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Is the OnePlus 9 Worth Buying?

Around 10 years ago, smartphone owners only had a couple of options to choose from, you either purchased an iPhone or an Android device from Samsung or HTC. Of course, there were other manufacturers producing handsets at the time, but they typically didn’t live up to the standards set by Apple, Samsung or HTC. 

Today, things are very different. Google’s Pixel range, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Huawei have all captured a respectable share of the market. Another company has been OnePlus, which launched its first smartphone in 2014 with the slogan “Never Settle”. 

Today, the company has around half a dozen different handsets on the market, each catering to different types of customers. However, its latest flagship device, the OnePlus 9 is the one that captures the most attention. 

But is the OnePlus 9 worth purchasing, or is one of its competitors offering something better?

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Spec

All flagship smartphones now come with comparatively similar specs. The only main differences being in the camera lenses, charging speeds, and display refresh rates. The iPhone always has lower-powered internals, but the difference between the way iOS and Android run apps neutralizes this. 

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The OnePlus 9 features the Snapdragon 888 chipset and Adreno 660 GPU, just like the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the Xiaomi Mi 11.

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When it comes to charging, the OnePlus 9’s 65W Warp Charge feature makes it one of the fastest on the market, with only Xiaomi’s impressive 120W capabilities beating it. The OnePlus 9 now also features wireless charging, something previously only available on the Pro models. 

Gaming

The OnePlus 9 is one of the best Android smartphones for gaming on the market right now. Its 65W Warp Charge functionality means you don’t need to be plugged in very long while gaming, removing the awkward hand positions due to the cable being in your way. 

Inside the phone itself, the octa-core CPU and Adreno 660 GPU can handle any mobile game you can throw at them. The AMOLED HDR10+ display with an adaptive 120 Hz refresh rate means you’ll enjoy the best quality graphics possible in mobile games right now. 

Hardware on this level means that you can enjoy mobile versions of many desktop games that retain all of the same features but are packaged in a pocket format including popular online casino games, smash-hit shooting games, and retro-styled RPG titles

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For gaming, you won’t find much better than the OnePlus 9. Of course, iPhone users have access to Apple Arcade, but that’s a relatively niche service. The only way to get a materially better mobile gaming device is to buy a gaming phone like the ASUS ROG Phone 5. 

Camera

OnePlus cameras are comparable to those found on other flagship smartphones, with the 9 having three rear lenses: a 48-megapixel wide sensor, a 50-megapixel ultrawide sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. 

However, if you want a telephoto lens (one with optical zoom), you’ll have to splash out on the Pro model. This isn’t the case with Samsung’s Galaxy S range, which has had telephoto sensors included in the base models for several years. 

Cost

Smartphones have got decidedly more expensive in the last five or so years, but OnePlus has always kept the market in check by releasing devices that offer great value. The original slogan “Never Settle” was designed to reflect this, saying that smartphone users shouldn’t have to settle for choosing between quality and price. 

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The gap between OnePlus and its rivals has been shrinking though, leading some users to look elsewhere. In the US, the OnePlus 9 starts at $729, $70 cheaper than the Galaxy S21 and $100 less than the iPhone 12. 

Pound-for-pound then, the OnePlus 9 offers a comparatively similar experience with near-identical hardware at a lower price. 

Should You Buy the OnePlus 9?

If you already own the OnePlus 6, 7 or 8 and you’re happy with its current performance level, then the OnePlus 9 isn’t going to be a major step up. The OnePlus 9 is a great device and compares favorably against the competition, but it may be difficult to justify shelling out the best part of $1,000 if you already have a working device. 

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