This has got to be the question of the year. So many of you want to know which phone in this new $700 category you should buy – should you go with the Pixel 5 or the Galaxy S20 FE or the OnePlus 8T?
It’s not an easy question to answer, but there is most definitely a phone most of you will find to be the best value of the bunch, yet all three phones should probably be considered for their own reasons. What I’m trying to tell you, even though the comment section will disagree, is that there isn’t a clear winner here depending on your needs.
Let’s decide which of the three non-flagship flagships you should buy to finish out 2020.
Buy the Galaxy S20 FE if…
…you want the very best value in smartphones, with regular discounts that make it even tougher to beat.
There is no denying that Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE is likely the phone of the year because of the set of specs it offers at an absolutely incredible price. Originally priced at $699, with several discounts that keep dropping it to $599, this is a hell of a buy for those not wanting to sacrifice on experience and also not have to spend $1,000 on their next phone.
The specs sheet tells a lot of this story by showing a Snapdragon 865 processor, 6.5″ FHD AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage (with SD slot), triple rear camera (main+wide+telephoto), 4500mAh battery with fast wired and wireless charging, both NFC and MST for payments, stereo speakers, in-display fingerprint reader, and an IP68 water and dust resistance rating.
Samsung will push out several years of updates, you get to choose from a bunch of fun colors (six!) when you buy one, and the phone will give you the premium feel of a more expensive phone while knowing you didn’t pay for one.
If there are downsides, it’s only going to be for those of you who don’t think 6GB RAM can keep up with your daily usage or if Samsung’s One UI skin isn’t your cup of tea. Otherwise, I’m just telling you now that (at least on paper and in price) the next two phones don’t quite stand-up to the Galaxy S20 FE.
Buy the Pixel 5 if…
…you really love Google’s Pixel software experience and only trust their cameras.
The Google Pixel 5 is a fine phone, it’s just that Samsung and OnePlus released phones with much better specs at prices very similar. The list of reasons one would have to buy a Pixel 5 over the S20 FE or 8T won’t be long and mostly boils down to software and the still camera. You may also like the size and the non-glass backside.
When I look at these three phones, I can say that I like the Pixel 5 because it’ll fit nicely in everyone’s hands as a smallish phone, the clean software experience and quickest updates in the game are important, and I love the way Google’s cameras process still photos. Holding a phone that isn’t made of fragile glass (5’s backside is metal covered in plastic) is kind of refreshing too.
But look, the Pixel 5 has an inferior processor (765G vs. 865), a 90Hz display while the other two have 120Hz panels, and lacks a telephoto camera. In my review, I talked about how the Pixel 5 is still a solid phone, it’s just that in this situation you would have to heavily value Google’s software approach and camera over all else in order to buy it.
Buy the OnePlus 8T if…
…OnePlus’ hardware and software are really your thing and Samsung isn’t.
I really like the OnePlus 8T and think it is their best phone. The flat display at 120Hz, super speedy performance, and size are all right where I like them. In addition to those goods, you get 12GB RAM and 256GB UFS3.1 storage, both of which are tops in the category against the Pixel 5 and S20 FE. You get excellent battery life, absurdly fast charging (65W), mostly clean software, and solid camera performance.
The problem for the OnePlus 8T is the price. At $749, it really needs a permanent discount back to $699 to match the S20 FE and Pixel 5 or people are simply going to overlook it. With no IP rating, a camera that is a step behind Google’s, and knowing the S20 FE’s attraction to discounts, I’m worried about the 8T’s chances of success.
However, I still don’t think you should overlook the 8T if you don’t like Samsung’s One UI, are into gaming, and keep your phones long enough that 256GB of super fast storage is necessary, you can’t go wrong here.