The OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro check all the right boxes

The OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro have suffered no shortage of leaks in the months leading up to today, but they are now truly official.

I’ve had the chance to go hands-on with the devices for about a few days before launch. While I’m not quite ready to write a final review — I haven’t been able to go out and take enough camera samples to be satisfied during the ongoing pandemic in New York — I’ve used the phones enough to give an early recommendation. We went over the specs and key features in our announcement post, so my current focus is on the user experience.

I’ve got to admit, writing OnePlus reviews gets pretty repetitive — but mostly in a good way. The phones look nice, are built well, have class-leading performance, and are priced a bit cheaper than most of the competition. It’s a similar story with the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, but this time the latter earns the ‘flagship’ title more than ever.

Both devices are well-designed glass and metal sandwiches, although the Pro is less remarkable than last year’s models. That’s because the company abandoned the nifty pop-up selfie camera — which allowed for a stunning uninterrupted display — and opted for a very run of the mill hole-punch camera instead. OnePlus says this was to allow for more room for internal components, which I get, but I’m going to miss that differentiating factor.

Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard design. You have four cameras on the rear, thin bezels, and rounded edges. That said, I dig the rich, ‘ultramarine’ blue finish on my review unit is stunning, and I will always appreciate the fact OnePlus devices come with a physical slider to switch between ringing, vibration, and silent.

The non-Pro model, meanwhile, looks almost identical to the Pro, except for the fact it’s a bit smaller and is missing a camera. The ‘interstellar glow’ finish on my review unit — not available for the Pro model — is a psychedelic mix of blue, pink, and orange hues and I can’t help but keep staring at it. It makes me lament the fact the phone doesn’t come with a transparent protective case the way the Pro model does.