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OnePlus 5T vs. Samsung Galaxy S8: Beast mode

It's not really a fair fight, since the Galaxy S8 costs over $700 (the larger S8+ over $800) and the OnePlus 5T a mere $500 (opens in new tab), but for the sake of the argument, let's assume you're choosing between these two phones. The Galaxy S8 is smaller — usable in one hand, even — while the OnePlus 5T is roughly the same size as its immediate predecessor, but has a larger screen in an updated 18:9 aspect ratio.

Both of these phones feature the latest and greatest in terms of hardware, but whereas Samsung's phones are all-in on a single 12MP camera, OnePlus tries to eke superior low light performance from a secondary sensor that, strangely, has smaller pixels than the primary one. Anyway, the Galaxy S8 is one of the best phones of the year so far — does the OnePlus 5T give it a run for its money? Let's find out.

Specs and design

The Galaxy S8 was among the first phones to launch with the now-common 2:1+ aspect ratio (in this case, 18.5:9 because Samsung needs to be different). That was all the way back in March (and right after the LG G6 began the craze), and since then many companies have followed suit.

OnePlus says that the 5T is essentially the same phone as the 5, but is taking advance of newer technologies available to it. We can see that in the display, which is essentially the same panel just without the borders above and below — with a slight resolution bump to 2160x1080 — and a fingerprint sensor around the back.

Take a look at the specs below to see how similar they compare internally.

CategoryOnePlus 5TSamsung Galaxy S8
Operating systemAndroid 7.1.1 NougatAndroid 7.0 Nougat
Display6-inch Optic AMOLED, 2160x1080 (18:9)5.8-inch AMOLED
2960x1440 (18.5:9)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core
Adreno 540 GPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core
Adreno 540 GPU
Storage64/128GB (UFS 2.1)64GB (UFS 2.1)
RAM6/8GB LPDDR4X4GB
Rear camera 116MP, 1.12μm, f/1.7
Dual LED flash
12MP Dual Pixel, f/1.7
1.4μm
OIS
Rear camera 220MP, 1μm, f/1.7N/A
Front camera16MP, 1μm, f/2.08MP, f/1.7
auto focus
Battery3300mAh3000mAh
ChargingUSB-C
Dash Charge
USB-C
Fast Charge
Qi/PMA wireless charging
Water resistanceNoYes
SecurityOne-touch fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock
One-touch fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock | Iris scanner
Connectivity802.11ac Wi-Fi, 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, aptX HD
USB-C (2.0), NFC
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
Wi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC, GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou
LTE Cat.16
NetworkLTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/66
3xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 12, UL Cat 13
LTE 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/20/25/26/29/30/40/41/66
4xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 16, UL Cat 13
Dimensions156.1 x 75 x 7.3 mm
162 g
148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm
155 g
ColorsMidnight BlackMidnight Black
Coral Blue
Price$499 / $559$729

Obviously, the Galaxy S8 has less RAM than either of the OnePlus 5T variants, but in day-to-day usage that shouldn't pose too much of a problem. The OnePlus 5T has a larger battery but lacks the waterproofing and wireless charging of the more expensive phone. Similarly, the 5T also lacks Cat 16 LTE, which prevents it from reaching those gigabit speeds; instead, OnePlus is really pushing the Dash Charge feature of the 5T, which lets it charge through USB-C faster than any other system out there right now.

Given that the base model OnePlus 5T comes with 6GB of RAM, you'd expect the phone to keep apps in memory for longer than the Galaxy S8 — and doubly so for the 8GB model that ships for $60 more and adds an additional 64GB of storage — but, given Android's pedigree for divesting itself of app load in memory, that isn't the case. Nevertheless, the OnePlus 5T is an extremely good performer, and continues OnePlus's legacy as one of the best values for money you can buy.

How much does it matter that the OnePlus 5T doesn't have water resistance or wireless charging?

The OnePlus 5T shares a lot of its design with its predecessor, the OnePlus 5, but shifts some things around to give it a more modern feel. Gone is the front-facing fingerprint sensor, moved now to the back of the phone down the center to accommodate the larger screen. When using the phone, the extra screen real estate is much appreciated, and the 6-inch OLED panel is, while not as sharp as the Galaxy S8's, of decent quality (it's manufactured by Samsung Display, natch), but the Infinity Display on the S8 still stands out, months later, as one of the industry's best. Indeed, the curved glass that meets the metal sides looks incredible.

The OnePlus 5T's camera stack is different internally, as we'll find out later, but its looks haven't changed since June's OnePlus 5. Still located on the top left of the device, the 16MP primary and 20MP secondary shooters protrude slightly. It looks fine, but when compared to the Galaxy S8, you can clearly see Samsung's superior industrial design chops at play. The Galaxy S8 doesn't have a camera bump, and its shiny glass back, while it invites more fingerprints than the 5T's matte metal, feels awesome, and facilitates wireless charging to boot.

There isn't a phone released this year that looks and feels as good as the Galaxy S8.

It's also worth pointing out just how fantastic the Galaxy S8 feels in the hand. I know — "hand feel" quickly loses its lofty distinction after using the phone for a few days, but it's still important. The Galaxy S8 is on the smaller side of this year's flagship crop (with the 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ and 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 8 hitting sizes closer to the OnePlus 5T), but to my mind, and hand, it hits the right size for most people.

That's not to say the OnePlus 5T doesn't look great; it builds on the successful maturation of the OnePlus 5 and removes much of the legacy design elements. The all-screen front is a big deal, especially for those looking to OnePlus as a trend-setting company; while the fingerprint at the back makes a big difference in usability, especially when paired with the Face Unlock feature.

It's also worth pointing out that both the OnePlus 5T and Galaxy S8 have headphone jacks. Because you can never have too many ways to listen to music.

Extra features

The OnePlus 5T adds a Face Unlock feature that uses 100 points of measurement on one's face. It's not nearly as advanced, or secure, as the iris scanning on the Galaxy S8, but it also works far faster — it's even faster and more reliable than Samsung's less-secure face unlock method — but it works so, so well.

Indeed, I've barely needed to use the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone (which is much more sensibly placed than that of the Galaxy S8) to unlock it, since the Face Unlock just works.

Samsung has been a forerunner in alternative biometrics, starting with iris scanning in the Note 7, but this year's crop of phones, between the perpetual unreliability of the face unlock and the awkward placement of the fingerprint sensor, undermined that achievement somewhat. OnePlus doesn't try to complicate things and, as a result, wins in both respects.

Still, Samsung has the edge in a well-rounded set of features: it supports Qi and PMA wireless charging; it's IP68 water and dust resistant; and it's a true gigabit phone, supporting speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. The OnePlus 5T has none of those things: despite using the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 platform and baseband solution, its lack of 4x carrier aggregation support limits it to 600Mbps.

Finally, you can't forget Bixby, the local assistant that Samsung, for better or worse, has chosen to tack along to its 2017 lineup. While the button can be completely disabled these days, it's still an encumbrance given its proximity to the volume rocker, especially since Bixby itself isn't all that useful.

OnePlus, on the other hand, maintains the presence of its three-toggle mute button, which makes it iPhone-easy to change between loud, vibrate, and silent modes. I've come to appreciate this slider over the years, and appreciate that the company has maintained it since the OnePlus 2 debuted in 2015.

Software

Right now, the OnePlus 5T runs Android 7.1.2 Nougat, which, while disappointing in a world of phones launching with Oreo, is still a newer version than the Galaxy S8, which is stuck on 7.0.

OnePlus hews a little closer to what we would consider "stock" Android, but the company adds its own flair, and for the most part, the features add value. Since the 5T is the first OnePlus phone without capacitive buttons, there may be a slight learning curve for those coming from older OnePlus devices, but the company has maintained its bevy of shortcuts and gestures to make navigating the Android OS easy.

OnePlus also promises an update to Oreo by the end of 2017, which may actually be sooner than Samsung's equivalent for the Galaxy S8 series.

Cameras

The OnePlus 5T's camera is definitely an improvement over the 5's, and over most devices in its price range, but it still struggles in some conditions.

In daylight, the photos are nigh identical to the OnePlus 5 — as they should be, since the two phones share the same 16MP sensor. But at night, results vary. They're supposed to be better than the 5 thanks to a 20MP RGB sensor that's optimized for low light, but in our early testing, they're merely good, not great.

OnePlus 5T (left) | Galaxy S8 (right)

Compared to the Galaxy S8, the results provide more detail in daylight and aren't quite as good in low light. The Galaxy S8 still has a great camera — its single 12MP sensor performs well in both daylight and at night — but it doesn't quite measure up to the best out there anymore.

Still, the OnePlus 5T, with its second sensor (that forgoes the telephoto focal distance of its predecessor in favor of low light optimization) can do portrait photography, and the results are much better than when the 5 came out earlier this year.

This improvement is more due to software optimizations than any inherent hardware advantages, but it's still significant.

I'll let this image speak for itself, but at this point, it's unclear whether OnePlus's gambit to improve low-light capture will pay off; the phone only switches to its secondary camera when the sensor detects light of 10 Lux or less, which is almost pitch black. And given that the second sensor has more pixels than the main one, with smaller individual pixels to capture light against an f/1.7 lens, I'm not sure it was the right decision.

How does the OnePlus 5T stack up?

While it's not a fair fight given the Galaxy S8 exacts a $200 premium over the OnePlus 5T, this comparison is more an exercise to see whether OnePlus can compete with the best phones out there today. The Galaxy S8 may be a few months old but alongside its larger counterpart, the Galaxy S8+, it's by far the most popular and successful Android phone in the world.

To its credit, OnePlus hits a lot of the same notes for significantly less money, and while the camera continues to be the biggest sticking point, it's good enough that a prospective buyer won't feel short-changed.

OnePlus considers the 5T to be a slightly upgraded version of the 5, but essentially the same phone. When viewed that way, a $20 bump is a small price to pay for a larger screen, a great new face unlock feature, and the same awesome performance and software experience as before.

Who still wants a Galaxy?

See at OnePlus (opens in new tab)

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

51 Comments
  • Pass...I wouldn't consider buying a non-Samsung Android device - too many concessions to be made and too many question marks around update schedule (made worse by the US carriers) and component quality.
  • Actually, OnePlus has been very good with timely OS updates on their phones, from the OP3 & up. (Not the OP2 though! That's a phone everyone wants to forget about). The OP 3T, is still one of my favorites phones of all time!
  • Are you sure?
  • Yes. They are much better with updates the last year
  • Not to mention the fact that the S8 is often on sale for the same or less than the 5T. $350 off the Verizon model at Best Buy right now for example.
  • Funny how experience/ prospection differ. Those are exactly the reasons I no longer buy Samsung phones.
  • This
  • Reminds me how much I really like s8+. My fav phone this year. I think one p5 is a great alternative, sis has one and she loves it
  • I love my Note8, but I wish the FPS was on the front along with capacitive buttons. I'd even put up with more bezel to have that.
  • I am in total agreement with you.
  • Just to note.. the S8 doesn't have a 16mp sensor...
    And why not compare it to the note 8
  • You forgot S8 microSD, OP5T none. That doesn't matter to me, but it would matter to some people. And while I don't use Bixby, myself (or GA, for that matter), it really does shine in ways GA doesn't. Overall, I think the OP5T is a fantastic phone on paper. I'd love to mess with it.
  • Best Buy is selling (through carriers) the S8 Plus for about $500 on the 24 month plan.
  • "through carriers" "24 month plan" :/
  • Those prices and deals can also be found free from carriers and for cash. Oh, and when you do go thru a carrier you can pay it off whenever you want in most cases. And if you don’t, you’re almost always not paying any interest on it.
  • What is your point?
    A 24 month plan is nothing more than "free financing" it is not a contract. You can pay off the phone day 1 if you want. Best buy also regularly sells the unlocked S8 for $525-550. I bought my S8+ from Best Buy for $650. If you can get a deal like this on a S8 it makes the OnePlus 5T not very much of a deal.
  • And that’s one of OnePlus’s biggest obstacles in my opinion. They come out with devices that compete well with flagships but because they are a few months behind, by the time their device goes up for sale the competition’s flagship devices are getting generous discounts all over the place. Add to that the fact those discounts are made available thru carriers who will finance devices with zero interest and all of a sudden the beastly underdog (who counts on one of its advantages to be price) is much more on par cost wise or maybe even at a substantial disadvantage.
  • Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that US customers get the best deals for smartphones. How much does the 5T cost in comparison to 2017 flagships in other countries?
  • those low light shots on the 5t don't look great. Looks like the 5t's low light mode isn't kicking in and that is a shame, really was considering this one.
  • Things that pisses me off using my S8 and why I would switch with OnePlus 5T
    1. - software
    2. - bloatware
    3. - position of the fingerprint scanner
    4. - reflection at the edge of the screen
  • What's wrong with the software? This isn't your mothers Touchwiz! Bloat? It can easily be disabled. Fingerprint scanner? Takes all of five minutes to get used to it.
  • Maybe 10 min... But you definitely get used to it quickly
  • That's doesn't help people who won't get it cause who should have to get used to something like this? Edge reflection, accidental touches, and Hershey bar form factor is why I will never tough a Samsung device again. Awful usability, but great for marketing graphics!
  • Huh? So you're complaining about looks? Ok. If that's your main reason for getting a phone then by all means.
  • I spyware wear, nah. I'll stick with my s8+. More money, but I like it, for myself it's worth it! To each his own, but for 500.00 bananas that's a great deal for what is offered. Can't knock it with a stick!
  • If you don't think samsung is spying on you and doing whatever they want with your data then you are too naive for this world.
  • Being on Verizon no chance. But would love to take it for a spin!
  • I don't see why so many people have a problem with the fps on the s8. I have no problems using it like I thought I would have since I was used to the s7 sensor.
  • I hate the location of the FPS because I hold my phone in my left hand, but I have gotten used to it. And even before I was used to it, I never smudged the camera lens. I just didn't get my finger centered quite right. I don't think the center location is any better -- worse if it's farther down the back of the phone. If I try to touch that spot, I have to poke it, not touch it. I'd rather have it on the front.
  • It's even easier with your left hand though
  • Maybe for you. For me, it's awkward. My finger naturally lands on where it would be if it was a mirror image.
  • I actually bought my S8 for less than $500 new from Best Buy months ago
  • I bought my Note8 for less than $500 from Sprint, and got a free fast wireless charger and microSD card.
  • Ooooh
  • I paid 540.00 for my s8+. I got 300.00 off with Verizon unlimited plan, new line & upgraded my s7edge. To me that was a deal I couldn't refuse. And it does everything I need plus the FPS has not been a problem. The display is very nice along with the camera & battery. SOT 6 to 6 & a half! Not bad!
  • I'm curious if the 5T's screen has that weird jelly scrolling issue. It's a minor thing, I know, but I'm one of those people who would be bothered every time I see it.
  • 7 months older than the S8 with the same internals, but a bump in RAM which is essentially useless. No IP rating, no OIS, no 2K resolution and no wireless charging. Barely worth $499.
  • I know this is a One + discussion... It will be a solution for some. Others made great points about its release timing problematic as better phones from early this year begin being discounted. The phone would benefit from being sold by mobile carriers in Canada.. It isn't. No micro USB storage is the biggest issue for me. The fingerprint unlock topic came up.... Thought I'd give my two cents... I agree the fingerprint unlock on the back of phones is stupid.... In fact, it's dumb enough that it may as well not even be on a phone.. But I would not trade my bezeless phone for it to be on the front either, given present technology has no other solution. . I've managed to survive using a 4 digit unlock code on my cell phones for 20 years.... I never thought it was much of of a problem in search of a solution..lol.... Millennials would lose their minds if they had to bang out text messages, three letters to a physical key, as was reality for almost a decade when cell phones first became widely used. The good news is the embedded fingerprint unlock will exist under the front display on all Samsung phones in two years, and is anticipated on the Note 9 next year. Hell, I might finally adopt the feature... If I upgrade in two years... (I'd guess I won't upgrade) . Once it happens, the facial recognition, and millions spent by all manufacturers on the technology, will be relegated to the dumpster.
  • Facial recognition is still baller on PC form factors. Think surface pro, and when Apple starts putting Face ID in Macs and MacBooks. That's where that will shine. It's better than a fingerprint on those form factors. I agree they aren't that great on cell phones, because the usability isn't nearly as good.
  • Daniel, aren't you (or someone at AC) on record saying that at this point a phone launching without Oreo is unacceptable? I may be mistaken. But, it's been three months. OnePlus does not get a pass here simply because they are on a higher version than Samsung. They are still launching with an older version of Android than they should be.
  • My V30 agrees with you
  • Yeah, I think they wanted to do that so that they could avoid having to support Project Treble. Starting to see that with some mfrs, it is disturbing.
  • I have a 1+3, looking hard at another 1+ when it's time for replacement, but no, the slider is not silent/vibrate/ring. It's some sort of priority in the middle, which I've never thought worth setting up (some sort of smart watch for when it's on silent, which is 95% of the time, full volume notifications the rest of the time). Yes there are workarounds, but it's not a selling point for me. The unlocked bootloader and ease of root and rom is why I like it.
  • For the ones who haven't used a one plus phones. They are awesome for the price do they have all the bells and whistles of course not. But what they do is make a great experience for the price. For the people who want a headphone jack yay it has one. Close to "stock" experience it does that for the other crowd. It's simple buy the phone you like appreciate what other manufactures are doing I for one appreciate diversity done well it's what makes Android awesome.
  • Still doesn't seem like a Samsung competitor. Samsung is all about their own ecosystem. They have their own assistant, payment system, health platform, etc. Also, they have wireless charging and waterproofing. This is a simpler device with more of a stock experience and an attractive price. This actually seems like more of a competitor to Andy Rubin's new creation.
  • Is it that much cheaper to use 8GB of ram rather that to put in a micro SD slot?
  • As a former OP3 owner and a current S8 owner I was interested in switching back to OP. For me, the 5T is just to tall and wide, I love the size of the S8 and was hoping the 5T would be smaller. I know many feel the bigger the better but I like one hand use when necessary and it's clear OnePlus's goal was to maintain the current body size, which they did,. Only wish I could have the 5Ts Oxygen OS on my S8.
  • Sorry Oneplus 5T has messed up . Was interested but not after the info came out about the lame use of the "low light" camera.. The second camera only kicks in at 10 lux which is crazy dark. Even if they tweek it better they are not processing the pixels as groups on the secondary camera to take advantage of the low light like the sony phone camers have been. And they are tiny damn pixels which is just dumb for low light unless you do what Sony did and Oneplus didn't . Just sad, really wanted the 5t to be better.
  • With the high price of the top dog android's 500.00 bananas ain't so bad. Where are you gonna get 6gb's for this kind of moo-la! This is a great buy!
  • And oneplus updates every 6 months. That's a deal breaker for me. I had a 5T in my hand today. It's nice but the screen was totally washed out. I put me S8 next to it and the screen on the oneplus was awful. I had a oneplus 3 before I got the S8 and it was great. But battery was only giving me 4 hours SOT and often bugs with Bluetooth etc. S8 has been smooth as butter and battery life 6-7 hours SOT. First Galaxy I have had and love it. 6 months later and it still rocks.
  • Updates every 6 months? lol no.
    Google "Oneplus 5 downloads" and "Oneplus 3 downloads"
    Updates every month. Even more if you go for beta's.