In a topsy-turvy world where Apple is releasing $399 iPhones and OnePlus is making $999 premium phones, the OnePlus 8 should be the perfect foil to the OnePlus 8 Pro. After all, OnePlus built its reputation on showing up the high-priced Galaxies and Pixels of the world with premium-specced Android phones for pennies on the dollar. It’s only fair that it does the same for its own four-figure phone.

In some ways, the OnePlus 8 delivers on that promise. It has a great screen, the newest Snapdragon processor, 5G, and a triple-camera array at a price lower than the Pixel 4 and Galaxy S10. But when you zoom in on what the OnePlus 8 offers for its price ($699 from OnePlus), which is $200 higher than last year’s 7T (currently discounted to $499 from OnePlus), it becomes clear the while it’s a very good phone, it’s not quite the killer bargain OnePlus wants us to think it is.

Design: Very familiar

The OnePlus 8 is clearly cut from the same cloth as the 8 Pro, but it’s not a mere smaller version. While it has the same hole-punch camera cutout and vertical camera array, there are distinct visual differences.

oneplus 8 screens Michael Simon/IDG

The OnePlus 8 (left) has a similar look to the higher-priced OnePlus 8 Pro.

Most notably, the 3D display isn’t quite as curved as it is on the 8 Pro. That means the 8 has thicker, more visible side bezels. It also has fewer accidental touches, so it could be an improvement depending on your screen preference. The top and bottom bezels are very similar on both phones, however, and the two displays are spectacular in their own right: The 8 Pro edges out the 8 only in head-to-head tests, due to the latter’s lower resolution (402ppi vs 513ppi) and slower refresh rate (90Hz vs 120Hz). Whites are bright, blacks are deep, and colors are vivid even in bright sunlight.

Like the last few OnePlus models and the 8 Pro, the 8 has an in-display optical fingerprint scanner instead of 3D facial recognition or a rear-mounted physical scanner. While it’s definitely improved over the original version on the 6T, it’s still very finicky and nowhere near the mindless process of Face unlock of the Pixel. I love the continued inclusion of the handy alert slider, which lets you silence the ringer with a flick.

oneplus 8 bottom Michael Simon/IDG

From the bottom, the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro are identical.

The OnePlus 8’s slightly smaller size makes it easier to handle than its bigger sibling, while allowing for a firm grip on its somewhat slippery case. Because the glass back has a glossy finish in contrast to the 8 Pro’s frosted matte veneer, however, you’ll definitely pick up fingerprints throughout your day. And with very little to distract your eye other than a relatively small camera array, smudges will definitely be noticeable, especially on the mirrorlike Interstellar Glow option.

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Features and specs: Feels like a ‘T’

If the OnePlus 8 were $100 cheaper, the design and display would make it an easy recommendation on their own. But at $699, the OnePlus 8 draws inevitable comparisons to the entry-level iPhone 11, shining a harsh light on the things it lacks, namely wireless charging and IP-rated water resistance.

oneplus 8 v 7t camera Michael Simon/IDG

The OnePlus 8 ditches the circular camera array for a vertical one.

Complicating things for the OnePlus 8 is the fact that the OnePlus 8 Pro has both of those things, along with faster RAM, a higher-resolution display, and a vastly superior camera for just $200 more. The 8 is already the most expensive entry-level phone OnePlus has ever made, but it also represents the biggest leap in price over the previous generation, especially if you don’t like the default Glacier Green finish. If you want the 8 in the shiny Interstellar Glow version, you’ll need to upgrade to the 256GB model with 12GB of RAM for $799.



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