Which one’s the better deal?

by Jeremy

OnePlus Nine is out now. And from what the company is asking for the hardware on the table, it looks like one impressive budget flagship. Fresh design, massive improvements in the camera department, faster chipset, and support for wireless charging – all these make it a pretty compelling option. However, the Galaxy S21 – following its first price cut – falls in almost the same territory as the OnePlus 9. So, how do these two phones stack up? And more importantly, which one should you buy? Here’s a comparison to help you pick the right one:

Which one's the better deal?

OnePlus Nine vs. Samsung Galaxy S21 spec comparison

OnePlus 9 Samsung Galaxy S21
Display6.55-inch AMOLED
2400 x 1080 pixels resolution
402 PPI pixel density
120Hz refresh rate
20:9 aspect ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass
6.2-inch (Galaxy S21)
6.7-inch (Galaxy S21+)
Dynamic AMOLED 2X
2400×1080 pixels resolution
421 PPI pixel density
120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Exynos 2100
Storage128GB / 256GB UFS 3.1128GB / 256GB
Rear Cameras48MP primary camera
Sony IMX689 sensor
1/1.43-inch, f/1.8, EIS, 7P50MP ultra-wide camera
Sony IMX766 sensor
1/1.56-inch f/2.2. 7P lens2MP monochrome camera8K video at 30fps
4K video at 30/60fps
Slo-mo 720p at 480fps, 1080p at 240fps
Time-Lapse 1080p at 30fps and 4K at 30fps
12MP primary camera
Dual Pixel AF, OIS, 1.8μm, f/1.8, 79˚ FOV, 1/1.76-inch sensor12MP ultra-wide camera
1.4μm, 120˚ FOV, f/2.264MP telephoto Camera
0.8μm, f/2.0, 76˚ FOV, 1/1.72-inch
3x hybrid optical and 30x digital zoom8K video at 24fps
4K video at 60 fps
Slo-mo 1080p at 60fps / 240fps
Slo-mo 720p at 960fps
Front Camera16MP
Sony IMX471 sensor
f/2.4, fixed focus, EIS
Dual Pixel AF, 1.22μm
80˚ FOV, f/2.2
Battery4500 mAh
Warp Charge 65T
15W Qi wireless charging (North America & Europe)
4000 mAh (Galaxy S21)
4,800mAh (Galaxy S21+)
25W USB PD 3.0
Wireless Charging
Reverse Wireless Charging
ColorsWinter Mist
Arctic Sky
Astral Black
Phantom Violet
Phantom Black
Phantom Silver
Phantom Pink
AudioDual stereo speakers
Noise cancellation support
Dolby Atmos
Stereo speakers by AKG
Dolby Atmos
Dolby Digital & Dolby Digital Plus
Connectivity 5G
Wi-Fi 802.11(a/b/g/n/ac/ax)
Bluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 802.11(a/b/g/n/ac/ax)
Bluetooth 5.0
SoftwareOxygenOS 11 based on Android 11One UI 3.1
Android 11
SecurityIn-display fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock
In-display fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock


The OnePlus and Samsung phones rock a new design and employ a polycarbonate build. However, the Galaxy S21 opts for a matte finish that mimics the texture of frosted glass, while the OnePlus Nine goes with the glossy aesthetics side. Coming to the Galaxy S21+, this one will offer you a more premium glass-and-metal build.

Neither phone offers a 3.5mm headphone jack, but the OnePlus offering retains the signature alert slider that I’ve grown to love. Both phones rely on an in-display fingerprint sensor and have a flat panel.

POCKET NOW ADVISORY: Whichever device you pick among the OnePlus Nine and Galaxy S21, we strongly advise putting a case on it unless you like scratches ruining the look of your phone or costing you hundreds of dollars for a screen replacement. To save you the hassle, we’ve rounded up this great list of the best Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus cases and will soon share a similar one for the OnePlus Nine.

At the same time, the Galaxy S21 goes for the centered approach by Samsung’s Infinity-O design language. The hole-punch cutout is a shared design trait, but the OnePlus Nine is positioned in the top-left corner. Coming to the color options, the OnePlus device is up for grabs in a trio of shades – Winter Mist, Arctic Sky, and Astral Black. As for the Samsung device, you can choose between four shades – Phantom Violet, Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Pink.


There is not much of a difference here. Both phones offer an FHD+ (2400 x 1080 pixels) display with a 120Hz refresh rate that is HDR10+ certified. The only difference is in size. OnePlus Nine has a 6.55-inch panel, while the Galaxy S21 employs a slightly smaller 6.2-inch display.

However, if you prefer the color profile of Samsung’s AMOLED panels but want a slightly bigger display, the 6.7-inch screen on the Galaxy S21+ will suit you well. The remaining display attributes remain the same as the vanilla Galaxy S21.


Again, not much to differentiate here in terms of brute power. All three phones rely on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC ticking alongside eight gigs of LPDDR5 RAM and 128/256 GB of onboard storage without any scope for expansion. However, the OnePlus Nine also comes in a 12GB RAM model. On the other hand, Samsung Galaxy S21 and its Plus-sized sibling rock the Exynos 2100 SoC in some markets.

Coming to the battery and charging department, though, the OnePlus 9 takes a clear lead here. The OnePlus device has a bigger 4,500mAh battery that supports blazing-fast 65W wired fast charging. Plus, you also get a 15W wireless charging facility as well. Turning over to the Galaxy S21, there is a 4,000mAh battery under the hood (4,800mAh inside the Galaxy S21+), but the charging speed is much slower at 25W peak wattage. Thankfully, you also get support for wireless and reverse wireless charging on this one.


The two phones rock a triple rear camera system, but their sensor and lens selection approach is quite different. For example, the OnePlus Nine doesn’t offer a telephoto camera and uses a monochrome lens. The Galaxy S21 and S21+ stick with the tried-and-tested wide + ultra-wide + telephoto formula.

On the OnePlus 9, you’ll find a 48MP (Sony IMX789 sensor), assisted by a massive 50MP (Sony IMX766) sensor and a 2MP monochrome camera. On the front, you’ll find a 16MP selfie shooter. Due to the lack of a telephoto camera, you don’t get perks such as lossless zoom, but on the bright side, the ultra-wide camera on this one doubles as a macro snapper by going as close as 4cm to a subject. The phone can capture 8K videos at 30FPS and 4K clips at up to 60FPS.

The Galaxy S21 duo offers an optically stabilized 12MP primary camera, a 12MP ultra-wide shooter, and a powerful 64MP telephoto camera that delivers 3x hybrid zoom and 30x digital zoom output. There is a 10MP camera on the front for selfie and video calling duties. Regarding camera capabilities, you get support for 8K video capture at 24fps and 4K at up to 60fps.

But the Samsung flagship takes the crown when it comes to slo-mo video capture. OnePlus Nine maxes out at 480p slo-mo clips at 720p resolution, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 goes up to 960fps. Following is a list comparing the camera tricks each phone offers:

OnePlus 9 Samsung Galaxy S21 / S21+
Nightscape, Super Macro, UltraShot HDR, Smart Scene Recognition, Portrait mode, Pro mode, Panorama, Tilt-shift mode, Focus Peaking, Cat/Dog Face Focus, Raw file, Filters, Super Stable, Video Nightscape, Video HDR, Video Portrait, Focus Tracking, Timelapse, and HyperlapseScene Optimizer, Single Take, Panorama, Night mode, Portrait Video, Pro Video, Hyperlapse, Director’s View, Super Steady, Motion photo, Format, advanced options (HEIF/Raw copies/UW shape correction), Selfie color tone, Advanced recording options (HEVC/HDR10+/Zoom-in MIC), Auto HDR, Tracking auto-focus, AR Doodle, Quick Measure.

Heading into the connectivity department, you get 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and NFC support on all three devices. However, the OnePlus Nine goes for the current Bluetooth v5.2 standard, while the Galaxy S21 / S21+ is stuck on Bluetooth v5.0. You get Dolby Atmos-ready stereo speakers for multimedia consumption on all three phones.


Now, let’s talk about the most crucial part – the pricing. The OnePlus Nine will cost you $729 for the base variant, while the Galaxy S21 starts at $699. The Galaxy S21+, on the other hand, carries a price tag of $799 for the base configuration. All three phones are neck and neck regarding raw performance and display almost identical traits. It would boil down between the design and the software experience – whether you prefer Samsung’s One UI 3.1 or OnePlus’ well-regarded OxygenOS 11 skin, both based on Android 11.

However, the OnePlus Nine races ahead with its blazing-fast 65W wired fast charging support and a slightly bigger 4,500mAh battery. Additionally, it has a significantly more powerful 50MP ultra-wide-angle camera that pulls a macro snapper’s duty. Conversely, the 2MP macro snapper does not offer much practical usage. On the other hand, the Galaxy S21 and S21+ duo provide a more versatile camera setup that includes a powerful 64MP telephoto camera that delivers 3x hybrid optic and 30x digital zoom.

So ultimately, you’ll have to decide based on the camera hardware versatility, how important fast charging is to you, and your preference for Android skin. On the update front, you can rest assured of at least two major Android version upgrades on the OnePlus Nine and Samsung Galaxy S21.

Need some expert opinion? Watch our video review of the Galaxy S21 (above) and how good the OnePlus Nine is in the video below:

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