OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – battle for the best flagship

OnePlus 9 series is easily one of the most hyped and awaited smartphone line-ups of the year. The brand, which began as an affordable device and a flagship-killer to offering actual flagship devices that competes with top brands such as the iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy lineups. 

The current  OnePlus 9 series includes three devices – the vanilla OnePlus 9, the OnePlus 9 Pro and an India specific OnePlus 9R that will be available at a slightly later date.

For now, we focus specifically on the premium OnePlus 9 Pro. The phone not only promises top line specs that can't be found in most flagships as of now but the company has also tried to iron out camera issues that have plagued the previous generation of OnePlus phones.

Since the new OnePlus 9 Pro stands tall among other devices in its price range and the company pits it against the top-of-the-line products from the competition, we decided to compare the OnePlus 9 Pro with the rival Android flagship Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. And make no mistake, both these phones are real beasts when it comes to specifications and raw power.

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Price in India 

When it comes to pricing, the OnePlus 9 Pro comes in a couple of variants based on memory and onboard storage. The base variant with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage is priced at Rs 65,999 in India and the price goes up to Rs 69,999 for the 12GB and 256 GB storage variant.

It will be available in three colour options - Morning Mist, Pine Green and Stellar Black and the phone will start retailing starting April on Amazon India and preferred offline retail partners.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra also comes in two variants. The base 12GB + 256GB variant was announced at Rs 1,05,999 and the one with a mammoth 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage was announced at Rs 1,16,999. However, thanks to some offers the base variant is retailing at Rs. 94,000 and the 16GB variant is selling for Rs. 112,499 on Amazon. The phone is available in a couple of colour options - Phantom Black and Phantom Silver. 

When comparing prices only, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra loses out to OnePlus and remember you might have to spend extra to get a compatible fast charger for the Galaxy phone as the retail box no longer comes with a bundled charger.

Check out the OnePlus 9 Pro on Amazon

Check out the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra on Amazon | Flipkart

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Design 

When it comes to design, OnePlus had a chance to outdo the competition. However, the company chose to play safe and decided to stick with a design that may remind you of phones under the Reno 5 series from Oppo. The placement of the camera module and the camera island itself look eerily similar to the Oppo device. The Hasselblad branding on the camera island stands out this time though.

The rear panel on the OnePlus 9 Pro is made of glass and only has OnePlus branding at the centre of the device. The phone measures 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm and weighs 197 grams which is acceptable given the large display and glass back. On the front, you have a 6.7-inch curved OLED panel that houses a selfie camera in a left-aligned punch-hole cutout.

On the design front, the first thing you notice in Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra’s design is  that Samsung has put in some effort to ensure a unique design. A design that is not seen ever before nor can be easily copied by other brands and tells you how much effort the brand has put in finalizing minute design details.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The Phantom Black device looks like a massive black block with a minimal Samsung branding at the bottom that also blends with the overall design. While the entire rear panel has a matte finish, the curved camera module bears a glossy finish. This module flows from the back of the device and continues towards the front from top and sides while melting ever so smoothly into the body itself. This ensures that the camera bump looks like a part of the phone's body itself.

While on the front, you have a large 6.8-inch OLED panel that houses a selfie camera in a centrally aligned punch-hole cutout. The screen of the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a curved one, however, the radius is slightly lesser than the predecessors and hence you’d complain less about accidental touches.

In terms of design, the Galaxy S21 Ultra brings forward a fresh approach unlike the OnePlus 9 Pro, however, this also means that the phone, at around 229 grams, is slightly heavier than most other devices.

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Specs 

Both the devices are extremely powerful and while the OnePlus 9 Pro houses a Snapdragon 888 chipset, the Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with Samsung’s in-house Exynos 2100 chipset. In terms of memory and storage as well, both devices are well equipped to let you play games with heavy graphics or multitask without any fuss. Though the OnePlus 9 Pro maxes out at 256GB of storage and without micro-SD card support, this may become a slight handicap for people who like to carry a lot of data around.

Both the devices are future-proofed and support 5G out of the box. This is critically important for a premium-priced device given the fact that India would be getting 5G by next year.

The display on the OnePlus 9 Pro comes with a QHD resolution of 1440 x 3216 – that equals 525 pixels per inch and offers a 120 HZ refresh rate. This is an adaptive refresh rate that can adapt to the content being consumed on the phone and can help save battery by throttling down the refresh rate when not required. The display is capable of HDR10+ with 1,300 nits of peak brightness.

The display on the Galaxy S21 Ultra boasts a resolution of 3200 x 1440 and offers a 120 Hz adaptive refresh rate as well. It also comes with HDR10+ support and offers 1,500 nits of peak brightness making it a delight even while looking at the display during bright sunlight.

While the Galaxy S21 Ultra is powered by Samsung’s most powerful chipset, the Snapdragon 888 is considered to be better by most. Further, the UI of both devices is highly optimized to offer a seamless user experience. The Oxygen OS on the OnePlus 9 Pro is considered to be the near-stock Android; however, the company has of late struggled in offering the latest software updates to the previous devices.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra on the other hand runs on OneUI and is customized according to the chipset and offers seamless connectivity with the ecosystem devices.

OnePlus 9 Pro

(Image credit: OnePlus)

The OnePlus 9 Pro comes with a quad-camera setup that comprises a custom 48MP f/1.8 Sony IMX789 primary sensor, a 50MP Sony IMX766 with an ultra-wide lens, an 8MP telephoto lens with 3.3x optical zoom, and a 2MP monochrome camera. The company has worked with Hasselblad to improve camera performance on its devices.

Where the Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with a 108MP sensor with a wide angle lens, a 12MP sensor for ultrawide shots, a 10MP sensor capable of 3X optical telephoto and a 10MP sensor offering 10X optical telephoto shots. The setup on the Samsung flagship looks way more powerful than the OnePlus device and the additional sensors present on the S21 Ultra would make more sense than the monochrome sensor present on the OnePlus.

That said, the OnePlus 9 Pro comes with a 65W fast wired charging tech and also supports 50W wireless charging compared to the paltry numbers of the Galaxy S21 Ultra that comes with support for 25W wired charging and 10W wireless charging.

Takeaway 

The OnePlus 9 Pro might be the most improved OnePlus device as of now and with a starting price of Rs. 65,999 is indeed the affordable one out of the two. Users who are price conscious, want the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset, prefer ultra-fast charging and like a clean Android experience will prefer the latest OnePlus device.

However, an un-inspirational design, average camera setup and poor battery life may make many users think twice before buying the phone.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra on the other hand offers a wholesome experience be it the connected ecosystem that even includes streaming Android apps on your Windows devices via the YourPhone app or connectivity via DeX. The presence of a better camera setup, an abundant amount of storage and a superior design along with Samsung’s branding makes the Galaxy S21 Ultra your go-to device, however, it does cost you that much extra.

In any case, none of these devices can be considered affordable hence look for the best deals and look for a long term return before investing in either of them. 

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