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OnePlus 6T vs Samsung Galaxy S9: What's the difference?

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OnePlus launched the OnePlus 6 in May, followed closely by the OnePlus 6T, on 29 October. OnePlus originally marketed its devices as "flagship killers", offering great specs for a great price. 

The company has some serious competition this year though, with the likes of Huawei's P20 series delivering excellent finishes and camera results and the trusty Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ offering plenty of great features too.

© OnePlus / Samsung / Pocket-lint

So does the latest OnePlus 6T live up to the original flagship killer branding? Here it is against the Samsung S9 and S9+ with the older OnePlus 6 mentioned too. You can read how they compare to the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro in our separate feature.

OnePlus vs Samsung design

  • OnePlus 6: 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75mm, 177g, water resistant, glass back
  • OnePlus 6T: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm, 185g, water resistant, glass back
  • Samsung Galaxy S9: 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm, 163g, IP68, glass back
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5mm, 189g, IP68, glass back

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and larger S9+ design is familiar, because it's essentially the same as the Galaxy S8. That sees a glass rear curving to meet the curved edges of the front Infinity Display. The S9 and S9+ are both IP68 water and dust resistant.

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OnePlus meanwhile, has traditionally opted for an aluminium build in the past but the OnePlus 6 sees a glass rear, layered for a depth effect, which the OnePlus 6T also offers. Water resistance is present on both the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T, though no specific IP rating is given for either.

On the front of the 6, OnePlus introduced a notch design display, whereas Samsung avoided it. The OnePlus 6 has a small notch at the top its screen, like the Huawei P20, which means you're looking at minimal bezels on this phone but the display isn't uninterrupted like the Samsung Galaxy S9. The OnePlus 6T meanwhile, continues with the notch but a much smaller one in a water drop format.

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Where OnePlus does have the advantage over Samsung is in presenting a new and fresh design, where Samsung stuck with tried and tested. In terms of measurements, the OnePlus 6 sits in between the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ in both footprint and weight, while the OnePlus 6T does the same but creeps closer towards the size of the S9+. The OnePlus 6 and 6T are slimmer than both Galaxy models, but wider than both too.

OnePlus vs Samsung display 

  • Samsung Galaxy S9: 5.8-inch, Quad HD+, AMOLED, 18.5:9 ratio, 568ppi
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+: 6.2-inch, Quad HD+, AMOLED, 18.5:9 ratio, 530ppi
  • OnePlus 6: 6.28in, Full HD+, AMOLED, 19:9 ratio, 401ppi
  • OnePlus 6T: 6.41in, Full HD+, AMOLED, 19.5:9 ratio, 401ppi 

Samsung's devices come in two sizes with either a 5.8 or 6.2-inch display. Both are the same resolution at 2960 x 1440 pixels, although the default setting is 2220 x 1080, or Full HD+. 

OnePlus offers a 6.28-inch display in the OnePlus 6 but it hasn't made the jump to Quad HD, offering a resolution of 2280 x 1080, which is again Full HD+. The OnePlus 6T meanwhile, increases the screen size to 6.41-inches, though continues to stick with Full HD+ at 2340 x 1080 pixels. Technically the Samsung devices can therefore push more pixels for greater detail; the flipside is that that consumes more power and might be unnecessary in daily use. 

As mentioned above, the OnePlus 6 has a notched display that has a 19:9 aspect and the OnePlus 6T offers similar with a smaller notch and a larger 19.5:9 aspect ratio, making both models slightly taller than the 18.5:9 of the Galaxy S9. This is what the notch brings - a little more display space, a little less forehead bezel. The Samsung devices meanwhile have slim bezels at the top and bottom of their screens, but the display is uninterrupted.

Both Samsung and OnePlus displays are AMOLED - with Samsung's regarded as one of the finest displays around. That said, we've always been impressed with OnePlus' offering.

OnePlus vs Samsung hardware

  • Samsung Galaxy S9: Exynos 9810/Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage + microSD, 3000mAh
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+: Exynos 9810/Snapdragon 845, 6GB RAM, 64GB storage + microSD, 3500mAh
  • OnePlus 6: Snapdragon 845, 6/8GB RAM, 64/128/256GB storage, 3300mAh
  • OnePlus 6T: Snapdragon 845, 6/8GB RAM, 128/256GB storage, 3700mAh

OnePlus has been a dedicated user of Qualcomm's hardware and it is therefore no surprise to find the Snapdragon 845 running the OnePlus 6 and 6T. This platform is supported by either 6GB or 8GB RAM and 64GB, 128GB or 256GB storage options on the OnePlus 6. The 8GB RAM and 256GB storage model is only available on the Midnight Black colour option. The OnePlus 6T also comes in 6GB and 8GB RAM models, but only 128GB and 256GB storage models.

There's no microSD on OnePlus phones, an advantage that Samsung holds. Samsung has a version powered by the Snapdragon 845 too, although in the UK its phones run on the powerful Exynos 9810, with 4GB or 6GB of RAM (the S9+ getting 6GB). 

OnePlus is known for its Dash Charging which is really fast and present in the OnePlus 6 and 6T too. The battery size is 3300mAh for the 6, which is in the middle of the two Samsung devices with the S9 offering 3000mAh and the S9+ 3500mAh. The OnePlus 6T comes with a 3700mAh capacity though, which makes it the largest. Both Samsung devices have fast charging and both support wireless charging, the latter of which the OnePlus 6 and 6T do not.

We were really impressed with the OnePlus 6 battery life in everyday use so we have high expectations for the 6T. We comfortably got to the end of a day on the 6, even on days with heavy use. The smaller Galaxy S9 struggled in that regard, but the S9+ is better, offering fairly similar performance to the OnePlus 6.

In terms of biometrics and audio, the Samsung devices have a fingerprint sensor on the rear and iris scanning on the front. They also both come with a 3.5mm headphone jack. The OnePlus 6 has a fingerprint scanner on the rear and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The OnePlus 6T meanwhile, has an in-display fingerprint scanner called Screen Unlock and no 3.5mm headphone jack.

OnePlus vs Samsung camera 

  • Samsung Galaxy S9: 12MP, dual aperture f/1.5 to f/2.4, OIS, 8MP front camera
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+: Dual pixel camera 12MP + 12MP, dual aperture, dual OIS, 2x optical zoom camera, 8MP front camera
  • OnePlus 6/6T: Dual rear camera system, 20MP + 16MP, f/1.7 aperture, OIS, 16MP front camera

The camera is often the area where smartphones are judged. The Samsung Galaxy S9 is a good allrounder with a skill for lower light conditions from its singular 12-megapixel sensor, while the S9+ has an extra 12-megapixel telephoto lens, allowing for the added advantage of 2x optical zoom.

Both the S9 and S9+ have OIS, with the S9+ offering dual OIS and both Galaxy devices have a dual aperture system which is technically innovative, although we're not totally sold on it being essential. The S9 and S9+ also offer super slow motion video from their rear cameras and they both come with an 8-megapixel front camera.

The camera therefore is the area where OnePlus needs to compete a little harder. A dual camera system is on board the OnePlus 6 with a pairing of a 16 and 20-megapixel f/1.7 sensors, which is what the OnePlus 6T offers too. Optical image stabilisation is on board, and both devices are capable of super slow motion 720p video. The 6T offers improved algorithms for portrait and night shots compared to the 6 however.

On the front, the OnePlus 6 and 6T have a 16-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. There is no iris scanning on board like the Samsung devices, but the OnePlus 6 and 6T do have a Face Unlock feature.

OnePlus vs Samsung software

Both OnePlus and Samsung run Android devices with plenty of modifications over the top. The Samsung Experience UX is probably the most comprehensive mod that you'll find on any phone, changing pretty much everything about Android, as well as adding more out-of-the-box functionality than any other device. 

But some feel it's a little too much - Samsung owns that experience - and OnePlus has a slightly different software approach. OnePlus' Oxygen OS is comparable, but preserves a little more of Android, adding a few useful features without such a heavy treatment.

When it comes to updates, we think that OnePlus has the slight edge - Samsung isn't especially fast to update Android versions, but OnePlus has a better track record, regularly updating software with new fixes, performance enhancements and security updates. The OnePlus 6 has been updated to Android Pie and the 6T launches on Pie, while Samsung has yet to offer any timeline.

OnePlus vs Samsung price

  • Samsung Galaxy S9: £739
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+: £869
  • OnePlus 6: Starts at £469
  • OnePlus 6T: Starts at £499

Now we get to the crunch. The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are among the most expensive handsets on the market. You get a lot of phone for your money and it delivers one of the best experiences around, but there's no avoiding that it's expensive - even if there are some great deals to be had.

OnePlus has always been cheaper, significantly so. The OnePlus 6 starts at £469, which is £20 more than the OnePlus 5T started at but it's still great value for money. The 8GM RAM/256GB model of the OnePlus 6 will set you back £569. The 6T starts at £499 with the 8GB RAM/256GB model hitting £579.

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OnePlus v Samsung conclusions 

These phones have numerous similarities. They both have large displays with an aspect that fills the front of the phone, they are both AMOLED, although Samsung has the edge with resolution, giving you more detail. 

Both offer a glass design and both have waterproofing, though Samsung has the edge here too with an actual IP rating. In terms of absolute design, we can't fault OnePlus - the quality of recent devices has been very high, and it's hard to fault Samsung here too, though you do pay more. 

With both offering similar power, Samsung's advantage comes down to offering a microSD card slot - though you can buy a 256GB OnePlus 6T for £300 less than a Samsung Galaxy S9+. 

The real differentiator we feel will be the camera. We can't help feeling that Samsung offers the better experience here when it comes to functions, speed and absolute quality. However, the OnePlus has raised its camera game considerably - and you can't ignore that price - choosing OnePlus will leave you with cash in your pocket compared to the latest Samsung flagship and the daily experience in most ways matches the Samsung. 

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