For a phone that has been launched in the most challenging of times for the human race, the OnePlus 8 carries the weight of expectation.
Even the mundane task of reviewing a smartphone can become exciting in the times of a pandemic-induced lockdown. The first hurdle to cross, is getting the device itself. But resourceful people at OnePlus have finally managed to get over that hurdle and I have a trademark OnePlus box in front of me. This one is red, and it is unusually long like before.
For a phone that has been launched in the most challenging of times for the human race, the OnePlus 8 carries the weight of expectation. Here is a company that excels at offering a phone that optimises on what users need, by keeping it simple and frictionless. Suddenly, a good smartphone has become a necessity for almost everyone working from home. The cheap smartphone you thought could let you get away with personal stuff, now finds it hard to run Zoom and access the VPN for office work. Maybe it is time to upgrade.
So, despite the challenges to its supply and distribution chain, the OnePlus also finds itself amidst an opportunity, one where a disproportionately large number of users might be looking to upgrade to expensive, more powerful phones so they don’t feel helpless when it comes to working from home requirements. And since the OnePlus is a flagship with not-so-flagship pricing it stands a better chance against a lot of the competition.
What does the OnePlus 8 look like?
Well, that’s an easy one to answer. The OnePlus 8 looks like a OnePlus phone. As I pulled open the red box, I could make out the sleek contours of what is for me a familiar design language. Of course, the phone has evolved from its first version, but run your hands on the side and you think this has to be a OnePlus. Very few brands can be that reassuring for its users.
From the glossy black back to the subtle matte finish frame, there is a lot of elegance that’s woven into the design of the OnePlus 8. The three-camera module, the flash, and the OnePlus logo align at the back, even as you can see the reflections of your window on it. The phone offers a good grip despite being large and feels heavy in a confident kind of way.
There is more familiarity on offer. The fingerprint sensor on the screen and the flash of light as you press your thumb to unlock the phone. But then these are small things that just reviewers note, as very few actual users get to play around with all versions of a phone.
What is exciting in the OnePlus 8?
The most exciting aspect of OnePlus 8 is that it is the first 5G phone that I will actually review. Don’t bother that we hardly have even good 4G in India and even when 5G dawns on us we wouldn’t know what to do with it. But a 5G phone means a bit more than the network capabilities — it means the OnePlus 8 runs the Snapdragon 865 processor which is best in class at the moment and promises a superior user experience.
So the camera here should be able to handle 4K Cine at 60FPS for at least 5 minutes at a time. Will it be able to do that without heating up? Well, for that you will have to wait for our longer review later.
The camera has been a strong point for the OnePlus phones, though it has not really gone for the big gimmicks others try to use this part of the phone for. The OnePlus usually offers a good camera with consistent results, especially in low light. The phone has a 48MP main lens, a 2MP macro and a 16MP ultra-wide. That should be fun to play around with. First impressions, in the form of a lizard, are promising.
What else did I like?
I have had the phone for less than 24 hours in my home as I write this. So this ain’t no review. But I am already impressed by the display, which is sharp and vibrant with colours that pop up as the wallpaper springs to life. It can also be extremely bright when needed. I’m loving that bit already.
Also, the finger unlock on the display seems a little bit faster now. The achievement here being that I can make out its faster, when the earlier version itself was lightning fast.
It would be unfair to say more about the OnePlus 8 before spending some quality time with it in lockdown conditions. So be ready for a full review complete with multiple pictures of whatever I can find inside my small home. Till then…