OnePlus 10T vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Which phone is the better value in 2022?

OnePlus 10T vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Which phone is the better value in 2022?

The OnePlus 10T, which costs $649, is an excellent phone, as long as you evaluate it in the space its price tag belongs: that entry-level flagship range. However, Samsung’s year-old Galaxy S21 is still available officially from Samsung, it’s seen some price cuts that moved it into an even more attractive $499 price.

So the question is: if you’re on the market for a new flagship level phone but want to find the best value, is it worth buying a year-old Samsung base level flagship, or the latest OnePlus T phone? We here at XDA have spent plenty of time with both devices, so let’s find out.

XDA VIDEO OF THE DAY
    The OnePlus 10T is a new almost flagship that punches way above its price range.
    The Samsung Galaxy S21 may be a year old but it's still a very capable phone that you can pick up at a discount.

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OnePlus 10T vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Specifications

Specifications Samsung Galaxy S21 OnePlus 10T
Build
  • Plastic back and mid-frame
  • Gorilla Glass Victus front
  • Plastic mid-frame
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front and back
Dimensions & Weight
  • 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm
  • 169 gram
  • 163 x 75.37 x 8.75mm
  • 203.5g
Display
  • 6.2″ AMOLED
  • 1080 x 2340 pixels
  • variable refresh rate up to 120Hz
  • 6.7-inch FHD+ Fluid AMOLED
  • 120Hz refresh rate with adaptive refresh rate (60Hz/90Hz/120Hz)
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (US, China, India and other regions)
  • Exynos 2100 (Europe, South America and other regions)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
RAM & Storage
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB/256GB
  • 8GB
  • 128GB/256GB
Battery & Charging
  • 4,000mAh
  • 25W Wired fast charging (charger not included in box)
  • 15W wireless charging
  • 4,800mAh
  • 125W wired fast charging support (North America)
  • 150W wired fast charging support (International)
Security Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner Optical in-display fingerprint scanner
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 12MP wide, f/1.8
  • Secondary: 12MP ultra-wide, f.2.2
  • Tertiary: 64MP telephoto, 3x hybrid zoom
  • Primary: 50MP f/1.8 Sony IMX766, OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 8MP f/2.2, 119.9-degree FoV
  • Macro: 2MP
Front Camera(s) 10MP 16MP
Port(s) USB-C USB-C
Audio Stereo speakers Stereo speakers
Connectivity
  • 5G (mmWave)
  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • NFC
  • 5G (mmWave)
  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • NFC
Software OneUI 4 over Android 12 OxygenOS over Android 12
Other Features Dual physical SIM Dual physical SIM

OnePlus 10T vs Samsung Galaxy S22: Design and Hardware

oneplus 10t and galaxy s21

Other than the plastic body, the OnePlus 10T pretty much looks and feels like a 2022 flagship phone. It’s powered by the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, with a 6.7-inch 120Hz OLED display that spans almost edge-to-edge. It’s got a large battery and super, crazy fast 150W charging.

oneplus 10t camera

Almost the entire last paragraph could be said for the Galaxy S21 — last year. It, too, has a plastic body, with a chipset that at the time of release was the best in the Android space. The display is also brilliant, a Samsung AMOLED 120Hz panel. However, the S21 has a smaller battery, significantly slower charging, and its Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chip is no longer among the very best SoCs on the market. But considering that the Galaxy S21 is $150 cheaper, that may not be a big deal at all.

Samsung Galaxy S21 plus ultra Series

Looks are subjective, and I personally think both phones look great, with a unique camera module that spills over the sides. Both phones also come with some fun, lively colors. What is objective, is that the 10T is a much bigger phone than the Galaxy S21 with a 6.7-inch screen to 6.2-inch. The OnePlus 10T, at 204g, isn’t really heavy by 2022 standards, but the Galaxy S21 is 30g lighter and thus may be comfortable to hold over long periods. Do note the OnePlus 10T is slightly slippier, so you may want to invest in a case for the 10T.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra running One UI 3.1 based on Android 11

Cameras

Both phones pack a triple lens main camera system, but really only two of those cameras are worth talking about. The OnePlus 10T uses a 50MP IMX766 main camera and an 8MP ultra-wide. That third lens is a 2MP macro sensor that captures low-res macro shots. The Galaxy S21, meanwhile, uses a 12MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide, and a 64MP zoom lens. This zoom lens is the mediocre third lens. It’s really just a 1.1x optical zoom lens, using the extra pixels to force a hybrid 3X zoom that aren’t exactly sharp. Put it this way: look at both phones as having a wide and ultra-wide camera and save yourself the disappointment of a low-res macro lens that can’t even get that close to subjects, or a 1.1X zoom lens masquerading as a 3X zoom.

The Galaxy S21 in purple

If we compare the two useful cameras, they trade wins. The OnePlus 10T’s main camera has a larger image sensor and more pixels, which are used for binning, resulting in more dynamic range and details. But the Galaxy S21’s ultra-wide camera is better than the 10T’s measly 8MP shooter.

A person hold a OnePlus 10T smartphone in Moonstone black color

Both phones have excellent haptics, but the Galaxy S21 has superior water resistance, with an IP68 rating compared to the 10T’s IP54. This means the Galaxy S21 is able to survive complete submersion in water, while the 10T can only withstand splashes of water.


OnePlus 10T vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Software

The OnePlus 10T will run Android 12 out of the box with the company’s own OxygenOS skin on top, while the Galaxy S21 comes with Android 11 out of the box, however, the update to Android 12 should be available within hours of booting up the phone for the first time.

dex mode

A Samsung smartphone outputting a desktop Windows UI to an external monitor via Samsung DeX.

In terms of software performance, I find OxygenOS to be a more visually appealing software, with smoother, faster animations, and a cleaner stock Android look. However, Samsung’s OneUI can do more things, the most important of which is DeX, which allows the Galaxy S21 to output a Windows-like desktop homescreen to an external display. Otherwise, both software behave as expected and do not get in the way of Android features.

Another area that tips the software category in favor of Samsung is that the Galaxy S21 is guaranteed to get four years of Android updates, while OnePlus is only guaranteeing three years. However, considering the S21 is a year older, this means both of these phones are only guaranteed to get up to Android 15.


OnePlus 10T vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Performance

OnePlus 10T 5G in Jade Green and Moonstone black colorway

If we’re talking about pure processing power, this is a clear win for the OnePlus 10T, whose Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is more powerful and more efficient than the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 SoC running in the Galaxy 21. If your smartphone usage veer on the more casual/light side, then the Galaxy S21 will still be perfectly fine. But if you’re a heavy mobile gamer, or if you constantly go out all day for 12, 13 hours, the OnePlus 10T will give noticeably better performance.

But the Galaxy S21 may be a better productivity machine, despite the smaller screen. That’s because Samsung’s OneUI has more option to multi-task, including the ability to open apps in a resizable floating window. There’s also the aforementioned DeX, which can be quite helpful.


OnePlus 10T vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Which one should you get

If you live in a region where Samsung devices run Qualcomm’s SoC (that would be North America, China, India, and a small handful of other countries), then this versus is a close one. While the OnePlus 10T has a better camera, battery life, and more efficient processor, the Galaxy S21 is $150 cheaper and has more practical software, plus stronger water resistance. However, if you live in a region where the Galaxy S21 runs on Exynos chips (Europe, South America and many other regions), then the performance gap widens, because Samsung’s Exynos chips aren’t quite as good as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips.

There are deals for the OnePlus 10T that could potentially lessen the price gap, however. But then again, the Galaxy S21 is also likely to see more discounts too. We suggest you look around for the latest deals.

oneplus 10t

Whether you prefer a small phone matters a lot too, as the Galaxy S21 is a significantly smaller device. At the end of the day, this is a decision you have to make after weighing your pros and cons. If you ask me, I’d prefer the OnePlus 10T for the better cameras and battery life.

    The OnePlus 10T is a new almost flagship that punches way above its price range.
    The Samsung Galaxy S21 may be a year old but it's still a very capable phone that you can pick up at a discount.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.

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