Following its now standard tick-tock cycle, in May and October of last year we saw two major new smartphone launches from OnePlus, with the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7T series, each launched alongside Pro versions, and a 5G version of the 7 Pro with a McLaren Edition for the 7T Pro.
This year OnePlus is tipped to mix things up yet again, with a OnePlus 8 Lite rumoured to join the OnePlus 8 line-up alongside standard and Pro models.
It's also likely that instead of separate 5G models we'll instead see 5G as standard in the 8 and 8 Pro, thanks to the X55 5G modem included with the Snapdragon 865 processor, though we're less likely to see 5G in the 8 Lite.
For those who have followed the company since the original OnePlus One, announced back in 2014 at the ridiculously low price of £229/US$299/€269 and seriously undercutting key rivals in the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z2, the possibility of a return to those budget roots may be welcome.
Over the years we’ve seen OnePlus gradually raise its prices from the budget- to the upper mid-range, and the current line retails at £549 for the OnePlus 7T and £699 for the Pro. We haven’t seen a cheaper option since the OnePlus X, a one-off special edition that was announced in late October 2015 at £199/$249/€269.
This being OnePlus, it’s already confirmed a few key specifications ahead of launch, including the inclusion of a new 120Hz display made by Samsung.
This Fluid AMOLED panel is a Quad-HD+ display that will apparently register touches at 240 times per second, and records more than 1,000 nits of brightness. It should also have more accurate colours than ever, and the combination of a new MEMC chip and a smart algorithm that can insert additional frames will lead to smoother video, too.
In this article we’ll look in more detail at what you can expect from the OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Lite, and OnePlus 8 Pro, bringing together in one place all the known and leaked information, plus speculation based on our in-depth knowledge of OnePlus’ history.
The latest rumour concerns a patent that suggests OnePlus is seriously considering a future where all smartphone cameras are hidden, but in a way that is affordable and puts protecting the camera from damage above the need for a flashy gimmick.
When is the OnePlus 8 coming out?
Expected to follow the same tick-tock cycle as in 2019, we had thought we would see a OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Lite and OnePlus 8 Pro in May 2020. However, the word on the web is that these phones will in fact go on sale in April, and we do think it would make sense to put more space in between its two annual releases to avoid upsetting users.
The OnePlus 8 will almost certainly be followed by a OnePlus 8T, OnePlus 8T Pro and potentially OnePlus 8T Pro McClaren Edition in October 2020.
How much will the OnePlus 8 cost?
We expect that OnePlus will look to keep its pricing fairly constant for the standard and Pro models, which start at £549 and £699 respectively, though it may not have a choice here given that adding 5G could raise the price. A higher price might also explain the sudden decision to introduce a cheaper model.
For the Lite model we’d like to pay closer to £349-£399, and The Indian Express claims it will cost around 2,999 Yuan/Rs 30,000 to compete with the Redmi K30 and Realme X2 Pro - that’s around £325/$420/€380.
Interestingly, for our US readers, OnePlus 8 is tipped to be the first OnePlus device to be available through Verizon.
What is the difference between OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Pro and OnePlus 8 Lite?
OnePlus 8 Pro is naturally going to be the top model in the line-up, with the largest screen (6.7in), the highest capacity battery (4,500mAh), the fastest charging (50W) and the best cameras. More interestingly, it’s also likely to be the model that carries the 120Hz display and rumoured wireless charging.
Step down to the OnePlus 8 and in return for a slightly lower price you’ll get a slightly smaller screen (6.5in), and slightly slower but still fast charging (30W) over a wired connection (we don’t expect it to get wireless charging). It’s not clear whether or not it will support a 120Hz refresh rate (we expect 90Hz is more likely), but in common with the Pro it will have a Snapdragon 865 which integrates a 5G modem as standard. The battery capacity will also be a little lower (4,000mAh).
OnePlus 8 Lite will be the cheapest model in the line-up, largely because it will run a MediaTek rather than Snapdragon processor, and may see some slimmed down specs elsewhere, including a smaller screen (6.4in), a less premium design, and the same battery as the regular 8 (4,000mAh).
Originally tipped to have a dual-lens rear camera it’s now expected to feature a trio of snappers at the back, which could mean the cameras are upgraded in some other way on the top two models. This model definitely won’t feature a 120Hz display or wireless charging, but it should see the same move from the previous notch to a punch-hole-style cutout for the selfie camera.
Screenshots showing various specifications of all three models have leaked via Slashleaks and can be seen below, but take them with a pinch of salt given that they have only a low trust rating.
What’s new in OnePlus 8?
OnePlus 8 design
The first OnePlus 8 leak came way back in October 2019, even before the OnePlus 7T had gone on sale. It included the earliest renders we have of the upcoming phone, created by @OnLeaks and CashKaro, which you can see below.
Around the same time @OnLeaks teamed up with 91Mobiles to produce the below video of OnePlus 8 Pro renders:
The important thing to know about renders is that they are a digital artist’s impression of what a phone may look like, based on rumours. Some end up being crazily close to the finished article, which we’re sure is not a coincidence, but in this case there were very few rumours to go on.
An accompanying report at CashKaro claimed that the renders were based on detailed schematics from a company insider. Even so, a lot can change between then and the eventual launch.
The renders don’t reveal a huge departure from the design of the OnePlus 7T, but in place of the waterdrop-style screen notch in which the selfie camera is housed we now see a Samsung-esque punch-hole cutout at the top left.
The report also suggests we’ll see a 6.5in curved screen in the standard model (Pro is expected to get a 6.65in or 6.7in screen), which will measure roughly 160.2x72.9x8.1mm.
Of course, while OnePlus has confirmed many details about the new 120Hz display, it has not confirmed the size of the screen, nor how the selfie camera will fit in.
A more recent report from The Droid Leaks and RootMyGalaxy suggests that the OnePlus 8 Pro will actually have only a 6.5in screen, making it smaller than the 6.67in OnePlus 7T Pro. We are not sure what is the source so are taking this with a pinch of salt.
GizTop already have a product page for the OnePlus 8 live, complete with fairly detailed specs. While we're not entirely familiar with the site and so can't trust the specs listed, many are being reported elsewhere.
It is expected that users will be able to reduce the refresh rate to 90- or 60Hz to preserve battery life, and this is a theory seemingly confirmed by leaked screenshots from TrueTech, which are said to have come from another company insider. If accurate, OnePlus’ description of the three settings is as follows:
- 120Hz: Maximum smoothness but slightly reduced battery life
- 90Hz: Balanced smoothness and balanced battery life
- 60Hz: Less smoothness but slightly extended battery life
A cheaper OnePlus 8 Lite
More recent renders from @OnLeaks and 91Mobiles seemingly confirm the existence of a Lite model, and key differences in its design are seen in the centrally positioned selfie camera cutout, and the dual- rather than triple-lens camera at the top left on the rear. Again, these are simply renders based on unconfirmed information.
As if to prove that notion, the later appearance of an unknown OnePlus handset with a triple-lens rear camera, which was spotted by Slashleaks during a talk show on which OnePlus CEO Pete Lau was speaking, has led @OnLeaks to update his OnePlus 8 Lite leak as shown below:
Rumours suggest this triple-lens setup will comprise 48Mp, 16Mp and 12Mp lenses, while the Lite will also feature a 4000mAh battery with 30W Warp Charge, and either 128- or 256GB storage.
We don’t expect that a cheaper Lite model will pack the same 120Hz display and wireless charging as the more expensive models in the line, and it may also see a step down from the Snapdragon 865.
According to The Indian Express (though we are unclear on its source), the OnePlus 8 Lite will run the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 processor, which apparently has an integrated 5G modem. Could that make it an affordable 5G phone to challenge the also upcoming Google Pixel 4a?
91Mobiles suggests the screen may measure 6.4in, with the overall device sized at 159.2x74x8.6mm, so a little chunkier than the standard OnePlus 8. It also claims it will feature an in-display fingerprint sensor and a curved glass rear panel with a blue gradient finish, plus a USB-C port and alert slider, but no 3.5mm headphone jack.
OnePlus 8 Pro could get wireless charging
Other details we can glean from the early report from @OnLeaks and CashKaro include the exciting (if true) news that the new OnePlus 8 will *finally* feature wireless charging, although as we understand it only in the Pro model.
The idea that OnePlus 8 will add wireless charging is a theory that was later backed by All About Samsung editor Max J.
Until now, OnePlus spokespeople (including CEO Pete Lau) have claimed that wireless charging is too slow and that the company won’t include it on its phones until it can truly benefit consumers. It has been offering super-speedy Warp Charge wired charging since 2016, however.
OnePlus 8 processor, storage and memory
Also tipped for the OnePlus 8 standard and Pro is a Snapdragon 865 chip that will include 5G support as standard. However, this might entail a price rise. This should come with between 8- and 12GB of RAM, and 128- and 256GB of storage.
The Lite model, meanwhile, is thought to come with a MediaTek chip that may also integrate 5G support.
Geekbench results for what is said to be the 12GB OnePlus 8 Pro reveal impressive scores of 12,531 points multi-core and 4,296 single-core. A second set of Geekbench results for an 8GB RAM model - likely a regular OnePlus 8 - clock in at 12,541 multi-core and 4,276 single-core, so owners of the standard model shouldn't see a serious performance drop compared to the Pro.
OnePlus 8 cameras
We can expect to see a camera upgrade in the new OnePlus 8 series, but what exactly? The OnePlus Concept One that was on show at CES, and arguably was just a OnePlus 7T Pro McClaren Edition with leather and some clever glass, might be something less of a disappointment if it gives us a clue about what to expect in the OnePlus 8.
The tech they were really showing off at the January tech trade show is the electrochromic glass that covers the rear camera lenses. This can switch between transparent and opaque, effectively hiding the triple-lens camera when not in use. OnePlus claims it not only adds aesthetic appeal, but adds a polarising filter for sharper shots in bright daylight.
It was neither confirmed nor denied that this feature would appear in its upcoming flagship, and until we see some photos of OnePlus 8 in the flesh we won’t know for sure. All the renders we’ve seen so far suggest it will not be included.
We've since heard that OnePlus has been dabbling in yet another way to conceal the cameras on its phone, suggesting this is potentially a very real way forward for the handset's design. A patent spotted by LetsGoDigital suggests OnePlus is toying with the idea of using a plastic flap to hide the phone's rear cameras, which are shown in a OnePlus 7T-like circular housing.
We'd imagine this is a much cheaper approach than using electrochromic glass, and though it would also be less flashy it could help protect those cameras from damage.
The patent also reveals plans to hide the selfie camera, here under the screen glass.
While we know the OnePlus 8 Lite is likely to have a triple-lens rear camera, rumoured to be 38Mp + 16Mp + 12Mp, it’s thought that the Pro model could add a fourth Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor to its 64Mp (f/1.7) + 20Mp (f/2.2) ultra-wide + 12Mp (f/2.4) telephoto configuration. The OnePlus 8 may see the same setup, but minus the ToF camera.
These camera units are likely to be centred as previously, but now appearing in a vertical rather than circular assembly such as that seen on the OnePlus 7T.
Around the front expect OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro to feature a 32Mp selfie camera, and the Lite to feature a 16Mp sensor. All three are expected to be housed in punch-hole-style cutouts, with OnePlus ditching the previous pop-up camera, and may adopt a Face ID-style unlocking system.
Will OnePlus 8 be officially waterproof?
Six years after the original OnePlus phone launched, could we be finally getting an official IP rating for water resistance?
Prolific leaker @MaxJmb has tweeted a picture of what looks very much like the rumoured OnePlus 8 design, complete with the word 'WATER'.
We'd assume this would be the IP68 rating that we see on many modern flagships, but this is far from confirmed. It would however explain the movement away from the pop-up camera to the more well-established pop-up camera.
However, the fact that it is not (or has not been) willing to pay out for IP certification (which would cause the price of its phones to increase) doesn’t mean they are not water-resistant. OnePlus shared the following video in line with the OnePlus 7 launch a year ago:
It's highly unlikely OnePlus users would be happy to see the design changed and price increased in order to get official certification.
Read next: Best New Phones Coming in 2020