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The OnePlus 8 is a gorgeous, powerful phone with one big reason to avoid it

OnePlus 8
OnePlus 8 (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

The rumor mill has been operating at full speed over the past few months, trying to make sense of OnePlus's new smartphones for 2020. On April 14, they were unveiled in all of their glory in the form of the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro.

Leading up to that unveiling, I called out the regular OnePlus 8 as likely being the one that you'll want to buy. However, now that the phones are official and we've learned all that there is to know about them, I'm not so sure about that anymore.

Don't get me wrong, the OnePlus 8 is a fantastic device. It has some of the prettiest hardware of any smartphone currently available, Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 865 processor, and a buttery smooth 90Hz display paired with a colorful AMOLED panel — just to name a few of its highlights. All of that's great, and on its own or compared solely against the OnePlus 8 Pro, the regular OnePlus 8 is an enticing purchase.

OnePlus 7T

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

No phone exists in a bubble, though, and for the OnePlus 8, that harsh reality is what ultimately makes it kind of impossible for me to recommend or get genuinely excited about.

You see, despite all of the marketing hype for the OnePlus 8, it's really just a repackaging of last year's OnePlus 7T with a couple of new features and a much higher price tag. We've seen other OnePlus phones in the past released six months after their predecessor with few changes, but the OnePlus 8 feels especially uninventive and unjustified.

The 7T is a fantastic Android phone, but OnePlus relied a little too much on it for the OnePlus 8.

There are a lot of identical specs/features shared by the OnePlus 7T and 8, starting with the display. Both phones have a 6.55-inch AMOLED panel with a 90Hz refresh rate and 1080 x 2400 resolution. It's a great screen that's extremely colorful, plenty sharp, and buttery smooth with that fast refresh rate, but the OnePlus 8 does nothing to improve on it. In fact, we'd argue that the left-mounted hole punch cutout for the front-facing camera is a less-pleasing design that the centered waterdrop notch on the 7T.

Other specs that haven't changed at all include the 8GB of RAM, 128GB of base storage, the 48MP primary rear camera, 16MP selfie camera, in-display fingerprint sensor, and 30W wired charging via USB-C. Just like the 7T, the OnePlus 8 also omits Qi wireless charging and an official IP rating for dust/water resistance.

To the OnePlus 8's credit, there are a few areas in which it's improved over its older sibling. You get the latest Snapdragon 865 processor instead of the 855+, a larger 4,300 mAh battery, and — of course — 5G. That last point is the most notable difference between the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 7T, and the reason the former costs as much as it does.

OnePlus 8

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

5G is an important technology and one that has a ton of potential to radically change the way we use our phones, but right now, it's still very much a fringe feature and one that needs a few more years to mature before it's a legitimate selling point for the majority of consumers. Like Andrew said in another editorial, OnePlus could have offered similar performance sans 5G with the Snapdragon 765, but c'est la vie.

If anything, the OnePlus 8 is a reminder of how good of a deal the 7T is.

Oh, and let's not forget that OnePlus made the bewildering decision drop the telephoto camera on the OnePlus 8 and offer a much less useful macro camera, because reasons.

Making the OnePlus 8 that much more difficult of a purchase is its price. The phone starts at $699, which is $100 more than the 7T's $599 MSRP. The 7T is often discounted to $499, however, giving the OnePlus 8 a $200 premium over it.

If you ask me, you most certainly aren't getting $200 worth of extra phone if you buy the OnePlus 8 over the 7T. Performance is ever-so-slightly faster, the battery is bigger, and you get 5G, but that's it.

OnePlus 7T India review

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The OnePlus 8 sharing a lot of DNA with the OnePlus 7T isn't a problem in itself. In fact, it's pretty great considering that the 7T is one of the best Android phones you can buy. The problem is that OnePlus jacked up the price of the OnePlus 8 substantially while still keeping the 7T around at a discounted rate.

For you and me, this is ultimately a good thing. If you need a top-notch Android phone without spending a gob of money, the OnePlus 7T is sticking around as one of the best deals on the market. For OnePlus, this should be a learning lesson of what not to do when the OnePlus 8T eventually comes out a few months from now.

OnePlus 7T review, 6 months later: Get this instead of the OnePlus 8

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

25 Comments
  • The OnePlus 8 didn't need 5G and if OnePlus had kept the OnePlus 8 as a 4G phone then they could have stuck with the launch price of the 7T.
  • The SD 865 has to come with the 5G modem, Qualcomm won't sell it without. So if the 5G is not enabled you are basically paying for something you can't use. Also the US carriers are not going to sell a 5G capable phone without 5G.
  • Actually that's not true, as Xiaom are releasing the Pocophone F2 and it will be powered by the Snapdragon 865 but with only 4G so it's possible to sell the 865 without 5G but OnePlus choose to go all 5G and their higher prices for the OnePlus 8 series means their sales are gonna tank , especially as we're in the middle of a global pandemic.
  • So you're right and wrong. You can sell the phone with the 865 or 765 as 4G. However the 865/765 have to be bought with the X55 5G modem. The company can then decide to put the 5G antenna's in or not. The price increase is the SoC with the modem rather than the antenna's.
  • If I were to upgrade to a new device it would be to the 7T.
    I wonder if the ZTE Axon 10 Pro or the Oneplus Z device would be the better option, especially if it retains much of the 8 but with 4g to keep the price down.
  • Odd review. Seems a very good phone at a very good price. Are these reviews impartial?
  • Did you read the review? He literally states it's a very good phone.
  • Yes. See the title?
  • Reviews are not impartial, how could they be. But as he is recommending buying the ONEPLUS 7T over the ONEPLUS 8 I don't think we can accuse this site of having an anti ONEPLUS agenda. OnePlus continue to sell the 7T on their website.
  • There's no such thing as an impartial review.
  • The iPhone 11 is a better deal than the OnePlus 8 and for maybe $30 more you're getting 5 years of software support, wireless charging, water resistance, a better camera with the only trade offs being an LCD display, only hd resolution and just 2 cameras. I know the OnePlus 8 has better specs (I love Oxygen OS) than the iPhone 11 but the iPhone 11 is the better value of the 2 phones and the SE 2 is even cheaper and you're still getting the A13 bionic chip and pretty much the same experience except with an outdated design.
  • Beno - I would mostly agree with that, except it should be mentioned that the SE has the camera from the iPhone 8 instead of the 11. If the camera is a priority, then it would be better to get the 11 for a little more.
  • Both have advantages and disadvantages. The 8 has a better, bigger screen, is $50 cheaper and comes with 5G. If you are talking longevity of a device don't discount 5G. Of course the iP 11 will be supported longer but it will likely be dog slow in three years.
  • Perfectly happy with my 7T.
  • The OnePlus 8 doesn't make any sense. The 8 pro should have been $799
  • A phone with the same specs as the Samsung S Ultra that costs $1400 for $800? Get real, what kind of world do you live in?
  • Tx-tuff - You see that a lot. A Samsung can have an absurd price and multiple defects, but when another phone comes along with the same specs and none to few defects, and a more reasonable price, it will be called too expensive. It baffles me as well.
  • They already are selling them at those prices in certain countries.... https://www.androidcentral.com/oneplus-8-and-8-pro-launch-absurdly-low-p... https://www.androidcentral.com/oneplus-8-and-8-pro-india-official 
  • random iPhone guy most of us don't like ios, hence us being in an Android site. IF we wanted an iPhone we would have bought one already they have been out since 2007. Read the room bud.
  • I agree with this statement.
  • They upgraded the camera software and it can take better photos than the 7T; the IP68 rating is huge; and wireless charging is also a huge deal.
  • The 8 does not have an IP rating or wireless charging. I think you are getting confused with the 8Pro.
  • That's what happens when you release a phone every 6 months. 
  • I've just finally made the switch from Windows Phone to Android and the device I've chosen to do that with is the OnePlus 7t Pro, why? Because the punch hole camera on the 8 was a deal breaker for me, that and I got a good deal on it and 5g isn't a huge selling point yet.
  • I think ppl are going to have to start realizing there isn't much left to do to the smartphone, and the improvements will be getting smaller and smaller, and the innovations are starting to dry up. People will have to find another thing to preoccupy themselves with.