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.
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.
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.
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.
Makes more sense
90% of the OnePlus 8 for a lot less cash
The OnePlus 8 is shiny, new, and exciting, but it's honestly a hard recommendation in a world where the OnePlus 7T still exists. The two phones are virtually identical, both offering a 90Hz AMOLED display, blazing-fast performance, 30W wired charging, and Oxygen OS based on Android 10. Unless you absolutely need 5G (which you don't), the 7T just makes more sense.
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