Samsung is taking the fight to OnePlus in the affordable flagship segment.

Over the last three years, OnePlus has managed to carve out a niche for itself in the smartphone segment by offering top-of-the-line hardware for several hundred dollars less than the competition. This model proved to be incredibly popular, and we now have a wide range of options if you’re in the market for a feature-rich device that doesn’t break the bank. The culmination of those efforts is the OnePlus 5T, which is the device to beat in the $ 500 segment.

Samsung was trying to achieve a similar result with the Galaxy A series. Aimed at a younger audience, phones in the Galaxy A series offered features previously limited to the flagship Galaxy S lineup at a more affordable price point. Previous efforts in this space have been rather lacklustre, but with the Galaxy A8+ Samsung finally got its act together.

The A8+ brings the Infinity Display design language to the mid-range price bracket, and is the first Samsung device to feature dual front cameras. It’s clear that Samsung put a lot of thought into the features and the pricing, with the phone costing exactly the same as the OnePlus 5T in India, one of the A8+’s launch markets. With the phone set to make its global debut in the coming months, it’s time to see if it can mount a challenge to the OnePlus 5T.

Where both are evenly matched

Previous devices in the Galaxy A series featured underwhelming hardware, but that’s no longer the case with the Galaxy A8+. Simply put, the A8+ is Samsung’s best showing in this price bracket, and shows that the manufacturer is finally taking the mid-range segment seriously. To that effect, the A8+ comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, as well as an all-new Exynos 7885 Octa chipset.

The A8+ needs to field decent hardware to even be counted, and that’s because of what the OnePlus 5T is packing. Offering 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and powered by the Snapdragon 835, the OnePlus 5T is the phone to beat in this segment. Of course, hardware is just one aspect of a device, and increasingly it’s the software that affects the day-to-day performance. But more on that later.

Here’s how both devices match up on the hardware front:

Category Samsung Galaxy A8+ OnePlus 5T
Operating System Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Display 6.0-inch 18.5:9 Super AMOLED display
2220 x 1080, 411PPI pixel density
Gorilla Glass
6.01-inch 18:9 Optic AMOLED display
2160 x 1080, 401PPI pixel density
Gorilla Glass 5
Chipset Octa-core Exynos 7885 Octa
Two 2.2GHz Cortex A73 cores, six 1.6GHz Cortex A53 cores
14nm
Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Four Kryo 280 cores at 2.45GHz
Four Kryo 280 cores at 1.90GHz
10nm
GPU Mali-G71 Adreno 540
RAM 4GB/6GB 6GB/8GB LPDDR4X
Storage 32GB/64GB 64GB/128GB
Expandable Yes (dedicated microSD slot) No
Battery 3500mAh 3300mAh
Charging USB-C USB-C
Dash Charge
Water resistance IP68 No
Rear Camera 16MP, f/1.7, PDAF, auto HDR
1080p at 30fps
16MP f1.7 + 20MP f1.7, PDAF
4K at 30fps
Front Camera 16MP + 8MP (f1.9) with Live Focus
1080p video
16MP f2.0, EIS
1080p video
Connectivity Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, FM radio
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, NFC, Samsung Pay
Wi-Fi ac, dual band, 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0, aptX HD
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, NFC
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor (back) One-touch fingerprint sensor (back)
SIM Dual Nano SIM Dual Nano SIM
Dimensions 159.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm 156.1 x 75 x 7.3mm
Weight 191g 162g
Colors Black, Gold, Blue Midnight Black, Sandstone White, Lava Red

Both the A8+ and 5T feature Samsung AMOLED panels, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they’re evenly matched in this area. The 5T has more customization options in that you can set sRGB or DCI-P3 color profiles, and there’s a Reading Mode that turns the panel monochrome.

Both devices are on an equal footing when it comes to the cameras as well. Daylight shots on the 5T are more natural and true to life, but the A8+ has a slight edge when it comes to low-light conditions.

The 5T does a better job of lighting up a scene in low-light shots, but there’s far too much noise and the images look washed out. And the two cameras at the front of the A8+ give it a distinct edge when taking selfies.

Galaxy A8+ to the left, OnePlus 5T to the right

What the OnePlus 5T does better

The OnePlus 5T absolutely destroys the Galaxy A8+ when it comes to the overall software experience. OnePlus has been steadily optimizing OxygenOS over the course of the last year, and the added grunt of the Snapdragon 835 chipset means the 5T is in a league of its own in terms of performance.

And the fact that the device manages to do this while costing half as much as a Pixel 2 XL is a testament to OnePlus’ software optimization efforts. My review unit picked up the Android 8.0 Oreo update this week, and if you care about updates at all, you’ll want to go with the OnePlus 5T.

OnePlus 5T destroys the Galaxy A8+ when it comes to the software experience.

Samsung missed out on an easy opportunity to claim a win in this area, as the A8+ comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box. With the Galaxy S8 series and the Note 8 taking the priority when it comes to updates, it’s going to be a long wait before the A8+ makes the switch to Oreo.

The OnePlus 5T also wins out on the design front. At 7.3mm, the 5T is a whole millimeter thinner than the Galaxy A8+, and the Lava Red color option is downright gorgeous. The rounded edges, subtly curving back and 2.5D curved glass up front makes it a delight to use the 5T.

As for the A8+, the device has more similarities with the Pixel 2 XL or the LG G6 than the Galaxy S8+ from a design standpoint.

The flat display means you don’t have to worry about accidental touches, but the overall design of the A8+ leaves a lot to be desired. And considering it packs a 3500mAh battery — the same as the S8+ — there’s no reason for it to be so bulky. At 191g, it’s one of the heaviest phones I’ve used in a while, and is just unwieldy.

The 5T also has a more sensible location for the fingerprint sensor. The A8+ has the sensor located just underneath the camera module — a welcome change from the Note 8 — but it’s still higher up than where my index finger usually rests at the back.

I’m also not a fan of the speaker placement on the Galaxy A8+. It’s placed just above the power button on the right hand side of the device, and the position isn’t ideal if you do a lot of video calling or use the hands-free mode a lot.

You’re not going to find any issues with battery life on either device, but if you do need to top up in the middle of the day, the OnePlus 5T is a better choice thanks to Dash Charge. You easily get a few hours’ worth of usage from a 15-minute charge, and the phone itself doesn’t heat up while charging.

What the Galaxy A8+ does better

For its part, the Galaxy A8+ also has a few features that give it a leg up over the OnePlus 5T. However, these aren’t as easily quantifiable as benchmark figures. With the A8+ essentially acting as a device that offers flagship-class features, you get Samsung Pay and IP68 dust and water resistance.

Samsung Pay is the feature I miss the most when using a non-Samsung device.

Samsung Pay may not seem like that big a deal, but that’s the feature I miss the most when switching away from a Samsung device. If you’re like me and make a lot of purchases at retail stores, Samsung Pay is incredibly convenient and a lot of fun to use. What sets it apart is its ability to work with NFC-enabled readers as well as older machines via MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission).

The same goes for water resistance. If your OnePlus 5T falls into a pool of water, you’re looking at anywhere between $ 100 to $ 150 to get it fixed. In the case of the Galaxy A8+, you can just fish it out of the water and carry on with your day.

Which should you buy? OnePlus 5T

At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you’re looking for in a device. The Galaxy A8+ is targeted at a mainstream audience, and while it may not have the sheer performance of the OnePlus 5T, you do get a decent camera, design that’s styled after Samsung’s flagships, and water resistance.

However, the fact that the phone comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat makes it a non-starter. For now, the OnePlus 5T is still the device to beat.

See at OnePlus

« »