Google Pixel 6 vs OnePlus 9: Which affordable flagship should you buy?

Google Pixel 6 vs OnePlus 9: Which affordable flagship should you buy?

The Pixel 6 is Google’s value flagship for 2021. It packs a lot of exciting stuff, including Google’s brand-new Tensor SoC. You also get an industry-leading camera setup. So, there is a lot to like about the phone. However, if you are in the market for a new smartphone and confused between the Pixel 6 and the OnePlus 9, we can help. This article will pit the Pixel 6 vs OnePlus 9 to see how the two phones stack up against each other.

Navigate this guide:

Google Pixel 6 vs OnePlus 9: Specifications

SpecificationPixel 6OnePlus 9
Dimensions and Weight
  • 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm
  • 207g
  • 160 x 74.2 x 8.7mm
  • 192g
Display
  • 6.4-inch AMOLED
  • FHD+ (1080 x 2340)
  • Centered hole-punch
  • 90Hz display refresh rate
  • HDR10+ support
  • High brightness mode
  • Full 24-bit depth for 16 million colors
  • Gorilla Glass Victus
  • 6.55-inch AMOLED
  • FHD+ (1080 x 2400)
  • Left hole-punch
  • 120Hz display refresh rate
  • HDR10+ support
  • Full 24-bit depth for 16 million colors
  • Gorilla Glass 5
SoC
  • Google Tensor octa-core chipset
    • Titan M2 security chip
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC
RAM and Storage
  • 8GB LPDDR5 RAM
  • 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 flash storage
  • 8GB/ 12GB LPDDR5 RAM
  • 128GB/ 256GB UFS 3.1 flash storage
Battery & Charging
  • 4,600mAh battery
  • 30W fast charging
  • 21W fast wireless charging
  • 4,500mAh battery
  • 65W fast charging
  • 15W fast wireless charging
Rear Cameras
  • Primary: 50MP f/1.8 Samsung GN1 primary camera
  • Secondary: 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, 114-degree FOV
  • Primary: 48MP f/1.8 Sony IMX766 primary camera, EIS
  • Secondary: 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera
  • Tertiary: 2MP monochrome sensor
Front Camera8MP f/2.016MP f/2.4
PortsUSB Type-C port
  • USB Type-C port
Connectivity
  • 5G NR (Sub-6GHz)
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • Type-C port
  • WiFi 802.11.b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz + 5GHz)
  • 5G NR (Sub-6GHz and mmWave)
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • Type-C port
  • WiFi 802.11.b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4GHz + 5GHz)
Software
  • Android 12
  • Three years of OS updates
  • Five years of security updates
  • Android 12
  • Three years of OS updates
  • Four years of security updates
Other features
  • Optical under-display fingerprint reader
  • Stereo speakers
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • Under-display fingerprint reader
  • IP68 water and dust resistance (Only on T-Mobile model)
  • Stereo speakers

Design and Display

Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6

Google and OnePlus have largely played safe while designing the Pixel 6 and OnePlus 9, respectively. Both phones are essentially glass sandwiches. Although Pixel 6 packs an aluminum frame, the OnePlus 9 includes a plastic frame, which allows the phone to be lighter than the Pixel despite housing a bigger screen. The OnePlus 9 weighs 192 grams, while the Pixel 6 tips the scales at 207 grams.

The massive camera bar on the back of Pixel 6 does catch the eye, but the rest of the two phones is pretty much in line with every other Android flagship.

However, things aren’t quite so similar on the display front. While the Pixel 6 is stuck with a 6.4-inch 90Hz panel, the OnePlus 9 packs a 6.55-inch 120Hz screen. That said, both panels are AMOLED and have a Full-HD+ resolution. Whether you end up buying the Pixel 6 or OnePlus 9, it’s always a good idea to pick a screen protector and a case for the phone. We have selected the best screen protectors for the Pixel 6 and OnePlus 9 as well as the best cases for the Pixel 6 and the OnePlus 9.

Unless you want a 120Hz screen, barring odd differences, both the OnePlus 9 and the Pixel 6 are pretty evenly matched in design and display.

Processor, RAM, and Storage

OnePlus 9 camera module with hasselblad branding

OnePlus 9

Google has opted for its own Tensor chip in the Pixel 6, whereas the OnePlus 9 houses the Qualcomm flagship Snapdragon 888 SoC. While you’ll see Snapdragon 888 outscoring Tensor in certain raw benchmarks, neither of the chips is going to underwhelm you in the real world. Both processors are sufficiently powerful to handle pretty much anything you throw at them.

In terms of RAM and storage, you get 8GB RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage on the Pixel 6. However, OnePlus provides 8GB RAM and 128GB storage in one variant and 12GB of RAM and 256GB storage in the second variant. However, the 12GB RAM model of the OnePlus 9 is officially nowhere to be found these days.

Operating System

The Pixel 6 has an advantage on the operating system front. Typically Pixel phones are the first to get any Android updates or security patches, which is why Pixel 6 is already running on Android 12. Google has also promised that Pixel 6 will get guaranteed Android updates till October 2024 and security updates till October 2026. In comparison, the OnePlus 9 currently runs on Android 11 and will get the Android 12 update in the coming weeks. The phone is also set to receive Android updates till March 2024 and security patches till March 2025.

Pixel 6 vs OnePlus 9: Cameras

Pixel 6 battery

Google Pixel 6

Pixel phones are known for their camera capabilities, and the Pixel 6 is no exception. Although it houses different camera hardware than previous-generation Pixel phones, the phone takes superb photos.

There is a 50MP primary shooter, a 12MP wide-angle camera, and an 8MP selfie camera on the Pixel 6. On the other hand, the OnePlus 9 comes with a 48MP primary camera, a 50MP wide-angle shooter, a 2MP monochrome camera, and a 16MP selfie shooter.

Although the OnePlus 9 takes excellent photos from its primary and wide-angle cameras in good lighting conditions, it struggles slightly in low lighting. The lack of optical image stabilization certainly doesn’t help in poor lighting conditions.

The Pixel 6’s main camera takes fantastic photos in both good and bad lighting conditions. Its wide-angle shooter leaves a bit to be desired, but you’ll still get good photos.

Some people will also like Pixel 6’s camera features, like Magic Eraser that you won’t find on the OnePlus 9. Finally, both phones take decent selfies.

Overall in the camera department, the Pixel 6 has an advantage over the OnePlus 9.

Battery and Connectivity

Pixel 6 vs iPhone 13

Google Pixel 6

There isn’t a big difference in the battery capacity of the two phones. You get a 4,614mAh battery in the Pixel 6, whereas the OnePlus 9 features a 4,500mAh one. So the battery backup is also similar, and both phones easily last through a day on a single charge. Moderate users will even manage to get over 1.5 days.

The OnePlus 9 does score over the Pixel 6 in one aspect, which is fast charging. The OnePlus phone supports up to 65W fast charging, and thanks to an included fast-charging brick, you’ll be able to go from 0 to 100 in just under 30 minutes. In comparison, Pixel 6 can only fast charge at about 21W despite its advertised 30W capacity. And, the phone takes almost two hours to charge with a fast charger fully.

In terms of connectivity, while both Pixel 6 and OnePlus 9 support 5G, there are some caveats. For example, Pixel 6 supports mmWave 5G only on AT&T and Verizon, T-Mobile users get stuck with sub-6GHz 5G support. Similarly, the OnePlus 9 supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G on T-Mobile, but Verizon users will only get sub-6GHz 5G, and AT&T users are limited to just 4G LTE.

Other connectivity options are pretty much in line with everything else on the market on both phones. There is NFC, USB Type-C port, Bluetooth 5.2, and Wi-Fi 6 (Wi-Fi 6e on Pixel 6).

Pixel 6 vs OnePlus 9: Pricing and Colors

OnePlus 9

OnePlus 9

Google Pixel 6 is priced at $599 for the 128GB model and $699 for the 256GB variant. In contrast, the OnePlus 9 starts at $729 for the 128GB model. The 256GB model is priced at $829, but it doesn’t seem to be selling anymore. Also, you can find the OnePlus 9 for as low as $599 during various online sales.

In terms of color options, the OnePlus 9 is offered in Astral Black and Winter Mist, whereas the Pixel 6 is available in Stormy Black, Kinda Coral, and Sorta Seafoam.

Verdict

Picking between the Pixel 6 and the OnePlus 9 will depend on what you want from your phone. If you prefer a 120Hz display, want faster charging, and need to use mmWave 5G on T-Mobile, the OnePlus 9 is a better option, especially if you can get it at $599. However, if you want industry-leading camera performance, better software support, and stock Android, and mmWave 5G on AT&T and Verizon, Pixel 6 will suit you. It’s also cheaper without any promotions.


Which of the two phones are you planning to buy? Let us know in the comments section. Meanwhile, if you are also interested in the Pixel 6 Pro, make sure to check out our Pixel 6 Pro review and the best deals on the phone.

    Google Pixel 6
    The Pixel 6 comes with Google's new Tensor chip, a modern design, and flagship cameras.
    OnePlus 9
    The vanilla OnePlus 9 is for those who want flagship performance but don't want to pay top dollar. It offers a 6.5-inch 120Hz AMOLED display, a triple-camera setup tuned by Hasselblad, and the Snapdragon 888 SoC.

About author

Gaurav Shukla
Gaurav Shukla

Gaurav has been covering technology for over a decade now. He has done everything from blogging about Android to reporting the latest from the world of Internet giants. When he is not writing about the tech companies, he can be found binge-watching new TV series on the web. You can reach Gaurav at [email protected]