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OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: Raising the bar

Can the OnePlus 8 Pro offer a better flagship experience than the well established Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus?

Published onMay 15, 2021

OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus front

The OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus were key smartphones for these two industry players in 2020. On the one hand, OnePlus made a firm play for the flagship market, throwing its best technology into its 8 Pro model, with a somewhat controversially higher price tag to match. On the other, Samsung revamped its long-running Galaxy S lineup in 2020 with a new look and photography features as it looks to breathe a new lease of life into the series as we enter the 5G era. The Galaxy S20 Plus plays a key role as Samsung’s anticipated big seller, offering a more affordable entry point behind the obscenely expensive Galaxy S20 Ultra. So who wins in this OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus battle?

The OnePlus 8 Pro and Galaxy S20 Plus went directly head to head in a variety of markets around the world. Find out which one we would pick in this OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus showdown!

All about the displays

OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Display

Samsung Display provides the panels for both handsets and it’s no understatement to say that both phones aim for the best quality in the industry. Both great displays scored well in our testing suite, but the OnePlus 8 Pro nudged ahead to pinch the crown.

Clarity and colors aren’t a problem for either model, nor is visibility in bright outdoor environments. We’ve come to expect nothing less from Samsung’s high-end AMOLED panels. However, the OnePlus 8 Pro goes above and beyond with its color accuracy, owing to excellent calibration conducted in conjunction with Pixelworks — a company specializing in display technology. You can read more about this in our deep-dive article below.

As well as Samsung’s quality AMOLED technology, the two phones boast a high 120Hz refresh rate for silky smooth animations and scrolling. However, only the OnePlus 8 Pro enables this feature out of the box. Consumers who don’t know to trawl through the Galaxy S20 Plus’ settings won’t experience the smoothness of 120Hz.

Battery life seems like the primary reason Samsung left the feature disabled. However, OnePlus is able to offer 120Hz mode, content upscaling, and all-day battery life thanks to various bits of additional technology, including a dedicated display processor.

Although both displays are capable of greatness, OnePlus gives its very best to consumers right out of the box.

Two somewhat different designs

Speaking of displays, Samsung drops its waterfall display for a flatter screen this generation. In a turnaround, the OnePlus 8 Pro now features a curvier display than the Galaxy S20 Plus. This has its advantages given the OnePlus 8 Pro’s large size and heftier weight. The curved display keeps it feasible to wrap your hand around the device and reach right across the display. Although the trade-off is the occasional ghost touch that can be particularly annoying when using gesture navigation. S20 Plus is a fraction lighter and thinner, but that goes a long way in the hand. It’s easy to handle and doesn’t weigh down your pocket. However, both are undeniably large smartphones that might not suit smaller hands.

OnePlus’ additional silent toggle button is nice, as always. Although the other buttons are all within easy reach on both handsets. There’s not much to say about the speakers, they’re passable on both phones. The camera bump protrudes a fraction more on the OnePlus 8 Pro, so the device doesn’t lie flat. Although the Galaxy S20 Plus has the larger camera housing overall, and the new rectangular design splits opinion.

In terms of finish, the reflective glass back and metallic trim on the Galaxy S20 Plus looks the more premium out of the two, even though both use metal and glass build materials. Although the Galaxy S20 Plus is an absolute fingerprint magnet and the Cosmic Grey color I have is a little boring. The Glacial Green OnePlus 8 Pro looks nice, but the finish is more reminiscent of inexpensive Chinese phones than a premium tier device. Of course, this all boils down to personal taste, and there’s always OnePlus’ classic Onyx Black look for those after something a little more timeless.

OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: Specs at a glance

OnePlus 8 ProSamsung Galaxy S20 Plus
OnePlus 8 Pro
6.78-inch AMOLED
3,168 x 1,440 (19.8:9)
120Hz refresh rate
In-display fingerprint sensor
3D Corning Gorilla Glass
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED
3,200 x 1,440 (20:9)
120Hz refresh rate at 1080p
60Hz refresh rate at 1440p
In-display fingerprint sensor
Gorilla Glass 6
OnePlus 8 Pro
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 / Samsung Exynos 990
OnePlus 8 Pro
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
OnePlus 8 Pro
128GB / 256GB UFS 3.0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
128GB / 256GB / 512GB UFS 3.0
OnePlus 8 Pro
48MP, f/1.78, 1.12µm, OIS, EIS
8MP 3x telephoto, f/2.44, 1.0µm, OIS
48MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 119.7°
5MP color filter, f/2.4

16MP, f/2.45, 1.0µm, EIS, fixed focus
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
12MP, 1/1.76", ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm
64MP 3x hybrid telephoto, ƒ/2.0, .8µm
12MP ultrawide, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm
VGA time-of-flight sensor

10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, AF
OnePlus 8 Pro
Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)
Warp Charge 30 Wireless
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
Fast wired and wireless charging
IP Rating
OnePlus 8 Pro
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
OnePlus 8 Pro
Oxygen OS
Android 10
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
One UI 2.0
Android 10
Dimensions and weight
OnePlus 8 Pro
165.3 x 74.35 x 8.5mm
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
73.8 x 161.9 x 7.8mm

Performance won’t let you down

The OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus come with either 8GB or 12GB LPDDR5 RAM. The latter is plainly overkill, but OnePlus bundles it with its higher memory storage configuration and Samsung provides it if you stump up for the 5G model.

The key talking point, and far bigger determining factor in performance, is the two Galaxy S20 Plus variants. Depending on your region, the S20 series sports either the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 as the OnePlus 8 Pro or Samsung’s in-house Exynos 990 chipset. We’ve covered the wide range of performance differences and battery life implications, so hit the previous links for more info.

The key takeaway is that the Snapdragon 865 model is the one you want. While Samsung’s custom Mongoose M5 CPU core is faster than the Snapdragon equivalent, the Exynos 990 loses out in multi-core performance. The Exynos 990 also languishes behind in GPU and gaming performance, while general system-wide performance is also slower.

There’s a much smaller difference between the OnePlus 8 Pro and Snapdragon 865-powered Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus. OnePlus’ system score ends up a little higher, while Samsung nudges it on GPU performance. In fact, the OnePlus 8 Pro narrowly beat out the souped-up Galaxy S20 Ultra in Speed Test G (see the video below). It’s worth noting, however, that all the differences in speed tests and benchmarks we recorded are small and well within the margin of error.

The bottom line is that neither of these handsets or their various configurations present any noticeable performance problems. Apps, games, and multitasking all run smooth as silk on modern hardware. However, if you’re after the very best performance around, the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Snapdragon 865 Galaxy S20 Plus are the best Android can offer right now.

Upping the camera game

OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus cameras 1

Both smartphones sport quad-camera setups, with the familiar wide, zoom, and main sensors. The fourth camera on the Galaxy S20 Plus is a time of flight sensor to aide with software bokeh, although in my testing the OnePlus 8 Pro performs just as well at edge detection without dedicated hardware. OnePlus’ fourth sensor is a dedicated color filter camera. It’s a pretty meager addition that you’ll probably forget all about, but it’s there if you want to play around with it.

When it comes to the main sensor, both take great-looking snaps. You have to pixel peep to get into many of the differences. The two most notable trends are that Samsung punches up the color saturation and its HDR effect can blow out highlights. OnePlus is more conservative and realistic with its colors and white balance, but is much heavier on the sharpening post-processing.

There are equally notable differences when it comes to zoom and wide-angle capabilities too. The wide-angle camera on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus offers a wider field of view and minimal distortion. However, it’s heavy on the processing and lacking in detail. The OnePlus’ wide-angle camera looks great at full frame, but I found a lack of focus ruined the detail in my pics.

Zoom wise, the two clearly have their limitations. The OnePlus 8 Pro is terrible at 2x, but performs pretty well between 3x and 5x, albeit with heavy bouts of sharpening. Samsung’s zoom doesn’t seem to have much of a sweet spot, with very heavy processing throughout. Both look good at full frame, but the 8 Pro holds up better on a crop while the S20 provides higher resolution captures. It’s tough to call a winner.

Finally, shooting in low light is usually a big separator in terms of camera performance. The OnePlus 8 Pro’s larger Sony IMX689 sensor captures much more color and produces minimal noise compared to Samsung’s older IMX555. The Galaxy S20 Plus closes the gap with night mode enabled, but OnePlus’ Nightscape is equally good. That said, the 8 Pro can produce overly warm colors in low light.

This is clearly quite a small image sample size. Be sure to checkout our three-way shootout that also includes the HUAWEI P40 Pro for a closer look at the performance of every camera lens:

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to each camera setup. The OnePlus 8 Pro pulls ahead with excellent color balance, good low light performance, and passable zoom capabilities. The Samsung Galaxy S20 offers a superb wide-angle lens, great high-resolution shots, and softer processing for details. The best camera setup for you boils down to the type of pictures you take most often.

Odds and extras

In addition to great camera setups, the OnePlus 8 Pro and Galaxy S20 Plus sport a range of the latest high-end smartphone features. You’ll find in-display fingerprint scanners on both handsets, which work well enough for device security. Both also support facial recognition, but don’t include dedicated hardware for higher quality security.

For the first time, OnePlus includes an IP68 water and dust resistance rating on the 8 Pro. This finally matches the standard Samsung has included in the Galaxy S range for several generations. The two support 5G networks as well if you’re looking to move to an even faster data connection.

Wireless charging is also standard on both models, although be prepared to pay extra for the docks. We have to give the nod to OnePlus’ Warp Charge 30 wireless here though. With 30W of power, compared to 15W for the Galaxy S20 Plus, you’ll be back up and running in just half an hour or fully charged in 75 minutes. All without wires.

Read more: How fast is OnePlus’ Warp Charge 30 Wireless?

One UI vs Oxygen OS

Software is always a contentious issue when it comes to smartphones, and preferences often boil down to familiarity. We’ve covered the ins-and-outs of Samsung’s One UI and OnePlus’ Oxygen OS in extensive detail in the article below, so check that out for the full rundown.

What I will say is that One UI has a nice default layout and a good look to it that’s difficult to nitpick about. The standard app drawer is nicely organized, for example, while Oxygen OS just leaves it up to you to get organizing. However, Samsung’s settings menu is a tad more bloated, while it’s very easy to find what you want to toggle in OxygenOS’ settings. Oxygen OS also offers very powerful theme customization settings. Samsung has free and paid for downloadable themes and you can always download the Good Lock app, but it’s not as flexible out of the box if you’re big into customization.

A final point worth noting is the different approaches to virtual assistants. Although the Bixby button is gone, Samsung sticks with its in-house assistant. Press and hold the power button launches Bixby and the leftmost home screen page opens up Samsung Daily for content updates from common services. OnePlus is all-in with Google’s technology, with Google Discover replaced the outgoing Shelf feature on its leftmost screen and Google Assistant made available when holding down the power button. If you’re big into an assistant ecosystem, this could be a deciding factor.

Survey says: You like OnePlus Oxygen OS over Samsung One UI

OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: The verdict

OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Back

OnePlus and Samsung have produced two great flagship phones here, making either choice a good one. Samsung’s new design arguably looks and feels the most premium in the hand and the company’s experience at this tier sees it avoid gimmicky features like OnePlus’ color filter camera. You know what you’re getting with Samsung, but I found the camera experience a little disappointing considering its pedigree at this level.

OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: Which phone is the better buy?

4111 votes

Despite reusing its tried and tested design, the OnePlus 8 Pro shakes off the company’s historical tag as an underdog. The handset makes notable improvements to camera quality and display technology to compete with and even exceed Samsung’s 2020 flagship. Combined with sleek and refined software, fast wired and wireless charging, and an IP rating, the OnePlus 8 Pro doesn’t cut any corners.

So who wins the battle of the OnePlus 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus? Personally, I enjoyed my time with the OnePlus 8 Pro a little more, despite its gargantuan size. The display is marvelous, the camera solid enough, and the software is great. Given that the phone is also much cheaper than Samsung’s flagship, it’s definitely the better deal. But if you’re a fan of Samsung’s software and wider ecosystem, the Galaxy S20 Plus certainly won’t disappoint either.

OnePlus 8 Pro
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus