Best answer: Yes. You should consider buying the OnePlus 8 if you're looking at the 8 or the 8 Pro in 2021. Both of these devices are capable of quite a lot, but the OnePlus 8 definitely offers better value.
Making the case for the OnePlus 8
As we see with most OnePlus device launches, the smaller device of the two doesn't get as much "love" as the Pro model. Unfortunately, this trend remained true when the OnePlus 8 series was released, and the OnePlus 8 kind of gets a bad rap.
There's something to be said about having a compact flagship in a world where it feels like phones are still getting larger and larger. Under the hood, the power is practically identical, thanks to the Snapdragon 865 paired with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of non-expandable storage. The battery is slightly smaller, coming in at 4,300mAh compared to 4,510 in the OnePlus 8 Pro, but OnePlus makes up for that with Warp Charge 30T.
If you want a phone that's easy to find is regularly on sale, and isn't a behemoth, then the OnePlus 8 is still a great value in 2021.
The displays are also a bit different, as the OnePlus 8 is equipped with a 6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED display. This brings a 2400 x 1080 resolution, HDR10+ support, and Gorilla Glass 6. But the bigger potential difference is in the refresh rate, as the OnePlus 8 maxes out at 90Hz, while its larger brother gets the larger display with a 120Hz refresh rate.
But with the OnePlus 8 comes a lower price and better overall availability. You can look around the web, and the OnePlus 8 is still easy to be found, and it was one of the best Prime Day deals that was available.
The biggest sacrifice that you'll have to make comes in the camera department. The OnePlus 8 sports a 48MP wide-angle lens, along with a 16MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro. There's nothing really wrong with this camera setup, but it definitely pales in comparison to the 8 Pro.
Making a case for the OnePlus 8 Pro
The OnePlus 8 Pro shares a lot of qualities of the OnePlus 8T and the newer OnePlus 9 series. This is really the "flagship" device of the bunch with its larger 6.7-inch Fluid AMOLED display and 120Hz refresh rate. Spec-wise, the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro are identical, so there's really nothing to write home about in that department. It's doubtful that you'll find any differences in day-to-day performance between the two.
But there are a few key areas where the OnePlus 8 Pro might be the more intriguing option, even with other phones like the Galaxy S21 and OnePlus 9 available for around the same price. Notably, OnePlus upgraded the camera system with the 8 Pro compared to the 9 Pro.
The OnePlus 8 Pro was a great flagship for 2020, but you might be better suited looking at the OnePlus 9.
It's headlined by a 48MP wide-angle lens, along with an 8MP telephoto sensor equipped with OIS and hybrid zoom. Then, there's the 48MP ultra-wide camera, with its 119° Field of View. This Sony IMX689 is such a great sensor that it was also included on the regular OnePlus 9, giving the 8 Pro an easy win in the camera department over the OnePlus 8.
Then there's the issue of charging and battery life. On paper, the OnePlus 8 Pro's 4,510mAh cell may not seem like much. But the 8 Pro was also the company's first phone equipped with wireless charging. Admittedly, it doesn't match up to the Warp Charge 50 offered by the OnePlus 9 Pro, but 30W wireless charging speeds are nothing to turn your nose up at.
Should you buy a OnePlus 8 or 8 Pro in 2021?
At this point, both of these devices are more than a year old, and OnePlus has already replaced them with the OnePlus 8T, followed by the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. However, that doesn't mean that you should just skip right along to the latest and greatest, at least for one of these devices.
In 2021, the OnePlus 8 offers an incredible value given that it's regularly discounted and still provides a flagship level of performance. The camera system may not be as nice as the 8 Pro or even the 8T, but you'll still get some great shots with the 48MP primary lens. Plus, you can always load up something like GCam if you want to have even better image processing compared to what OnePlus offers out of the box.
It may be smaller, it may lack wireless charging, and it may have a flat display. But the OnePlus 8 can still stand up against some of the best Android phones of 2021, but you won't have to pay flagship prices.
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