OnePlus 5 vs. Galaxy S8: David Takes on Goliath

The OnePlus 5 has entered the smartphone fray, and it is a midrange monster that’s ready to take on the Galaxy S8.

Starting at $479, the OnePlus 5 isn’t just $150 to $270 less than the Galaxy S8, it comes to this battle armed with the same fast processor, even more RAM and a dual-lens camera, something the S8 lacks. Meanwhile, Samsung’s 5.8-inch phone has won rave reviews for its edge-to-edge Infinity Display, sleek design and great photo quality, as well as a number of special features. 

Is the S8 worth the extra money, or should you opt for the OnePlus 5? Here’s how the phones compare.

Design

Judging on looks alone, Samsung's Galaxy S8 is the clear winner. With its subtle curved sides, tiny bezels and sleek glass design, the S8 isn't just pretty, it's probably one of the best-looking phones ever made.

OnePlus 5 (left) and Samsung Galaxy S8 (right)

OnePlus 5 (left) and Samsung Galaxy S8 (right)

On the other hand, while I wouldn't call the OnePlus 5 ugly, it's pretty derivative. Similarities between the OnePlus 5's design and Apple’s current iPhones can't be denied, especially when compared to the iPhone 7 Plus and its dual rear cameras.

OnePlus 5 (left) and Samsung Galaxy S8 (right)

OnePlus 5 (left) and Samsung Galaxy S8 (right)

But for many people who just want a solid, well-built device, that may not be a big deal. We also want to give OnePlus a bit of kudos for its Alert Slider, which is an overall better version of the iPhone's mute switch.

Winner: Galaxy S8

The Specs


OnePlus 5Samsung Galaxy S8Samsung Galaxy S8+
Price$479/$539$625 unlocked, $750 via carriers$725 unlocked, $850 via carriers
ColorsMidnight black, slate grayBlack, gray, silverBlack, gray, silver
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 835Qualcomm Snapdragon 835Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM and Storage6GB/64GB or 8GB/128GB4GB/64GB4GB/64GB
Display5.5-inch full HD AMOLED (1920 x 1080)5.8-inch WQHD+ AMOLED (2960 x 1440)6.2-inch WQHD+ AMOLED (2960 x 1440)
Rear Camera16-MP + 20-MP with 2x optical zoom12-MP12-MP
Front Camera16-MP8-MP8-MP
Water ResistanceNoYes, IP68Yes, IP68
Expandable StorageNoYes, microSDYes, microSD
Battery Test
(hr:min)
13:0610:3911:11

Display

Both the OnePlus 5 and the Galaxy S8 have gorgeous AMOLED screens. However, even though the OP5's color range is a bit wider (220 percent sRGB for the OP5, versus 183 percent for the S8), the S8's screen is brighter, more accurate and looks even sharper, thanks to the higher 2960 x 1440 WQHD+ resolution on Samsung’s phones. 

Samsung Galaxy S8 (left) and OnePlus 5 (right)

Samsung Galaxy S8 (left) and OnePlus 5 (right)

Additionally, the S8's extra-wide 18.5:9 aspect ratio gives you a slightly bigger screen without affecting the phone's overall size, which leaves the S8 feeling more compact and potentially a better buy for people who like smaller phones.

MORE: Best Smartphones on the Market Now

On the other end of the spectrum, the S8+ offers a significantly larger 6.2-inch screen in a body that measures 6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches, which isn't much bigger than the OnePlus 5's 6.07 x 2.91 x 0.29-inch dimensions. However, you will still need a pay a premium for that big screen, because at $725, the S8+ costs an extra $100, compared with the standard S8.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Cameras

While the S8 has the best rear camera of the two phones, that gap is narrowing. In a number of shooting conditions, the OnePlus 5 captured photos that were almost indistinguishable from those of the Galaxy S8.

In front, we actually prefer the OnePlus 5's 16-MP selfie cam to the S8's 8-MP shooter, thanks to its higher resolution and less aggressive beauty mode.

The one area where the OnePlus 5 stumbles is with its 2x optical zoom. By putting a second camera on the back, OnePlus could have given photographers even more flexibility to get higher quality shots from farther away. 

MORE: OnePlus 5 Review: A Midrange Masterpiece

Unfortunately, test shots from the optical zoom lens didn't look much better than the comparison pics we took using the 2x digital zoom on a Galaxy S8. That’s a pretty big disappointment, as the dual-rear lenses could have given the OnePlus 5 a real leg up over most other Android phones, including the Galaxy S8.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Performance

If you take a quick look at the two phones’ specs, the first thing that jumps out is the OnePlus 5 has the same amount of storage, the same processor and even more RAM than the Galaxy S8, even though it costs significantly less. 

That's an advantage that carries over to performance, as the OnePlus 5's Geekbench 4 score of 6,542 topped the S8's score of 6,124. The OnePlus 5's extra memory also lets you run more apps in the background.

The OnePlus 5 also beat the Galaxy S8 on web-browsing performance, as it turned in a score of 79.19 on the Jetstream 1.1 Javascript test. The S8 notched 67.5.

Finally, the OnePlus 5 scored higher on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, hitting 39,576. The S8 mustered 35,903.

It’s important to note that OnePlus has been accused of cheating on various benchmarks by artificially boosting its phone’s performance. But the company says that “it has allowed benchmark apps to run in a state similar to daily usage.”

Battery Life

We expect battery efficiency to go up between generations, but not this much. With a time of 13 hours and 6 minutes on our web-surfing test, the OnePlus 5's battery life rose by 2.5 hours over the 10:30 we got on the old OnePlus 3T.

At 10:39, the Galaxy S8 lasts almost an hour more than the 9:46 smartphone average, but it doesn't have anywhere near the endurance of the OnePlus 5. The S8+ fares slightly better with a time of 11:11, but if battery life is a big factor for you, the choice in phones is clear.

MORE: Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life

The OnePlus 5 wins when it comes to charging, too, thanks to its Dash Charge tech that can refill its battery even faster than Samsung's Adaptive Fast Charge system.

Winner: OnePlus 5

Special Features

This is where the S8 really shines, and it's a big reason why Samsung's flagship costs so much more than the OnePlus 5. We're talking about a myriad of features, including IP68 water-resistance, Bluetooth 5.0, a built-in virtual home button and Samsung's Bixby digital assistant.

With a built-in microSD card slot, the Galaxy S8 does give you more freedom when it comes to storage if you hit your 64GB allotment. The base OnePlus 5 tops out at 64GB, while the  higher-spec model sports a maximum 128GB of space. (Even that $530 phone costs less than the S8, though.)

There's also Samsung's huge range of Galaxy S8 add-ons and accessories to consider, whether it’s the DeX dock that'll turn the S8 into a desktop or Samsung's portable Gear VR headset.

The OnePlus 5 sports a dual SIM tray, which could be handy for frequent travelers. Some versions of the Galaxy S8 also come with dual SIM functionality, but not the model available to U.S. consumers.

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 5's craziest accessory is a carbon-fiber case. That’s OK if you don’t need anything beyond a phone — and many users do not. But it’s harder to overlook the OnePlus 5’s lack of water resistance.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Value

Both the Galaxy S8 and the S8+ are two of the most premium phones on the market. The S8 costs $624 unlocked and it’s about $750 through major carriers. The larger S8+ is $724 unlocked and costs from $790 to $850 through service providers.

OnePlus 5TView Deal

Samsung Galaxy S8View Deal

The OnePlus 5 may be the most expensive phone OnePlus has ever offered, but the base model still costs less than $500. Even if you opt for the souped-up version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, you’re still paying just $539, or about $100 less than you would for the Galaxy S8. 

Winner: OnePlus 5

Bottom Line 

The best way to think about these two phones is with a good ol’ car analogy. If the S8 is a Ferrari, then the OnePlus 5 is a BMW M3 or maybe a Nissan GTR. The OnePlus 5 may not have the high-end looks, clever features or boatload of extra bells and whistles of Samsung's phone. But it offers blazing performance, a solid design and way better endurance along with a price tag that's 25 percent cheaper.


OnePlus 5Galaxy S8
Design
X
Display
X
Cameras
X
PerformanceX
Battery LifeX
Special Features
X
ValueX
Overall34

The Galaxy S8 remains our top smartphone pick because it truly gives you the best of everything — design, features, display — for a premium price. But the OnePlus 5 delivers on enough features to make it a compelling value for users who prize a long-lasting, powerful phone.

Credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide. Illustration: Tom's Guide