OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Which affordable flagship will win?

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Which affordable flagship will win?

What’s the best phone you can buy without spending upward of $1,000? The answer to that question is always changing, but OnePlus and Google are each looking to answer it with the upcoming OnePlus 8T and just-launched Pixel 5.

On paper, both of these devices are actually quite different, with unique chipsets, high refresh-rate displays and contrasting philosophies on camera hardware. However, the phones from OnePlus and Google are likely to compare favorably in terms of price. The Pixel 5 starts at $699, and the OnePlus 8T, while still unconfirmed, is likely to either match Google’s device or come in at up to $50 more expensive, based on pricing of past OnePlus devices.

Therefore, conclusively answering the question of which will be the better buy is difficult — especially at this point, before we know really everything there is to know about the OnePlus 8T. That said, OnePlus has taken it upon itself to share so many details about its next device ahead of its planned Oct. 14 reveal that we can make some educated guesses. 

Our OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5 face-off will illustrate how these rival devices are shaping up.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Price and release date

The Pixel 5 costs $699, but only comes in one configuration, with 128GB of onboard storage, no microSD slot and 8GB of RAM. It’ll be sold unlocked or through carriers including Verizon, AT&T and US Cellular, and it launches Oct. 15.

Seeing as how the OnePlus 8T won’t launch until Oct. 14, all we have to go on for a pricing comparison is a historical analysis of what OnePlus has done in the past. The OnePlus 8 cost $699 when it came out last spring; before that, the OnePlus 7T cost $599, and seeing as how there was no OnePlus 7 in the U.S., the OnePlus 6T started at $549. Given all of this, a slight price increase by as much as $50 may be in order for the OnePlus 8T.

It’s important to stipulate that both the OnePlus 8T and Google Pixel 5 will support 5G connectivity, though what type of 5G (as in long-range sub-6GHz versus higher-speed millimeter-wave) will largely depend on how you purchase your device and what network you decide to use it on.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Specs

OnePlus 8T (rumored)Google Pixel 5
Price$699-$749$699
Display6.55-inch OLED (2400×1800; 120Hz)6-inch OLED (2340×1080; 90Hz)
ProcessorSnapdragon 865 or 865 PlusSnapdragon 765G
RAM8GB, 12GB8GB
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB
Rear cameras48MP wide, 16MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth12.2MP wide (ƒ/1.7), 16MP ultrawide
Front camera16MP or 32MP8MP (ƒ/2.0)
Battery 4,500 mAh4,080 mAh
SizeTBA5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches
WeightTBA5.3 ounces

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Design

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5

A render of the OnePlus 8T (Image credit: @OnLeaks via Pricebaba)

These days, modern high-end phones tend to look quite similar across the board. However, take one look at the OnePlus 8T and Pixel 5 and it becomes immediately clear that they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum.

The OnePlus 8T will be the larger of the two, with a 6.55-inch screen (a detail that’s already been confirmed). Based on OnePlus 8T renders from @OnLeaks and Pricebaba, its design will keep in line with what OnePlus has established to date, with a subtly curved glass back and metal frame, slim bezels and a rectangular rear camera stack flush with optics.

The Pixel 5, on the other hand, is far more subdued, with a more compact 6-inch panel and a unibody design clad in recycled aluminum. Google’s has ditched the Pixel 4’s Soli radar system for air gestures, as well as its sophisticated, iPhone-like 3D Face Unlock, allowing the Pixel 5’s display to stretch all the way to the top of its chassis. It’s certainly the closest Google has ever gotten to the all-screen phone look, interrupted only by a hole-punch front-facing camera.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5

(Image credit: Google)

At the back of the Pixel 5, you’ll find a dual-lens camera stack housed in a square, comprising a primary wide-angle lens and a new ultrawide optic — but more on that later.

In terms of water resistance, the Pixel 5 is rated IP68 compliant, meaning it’s built to survive submerged underneath a 1.5 meters of water for up to half an hour. The OnePlus 8T likely will not come with an IP rating, in following with OnePlus’ strategy toward keeping phone costs down. However, OnePlus repeatedly assured customers earlier in the year that the OnePlus 8 was built to adhere to the same rigorous water resistance standards as the IP68-rated OnePlus 8 Pro, even if the less expensive model wasn’t independently certified. Take that for what you will, but it’s certainly something to be wary of in highlighting the differences between the designs of these phones.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Display

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5

The Pixel 5, seen at right in Just Black and Sorta Sage, next to the Pixel 4a 5G. (Image credit: Google)

Aside from the aforementioned difference in size — 6.55 inches for the OnePlus 8T’s display compared to 6 inches for the Pixel 5’s — the screens in both of these phones are going to differ in one other important way: refresh rate.

The OnePlus 8T will feature a 120Hz refresh rate, making for extremely smooth animations, that will be most obvious when scrolling or playing games that can properly make use of the panel. The Pixel 5’s refresh rate peaks at 90Hz. Both are a noticeable step up from the 60Hz baseline of most phone displays.

In terms of screen technologies and resolution, we’re looking at OLED panels in both, and a pixel count beyond full-HD. Because the OnePlus 8T’s display will be larger despite carrying roughly the same total number of pixels as Google’s phone, there’s a good chance it won’t look quite as sharp.

If there’s one downside to the OnePlus 8T’s higher refresh rate, it’ll likely be the extra drain on battery that causes. A screen that refreshes on screen content twice as frequently as the typical display burns through battery noticeably quicker, which we can certainly attest to based on all the battery tests we’ve conducted in the past year. Phones that top 10 or 11 hours on 60Hz mode in our web-surfing battery test tend to fall somewhere in the 8- to 9-hour range at 120Hz speed.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Camera

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5

(Image credit: Google)

How many cameras does a smartphone really need to capture great pictures? From the looks of it, Google and OnePlus aren’t really in consensus on this debate, with Google having kept the number of lenses on Pixel phones as limited as possible over the years, and OnePlus taking the opposite approach.

Thus, the Pixel 5 packs two cameras — a 12.2-megapixel primary shooter, just like the last several generations of Pixels before it, alongside a new 16MP ultrawide lens replacing the 2x optical zoom telephoto present on the Pixel 4. Unsurprisingly, Google has punched up the software side of things as well, adding shallow-depth-of-field Portrait mode to Night Sight, while also delivering improved electronic video stabilization modes.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5

A render of the OnePlus 8T (Image credit: @OnLeaks and Pricebaba)

As for the OnePlus 8T, we don’t precisely know everything surrounding its imaging system quite yet, though leaks have given us something to chew on. The OnePlus 8T has been linked to a 48MP main camera, flanked by a 16MP ultrawide lens, 5MP macro and 2MP depth sensor. All told, that’s pretty similar to the recently-launched OnePlus Nord, save for the doubled ultrawide resolution.

OnePlus has made some strides in camera quality in recent months, and the OnePlus Nord turned out to be a decent shooter for the reasonable price of $500. However, Google’s computational photography is arguably unrivaled in the industry, and OnePlus’ preference for gimmicks — like the insistence on packing macro lenses into its devices as of late — has us leaning toward the Pixel 5 in this comparison. Of course, we won’t know for sure what these phones will be capable of until we’ve had time to go on photo-taking expeditions with each of them.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Performance

This is the area that could spell doom for Google’s hopes here, and it all comes down to what kind of performance Mountain View’s engineers can squeeze out of the Pixel 5’s humble Snapdragon 765G chipset. Qualcomm’s 7-series silicon is decently fast, though certainly not as sprightly as the company’s 8-series hardware — and it’s the Snapdragon 865 that we expect the OnePlus 8T to launch with.

To get a sense of how the Snapdragon 765G and 865 chipsets compare in terms of raw numbers, there’s no need to look any further than OnePlus’ own slate of existing phones. The 765G-powered OnePlus Nord achieved a multi-core Geekbench 5 score of 1,948 points, compared to the OnePlus 8’s 3,387-point result. Both devices were tested with 8GB of RAM, which is what the Google Pixel 5 and OnePlus 8T are expected to tout.

Now, it’s worth stating that the OnePlus Nord is still a fast and capable phone — it’s just not quite as fast, especially when cycling through strenuous tasks or running complex games, like Fortnite or Asphalt 9 Legends. So the proof will really be in day-to-day use, and we’re eager to try out both Google and OnePlus’ upcoming handsets to evaluate the gulf in power in real-world terms.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Battery life and charging

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5

A promotional image shared by OnePlus ahead of the OnePlus 8T’s unveiling. (Image credit: OnePlus)

The Pixel 4’s battery life certainly left much to be desired. But then, with a 2,800-mAh battery at a time when most high-end phones are pushing 4,000 mAh and above, that was destined to happen.

Fortunately, Google is doubling down on battery life with the Pixel 5, stuffing a 4,080-mAh battery inside the new phone. It’s a welcome upgrade, especially considering the OnePlus 8T has been confirmed to pack a 4,500-mAh unit.

But both devices have much more to offer in the battery department beyond lots of juice. The Pixel 5, for example, supports both wireless charging as well as wireless reverse charging, so you can place accessories like earbuds or a smartwatch on the back of the phone, and charge them that way.

OnePlus has a different trick up its sleeve for the OnePlus 8T. The company has already revealed its new Warp Charge 65 system, delivering 65-watt power to its upcoming phone. According to OnePlus’ estimation, that kind of speed should get the OnePlus 8T to a full charge in just 38 minutes. The OnePlus 8T likely won’t support wireless charging, but that kind of wired charging performance qualifies for best in the industry, and should make the omission of Qi induction sting far less.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Software and special features

You’d expect a new Google phone to launch with the latest iteration of Android, and so the Pixel 5’s inclusion of Android 11 comes as hardly any surprise. What you might not expect is a new OnePlus phone to do the same, but the company has confirmed as much in the lead up to the OnePlus 8T’s big reveal on Oct. 14.

With Android 11 on the OnePlus 8T comes Oxygen OS 11, the latest advancement of OnePlus’ Android front end. From what we’ve seen of Oxygen OS 11, OnePlus is opting for a very different aesthetic with its new software, deviating from its previous approach of remaining relatively consistent with stock Android’s look and feel. Oxygen OS 11 employs a new font — Helvetica — and reorganizes apps so that they’re easier to operate one-handed, similar to what Samsung has done with One UI on its Galaxy phones.

The Pixel 5 has a few special AI-derived tricks of its own, like Google’s new Hold for Me feature that can literally wait on the line for you and alert you when the speaker on the other end is ready to talk. An Extreme Battery Saver mode also allows you to whitelist certain apps while shutting down all other activities to extend longevity on a charge as much as possible.

OnePlus 8T owners will be satisfied to learn the company now matches Google’s commitment to three years of software updates, up from the typical two years many Android phone makers provide.

OnePlus 8T vs. Google Pixel 5: Outlook

On paper, the OnePlus 8T should offer a better hardware value than the Pixel 5, owing to its more powerful chipset, bigger display with a higher peak refresh rate and larger-yet-faster-charging battery.

That said, we still don’t know exactly how much the OnePlus 8T will cost yet. If OnePlus’ next phone slides in at the same $699 starting point as the Pixel 5, Google will certainly have a tough time justifying its offering in light of options like the OnePlus 8T and $699 Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, both of which deliver true flagship performance at a cut-rate price.

However, if the OnePlus 8T ends up being $50 more expensive, it could very well be a closer fight. Watch this space for for the outcome, as we look forward to testing the OnePlus 8T and Google Pixel 5 in the coming weeks.

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