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?
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.
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 Pro. They 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.
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 better. The 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.
Just saw European pricing for the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro –– following the likes of OnePlus and OPPO their phones cost as much as any other flagship. While specs, performance, and experience-wise its pretty even, allow me to mourn the death of the flagship killer.
— Michael Josh (@michaeljosh) April 3, 2020
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.
Apple Watch Series 6 Review
Is it worth every penny?
The Apple Watch Series 6 offers more than just being a “luxurious timepiece”. Over the years, they’ve pioneered in what a true smartwatch can offer. From the ability to track your runs, cycles, and swims, as far as reading heart rate and even ECG. This year, the Watch Series 6 has a new SpO2 sensor that can read blood oxygen levels within the reach of your wrists.
But does all of that make up for a fancy price tag? Why is the Apple Watch a worthy investment for your health?
You can head on to our Apple Watch Series 6 review by clicking the link here.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro Unboxing and Review: Last of its Kind
Every year, Huawei’s Mate series dominate the smartphone world with hosts of new features.
This October, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro finally made its way out of the limousine. As usual, it’s packed with the latest and greatest internals minus the full Android experience. Albeit, you still get support for AppGallery and other existing Huawei services.
With all that mind, is it still worthy to invest your money just to buy this smartphone?
You can watch our Huawei Mate 40 Pro review by clicking this link.
Infinix Note 7: Best underrated budget phone?
Does size matter?
The underrated brand, Infinix, is coming in with a perfect phone for when you’re strapped for cash. Infinix has consistently released great phones that deliver every bang for your buck and their recent release is no exception. What’s the latest addition to their great line-up? The Infinix Note 7
Show us what its got
The Infinix Note 7 is a dual-sim budget smartphone with a 6.95-inch HD+ and Corning Gorilla Glass display. It’s decked out in three different colors: Forest Green, Aether Black, and Bolivia Blue. Despite being encased in plastic, the Infinix Note 7 looks and feels premium. Just be more forgiving when the phone looks heavily smeared with your fingerprints — most phones tend to do so.
The phone features and specifications aren’t necessarily what people would view as technologically new or revolutionary. But, with phones on the same price range, this one delivers on all fronts of functionality, affordability, and durability. The phone has loud dual speakers, a great battery life, and reliable performance that makes it a stand-out in with its price tag.
Bang for your buck
The Infinix Note 7 is powered by a Helio G70 Processor paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. If you’re worried about storage, the phone has a dedicated microSD card slot. But, note that the phone has more than enough space to run apps on the Google Play Store without much of a hitch.
The Infinix Note 7 doesn’t falter on features when tested. The phone didn’t stutter or struggle when putting it through the stress test of scrolling, unlocking, and opening and closing multiple apps. On top of that, the Infinix Note7 has a 5000mAh battery that makes your daily grind of work and play look easy.
For gaming, the phone didn’t seem at all bothered with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Genshin Impact, and Among Us. And, with the amount of storage the phone had, I’d downloaded all the games I wanted with reckless abandon. The phone held up to its dependable battery life too, despite a full day of work and play.
Does size really matter?
The Infinix Note 7 is big for a phone. Facts. If anything, it’s a love child of a phone and a tablet. With its 6.95-inch HD+ display and dual speakers, the phone makes watching Netflix or playing games an overall immersive experience. Despite Infinix sticking to HD+ on a bigger display, it doesn’t really impose on all the great features the phone has.
Remember: the Infinix Note 7 has a good price tag of PhP 7,990. If you’re asking it to feature 2k or 4k resolution, that good price tag isn’t even remotely ideal on top of the other features the phone comes with.
Is the cake a lie?
No, just misunderstood. Hear me out here: The Infinix Note 7 features a quad-camera set-up with a 48MP primary shooter, a 2MP macro lens, 2MP depth lens, and a 2MP dedicated video camera. On the front, the phone has a 16MP selfie camera. These specs can sometimes come misunderstood since Infinix does say the phone features a quad rear camera set-up. The phone technically features three with the fourth as its dedicated video recording camera.
The Inifinix Note 7 performed really well even with little lighting. I tried to photograph a dim sunset and most phones would often scrap some details in photos to compensate with the lack of lighting. That wasn’t the case for this phone. With a phone at its price point, it greatly outperforms phones in the same category quite easily. The phone delivers on detailed selfies with it 16MP in-display front camera and doesn’t struggle to focus using either rear or front cameras.
The phone doesn’t seem at all bothered with taking detailed photos. Sometimes the contrast can be a bit much but again, seeing a budget phone like the Infinix Note 7 perform well under tough circumstances that can just be from being nit-picky.
Is this your BudgetMatch?
If you need a phone to get you good shots and get you through a long day of non-stop work and play while delivering good photos overall, this is the phone for you. There’s nothing to complain about with this phone besides Infinix being utterly underrated for the quality of phones they put out. The Infinix Note 7 is a great phone for your daily grind if you’re looking for a phone that delivers on functionality, efficiency, and durability. It even delivers on good quality shots!
The Infinix Note 7 costs PhP 7,990 (US$ 165).
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