With the OnePlus 8, the company has put together a compelling phone that has a very calculated mix of features and compromises to keep its price tag relatively reasonable. The emerging Chinese brand that once started off in the mid-tier segment is now sailing in premium waters — a perfect recipe for leaving one’s existing customers in dilemma. The OnePlus 6 and 6T, released in 2018, are nearing their two-year cycles, and many of their owners were eyeing the 8 as a fitting replacement. But the substantially higher starting price of the non-Pro 2020 model has somewhat diluted the value-for-money element, posing a tough question for those due for an upgrade: Is the OnePlus 8 even worth upgrading to?

Things that the OnePlus 8 does better


The newer OnePlus takes a clear lead in the display department. It has a much brighter screen than the 6/6T — we’re talking around 440 vs. 1000+ nits here, which makes for a big deal of difference when outdoors. Not only that, but the 8’s OLED also refreshes at 90Hz, while the two 2018 phones have a paltry 60Hz panel. The jump from 60 to 90Hz is quite significant and becomes apparent the moment you pick the 8 up. Plus, you’ll be getting an HDR10-capable screen on the newer model, which isn’t present on the older phones.

From left to right: OnePlus 8, 6T, and 6

Faster storage

OnePlus switched to the faster UFS 3.0 storage with the OnePlus 7 series, giving its phones a significant speed bump from the UFS 2.1 NAND found inside the 6/6T. Part of the reason why recent OnePlus phones feel zippy is the new storage module, which the 8 also packs. Pitting the 6/6T against the 8, or even the last year’s 7, makes it plenty clear how much better load times have gotten, both for apps and files. Those using the 6 or 6T may not feel that their phones are slow per se, but once you’ve played around with the 8 for few minutes, you’ll be spoiled for good, just like its with 90Hz screen.

Cameras and speakers

Cameras on any older OnePlus phones have never topped the charts, but the fact remains that they’ve consistently gotten better over the years. While the OnePlus 8 recycles the camera hardware of its immediate predecessor, the company has made some notable changes to its image processing algorithms, which can improve the end result. The cameras on the 8 aren’t as good as those on the 8 Pro but are still well ahead of the modest pair found on the 6/6T. The two 2018 phones had two wide cameras, while the 8’s triple-camera system comprises of an ultra-wide and a macro sensor, in addition to the primary wide camera.

Three rear cameras of the OnePlus 8

The OnePlus 8 has an added benefit of a pair of stereo speakers that can get pretty damn loud. In comparison, both the 6 and 6T have a mono speaker blasting sound from their bottom edge — and it was admittedly lacking in quality. If you often find yourself catching up with Netflix shows on your phone with speakers on, you now clearly know which device will give you a better experience.

Battery capacity

The OnePlus 6 is the oldest one of the three and also packs the smallest battery with a 3300mAh capacity. While OnePlus’ Dash charger does top it up pretty quickly, the overall battery life is pretty mediocre by today's standards. Even the 3700mAh battery of the 6T looks pretty modest before the 4300mAh one of the 8. In our review, the 2020 model regularly lasted for full days, and sometimes spared some juice even to start the next day. Plus, Warp Charge 30T is a nifty addition, allowing you to do short charges right before dashing out of your house.

Software support

As you’d expect from a phone coming out after four months into 2020, the OnePlus 8 has Android 10 preinstalled. It will almost certainly be among the first phones — not just from OnePlus — to get the Android 11 update later this year and will likely be eligible for Android 12, as well. The 6 was launched rocking Oreo (Android 8.0), and it has already received two major updates, while the 6T came running Pie. If the two phones do end up getting Android 11, which is entirely possible, they will stand further behind in line, with the 8, 7T, and the 7 series getting priority.

From left to right: OnePlus 8, 6T, and 6

Why you shouldn’t bother upgrading from the OnePlus 6/6T

Display, again

Between the two 8 series phones, the Pro takes a bigger slice of the pie. It gets a higher-res QHD+ 120Hz screen and that too with an improved 10-bit panel — all of which are missing on the 8. If you want to swap your 6/6T for another OnePlus phone for their displays alone, then you’d be better off going for the Pro, which has a truly top-of-the-line screen (though with its issues) — the 8, not so much.

Hardware and software

The performance overhead in premium 800-series chips helps improve your phone’s longevity by keeping up with the apps that get more resource-heavy over time. The Snapdragon 845 beating inside the 6/6T is sufficiently powerful for handling even the most demanding apps and can continue doing so for the foreseeable future, probably even years from now. Moreover, the OnePlus 8 uses the same RAM standard — LPDDR4X — as the OnePlus 6 and 6T, which were released almost two years ago. As pointed out previously, the visible performance bump on the 8 from the 6/6T is mostly attributed to the newer storage modules.

The OnePlus 8's bottom

Plus, the two older phones rock the latest Android 10 version, which closely resembles the 8 series, aside from a few exclusive tweaks. You won’t be losing out on a lot if you choose to stick with your current OnePlus phone, at least until the 8 takes the lead with Android 11, possibly in the second half of the year. By that time, OnePlus would already be campaigning for its 8T series, if its release patterns are to be followed.

Charging system

OnePlus’ proprietary Warp Charge 30T uses a 30W adapter to quickly juice up the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro without producing much heat, but the 20W Dash charger is no slouch either. It shares the same heat management attributes of the newer tech and takes little over an hour to top up the OnePlus 6/6T. The divide between Dash and Warp Charge isn’t as wide as it might’ve felt when you first switched from your regular snail charger to OnePlus’ then-novel Dash Charge. And it isn’t like upgrading from the 6/6T to the 8 will get you the ease of wireless charging, which is again reserved only for the Pro, like it was the case with their displays.

The OnePlus 8 Pro on its wireless charger


No matter what your carrier tells you, 5G isn’t ready for primetime yet. Sure, it’s nice to flaunt your new acquisition that can show the 5G icon on the status bar, but beyond that, you’re getting little advantage over what the advanced variants of LTE have to offer. While buying a 5G phone right now will surely futureproof your purchase, the fact is that any high-end phone you get down the line will have 5G support anyway. So, why bother now? 5G alone shouldn’t be the reason to get rid of your existing phone, and waiting for another year for the tech to mature a bit might even turn out to be rewarding.

Headphone jack

This one is easy. The 6 was the last OnePlus phone to have a 3.5mm headphone jack. So, if you own the model and cannot stand wireless headphones, hold on to your phone until it dies of natural causes. And if this doesn’t apply to you, be it due to your indifference towards the analog connector or if you already own a newer OnePlus phone, which means you’ve embraced the new wireless life already, the absence of the headphone jack shouldn’t concern you.

The headphone jack on the OnePlus 6

Splash resistance

OnePlus finally got its phone certified for Ingress Protection (IP) ratings, but managed to take back a part of that alleviation by leaving out of the standard 8. The non-Pro model does support some form of water resistance (IP68), but it’s not clear how effective it is. The 2018 OnePlus 6 was the company’s first phone to get any kind of water resistance, and the company has claimed to have only improved the feature with subsequent releases. OnePlus says the 8 does have much improved water resistance over its previous phones, but that kind of promise doesn't feel reassuring without a number to back it up. (Of note: The OnePlus 8 sold by T-Mobile and Verizon in the US are IP68 certified, but the versions sold by OnePlus and Amazon aren't. Weird, we know.)

I’m still confused

There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with the OnePlus 6 and 6T in application; after all, they once were the revered flagship killers that every other phone wanted to beat. Both continue to be perfectly capable phones that can help you comfortably sail through another year, at the least. While the 6 may be turning two in a few weeks, the 6T is barely a year and a half old, which is considered reasonably young in the smartphone world. Moreover, the upgrades on the 8 are arguably more iterative than groundbreaking — something that stands valid for the entire smartphone industry.

You should consider holding onto your 6 or 6T for a while unless your unit has started acting up lately, and the issue couldn’t be fixed even with a hard reset. It could be anything between a lingering software bug, natural battery decay, or a more serious hardware breakage. Other than that, if you’ve begun disliking their camera output or want that juicy 90Hz screen no matter what, with the condition that you’re willing to shell out at least $700, I'm afraid, it's too late now, no one can hold you back anymore.

Answering the question we began this article with: Yes, the OnePlus 8 is totally worth upgrading to; in fact, it’s one of the better options out there.  It a solid, reasonably good value smartphone that has a lot going on for itself — even with the increased price tag. The handset is a well-rounded package with a beautiful screen, excellent software, and internal components to match. Coming from an older OnePlus or switching from another brand, you surely won’t regret getting one. But everything boils down to what kind of value you want to and can derive by swapping that old phone out for the newer 8. And for that, you’ll need to question yourself: Do I need to upgrade?