Have you ever watched Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”? It is the second movie of his own adaptation of the Batman trilogy and in the said film, Joker said something that you either die a hero or live long enough until you become a villain. Well, that saying actually applies to the phone I am going to talk about in this article.
Today, I am going to be reviewing the OnePlus 8. Find out why I think it is a good smartphone but it could have been better.
Before anything else, I would like to go back to the quote I mentioned earlier. You see, this truly reflects what OnePlus as a company has become over the years.
The company’s first phone was hailed as the first ‘flagship killer’- a smartphone that has amazing specs offered at an affordable price.
The first OnePlus device has set people’s eyes on the company and for quite some time, this was true. However, the public then caught on the fact that the company is slowly turning into a ‘villain’ of sorts because instead of producing flagship killing devices, the company creates actual flagship phones instead.
It all started with the OnePlus 7 Pro. Although it is priced at $800, it is still a bit cheaper than flagships from Samsung and Apple, but it is slowly creeping up in price. True enough, a year later, the OnePlus 8 Pro was priced at $999 but the good thing is that for many reviewers, the price was actually justified. However, what about the original OnePlus 8? That is what we are going to find out in this review.
First and foremost, I have to give props to the company for creating an elegant device. The OnePlus 8 has a ‘waterfall’ display which is just a fancy term they use to denote its curved screen. Although most people do not like curved edges, there are some that do.
The placement of the buttons has been mixed up on this model. Instead of having the volume controls and the power button situated on one side, they are now separate in that the former is now found on the left side of the phone while the latter can be found on the right side.
There is no headphone jack on this device, sadly, so for people that want to use their own headphones, you might want to buy a pair of wireless headphones instead.
The OnePlus 8 comes in three different colors- one of which has a matte finish and two of which have a glossy back.
Only the Glacial Green has a matte finish while the Interstellar Glow and Onyx Black have the glossy textures. Although I personally love the Onyx Black, it is a definite fingerprint magnet, so do bear that in mind if you choose this variant.
I also want to point out that the camera array protrudes a little bit, so there might be a slight issue if you are going to put the device inside your pocket (although it is not as pronounced as the ‘pro’ variant, it is still worth mentioning).
Sadly, the phone doesn’t come with official IP68 certification compared to its older sibling, the OnePlus 8 Pro. Sure, the device is pretty sealed off, but I wouldn’t dare subject it to water splashes or anything that might hurt the phone itself.
OnePlus is actually one of the first companies that have implemented a fast refresh rate screen and that is quite evident on the OnePlus 8.
It has a 6.55-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 (Full HD+) and has an aspect ratio of 20:9 which allows content to fully utilize the big screen real estate.
The AMOLED panel can also be clocked at 90Hz refresh rate as well, although do keep in mind that by doing so, you are effectively increasing the battery drain. Fortunately, the device comes with a really fast charger which I will talk about later.
Media consumption with this phone is a dream thanks to its HDR10+ certification and I love the fact that colors are punchy and vibrant due to the AMOLED panel that was used.
This device has an in-display fingerprint scanner and I am quite surprised that it is one of the fastest ones I’ve used. It is also pretty accurate as well and you only have to store your fingerprint data once which is a good thing.
Specs and Performance
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
- GPU: Adreno 650
- RAM: 8GB/12GB
- Storage: 128GB/256GB UFS 3.0
- Display: 6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED, HDR10+, 90Hz Refresh Rate, Corning Gorilla Glass 5
- Cameras: 48-megapixel (f/1.8) wide, 16-megapixel (f/2.2) Ultra-wide, 2-megapixel macro; 16-megapixel (f/2.0) selfie camera
- Battery: 4,300 mAh with included 30-watt Warp charger
- Connectivity: WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB Type-C
- Colors: Onyx Black, Interstellar Glow, Glacial Green (Matte)
Specs-wise, the OnePlus 8 is pretty good. You could say that it has flagship components, except of course for the camera array which I will discuss in a bit.
Now, I would like to point out that if you are going to get the 128GB variant, you are going to get only 8GB of RAM. Getting the 256GB variant will get you the full 12GB, though, in real-world usage, you would hardly notice the difference in RAM anyway.
The performance of this phone is actually pretty smooth. Set the display to 90Hz and I promise you that you will never want to go back to a 60Hz device. Sure, it drains the battery faster, but because of the included charging, topping this phone up only requires less than an hour to fully recharge.
You can throw any Android games on this device and it will handle it without any issues at all. It doesn’t get too warm to the touch even with prolonged gaming sessions which is a nice thing.
If there is one weak link to the OnePlus 8, it would be its cameras. Sure, you get a 3-camera setup on the back but instead of the usual telephoto sensor as the third camera, you get a mediocre 2-megapixel macro camera.
A macro sensor, in theory, is great to use when it comes to showcasing products for reviews and whatnot, but its implementation here is just mediocre at best.
While the main shooter does produce amazing shots, its overall performance, at least when compared to its ‘Pro’ counterpart, is just passable and nothing too spectacular.
It does give you the option to record 4K videos but even that is not stable enough to use while you are walking about.
To put it simply, the cameras on the OnePlus 8 are just disappointing and for the price, you would definitely be expecting more.
While the cameras on this device leave much to be desired, the battery on this thing is just superb. The OnePlus 8 comes with a 4,300 mAh battery but that is not the interesting part here; it is its included charger.
OnePlus is actually one of the companies that have first implemented fast charging on mobile devices and it is certainly evident here thanks to the 30-watt Warp charger.
Topping the phone up from 5% to 97% only takes 45 minutes which is pretty insane!
Now, I do have to point out that although there are some variants of this device that have a glass back, the device, sadly, doesn’t have the necessary coils built-in. In other words, it doesn’t support wireless charging.
Fortunately, you do not need to plug the device too long though thanks to the included charging brick.
To circle back to the original quote, let me rephrase it by saying that OnePlus has been in the industry for so long that it, too, has churned out ‘actual’ flagship phones. They no longer produce the flagship killers that the company was known for back then.
Now, I do understand that there are many factors that have contributed to this, and I wouldn’t really mind so long as the phones they’ve produced warrants the higher price tag, but the OnePlus 8 is not it.
It has flagship components, sure, but its cameras leave so much to be desired. I am not saying that the device is that bad; I am saying that because of the price jump, you should expect more but this device just underperforms in that department.
The good thing, though, is that the OnePlus 8 Pro, despite it being priced at $999, does warrant its price tag because of its amazing package overall.
Still, if you have $699 to spend, the OnePlus 8 is still a good choice, though there are others out there that outperform this device, especially on the camera side of things.
Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers
Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.
You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.
That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!
For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.
The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.
Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.
With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.
For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.
On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.
At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.
Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.
If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.
This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.
Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.
Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.
To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.
The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.
On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.
It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.
However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.
Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.
The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.
Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade
When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.
There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.
You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.
Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.
Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.
There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.
Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.
The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.
You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).
What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: A12 Bionic
- GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB/128GB
- Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
- OS: iPadOS 14
- Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
- Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
- Battery: 32.4 Wh
So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.
While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.
Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.
Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games.
Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.
It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.
Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.
However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.
My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.
If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.
The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.
Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.
Amazon Echo Studio Review- The Bigger ‘Echo’ Speaker That Competes
Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, has created its own AI implementation in the form of the Amazon Alexa.
It is actually quite polished and it can go against Apple’s Siri and Google’s own AI. That being said, the company has released some ‘Echo’ speakers that not only act as Bluetooth audio devices but as smart devices as well.
Today, I am going to be reviewing the Amazon Echo Studio. Does this thing really have what it takes to compete with the others?
One of the biggest criticisms of Amazon’s Echo speakers of the past is that although its smart features are okay, their sound output leaves much to be desired. As a way of addressing the issue, Amazon has built the Echo Studio.
The Amazon Echo Studio is pretty big. It is 8 inches in height and 7 inches wide so this is indeed a pretty hefty audio solution. In fact, I would go on to say that this is one of the biggest Bluetooth speakers on the market.
Its design is pretty much akin to the Amazon Echo speakers of old. You get a fabric mesh design that encapsulates the speaker itself with all of its button controls situated at the top of the device.
You also get a blue ring light that will pretty much add to the aesthetic appeal of the unit. The microphone is also placed at the top and it is always on ‘listening mode’ so that whenever you want to interact with Alexa, it can do so at a moment’s notice.
Although you cannot see it, the Amazon Echo Studio is actually powered by a subwoofer, a tweeter, and four mid-range speakers that are mounted at the top and the sides. This thing is a beast as it can output 330 watts of power when needed, which is ample enough even for home cinema setups.
The Amazon Echo Studio is quite a powerful Bluetooth speaker. No matter what genre of content you’d like to consume, this thing can output the necessary sound to make your viewing experience more immersive.
I am usually keen on an audio solution’s performance when it comes to playing music and I am happy with the Echo Studio’s prowess.
Although it favors the lower frequencies more than the mids and the highs, it does so without drowning the latter two, which is something that you normally do not see on large Bluetooth speakers.
An interesting feature that the Amazon Echo Studio has is its support for 3D Audio. You will need to sign in to your Amazon Music HD account before you can get a hold of this feature and it is the only platform that supports the Echo Studio’s 3D Audio. Amazon did mention that it will hand out support for other streaming platforms at a later date though.
So, how is the speaker’s performance on that front? Well, I am not really sure what to think about it as I have mixed feelings about the said feature.
3D audio is meant to provide a more immersive listening experience but I can hardly tell the difference between traditional Hi-Res audio and this one.
I guess you could say that for tracks that have a more melodic tone that you can discern a 3D audio-enabled track from a regular track, but other than that, non-audiophiles can hardly tell the difference.
To be fair, the said feature is still not polished yet, so expect it to improve in the years to come.
The Amazon Echo Studio also has seamless integration with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, though it does support all other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as well.
You are also given the option to link up another Amazon Echo Studio speaker so that you can have them work in tandem to provide you with even better sound. I do not have a second unit though, so I cannot really tell anything about this. But, the feature is there if you want to get another unit.
Aside from 3D audio, the Echo Studio also acts as a control hub for your smart devices. You can use Alexa to turn off your lights at a specific time of the night or you can have it play your favorite track if you want. The possibilities are endless.
Do keep in mind that while it should support most of the smart home devices that you can buy on the market, there are some products that do not play ball.
For instance, some smart locks can only be supported using Apple’s Siri, so you cannot control that using this device.
You can also link up a second Echo Studio speaker if you have one and you can use both of them to provide you with an even more powerful and more immersive listening experience.
You can control the speaker’s features by manually tapping on the buttons at the top of the device or by downloading its companion app.
Amazon has finally solved the issue of the Amazon Echo speakers of the past by giving you a relatively large speaker that can do a lot of things.
The Amazon Echo Studio has support for 3D audio, but you will need to have an Amazon Music HD account to get a hold of the said feature.
You can also use the speaker to control your smart home devices which is pretty nice. The microphone is always on listening mode so that you can call Alexa’s attention at a moment’s notice.
Normally, I would expect a product like this to cost more than $300, but the Amazon Echo Studio actually costs just $199. I guess getting another one is not too far out of the equation, eh?
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