OnePlus 8: A cheat sheet

The OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8T, and OnePlus 8 Pro come with top-of-the-line features, but should professionals be excited about these high-end mobile devices? Read this OnePlus 8 cheat sheet to find out.

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OnePlus 8T

Image: Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The latest generation of flagship smartphones from Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus are: The OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8T, and OnePlus 8 Pro. The hardware specs on the 8th series are impressive, but with the upgrade to "best in the industry" capabilities, the prices for these once-affordable devices have risen as well. 

Some professional users are sure to be excited by the features of these new devices. The impressive camera, color-rich display, 5G and Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, and rapid charging technology of the OnePlus 8 series will be ideal for creative professionals and road warriors. 

Other business users may not find life-changing features in the latest OnePlus generation, but if you're looking for a new high-end Android phone outside the normal mold of Samsung and Google, the OnePlus 8 series may have a device for you. 

SEE: OnePlus 8: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What is the OnePlus 8 series?

The OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro are the successors to last year's OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro, the latter of which TechRepublic sister site CNET called, "the best Android phone value of 2019." 

OnePlus has been making its mark as a budget brand for those who still want high performance out of their Android devices ever since its founding in 2013 and the release of the $299 OnePlus One.

Since then, the OnePlus series has been notable for innovative features like a pop-up selfie camera and early adoption of in-screen fingerprint readers. Novel features like those didn't stop OnePlus phones from being affordable, though: Even last year's CNET favorite the 7 Pro started at a mere $699. 

The OnePlus 8 is another contender for flagship phone dominance and packs features its creators describe as some of the "best in the smartphone market." If they're to be believed, that may be an accurate statement. 

The screen on the OnePlus 8 Pro alone is worth recognizing. It scored an A+ from video diagnostic and rating site DisplayMate, tying or beating records on 13 separate display benchmarks. OnePlus even claims its 10-bit color display is so vivid that it's indistinguishable from real life. The OnePlus 8 Pro is available in three colors: Glacial Green, Ultramarine Blue, and Onyx Black.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (TechRepublic Premium)

OnePlus' fast-charging tech, called Warp Charge, is also available on the 8 series devices, and the 8 Pro even has wireless Warp Charging, which OnePlus said will take the device from 0% battery to 50% in just 30 minutes. 8 Pro devices using USB-C charging cables will be able to go from 0% to 30% in 30 minutes, and regular OnePlus 8 devices will be able to charge with a wire from 0% to 60% in 30 minutes.

Both 8 series devices are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoCs, are 5G-ready, and are Wi-Fi 6 capable. 

The OnePlus 8, in contrast to the 8 Pro, is all about being the easy-to-carry, more portable version of OnePlus' latest phones. It has similarly impressive specs to the One Plus 8 Pro, but sacrifices a bit of power and a few features to enable it to be only eight millimeters thick and weigh a measly 180 grams. The OnePlus 8 is available in three colors: Glacial Green, Interstellar Glow, and Onyx Black.

The OnePlus 8T, released in October 2020, is OnePlus' mid-year upgrade to its 8 series devices, and it lands smack-dab in the middle of its earlier series 8 siblings in terms of specs, price, and purpose. 

The OpenPlus 8T has a lot of upgrades that make it an improvement, like a new faster Warp Charge and an always-on display, and it also ships with Android 11, while the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro ship with Android 10. The OnePlus 8T has the same camera array as the OnePlus 8, but with an added fourth lens that helps filter light and shadows for superior black-and-white images. The OnePlus 8T is available in two colors: Aquamarine Green and Lunar Silver.

Otherwise, the OnePlus 8T is exactly what you'd expect a mid-year smartphone refresh to be: An improvement on the basic model with a few premium features and some all-new additions. 

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What are the specs of the OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8T, and OnePlus 8 Pro?

OnePlus 8 Pro specs

  • Screen: 6.78" AMOLED (3168x1440), 120Hz refresh rate, 10-bit color, 4096 brightness levels, 1,300 Nits peak brightness, 240Hz touch sampling rate
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 8 GB or 12 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB or 256 GB
  • Cameras: 48MP main camera (F1.7), 48MP ultra wide camera (F2.2), 3X telephoto camera (F2.2), color filter camera, 16MP front camera (f2.45)
  • Battery: 4,510mAh
  • Charging: USB-C, Warp Charge 30T, Warp Charge 30 wireless
  • Connectivity: 5G, W-Fi 6
  • Additional features: IP68 rated, in-screen fingerprint sensor

OnePlus 8T specs

  • Screen: 6.55" AMOLED (2400x1080), 120Hz refresh rate, 10-bit color, 4096 brightness levels, 1,300 Nits peak brightness, 240Hz touch sampling rate, always-on display

  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865

  • RAM: 12 GB

  • Storage: 128 GB

  • Cameras: 48MP main camera (F1.7), 16MP ultra wide camera (F2.2), 5MP macro lens, 2MP monochrome lens, 16MP front camera (f2.4)

  • Battery: 4,500mAh

  • Charging: USB-C, Warp Charge 65

  • Connectivity: 5G, W-Fi 6

  • Additional features: No IP rating for unlocked model; T-Mobile version rated IP68, in-screen fingerprint sensor

OnePlus 8 specs 

  • Screen: 6.55" AMOLED (2400x1080), 90Hz refresh rate, 4096 brightness levels 1,100 Nits peak brightness
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 8GB or 12GB
  • Storage: 128GB or 256GB
  • Cameras: 48MP main camera, 16MP ultra wide camera, macro camera, 16MP front camera
  • Battery: 4,300mAh
  • Charging: USB-C, Warp Charge 30T
  • Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6
  • Additional features: In-screen fingerprint sensor

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Image: OnePlus

How does the OnePlus 8 series stack up to other 2020 flagship smartphones?

The OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8T, and OnePlus 8 Pro are competitive devices in their respective tiers of performance: The OnePlus 8 Pro competes with the iPhone 12 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20, and the standard OnePlus 8 competes with phones like the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S10E. 

The hardware specs of the OnePlus 8 Pro are impressive, though it has a slightly steeper price point than the OnePlus 7 Pro. Last year, the OnePlus 7 Pro made its mark as a full-fledged flagship device for as little as $699, and even after a $100 price drop with the introduction of the OnePlus 8, the OnePlus 8 Pro still starts at $799.

By contrast, the iPhone 12 Pro starts at $999, and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus starts at $1,199. If OnePlus is hoping to maintain the loyalty of thriftier smartphone users with the latest generation of its flagship device, it may have missed the mark—it's still cheaper, but not by very much. 

The OnePlus 8, on the other hand, maintains its brand's reputation of being a solid phone for a lower price point--it starts at $599 ($699 prior to the release of the OnePlus 8T). The biggest difference between the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus 8 is the souped-up screen and cameras that the more expensive version offers. 

SEE: All of TechRepublic's cheat sheets and smart person's guides

CNET's Lynn La, who reviewed the OnePlus 8, said the impressive features of the 8 Pro didn't necessarily sway her: "Of the two new flagship phones OnePlus just announced, the OnePlus 8 isn't just more affordable than the OnePlus 8 Pro, it's also the phone I prefer."

The OnePlus 8T, with its improved features and lower price point at $749 unlocked, may be the most attractive of the three options for those looking to get a cheaper flagship-quality device without paying Apple or Samsung prices. In terms of its specs, the OnePlus 8T can hold its own against the OnePlus Pro, which means it can hold its own against the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S20. That may make it the most competitive of the three, at least until OnePlus unveils the 9 series. 

Competitively speaking, the OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8T, and 8 Pro are facing off against flagship devices that offer similar specs and more recognizable brand names (i.e., Apple, Google, Samsung, etc.). The biggest thing that OnePlus had going for it before was its bargain pricing while maintaining decent quality. 

The OnePlus 8 series experienced $200 worth of price creep over the OnePlus 7 series, and while that may have been diminished by lowered prices with the launch of the OnePlus 8T, it doesn't mean prices will stay low once a potential series OnePlus 9 is released--it's entirely possible there could be another price jump, or at the very least a continuation of higher prices that the OnePlus 8 series brought to the table.

With its pricing advantage eroding it's going to be a tough road for OnePlus to compete against more established names while not offering anything that's truly revolutionary. According to OnePlus, it was the fastest growing smartphone brand in the US in 2019, so OnePlus may be banking on its name recognition having reached critical mass for upping its prices: Time will tell if that's the case.

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Why should professionals care about the OnePlus 8 series?

Smartphone development is getting a bit stale: With every new model that comes out it's increasingly difficult to point to device features that make an argument for the new version being worth the investment. In the case of the OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8T, and OnePlus 8 Pro, the same holds true with a couple notable exceptions.

The original devices in the series, the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, both make excellent devices for on-the-go professionals. The battery in both versions of the device are huge: The OnePlus 8 has 4,300mAh of capacity, and the OnePlus 8 Pro has 4,510mAh. Compared to the Google Pixel 4 (2,800mAh), the Samsung Galaxy S20 (4,000mAh), and the iPhone 11 Pro (3,969mAh), both versions of the OnePlus 8 series have some serious staying power. 

Along with higher battery capacity, the OnePlus 8 series charges incredibly fast, making it great for on-the-go professionals who don't have time to wait for a device to charge.

SEE: Top 100+ tips for telecommuters and managers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The OnePlus 8 can reach a 50% charge in 30 minutes, and the OnePlus 8 Pro can reach 30% in the same amount of time (both if charging via a USB-C cable). If charged using the wireless Warp Charge dock, the OnePlus 8 Pro can reach 60% charge in 30 minutes. The 8 Pro also has reverse charging capabilities, which means it can transfer power to other devices, like wireless headphones, that can charge wirelessly.

The OnePlus 8T didn't inherit the OnePlus 8 Pro's wireless charging, but it does have a new 65-watt charging capability that OnePlus calls Warp Charge 65. In its testing, CNET found it could charge the devices to 58% in 15 minutes, and fill the battery in 39 minutes, which is the same charging speed advertised by OnePlus. On-the-go business professionals may want to consider the OnePlus 8T for its charging capabilities alone.

The other great feature of the OnePlus 8 series is particular to the 8 Plus: Its cameras are quite good. There are plenty of photograph examples from the 8 Pro in CNET's review of the device, and they show some shots that look great and impressed CNET's La. 

The OnePlus 8T, which also boasts four cameras, wasn't quite as impressive as the OnePlus 8 Pro's when CNET's Andrew Hoyle tested it, especially its macro lens, which he expressed disappointment with.

The OnePlus 8 Pro's cameras have both optical and digital image stabilization, three separate stereo microphones for recording video, 3HDR recording capabilities that capture multiple light levels to improve back- and poorly-lit shots, wind reduction microphones, and audio zooming that focuses sound recording to a specific area on the video.

Creative professionals, or those who use their smartphones for any photo/video purpose, should definitely check the OnePlus 8 Pro's cameras out--they're a definite competitor in the smartphone camera arena.

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When and where can I order a OnePlus 8 device, and what is the price?

The OnePlus 8 is available from carrier partners T-Mobile and Verizon, OnePlus's online store, and on Amazon. You can find out more about pricing and carrier specials by following the links above.

The OnePlus 8T will be available from T-Mobile for preorders starting on October 16, but won't be available on Verizon. It can also be preordered now directly from OnePlus, with shipments due to arrive by October 23.

Those in the US interested in the OnePlus 8 Pro won't be able to pick it up from a carrier--it's only being sold unlocked directly from OnePlus, so no contract discounts--sorry.

The OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Plus are available in the US, China, India, and Europe. See OnePlus' global retailers page for specific country information.

As for pricing and hardware, there are four combinations of OnePlus 8 series devices available:

  • OnePlus 8 with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage: $699 USD
  • OnePlus 8 with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage: $799 USD
  • OnePlus 8 Pro with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage: $899 USD
  • OnePlus 8 Pro with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage: $999 USD

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Editor's note: This article was updated after the OnePlus 8T was announced.