Forget the iPhone SE, OnePlus 8’s biggest challenge is its own predecessor
The shadow of the OnePlus 7T
It has been a very odd week for the OnePlus 8. When it was launched in the US, it was criticized by some for being way too expensive at USD 699, which was well above the USD 599 its predecessor, the OnePlus 7T, was launched at. And of course, there was also a concern in OnePlus’ largest market, India, that the OnePlus 8 would come with very premium pricing – USD 699 roughly translates into Rs 53,400, well above the Rs 37,999 that the OnePlus 7T had been launched at. This was also followed by criticism in some quarters that the OnePlus 8 was actually not too much of an upgrade over the OnePlus 7T – some were very critical of OnePlus’ decision to not upgrade the 48-megapixel main sensor from the Sony IMX 586 on the 7T, while others were not too pleased by the macro sensor on the OnePlus 8, saying they preferred the telephoto sensor on the 7T.
The announcement of a lower than expected price in India for the OnePlus 8 (Rs 41,999) has temporarily silenced some of the critics, as the price is indeed well below what many were expecting, and as we pointed out in another story, is actually even below its starting price in China. The fact that its price is also very close to the Indian price of the recently launched iPhone SE (Rs 42,500) has also sparked off some talk of an iPhone SE vs OnePlus 8 rivalry.
Step back and take a cold, hard look at the facts however, and it becomes apparent that the OnePlus 7T actually is a potentially bigger headache for the OnePlus 8 than Cupertino’s price warrior.
The biggest reason for this, of course, is the good old price – the OnePlus 7T was launched at Rs 37,999 but has been available at Rs 34,999, a clear Rs 7,000 below the OnePlus 8. The other reason, however, is even more problematic – in sheer spec terms (and we have not used the OnePlus 8 yet, so this is not a firm conclusion), the OnePlus 8 does not exactly overwhelm the OnePlus 7T.
Of course, the OnePlus 8 does bring more to the table for those extra bucks, most notably a newer processor (Snapdragon 865). But the OnePlus 7T’s processor, the Snapdragon 855+ was not exactly a pushover and is still turning in a stellar performance. What’s more, the OnePlus 7T’s base model is an 8GB/ 128 GB one as against the 6 GB/ 128 GB of the OnePlus 8. The 7T is also perceived by some to have a more versatile camera arrangement. It has a similar 48 megapixel Sony IMX 586 sensor as the one on the OnePlus 8 and also has a dedicated 16-megapixel ultrawide sensor and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens. The OnePlus 8 comes with a 2-megapixel macro sensor instead of the telephoto, and many consider this to be a bit of a downgrade. There is no clear selfie camera advantage either – both phones come with 16-megapixel front shooters. And even though the OnePlus 7T had a smaller battery (3800 mAh as against 4300 mAh), it shares the 30T Warp Charge that the OnePlus 8 has.
Even the OnePlus 8’s design edge is subjective – yes, the OnePlus 8 looks sleek and gorgeous but then the OnePlus 7T was actually one of the most distinct phones of its generation thanks to its circular camera unit on the back. And while the display of the OnePlus 8 is supposed to be qualitatively superior to the one on the 7T, on the surface, they are both 6.55-inch fluid AMOLED HDR 10+ displays with similar 2400 x 1080 resolution, even sharing a 90 Hz refresh rate. Both phones also come with dual speakers, and both phones have support for Dolby Atmos as well.
The OnePlus 8 does have a more compact frame and a punch hole notch as compared to the drop notch on the 7T, but would that justify a higher price tag? Even the 5G edge that the OnePlus 8 has over the 7T is nullified by the absence of that network in India, with no sign of it coming in the near future either. And there’s no clear software edge either, as both devices run Oxygen UI based on Android 10. Both have in-display fingerprint scanners as well.
In sum, there is so much in common (or close) on paper (and we stress that we have not used the OnePlus 8 yet) between these two devices, that how the OnePlus 8 performs is actually going to play a vital role in its being seen as a significant upgrade over the OnePlus 7T. But as of now, the fact that the OnePlus 7T actually starts at a lower price than the OnePlus 8, makes it a potentially bigger headache for the OnePlus 8, as compared to the iPhone SE, in our book. It also reminds us of just how good the OnePlus 7T was. There could be battle brewing in the Never Settling family.