OnePlus 5 vs. Galaxy S8: All the power at half the price?

oneplus 5 vs galaxy s8 back
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
It’s not easy to choose your next smartphone when there are so many attractive options on the market. All the bargain hunters out there will be excited to get their hands on the OnePlus 5. It’s packed with powerful hardware intended to challenge the flagships, but undercut on price. The big question is whether compromises are required to achieve that low price. Does Samsung’s impossibly stylish Galaxy S8 do enough to justify the extra expense? Let’s take a closer look at these contenders, as we pit the OnePlus 5 vs. the Galaxy S8 to find out which is right for you.

Specs

OnePlus 5

OnePlus 5

Samsung Galaxy S8

google pixel vs samsung galaxy s8 thumb

Size 154.2 × 74.1 × 7.25 mm (6.07 × 2.92 × 0.28 in) 148.9 × 68.1 × 8.0 mm (5.86 × 2.68 × 0.31 in)
Weight 5.39 ounces (153 grams) 5.46 ounces (155 grams)
Screen 5.5-inch AMOLED 5.8-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED
Resolution 1,920 × 1,080 pixels 2,960 × 1,440 pixels
OS Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat
Storage 64GB or 128GB 64 (U.S.) 128GB (International)
SD Card Slot No Yes
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM  6GB or 8GB 4GB
Connectivity GSM / HSPA / LTE GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
Camera  Front 8MP, Rear Dual 16MP and 20MP Front 8MP, Rear 12MP with OIS
Video 4K 4K
Bluetooth Yes, version 5 Yes, version 5
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor Barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, heart rate, proximity sensor, iris scanner
Water Resistant No Yes, IP68
Battery 3,300mAh 3,000mAh
Charger USB Type-C USB Type-C
Quick Charging Yes Yes
Wireless Charging No Yes, Qi and PMA
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Color offerings Black, gray Black, silver, gray, blue, gold
Availability Unlocked, OnePlus AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
DT Review 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Both the OnePlus 5 and the Galaxy S8 are packing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, which is powerful, efficient, and fast. The glaring difference that immediately jumps out from the spec sheet is the RAM. The Galaxy S8 makes do with 4GB of RAM, while the OnePlus 5 comes with 6GB or 8GB of RAM. In theory, the higher RAM should mean that more apps can be held in active memory, so if you switch between apps, they won’t have to be reloaded.

Winner: OnePlus 5

Design, display, and durability

galaxy s8 mini news samsung device 3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s not easy to distinguish the OnePlus 5 from Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus when you look from the back. Those antenna lines, the dual camera placement, and the prominent camera hump are all familiar – though, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The OnePlus 5 is certainly not an ugly phone. Whether you like it or not will come down to personal preference, but there can only be one winner in this category and it’s not the OnePlus 5.

Samsung’s curved Infinity Display, along with the unusual 18.5:9 aspect ratio, maximizes your screen real estate, but packs it into a smaller body that’s easy to manage one-handed. The design is innovative, it looks gorgeous, and it feels great in the hand. By comparison, the OnePlus 5 looks a bit dated.

The screen is another big win for Samsung. At 5.8 inches, with a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440 pixels, it is bigger and much sharper than the 5.5-inch, 1,080p display in the OnePlus 5.

If that wasn’t enough, the Galaxy S8 is also more durable than the OnePlus 5, scoring an IP68 rating for dust- and water-resistance, which means it can be submerged in up to 5 feet for water for half an hour without sustaining damage. You’ll need to keep the OnePlus 5 dry. Both will probably require a case to survive encounters with the sidewalk, however.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Battery life and charging

On paper, there isn’t a great deal between the Galaxy S8 and OnePlus 5 in the battery department. The S8 has a 3,000mAh battery, while the OnePlus 5 has a slightly bigger 3,300mAh battery. They have the same power-efficient processor, but you may reasonably expect the S8’s superior screen to guzzle a little more power during the course of an average day.

Thankfully, both support speedy charging via USB Type-C ports. You can fully charge the S8 in around 90 minutes with adaptive fast charging. OnePlus’s Dash Charge system allows you to recover 60 percent of the battery in half an hour, but still takes around 90 minutes to fully charge.

The S8 supports wireless charging in the Qi or PMA format, which is a handy extra that you won’t find in the OnePlus 5, and enough to scrape the win in this category.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Camera

oneplus 5 camera tips and tricks app
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Samsung stuck with a 12-megapixel camera in the S8, with an f/1.7 aperture that’s great for low-light photography. The OnePlus 5 kicks thing up a notch or two with a dual main camera that combines a 16-megapixel lens with a 20-megapixel telephoto lens, both by Sony. This helps to create the same depth effect that won the iPhone 7 Plus camera so many plaudits. The OnePlus 5 camera also has an f/1.7 aperture. Around the front, both phones have perfectly capable 8-megapixel shooters. We’ll need time for a proper comparison, so we’re making this a tie.

Winner: Tie

Software

samsung galaxy s8 review device 12
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The S8 and the OnePlus 5 are running Android Nougat, but the newer OnePlus 5 will ship with the slightly fresher 7.1.1 flavor. We expect the S8 will be updated soon. Over the top, we have Samsung’s TouchWiz, compared to OxygenOS on the OnePlus 5.

Samsung’s restyled user interface is slick, attractive, and packed with a wealth of choice. Extras include iris scanning, a deep wealth of customization options, and the artificially intelligent assistant, Bixby, though we’re not entirely convinced of its usefulness over Google Assistant (you can still use Google Assistant). You’ll find some handy features in the Oxygen interface, too, but it has a more minimalist feel that’s closer to Google’s stock version of Android. Which one is better really comes down to personal preference, though OnePlus offers more system-level customization.

OnePlus is also more reliable with version updates — the OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3 were among the first smartphones to receive Android 7.0 Nougat last fall. For this, it takes the win.

Winner: OnePlus 5

Price and availability

You can buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 from all major carriers and a wide range of retailers, but it’s going to cost you $750 if you buy it upfront. Most people will opt for monthly payments, in which case you can walk away with a new S8 for $25 per month and no money down, but that does mean signing up to a 30-month contract.

The OnePlus 5 is much cheaper, with a starting price of $480 for the gray version, which has 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. It will work just fine on AT&T, T-Mobile and other GSM networks in the U.S., but not on Verizon or Sprint. If you want the black version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, then you’ll need to pay $540. You’ll have to buy directly from OnePlus and pay the full amount upfront.

OnePlus 5 Samsung Galaxy S8
AT&T $480 $750 or $25 per month for 30 months
Sprint N/A $750 or $31.25 per month for 24 months
T-Mobile $480 $750 or $30 per month for 24 months with a $30 down payment
Verizon N/A $720 or $30 per month for 24 months

The OnePlus 5 takes the win here because it is significantly cheaper than the Galaxy S8, but the lack of support for some networks and the fact you have to pay the full price upfront definitely muddies the waters.

Winner: OnePlus 5

Overall winner: OnePlus 5

The OnePlus 5 held its own and narrowly excelled. It brings the raw power of the Galaxy S8, but at a fraction of the cost. When picking an overall winner, we must go with the phone we would want to spend a lot of money on — and the OnePlus 5 offers a lot for under $500. If design and display are important to you, then you should think about the Galaxy S8. You might find that the OnePlus 5 performs slightly better, or fall in love with the dual camera, but the S8 is no slouch in either department. As a complete package, the OnePlus 5 just provides more bang for your buck.

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