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Which affordable flagship should you buy?


Google Pixel 8 homescreen in hand

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Affordable flagship phones have come a long way, with many recent releases delivering high-end specs well below the $1,000 price point. Still, if there’s any company that has developed a reputation for dominating this segment, it’s OnePlus. Although the company has flip-flopped between price points in recent years, its latest flagship packs a punch without breaking the bank. But how does the OnePlus 12 stack up against Google’s almost equally affordable Pixel 8 and which one should you buy? Let’s break it down.

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8: At a glance

  • The OnePlus 12’s 6.82-inch display is significantly larger vs the Pixel 8’s 6.2-inches.
  • Google’s Tensor G3 SoC in the Pixel 8 isn’t as quick or efficient as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 present in the OnePlus 12.
  • The OnePlus 12’s larger footprint allows it to accommodate a significantly larger battery.
  • The Pixel 8 has a better water protection rating than the OnePlus 12.
  • The OnePlus 12 offers a telephoto zoom camera, which is completely absent on the Pixel 8.
  • You can charge up the OnePlus 12 within half an hour, while the Pixel 8 will take over an hour.
  • Both phones support wireless charging, but OnePlus supports higher power levels if you buy the company’s proprietary stand.
  • Google has promised seven years of software support for the Pixel 8 family, which is at least two years longer than OnePlus’ update policy.

Keep reading to learn more about how the OnePlus 12 compares vs the Pixel 8.

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8: Specs

OnePlus 12 Pixel 8

Display

OnePlus 12

6.82-inch AMOLED LTPO
3,168 x 1,440 resolution
120Hz refresh rate
402ppi

Pixel 8

6.2-inch OLED
2,400 x 1,080 resolution
120Hz refresh rate
428ppi

Processor

OnePlus 12

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

Pixel 8

Tensor G3

RAM

OnePlus 12

12GB/16GB/24GB
LPDDR5X

Pixel 8

8GB
LPDDR5X

Storage

OnePlus 12

256GB/512GB/1TB
UFS 4.0

Pixel 8

128/256GB
UFS 3.1

Power

OnePlus 12

5,400mAh battery
100W wired (likely 80W in North America)
50W wireless charging
10W reverse wireless charging

Pixel 8

4,575mAh
27W wired charging
15W Qi wireless charging / 18W Pixel Stand
Reverse wireless charging

Cameras

OnePlus 12

Rear:
– 50MP wide, f/1.6, OIS
– 48MP ultrawide, f/2.2, autofocus
– 64MP 3x periscope, f/2.6, OIS

Selfie:
– 32MP, f/2.4

Pixel 8

Rear:
– 50MP wide, ƒ/1.68, OIS
– 12MP ultrawide, ƒ/2.2

Selfie:
– 10.5MP, ƒ/2.2

Connectivity

OnePlus 12

5G
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC
Wi-Fi 7
eSIM

Pixel 8

5G
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC
Wi-Fi 7
eSIM

Dimensions

OnePlus 12

160 x 74.2 x 8.7mm

Pixel 8

150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm

Software

OnePlus 12

Android 14
Oxygen OS 14

Pixel 8

Android 14
Pixel UI

Weight

OnePlus 12

220g

Pixel 8

187g

Durability

OnePlus 12

Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front
Glass back
IP65 rating

Pixel 8

Gorilla Glass Victus (front and back)
IP68 rating

OnePlus phones have always packed a punch on the spec sheet and the company’s latest flagship is no exception. Pound for pound, it’s hard to find a competing smartphone that delivers better specs without going well over the OnePlus 12’s price point. Luckily, Google has undergone a similar transformation with recent Pixel releases. That means the Pixel 8 is quite competitive and, surprisingly, even manages to surpass the OnePlus 12 in some areas.

Starting with the displays, the OnePlus 12 offers up a large 6.82-inch 120Hz OLED display. The Pixel 8 with its 6.2-inch 120Hz AMOLED display, meanwhile, is significantly smaller. Display size is mostly a matter of personal preference. That said, the OnePlus 12 does have the upper hand as it packs a LTPO display that can vary its refresh rate to save a bit of power. Likewise, the OnePlus 12 boasts a higher QHD+ resolution, but the Pixel 8 actually has a higher pixel density because of its smaller size.

Both smartphones claim chart-topping peak brightness values. However, I’d advise against looking too closely at the actual numbers as testing methods can differ greatly between brands. You won’t have trouble with either display when it comes to outdoor visibility, that much is certain.

The OnePlus 12 and Pixel 8 both pack flagship-grade displays, but the latter falls slightly short.

The OnePlus 12 is one of the first devices to launch with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip. While the jury is still out on the phone’s real-world performance, early benchmarks of the chip show it delivers excellent performance compared to its predecessor and the competition. The latter unfortunately includes the Pixel 8’s Tensor G3 chip, which doesn’t aspire to take the performance crown in 2023, let alone 2024.

If you’re willing to overlook benchmark results, though, the Pixel 8 will deliver decent performance for most workloads. I’ve been using the Pixel 8 Pro running the same chip for two months and have never found it lacking even during heavy multitasking sessions. That said, I’d recommend gamers stick to the OnePlus 12 for its better performance and likely efficiency. Snapdragon chips also typically enjoy better compatibility in lesser-known titles and emulators. To learn more about how these two chips stack up against each other, check out our comparison between the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and Tensor G3.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 will easily outperform Google’s Tensor G3 in demanding tasks.

We’ll have to wait for OnePlus’ global release to know which storage and RAM variants will go on sale outside China. Nevertheless, the OnePlus 12’s 12GB/256GB base model already offers more than the Pixel 8’s maximum 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The former also uses faster UFS 4.0 storage, which may result in faster app opening and game loading times.

OnePlus 12 Official image from OnePlus

Moving on to durability, the Pixel 8 takes its first major victory with its IP68 water resistance rating. The OnePlus 12’s IP65 rating is also decent but doesn’t guarantee the phone’s survival when immersed. Of course, you shouldn’t submerge your smartphone regardless of its IP rating, so neither smartphone is a bad choice if you’re simply concerned about surviving a rainy day.

Google has outdone the competition with the Pixel 8 family’s software support, promising Android updates for seven whole years. That’s three years longer than OnePlus’ support timeline, although the company does provide five total years of security patches. Most people will upgrade long before the Pixel 8 stops receiving updates but it may factor into the phone’s resale value.

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8: Size comparison

The OnePlus 12 is one of the largest smartphones on the market, exceeding even the Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra. Google has taken the opposite approach with the Pixel 8, meanwhile, and shrunk the display compared to last year.

The Pixel 8 is one of very few choices if you’re looking for a compact flagship smartphone. It doesn’t sacrifice many features compared to its larger counterparts either, save for a zoom lens. A smaller stance means that you’ll find it easier to use one-handed. The Pixel 8 is also quite lightweight considering its dual-glass design, totalling just 187g. The OnePlus 12, meanwhile, clocks in at a hefty 220g.

The OnePlus 12 takes a more maximalist approach to smartphone design. The majority of smartphone users do prefer larger screens, after all. However, the OnePlus 12 may require two hands to use comfortably, especially for certain actions like pulling down the notification shade.

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8: Cameras

OnePlus 12 launch stream

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Google’s smartphones have earned a reputation for delivering some of the best images on the market, even going down to the budget A-series. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that the Pixel 8 punches well above its weight when it comes to image and even video quality. However, the story changes somewhat if you need versatility as Google’s affordable flagship only packs a 12MP ultrawide shooter and no zoom lens whatsoever.

The OnePlus 12, meanwhile, includes a 50MP Sony LYT-808 primary camera, a 48MP ultrawide angle lens, and a 64MP 3x telephoto zoom shooter. The fourth camera cutout hosts a 13-channel multispectral color sensor. OnePlus also benefits from sharing its parent company’s imaging technology along with a long-running Hasselblad partnership.

The OnePlus 12 offers a telephoto lens, which the Pixel 8 lacks.

While we haven’t tested the OnePlus 12 and its cameras yet, it’s safe to say that it will deliver better ultrawide and zoom shots than the Pixel 8. Only the higher-end Pixel 8 Pro delivers similar image sensors as the OnePlus 12. The latter wins in the selfie camera spec race too, but stay tuned for our review to find out if the additional megapixels truly translate to better image quality.

If you’re someone that doesn’t stray beyond the primary camera on your smartphone, however, it’s a much closer contest. The Pixel 8 delivers excellent results in practically any condition and Google’s excellent computational photography makes it one of the most consistent shooters. While we’ve come away impressed with the primary camera on the OnePlus Open — the company’s latest foldable — it has historically trailed behind Google, even with better hardware. Here are a few camera samples from our Pixel 8 review.

It’s worth noting that the Pixel 8 offers a plethora of AI-enabled camera features. Magic Editor, Audio Eraser, and Best Take can make an appreciable difference to your smartphone photos, even if I wouldn’t say they’re worth basing your purchasing decision on.

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8: Battery life and charging

Google Pixel 8 USB C charging test

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

With its 5,400mAh battery, it’s safe to say that the OnePlus 12 has a definitive lead on paper. For comparison, the Pixel 8 packs just 4,575mAh. Having said that, the OnePlus 12 does have to power a larger display so don’t expect a 20% difference between the two phones.

It’s worth noting that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 should deliver better efficiency than the Tensor G3, meaning battery life will depend on your usage pattern. Lighter smartphone users may not notice any difference whereas heavy gamers and content creators should get better endurance out of the OnePlus 12.

The OnePlus 12’s faster charging will net you a full charge within 30 minutes.

The OnePlus 12 also blows the Pixel 8 out of the water when it comes to top ups, with its 100W SuperVOOC fast charging support (80W in North America). While Google has allowed the Pixel 8 to juice up at a higher 27W this year, that still translates to a full charge time of over an hour. The OnePlus 12, meanwhile, will take less than half an hour to fully charge up.

Both smartphones support wireless charging, but it’s another one-sided competition. With Google’s second-gen Pixel Stand, the Pixel 8 can handle 18W of wireless charging power. That’s technically 3W higher than the Qi standard allows, but OnePlus supports 50W wireless charging via its proprietary stand.

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8: Price

OnePlus 12 colors
  • OnePlus 12 (12GB/256GB): Starts at 4,299 yuan (~$600)
  • Pixel 8 (8GB/128GB): Starts at $699

The OnePlus 12 and Pixel 8 are relatively affordable as far as flagship smartphones go. However, Google hiked the Pixel 8 family’s price compared to prior generations, bringing it up to $699.

OnePlus hasn’t disclosed global availability or pricing details for its latest flagship yet, but the last-gen OnePlus 11 launched at 3,999 yuan and ended up retailing for $699 in North America. The company’s pricing in China increased by only 300 yuan this year, so we’re expecting the OnePlus 12 to launch at or slightly above $699 as well. For that price, however, you’ll likely get more RAM and storage than the Pixel 8. The base model OnePlus 12 includes 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage vs. the Pixel 8’s 8GB and 128GB \respectively.

Having said that, the Pixel 8 benefited from an earlier launch, meaning you can find small discounts on it already. The same can’t be said for the OnePlus 12, which will only hit store shelves in early 2024.

Google Pixel 8Google Pixel 8
AA Recommended

Google Pixel 8

Bright display • Upgraded face-unlock • Improved camera

A bright display from Google’s 2023 flagship phone

The Google Pixel 8 introduces the new Actua display, a 6.2-inch panel that’s 42% brighter than the Pixel 7. Backed by the fully updated Tensor G3 chipset, and a new 50MP camera, this promises to be one of the more exciting Pixel phones.

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8: Which one should you buy?

Google Pixel 8 homescreen in hand

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

If you value raw specs above all else, you’ll find it hard to fault the OnePlus 12. It brings some cutting-edge features like efficient LTPO display tech, fast UFS 4.0 storage, and the performant Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 at a very competitive price point. Not to mention, you get much more RAM and storage for the same amount of money.

The Pixel 8 is no slouch, though, and should deliver more consistent imaging alongside decent real-world performance. Not to mention, it packs plenty of Pixel-only AI features like Google’s Call Screening and Magic Editor. It also enjoys a longer software support guarantee and a better water resistance rating.

It’s a closer match-up than you probably expected going into this comparison but, luckily, that means you can’t go wrong either way. Which smartphone would you rather buy?

Which would you rather buy, the Pixel 8 or OnePlus 12?

111 votes



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