OnePlus introduced the new 8 and 8 Pro this week and now that the dust has settled here are a few thoughts on the new additions. These are mostly about where they fit in the global scheme of things and what they represent for their maker – if you want to learn more about the phones themselves we have hands-on articles for both OnePlus 8 and the 8 Pro.
The flagship killer is no more
Let’s kick-off with the elephant in the room and the thing that definitely has the greatest number of fans riled-up. Starting at USD 699/EUR 699 and USD 899/EUR 899, respectively the vanilla OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro are significantly more expensive than their predecessors, despite the latter coming wiht half the base storage.
At this point the transformation of a company that was initially trying to position itself as the underdog “flagship-killer” is complete. Looking back at the 7T, ant the 7T Pro, those launched at €600 and €760, respectively. And just over 12 months ago the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro commanded €559 and €700 starting prices.
Now OnePlus finally feels confident it can compete without having to undercut its rivals. The fact that the 8 Pro costs more than a Galaxy S20+ is a strong statement and if OnePlus retains its competitiveness at these newfound heights it might become BBK’s new golden goose. We are yet to see how that big if pans out however.
The new goalposts
With the move to higher tiers the concept of value for money changes. While being able to perform the largest variety of tasks is king in the mid-range, in the premium segments its also about being the best at at least some of them. You don’t spend this kind of cash without getting at least some bragging rights.
On paper the OnePlus 8 Pro doesn’t have the best camera setup nor the largest battery and while the 30W of wired and wireless charging are decent they are hardly chart-topping.
It seems then that OxygenOS will be crucial to the success of the 8 Pro. If it gets the resource management right and delievers great battery life and if the camera processing makes the most out of the available sensors the new flagship might go places.
The OnePlus 8 in no man’s land
The vanilla OnePlus 8 seemingly finds itslelf in a tough place. Not only does its new price tag bring fiercer competition from outside, but it also has the OnePlus 7T to consider. Last year’s non-Pro phone delivered most of the features of its Pro sibling, while maintaining a more reasonable price. In contrast the OnePlus 8 sits further below the 8 Pro – settling for a 90Hz display, instead of the new 120Hz model, having inferior main and ultrawide cameras and lacking the wireless charging and IP rating.
The OnePlus 8 also entirely misses on the standard telephoto camera and swaps it for a macro unit. The latter substitution stings that little bit more when we consider the OnePlus 7T had a 2x telephoto snapper. How that will compare to a crop from the main 48MP camera on the OnePlus 8 is a valid question and one that we’ll be able to answer once the review is complete.
What could have been
Thanks to being part of BBK Electronics, OnePlus has access to R&D and manufacturing resources far beyond what its revenue streams would otherwise enable. The downside is it has to play the team game and not get too close to its siblings. So while we would have loved to get the camera setup from the Oppo Find X2 Pro on the OnePlus 8 Pro we get how that would have put the two even closer in price and created unwanted in-house competition.
But if the 13MP periscope telephoto unit is too much, why couldn’t we at least get the brighter f/1.7 aperture for the main camera, also found on the regular Find X2?
It somewhat similar with charging – sure 30W sounds great, even better when it is wireless, but the Oppo Ace2 already does 65W SuperVOOC and 40W wireless top-ups.
OxygenOS is the name of the game
We definitely don’t want this to be a rant. The OnePlus new flagship has a lot to offer and we already hinted what their main weapon will be – the refined OxygenOS software.
Standing out as one of the better custom Android launchers out there it has a loyal following that few of the makers partnering with Google can enjoy.
Again, we are yet to examine it in detail, but early signs are that the 2020 OxygenOS experience is going to be snappy and fluid with stock looks and thoughtful and well implemented tweaks and feature additions. And if camera processing takes another step over what the OnePlus 7T Pro had thing might start to look up.
A couple of questions remain
The official premiere and the first hands-ons gave a lot of answers, but many questions remain. The much requested official IP68 rating is here on the Pro, as well as vanilla OnePlus 8 carrier units, sold by Verizon and T-Mobile. What gives? Well, frankly, it’s a mess that is yet to be unraveled, as people start actually taking apart unlocked and carrier units to see what, if anything, is different in their internal design.
And what about 8K video capture. You get none if that out of the box and while we doubt there are many 8K screens out it appears the outrage is significant. So can OnePlus enable it with a firmware upgrade or was it left out due to hardware limitations?
These are just some initial thoughts and potential talking points. We are already hard at work on in-depth reviews for both the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro, so we should be able to tell you more about those next week.