These days, if you’re in the market for a new smartphone, there are so many options it can make your head spin. Two of the newest phones released — the OnePlus 8 and the iPhone 11 Pro — have captured the spotlight with their innovative designs and advanced specifications. Neither is what you’d call a budget phone, but there’s still somehow a $300 price difference between them.
We take a look at their specs and other attributes and compare how each device performs across some major smartphone functionality categories — design, display, performance, camera, software, and price — to help you decide which is the best phone for you.
Like many flagship handsets, the OnePlus 8 features a glass body around a metal frame, with curved front and back edges. It comes in Onyx Black, Glacial Green, or Interstellar Glow. While slim and lightweight, the OnePlus 8 has a much larger footprint than the iPhone 11 Pro, the smallest handset in the iPhone 11 series. Its size and shape make it more comfortable to hold than most larger phones. While screen resolution between the two is nominally comparable — 402 versus 458 pixels per inch — images are bound to look sharper on the iPhone’s smaller screen. The OnePlus matte Gorilla Glass finish is fairly fingerprint resistant, while still capturing the light nicely. The OnePlus 8 has a 2,400 x 1,080-pixel resolution Fluid AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate but does not have a motion-smoothing feature. Our reviewer found it less than stunning to look at and not as impressive as the competition.
While the iPhone 11 Pro doesn’t meet the OnePlus specs in some respects — at least on paper — in practice it more than makes up for the deficiencies. The iPhone 11 Pro may stick with its traditional iPhone design, but it doubles the previous generation’s contrast ratio, enhances HDR, and raises brightness to 1,200 nits. The display is easy to view both indoors and out with dynamic lighting and vivid colors. The OnePlus offers twice as much RAM and storage, even in its base configuration, but it’s not enough to win it the category.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro
Performance, battery life, and charging
The OnePlus 8 battery has a 4,300mAh capacity and features the Warp Charge 30W rapid charge system. The iPhone 11 Pro’s battery spec is lower at 3,046mAh. Our review found the OnePlus 8’s charging impressively swift, charging the battery to 50% within 20 minutes, and up to a full charge in a little over an hour, while chugging along for a full day under heavy use. The OnePlus 8 also offers smart charge optimization, which lets the phone learn your routine and optimize its charging schedule to accommodate it.
Despite the lower spec, in practice, we found that the iPhone 11 Pro battery lasted for more than a day — quite a bit more — with up to 25% capacity left at bedtime and the ability to delay recharging until mid-morning. The iPhone’s fast charging feature does fall behind the OnePlus 8 at only 18W; however, the iPhone supports wireless charging where the OnePlus 8 does not.
As far as performance is concerned, while we had no specific complaints about the OnePlus 8, Apple’s claim that the A13 Bionic chip has up to 20% faster CPU and GPU performance was borne out by our testing, making the iPhone 11 Pro the fastest phone we’ve seen so far for whatever you are doing. Apple’s A13 Bionic chip is widely considered superior to the OnePlus’ Snapdragon 865 when considering GPU, CPU, and power efficiency, though Qualcomm’s Snapdragon does an admirable job with artificial intelligence computation and machine learning.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro
It’s been said, only half-seriously, that mobile phones are actually cameras that let you make calls, send texts, and play games. The OnePlus 8 has a triple-lens camera with a 48-megapixel f/1.75 main sensor, a 16-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide lens, and a 2-megapixel f/2.4 macro lens, plus a 16-megapixel selfie camera around the front. That’s pretty impressive, and overall the images from the OnePlus 8 are more than respectable. Yet, despite it producing overall decent pictures, the OnePlus 8’s camera has no knockout features to distinguish it from other mobile cameras. Sadly, the 16-megapixel selfie camera is not as good as the competition, the macro camera lacks color and definition, night mode doesn’t quite cut it in the dark, and it lacks an optical zoom.
From the perspective of the iPhone 11 Pro’s superlative camera, the question is where to begin. With a triple camera setup that raises each lens in a metal bezel housed in a rather obtrusive mound configuration, it’s possible to criticize the design aesthetics of that setup. But the camera’s functionality works in its favor. Deep Fusion, a feature designed for lower-light shooting, employs machine learning algorithms that run a pixel-by-pixel analysis to optimize images for detail, color, and sharpness. The iPhone 11 Pro also enhances its Smart HDR tech, applying exposure adjustments to elements of a photo it recognizes — sky or flowers, for example. It features semantic rendering, which takes a series of over- and under-exposed shots to create a balanced image with the best exposure and noise-free detail. And finally, the automatic Night mode just works without your having to do a thing. You can even use the iPhone 11 Pro camera to shoot a starry sky — a feat beyond the abilities of most smartphone cameras.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro
Software and updates
Comparing Android with iOS is not a fair fight: There are partisans on both sides and the judgment is both visceral and emotional. In short, there are iOS people and there are Android people and there’s a huge percentage who will not cross the line regardless of specific features offered in one or the other. OnePlus’ elegant OxygenOS skin for Android, with its neat slide-in screen powered by the Google Assistant, is a charming manufacturer skin. But it’s up against the iPhone 11 Pro with the slick, muscular iOS 13 — which has certainly taken its sweet time ironing out numerous launch issues. This is very much a personal choice between the two.
Regarding updates, there’s no competition. Android manufacturers have their own oblique timetable for updating to the latest Android OS version while Apple consistently releases free updates to all at specified dates so everyone can, if they choose, work from the same screen. Apple’s iOS updates also reliably span multiple generations of its handsets, thus future-proofing older phones — another point in its favor.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro
Apple typically does not add many special features to its series lineups — for Apple, the product lineup has all the special features built in. But it’s not farfetched to classify the iPhone’s Deep Fusion as a special feature that adds enormous value to the camera and the phone itself.
The OnePlus 8 adds 5G to the mix ahead of Apple, and though it’s useful only in specific geographical areas, at least it’s an option that future-proofs the handset somewhat. The OnePlus 8 also features a screen refresh rate of 90Hz, as opposed to the 60Hz on the Apple phone. Beyond that, as our review states, there are no killer features for this Android phone, but let’s give credit where it’s due.
The iPhone 11 Pro is currently available starting at $999. You can buy one from most U.S.-based carriers and at numerous retail outlets, including the Apple Store. The OnePlus 8 starts at $700, and it will be available only from Verizon and T-Mobile. If you want to avail yourself of 5G, you need to be in a geographical area that supports the new networking protocol. The OnePlus 8 released on April 21 in Europe/U.K. and will release on April 29 in the U.S.
Overall winner: iPhone 11 Pro
In the immortal words of our Digital Trends’ reviewer: “The iPhone 11 Pro is the best phone money can buy.” That means it’s better than any other Apple iPhone and better than any Android competitor — even the supremely well-qualified likes of the OnePlus 8. OnePlus has traditionally prided itself on offering high-end features at reasonable prices, and its inclusion of 5G, the 90Hz refresh rate, and more RAM and storage capacity are good examples of that. With a price tag $300 lower than the iPhone, you get plenty of value for your money from an admirable Android phone. But it still doesn’t beat the conveniently sized and richly outfitted iPhone 11 Pro.
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