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OnePlus 8 vs 8 Pro: What's the difference?


OnePlus just went on a wish-granting spree with its newest pair of smartphones, fulfilling some longstanding demands made by its loyal customer base and media alike. The OnePlus 8 series, announced yesterday, has become the first to emerge from OnePlus’s factories supporting wireless charging and having an IP rating — some of the biggest things its otherwise fantastic phones have so far been criticized for lacking. As much as these features have helped put the outcry to rest, they’ve further deepened the divide between the Pro and the standard model.

The OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro are starkly different from one another — not so much in looks but their overall package — as the Chinese brand sets upon pitting its higher-end phone against more premium flagships. If you’ve found yourself debating whether the few additional features on the Pro would be worth spending more for, then we’ve got you covered with this comparative breakdown.

Touch and feel

There isn’t a big departure from the overall footprint of the previous OnePlus flagships, as the 8 and 8 Pro inherit a lot from their respective predecessors (barring the unnecessarily large camera disc of the OnePlus 7T). The two 2020 phones have stuck with vertically aligned rear cameras, although the front has received a face lift — kind of. After going all in on pop-up selfie cameras for the Pro last year, OnePlus has switched to hole punches, which, look more modern (arguably) while shunning all the complex mechanics of a pop-up unit.

Of the two, the standard model is both thinner and lighter by about 20 grams, and it should also fit your palm better, thanks to its slightly smaller 6.55-inch screen. OnePlus is going for some flatter color options this time around, with both phones getting the standard black color along with a rich green shade. Besides these, the Pro will also get a deep blue hue, while a light gradient is reserved for the 8. Even though Samsung did away with the curved display on its recent flagships, OnePlus chose to keep it on the Pro, while the curve is less pronounced on the standard 8.

Those high-refresh-rate AMOLEDs

The stark difference between the two phones we talked about earlier is abundantly clear in the display section. The QHD+ AMOLED screen on the 8 Pro is not only higher-res but also gets a higher refresh rate of 120Hz, while the 8 sticks with last gen’s 90Hz. While not junk by any means, that 90Hz rate is still a step down from what the Pro’s screen has to offer. If you’re wondering, you can enable the 120Hz setting in conjunction with the 2K resolution. The same goes for the new panel with a 10-bit color depth, which remains exclusive to the Pro and is also brighter than the one on the 8.

The screen on the 8 Pro also gets a few additional bells and whistles in the form of motion-graphics-smoothing technology to help make videos look better on a high-refresh-rate screen, and something called HDR Boost. It also wraps around the handset’s sides for that waterfall effect, which is something not everyone prefers having. However, both phones feature an HDR-enabled screen, share similar color accuracy (as per OnePlus’s measurements), and also include an optical in-display fingerprint scanner.

More (better) cameras

OnePlus has jumbled up the camera situation on these phones a bit: The 8 Pro uses its predecessor’s primary sensor as its ultra-wide unit, while the 8 has borrowed its camera setup from the 7T, almost as-is, and swapped the telephoto camera for a macro. So, the final configuration involves the Pro getting a new 48MP primary sensor along with an 8MP telephoto, 48MP ultra-wide-angle, and an utterly pointless color filter camera. The 8, on the other hand, has a 48MP primary camera paired with a 16MP ultra-wide-angle and a 2MP macro sensor. Both handsets share the same 16MP selfie camera.

The common remark coming out of our reviews of these OnePlus phones is that the company has made some great strides in improving its image processing. Even though getting rid of the telephoto camera is a step down from the 7T, Ryan found that the 8’s main camera performs better than that of a Galaxy phone, in some cases. With the 8 Pro, Ryne was pleased with the wide-angle and macro shots, while he encountered some inconsistencies and filter-like processing at times. In essence, the OnePlus 8 Pro has a more capable camera array of the two — sometimes better than even the Galaxy S20 — but certainly not Pixel-good. For an intricate look at the image quality from their individual cameras, you can read our more thorough camera comparison or the Pro’s face-off against the Pixel 4 and Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Speedy performance and 5G

From the inside, the two phones are pretty loaded and identical, for the most part. OnePlus made 8GB the default RAM option last year, and that’s the case here too, with 12GB available as the more premium option. However, the two phones use different memory standards — the Pro gets the newer LPDDR5, while the non-Pro sticks with LPDDR4X — again, not a huge difference, but it’s there, nevertheless. Powered by the Snapdragon 865 chip, both are fast phones with instant app load times and effortless general usage, even on variants with the lower memory option.

Following the industry trend, OnePlus has equipped all its 8-series devices with 5G modems, allowing them to work with more US carriers than any of the previous OnePlus phones did. Most unlocked and carrier-bought models of the 8 and 8 Pro will only support sub-6GHz bands, with Verizon’s OnePlus 8 5G UW as the sole exception supporting mmWave as well. This particular variant will be priced differently (read: higher) from its standard counterparts. Considering how compromising the 5G experience with higher frequency bands is, at least in its current state, the lack of millimeter wave on other variants shouldn’t bother you at all.

Wireless charging, but with a caveat

One of the biggest sore points of previous OnePlus flagships was their lack of wireless charging. The company took its own sweet time and has finally come out with a version of wireless charging that pushes 30 watts of power — twice what the S20 supports — but there is a catch. Only the higher-end 8 Pro has the charging coils, while the 8 doesn’t, and you’ll need OnePlus’s first-party charger if you want those crazy-fast wireless speeds. With other Qi pads, the 8 Pro will charge at relatively paltry 5W and 10W rates.

With a difference of just 200mAh, the Pro fares slightly better with its 4510mAh battery, versus 4300mAh on the 8. In our reviews, both handsets turned out to be decent performers, with their batteries consistently lasting well over a day of regular use. While the ongoing quarantining may have had an effect on these results, we can’t deny their performance was generally good. The phones continue to support the wired Warp Charge 30T charger that efficiently tops up their large batteries pretty quickly.

US pricing and carrier ties

OnePlus’s phone prices have gone up over the years, and the 2020 models are no exception. In the US, the retail price of the OnePlus 8 starts at $700 for the base 8GB+128GB option, while Verizon’s OnePlus 8 5G UW costs $100 more for the same configuration. The more premium 8 Pro is available as an 8GB+128GB or 12GB+256GB option costing $900 and $1000, respectively. In comparison, last year’s OnePlus 7T Pro started at $670.

Bear in mind that the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro have added 5G support, which warrants a higher price tag, at least until the tech gets more democratized. Besides, the similarly specced S20 started ­at $1000, while the 8 Pro tops at the figure. In addition to its existing relationship with T-Mobile, OnePlus is expanding its US reach by partnering with Verizon, which will carry the ultra-wideband variant that we discussed earlier.

Specs

  OnePlus 8 OnePlus 8 Pro
Display 6.55-inch AMOLED, 2400 x 1080, 402 PPI, 20:9, 90Hz, HDR10+ 6.78-inch AMOLED, 3168 x 1440, 513 PPI, 19.8:9, 120Hz, HDR10+
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
OS Android 10-based OxygenOS Android 10-based OxygenOS
RAM 8/12GB LPDDR4X 8/12GB LPDDR5
Storage 128/256GB UFS 3.0 128/256GB UFS 3.0
Cameras (rear) 48MP, Sony IMX586, f/1.75, OIS (wide)
16MP, 116°, f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
2MP, f/2.4 (macro)
Up to 4K 60fps video
48MP, Sony IMX689, f/1.78, OIS (wide)
48MP, 119.7°, f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
8MP, f/2.44 (telephoto)
5MP, f/2.4 (color filter)
Up to 4K 60fps video
3x hybrid zoom
Camera (front) 16MP, Sony IMX471, f/2.45, EIS, fixed-focus
1080p video
16MP, Sony IMX471, f/2.45, EIS, fixed-focus
1080p video
Connectivity 5G, 4G LTE (dual SIM), Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC 5G, 4G LTE (dual SIM), Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC
Battery 4300mAh, 30W Warp Charge 30T (wired) 4510mAh, 30W Warp Charge 30T (wired), 30W Warp Charge 30 Wireless, reverse wireless charging
Biometrics In-display optical fingerprint reader In-display optical fingerprint reader
Dimensions 160.2 x 72.9 x 8.0mm, 180g 165.3 x 74.35 x 8.5mm, 199g
Color options Onyx Black, Glacial Green, Interstellar Glow Onyx Black, Glacial Green, Ultramarine Blue

Go Pro or no?

The OnePlus 8 Pro is perhaps the most complete phone from OnePlus to date, making little to no compromises. It isn’t the flagship killer anymore; it is the flagship. Even at its slightly hiked asking price, the 8 Pro manages to undercut the likes of the Galaxy S20 while still largely maintaining feature parity, and sometimes even surpassing it. With inclusions like fast wireless charging and a relatively reasonable price compared than the competition, the 8 Pro comes across as a better phone and is worth spending an additional $200 on. But make sure to add the cost of OnePlus’s wireless charger, which starts at $70, to the package, if you want to fully realize the phone’s full potential.

Wireless charging is a convenience that’s hard to live without once it becomes second nature, but if you can and don’t care much for the cameras, you’d be better off saving those 200 bucks. Even without many of the fringe features of the Pro, the standard 8 is still a power-packed phone with much of the same silicon under the hood. Plus, the phone is more compact, has similar 5G capabilities and stereo speakers, and its AMOLED screen packs a decently high refresh rate and resolution. It’s definitely a more value-oriented phone than the Pro, but it’s a shame that OnePlus didn’t upgrade the camera hardware, since what improvements we do get their are mostly in software.

You shouldn’t buy either phone if having absolutely the best camera around tops your checklist. There are several similarly priced, and even cheaper, options that can take better shots — particularly from Google, which clearly does a better job with image processing. You can take a look at our detailed reviews of the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro to dive deeper into their specifics.

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