2020 is almost drawing to a close, but the smartphone industry still hasn’t run out of eye-catching flagships to launch. October saw the release of (among others) the Google Pixel 5 and the OnePlus 8T, both of which offer a range of enticing features at a reasonable price level. The Pixel 5 continues Google’s fine tradition of delivering competition-beating cameras, while the OnePlus 8T is a strong all-rounder that lets you recharge its battery faster than you can make a hot meal. They’re both lovely phones, but we need to know: Which one is better?
We answer this question by comparing the Pixel 5 and OnePlus 8T in a direct head-to-head. We look at their specs, designs, displays, performance, cameras, software, and special features, while counting which one wins in most categories. This should help you decide which Android flagship is more to your taste.
|Google Pixel 5||OnePlus 8T|
|Size||144.7 x 70.4 x 8 mm (5.70 x 2.77 x 0.31 inches)||160.7 x 74.1 x 8.4 mm (6.33 x 2.92 x 0.33 inches)|
|Weight||151 grams (5.33 ounces)||188 grams (6.63 ounces)|
|Screen size||6.0-inch OLED capacitive touchscreen||6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED|
|Screen resolution||2340 x 1080 pixels (432 pixels per inch)||2400 x 1080 pixels (402 pixels per inch)|
|Operating system||Android 11||OxygenOS 11/Android 11|
|MicroSD card slot||No||No|
|Tap-to-pay services||Google Pay||Google Pay|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865|
|Camera||Dual lens 12-megapixel wide, 16MP ultrawide rear, 8MP front||Quad 48-megapixel wide, 16MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, and 2MP monochrome rear, 16MP front|
|Video||4k at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 30 fps||4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps|
|Bluetooth version||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.1|
|Ports||USB-C, 3.1||USB-C, 3.1|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, rear-mounted||Yes, in-display|
|Water resistance||IP68||No official rating|
Fast charging (18W)
Reverse wireless charging
Fast charging (65W)
Qi wireless charging
|App marketplace||Google Play Store||Google Play Store|
|Network Support||Verizon, Google Fi||T-Mobile|
|Colors||Just Black, Sorta Sage||Aquamarine Green, Lunar Silver|
|Review score||4 out of 5 stars||3.5 out of 5 stars|
Design, display, and durability
The Pixel 5 finds Google leaving behind the ugliness of the Pixel 4 and 4 XL for something more modern and refined. It loses the glaring forehead bezel of those earlier devices for a more streamlined edge-to-edge display, interrupted only by a punch-hole selfie-camera in the top-left corner. It’s also made of aluminum, so unlike the fairly cheap-looking plastic of the Pixel 4a, it does look and feel a little more sophisticated, even if it isn’t the most attractive flagship around.
Something similar can be said for the OnePlus 8T, which is made of an aluminum frame and glass back that gives it a lovely glossy appearance, while still resisting unsightly fingerprint smudges. The 8T also has OnePlus shifting the camera module to the corner of the phone’s rear, making it look not too dissimilar from the Samsung Galaxy S20, for example. This may not be original, but there’s no question that OnePlus’ device looks very nice, and is probably just a tad more attractive than the Pixel 5.
Both phones also offer displays that are nearly as good as each other. The Pixel 5’s 6-inch OLED screen has a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, which works out at 432 pixels per inch. The OnePlus 8T can’t match the Pixel’s ppi count, but with a 6.55-inch AMOLED display, its 2400 x 1080 pixels nonetheless look very impressive in the flesh. It’s made even more impressive by its 120Hz refresh rate, which compared to the Pixel 5’s maximum of 90Hz, makes everything run even more smoothly.
The OnePlus 8T slips up a little by not having an official IP rating. The Pixel 5, on the other hand, comes with an IP68 rating, indicating it can withstand immersion in up to 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes. Still, how many of us go swimming with our phones? It can’t be that many, so because the OnePlus 8T is slightly prettier and has a noticeably more vivid display, we’re giving this opening round to it.
Winner: OnePlus 8T
Performance, battery life, and charging
Performance is one area where the OnePlus 8T has a clear and obvious advantage over the Pixel 5. It comes with 12GB of RAM (8GB outside of the United States) and the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, while the Pixel packs 8GB of RAM and the decidedly less powerful Snapdragon 765. There’s no question that Google’s phone will perform a little less speedily as a result, and won’t handle the latest games and more intensive tasks as well as the 8T.
Both smartphones come with 128GB of internal memory as standard, although it seems that OnePlus and T-Mobile are selling the 8T in the U.S. with 256GB of memory by default. This is good if you tend to take stacks and stacks of photos, although you may be disappointed to hear that neither device contains a MicroSD card slot.
As far as battery life goes, both phones are pretty evenly matched. The OnePlus 8T has a bigger capacity at 4,500mAh compared to 4,080mAh, but our review found that it doesn’t last quite as long as you’d expect with a battery of this size. The Pixel 5, on the other hand, comfortably lasts over a day under heavy usage, while it can go for longer if you use it less intensively.
However, OnePlus has upped its charging game with the 8T, which boasts 65W fast charging, which is capable of getting you to 60% in 15 minutes and 100% in about 39 minutes. This isn’t something the Pixel can match with its 18W fast charging, so in addition to the superior CPU performance, this is another victory for OnePlus’ smartphone.
Winner: OnePlus 8T
It’s now fairly common knowledge that Google’s phones offer truly excellent cameras, and in this respect, the Pixel 5 certainly isn’t an exception. It features a 12.2-megapixel wide lens and a 16MP ultrawide lens, which may not seem that impressive compared to the quad-lens setups you can find on other phones. That said, these nevertheless provide you with pretty much everything you’ll ever need from a camera.
Thanks to Google’s artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning software, the Pixel 5 is capable of taking great photos in virtually any situation. Colors are pleasingly bright and the dynamic range is usually very well balanced, while the A.I.-based Super Res Zoom compensates for the lack of a dedicated telephoto or macro lens. The phone also adds a few new editing and software features — such as a Cinematic video mode and the ability to choose light sources in Portrait Mode — that put it ahead of its predecessors.
By contrast, the OnePlus 8T flaunts more impressive specs but doesn’t quite deliver the same level of goods. It houses a 48MP wide lens, a 16MP ultrawide, a 5MP macro (for close-ups), and a fun 2MP monochrome lens. It is a very good camera phone in its own right, but the results aren’t as impressive in comparison to the Pixel 5, with the additional macro and monochrome lenses being more of a nice gimmick than something you’ll use to take high-quality pics.
Both the Pixel 5 and the OnePlus 8T can capture 4K video at 60 fps, as well as 1080p video at 240fps. This is a very welcome feature to have, but because the Pixel 5 has a better camera overall, we’re giving this round to Google’s phone.
Winner: Google Pixel 5
Software and updates
Being Android smartphones, the Pixel 5 and OnePlus 8T offer similar software, but with some subtle differences. The Pixel 5 runs off Android 11, which has improved on its predecessor by adding a native screen recorder, improved media controls (moving them under the quick settings menu), and changes to conversations and notification bubbles. By contrast, the OnePlus 8T operates on OxygenOS 11, which is OnePlus’ own proprietary skin of Android 11. In other words, it’s Android 11 with some helpful modifications, such as optimization for one-handed use, an updated Dark Mode, and a customizable always-on screen.
It’s arguable that OxygenOS 11 is a little more usable than Android 11 itself, but we’re not going to quibble on this one. That said, what’s less controversial is that the Pixel 5 will almost certainly receive updates more promptly than the OnePlus 8T, given that it’s a Google phone. It’s also possible that it may be supported for longer, so we’re going to give this round to the Pixel.
Winner: Google Pixel 5
Both phones support 5G networks, with one important distinction. The Pixel 5 is compatible with faster mmWave bands and with the slower (but longer-range) sub-6Hz bands, while the OnePlus 8T works only with sub-6Hz. OnePlus’ phone also has the weakness of being supported by only T-Mobile in the United States, so your options will be limited in terms of choosing the best possible network for it.
The two phones don’t have many special features beyond this, at least none that’s genuinely show-stopping. The Pixel 5 comes with some Google-only functionality, such as the A.I.-based call-screening feature, Smart Reply in messages, and the ability to use Live View in the Google Maps app.
As for the OnePlus 8T, it offers the aforementioned 65W fast charging and a 120Hz refresh rate. However, because these are features related to other categories, and because the Pixel 5 offers wider 5G support, we’re giving this round to Google’s device.
Winner: Google Pixel 5
Price and availability
The Pixel 5 is available from Google for $699 and will ship in the U.S. starting on October 29. It will be supported by Verizon, Google Fi, and AT&T, and you’ll also be able to buy it from Amazon.
The OnePlus 8T is available now from OnePlus for $749. It’s supported by only T-Mobile in the U.S., while it’s being sold by certain major retailers such as Amazon.
Overall winner: Google Pixel 5
It was a fair fight, but the Pixel 5 is a better smartphone overall. It carries one of the best cameras you could possibly buy on a smartphone, while its excellent software, strong battery life, full 5G support, and Google-only features also help to push it ahead of the OnePlus 8T. The 8T certainly is a very good phone, with its superior performance (and charging) likely to win over some fans. However, because it comes out on top in more categories, we have to give this head-to-head to the Pixel 5.
- OnePlus 9 review: Ultimate performance with a middling camera
- The best Android phones for 2021
- Samsung Galaxy A71 5G vs. OnePlus Nord: Midrange phone battle
- Motorola Edge Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: Going beyond big
- OnePlus 9 vs. iPhone 12: Is the new flagship killer worth the money?