OnePlus 8 Series smartphones are a great alternative to the big names you know

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OnePlus might not be a brand you see advertised but they are a fan favorite among techies.

“In the past, we tended to focus on product, not marketing,” said Kyle Kiang, head of marketing for OnePlus, a company that has been making smartphones for about six years now.

This month, they’re releasing two new phones: OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro.

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“Obviously, these are challenging times,” said Kiang.

The company was forced to ditch plans for an in-person launch event in favor of a virtual livestream to unveil the phones. Also, users won’t be able to see the phones in person – at least not right now – since many carrier stores are closed.

But that’s the bad news. Now for the good news, and spoiler alert: the OnePlus 8 Pro might be one of the best Android devices of 2020.

The phones are different – the 8 is more of a mid-range phone but the 8 Pro is pitted squarely against the likes of the Samsung S20 Ultra.

Both phones have 5G connectivity and some features OnePlus models have been missing in the past, including a formal water resistance rating of IP68.

On the Pro model, there is now wireless charging, something OnePlus historically shied away from offering.

“We didn’t want to introduce wireless until the speed was there. Because we think that’s most important, said Kiang.

While typical wireless charging is slower than plugging in, OnePlus is using their own wireless tech to get the phone to a 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes. Of course, this will require OnePlus’ proprietary wireless charger which sells for $70. The phone will work with other wireless chargers, but the charging time won’t be as speedy.

Other notable features include a top of the line display on the Pro model. It has a 120Hz refresh rate which makes any on screen movement look smooth and buttery. The display in general is excellent. Even outdoor viewing has been greatly improved. The biggest step back is the curved edge of the screen – it makes mistouches super common and you’ll want to use a case to lessen the effect.

The camera is also greatly improved. In the past, OnePlus devices have been amazing hardware with a decent camera. This time around, I can say that OnePlus delivered a camera that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

There are three lenses for close, medium and wide angle shots. The camera is better on the Pro model for sure. In fact, as much as I like the younger sibling OnePlus 8, if camera is more important to you, you’d be better served by a Google Pixel device.

Overall, I’ve been very impressed with the pictures I’ve taken on the OnePlus 8 Pro. They are crisp, clear and the camera performs fast, capturing action that in the past might have been blurry on a OnePlus device.

My biggest gripe of the OnePlus camera is that colors are a bit washed out. On the front facing camera, photos can be overexposed. I’m hoping that OnePlus corrects at least some of this with a software update.

Oh yeah, about the software: Android on this device is nearly perfect. OxygenOS, as they call their flavor of Android, is the best out there. Clean, snappy and updated often by OnePlus.

Add it all up and the OnePlus 8 Pro is a great smartphone experience and a worthy competitor to the big brands you see advertised everywhere.

“More and more, if you talk to people who know smartphones, we’re becoming at the top of the mindshare of who makes the best phones,” concluded Kiang.

The OnePlus 8 starts at $699 and the OnePlus 8 Pro starts at $899. The phones will be sold at Verizon, T-Mobile and for the first time, Amazon Prime.

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