This year’s hotly anticipated OnePlus release is about to go up against the cream of the Android crop, pitching its “flagship killer” mantra against some flagships priced several hundred dollars higher. Current Android smartphones don’t come much better – or more expensive – than Samsung’s Galaxy S8, so just how close to killing the king of the flagships can the OnePlus 5 come? Let’s find out in this quick look at the OnePlus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S8.
Spec showdown: OnePlus 5 vs the competition
7 hours ago
Users of the Galaxy S8 will probably point to its design as the best part of the phone. The infinity display is definitely a sight to behold, not just because of its curved sides that allow for easier handling, but also because it is nearly free of bezels on all sides. The result has been an enjoyable 18.5:9 display at Quad HD resolution that looks good in its skin. And though the home button might have gone away, it gives way to an under-glass home button and an additional hardware button – the Bixby button. This rather controversial button activates the still currently unfinished Bixby voice assistant and, for some users, is a little too easy to mistake for a volume button.
Speaking of extra inputs, OnePlus returns its highly tactile and useful Alert Slider to the OnePlus 5, in a body that is slightly different from before and has its own share of controversy. While we will not go so far to say that the OnePlus 5 looks very much like the iPhone 7 Plus, we do recognize a couple of the cues that it took from its iOS competitor – mainly, in the antenna lines and, of course, the dual camera placement and style. Up front, the phone is still decidedly OnePlus, with the same capacitive array that includes a ceramic home button/fingerprint combo underneath the 1080p display.
As mentioned, the display puts the Galaxy S8 above the OnePlus in the handling department, but also on paper it is the higher powered panel. The Galaxy S8 display is already bigger than the 5.5 inch flat panel on the OnePlus, which is still rocking their AMOLED 1080p display well. In terms of features, there are a number of swipes and gestures that can be done in standby to fire up the camera and other shortcuts.
One of my favorite features, however, is the Reading Mode – a feature aside from the blue light filters found in either device that desaturates the display to make it more comfortable for reading, much like a Kindle. As a Kindle user, I will be testing this feature against the e-reader but I already enjoyed switching to it for longer reads. It’s certainly nice to have since the OnePlus 5 doesn’t sport a couple of useful Samsung display features like the Edge UX or the Always on Display.
Underneath the hood, power is definitely not wanting on either phone as the Snapdragon 835 powers both of them, with the latest Exynos chipset also making an appearance for Samsung depending on your market. Despite its global reach, OnePlus is actually taking a page out of an increasingly common Chinese spec book by providing not only more than 4 GB of RAM, but super high capacity onboard storage to go along with it.
Is the OnePlus 5 still a good deal with a starting price of $479?
7 hours ago
The highest spec’d phone of the bunch will have 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage for a price that is less than either of the Galaxy S8 devices. Spend $60 less and you’ll still get 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. There shouldn’t be much of a performance gap between these two powerful phones, however, as we have had a good time with the Galaxy S8 since its inception and expect the same from the OnePlus 5. We’ll be bringing you more detailed testing in the weeks to come.
Software is one of the main reasons for the sense of speed, or lack thereof, in both phones. While Samsung’s UX has definitely slimmed down in more recent iterations, it is still the feature rich and sometimes redundant user experience that can get bogged down by its own capabilities.
Samsung apps accompany the already existing Google app ecosystem, for example, with Bixby and Samsung Notes sitting right alongside Google Assistant and Google Drive applications. With all that it can do, we give credit to to Samsung for making its user interface at least look as clean as it possibly can be. Our main objective for the upcoming full VS will focus on the impending updates to Bixby, in which voice input and better Vision recognition are part of the menu.
On the other hand, Oxygen OS reaches its latest edition and adds refinements that include not only a Nougat-like look and feel, but also some of OnePlus’ own flavors. Shelf returns and is still a nice place to put one’s widgets so that they are out of the way, and we’ve already mentioned some of the available gestures and display features. There really isn’t too much else that this updated version of OnePlus’ OS brings that is overtly different, but that might actually play to the strength of the underdog competitor. After all, we are proponents of buying phones that have the features we will definitely use instead of the features we will never touch after the initial setup.
Which finally brings us to the cameras – as I mentioned before, a fuller VS comparison will happen later and will include a detailed picture analysis. For now though, we will highlight the fact that the Galaxy S8 is one of the flagships this year that is missing that increasingly key addition – a secondary camera. The OnePlus 5 manages to tuck in a 20 MP 2x zoom telephoto lens right next to its 16 MP main shooter in order to bring its own version of zoom and portrait mode to the Android masses.
The result is a picture experience that remains very familiar to previous software, meaning that swipes and minimal presses on the viewfinder are par for the course. We applaud the manual pro mode, however, which includes a toggle for RAW capture and even a histogram so that experienced photogs have those tools at the ready. Portrait mode is sure to be a hit among OnePlus 5 users, as a combination of the zoom, high resolution capture, and software bokeh effects will make capturing new profile pictures pretty damn easy.
Compare this to the Samsung camera, which is a fixed 12 MP dual pixel camera that is similar to last year’s well received shooters from the Galaxy S7 and the Note 7. There is little to complain about for good point-and-shoot capabilities, though Samsung makes sure to put in a bunch of features and its own Pro Mode. The front facing camera here is one of the only shooters to include autofocus, but OnePlus is trying to up the selfie game by making their front facing shooter a whopping 16 MP monster. Again, we will be making fuller comparisons in our upcoming VS pitting these two camera combos against one another.
There is a lot to like about both these phones and both have a lot to offer. The OnePlus 5 is available for a lesser price outright, making it the appealing choice for anyone that wants to go outside the typical flagship spectrum or that needs to keep an eye on the bottom line. But if you can afford the extra couple of Benjamins you’re unlikely to be disappointed by the Galaxy S8 and its luxurious display and design. Once Bixby finally arrives in full, we will have an even more in-depth look at these phones soon, so stay tuned for that and let us know which phone you’re leaning towards in the comments below.