OnePlus smartphones aren’t as easy to recommend as they used to be, and the OnePlus 9 is no different. There are a few tradeoffs compared to its more expensive sibling: the frame is polycarbonate, the main camera doesn’t have OIS, there’s no telephoto or IP68 certification, and it doesn’t offer not the same 50W wireless charging.
Despite these omissions, it’s still a good phone and it offers a lot better value for money than the OnePlus 9 Pro. However, can it defend against Samsung’s more affordable flagship, the Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition)? Well, let’s find out.
|OnePlus 9 5G||Samsung Galaxy S20 FE|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 888||Snapdragon 865|
|RAM||8/12 GB (LPDDR5)||6 GB (LPDDR5)|
|Storage||128/256 GB (UFS3.1)||128 GB|
|Display||6.55-inch 2400 x 1080 (20: 9), 120Hz OLED||6.5-inch 2400 x 1080 (20: 9), 120Hz OLED|
|Battery charging||4500mAh, 65W distortion load, 15W Qi wireless (only present on the US variant)||4500mAh, 25W fast charge, wireless charge, reverse wireless charge|
|Rear cameras||48MP primary, 50MP ultra wide, 2MP monochrome||12MP primary, 12MP ultra wide, 8MP telephoto|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, 5G sub-6 GHz (dual SIM internationally)||802.11a / b / g / n / ac / ax Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, hybrid dual SIM|
|Colors||Astral black, arctic sky, winter haze||White Cloud, Red Cloud, Navy Blue Cloud, Lavender Cloud, Orange Cloud, Mint Cloud|
|Dimensions||160 x 74.2 x 8.7 mm||159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4 mm|
|Weight||192 g||190 g|
|Software||OxygenOS 11 / Android 11||OneUI 3.1 / Android 11|
|Price||8 / 128GB: $ 729, £ 629, ₹ 49,999|
12 / 256GB: £ 729, £ 54,999
|6/128 GB: $ 699, ₹ 47,999|
Material and performance
The OnePlus 9 features newer hardware and is powered by the Snapdragon 888, the most powerful chip you can get on an Android smartphone today. The chipset comes with a generous 8 or 12 GB of RAM and 128 or 256 GB of storage. In terms of raw power, you can expect the OnePlus 9 to outperform its rival pretty much. However, the S20 FE with its Snapdragon 865 and 6GB of RAM is no slouch either, and you’ll be hard pressed to notice any major differences in everyday use.
The S20 FE certainly takes the lead in the design and build department as it deals with the most important aspects. Instead of going for a polycarbonate frame and a glass back, like the OnePlus 9, it has an aluminum frame and a plastic back. While the glass feels more premium to hold, the plastic of the S20 FE is by no means cheap and it has a nice matte finish that resists fingerprints well. It also has the benefit of being IP68 certified, so it should survive a dunk in the pool.
Whichever phone you choose, you’ll get a really good display – they both have 6.5-inch OLED panels with a 120Hz refresh rate. However, it’s worth noting that some S20 FEs are said to have issues. touch screen screens which have mostly been fixed with subsequent updates. For what it’s worth, we have never encountered this issue on our units. The stereo speakers present on both devices also provide an immersive multimedia experience.
Both phones have 4,500mAh batteries and should last you a day, but the OnePlus 9, with its 65W fast charge, will undoubtedly charge faster. The S20 FE only has a 25W brick. Wireless charging is supported by both phones (except for the non-US variants of the OnePlus 9), but reverse wireless charging is only available on the S20 FE.
Both phones have exclusive features. The OnePlus 9 has the convenience of an alert slider, making it easy to switch between ring patterns. The S20 FE 5G, on the other hand, supports a microSD card and Samsung Pay (with MST), which will allow you to make payments on devices that don’t support NFC.
OnePlus has talked a lot about its partnership with Hasselblad, but the cameras aren’t as good as they would like us to believe. Sure, they deliver more accurate colors than before, and the ultra-wide lens is one of the best on any phone, but the setup doesn’t really trump the S21 Ultra or iPhone 12. The S20 FE has a decent set of cameras and has the added benefit of a telephoto lens which allows for better portraits and 3x optical zoom. OIS on the main sensor is also a benefit, as it allows for blur-free images and better low-light performance.
First: OnePlus 9, Second: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
If we take a look at some camera samples, it’s obvious that OnePlus delivers more natural colors, offers slightly better dynamic range, and captures more detail. The S20 FE also takes good images – albeit with a different styling – and saturated colors aren’t necessarily a drawback. Support for OIS on the main sensor and telephoto sensor also works in its favor.
The software experience
The OnePlus 9 runs OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11 out of the box. The experience is still pretty good – it’s eye-catching and has a lot of features that we wish Android adopted. However, OnePlus is no longer at its peak. There are a few annoying issues like delayed notifications and occasional system navigation crashes that haven’t been fixed for a while, and the company’s updating performance has only gotten worse. with time.
OnePlus only promises a few major Android updates and even then the frequency gets worse as each phone gets older. With the kind of premium that OnePlus charges now, that doesn’t reduce it anymore. Samsung has really embraced this department recently and has promised not only three major Android updates but four years of security updates for the S20 FE as well. The Korean company is also pretty quick to deliver these updates these days, sometimes beating Google with punches with monthly security fixes. While One UI is among the best skins, it does have its downsides: duplicate apps, system ads, and Samsung is still pushing Bixby (it’s time to let it die).
A user interface on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Since the S20 FE was announced with Android 10, it will only be updated to Android 13 (like the OnePlus 9). However, keep in mind that Samsung is likely to do a better job providing updates, especially critical security fixes later in the phone’s lifespan.
The most important price
The OnePlus 9 is priced at $ 729, while the S20 FE regularly sells as low as $ 599. Despite its lower price tag, the S20 FE still manages to hold its own against the OnePlus 9. Sure, it doesn’t have the latest processor or blazingly fast charging, but it does offer a lot of extras that make it a worthy contender. Some of those extras include IP68 certification, reverse wireless charging, a telephoto lens, Samsung Pay with MST, and four years of security updates. If you ask us, it gives you a lot more for your money and therefore worth choosing over its rival.
The OnePlus 9 is a good phone and it delivers one of the fastest Android experiences out there, but the company’s flagships aren’t as appealing as they used to be. They no longer entice us with attractive prices or top-notch features – the company’s recent hardware decisions have also been questionable. With software support deteriorating more and more over the months, this leads us to believe that OnePlus is just getting cheaper and no longer offers cutting edge phones that are easy to recommend over the competition.