If you're looking for a new, well-equipped smartphone that won't break the bank, bargain devices from Chinese companies Huawei and OnePlus may have you covered. While Huawei is an industry giant that has only recently entered the U.S. market, OnePlus is an ambitious startup company only a few years old. Here's how their affordable flagships, the Honor 8 and the OnePlus 3, stack up.
The Honor 8 is the more compact of the two. OnePlus 3 is nearly 5-percent taller, 6-percent wider and roughly the same thickness.
The phones have a 5-gram weight difference, with the larger OnePlus 3 edging out the Honor 8. For reference, that's the weight of one nickel.
The Honor 8 has a light-catching glass body with a multi-layered finish. It's quite unique, although it does have a slippery feeling, more like plastic than glass. The OnePlus 3 has a less distinctive brushed aluminum unibody.
The OnePlus 3 is the larger of the two phones, and it has a 5.6-percent bigger display to match.
Notice that the phones have the same 1,920 x 1,080 pixels to meet the Full HD standard, but since the Honor 8 is smaller, it wins the pixel density battle. It is also slightly brighter than the OnePlus 3, having a 455-nit max brightness versus the OnePlus's 433 nits.
All in all, screen resolution seems to be the largest compromise on these affordable phones. While they are toe-to-toe with high-end phones in many areas, they don't approach the 2,560 x 1,440 QHD display standard met by many of its competitors.
Since the Honor 8 has an IPS display, it's less prone to over-saturation than the AMOLED-sporting OnePlus 3.
...but, the OnePlus 3's AMOLED technology enables an always-on display feature. You can see key notifications onscreen all the time, without having to "wake up" your phone.
Buyer beware – these phones are sold unlocked from the manufacturer, but they are not compatible with every major carrier. In the United States, they won't work with Verizon, Sprint or U.S. Cellular. It's wise to double check compatibility before purchase.
Both of these devices contain speedy chips that are comparable – or in the OnePlus 3's case, identical – to those found in much more expensive phones.
The OnePlus 3 has a chart-topping 6 GB of RAM, twice as much as the Honor 8.
The OnePlus 3 also has twice the internal storage as the Honor 8, though the increased capacity is almost made moot by the next point.
The Honor 8 has a microSD slot, so the phone's storage can be expanded up to 128 GB. With the OnePlus 3, you'll have to make due with internal storage only.
Both phones are NFC (near field communication) ready, which enables Android Pay technology. Android Pay can't mimic the swiping of a magnetic strip, like Samsung Pay can, but it is accepted by an ever-growing number of merchants.
The two models are neck-and-neck in terms of battery size. They both have a 3,000 mAh battery.
If you were hoping for on a removable battery, though, most of those have gone the way of the dinosaur. Both of these batteries are staying put.
Huawei advertises 9V/2A fast charging technology that reaches a 0-percent to 47-percent charge in 30 minutes, or two hours of talk time from a 10-minute charge. OnePlus makes a similar claim: "A day's power in half an hour," meaning it can reach a 63-percent charge (from zero) in 30 minutes.
OnePlus utilizes proprietary Dash Charge technology, which purportedly generates less heat than other fast charging solutions (which played a role in the now-infamous recall of Samsung's fire-prone Note 7 phablets).
Fast as charging may be, both phones need to be tethered during the power-up.
The OnePlus 3 comes out ahead in camera rear-facing camera resolution, while they both have 8-megapixel front cameras. There are better rear cameras to be found, but when it comes to taking sharp selfies, these are two of this year's best options.
Camera aperture (rear)
The OnePlus 3 has a slightly larger aperture, which enables higher-quality low-light photography. However, the Honor 8 packs a few software tricks that help manipulate depth-of-field effects, so you can mimic the look of a large-aperture, bokeh-heavy capture.
Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the Honor 8 has a dual-lens camera. Whereas Apple's provides optical zoom and improved digital zoom capabilities, Huawei's version is designed to create richer, more vivid images by taking two captures – one color and one grayscale – simultaneously.
Optical image stabilization
We miss optical image stabilization in the Honor 8, especially for taking pictures in dim lighting. The OnePlus 3 does have OIS, which helps eliminate unwanted blur that arises as a product of hand shake and long exposure times.
This smartphone feature has become nearly ubiquitous. The Honor 8's fingerprint sensor is on the back of the phone, while the OnePlus 3's sensor is on the front, just below the display.
Water resistance is more prevalent in mobile technology than ever, but don't expect either of these devices to survive an accidental swim.
Nothing proprietary or out-of-date here. Both phones charge via USB-C ports.
The Honor 8 and OnePlus are currently running Android 6.0 Marshmallow with a manufacturer-specific skin. Both interfaces are very close to stock Android. The OnePlus 3 is expected to get the Nougat update in the very near future, and an update for the Honor 8 is speculated for the end of the year.
Both phones were released earlier this year, only a month apart.
Starting price (full retail)
Neither of these phones are available through US carriers, so be prepared to cough up the cash up front. Still, at US$399.99 for the Honor 8 and $399 for the OnePlus 3, you'll drop considerably less dough for either of these phones than their similarly-equipped counterparts. For comparison, the iPhone 7 starts at $649 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 at $670.
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