It’s 2021. OnePlus has launched the first batch of its high-end phones to feature the OnePlus 9, 9 Pro and a curiosity called the OnePlus 9R. A quick look at the specs of the OnePlus 9 and its Pro siblings, especially when it comes to the camera hardware, makes it clear that these phones are for business. Say what you want about the Hasselblad partnership and whether there has been any tangible benefit, but improvements have definitely been made.
OnePlus has marched into big dogs territory, and the competition there is fierce!
But let’s not limit ourselves to just one aspect. The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro are great phones for their price. But they’re not the absolute best phones when you’re ready to spend north of $ 700. Especially when you consider the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S21 is currently costing the same or even less than the OnePlus 9 in the US market thanks to aggressive marketing and deals definitely pay off. And that too iPhone 12which has proven to be an excellent device for this sum.
Yes, the OnePlus 9 shines in terms of charging speed and a megapixel-heavy ultrawide camera, but the Galaxy S21 has a more versatile camera setup and better software support – considering the solid update cycle that Samsung phones have seen recently. The iPhone 12, on the other hand, blows its two Android competitors out of the water when it comes to outputting video recordings. As for software, it will be on the iOS update roadmap for much longer than its competitors. We have made the relevant comparisons to help you choose the better device. Look at that.
Don’t make a mistake. The OnePlus 9 is a really great phone. All you have to do is do the math and convince yourself to choose it over the Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12.
So the question is, why should you go for a OnePlus sub-flagship when Samsung is offering an almost flagship experience or Apple is offering you the latest no-compromise vanilla iPhone for the same or even lower price. But that’s only half the story, and we’ll leave it up to you to do the spec comparison and weigh the pros and cons.
Pricing for ‘Vanilla’ OnePlus phones over the years
But the situation becomes even more difficult when it comes to the Pro model this year. Again, it has its own perks as it competes against the very well-received iPhone 12 Pro, a phone that is definitely a speed demon and has excellent cameras. And if you’re into video recording, it can’t touch any phone on the market right now other than its own Max sibling.
Choosing the OnePlus 9 Pro over the iPhone 12 Pro or the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a risky game. However, if you know your priorities, you will not regret your purchase.
And if you have just a little more than a hundred dollars more in your phone budget, the Galaxy S21 Ultra gives you the same speed as the OnePlus 9 Pro, but even more versatile cameras, tons of tricks, pen support and zoom performance is just the best on any phone, which is currently being sold on US soil. But the OnePlus 9 Pro beats it with some crazy fast charging technology. 50W wireless charging? The latest products from Samsung and Apple are not that fast, even with a cable!
OnePlus 9 is just right for the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21 in the US
However, I will say this again. The OnePlus 9 Pro is by no means a lesser flagship. Where it lags behind its more established competitors from Samsung and Apple, it leaves the competition far behind in certain areas. Needless to say, the bustling company has definitely moved beyond its flagship killer image and is now making phones that go against the best in the business in terms of experience and pricing.
What OnePlus currently needs is mass adoption in the face of galaxies and iPhones out there.
OnePlus is definitely trying to woo the tech-savvy users in the US, a market where smartphone buyers are often torn between Samsung and Appleand a serious third option is missing. Sony is far behind its glory days and LG is by no means even thinking of competing with Apple and Samsung. If more carriers team up to offer lucrative deals and OnePlus gains a foothold in retail, it has a good chance of success.
OnePlus 9 Pro competes against iPhone 12 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Ultimately, the company run by Pete Lau has moved beyond its “flagship killer” days and is now firmly anchored in the mainstream. Given the company’s track record of making solid phones over the years and the community’s drive to keep improving and offering the best, the company is unlikely to suffer the same fate as LG or Samsung.
OnePlus sings a different tune in its largest market
But the US isn’t the largest market for OnePlus, nor is it the most competitive. This award goes to India – a market in which OnePlus has regained the top spot in the premium category in the second quarter of last year against Apple and Samsung. In the last quarter of 2020, OnePlus grew 200% year over year and was at the forefront of the Indian 5G phone market alongside Apple. One important aspect of this, however, is that OnePlus remained the top brand in the affordable premium segment, where phones cost between $ 400 and $ 600.
OnePlus doesn’t want to lose sight of the flagship killer moniker
Yes, OnePlus crossed the upper end of the line a while ago, but the company continues to hold onto its appeal as a flagship killer brand. India is a price sensitive market and it also explains why OnePlus phones are cheaper here compared to other markets. Take the OnePlus 9, for example, which starts at $ 729 in the US but costs around $ 690 in India. The difference was even bigger six months ago when the OnePlus 8T debuted in the US market at $ 749 but was valued at around $ 600 in India.
OnePlus is sticking to its success in this price range – one in which there are flagship killers – for the Indian market. And the best example of that would be an exclusive phone (At least for now) called OnePlus 9R. Actually, it’s not a completely new device. It’s more like a T version of the OnePlus 8T in a new suit. Does that mean it’s a bad device? No. Is it out of date by the 2021 flagship standards? Not really. Is it as fast as flagships in 2021? Near enough. what is so special about that? The answer is simple – a very competitive price.
OnePlus 9R is a solid attempt at maintaining its flagship killer appeal.
The OnePlus 9R will set you back around $ 550 in India. This is a steal when you consider that it features practically the same hardware as the OnePlus 8T – a phone that launched for $ 749. The only major change is that the OnePlus 9R is used for the Snapdragon 870 SoC instead of the Snapdragon 865+ SoC at the heart of the OnePlus 8T, which is by no means a downgrade.
Now, OnePlus’ strategy of keeping its price-sensitive Indian fan base seems solid on paper. And in fact, it’s not a hollowed-out attempt to build an affordable flagship. I asked a few folks in the Indian tech industry and loyal OnePlus phone users about the OnePlus 9R’s appeal as a standalone flagship killer, and they’re pretty optimistic about the whole package at that sweet $ 550 price tag.
OnePlus 9R is actually OnePlus clinging to its roots, and it actually makes a lot of sense.
I like the approach of not alienating buyers in your largest market and staying true to brand appeal. However, in hindsight, it’s also a carefully cautious strategy to ensure that competing Chinese brands don’t capitalize on the void OnePlus has left in a segment it has dominated for some time.
OnePlus is now competing with big players – a development that has been in preparation for years.
Equipped with the Snapdragon 870 SoC, Xiaomi (and also its brothers in arms Redmi and POCO) have recently launched sub-flagships with impressive technical data and even better prices. And with Xiaomi planning a return to that segment in India, the space for OnePlus is definitely getting smaller. VIVO, which has a solid retail presence in India and is among the top smartphone sellers in the Indian market, has also gone all-in in the flagship and sub-flagship segments with its X60 range. Just like OnePlus, Vivo has also launched three phones that target and even undercut the OnePlus 9 trio in terms of price.
OnePlus is a veteran at this game, but the competition has been stepping up their game lately
More competition is always good for buyers, as it ensures companies are bidding more for less to stay ahead of the curve. OnePlus is a veteran at this game, but the competition has been stepping up their game lately. OnePlus has a chance here to protect its flagship kingdom in India if it can convince buyers to waste their money on the OnePlus 9R against some pretty amazing rivals from challengers. OnePlus definitely has an edge here with its stellar reputation, and the company definitely wants to take advantage of this opportunity to the full.
We’ll soon have the OnePlus 9R for a test drive and share if sticking to the basics is likely to pay off for the brand. Stay tuned for the full review, which will be posted soon on the Pocketnow website!
I’ve been writing about consumer technology for over three years, having worked with names like NDTV and Beebom in the past. Leaving the latest news aside, I’ve checked out my fair share of devices that range from smartphones and laptops to smart home devices. I’ve also interviewed tech managers and acted as a presenter on YouTube videos talking about the latest and greatest gadgets.