Should you buy OnePlus 9 or Samsung Galaxy S21?
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We just gave the Samsung Galaxy S21 the Most Wanted award, but this week OnePlus started selling a worthy competitor: the OnePlus 9. Both phones are very similar in size, hardware and price, with their own advantages and disadvantages, so let’s decide. it can be a little tricky in between. But we’re here to help and share the nuances and differences in this post.
At first glance, the two phones couldn’t be more alike. Both have Qualcomm’s latest high-end processor, the Snapdragon 888, and they start with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Both displays are OLED displays and have a 120Hz refresh rate, although the S21’s screen is only 6.2 inches while the OnePlus is 6.55 inches. While both support Wi-Fi 6, OnePlus saved some money on Bluetooth by opting for version 5.0 over 5.2. This is frustrating due to some of the improvements to low power audio streaming for headphones. Sadly, neither phone has a headphone jack or expandable storage, and both phones in the US use the same SIM.
Samsung Galaxy S21.
Things diverge a little in the battery and charging compartment. The OnePlus 9’s 4,500mAh battery charges up to 65W with the included pod, allowing you to fully charge it in less than an hour. The S21 should be content with a 4,000mAh PSU that charges at a maximum output of 25W. If you charge all night anyway, it shouldn’t bother you too much, but very fast charging is always useful in case you need to top up your balance shortly before leaving the house – and unlike Samsung, OnePlus provides a charging block in the box. …
Unlike Samsung, OnePlus has a nifty alert slider above the power button that lets you switch between silent, vibration, and ringing without ever having to unlock the phone. You can also choose between an extremely well-made matte plastic back with a metal bezel on the S21 and a glass back with a plastic bezel imitating metal on the OnePlus 9.
|OnePlus 9||Samsung Galaxy S21|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 888||Snapdragon 888|
|RAM||8/12 GB (LPDDR5)||8 GB (LPDDR5)|
|Storage||128/256 GB (UFS3.1)||128/256 GB (UFS3.1)|
|Display||6.55-inch OLED, 2400 x 1080, 120Hz||6.2-inch OLED, 2400 x 1080, 120Hz|
|Battery charge||4500mAh, 65W Warp Charge, 15W Qi, Wireless Reverse Charging||4000mAh, 25W Fast Charging, 15W Qi Wireless, Reverse Wireless Charging|
|Rear cameras||48 MP main, 50 MP ultrawide, 2 MP monochrome||64MP telephoto, 12MP wide, 12MP ultra wide|
|Front cameras||16 megapixels||10 megapixels|
|Communication||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, 5G sub-6||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, 5G sub-6|
|Colors||Astral black, Arctic sky, Winter fog||Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom White, Phantom Pink|
|Dimensions (edit)||160 x 74.2 x 8.7mm||151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm|
|Weight||192 g||171 g (for mmWave USA model)|
|Software||OxygenOS 11 / Android 11||One 3.1 / Android 11 interface|
|Price||$ 730 (8/128 GB), $ 830 (12/256 GB)||$ 800 (128GB), $ 850 (256GB)|
OnePlus phones have historically been pretty mediocre in the camera department, but with the company’s new partnership with Hasselblad, things have changed a bit. In our review, we noted that OnePlus’ image processing is still not quite to our liking with overly sharp edges and aggressive anti-aliasing, and the camera also suffers from blurriness and questionable white balance in low light. Things have gotten a lot better, however, and OnePlus’ new flagship lineup is almost on par with Samsung’s imaging processing. The inclusion of an ultra-wide “free-form lens” is great for macro photography, although we are puzzled by the decision to add a mostly useless 2-megapixel monochrome sensor.
Meanwhile, our biggest problem with the Galaxy S21 camera is Samsung’s tendency to over-saturate colors and destroy texture haze in low light conditions, but overall the camera is still more reliable and versatile than the OnePlus 9 thanks to a better choice of lenses (wide-angle, ultra wide-angle, telephoto lenses). You can read more about that in our full Galaxy S21 review.
Both phones ship with Android 11 at launch, and both have their own software issues to contend with. While Samsung’s software has gotten incredibly good over the years, the company has a few annoying defaults that you might want to change once you get the device. Samsung also has a bad habit of placing ads in your notifications that are difficult to turn off. Once you’ve got everything set up the way you want it, everything should work smoothly, and you’ll find pretty much anything you want, and more. The manufacturer is also incredibly good at updating software over the years and promises up to three years of software updates and four years of security patches – currently the only (mainstream) Android manufacturer doing this.
Samsung user interface.
For OnePlus, things are a little different. We used to praise the company for its great, almost Pixel-like experience with relatively quick updates, but over the years, OnePlus has fallen behind release schedules and software has been getting bugs, with Android Auto and system navigation glitches on our review unit. … However, for the most part, the experience is smooth and there are some thoughtful additions to Android like scrolling through screenshots, screen off gestures, parallel apps (to run two instances of the same app with different accounts next to each other) and much more. …
OnePlus user interface.
If you rely on background apps a lot, both phones won’t necessarily make you happy out of the box – Samsung and OnePlus incredibly aggressive when it comes to killing background activity. You will have to bypass the restrictions by excluding apps in the system settings of any phone, and even then some apps there will still be problems…
While the Galaxy S21 is slightly more expensive than the OnePlus 9 ($ 800 versus $ 730), the Samsung phone will be able to serve you well for a longer period of time thanks to its extensive software update policy if you plan to keep it. for years to come. And despite OnePlus’ partnership with Hasselblad, Samsung’s camera game is still relevant and often beats the OnePlus. Overall, this makes the Galaxy S21 a better choice for most people, although the OnePlus 9 may still entice you with its lower starting price, an excellent 65W fast charger in the box, and some unique features like a warning slider and ad-free interface. You can’t go wrong with any phone, so make sure you pick the one that best suits your preferences.
Left: OnePlus 9. Right: Samsung Galaxy S21.