattering image of yourself often emphasizing the size of your nostrils.But if you decide that you’d want to use a laptop raiser for a more comfortable viewing angle, the camera won’t be pointed downwards. That’d make it barely usable.

A generous availability of ports

Huawei MateBook D 15

Being the boxing fan that I am, the recent Pacquiao fight had me subscribing for a pay-per-view service. The full sized HDMI port on the D 15 was heaven sent. During the fight as I was able to output the fight on our dated TV set. It let us to enjoy the stream on a bigger screen.

The availability of USB ports on both sides also let us to choose where certain devices can be plugged. We didn’t worry about hitting our external drives with our mouse or fitting multiple USB devices side by side.

Multi-Screen Collaboration

I did not find myself using this feature as much. However, having this capability eliminated the need for me to grab a USB cable to transfer files from my phone. A quick tap of my phone and I was ready to transfer photos I recently. It’s great for some quick editing before posting on Instagram. 

Is this still your GadgetMatch?

Huawei MateBook D 15

When I think of the D 15, freedom is the word that comes to mind. It gives so much freedom to work anywhere with its portability and battery life. You get freedom to do what you wish with it with its capable hardware. There’s also freedom from wires with the Multi-Screen Collaboration. And even freedom to plug various devices with its great selection of ports.

It’s a no fuss kind of laptop that just gets things done. Its sheer simplicity is what makes it a great device.

If you’re interested in getting the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, you can now get it for PhP 48,999.00.

 

Continue Reading

Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Review: Best Android smartwatch yet?

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

Published

on

Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch4 just recently — which is the successor to 2019’s Galaxy Watch Active2.

Now with the power of a BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) via its Bio Active Sensor, the Galaxy Watch4 can simply measure your body composition with just your two fingers and wrist.

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

Watch our Samsung Galaxy Watch4 review now to know more.

Continue Reading

Accessories

Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1: Intuitive and portable podcasting rig

Published

on

AU-AM200-S1

I am a fan of quality and affordable gear. Modern manufacturing techniques and advancements in technology gave us a vast selection of gadgets in all shapes and sizes.

With the gaining popularity of live streaming, the demand for good audio interface and microphones is growing. The brand Maono, relatively speaking, is a newcomer that offers affordable audio products.

What we’ve got here is the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1, which is a portable podcasting gear. This is the very first product I’ve got the chance to try from this brand and I’m liking it so far. This bundle is ideal for someone who is just getting into podcasting or a musician looking for a cheaper alternative.

What’s in the box?

AM200 Podcast Console

At first glance I actually thought it was a miniatured DJ turntable because of the two mini platters, but those are just volume knobs for the mics and music. It is a 3-channel mixer-type audio interface with five outputs. The two inputs are designated for mics and/or instruments and the other input is for music. Three outputs (3.5mm TRRS) for smartphones are available so you can stream simultaneously on different platforms.

A separate main and monitor output is available so you can listen to what your audience hears. Note that all the inputs and outputs are for 3.5mm jacks so if you are planning to plug in an instrument directly using a PL (1/4 inch) cable, you will need a 3.5mm adapter.

Plug and play

You can connect it to a computer with the USB A to C cable that is included. It doesn’t require any drivers, so, just plug it in and it’s good to go. It should be compatible to most DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) for music recording. There is a 3-band EQ along with a “REC” volume knob which is like a “Send” knob to feed the audio to the devices it’s connected to.

Two crossfaders control the monitor volume and echo level. The “monitor” crossfader controls both the volume level for the (main) output and the monitor (output). I wish they installed separated levers for each one to control them independently.

This is also the case for the mic volume knob, it controls both the levels of mic 1 and mic 2. It would’ve have been handy if there are separate knobs for each but I think they did this design to fit in a compact box.

For outdoor streaming and recording

At the middle portion, you’ll notice along the LED indicator level signal is a battery indicator. Yes, this is also battery powered which makes it suitable for out of home live streaming, if you prefer creating something for your viewers elsewhere. You can easily recharge the batteries with the USB C cable.

There are also audio sample pads, buttons for sound effects and pitch shifters.

AU-PM360TR Microphone

AU-AM200-S1

This condenser microphone does not require phantom power. It runs below 5V, through the XLR to 3.5mm cable, unlike the industry standard condenser microphones. With its cardioid polar pattern, it will be more sensitive to sounds being captured in front of it.

Earphones

It comes with a pair of in-ear earbuds with a very long cable, enough to cover the distance for a typical on-desk live streaming. I think that the sound quality would be more appreciated by most modern pop listeners who like a lot of bass. Because it does deliver that low-mid thump.

Tripod

Out of the box, the microphone comes attached to the mini tabletop tripod. The microphone is detachable to the tripod, but if it is used handheld, it will pick-up a lot of hand noise. So, it is better to leave it on the tripod.

Other accessories included are: XLR to 3.5mm cable, two 3.5mm TRRS cables, USB A to USB C cable, and a windscreen cap.

Performance

For podcasting, it is very easy to use. It’s what the AU-AM200-S1 is made for and they did a good job. The microphone delivers a clearer and louder output compared to built-in mics in smartphones/laptops or headsets. You can control the volume of music accompaniment easily with the wheel knob, whenever you want to highlight the music or the voice.

Plus, the sound samples like the applause, laughter, cheering etc., are nice additions for some impromptu segments in your streams. You can also record your own samples by pressing the “loop back” button and assigning to any of the blank buttons available.

Since the microphone does not require a phantom power, the output is weaker compared to classic condenser microphones. The sound quality is good nevertheless.

AU-AM200-S1

For music recording, you can record your instruments with it on your preferred DAW. I connected my guitar to my digital effects processor with a 3.5mm headphones jack going to the mic input of Maono console. I noticed that the 2 mic inputs have high gain levels because my guitar was already clipping with the volume knob on the AM200 console at around 10 o’clock.

Usually, I set the volume on my guitar effects unit on almost full when I am recording with a different audio interface and mixers. But with the Maono AU-AM200-S1, I only had to set the volume of my guitar effects at 50 percent. This is good because it doesn’t have a designated gain knob. Just watch out for clipping- if it happens, you may want to lower the volume from the source.

I recorded a few short audio samples to demonstrate how the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 handles recording. Please excuse my singing voice.

Mic only without echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 50% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 100% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only without echo – vocal and guitar

Mic only with post-editing – vocal and guitar

Guitar through a digital effects processor

In a full band mix – Recorded vocals and guitars (both acoustic and electric)

Fully recorded demo

 

There are two functions that I have a few comments on:

AU-AM200-S1

Denoise — This is their “smart noise cancelling” feature that reduces background noise. It does its job as a noise gate, but unfortunately, you cannot adjust the settings (threshold, attack, range, etc.). Depending on how loud the ambient noise is, the mic sometimes gets a stuttering sound when this feature is engaged. If the room is quiet enough, there shouldn’t be any problem.

Music Only — This feature attempts to minimize the vocals in the music that you are playing, but similarly to the denoise, it sometimes affects the mic audio quality. I suggest looking for backing tracks of the songs you want to sing during your live stream beforehand.

Is the AU-AM200-S1 your GadgetMatch?

AU-AM200-S1

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 bundle is a usable and functional piece of gear. I see it as a bring-it-anywhere, all-in-one podcasting kit. It would have been more convenient (for me) if they included ¼ inch inputs for mics and instruments. Although, I guess it would kind of defeat its portable nature because most PL cables are thicker and heavier compared to the 3.5mm cables included in this bundle.

Pricing and Availability

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 retails for $109.00 and is available for purchase in Amazon, Shopee, and Lazada. You can check out their other products at the official Maono website.

Continue Reading

Trending