Category Archives: Android

OnePlus 9 Series Officially Launches with Hasselblad Camera for Mobile



In news that will surprise no-one, OnePlus has officially launched the OnePlus 9 series of smartphones. As expected there are two models for global distribution, the 9 and 9 Pro, plus a new product, the OnePlus Watch. In the end, there was no mention of the 9R which is expected to be an India-only release.

As much of the launch had been pre-leaked by the CEO, there weren’t really any surprises apart from some gaming finger triggers that sneaked into the tail-end of the presentation. Most of the presentation was about confirming, re-iterating, emphasising or extending what was already known. Reading that last sentence suggests the phones aren’t anything special but on the contrary, the 9 and 9 Pro are significant evolutions of the OnePlus portfolio.

OnePlus’ new partnership with Hasselblad is the most important change for the OnePlus 9 series, bringing Hasselblad’s years of experience to develop Hasselbald’s Camera for Mobile. OnePlus has always been good technically – the OnePlus 8 Pro uses the Sony IMX689 which was specially produced with sister company Oppo and Sony – but has perhaps lacked that extra know-how to take their smartphone cameras from good to great. If you are wondering who Hasselblad are and why they’re special, let’s just say that when NASA wants a camera to go into space or perhaps even go to the moon, they call Hasselblad.

This is a multi-year partnership involving millions of dollars and the deal is for Hasselblad to take OnePlus to the top of the game. The first part will be to get the best from the existing technology, as exemplified in the OnePlus 9 series. The next step will be to design hardware together to get that perfect synchronicity between hardware and software. Hasselblad’s approach is one “Natural Colour Calibration” so the goal is for the image taken by the camera to match the real-world. There’s no artificial enhancement to make colours pop out – the image sees what you see, not what would look best on the ‘Gram.

In terms of the smartphone cameras, there’s a quad-camera array on the back of the 9 Pro plus a selfie camera on the front. The main rear camera is a 48 MP Sony IMX789 sensor with a large 1/1.4″ sensor and OIS. The ultra-wide 50 MP uses a 1/1.56″ IMX766 sensor with a custom lens that corrects curvature at the edge of an image.. An 8 MP telephoto and a monochrome 2 MP unit fill out the rest of the rear camera selection. On the other side, the front-facing camera is a 16 MP Sony IMX471.

For the 9, it’s a triple-camera array with a 48 MP IMX689 for the main camera (same as the 8 Pro from last year) but shares the 9 Pro’s IMX766 for the ultra-wide. The third lens is a 2 MP monochrome unit for black-and-white fun. As with 9 Pro, the selfie cam is the same 16 MP Sony sensor. In many respects, the difference between the 9 and 9 Pro’s imaging is much smaller now than it has been in the past. Note the Hasselblad branding.

The camera app on the phones has been enhanced in a couple of ways to emphasise the relationship with Hasselblad. At a gimmick-level, the shutter button is now orange and the shutter noise is that of a Hasselblad camera. More practically, the camera app now has a Pro mode that gives the photographer much greater control over the photograph.

OnePlus’ burdenless design comes to both phones and if in nothing else, it’s reflected the colouring of the camera array to match the back. It’s a small touch but really looks good. In the hand, the OnePlus 9 feels great. The only edge I could notice was that of the screen protector.

While the camera’s the “big deal” in this iteration of OnPlus phones, there have been other improvements almost across the board. Both phones come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G CPU, which in my testing gave a Geekbench score of around 1100 for the OnePlus 9, compared with around 900 on the 8. At face value that’s a significant power boost. The CPU is backed up with LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 memory for storage. Each phone comes with two variants, 8 GB & 128 GB, and 12 GB & 256 GB. Obviously, there’s 5G (3rd gen) connectivity but there’s also Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 and NFC wireless.

Powering the 9 series are 4,500 mAh batteries which give enough for a day’s worth of serious use. Both phones use Warp Charge 65T that will charge the battery from flat to full in only 29 minutes. Yes, 29 minutes. Both the 9 and 9 Pro have wireless charging now and the Pro has Wireless Warp Charge 50 that will transfer 50 W of power wirelessly and charge from flat in only 43 minutes. For the 9, it conforms to the 15 W Qi wireless charging standard. Not so fast but very welcome. And yes, there’s a mains charger in the box, but if you want the Wireless Warp Charger it will set you back GB£69.95

For the display, the OnePlus 9 uses the same screen as found in the 8T, so it’s a 6.55″ AMOLED display, 2400 x 1080 pixels giving 402 ppi. It’s broadly a flat screen, so while the front curves gently into the side of the phone, it’s not a curved display itself. The display’s refresh rate is switchable between 60 Hz and 120 Hz which is buttery smooth but at the cost of battery life. Previously the display had been rated A+ by the folks at DisplayMate when it was assessed in the 8T.

However, the OnePlus 9 takes the display technology to a new level, using LTPO (low-temperature polycrystalline oxide) which allows controls of the refresh rate from 1 Hz to 120 Hz. Simplistically the 9 Pro can adjust the display rate to suit the task. Reading a document, reduce the refresh rate down; playing a game, whack it up. Very clever stuff – OnePlus call this FluidDisplay 2.0. In terms of the numbers, it’s a 6.7″ AMOLED with LTPO display, 3216 x 1440 pixels giving an incredible 525 ppi. This screen is curved at the sides, and OnePlus reassures that lessons have been learned and improvements made to avoid ghost touches and colour bleeding.

Each phone comes in three colours – the 9 Pro comes in Morning Mist, Pine Green and Stellar Black, and the 9 has Winter Mist, Arctic Sky and Astral Black. The two “Mist” colours are a fade that goes from shiny to matte. In terms of size, the 9 Pro is 163 x 74 x 9 mm and weighs in at 197g. The 9 is 160 x 74 x 9 mm and tips the scales at 192g. Not much in it at all.

In one of the few things that hadn’t been leaked, OnePlus announced gaming finger triggers as “coming soon” but there wasn’t much detail – see pic on the left.

Let’s talk pricing….

OnePlus 9 
8 GB + 128 GB: US$729 / GB£629 / 699€
12 GB + 256 GB: GB£729 / 799€

OnePlus 9 Pro
8 GB + 128 GB: GB£829 / 899€
12 GB + 256 GB: US$1069 / GB£929 / 999€

Looking back to last year’s prices, there’s been a small bump of about £30 across the range. Pre-orders will open immediately with general availability from 31st March for 9 Pro, followed by the 9 on 26th April.

Not content with only announcing smartphones, OnePlus launched the long-awaited OnePlus Watch. With a 46 mm case, it might be a minimalist design but it’s a big watch that’s not going to be missed on anyone’s wrist. Coming as standard in Moonlight Silver and Midnight Black, there will also be a Cobalt Limited Edition. The Watch supports over 110 activities including a Parkour mode, though I think I’ll stick to swimming which is possible due to the IP68 water resistance rating. There’s built-in GPS so no need to carry your phone on a run.

The round display is a 1.39″ AMOLED display at 326 ppi and is protected by a sapphire glass crystal which is pretty hard. In a cool move, the Watch takes standard watch straps so it’s to switch them out for something more personal.

In addition to pairing and working with a smartphone, the OnePlus Watch acts as remote control for the OnePlus TV, and with about 2 GB of memory, there’s plenty of space for music. Battery life is rated at over 2 weeks (yep, two weeks) and even the most active athlete will get over a week. The Watch uses Warp Charging and about 40 minutes will get it charged up from flat.

The classic edition of the OnePlus watch will be priced at US$159 / GB£149 / 159€. Availability will be announced soon along with pricing for the Cobalt LE.


Google Really Doesn’t Care About Android Tablets



Android Green Robot LogoI’ve used Android tablets for nearly ten years, starting with the Motorola Xoom way back in 2011. I then adopted the Google Nexus series with the Nexus 10, 7 and 9 tablets over a couple of years. After those, I jumped ship to a Huawei M5 10″ before getting a previously-enjoyed Samsung Tab S6, which is a very capable piece of kit.

At times, I feel like I’m the last Android tablet user left. I do like Apple hardware, but I don’t like Apple’s walled garden, the holier-than-thou attitude and I find iOS / iPadOS is too rigid and inflexible for my liking. All too often I try to do something on my daughter’s iPad that would straightforward on my Tab S6 but turns out to be impossible. Go on, change the default app for opening a jpg.

I know that Google’s not been giving tablets much love since ChromeOS became the new poster child and ChromeOS-based tablets started to appear. Of course, ChromeOS runs Android apps but the problem with Chrome devices is the spec. ChromeOS doesn’t need much CPU and RAM to run fast, but that doesn’t mean the screen has to be cheap too. Almost without fail, Chromebooks come with screen resolutions more suited to a 6″ smartphone than a 12″ laptop.

For example, the Chrome device-of-the-year Lenovo Duet has a 10″ 1920 x 1200 display. Or take the Acer Spin with a 13″ 2256 x 1504 screen. Even the HP Elite X2 only has 1920 x 1280 on a 13″ display. And that’s a convertible that costs GB£1700. Are they crazy?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is 2560 x 1600 in a 10.5″ screen. I love reading on mine and magazines presented in Zinio look great.

Google’s abandonment of Android tablets came home to me today when I tried to use the YouTube, sorry, the YT Studio app in landscape mode on the S6….and you simply can’t. YT Studio stubbornly refuses to even rotate away from portrait orientation, never mind present a more suitable landscape layout.

Frankly it’s embarrassing that Google can’t even be bothered to make its own apps tablet friendly and it’s no wonder that the best tablet apps are on iPads. Apple didn’t so much win the battle of the tablets as Google failed to turn up.


OnePlus Rounds Out Range with Nord N10 and N100 smartphones



As promised at the launch of the 8T earlier in the month, OnePlus has announced two new Nord smartphones, the N10 5G and the N100. These join the existing Nord in the smartphone line-up but unlike the original Nord (the N1?), the N10 and N100 will be coming to North America. Let’s take a quick look at specs and pricing but it’s perhaps more interesting to review OnePlus’ overall line up and the impact of that.

N10 5G

The N10 5G is unsurprisingly a 5G phone with a Snapdragon 690 octa-core CPU backed up by 6 GB RAM and 128 GB of storage. In a first for OnePlus, the N10 will take a microSD card up to 512 GB. The screen is a 90 Hz 6.49″ 1080 x 2400 (FHD+) display giving 405 ppi. Quad cameras round the back – 64 MP main lens, 8 MP ultra wide, 2 MP macro lens and 2 MP monochrome lens. 16 MP selfie camera on the front. And all this is powered by a 4300 mAh battery with support for Warp Charge 30T. It’s priced at GB£329 and will be available later in November.

Below the N10 in the range is the N100 though both phones are physically very similar. The N100 is not a 5G phone but it’s still powered by Qualcomm, only this time it’s a Snapdragon 460 octa-core CPU supported by 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage. Like the N10, the N100 will take a microSD card but only up to 256 GB. The screen is a 6.52″ 720 x 1600 (HD+) display giving 269 ppi. Triple cameras round the back – 13 MP main lens, 2 MP macro lens and 2 MP bokeh portrait lens. 8 MP selfie camera on the front. And all this is powered by a 5000 mAh battery with support for 18W fast charge. It’s priced at GB£179 and will arrive on 10 November.

N100

So OnePlus is very much filling out the product range in areas that are definitely not flagship killers. Let’s look at the prices (all GB£) across the portfolio for phones that are (or will be) available to buy.

  • N100 – £179
  • N10 – £329
  • Nord – £379
  • 7T – £469
  • 8 – £549 / £599
  • 8T – £549 / £649
  • 8 Pro – £799 / £899

Looking at this, OnePlus has now got a phone for you whatever your budget (and I think the base price of the 8 is likely to drop by £50 soon). That’s quite a turnaround in six months from when arguably there were only two phones in the range – 8 and 8 Pro. I know that’s not strictly true with older models being on sale too, but it seems to me that there’s now a conscious effort to have phones at every price point. Let’s not forget that the 7T is only a year old and Apple has a similar strategy for its previous generation models too.

OnePlus still meet their value criteria as all of these look pretty well-specced for the price point, though some commentators reckon the Nord and the 8T are the best value devices given the specs. Personally, my smartphone budget is usually sub £500 and my last two mobile phone purchases were both “previously enjoyed” models, saving even more money. But that’s not the point here: OnePlus now have a full portfolio of products from £179 to £899 offering value-for-money smartphones whatever you have to spend.


OnePlus Expands Product Range But It’s More Than Cheaper Phones



After much speculation in recent months about a new lower-priced phone with monikers such as 8 Lite, Z and Nord, OnePlus has confirmed a new two part business strategy to take the company forwards, including more affordable smartphones.

Firstly, OnePlus is intending to expand into new product categories. While existing products such as the OnePlus TV and the Bullets earphones are mentioned, there’s no confirmed market area. Presumably it will be some aspect of consumer electronics (and personally I’d love it to be a decent tablet device) but we’ll just have to wait and see. What OnePlus does usually gets done well.

Secondly, CEO Pete Lau confirmed that the price tag on recent phones was getting too high and that there needed to be affordable devices. The CEO was at pains to point out that this isn’t about going back to OnePlus’ roots, as the roots are in flagship smartphones, so this is a new product line altogether (although we mustn’t completely forget the OnePlus X). In order to get the product right, availability will initially only be in Europe and India. Once refined and production is scaled up, the smartphones will be offered in other territories.

Anyone who has any eye on the smartphone market will know that Huawei and Xiaomi have been putting out some pretty decent lower priced phones so it’s natural that OnePlus wants some of the market. For every person wanting to put $1000 into a flagship, there must be ten people want to spend a few hundred dollars.

Pete Lau said, “We’ve come a long way in the last 6 years, and now is the right time for us to bring you something new. I am really looking forward to this new beginning for OnePlus, and I hope you are too.

And in typical OnePlus fashion, the new phone is being teased via an account on Instagram called @onepluslitezthing. The release date is being hinted as July with a message in Morse code .— ..- .-.. -.– with more clues to come.


Xiaomi Reveals Mi Note 10 Lite



In addition to the Redmi Note 9 and 9 Pro announced last week, Xiaomi also unveiled the Mi Note 10 Lite. Based on the Mi Note 10 from last year which offers a whopping 108 MP rear camera, the Lite edition reduces the specs in few places to make the phone a little bit more affordable while still looking premium. As the Note 10 itself starts at GB£459, it’s definitely in upper mid-range territory, so it will be interesting to see what the Mi Note 10 Lite offers at a lower price point. Let’s take a look.

The Mi Note 10 Lite looks great with Gorilla Glass on both the front and the back of the phone. The display features a 6.47″ curved AMOLED FHD+ (2340 x 1080) screen on the front, with a tear drop 16 MP camera at the centre top. It’s a 19.5:9 aspect ratio display with HDR10. On the rear, there’s a quad camera setup, with cameras vertically aligned on the left-hand side. The main lens features a 65 MP wide-angle camera and is complemented by an 8 MP ultra wide-angle camera, a 5 MP depth sensor and a 2 MP macro camera. This is a very similar camera array to the Redmi Note 9 Pro.

Unlike the Redmi devices, the Note 10 Lite comes with in-display fingerprint sensor, and phone comes in three colours; glacier white, midnight black & nebula purple. Overall dimensions are 157.8 x 74.2 x 9.67 mm, and the Note 10 Lite weighs in at 204 g.

Powering the 10 Lite is the same chipset as its full fat brother, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G. This consists of a Kryo 470 octa-core 2.3 GHz CPU paired with an Adreno 618 CPU and X15 LTE modem. When it comes to RAM and storage, there are three combinations available – 6 GB+64 GB, 6 GB+128 GB, 8 GB+128 GB. It’s not clear whether there’s a link between memory configuration and available colours.

From the specs, it doesn’t look like there’s a memory card expansion slot which is disappointing. There’s a 5,260 mAh battery with 30W fast charge via a USB C port. That’ll charge to 50% from 0% in 30 mins or less, which is handy, although Xiaomi reckon on 2 days-worth of use from a full charge.

As expected at this price point, it’s 4G only, though it does take a pair of SIMs. There’s Bluetooth 5.0 and a 3.5 mm headphone socket, and unusually an IR remote which is good for controlling TVs and other AV gear.

Pricewise, the Mi Note 10 Lite starts at 349 € (euros) for the base model, which is a considerable saving over the big brother, so if you want a premium-looking phone for not much money, check it out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Note 10 is coming to the UK any time soon, but the rest of the world can expect it to land in mid-May.


Xiaomi Announces Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro Phones



There’s hardly a day goes by at the moment without a smartphone launch and today it’s the turn of the Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro. Redmi is one of Xiaomi‘s brands along with Mi and Pocophone, and unlike its Chinese competitor Huawei, Xiaomi still has access to US technology so there’s full access to Google Play and updates to Android. While Xiaomi and Redmi aren’t well known in the UK and USA, they’re hugely popular world-wide, with both Note 8 phones featuring in the global top 10. I watched the on-line launch and there were over 14,000 people viewing YouTube.

Typically, the Redmi phones are priced at less than GB£300 while still offering decent specs on paper, such as 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage and a 64 MP camera. These aren’t all-round flagship phones – there’s no wireless charging for example – but offer good value for money with a couple of flagship-level features, such as the high definition camera. The demonstration photography and video shown at the launch was very impressive. Let’s take a look.

The Note 9 Pro is the usual smartphone design with a 6.67″ FHD+ display (2400 x 1080) on the front with a 16 MP in-display camera centred at the top. Round the back, there’s a quad camera setup with a 64 MP main shooter, an 8 MP ultra wide-angle camera, a 5 MP macro camera and a 2 MP depth sensor, which sounds interesting. There’s a finger print sensor on the side, and phone comes in three colourways; interstellar grey, glacier white, tropical green. Overall dimensions are 165.75 x 76.68 x 8.8 mm, and the 9 Pro weighs in at 209 g.

The Pro has a quirky video mode called Kaleidoscope which is exactly as you’d imagine, giving weird reflections and angles, just like looking down a kaleidoscope. It works on both the main rear camera and front selfie camera.

Powering the Note is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G made up of a Kryo octa-core 2.3 GHz CPU paired with an Adreno 618 CPU. It’s the first time that a Snapdragon CPU has featured in a Redmi phone. There’s 6GB of RAM and a choice of 64 GB or 128 GB of storage with expansion up to 512 GB via memory card. There’s a 5020 mAh battery with 30W fast charge via a USB C port. That’ll charge to 50% from 0% in 30 mins or less.

As expected at this price point, it’s 4G only, though it does take a pair of SIMs. There’s Bluetooth 5.0 and a 3.5 mm headphone socket, and unusually an IR remote which is good for controlling TVs and other AV gear.

Moving on to the Redmi Note 9, it has a similar form factor and style but lower specs for the cameras and the processor. This time, it’s 6.53″ FHD+ display (2340 x 1080) with a 13 MP in-display selfie cam on the top left. On the rear, there’s a similar array of four cameras: a 48 MP wide-angle main camera, an 8 MP ultra-wide angle camera, a 2 MP macro and a 2 MP depth sensor. The finger printer sensor is on the rear too, and there’s a selection of three colours: midnight grey, polar white and forest green. The Note 9 is slight smaller but fatter than the Pro, with dimensions of 162.3 x 77.2 x 8.9 mm and 199g.

Inside is a MediaTek Helio G85 which uses an octa-core 2.0 GHz CPU and an ARM Mali-G52 GPU. There are two models, one with 3 GB RAM and 64 GB storage and another sporting 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. As with the Pro, storage can be expanded with a memory card to 512 GB. There’s a 5020 mAh battery with 18W fast charge via a USB C port. That’ll give more than 2 days worth of power in normal use.

As with the Pro, there’s 4G and a pair of SIMs. Bluetooth 5.0, headphone socket and the IR blaster.

Pricing-wise, the Redmi 9 Pro 64 is US$269 for the 64 GB one and the 128 GB model is $US299.
For the Redmi 9, the 3 GB / 64 GB version is US$199 and the 4 GB / 128 GB one is US$249.
Both will be available from mid-May.

I’m afraid pricing and availability is still to be confirmed for the UK, though I imagine it will be in line with current pricing and the US prices.


OnePlus 8 Hands-On Review



True to form, OnePlus has announced its spring line up of smartphones, the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro. Fortunately, I was sent a pair of review handsets and in this article, I’ll be going over the 8. While rumours still abound about a third lower level phone, the 8 remains the entry point into OnePlus’ range. I think it will be very popular as it shares many of the characteristics of its big brother but at a lower price. Let’s take a look…but first a word of warning. It’s really hard to write two completely different reviews for two very similar phones, so I’m going to admit right up front that some of the paragraphs are completely lifted from the review of the 8 Pro only with the detail changed for the 8. Sorry.

The 8 comes in rectangular box, bathed in the usual OnePlus red. Inside the box, the phone comes initially clothed in a slightly opaque covering. Once unwrapped, the frosted glass Glacial Green on the back becomes apparent. It’s lovely, both to look at and hold. There’s a slight matte texture to the rear glass so it’s not super slippy to hold (unlike my 6T), but you’re going need a case, and OnePlus kindly includes a transparent bumper case in the box too. In terms of colours, the Pro will offer two colour options in the UK. Onyx Black which will have 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, and Glacial Green with 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. A third colour, Interstellar Glow, will not available in the UK. I know the rear looks blue in the photos but that’s the way the back reflects light under different conditions.

Physically, the phone is 160.2 x 72.9 x 8.0 mm and weighs in at 180 g, so it’s slightly shorter and lighter than the 8 Pro, but these dimensions are very much in-line with previous generations of the phone, like the 6T. However, it’s a bigger screen for the same body size. Returning to the physical characteristics, it follows a similar layout to most OnePlus phones. USB-C 3.1 port on the bottom, volume controls on the left, power button on the right, alert slider on the right above power, cameras on the back. The SIM tray is at the bottom next to the USB port and supports two SIMS that are inserted back-to-back. A SIM ejection tool is included. There’s no audio socket and there hasn’t been for a couple of generations.

For the screen, the 8 has a lovely 90 Hz “fluid display”. It’s very fast, it’s clear and the colours look great. With a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels and a screen size of 6.34″/6.55″, it comes out as 402 ppi. I can’t see the dots unless I look really close. The screen has rounded edges, hence the two measurements for size. It’s an AMOLED screen with 3D Corning Gorilla Glass on top keeping it safe. Like the 8 Pro, the screen has the curved edges, but I think the curves are sharper on the 8, making it more like a traditional flat screen. There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor which is impressively fast – it’s noticeably quicker than the one on my 6T.

Under the hood, and just like the 8 Pro, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 CPU, paired with an Adreno 650 GPU. The RAM is LPDDR4 and storage is courtesy of UFS 3.0 at either 128 GB or 256 GB. 5G is provided by the X55 chipset and WiFi 6 is supported. Performance-wise, after three runs GeekBench 5 gave average scores of 915 single-core and 3385 multi-core which comfortably beat last year’s 7T. Bizarrely, the 8’s GeekBench 5 score actually beats the 8 Pro.  I don’t know why.

Unlike the 7 and 7T, the 8 doesn’t have a teardrop camera and instead has a discreet hole-punch 16 MP camera in the top left of the screen. Round the back, the 8 has three other cameras; a 2 MP macro camera, a 16 MP ultrawide with a 116 degree field of view and a 48 MP main camera. The front camera and main camera all use Sony sensors. The cameras do stick out the back by a couple of millimetres, so a case of some kind is going to be essential to avoid scratching. The camera app itself has been improved to take advantage of the cameras automatically and will sometimes suggest that a photo would be better taken in a different mode. If you want bokeh, the portrait mode does a good job blurring the background. The macro camera’s good fun and you can play with your children to capture some of those ever-popular mini-beasts. I was really impressed by the level of magnification that was possible with the 48 MP camera and the colours are good and true to life.

The two photos below were taken from the same spot at nearly the same time. The upper one is the ultrawide and middle one is the main camera without any magnification, and the lower one is the main camera with 2x magnification.

Unlike the 8 Pro, there’s no funky colour filter camera, but there are still some effects available within the app. Here’s my shed in “black and white”. Astute readers will notice that it’s been painted (cf 8 Pro review).

Inside the phone is a 4500 mAh battery which is only 10 mAh smaller than the 8 Pro. Hmm, I think there might be a little shenanigans there to make sure that the top-end phone has the bigger battery. In what I think of as ordinary use, I got the best part of two days out of a charge, but yes, game playing is still energy expensive. For charging, OnePlus’ Warp Charge 30T delivers 30W of power and will charge the 8 from 1% to 50% in 22 minutes – I’ve actually tested this and it’s true. A Warp Charge 30 charger and cable come in the box with the 8, so there’s nothing extra to buy.

The other new feature relates to battery longevity. The perceived wisdom is that keeping lithium-ion batteries at 100% is not optimal and that overtime the capacity of the battery degrades. The 8 now has a feature (undoubtedly powered by AI) where the phone uses behaviour patterns to predict when 100% charge is needed and to charge to hit the target. For example, if you plug the 8 in at night just before going to bed, it won’t start charging until say, 0530, knowing that you usually grab the phone while having breakfast at 0700.

Based on Android 10, OxygenOS has seen a few improvements here and there but retains its closeness to stock Android that is very much part of its appeal. The most obvious of these is dynamic backgrounds which swirl and morph when the phone is turned on or you swipe between launcher pages. It’s really fun. For lovers of dark modes, OnePlus has developed a new mode theme from the ground up. I’m not generally a dark mode user, but what I did see during testing looked good: I could be a convert.

Games play really well on the 8. I tried out Call of Duty, X-Plane and Galaxy on Fire for starters and they’re all great. The 8 includes “gaming mode” and “fnatic mode” which lets you tailor the gaming experience by devoting resources and blocking notifications when you’re in the zone, as it were. It’s a super smooth experience.

The only downside I’ve discovered to the 8 is with the pre-installed screen protector. First, it’s not as well installed as it is on the 8 Pro. On the Pro, I had to look really hard to find the edges of the screen protector; it’s just about seamless and there’s no cut-out for the camera. Whereas on the 8, it’s quite obvious, particularly round the hole-punch camera. And secondly, the screen protector on the 8 seems to be a perfect dust magnet! I didn’t have this problem with the 8 Pro and it’s very annoying.

Pricing-wise…

OnePlus 8
8 GB / 128 GB – US$699 / GB£599
12 GB / 256 GB – US$799 / GB£699
The OnePlus 8 series will be available SIM-free from OnePlus.com, John Lewis and Amazon from 0900 on 21 April, with all John Lewis purchases also coming with Bullets Wireless 2 headphones while stock lasts.

Overall, this is a seriously good phone at a good price and very much continues the progression of the standard OnePlus phones. It’s a premium-feeling phone, it looks fabulous, there’s no skimping on the performance and everything else like the screen and the cameras are within spitting distance of the 8 Pro. You get 5G, WiFi 6, fast charging and OxygenOS. Frankly, if it was my money and the choice was between an 8 at £599 and an 8 Pro at £799, I think I’d buy the 8 and keep the £200 change.

Thanks to OnePlus for supplying the 8 for review.