Creating a good smartphone is a balancing act - one that gets more difficult to pull off as you move from budget, to mid-range, to flagship, and while it might not be the outright best in any one particular area, the OnePlus 8 Pro has proven itself as the best poised to take the crown as our Flagship Phone of the Year for 2020.
The OnePlus 7 Pro felt like a leap forward for OnePlus in terms of both design and technology, the OnePlus 8 Pro has refined the experience its predecessor offered and, as a result, cements the company's position as a competitor at the very top end of the phone market.
It boasts a beautiful design in exciting but considered finishes, a superb expansive 'Fluid' AMOLED display, with exceptional colours and the ability to run at full resolution and with its responsive 120Hz high refresh rate in tandem, the company's OxygenOS serves up one of the best user experiences alongside Google's stock take on Android and it addresses pretty much every shortcoming that its predecessor struggled with.
Wireless charging? The 8 Pro is the first of the company's phones to offer up to 30W fast wireless charging (alongside 30W wired charging as standard). Better cameras? The 8 Pro gives Oppo's Find X2 Pro - one of this year's best camera phones - a run for its money, with the same 48Mp main and ultrawide snappers, alongside a 3x telephoto camera and one lens we've never seen before (and are unlikely to see on a phone again any time soon), an X-ray camera - dubbed the 'colour filter camera'.
The 8 Pro is also the first OnePlus phone to formally offer IP68-certified dust and water resistance and to round it out, this thing is fast; with high-performance storage and memory (not to mention plenty of both) supporting early 2020's then-most-powerful mobile chip, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865, with 5G thrown in for good measure.
As we said in our review, "there’s something here for everyone, and little that’s lacking." So long as you're not scared off by the sheer size of the 8 Pro, the phone embodies the sentiment expressed in the adage, "Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than a master of one."
While it doesn't excel in any one particular area, that's mainly because it does practically everything to such a high standard already and while OnePlus' pricing for phones like the 8 Pro looks far closer to that of its rivals as it once was, this device still undercuts phones that are several hundred more expensive without any real compromise.
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While there was little doubt in our minds that the OnePlus 8 Pro was worthy of the title 'Flagship Phone of the Year', there were a handful of handsets that, for one reason or another, held contention at various points.
Apple's iPhone 12 was the biggest threat to the 8 Pro's crown. Likely set to serve as the 'new default' phone for a lot of people over the next 12 months or so, the iPhone 12 doesn't lose out on much of what its Pro-branded namesake brings to the table and comes in at an identical starting price to the OnePlus.
For your money, you get a stellar pair of rear cameras, water resistance, wireless charging and some of the best performance around. We're still left waiting for a high refresh rate viewing experience on an iPhone, iOS as a lot more convoluted than it once was and the 12's design - while precise and premium - isn't quite as elegant as what the 8 Pro offers - not least because of its invasive notch.
Asking various members of the Tech Advisor team for personal highlights from the year, Staff Writer Anyron Copeman gave kudos to the gamer-centric Red Magic 5S, Deputy Editor Dom Preston can't stop singing the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip's praises, Reviews Editor Chris Martin was equally enamoured with Motorola's Razr 5G foldable, Consumer Tech Editor Alex Walker-Todd was all about the OnePlus 8 Pro, Senior Staff Writer Lewis Painter was TA's resident iPhone advocate representing the 12, and Editor Jim Martin fell in love with the Huawei Mate 40 Pro's camera, hardware and design.
And that's a wrap - with Tech Advisor's 2020 awards done and dusted. Here are all the winners in case you've missed any:
- Flagship Phone of the Year: OnePlus 8 Pro
- Mid-Range Phone of the Year: OnePlus Nord
- Budget Phone of the Year: Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC
- Laptop of the Year: Honor MagicBook 14
- Tablet of the Year: iPad Air
- Wearable of the Year: Fitbit Charge 4
- Audio Tech of the Year: Sony WH-1000XM4
- TV of the Year: Samsung Q80T
- Smart Home Tech of the Year: TP-Link Deco P9
- Appliance of the Year: Halo Capsule Vacuum