OnePlus 8 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S20+ Review Comparison – The Quest to Attain Parity
Since 2011, Samsung has been the world’s best-selling Android smartphone brand. Simultaneously, Samsung has also held the distinction of being the world’s top premium Android smartphone brand. Over the last four years, Huawei mounted a serious challenge to Samsung by achieving second place in both the aforementioned rankings and began to quickly close the gap to Samsung. However, the U.S. trade ban saga meant that Huawei’s international smartphone ambitions have largely been crippled since May 2019, leaving Samsung in a relatively secure position. Would things remain that way, though? OnePlus certainly had other ideas. The “Never Settle”-proclaiming startup brand (a subsidiary of the behemoth BBK Electronics company) was founded in 2014, and it quickly rose through the ranks in the premium smartphone market. With 2019’s OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus showed that they were serious in competing in the big leagues. The 7 Pro was only the beginning of OnePlus’ attempts to finally make a no-compromise flagship smartphone, with compromise-worthy flagship pricing. With the OnePlus 8 Pro, OnePlus is trying to convince the world that it finally has a smartphone competing with the very best, including the Samsung Galaxy S20+.
On paper, the OnePlus 8 Pro has what it takes to compete with a true premium flagship smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S20+. A flagship camera? Check. Wireless charging? Check. Certified water resistance? Check. A great display? Check. There are annoyances here and there, but there are no big gaps between the specifications of the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The pricing is the only real point of compromise. In places such as the U.S. and the EU, the OnePlus 8 Pro has seen a hefty price increase over its predecessors. However, in India, it’s comparatively affordable at a starting price point of ₹54,999 ($728), a price increase of only ₹2,000 over the OnePlus 7T Pro. This makes it ₹23,000 cheaper than the Galaxy S20+, which now costs ₹77,999 ($1,033). The price difference between the two phones varies greatly depending on regions, but in India, the value proposition is one-sided.
The logical question to ask would be: What is the catch? Can the OnePlus 8 Pro truly compete head-to-head with the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and come away as the winner, even when keeping the prices aside? Is it that much of a better value than its competitor? Let’s delve deeper into these questions in our exhaustive comparison below.
If you’re interested in our standalone reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and OnePlus 8 Pro, then you can find them at the following links:
- Samsung Galaxy S20+ Review: The standard bearer for flagship Android
- OnePlus 8 Pro Review – Never Settle on Hardware
About this comparison: OnePlus India sent me the 8GB RAM + 128GB storage variant of the OnePlus 8 Pro (IN2021) for review, and I have used the phone for a month. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ unit is an Indian 4G Exynos 990 8GB RAM + 128GB storage variant (SM-G985F), and it was sent by Samsung. I have used the Galaxy S20+ for four months so far. All opinions in this review are my own.
OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20+ Specifications
|Specification||OnePlus 8 Pro||Samsung Galaxy S20+|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|Colors, Materials, Finish||Cosmic Grey, Cosmic Black, Cloud Blue|
|Camera (Front)||16MP Sony IMX471, f/2.45, 1.0µm pixels, fixed focus, EIS, [email protected]||10MP, 80°, f/2.2, [email protected] video|
|Software||OxygenOS 10 based on Android 10||Android 10 with One UI 2.1|
|System-on-chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865|
|Storage||128/256 GB UFS 3.0|
|Battery||4510 mAh||4,500 mAh|
|Wired Charging||30W Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)|
15W USB-C Power Delivery (5V/3A)
|25W Super Fast Charging|
|Wireless Charging||Warp Charge 30 Wireless (30W), 10W Qi EPP|
Reverse Wireless Charging (3W)
|Fast Wireless Charging 2.0|
|Security||Optical under-display fingerprint scanner|
Software-based facial recognition
|Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor|
|Ports & Buttons||USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-C with video out (DisplayPort Alternate Mode)|
Dual nano-SIM slot
|USB 3.1 Type-C with video out (DisplayPort Alternate Mode)|
Hybrid nano-SIM slot
|Audio & Vibration||Dual stereo speakers. Audio tuned by Dolby Atmos.|
X-axis linear motor
|Stereo speakers and earphones sound by AKG|
Surround sound with Dolby Atmos technology (Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus included)
Linear Haptic Engine
The OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ both have excellent designs befitting of top-tier flagship phones. While they may look similar from the front, we can see significant differences even within the “2020 flagship smartphone design template”. Evaluating design is subjective, but OnePlus and Samsung have both left very little room for improvement here.
Let’s start with the OnePlus 8 Pro. The phone’s build quality is good. It’s a typical metal-and-glass sandwich, for sure, but the fit and finish are excellent. The phone’s metal frame is thin because of the aggressively curved display, which does raise a question regarding build quality. Apart from this, there’s not much else to say in a negative light. The alert slider—the best design feature of any OnePlus smartphone—functions as well as ever. The power and volume buttons have great feedback.
The same can be said for the Samsung Galaxy S20+, which also has a thin metal frame, even though its display isn’t as aggressively curved like that of the OnePlus 8 Pro (it’s more to do with the vestigial requirements of mmWave 5G). The Galaxy S20+ also has well-designed buttons and impeccable fit and finish. Objectively, I can’t fault either phone here.
The differences increase when we talk about the feel of the phones. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ only comes with a glossy finish glass back and a polished glossy metal frame, while the OnePlus 8 Pro’s materials depend on its color choices. The Onyx Black color comes with a glossy glass back and a matte sandblasted aluminum metal frame, while the other colors—Glacial Green and Ultramarine Blue respectively—feature a matte soft-touch frosted glass back and a sandblasted matte aluminum frame. I have made my preferences clear about this before, but let me reiterate that I prefer a matte glass finish by far. Not only does a matte coating make the phone feel far more premium in the hand (as it approximates the cold feel of sandblasted aluminum), but it also completely eliminates fingerprints, which are an annoying issue with glossy glass phones. Phones with matte glass are more slippery, but I consider that an acceptable trade-off.
OnePlus provides a choice here, while Samsung doesn’t. This is a win for OnePlus as frosted glass finishes are slowly becoming more popular, with OPPO, Realme, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Apple all adopting them in some of their phones’ variants. It would be good if Samsung could keep up here in the future, as glossy glass is a factor holding back the design of the otherwise premium Samsung Galaxy S20+.
The front design of both phones is similar. Both phones use a hole-punch front camera cutout, as OnePlus has moved on from using mechanical pop-up cameras. We are told the reason to move away from pop-up cameras was to be able to use internal space more efficiently. That argument has a lot of weight behind it, as the OnePlus 8 Pro is lighter than the OnePlus 7 Pro while having a bigger battery (4,510mAh vs. 4,000mAh), certified water resistance (IP68), and even a bigger display (6.78-inch 19.8:9 vs. 6.67-inch 19.5:9).
On the OnePlus 8 Pro, the hole punch front camera is placed on the top left side of the display, which is sub-optimal as it pushes the status bar icons to the right. The Samsung Galaxy S20+, on the other hand, has a center-placed hole-punch camera, which, personally speaking, looks much less distracting and doesn’t affect status bar icons. Another plus point for the Samsung Galaxy S20+ here is that its hole-punch camera cutout is significantly smaller than the OnePlus 8 Pro’s hole-punch camera cutout. It doesn’t make a huge difference in usability, but it does affect the usable screen estate as the OnePlus 8 Pro’s status bar is bigger than that of the Samsung Galaxy S20+.
Photo credits: Max Weinbach
Both phones have class-leading screen-to-body ratios. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s 90.8% screen-to-body ratio is marginally better than the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s 90.5% screen-to-body ratio because it fits a larger display in a body that is only slightly bigger. However, we are merely splitting hairs here. Smartphone front design has come a long way over the past three years as bezels have been continuously reduced with each new device generation, and both of these flagships are at the forefront of excellence in this respect.
The rear design of these two smartphones is completely different. The OnePlus 8 Pro uses OnePlus’s signature vertically stacked triple camera design, while the telephoto camera is placed on the left side of the stacked cameras. Underneath the telephoto camera, you’ll find the autofocus module and the LED flash. The Galaxy S20+, on the other hand, uses Samsung’s 2020 smartphone design template by going with a top left rectangular camera enclosure that houses three cameras, a ToF sensor, and the LED flash. The placement of the cameras inside the enclosure is noticeably asymmetrical, but it’s not a big deal. In terms of aesthetics, I would have to give the nod to OnePlus here as the vertical camera setup is more symmetrical and looks better to the eyes. This is a subjective evaluation, so users’ opinions will vary here.
Objectively, one thing that can’t be denied is that the OnePlus 8 Pro has a thick camera bump, while the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s camera bump is much thinner. OnePlus couldn’t have done much to fix this, as the 48MP primary camera of the phone has a relatively enormous 1/1.44″ sensor, and the ultra-wide-angle camera also has a big 1/1.7″ sensor. The Samsung Galaxy S20+’s 12MP primary and 64MP secondary cameras also have 1/1.7″ sensors, but 1/1.44″ is larger than 1/1.7″, which explains the thinner camera bump. The camera bumps of both devices aren’t something that most users should worry about in terms of durability, although it does mean that both phones will wobble on a flat surface.
The final factor that determines aesthetics is colors. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is offered in serious colors such as Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, and Cosmic Black, while the OnePlus 8 Pro has more color variety as it comes in Onyx Black, Glacial Green, and Ultramarine Blue. If you want a phone whose design doesn’t stand out, you will be happy with the Onyx Black color of the OnePlus 8 Pro as well as the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s Gray and Black finishes. However, if you want a phone that stands out on the basis of its aesthetics, it’s inarguable that OnePlus is ahead of Samsung here. The matte Glacial Green and Ultramarine Blue finishes of the OnePlus 8 Pro look phenomenal, although it’s a shame that the Ultramarine Blue color is limited to the high-end 12GB RAM + 256GB storage variant of the device. I have the Glacial Green variant of the OnePlus 8 Pro for review, and in terms of aesthetics, it easily defeats the Cosmic Gray color of my Samsung Galaxy S20+ unit. Again, users’ opinions may vary, but it’s worth remembering Samsung’s Prism color finishes on the Galaxy S10 series. They would have presented more serious competition to OnePlus’ efforts, but unfortunately, they are not offered in the Samsung Galaxy S20 series.
The OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ both use rounded curves to enhance the feeling in-hand. They are both large phones, to be sure, and you would expect both of them to feel similar in the hand. However, that’s not the case. The OnePlus 8 Pro is marginally thicker and heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S20+. In-hand feel is surprisingly different as the OnePlus 8 Pro feels a lot denser in the hand—the weight difference between the two (199 grams vs. 186 grams) feels higher than it actually is. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is 0.7mm thinner and 3.4mm shorter than the OnePlus 8 Pro. Again, these are marginal differences and it must be noted that although the OnePlus 8 Pro has a bigger display (6.78-inch 19.8:9 vs. 6.7-inch 20:9), the Samsung Galaxy S20+ feels a lot more comfortable to use in the hand. For such a big phone with an enormous display length, the OnePlus 8 Pro still has excellent ergonomics as its gently rounded corners help in-hand feel. Both phones do very well here, but the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s ergonomics are a step ahead.
The OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ both have IP68 ratings for water and dust resistance, the OnePlus 8 Pro being the first OnePlus flagship to feature such an IP rating. In terms of hardware features, it’s worth noting that the OnePlus 8 Pro lacks a microSD card slot for expandable storage, while the international variants of the Samsung Galaxy S20+ feature a hybrid SIM slot that can incorporate either two nano-SIMs or a nano-SIM plus a microSD card.
Let’s talk about the packaging and what’s in-the-box as well. The OnePlus 8 Pro comes with OnePlus’ proprietary 30W Warp Charge 30T charger, a USB 3.1 Type-C to Type-A cable, and a transparent glossy plastic case. The Samsung Galaxy S20+, on the other hand, comes with a 25W USB Type-C PD 3.0 charger with PPS and PDO, a USB Type-C to Type-C cable, a transparent glossy plastic case, and USB Type-C earphones tuned by AKG. Both phones don’t come with 3.5mm to USB Type-C audio adapters. I question OnePlus’ rationale for not bundling the adapter and wired earphones as this means buyers of the device not having Bluetooth earphones or USB Type-C earphones have no immediate way to actually listen to wired or wireless audio without making another purchase. At least Samsung bundles USB Type-C earphones in the Galaxy S20+ box. Would it hurt Samsung and OnePlus that much to bundle an adapter that will come useful for a significant section of both companies’ consumer base? No. In Samsung’s case, it would also have been good to see a USB Type-C to Type-A cable bundled in the box.
Overall, I would say the OnePlus 8 Pro’s design is slightly superior to that of the Samsung Galaxy S20+. This is because of the optional matte glass finishes, which make a surprisingly big difference in the hand compared to a traditional glossy finish. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ does have noticeable plus points such as a centered and smaller hole-punch camera cutout, a thinner camera bump, and better ergonomics, but the OnePlus 8 Pro has better color options that serve a wider variety of consumer desires. Both phones show excellence in design, with great fit and finish, but both also opt to skip out on the full-screen display design—a popular trend in 2019 which has largely been discarded in 2020.
While this means that the OnePlus 8 Pro is an arguable regression from the OnePlus 7 Pro/7T Pro in terms of having a true full-screen display, the compromises of the mechanical pop-up camera have been deemed too much by device vendors. The true solution here is under-display front cameras, and we are waiting for hardware progress on this front to see if commercial phones with the technology materialize in 2021. The Samsung Galaxy S20+, on the other hand, is a design upgrade from its predecessor, the Galaxy S10+, in almost every way except for those who want more exciting color options.
The OnePlus 8 Pro has a 6.78-inch Quad HD+ (3168×1440) AMOLED display with a 19.8:9 aspect ratio and 513 PPI. The display features 120Hz high refresh rate (HFR) support, which is enabled out of the box. The default stock display configuration is Full HD+ resolution at 120Hz refresh rate, but the display can be set to Quad HD+ at 120Hz refresh rate as well. The final option is to set it in Full HD+ resolution at 60Hz refresh rate to maximize battery life. Quad HD+ at 120Hz is a hardware characteristic that is enabled by having a dual MIPI command interface, which gives the display enough bandwidth to drive the high resolution at 120Hz.
The OnePlus 8 Pro’s display has many special features as well. It comes with Comfort Tone, which is OnePlus’ take on Apple’s True Tone feature. It uses RGB sensors to change the display’s color temperature in accordance with ambient lighting. The display has SDR-to-HDR up-mapping, converting SDR content to HDR automatically. OnePlus has also included a MotionEngine feature that powers MEMC (Motion Estimation/Motion Compensation) on the OnePlus 8 Pro, which interpolates frames to boost the frame rate of videos (videos can be boosted from 24 or 30fps to 60 or 120fps). The calibration of the display is done by Pixelworks’ calibration and color management software, which runs on the display processing unit of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. Finally, the display supports DC dimming 2.0 as an alternative to the default PWM (pulse width modulation) brightness control. For what it’s worth, OnePlus says the display can go as bright as 1300 nits (we will look into this claim below) and has 4,096 levels of brightness adjustments. The display features Brightness Smoothing for finely tuned brightness transitions—this is something that was noticeable in real-world use.
All in all, OnePlus is proud of the OnePlus 8 Pro’s display and says it sets an industry record for color accuracy.
The Samsung Galaxy S20+’s display, on the other hand, should benefit from Samsung’s experience in building top-tier mobile displays, but it’s arguable whether Samsung has been stagnating here. The Dynamic AMOLED display measures 6.7-inches and has Quad HD+ (3200×1440) resolution with a taller, narrower 20:9 aspect ratio and 523 PPI. 120Hz refresh rate is supported, but only at Full HD+ resolution. Out of the box, the display ships with Full HD+ resolution and the standard 60Hz refresh rate, unlike OnePlus. The reason why there is no option to enable 120Hz refresh rate at Quad HD+ resolution has to do with hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S20+’s display only has a single MIPI command interface, which means it lacks the necessary bandwidth to drive QHD+ at 120Hz. The OnePlus 8 Pro and the OPPO Find X2 Pro are so far the only smartphones that have the necessary hardware to enable QHD+ at 120Hz.
The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is rated for a maximum brightness of 1200 nits, but this claim is once again misleading, as we will see below. The display has a hardware characteristic that reduces the amount of blue light within the harmful range to reduce eye fatigue, a feature carried on from the Samsung Galaxy S10. The Samsung Galaxy S20+’s display lacks features such as Comfort Tone, SDR-to-HDR up-converting, DC dimming, brightness smoothing, and MEMC (admittedly, this last feature is a bit of a gimmick). In terms of convenient display features, it’s hard to deny that OnePlus has Samsung beat here.
Both phones ship with factory-applied plastic screen protectors on the display, but they can be easily removed. Both displays have HDR10+ support.
Resolution and Refresh Rate
In terms of display quality, let’s start with the resolution and refresh rate first. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s display has an obvious advantage as its 120Hz refresh rate can actually be used in QHD+ resolution, while the same remains impossible to achieve on the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The difference between QHD+ and FHD+ is slight these days thanks to major improvements in subpixel rendering and text rendering; both displays have a PenTile matrix, but it hardly matters anymore. However, the difference is still visible—at such high display diagonals, QHD+ does look sharper than FHD+. Although it’s not enabled out of the box, using 120Hz at QHD+ is simply a joy on the OnePlus 8 Pro. You get brilliantly sharp text as well as smooth motion, while the Samsung Galaxy S20+ makes you choose between the two.
Both phones don’t allow you to set the displays at 90Hz/96Hz refresh rate in the UI (it’s unknown if the OnePlus 8 Pro’s panel even supports 90Hz, while you can set the Galaxy S20’s display to 96Hz using ADB). The jump between 60Hz and 120Hz is jarring and easily perceptible, but 120Hz is only a slight improvement from 90Hz as seen on the OnePlus 7 Pro, for example. At the default FHD+ resolution, the OnePlus 8 Pro also has marginally cleaner text rendering than the Samsung Galaxy S20+. That’s why it’s easy to declare OnePlus the winner in this respect. Samsung missed a chance by not featuring a dual MIPI command interface in the Galaxy S20+’s display.
Moving on to brightness, things get tricky here. When using manual brightness indoors, we observe that the OnePlus 8 Pro’s display can get significantly brighter than the Galaxy S20+’s display. That’s because Samsung has conservatively capped the Galaxy S20+’s manual maximum brightness to around 350 nits, while the OnePlus 8 Pro can reach ~500 nits by setting the brightness slider manually to the maximum level. The difference in brightness doesn’t make much difference in practical usability, as indoor smartphone use demands around 200-250 nits of brightness, not 350-400+.
Conversely, the OnePlus 8 Pro’s display can’t become as dim as the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s display in low light. In a recent update, OnePlus has capped the minimum brightness of the display to “fix” the green tinting and black clipping issues that occurred at low brightness levels. This does make a difference, especially if you are using the phone at night time and at the lowest brightness level. The Samsung Galaxy S20+’s display is much better here as it reduces eye fatigue by reducing display brightness as much as it can, while the OnePlus 8 Pro’s higher minimum brightness levels in its current display calibration make it a regression from the OnePlus 7 Pro’s minimum brightness levels. I advise OnePlus to reconsider its decisions here, as the difference is visible.
Then we have High Brightness Mode (HBM). HBM is what allows the OnePlus 8 Pro to “reach 1300 nits”, while the Galaxy S20+ can go up to 1200 nits. The problem is that while both figures are technically true, users will never experience them in the real world. That’s because the 1300 nits and 1200 nits figures will only be achieved at very low Average Picture Levels (APLs), when the display is showing a near-black background with the absence of white. (APL is a determinant in the brightness of OLED displays). At normal APLs such as 75-90% APL, the rated brightness figures are impossible to achieve, and the maximum that users will achieve is 800-900 nits (which are still excellent for sunlight visibility). At 75% APL, the Samsung Galaxy S20 series can get as bright as 800-900 nits with HBM in the real-world according to testing carried out by GSMArena, while AnandTech was able to reach 731 nits on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra at 100% APL. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s display was tested to reach as high as 888 nits at 75% APL by GSMArena. Dylan from our team has shed more clarity in his OnePlus 8 Pro display analysis.
In terms of maximum automatic brightness with HBM, the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ are evenly matched. I was able to verify this by taking both phones outside for an hour in the afternoon in Mumbai a few days ago. My Samsung Galaxy S20+ unit has about the same display brightness as the display of my OnePlus 8 Pro unit, but the difference is in calibration in HBM. When HBM is activated, Samsung switches to a special calibration mode with lower display gamma, higher contrast, and more saturated colors (Vivid color mode is automatically enabled).
While this means that color accuracy is adversely affected, it has a positive effect on legibility in direct sunlight. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s display, on the other hand, doesn’t make these calibration changes in HBM and opts to faithfully stick closely to color accuracy. This means the Samsung Galaxy S20+ display may appear to be more legible than the OnePlus 8 Pro display in direct sunlight, even though the maximum brightness of both phones is similar. It’s up to users’ preferences whether they prefer better sunlight legibility at the cost of color inaccuracy. Personally, I would prefer the former, but it’s worth mentioning the OnePlus 8 Pro’s display is no slouch, even in direct sunlight. Content on both displays remains easily visible, reminding users how far these flagship OLED displays have advanced.
Overall, it’s hard to declare a winner between the two displays in terms of brightness, but I would still give the Samsung Galaxy S20+ a slight edge thanks to lower minimum brightness levels and better sunlight legibility.
Contrast, Color Accuracy, and Power Efficiency
The contrast of both phones’ displays is theoretically infinite thanks to the characteristics of OLED displays. Both displays also have excellent viewing angles in general, with minimal angular color shift across angle changes. However, the OnePlus 8 Pro’s aggressively curved display leads to a problem here. The curved edges of the display appear green (most likely because of the polarizer) even head-on. This wasn’t an issue with the OnePlus 7 Pro as it featured a much more gentle and wider curve, although that approach led to a bigger loss of screen estate. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ simply doesn’t suffer from this issue as its display curvature is much less aggressive than that of the OnePlus 8 Pro, so we don’t get any distortion in content or the green tint at edges.
The green tint in the edges of the OnePlus 8 Pro’s display reminds me of the wildly curved Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge display. It’s surprising to see OnePlus run into such issues, as it means the viewing angles of the display are adversely affected, even though the viewing angles as such are excellent. In my opinion, it would be better if OnePlus could go back to fully flat displays for its flagships in the future. If the company has to stick with curved displays, the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s approach is a much more sensible one.
In terms of color accuracy, both displays are mostly great… but both feature errors, one being greater than the other. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s display was said to have record-breaking color accuracy with respect to the sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts (both phones support automatic color management with respect to the aforementioned gamuts). For a subset of correctly calibrated units, this may possibly be the case. However, there is a subset of OnePlus 8 Pro units which have miscalibrated reds, which also affects shades of magenta and orange. My review unit has this issue, and it’s also apparent in Dylan’s unit. Some other publications have also seen the miscalibration. While the error itself is not so major that it would cause terrible results in objective color accuracy tests, it does mean these miscalibrated units don’t have “industry-leading color accuracy”. The reds on these miscalibrated OnePlus 8 Pro displays are oversaturated. Of course, this is related to quality control and some units of the Samsung Galaxy S20+ may also have calibration errors (it’s what happens when vendors don’t calibrate their panels on an individual basis as Apple does). My Samsung Galaxy S20+ unit, however, has no major issues in terms of saturation accuracy.
The one major flaw in the calibration of both displays is the color temperature. It averages at 6100K-6200K for white, which is too warm (the ideal color temperature should be 6504K). This has been the case for both OnePlus and Samsung flagship phones for quite a few generations now, and it doesn’t look as if it’s getting solved anytime soon. The warm color temperature only affects the Natural calibrated mode and not the Vivid color modes of both the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+, which have a cold (>7000K) color temperature that can be adjusted as per users’ wants.
In terms of black clipping, Samsung has made some strides forward here, as the Galaxy S20+’s display can distinguish between more shades of black compared to its predecessors. The Apple iPhone 11 Pro is still ahead here, however. At the time of the OnePlus 8 Pro’s launch, OnePlus regressed in this respect according to some publications. After installing the OxygenOS 10.5.10 update, though, the black clipping of the OnePlus 8 Pro’s display is roughly equal to what I see on the Samsung Galaxy S20+, which means it’s good enough.
The final aspect to consider in the evaluation of displays is power efficiency. Since high refresh rate displays such as 90Hz and 120Hz displays have arrived on the market, the display power of these HFR phones has gone up by a numerically substantial level. Both of these displays lack a true implementation of variable refresh rate (VRR). Unfortunately, right now the 120Hz mode of the Samsung Galaxy S20+ runs at 120Hz all the time, and while the OnePlus 8 Pro has an adaptive refresh rate implementation, it’s not actually a true implementation of VRR as it just switches the refresh rate between 60Hz and 120Hz, while true VRR works on a per-frame basis.
This means both of their 120Hz modes come with a significant power cost. This is doubly worrying for the Samsung Galaxy S20+ when we consider the poor power efficiency of the Exynos 990 SoC. VRR on smartphones can’t come soon enough, as a true VRR implementation would bring substantial power savings. According to AnandTech, the OnePlus 8 Pro’s panel is slightly less efficient than the Samsung Galaxy S20+. In terms of end-user battery life, this fact is counteracted by the superior power efficiency of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 compared to the Exynos 990. Both of them still have quite a way to go.
Overall, when analyzing both displays holistically, I would say the better display is that of the OnePlus 8 Pro. Even though my unit has miscalibrated reds, the display has a significant advantage in the 120Hz + QHD+ combination, which is something that the Samsung Galaxy S20+ simply can’t do. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s display also has more convenient features, and even with 120Hz at QHD+ resolution, its power usage isn’t much higher than the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s 120Hz at Full HD+ mode. The OnePlus 8 Pro has slightly inferior sunlight legibility and green tinting at its curved edges, but in all other respects, it’s as good as or better than the Galaxy S20+’s display. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is close, but not going with a dual MIPI panel was a hardware mistake that Samsung made which can’t be rectified now.
The OnePlus 8 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC for all markets, while the SoC of choice for the Samsung Galaxy S20+ differs regionally. In U.S./Canada/Latin America/South Korea/China/Hong Kong/Japan, the phone features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, but in all other international markets, it features Samsung Systems LSI’s Exynos 990 SoCs. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ unit I am testing here is an Indian 4G variant (SM-G985F), but it’s identical to international 5G Exynos variants in every way except for the crucial part of having a 5G RF system, which is missing on the 4G variant. As a result, though, the 4G variant costs less. The OnePlus 8 Pro, on the other hand, features 5G support for all variants. The Indian variant has only one 5G band, but this doesn’t matter as there are no live 5G networks in India right now anyway.
I am not going to go into a deep-dive of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and the Exynos 990 here. We have benchmarked the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 extensively before, analyzed its AI performance improvements, and tested it in phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, Xiaomi Mi 10, Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, Realme X50 Pro, LG V60 ThinQ, and the OnePlus 8 Pro itself. So there is not much to add: It is a great SoC. Until the rumored Snapdragon 865+ and the rumored Exynos 992 arrive, this is the best SoC for flagship Android smartphones right now.
As for the Exynos 990, I have done an in-depth performance overview and comparison of it in my Samsung Galaxy S20+ review. I concluded that it’s improved from the Exynos 9820, for sure, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table against the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. The big Exynos M5 cores have a 100% power efficiency deficit against the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865’s ARM Cortex-A77 cores, and even the A76 versus A77 middle core comparison is in favor of Qualcomm. In terms of GPU performance, the Adreno 650 GPU in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 is unquestionably faster and more efficient than the Mali-G77MP11 GPU of the Exynos 990.
This means the OnePlus 8 Pro heads into this comparison with an expected performance advantage against its competitor, the Exynos 990-powered Samsung Galaxy S20+. Let’s see how the phones handle themselves in some of the most widely used benchmarks.
PCMark Work 2.0
In PCMark Work 2.0, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ can be scored in four configurations. I am running the Optimized power mode at 120Hz refresh rate here, although the phone ships with its 60Hz refresh rate mode enabled out of the box. The 60Hz mode predictably gives a lower overall score while High-Performance Mode improves the score. Most enthusiast users will be better off sticking to Optimized mode at 120Hz refresh rate, though, which is what I am testing here. The OnePlus 8 Pro, on the other hand, was tested at the default FHD+ resolution and 120Hz mode.
The results are surprising, to say the least. At 120Hz, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ has a slightly higher score than the OnePlus 8 Pro, despite the SoC disadvantage. PCMark is a real-world benchmark that simulates common tasks such as web browsing, writing, photo editing, and more, which is why it’s determined more by software factors rather than pure hardware grunt. The individual score breakdown is evenly matched as while the OnePlus 8 Pro scores higher in the important Writing 2.0 test, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is ahead in the Web Browsing 2.0 test. The OnePlus 8 Pro scores higher in the Photo Editing 2.0 and Data Manipulation tests, while the Samsung Galaxy S20+ scores higher in the outdated Video Editing test. Nonetheless, both phones’ scores are within the margin of error and in the top 1 percentile of flagship Android smartphones.
Geekbench 5 is a synthetic CPU performance benchmark that is highly regarded in the industry. The OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (Exynos) are virtually tied in the single-core score, while the OnePlus 8 Pro scores significantly higher in the multi-core score. Keep in mind that Geekbench has traditionally been a good showcase for Samsung’s wide custom Exynos M CPUs, while SPEC and web benchmarks provide a more accurate and down-to-earth picture. Therefore, to see the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 scoring on par with the Exynos 990 in single-core is even more disappointing for Samsung, validating the company’s decision to scrap its custom core project and adopt ARM’s stock CPU cores going forward.
CPU Throttling Test
CPU Throttling Test is a simple benchmark that tests CPU performance over time. Surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ does better here, as after a 15-minute benchmark, its CPU was throttled to 85% of its max performance, while the OnePlus 8 Pro’s CPU was throttled to 79% of its max performance. However, it should be noted that the OnePlus 8 Pro’s CPU has a higher baseline performance level, so again, we are splitting hairs here. The thermals of both phones are excellent keeping in context the power-hungry nature of the flagship SoCs that power these phones, but anecdotally speaking, the OnePlus 8 Pro does heat up a bit less than the Samsung Galaxy S20+.
AndroBench is still the go-to solution for testing NAND (storage) performance on Android even though its UI design is several years old now. The storage performance results show that the Samsung Galaxy S20+ has a slightly faster NAND performance than the OnePlus 8 Pro, even though both are using the UFS 3.0 storage specification. If we are to nitpick, the only relatively significant difference is in the random write speed, where the Samsung Galaxy S20+ scores noticeably higher than the OnePlus 8 Pro. Will any of these differences be noticeable in the real world? You guessed it: the answer is no, not for a long time at least.
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme
Moving on to GPU performance, we turn towards 3DMark first. In Sling Shot Extreme, the OnePlus 8 Pro outperforms the Exynos Samsung Galaxy S20+ in both OpenGL ES 3.1 and Vulkan. The only area where it scores slightly higher is the Graphics score in OpenGL ES 3.1, surprisingly enough. The Vulkan scores show a disparity between both phones as the OnePlus 8 Pro scores quite a bit higher, underlining the superiority of the Adreno 650 GPU. The physics score tests CPU performance, and here also, the OnePlus 8 Pro is able to take the lead, as expected.
In GFXBench, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is outperformed by the OnePlus 8 Pro across pretty much every test. The difference in absolute frame rates is significant, and when combined with the lower efficiency and performance-per-watt of the Mali-G77 GPU, it’s clear that the OnePlus 8 Pro is, once again, superior. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ also showcases very poor GPU thermal throttling here. Consider the result of the T-Rex benchmark: The 103 fps result of the off-screen test on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is almost half the 201 fps score of the OnePlus 8 Pro (keep in mind that all tests were run at the same time, which brings throttling into play). The Samsung Galaxy S20+ generally scores 170 fps in a cold run of T-Rex Offscreen, which means thermal throttling is quite severe here. On the other hand, the OnePlus 8 Pro with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 performs admirably.
The UI performance of the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is comparable. The OnePlus 8 Pro is slightly faster and smoother thanks to OxygenOS‘ sped-up animations and a general sense of speed, which is an area that OnePlus has worked hard upon. However, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is no slouch here, at least in the 120Hz mode. Comparing stock versus stock refresh rates, the OnePlus 8 Pro in its default 120Hz mode is naturally able to take a big lead in smoothness over the default 60Hz mode of the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The difference between 60Hz and 120Hz is easily perceptible for most users, and it’s a great improvement all around. Most users, therefore, should change the Galaxy S20+’s display refresh rate to 120Hz unless battery life is a much higher priority.
The OnePlus 8 Pro, therefore, is the fastest and smoothest phone we have ever tested.
In the real world, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (Exynos) is close behind, and for the most part, can keep up. Even nitpickers will have a hard time discerning the differences. However, there are still areas where both phones trip up. Updating all apps on the Google Play Store at once will result in a shocking amount of frame drops on both devices. Google Chrome can occasionally freeze on both phones when many tabs are open, and this is a known issue on OnePlus phones. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ will drop its refresh rate to 60Hz when it has heated up to a certain point, which makes UI interactions jarring. The OnePlus 8 Pro doesn’t suffer from this issue, but I did experience frame drops in the notifications menu a few times—most likely a result of unpolished software.
RAM management and unlocking speed
The RAM management is a different story. (Note: I tested the 8GB RAM variants of both phones here, and it’s possible that the 12GB RAM variants may provide a better experience. However, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is only available in an 8GB RAM variant here in India.) OnePlus still hasn’t fixed its aggressive app killing problem, which is why background apps have a higher chance of being killed on the OnePlus 8 Pro than on the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The RAM management on the Galaxy S20+ is not perfect, though—Android still requires big improvements here. However, it’s demonstrably better than on the OnePlus 8 Pro. This is an area where OnePlus urgently needs to improve. Featuring 8GB/12GB of RAM in its phones is a bad idea if they can’t keep a Chrome browsing session open in the background longer than a day or two.
The twists and turns continue when we discuss unlocking speed. Here, it’s no contest: The OnePlus 8 Pro has a much better under-display fingerprint sensor than the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The optical sensor, supplied by Goodix, is simply faster and much more reliable than the Galaxy S20+’s Qualcomm-sourced ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor (3D Sonic Sensor). Samsung is the only vendor using these ultrasonic sensors, and it doesn’t make much sense. When it works, the ultrasonic sensor is only slightly slower than the optical sensor, but reliability continues to remain a significant issue. The cons of the sensor outweigh the pros.
Overall, thanks to a much better unlocking experience and slightly better UI performance, the OnePlus 8 Pro is my pick when it comes to real-world performance. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ isn’t far behind, but it’s let down by the unreliability of the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and some minor thermal issues that drop the phone back to 60Hz.
OnePlus 8 Pro
The OnePlus 8 Pro has a 48MP primary wide-angle camera with the Sony IMX689 sensor (which is a 1/1.44″ sensor), 1.12µm pixel size, f/1.8 aperture, 25mm equivalent focal length, all-pixel omnidirectional phase detection autofocus (PDAF), laser autofocus, and optical image stabilization (OIS). This is a Quad Bayer sensor, and by default, it takes 4-in-1 pixel binned photos at 12MP with 2.24µm-equivalent pixel size. The IMX689 sensor is also found on the OPPO Find X2 Pro. The all-pixel omnidirectional PDAF (featuring Sony’s 2×2 On-Chip Lens Solution) is unique to the IMX689. The 2×2 On-Chip Lens solution is a Quad Pixel (Quad Bayer) system with one condenser lens per pixel that covers four photodiodes. Like Dual Pixel PDAF, the autofocus system uses 100% of the sensor’s pixels for focusing and imaging. All-pixel omnidirectional PDAF is faster than regular PDAF, and it should also help out in low light focusing.
The ultra-wide-angle camera on the OnePlus 8 Pro has a 48MP Sony IMX586 Quad Bayer sensor (1/2″), 0.8µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, 14mm equivalent focal length, 116° field-of-view, and PDAF. It features autofocus for the Super Macro mode, and by default, it takes 4-in-1 pixel binned photos at 12MP with 1.6µm-equivalent pixel size.
The telephoto camera takes 8MP photos. However, the sensor’s native resolution is actually 13MP—it’s the same one that we saw on the OnePlus 7 Pro. It has 2.2x optical zoom, but because the sensor is taking photos at 8MP, OnePlus is able to offer 3x lossless zoom. The sensor has a 1.0µm pixel size, f/2.4 aperture, PDAF, and OIS. Keep in mind the sensor has an actual 2.2x telephoto lens of 57mm focal length, while with 3x lossless zoom, the equivalent focal length is 78mm.
Finally, there is the 5MP color filter camera, which OnePlus has disabled on the Indian variant of the phone. It will apparently get re-enabled in a future update, but right now, it’s useless hardware. OnePlus would have been better off including a GoPro-style landscape-mounted camera lens such as on the Motorola One Action or even go all out with an additional 5x periscope telephoto zoom camera if the company really wanted the marketing benefits of “Quad Rear Cameras”.
All in all, it’s an impressive array of camera hardware. The phone is missing a 5x zoom camera, but both the primary and ultra-wide-angle cameras have top-notch specifications. The telephoto camera in itself makes a sound compromise with 3x zoom.
Samsung Galaxy S20+
The Samsung Galaxy S20+, on the other hand, has a 12MP primary wide-angle camera with the Samsung ISOCELL S5K2LD sensor (1/1.7″), 1.8µm pixel size, 26mm equivalent focal length, Dual Pixel PDAF, and OIS. This is not a Quad Bayer sensor, and it doesn’t use pixel binning. The sensor has a pixel size of 1.8µm, differentiating it from Quad Bayer sensors with 48MP/64MP/108MP resolution. (The Snapdragon variants of the Galaxy S20 and the Galaxy S20+ use the Sony IMX555 sensor, which has identical specifications.)
The secondary camera is where things get interesting. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ doesn’t have a telephoto camera. It doesn’t have any real telephoto lens. What it does have is a secondary 64MP wide-angle camera. This 64MP camera uses the Samsung ISOCELL GW2 sensor (1/1.72″), 0.8µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, 29mm focal length, PDAF, and OIS. (It does not have Dual Pixel PDAF, only regular PDAF.) The 29mm focal length means that it can do only 1.1x optical zoom, which is negligible. Samsung is instead using crop zoom using the full native 64MP resolution of the sensor to provide “3x hybrid optic zoom”, which means lossless zoom.
Finally, the 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera of the Galaxy S20+ features a 1/2.55″ sensor, 1.4µm pixel size, f/2.2 aperture, and 13mm focal length. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have autofocus, which means a Super Macro mode isn’t possible.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s camera setup is interesting and makes sound compromises on paper, with the highlight being the 1/1.7″ 12MP primary sensor. The one questionable specification is the lack of a true telephoto camera, but we have to see the photos before judging this decision. It’s also disappointing to see a fixed focus in the ultra-wide-angle camera, which means the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s macro capabilities simply won’t match the OnePlus 8 Pro.
Both phones have a lot of camera hardware. However, camera processing these days is more important than camera hardware, even though it sounds hard to believe. So let’s see how they match up in terms of software processing.
Camera app and user experience
The camera apps of both OxygenOS and One UI are designed differently, but they have the same functional paradigm. Both camera apps are easy to use, and I have no complaints. For more details on One UI’s camera app, check our Galaxy Note 10 Lite review, while screenshots of OxygenOS’ camera app can be seen in our OnePlus 7 Pro review.
The focusing speed of both the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ are great, even in low light. Shot-to-shot time increases in low light situations as both cameras skip on ZSL in extremely low light, preferring to use image stacking. Both phones use AI image processing, although OnePlus’ approach is to currently make it invisible to the user, and it can’t be switched off. Samsung’s Scene Optimizer, on the other hand, is transparent and can be switched off anytime.
Image quality assessment – Daylight
Primary camera: 12MP (from 48MP) vs. 12MP
Note: All samples taken with the Samsung Galaxy S20+ were taken on the ATE6 build with May 2020 security patches. The OnePlus 8 Pro was running OxygenOS 10.5.10 with May 2020 security patches. The camera samples from both phones were taken handheld one after another to minimize changes in the environment and to provide a fair comparison. While I wasn’t able to take photos at all of my usual test locations thanks to COVID-19, the subset of photos provided below should still prove useful for image quality analysis.
The OnePlus 8 Pro’s primary camera takes 12MP binned photos from the 48MP camera, while the Samsung Galaxy S20+ takes 12MP native photos. Which of them takes better photos in daylight with the point-and-shoot philosophy?
The short answer: The Samsung Galaxy S20+. The long answer: It’s a bit complicated. In daylight, the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s photos clearly have better exposure, colors, and dynamic range. That’s because the camera doesn’t opt to clip the shadows in favor of boosting the highlights. The white balance is on point, and while the colors may seem boosted, they are actually true-to-life.
The OnePlus 8 Pro’s photos are fair in terms of exposure, but the dynamic range is lacking for a top-tier flagship smartphone camera. The OnePlus camera opts to clip shadow levels in bright daylight, which is such a Google Pixel 3-like decision that it’s hard to believe. OnePlus is intentionally copying one of the Pixel 3‘s worst flaws—reviewers say that this was fixed on the Pixel 4. This means the Samsung Galaxy S20+ has much better exposure of shadows, which leads to better shadow detail. In general, the OnePlus 8 Pro’s photos are underexposed and have less lively colors, which means they have less of the “wow factor” than photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy S20+. (OnePlus used to excel here back in the OnePlus 6T days, so it’s strange to see the company move backward.)
In terms of detail retention, it’s a different story. With its better dynamic range, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ can take more detailed photos than the OnePlus 8 Pro, but this usually applies only with shadow detail and not detail in the highlights. The OnePlus 8 Pro adopts a more restrained noise reduction algorithm, which means it doesn’t have an oil-painting effect. Fine detail at 100% resolution is sometimes smudged away in the photos from Samsung Galaxy S20+, although this doesn’t apply to every photo. Both phones’ photos have no noise in daylight. The OnePlus 8 Pro has more natural image processing here, which means it can rescue detail in areas where the Samsung Galaxy S20+ will make them softer than reality.
Overall, though, the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s exposure and dynamic range advantages are too big for the OnePlus 8 Pro to overcome, even though the OnePlus flagship fights back in general detail retention. The white balance, ISO, and color accuracy is also a contest generally decided in Samsung’s favor.
Full-resolution: 48MP vs. 64MP
Did I mention that the Samsung Galaxy S20+ softens fine image detail at 100% resolution in 12MP mode? That’s an issue, but it’s nowhere to be found in the 64MP full-resolution photos taken with the secondary camera. They are pin-sharp. The detail retention here is simply excellent—far-off detail can be captured in a single shot and cropped to 100% without losing sharpness. These photos are better than the Huawei P30 Pro’s 40MP mode, for instance. The good thing is that the photos come with all the other strengths of the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s camera: excellent dynamic range, exposure, and white balance.
The OnePlus 8 Pro’s 48MP photos are no slouch either. Yes, they have less resolution to work with, but OnePlus makes the most of it in terms of detail, to the point where there is nothing to compare about in terms of detail retention. However, they also come with the OnePlus compromises of being relatively underexposed as well as having weaker dynamic range and undersaturated colors. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is slightly ahead in terms of full-resolution image quality.
Ultra-wide angle camera: 12MP (from 48MP) vs. 12MP
The ultra-wide-angle camera of the OnePlus 8 Pro is superb. By default, it takes 12MP binned photos using 4-in-1 pixel binning from the Quad Bayer IMX586 sensor, which is the primary sensor in the regular OnePlus 8 camera. In the OnePlus 8 Pro, though, it’s paired with a 14mm equivalent wide-angle lens. The detail retention of this camera is exemplary for an ultra-wide and what makes it even better is that it has autofocus. This camera does have the same problems that affect the primary camera, namely shadow clipping, underexposure, and weaker dynamic range. Some amount of luminance noise is preserved at full resolution, which signifies the noise reduction algorithm is relatively balanced—this, in turn, has a positive effect on detail preservation.
The Samsung Galaxy S20+’s 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera is much improved from the Galaxy S10e’s 16MP camera in terms of detail retention. It has a 13mm focal length, which makes it slightly wider than the OnePlus 8 Pro ultra-wide’s 14mm focal length. This camera can be passed off as a primary camera in terms of detail, which is something that I couldn’t say about the Galaxy S10. However, its photos aren’t as detailed as that of the OnePlus 8 Pro’s ultra-wide-angle camera photos. On the plus side, it benefits from Samsung’s image processing in the areas of great exposure, dynamic range, and colors.
It’s a close contest here, but thanks to better detail retention, I think the OnePlus 8 Pro does a marginally better job.
Zoom camera comparison at 3x
The OnePlus 8 Pro takes 8MP zoom photos with 3x lossless zoom using its 13MP telephoto camera, while the Samsung Galaxy S20+ takes 12MP photos with 3x hybrid optic zoom from its 64MP secondary wide-angle camera. Interestingly, Samsung also lets users take 64MP zoomed photos at full resolution, although it’s hard to say if hybrid zoom is active here; my guess is that this mode is a smart digital zoom.
The OnePlus 8 Pro’s 3x zoom photos have more natural image processing and slightly better detail retention than the 3x zoom photos taken by the Samsung Galaxy S20+, but apart from the aforementioned differences in color science, there are few major differences between both phones. (An eagle made its way into one of the Galaxy S20+ zoomed photos, so there is another difference.) The 64MP zoomed photos of the Galaxy S20+ don’t have more detail and also suffer from higher amounts of luminance noise compared to the 12MP photos, so I would prefer using the 12MP mode instead.
Overall, both phones are roughly equal here, as their advantages cancel each other out. Personally, the Samsung Galaxy S20+’s zoomed photos are much more appealing to the eye because of better exposure, even though Samsung still needs to work on its noise reduction algorithms.
Image quality assessment – Indoors, low light, macro, and portrait
OnePlus 8 Pro
The OnePlus 8 Pro takes good photos indoors with the primary camera, but I still feel OnePlus’ image processing holds back the big sensor. It’s apparent when taking photos of objects in moderate or low indoor artificial lighting, where the camera should be able to capture finer details but only manages a fair job. The issue of smudging (smoothing) is particularly apparent when taking photos of human subjects. Facial features such as beards, hair, and skin are smoothed over by the OnePlus 8 Pro camera’s aggressive noise reduction. In this respect, the 2018 Google Pixel 3 XL is still far superior when it comes to detail retention in human subjects, particularly in artificial lighting. In order to capture as much detail as possible, smartphone cameras should stop smoothing the photo and let low amounts of luminance noise remain at full resolution. This is a fundamental choice for image processing.
Back in the OnePlus 3T days, I feel OnePlus had the right idea at the time. However, with the OnePlus 5T, the brand went down the image smoothing route and as a result, the image quality of the brand’s phones in indoor and outdoor low lighting conditions went downhill. I pointed this out more than two years ago in my review of the OnePlus 5T’s camera. Even though OnePlus did make improvements with photos of humans indoors in phones such as the OnePlus 6T and the OnePlus 7 Pro, it wasn’t enough to match phones that processed such photos in an authentic manner, such as the Google Pixel 3.
The OnePlus 8 Pro, thanks to its much bigger sensor and OIS, should have no issues beating the Pixel 3 in such respects, but it can’t do that. Image sharpness indoors is still adversely affected by the noise reduction algorithm.
The good news, though, is that there is a way to fix this. OnePlus’ Nightscape mode has advanced by leaps and bounds. It works extremely well for people as well, unlike my poor experiences in this regard with the OnePlus 6T and in the early days of the OnePlus 7 Pro. With Nightscape mode, the OnePlus 8 Pro can finally beat the Pixel 3 when it comes to taking photos of people, and the Pixel, despite being an old phone now, is still a part of the gold standard in this respect. The issue remains that Nightscape mode doesn’t have ZSL and shaking or movement by the subject will result in blurred photos. If the subject stays still, though, Nightscape photos of people taken with the OnePlus 8 Pro are brilliant.
The biggest major problem with the OnePlus 8 Pro’s camera is its narrow plane of focusing, which is because of the shallow depth of field, which itself is a byproduct of the big sensor size. This issue particularly affects normal close-up macro shots (not Super Macro), making them unusable in many cases. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s 1/1.44″ primary camera has a shallow depth of field (because of physics), which means it has a narrow plane of focusing. Macro photos will have blurred edges of the frame because of the extremely shallow depth-of-field (DOF). In many cases, only the center of the object will be in focus. I get why this problem occurs, but it is unacceptable when you consider that even a $150 phone like the Redmi Note 7 Pro performs better here. On the other hand, the halo flagship of Android in 2020, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, is also reported to suffer from this issue, because it has an even bigger 1/1.33″ 108MP primary camera, and because remedying software image processing was not applied by Samsung as well.
OnePlus needs to urgently improve the image processing here to fix this problem, because right now, it’s the biggest issue preventing me from giving an unequivocal recommendation for the OnePlus 8 Pro’s camera.
Super Macro photos, which rely on autofocus in the ultra-wide-angle camera, are not affected by this issue. They are also of inferior quality to normal macro photos, as expected. The phone will automatically switch to the Super Macro mode when it judges the user has taken the camera far too close to an object. Super Macro is a useful feature, but it has more limited practical use than normal close-up shots. Food photography, for example, is a big problem with the OnePlus 8 Pro as the camera can’t keep a plate of food entirely within its narrow plane of focus.
Samsung Galaxy S20+
The Samsung Galaxy S20+, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from this issue, which is good to see. Food photos are no problem for this camera, and neither are general close-up shots. Conversely, because it lacks autofocus in the ultra-wide camera, it doesn’t have a Super Macro mode, which means super close-up shots aren’t possible. That’s… disappointing to see in a top-tier flagship, especially when considering that Huawei’s flagship phones have had Super Macro capabilities all the way going back to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro in 2018.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy S20+ also suffers from the smudging issue indoors, particularly when taking photos of human subjects. What’s more, Samsung’s night mode doesn’t work as well when taking photos of people. It takes over-processed photos and most of the time, the resulting photos come out far too dark, for reasons that can’t be fathomed. Here, OnePlus is multiple notches above Samsung, as its Nightscape mode is great. When taking photos in the regular Photo mode, photos of people are soft and lacking detail, which means the Samsung Galaxy S20+ also slips behind the aging Google Pixel 3. It’s not a good comparison to make, but it’s the weakest area of the Galaxy S20+’s camera. Interestingly, the cheaper Galaxy Note 10 Lite is ahead of both the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and even the OnePlus 8 Pro here.
In outdoor low lighting, the OnePlus 8 Pro takes superior photos to the Samsung Galaxy S20+ in the regular mode. However, the Night mode of the Galaxy S20+ takes more exposures than the OnePlus 8 Pro’s Nightscape mode and is, therefore, able to take brighter, more detailed photos. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s Nightscape mode usually takes only 1-2 seconds worth of photos, while the Samsung Galaxy S20+ can take 2 seconds in moderately lit environments and all the way to 10 seconds in extremely low lighting environments in its Night mode. Both phones perform excellently in outdoor low lighting conditions, taking better photos than the Google Pixel 3.
OnePlus’ Nightscape mode is now a legitimate competitor to Google’s Night Sight.
The portrait modes of both phones are also good enough, even though they can predictably make mistakes with edge detection of hair. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ distinguishes itself here as it allows the bokeh effect to be changed after taking the photo.
Overall, both the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ are somewhat disappointing in these key areas of smartphone photography. Although they disappoint in different respects, they also show there is still quite a way to go before smartphone cameras can match the latest mirrorless cameras. Adding more and more cameras is not the solution; instead, improving image processing to the point where it can keep up with the hardware is the real solution.
The OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ both do a great job in terms of video recording. OnePlus finally enables stabilization in [email protected] as well as [email protected] videos, which was long overdue. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ and the OnePlus 8 Pro can both record HDR video (the Galaxy S20+ can record in HDR10+ thanks to a Labs feature, while HDR video for the OnePlus 8 Pro is disabled by default). The Samsung Galaxy S20+ can also record 8K video, but this is more of a party gimmick as a) It can only be recorded at 24fps, and b) Playing it on a Full HD or even a Quad HD display will show no differences from regular 4K video.
It’s also great to see OnePlus finally offering the option to record videos in the HEVC codec. Video samples from both phones can be viewed below:
The OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ both lack 3.5mm headphone jacks. Enough said.
In terms of wired audio, at least both phones support audio accessory mode in their USB Type-C ports. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ support 32-bit/384kHz audio, while the OnePlus 8 Pro lacks it. In terms of Bluetooth audio, the OnePlus 8 Pro supports the aptX HD codec. Audio quality from both phones is subjectively fine—it depends on the quality of the user’s audio equipment.
Both phones have stereo speakers (bottom-firing + earpiece). Both of them sound great. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s speaker is a noticeable improvement from past OnePlus phones, and it’s even louder than the speakers of the Samsung Galaxy S20+. In terms of speaker quality, I found it to be an even match for the most part, but it’s not a subject that I personally put too much weight on.
Battery Life and Charging
The battery capacities (typical) of the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ are similar: 4,510mAh and 4,500mAh. They both have similarly sized displays. So both of them should have similar battery life, right? No. That’s because they have different SoCs, different software optimizations, and different displays.
For me, the OnePlus 8 Pro in its default FHD+/120Hz mode lasts longer than the Samsung Galaxy S20+ on FHD+/120Hz. Increasing the OnePlus 8 Pro’s resolution to QHD+/120Hz results in slightly higher drain, but the difference is minor. The Samsung Galaxy S20+, on the other hand, gets better battery life in QHD+/60Hz rather than FHD+/120Hz. It’s complicated. Stock versus stock, both phones have similar battery life, but the OnePlus 8 Pro’s default 120Hz mode is much smoother than the Galaxy S20+’s 60Hz mode.
The takeaway is that the battery life on both devices is still sub-optimal when considering their battery capacities, but not when considering the power draw of their displays. The Galaxy S20+’s battery life still needs to be improved, while the OnePlus 8 Pro’s battery life is good enough for a flagship phone in 2020. Keep in mind that OnePlus has aggressive software optimizations and background app management in OxygenOS that still lead to problems with getting notifications on time, which is something that the Samsung Galaxy S20+ on One UI simply doesn’t suffer from. So that’s a factor that needs to be taken into consideration. Even then, the OnePlus 8 Pro’s battery life is still holistically better, especially when doing intensive tasks such as web browsing. In terms of screen-on time, you can expect up to 5.5-6 hours of screen-on time for the OnePlus 8 Pro in 120Hz mode and up to 4.5-5.5 hours of screen-on time for the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (120Hz) and up to 6 hours of screen-on time in 60Hz. The idle drain is slightly better on the OnePlus 8 Pro as well.
The Samsung Galaxy S20+’s battery life still needs to be improved, while the OnePlus 8 Pro’s battery life is good enough for a flagship phone in 2020.
In terms of charging, the OnePlus 8 Pro supports OnePlus’ proprietary Warp Charge 30T at 30W (5V/6A). It also supports USB-C PD at 15W, which is a relief. The Samsung Galaxy S20+, on the other hand, supports 25W USB-C PD 3.0 charging with the right charger (it needs PPS and PDO support). The Galaxy S20+ doesn’t have proprietary charging, which is a plus. On the other hand, the OnePlus 8 Pro’s charging speeds are clearly faster at the cost of a necessary negative impact on battery longevity. It’s up to users’ needs here, but Samsung does make a sensible compromise in charging speed and specification.
The OnePlus 8 Pro is the first OnePlus phone to support wireless charging. While it supports Qi charging at 10W, OnePlus is promoting its own proprietary wireless charger which charges at 30W—that’s faster than many wired chargers. I haven’t got the chance to test this charger yet, though. The Samsung Galaxy S20+, on the other hand, has a slower 15W wireless charging speed but supports both the Qi and PMA standards. Both phones also have reverse wireless charging support for smartwatches and Bluetooth earbuds.
The OnePlus 8 Pro is powered by OxygenOS 10.5 while the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is powered by One UI 2.1. Both custom user interfaces are based on Android 10, but they couldn’t be more different. While OxygenOS goes for speed and simplicity, One UI has a broader emphasis on custom features. There is no denying that One UI is the more feature-rich custom user interface, while OxygenOS is much closer to Pixel Android with the benefit of OnePlus’ added features over it. For those who want to learn more about One UI, check out the software sections of our reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite, Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S20+, Galaxy Note 10+, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra. There are still a few pain points with the user interface such as promotional notifications showing up in the notifications drawer and Android 10 gestures not working with third-party launchers, but for the most part, it’s a clean, polished user interface that rewards users the more they dig into it.
OxygenOS’s philosophy means that it can’t compete on the basis of in-built software features, but it does nonetheless have plenty of nifty customization options and popular features such as Parallel Apps. Over the last year, OnePlus has added features such as Zen Mode, Work-Life Balance, Screen Recording, Fnatic Gaming Mode, and more. Check out our OnePlus 8 review to learn more about OxygenOS’s unique features.
My complaints with OxygenOS don’t deal with speed, UI aesthetics, or number of features. In fact, I have only two major complaints: a) The issue of not being able to receive timely notifications for messaging apps such as Slack, WhatsApp, Hangouts, and more. The implementation of Doze is far too aggressive, and this has been the case for years now. b) The background app killing problem is related to this, and it means there is no benefit in getting the higher-priced 12GB RAM variants of OnePlus phones as they won’t have any improvement in app-holding capacity (although games may benefit from the increased amount of free RAM). The aggressive app killing and not receiving push notifications instantly are the two major issues that sour the OxygenOS software experience, and at this stage, I don’t know if there is any point in hoping that OnePlus will resolve them anytime soon.
Therefore, it’s astonishing to admit it—but I do have to give the nod to One UI over OxygenOS. Not too long ago, this would have been unthinkable because of persistent UI performance issues in Samsung phones, especially in Exynos-powered variants. The Samsung Galaxy S20+, thankfully, fully eradicates this issue. Yes, it may not be as fast and smooth as the OnePlus 8 Pro generally (although the differences can only be nitpicked upon), but at least it has better RAM management, and push notifications actually arrive on time.
Odds and Ends
The Samsung Galaxy S20+ has a better vibration motor than the OnePlus 8 Pro. The OnePlus 8 Pro doesn’t have a sub-standard motor; far from it. However, it’s not as good as the one on the Galaxy S20+ or other phones such as the Google Pixel 3 XL. This makes a difference in user interactions such as typing, long-pressing the UI, and more.
In terms of connectivity, it’s worth noting that both phones support dual-frequency GNSS and VoWiFi calling for Indian carriers.
Conclusion: OnePlus 8 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S20+
Photo credits: Max Weinbach
In nearly every respect, the OnePlus 8 Pro is capable of matching the Samsung Galaxy S20+. In some aspects such as display resolution + refresh rate, design, performance, battery life, charging speed, ultra-wide-angle, and low light image quality, it’s even superior to the Galaxy S20+. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ does have its own advantages such as better display color accuracy, superior image quality in daylight and close-ups, more feature-rich and polished software (which includes Samsung’s unique features such as DeX). All in all, both phones are an even match—which is something that was impossible to say when comparing their predecessors just a year ago.
The pricing of both phones is what decides their value. In the introduction, regarding the OnePlus 8 Pro’s significant price advantage in markets such as India, I asked “What is the catch?” It turns out there is no catch. The OnePlus 8 Pro is capable of being regarded as a true equal to the Samsung Galaxy S20+ while undercutting it in price by a substantial amount in some markets. In some markets such as the EU, the price differential is much lower, which means the end decision comes to users’ evaluation of their priorities. However, in markets such as India, the U.S., and the UK, the OnePlus 8 Pro clearly provides superior value compared to the Galaxy S20+.
The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is a great phone, but the OnePlus 8 Pro with its lower pricing, is a superb top-tier flagship.
Comparison Summary: OnePlus 8 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S20+
|Category||OnePlus 8 Pro||Samsung Galaxy S20+ (Exynos)|
|Design||Better optional finish (matte glass)|
More symmetrical camera bump
Better color options
Better hole-punch cutout placement
Thinner camera bump
|Accessories||Comes with USB Type-C earphones|
|Charging||Faster wired charging|
Faster wireless charging
|Better battery longevity|
No proprietary charging protocols
Faster reverse wireless charging
|Display||Supports Quad HD+ resolution at 120Hz|
Marginally cleaner text rendering
More convenient display features
|Lower minimum brightness|
Slightly better sunlight legibility
Less aggressive display curvature (no green at edges)
No miscalibrated reds
|Performance||Superior CPU performance|
Superior GPU performance
Slightly superior UI fluidity
Superior unlocking speed
Superior memory management
|Camera||Daylight photos have better details|
Better wide-angle photos
Can take Macro photos
Night mode that works well with people
Better outdoor low light photos
Daylight photos have better exposure, colors, and dynamic range
Better full-resolution image quality
Superior image processing
Better plane of focus
Higher-resolution rear and selfie videos
|Audio & Vibration|
Hi-Res Audio support
Slightly better vibration motor
|Battery Life||Better battery life at FHD+ @ 120Hz|
|Software||Clean, closer-to-Pixel experience|
Loaded with customizations
Less aggressive memory management
|Value||Much cheaper in India, U.S., Europe|
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