Samsung Galaxy S8 vs OnePlus 3T: Which is best?

Samsung's best ever goes against the smartphone world's best value

It used to seem like there was a dramatic difference in quality and capabilities between top-tier flagship phones and mid-rangers – and then OnePlus came along.

Somehow, OnePlus found a new middle ground: the near-flagship phone, one that matched the big guns in nearly every respect but found a couple of concessions to keep the cost down. And the results have only gotten better and better, with the OnePlus 3 standing as its best offering to date. Its replacement, the OnePlus 3T, is a slight improvement, albeit for more cash.

OnePlus has ruled our list of the best smartphones in the world since last summer, replacing the Samsung Galaxy S7. And now the Galaxy S8 has come to retake the throne.

If money isn't an issue, then the Galaxy S8 is your clear pick for an Android right now. But money is always an issue, especially when we're talking about a nearly RM1300 difference. So what really sets these phones apart, and should you really pay that much more for a Samsung?

Design: Fine vs Fabulous

The OnePlus 3T is a good-looking handset, especially with the Gunmetal and Midnight Black varieties. It looks fully premium, standing tall against the vast majority of flagships, with an all glass and aluminum build. It's nicely curvy on the back, and shows no obvious signs of being cheaper than the pack.

It'll win out against a lot of typical or ordinary flagship phones, but those terms do not describe the Samsung Galaxy S8. This phone is straight-up stunning, with a curved screen and barely any bezel at all, with the display blending pretty seamlessly into the little additional surface seen on the top and bottom.

It's the most beautiful slab of smartphone we've ever seen, and honestly, it's not even close. You'll pay extra for style here, but we doubt you'll feel bad about it.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Screen: Quad or full HD

On a 5.5in panel, a 1080p display is pretty great – and that's definitely true of the OnePlus 3T. This AMOLED screen is plenty bright and has deep blacks, although we found the contrast a little blown out. It's really crisp, though, and will be more than good enough for most users.

But it's a step down from most of the top Android flagships these days, which are using higher-resolution Quad HD panels. The Galaxy S8's 5.8in AMOLED screen is the best smartphone display we've ever come across, not only delivering dazzling contrast and impressive brightness, along with Quad HD clarity, but also mobile HDR support that enhances supported content.

It has some uncommon dimensions, though: it has an 18.5:9 aspect ratio, which means it's taller than usual in the hand, but that helps keep the Galaxy S8 from feeling massive. In truth, despite the extra 0.3in on the screen specs, the S8 shaves several millimeters off of the phone's total width, making it plenty comfortable in the hand.

The 1080p screen is part of how OnePlus undercuts the competition, and it makes total sense. It's one concession you can make without losing much quality of experience. But if we're talking best of the best, the Galaxy S8 is absolutely unparalleled right now.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Camera: Spend for better

When we reviewed the OnePlus 3T, we said, "The amount of detail you can get from this sub RM2000 phone is fantastic." That said, we also admitted when reviewing the OnePlus 3 (which uses the same back camera sensor), that "the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is significantly better."

The OnePlus 3T's 16-megapixel main camera offers plenty to like, including speedy snaps, lots of detail, and a pretty great HQ mode for low-light shots. However, we grumbled about the oft-jacked-up ISO, which makes for grainy shots, as well as the sometimes overwhelming image processing results.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S8 builds upon last year's 12-megapixel shooter with an array of software tricks. Now the phone grabs three photos with each snap and uses the spares to improve the single result, minimizing blur and other defects in the process. Thanks to optical image stabilisation and quick dual-pixel autofocus, you'll get clear, fabulous results most of the time.

The 3T's camera will be plenty fine for most on-the-go shooters, but anyone who needs a standout main camera will be more appeased by the Galaxy S8 in this showdown.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8