OnePlus 9 vs 9 Pro vs 9R: Which OnePlus flagship should you buy?

OnePlus 9 vs 9 Pro vs 9R: Which OnePlus flagship should you buy?

After months of leaks and teasers, OnePlus finally lifted the covers off the new OnePlus 9 series earlier this year. The flagship lineup includes three devices — the OnePlus 9, the OnePlus 9 Pro, and the OnePlus 9R — spread across different price points. Unlike previous years, OnePlus’ latest flagships offer a significantly better camera experience, making them great Galaxy S21 alternatives.

If you’re planning on getting yourself one of the new OnePlus 9 series devices, but you’re not sure which one will best fit your needs, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll look at all the similarities and differences between the three phones to help you decide which one to go for.

    OnePlus 9

    Entry-level flagship

    The vanilla OnePlus 9 is for those who want a flagship experience 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.
    OnePlus 9 Pro

    The best from OnePlus

    The OnePlus 9 Pro is the best phone from OnePlus so far. It packs a 6.7-inch QHD+ 120Hz OLED display, the Snapdragon 888 SoC, and an impressive camera setup tuned by Hasselblad.
    OnePlus 9R

    The flagship killer

    The OnePlus 9R marks the company's return to the affordable flagship space. It's a rehashed OnePlus 8T from last year, featuring Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 870 chip and an affordable price tag.

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of the OnePlus 9 series, check out the full specs list for all three devices in the section below:

OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro, and OnePlus 9R full specs list

SpecificationOnePlus 9OnePlus 9 ProOnePlus 9R
Build
  • Fiberglass-reinforced polymer frame
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front and back
  • Aluminum frame
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front and back
  • Metal frame
  • Glass back
  • Gorilla Glass front
Dimensions & Weight
  • North America/Europe:
    • 160 x 74.2 x 8.7mm
    • 192g
  • India/China:
    • 160 x 73.9 x 8.1mm
    • 183g
  • 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm
  • 197g
  • 161 x 74.1 x 8.4 mm
  • 189g
Display
  • 6.55-inch FHD+ AMOLED (2400 x 1080p)
  • 402PPI
  • 20:9 aspect ratio
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 1100nits peak brightness
  • Supports sRGB and DCI-P3 color space
  • HDR10+
  • Automatic color temperature adjustment
  • Gorilla Glass 5
  • 6.7-inch QHD+ LTPO AMOLED (3216 x 1440p)
  • 525PPI
  • 20.1:9 aspect ratio
  • Smart 120Hz refresh rate (Adaptive 1-120Hz)
  • 360Hz touch polling rate
  • 1300nits peak brightness
  • 10-bit color depth
  • Supports sRGB and DCI-P3 color space
  • HDR10+
  • MEMC
  • Automatic color temperature adjustment
  • Gorilla Glass 5
  • 6.55-inch FHD+ AMOLED (2400 x 1080)
  • 402PPI
  • 20:9 aspect ratio
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • sRGB and DCI-P3 support
SoC
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
    • 1x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex X1-based) Prime core @ 2.84GHz
    • 3x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex A78-based) Performance cores @ 2.4GHz
    • 4x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex A55-based) Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz
  • Adreno 660 GPU
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
    • 1x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex X1-based) Prime core @ 2.84GHz
    • 3x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex A78-based) Performance cores @ 2.4GHz
    • 4x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex A55-based) Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz
  • Adreno 660 GPU
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 870
    • 1x Kryo 585 Prime core @ 3.2GHz
    • 3x Kryo 585 Performance cores @ 2.4GHz
    • 4x Kryo 385 Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz
  •  Adreno 650
RAM & Storage
  • 8GB LPDDR5 RAM + 128GB UFS 3.1 storage
  • 12GB + 256GB
  • 8GB LPDDR5 RAM + 128GB UFS 3.1 storage
  • 12GB + 256GB
  • 8GB + 128GB UFS 3.1
  • 12GB + 256GB
Battery & Charging
  • 4,500mAh battery
  • 65W wired fast charging (1-100% in 29 minutes)
  • 45W wired fast charging (USB PD)
  • 15W Qi wireless charging (North America/Europe only)
  • Warp Charge 65T charger included (supports up to 45W USB PD or PPS for non-OnePlus devices)
  • 4,500mAh battery
  • 65W wired fast charging (1-100% in 29 minutes)
  • 45W wired fast charging (USB PD)
  • 50W wireless fast charging (1-100% in 43 minutes)
  • Warp Charge 65T charger included (supports up to 45W USB PD or PPS for non-OnePlus devices)
  • 4,500mAh
  • 65W wired fast charging support
  • Warp Charge 65 charger included in the box
SecurityIn-display fingerprint scannerIn-display fingerprint scannerIn-display fingerprint scanner
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 48MP Sony IMX689, f/1.8, EIS, PDAF+CAF
  • Secondary: 50MP Sony IMX766 ultra-wide, f/2.2, freeform lens
  • Tertiary: 2MP monochrome sensor
  • Dual LED flash
  • Video:
    • 8K video @ 30fps
    • 4K video @ 30/60fps
    • Slow motion: 720p @480fps, 1080p @ 240fps
    • Time-lapse: 1080p @ 30fps, 4K @ 30fps
  • Additional features: Nightscape, Super Macro, UltraShot HDR, Smart Scene Recognition, Portrait mode, Pro mode, Panorama, Tilt-shift mode, Focus Peaking, Cat/Dog Face focus, RAW support, Filters, Super Stable video, Video Nightscape, Video HDR, Video Portrait, Focus Tracking, Hyperlapse
  • Primary: 48MP Sony IMX 789, f/1.8, OIS, EIS, PDAF+CAF
  • Secondary: 50MP Sony IMX766 ultra-wide, f/2.2, freeform lens
  • Tertiary: 8MP 3.3x telephoto, f/2.4, OIS
  • Quaternary: 2MP monochrome sensor
  • Dual LED flash
  • Video:
    • 8K video @30fps
    • 4K video @ 30/60/120fps
    • Slow motion: 720p @ 480fps, 1080p @ 240fps
    • Time-lapse: 1080p @ 30fps, 4K @ 30fps
  • Additional features: Nightscape, Super Macro, UltraShot HDR, Smart Scene Recognition, Portrait mode, Pro mode, Panorama, Tilt-shift mode, Focus Peaking, Cat/Dog Face focus, RAW support, Filters, Super Stable video, Video Nightscape, Video HDR, Video Portrait, Focus Tracking, Hyperlapse
  • Primary: 48MP f/1.7 Sony IMX586, PDAF+CAF
  • Secondary: 16MP f/2.2 Sony IMX481 wide-angle, 123° FoV
  • Tertiary: 5MP macro
  • Quaternary: 2MP monochrome
Front Camera(s)16MP Sony IMX471, f/2.4, FF, EIS16MP Sony IMX471, f/2.4, FF, EIS16MP Sony IMX471, f/2.4, FF, EIS
Port(s)USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-CUSB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C
Audio
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • Noise cancellation support
  • Dolby Atmos certified
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • Noise cancellation support
  • Dolby Atmos certified
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • Noise cancellation support
  • Dolby Atmos certified
Connectivity
  • LTE 4×4 MIMO
  • SA/NSA 5G
  • Wi-Fi 6 2×2 MIMO (dual-band)
  • Bluetooth 5.2 (aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC support)
  • NFC
  • GPS (L1+L5 Dual Band), GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, A-GPS
  • LTE 4×4 MIMO
  • SA/NSA 5G
  • Wi-Fi 6 2×2 MIMO (dual-band)
  • Bluetooth 5.2 (aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC support)
  • NFC
  • GPS (L1+L5 Dual Band), GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, A-GPS
  • LTE 4×4 MIMO
  • SA/NSA 5G
  • Wi-Fi 6 2×2 MIMO (dual-band)
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • GPS (L1+L5 Dual Band), GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, A-GPS
SoftwareOxygenOS 11 based on Android 11OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11
Other Features
  • IP68 dust and water resistance (T-Mobile version only)
  • Alert slider
  • Upgraded haptic motor
  • OnePlus Cool Play cooling system (five-layer system with a vapor chamber and layers of graphite and copper)
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • Alert slider
  • Upgraded haptic motor
  • OnePlus Cool Play cooling system (multi-layer system with a vapor chamber and layers of graphite and copper)
  • Alert slider
ColorsWinter Mist, Arctic Sky, Astral BlackMorning Mist, Forest Green, Stellar BlackLake Blue, Carbon Black

Common features across the OnePlus 9 series

All three phones in the OnePlus 9 series have a few things in common. For starters, they feature a similar design with a curved back panel and a rectangular camera module with rounded edges on the back. The devices look similar from the front too, as all three feature a hole-punch cutout in the top left corner of the display.

However, you can easily differentiate the OnePlus 9 Pro from the other two models, as it features a curved display. The OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9R, on the other hand, feature flat panels. Additionally, the top-of-the-line model has a large 6.7-inch QHD+ LTPO AMOLED display, while the other two have smaller 6.55-inch AMOLED panels. All three devices feature an in-display fingerprint scanner, though.

OnePlus 9 series on white background

You can also differentiate between the three devices by looking at the rear-facing camera module. The OnePlus 9 has three sensors, the OnePlus 9 Pro has four sensors, and the OnePlus 9R lacks the Hasselblad branding. Other than that, the phones look quite similar, and the port/button placement is consistent across the board.

As far as the hardware is concerned, the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro share several components. But the OnePlus 9R is almost completely different. That’s because it’s just a rehashed OnePlus 8T with a new design and SoC, so it features older parts. The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro pack Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip, 8GB/12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 128GB/256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. They also pack the same 4,500mAh battery with 65W fast charging support, the 50MP Sony IMX 766 ultra-wide camera with a freeform lens, the same 2MP monochrome sensor, and the same 16MP selfie camera. The phones also offer the same connectivity features, and they both run OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11 out of the box.

The OnePlus 9R’s software is one of the few things it has in common with the flagship devices, along with the 16MP selfie camera, the USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port, and the 2MP monochrome sensor.

Now you know the common features across the range let’s look at the key differences between the three models and who should buy each one.

Who should buy the OnePlus 9?

If you’re looking for a true flagship experience but don’t want to spend over $1,000 on a smartphone, you should pick up the OnePlus 9. At a starting price of $729, the OnePlus 9 is much more affordable than its Pro counterpart. Yet, it offers most of the premium features you get with the top-of-the-line model.

It packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip, a 6.55-inch 120Hz AMOLED display, a 4,500mAh battery with 65W fast charging support, and a decent triple camera setup (review) with a 48MP IMX689 primary camera, a 50MP IMX766 ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP monochrome camera. As mentioned earlier, it even features the same 16MP selfie shooter as the Pro variant.

Black OnePlus 9 on white background

On the downside, the OnePlus 9 doesn’t offer the same premium build quality as the OnePlus 9 Pro, as it has a fiberglass-reinforced polymer frame instead of an aluminum frame. It has a lower resolution FHD+ display with a lower peak brightness and no adaptive refresh rate support, it lacks fast wireless charging capabilities, and it doesn’t get an IP68 certification (except for the T-Mobile variant). On the camera front, the OnePlus 9 also misses out on the Sony IMX789 primary sensor and the 8MP telephoto sensor.

    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.

Who should buy the OnePlus 9 Pro?

Now you know what you’ll miss out on if you buy the OnePlus 9, it should be easy for you to decide if you want to go for the OnePlus 9 Pro or not.

OnePlus 9 Pro

Being the top-of-the-line model, the OnePlus 9 Pro packs everything you’d want from a flagship phone in 2021, including a large QHD+ high-refresh rate display with Adaptive refresh rate support, premium build quality with IP68 certification, and 50W wireless fast charging support.

Silver OnePlus 9 Pro on white background

The OnePlus 9 Pro also features a better 48MP Sony IMX789 primary camera, an additional 8MP 3.3x telephoto camera, and premium display features like MEMC, 10-bit color depth, and automatic color temperature adjustment. But for these additional features, you’ll have to shell out $1,499 for the device if you’re in the US, as OnePlus isn’t selling the cheaper 8GB/128GB variant in the country. If you’re not convinced, you can check out our full review of the device.

    OnePlus 9 Pro
    With a large, 6.7-inch Quad HD OLED display and a Smart 120Hz refresh rate, the OnePlus 9 Pro may have the best display on the market. The cameras, tuned in collaboration with Hasselblad, produce excellent still photos and capture superb 4K video.

Who should buy the OnePlus 9R?

Unlike the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro, the OnePlus 9R falls in the affordable flagship territory. So it’s meant for those who want a flagship experience but are willing to make some compromises.

OnePlus 9R

As mentioned earlier, the device is a rehashed OnePlus 8T, so it packs flagship hardware from last year. It packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 chip, which is a slightly upgraded version of the Snapdragon 865, a 6.55-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and no variable refresh rate support, and a 4,500mAh battery with 65W fast charging support.

Black OnePlus 9R on white background

Being the cheapest device of the bunch, it features a mediocre quad-camera system on the back, consisting of a 48MP Sony IMX586 primary sensor, a 16MP IMX481 wide-angle camera, a 5MP macro camera, and a 2MP monochrome camera. It does however get the same 16MP selfie shooter as the other two models. Connectivity options on the OnePlus 9R are also much the same, but it lacks NFC support. Furthermore, it doesn’t include the upgraded haptic motor found on the other two models.

    OnePlus 9R
    The OnePlus 9R is a rehashed OnePlus 8T with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 870 chip and a redesigned camera island. It's the most affordable phone in the OnePlus 9 lineup and it has the potential to be the most popular out of the lot.

Should you buy the OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro, or OnePlus 9R?

We’ve already mentioned all the reasons why you should buy each device in the OnePlus 9 series, but should you buy any of them? In our opinion, the OnePlus 9 is a great buy for most people. It’s one of the best flagship phones available in the market today as it strikes a good balance between premium features and affordable pricing. It offers most of the features found on the Pro model at a significantly better price. But if you’re someone who likes to stay on the bleeding edge, you should opt for the OnePlus 9 Pro instead.

Although a bit on the expensive side, the OnePlus 9 Pro offers pretty much everything you expect to see on a modern flagship. It’s one of the best Android phones you can buy in 2021, but you may like the Galaxy S21 Ultra better if you want the best camera experience. As far as the OnePlus 9R is concerned, the device is a good buy for those who want to experience OnePlus’ fast and smooth software experience without spending too much money. But since it’s only available in the Indian market, we’d recommend going for the OnePlus 9 instead of trying to import it.

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.