OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung S21 Ultra: comparison everybody wants to see. And I posted a camera comparison between these two a couple of days ago, following on from that a lot of you guys wanted me to do a detailed comparison looking at all of the other features.
So that’s exactly what we’ll be doing in this article.
We’re going to look at all of the different categories, display, build, battery life.
We’re going to put them up against each other.
I’ll tell you the differences, the advantages, the disadvantages.
And I’ll also give you my opinion on which I think is better personally, in each category.
And hopefully, that will help you decide which one of these is right for you.
So I’ve been using the S21 Ultra as one of my daily drivers for around two months.
And my sim card went from the S21 ultra into the OnePlus 9 Pro a couple of weeks ago.
And I want to say straight away that both of these are really, really good smartphones, some of the best out there.
Let’s initially start off with the displays.
I think both of these have some of the best displays in the market right now.
They are quite similar because we’ve got small bezels, slight curves on the edges with punchouts.
Now, of course, we’ve got a center punch out on the S21 Ultra.
We’ve got a side punch out on the OnePlus 9 Pro.
Honestly speaking, I don’t mind either of these.
They both are quite small and you forget about them very, very quickly.
Both devices are using AMOLED technology.
So we’ve got amazing colors, deep blacks, both also have a quad HD plus resolution so things are very, very sharp.
And both also support a 120 Hertz refresh rate making things very, very smooth.
Both are also LTPO displays which means they can adapt the refresh rate to save battery.
The OnePlus 9 Pro can go all the way down to one Hertz.
Whereas the S21 Ultra can go all the way down 10 Hertz.
And we’ve also got always-on displays on both devices.
This is something that OnePlus devices haven’t traditionally had and they introduced this finally last year.
Now the similarities do stop there.
The S21 Ultra is slightly larger but it’s really not that much of a big difference.
And it also has a higher peak brightness.
Something that you might not notice on the day-to-day but if you’re like me and you always wear sunglasses and if you are out on a sunny day then this is an edge that the S21 Ultra will have.
The OnePlus 9 Pro however does have higher touch sampling rates.
And this can make it feel more responsive especially if you are playing a supported game.
And finally, on the displays, the S21 ultra does have gorilla glass Victus.
Whereas on the OnePlus 9 Pro you do have the older gorilla glass five.
Making the S21 Ultra a little bit more durable.
Now, moving on to the fingerprint scanners both devices do have an in-display fingerprint scanner.
We’ve got an optical-in-display fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 9 Pro.
We’ve got an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner on the S21 Ultra.
Now, in terms of speed, honestly speaking both of these have very, very fast really can’t pick one or the other.
But I would say that the S21 Ultra has the overall better fingerprint scanner.
First up, it’s using ultrasonic technology which means it’s more secure.
And it also doesn’t rely on a light to unlock which is a big advantage.
If you use your smartphone a lot in the dark.
With the OnePlus 9 Pro, it could be dark but as soon as you activate the fingerprint scanner it shines a bright light in order to be able to read your fingerprint.
The S21 Ultra doesn’t mess around with the brightness of the display when you are trying to unlock it.
It’s also got a larger area and the positioning is also better it’s more reachable compared to the very low-down fingerprint scanner of the OnePlus 9 Pro.
So for the fingerprint scanner, it is a win for the S21 Ultra.
Right, now moving on to the size, built and designed.
So both devices are pretty big, but the OnePlus 9 Pro weighs quite a bit less compared to the S21 Ultra.
It’s also thinner and just more compact.
So the OnePlus 9 Pro is definitely the more comfortable device to use overall especially for longer periods of time.
Now for the design, obviously, it’s subjective but with the OnePlus 9 Pro, there are lots of other devices that do look like this with the camera module.
I would say that the S21 Ultra is a lot more unique with this camera module that kind of blends and bleeds into the edges.
The S21 Ultra also only comes in matte finishes which I’m definitely glad about because they don’t attract as many fingerprints.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is the version I’ve got here is very glossy.
And although it can look really good, it only looked good until you actually pick it up and put it in your hands because you get so many fingerprints on here.
Both devices are IP68 water and dust resistant and we’ve got a metal frame with gorilla glass.
The S21 Ultra, however, once again, does have gorilla glass Victus making it more durable compared to the gorilla glass five on the OnePlus 9 Pro.
Now I’m not somebody who does drop tests but gorilla glass Victus, as we’ve seen time and time again is definitely more durable.
So if you are after something that’s more compact and comfortable then the win would go to the OnePlus 9 Pro.
But if you are after something that’s more durable and it looks more unique then the win would go to the S21 Ultra.
Comparison between these two.
I’ll link that video in the cards and down in the description.
So do go ahead and check that out but to give you a brief summary we have very good overall cameras on both devices.
We have an ultra-wide, a primary, as well as a telephoto camera.
However, the S21 Ultra does have two telephoto cameras.
Now we do have this huge Hasselblad partnership that OnePlus has been going on about what that results in is much more natural colors.
They’ve worked a lot with Hasselblad to tune their color science and this really does show.
The S21 Ultra tends to go for some more vibrant, punchy colors, which some of you may actually prefer.
Now for the primary camera.
It was pretty much neck and neck, I think both do a really good job.
For the ultra-wide camera, the OnePlus 9 Pro does have less distortion because it has a free-form lens but the S21 Ultra does give
you a wider field of view with better dynamic range.
Now for zoom, I would say it’s a pretty easy win for the S21 Ultra.
We’ve got three times optical zoom at the first stage.
The OnePlus 9 Pro has 3.3 times zoom.
But even at that stage, I did prefer results from the S21 Ultra just giving you overall cleaner images and then anything, 10 times or above the S21 Ultra does have Periscope zoom technology.
So you do get optical zoom at 10 times.
You can even get some usable results out around 20 possibly even 30 times.
Now it does go all the way up to a hundred times but it’s something that I wouldn’t use, but yeah zoom clearly went for the S21 Ultra.
Now the OnePlus 9 Pro also has a two-megapixel monochrome camera which is supposed to help with black and white images.
I really don’t think it makes much of a difference.
I think it’s there just for the sake of having an additional camera.
Now for video, both devices do film great quality 4k video.
Although I did find that the S21 Ultra was more stable.
However, with the OnePlus 9 Pro, you can film at 4k 120 frames a second which gives you some really nice high-quality slow-motion footage.
Also, both devices do film at 8K.
However, with the S21 Ultra, you can only film at 8K from the primary camera.
And it has a significant crop which really my experience makes it unusable.
With the OnePlus 9 Pro you can film 8K video, not only from the primary camera, which doesn’t crop in massively but also from the ultra-wide camera giving you a lot more flexibility.
So for the 8K video, the OnePlus 9 Pro gets the win.
Now for the front-facing cameras, it’s a very one-sided story.
The S21 Ultra gives you just better colors and better details from the front-facing camera.
I found the OnePlus 9 Pro all of that color science that we talked about kind of goes out the window for the front-facing camera.
Also for video, the OnePlus 9 Pro, you can only film at 1080P up to 30 frames a second.
The S21 Ultra, you can film at 4K up to 60 frames a second and the difference is quite significant.
This is one area where OnePlus I think really did fail.
It was very much an afterthought, the front-facing camera.
And I think for a flagship device in 2021 not having 4k is a big, big downside.
If you are somebody who takes lots of selfies and vlogs from your camera then the S21 Ultra is a clear choice here.
Right, for the speakers.
We do have stereo speakers on both one in the EPS on one bottom-firing.
And both of them sound really, really good.
I am not an audio expert.
However, my friend Thunder E from Bored at Work is, so if you are very much interested in which one of these is slightly better then do go ahead and check out his speaker test which I will link down in the description.
Right now Let’s talk about software.
So both of these are based on Android 11 but we have different software skins.
We have One UI on the S21 Ultra, we have OxygenOS on the OnePlus 9 Pro.
Now, honestly speaking, I like both skins.
The OnePlus 9 pro has been inspired by One UI recently and has improved one-handed usage which I do like but overall, this will come down to personal preference I believe.
Now when it comes to updates OnePlus has promised two years of software updates, three years of security updates, where Samsung has promised three years of software updates, with four years of security updates.
So if you are thinking of keeping your device for quite some time, then the S21 Ultra will be giving you updates for a longer period of time.
However, OnePlus does have a really good track record for bringing updates very quickly, compared to Samsung.
So something to keep in mind.
Now, I want to talk a little bit about the additional features that you get with the S21 Ultra which really go with the
whole Samsung ecosystem.
So firstly, you do have support for the S pen.
This is something that you would have to buy separately but if you are somebody who likes to use a stylist on your smartphone may be to do some quick doodles signed documents then this is something you’ll be able to do on the S21 Ultra.
The S21 Ultra also has support for Samsung Dex which will allow you to connect your S21 Ultra to a display and have a desktop experience.
The S21 Ultra also comes with ultra-wideband technology which will allow it to easily connect to lots of different accessories.
Also things like your car, maybe some smart tags.
And it also comes with wifi 6E.
So if you do have a compatible router you will be able to get the fastest speeds on the S21 Ultra compared to just wifi 6 on the OnePlus 9 Pro.
Okay, now let’s talk about the batteries and battery life.
So the S21 Ultra does have a larger 5,000 milliamp power battery.
And in my day-to-day use, I did find that the S21 Ultra does have better battery life overall.
I would say around 15% better battery life I’m getting on the S21 Ultra.
Now, obviously, usage varies, and so does the screen time.
But if I give you my personal screen on time for reference.
I’m getting around six hours of screen time on the S21 Ultra.
Whereas I’m getting around five hours of screen on time on the OnePlus 9 Pro.
Now, I do want to say that the S21 Ultra the Exynos version when I initially got it the battery life was really not that good, but after a software update, it actually improved quite a bit.
So I do want to give OnePlus a chance to make some software updates to improve the battery life of the OnePlus 9 Pro.
Now, when it comes to charging, it’s an easy, easy win for the OnePlus 9 Pro.
Firstly, the charging speed of the S21 ultra can only do 25 Watts which is pretty fast for most people but the OnePlus 9 Pro
supports 65-watt charging.
Not only that, it comes with the charger included out of the box.
The S21 Ultra does not come with a charger included out of the box.
The OnePlus 9 Pro can charge from one to 100% in around 30 minutes, which is very, very fast and so-so convenient.
Both devices also support wireless charging, but once again the OnePlus 9 Pro can charge much much faster 50-watt wireless charging.
Now to get those speeds you will need a specific charger that costs around 70 pounds, but it’s nice to have that option on there.
The S21 Ultra can only charge at around 15 Watts.
Both devices also have reverse wireless charging where you can charge other devices or maybe some earbuds on the back of each device.
Now let’s talk about performance.
So both devices do come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset which is currently the fastest chipset on the Android side of things, depending on your region, however, you may get the Exynos version of the S21 Ultra.
But you will be pleased to know that the Exynos version of the S21 Ultra is quite comparable to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 this year.
However, the overall edge for performance I would say does go to the OnePlus 9 Pro.
They’ve got a vapor chamber and generally after using the device for a longer period of time the temperatures are lower on the OnePlus 9 Pro compared to the S21 Ultra.
Also, you do have that higher touch sampling rate which can have an impact on compatible games.
If you are interested in a detailed performance in gaming comparison between these two then I’m going to link to my buddy once again, to Thunder E from Bored at Work, who’s done a separate video looking at temperatures and everything.
But generally speaking, I think performance is very, very good on both devices.
Now when it comes to storage and Ram, the S21 Ultra gets the advantage because you get a higher base Ram of 12 gigabytes and you can go all the way up to 16.
Also, you do have an option of 512 gigabytes, which you will of course be paying more for, but that option is there.
The OnePlus 9 Pro does come with a base of eight gigabytes of Ram with the 128-gigabyte storage version.
And if you do want 12 gigabytes of Ram you will have to go for the 256-gigabyte option.
Now, finally, let’s look at the pricing.
So if we look at the launch pricing then the S21 Ultra did come in quite a bit higher compared to the OnePlus 9 Pro.
But you have to remember that the S21 Ultra has been out for a couple of months which means you can get some better deals for it.
If we look in the UK, you’re still looking at around 200 pounds more for the S21 ultra.
I’ve just had a look on Amazon, the S21 Ultra-based model is going for around 1050 pounds.
But the story is quite different in the US because the S21 Ultra has gone down all the way to $999, which makes it just $30 more compared to the OnePlus 9 Pro.
So here’s what I think.
I think both of these overall are great devices.
If you’re based in the UK, then I would say that the OnePlus 9 Pro is the overall better deal.
You are saving quite a bit compared to the S21 Ultra.
However, if you’re based in the US then I would say the S21 Ultra with all of its additional features, potentially for just $30 more when it comes back on offer is the better overall option.
And I would definitely go for the S21 Ultra if I was based in the US.
That’s what I think anyway, what do you guys think?
Do drop me a comment below.
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