Here’s a quick summary of what the displays of the two phones offer in terms of specs:
Both displays are extremely color-accurate and can get quite bright under the right conditions: the Galaxy S21+ can hit around 1,200 nits maximum, whereas the OnePlus 9 Pro touts a 1,300-nit maximum brightness.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ vs OnePlus 9 Pro: Hardware
In terms of specs, both flagships come equipped with the Snapdragon 888, while the international version of the S21+ has Samsung’s own Exynos 2100. As far as memory and storage go, both phones start with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and while you can have either with 256GB as well, the OnePlus scores 12GB in this version. No matter which one you go for, you’re unlikely to experience lack of performance.
OnePlus 9 Pro comes with a 4,500mAh. Тhe Galaxy S21+, meanwhile, got a bump to 4,800mAh. Combined with the more efficient 5nm chip, the 1080p display and the adaptive refresh rate, the result should be a big jump in battery life for the Samsung phone. And indeed, it seems that Samsung gets the ‘W’ in this category. However, in terms of charging, the OnePlus is well ahead. The company has traditionally been pushing the envelope when it comes to charging speeds and the OnePlus 9 Pro lives to glorify those achievements. It takes just half an hour to charge the phone with the Warp Charge 65T charger, and charging wirelessly with OnePlus’ new wireless charger, the OnePlus 9 Pro does the job in just 43 minutes.
It’s worth mentioning that Samsung decided to follow Apple once again and not provide a power adapter in the box of the Galaxy S21+. Luckily, OnePlus hasn’t gotten on that train just yet.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ vs OnePlus 9 Pro: Camera
When it comes to the camera of the Galaxy S21+, hardware has been left largely unchanged from what we got on the Galaxy S20+. Is that bad? Yes… and no. The Galaxy S20+ was an adept camera system for early 2020, but it’s 2021 now and the bar has been raised. We get the same 12MP wide and ultra-wide cameras and a 64MP 3X telephoto snapper with a 10MP selfie shooter to boot but with some minor alterations here and there. For example, the ultra-wide angle camera has scored a wider F1.8 aperture as well as phase-detection autofocus, which is a good thing, but apart from that, the telephoto still relies on cropping a large sensor instead of regular optics for zooming, and Samsung has also ditched the ToF sensor at the back, so things even out.
The OnePlus 9 Pro comes with a triple camera that uses a new 50MP ultra-wide, wide-angle, and telephoto cameras. The ultra-wide camera utilizes a Sony IMX766 sensor with less noise and very little distortion around the edges of the frame in comparison with similar phones — OnePlus says the difference is as stark as 1% vs 10 and even 20%. However, it’s worth noting that the ultra-wide camera of the OnePlus is also much narrower than its competitors, which is especially obvious when shooting video. As an added bonus, it doubles as a quite versatile macro camera. The rest of the camera setup comprises a 48MP main camera with a custom Sony IMX789, with tons of improvements that aim to make it focus faster, deliver more color information, less noise in daylight or nighttime shots, and finally, less motion blur in videos. We’ve got a stabilized telephoto as well, and this one delivers a 3.3X zoom which isn’t as impressive as what some of the competitors deliver, but manages to capture perfectly usable photos. Finally, we have a monochromatic camera that helps with image sharpness.
The general image quality is excellent on both devices, but there are some notable differences in the exposure and color temperature, where the OnePlus 9 Pro has a slight edge. Images are slightly better exposed and more neutral on the OnePlus flagship, whereas the Samsung trooper produces a tad darker and slightly more pinkish photos. Portraits and selfies are excellent on both phones, so you won’t can’t go wrong with neither phone.
In low-light conditions, both devices are excellent performers with great detail and dynamic range, though there’s a noticeable difference in color reproduction. Interestingly, the OnePlus 9 Pro captured a much more vivid image in contrast with the more muted looks achieved by the Galaxy S21+. Both phones would also shoot lovely low-light portraits, though this round goes to the OnePlus 9 Pro as the subject’s face is exposed slightly better in that particular photo. Also, there’s a tad more facial color in the OnePlus 9 Pro sample image, which makes portraits look just a tad livelier.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ vs OnePlus 9 Pro: Software
Software is a big differentiator between Samsung and OnePlus. OnePlus phones run OxygenOS, which keeps the overall aesthetics very close to those of the “stock” Android, but enhanced with some extra features OnePlus deems essential. It’s fast and light and you get only a few OnePlus apps preinstalled, everything else is Google’s own apps.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ vs OnePlus 9 Pro: Battery life
There’s a 4,500mAh inside the latest OnePlus flagship, but it’s clear as day that an improvement to battery life wasn’t the focus here. This is not a two-day phone; if you’re a very heavy user you might need your charger by late afternoon. That’s not actually such big of an issue since you can charge the phone in just 30 minutes with the included Warp Charge 65T charger. If that’s not impressive enough, the OnePlus’ newest 50W wireless charger will top up the phone in just 43 minutes. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21+ is a battery champ that can easily withstand a full day of heavy usage, which is commendable for an Exynos-powered Samsung phone. Refresh rate has some say in what battery life you should expect, but genuinely speaking, the difference is not large enough to offset the benefit of the super-smooth display. By default, the display is set at Adaptive refresh rate mode and I wouldn’t bother changing it if I were you.