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These 6 flagship killers are the best alternatives to the OnePlus 8 series

The OnePlus 8 series not cutting it for you? Here are 6 alternatives worth checking out.
May 14, 2021
OnePlus 8 Pro vs OnePlus 8

The OnePlus 8 series finally cemented the OEM’s move into the true flagship realm. Both the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro pack premium-grade hardware with next-to-no omissions to reach that pinnacle of performance. They even had some of the best displays we’d tested at the time, cameras that match up to the competition, and yes, even IP68 ratings.

Read more: Camera shootout: OnePlus 8 Pro vs Galaxy S20 Plus vs HUAWEI P40 Pro

However, with all the improvements comes a justifiable increase in price. Touching almost $1,000, the OnePlus 8 series is a far cry from the flagship-killing, value-focused hardware OnePlus started with. So, what are your options if you don’t want to empty your wallet for a brand new, power-packed piece of kit?

Here are all the best OnePlus 8 alternatives to satisfy your flagship-killer needs.

1. OnePlus 9R

OnePlus 9R in hand showing back
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Ironically, OnePlus recognizes that its phones are starting to get just a bit too expensive for many of its fans. In comes the OnePlus 9R. The phone keeps its eyes trained on performance with a Snapdragon 870 chipset, a healthy serving of RAM, and all the essentials you expect from a OnePlus phone, including 65W charging.

See also: OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro, and OnePlus 9R buyer’s guide: Everything you need to know

The phone even includes a 120Hz display but makes concessions on the camera end by keeping the tried and tested 48MP primary. The ultra-wide camera also sticks to 16MP over the high-resolution modules in the higher-end phones in the OnePlus 9-series. The phone starts at Rs. 39,999, which makes it one of the most affordable OnePlus flagships in recent years.

2. realme X50 Pro

realme X50 Pro 5G Color changing back
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Building its brand on the back of affordable mid-range hardware, realme finally entered the high-end space with the realme X2 Pro late last year. Now, the realme X50 Pro takes on the flagship segment with top-tier hardware and a price that undercuts most of the competition.

The phone employs a tried-and-tested design and bolsters it with the excellent build quality. The Snapdragon 865 chipset ensures that performance is as good as it gets, and the included 65W fast charger is one of the fastest solutions around.

We reviewed the phone about a year ago and rated it positively. That said, you might want to temper your expectations from the camera, as the software tends to go overboard with noise reduction and sharpening.

Priced at Rs. 37,999/€599 for the base variant with 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage and going all the way to Rs. 44,999/€749 for the top-end version with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, you can’t doubt the value quotient. If blazing-fast performance is what you crave, the realme X50 Pro is an excellent OnePlus 8 alternative to consider.

3. Xiaomi Mi 10 5G

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro with grass

Unlike the OnePlus 8 series, Xiaomi’s Mi 10 makes a play for the premium segment while still trying to be affordable. The phone pairs a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865 processor with a classy design, excellent stereo speakers, and fast 30W charging.

The star of the show here is the new 108MP primary camera paired with a 13MP ultra-wide camera, a 2MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth sensor. Elsewhere, you will find a large 4,780mAh battery that supports not only 30W wired charging but also 30W wireless charging, in addition to 10W reverse charging. Compared to the Mi 10 Pro, you miss out on an optical zoom stack, but the cost savings make up for it.

Indeed, like the OnePlus 8, the Mi 10 Pro is a significant step up as far as specs go, but the phone manages to strike a balance between price and performance that is rather unmatched in today’s smartphone climate. If you’d prefer the latest hardware, you can also check out the newer Xiaomi Mi 11, complete with a Snapdragon 888 SoC.


RedMagic 5G 08 back portrait

Looking for performance on a budget? Look no further than the REDMAGIC 5G. The phone is a mobile gamer’s fever dream between the 144Hz display, active cooling, and gaming triggers. It’s the perfect OnePlus 8 alternative for the enthusiast crowd.

The REDMAGIC 5G gets a lot right. The 144Hz display, for one, is the smoothest available on a smartphone. If your favorite game includes unlocked frame rates, the REDMAGIC can enable the smoothest gaming experience around. Add to that programmable capacitive triggers, and you’ve got the hardware to truly elevate the experience.

The REDMAGIC 5G is everything you could want in a high-performance phone, and then some.

Further, the REDMAGIC includes improved haptic feedback similar to HD rumble on consoles like the Nintendo Switch. Once again, your game will need to support the feature, but popular titles like PUBG Mobile already do, so you should be covered. Finally, an active fan keeps everything cool. No, I’m not kidding. In addition to the standard liquid cooling solutions, the REDMAGIC has an honest-to-goodness fan built into it.

For all its features, the REDMAGIC 5G misses out on smartphone essentials like a good camera. Elsewhere, the default launcher can’t be switched out, which is a bit of a bummer. Still, priced at $579/€579/£539 for the 8GB RAM variant with 128GB of storage, it is easy to overlook the shortcomings if the hardware package catches your eye.

6. iPhone SE (2020)

iPhone SE back crop

The latest “affordable” iPhone has a laser focus on acquiring an aspirational audience. People who want the best of the best without spending top-dollar. Not only is the iPhone SE significantly more affordable than any other device on our list, it potentially outperforms them too.

The iPhone SE (2020) is the flagship killer everyone has been asking for.

Apple’s optimized approach towards the hardware package is no secret, and as such, the company can eke out the best possible performance out of the hardware. With the same processor as 2019’s iPhone 11 Pro, the SE can deliver a class-leading performance which makes it a near-perfect OnePlus 8 alternative.

The iPhone SE ships with a single 12MP camera on the imaging front that does pretty well as long as there is good lighting. Additionally, like most current iPhones, the second-generation iPhone SE also excels at capturing stunning 4K 60FPS videos with extended dynamic range and amazing color science.

Elsewhere, there’s good and bad. The design is straight out of 2016 and anything but fresh. Massive bezels flank the 4.7-inch display, and you will also have to contend with less than exemplary battery life.

It might be a controversial opinion, but Apple has a product that delivers the features people want at an approachable price for once. The absolute best performance, an excellent camera, and one of the largest app ecosystems, all for $399, leave you very little to complain about.

We think these are your best alternative options if you aren’t interested in buying a OnePlus 8, but what about you? What are your favorite OnePlus 8 alternatives? Let us know in the comments.