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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. OnePlus 6: Does more expensive mean better?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is finally here, boasting perhaps the best specs ever to show up in an Android smartphone, as well as a big and beautiful display. But it’s not the only new flagship phone to turn heads — OnePlus also unveiled its latest flagship, the OnePlus 6, not too long ago — and it has some pretty spectacular specs of its own.

But which device is the way to go? Is one clearly better than the other? We put the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and OnePlus 6 to the test to find out.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 OnePlus 6
Size 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm (6.37 x 3.00 x 0.35 inches) 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 mm (6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 201 grams (7.09 ounces) 177 grams (6.24 ounces)
Screen size 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display 6.28-inch AMOLED
Screen resolution 2,960 x 1,440 pixels (516 pixels-per-inch) 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (402 pixels-per-inch)
Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo
Storage space 128GB, 512GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot Yes No
Tap to pay services Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Camera Dual sensor 12MP rear, 8MP front Dual sensor 16MP + 20MP rear, 16MP front
Video 2,160p at 60 frames per second, 1,080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps 2,160p at 60 frames per second, 1,080p at 240 fps, 720p at 480 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C, Headphone Jack USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance IP68 Yes
Battery 4,000mAh 3,300mAh
App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint AT&T, T-Mobile
Colors Ocean Blue, Lavender Purple Midnight Black, Mirror Black
Price $1,000 $529
Buy from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Amazon, Samsung OnePlus
Review score 4 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Galaxy Note 9 blue with s pen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While these two phones come at drastically different prices, they actually offer very similar specs. Both devices boast Qualcomm’s latest and greatest processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, and either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, depending on the model you go for. Of course, there are a few differences in power — the Galaxy Note 9, for example, features a new water-cooling system that Samsung says will help push the processor a little more than it otherwise could be pushed.

On top of that, the Galaxy Note 9 features more storage than the OnePlus 6 — while the OnePlus 6 has options for 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB of storage, the Galaxy Note 9 boasts either 128GB or a whopping 512GB of storage — which is perfect for those who want a little more space for their files. There’s also room for a MicroSD card in the Note 9.

The battery on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is also quite a bit bigger than the one in the OnePlus 6. The Galaxy Note 9 features a 4,000mAh battery, and it can be charged through wireless charging and supports fast charging. The OnePlus 6’s battery is 3,300mAh, and while it does support OnePlus’ fast charging tech, it does not have wireless charging.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Design and durability

Andy Boxall/

One of the biggest differences between expensive flagship phones and more affordable ones is often the design — and while both the OnePlus 6 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 look great, there are a few key differences in how they look.

The OnePlus 6, for starters, is the first OnePlus phone to feature a nice, big edge-to-edge display, which comes in at 6.28-inches. Like many other edge-to-edge phones, you will find a notch on this device with a speaker and front-facing camera, and there is a small chin on the bottom. The back of the phone features a dual-sensor camera and a fingerprint sensor. On the bottom of the phone, you’ll find a USB-C port and headphone jack. The overall design is basic, but it’s also sleek and stylish.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, is a little more complex. Unlike the OnePlus 6, the Galaxy Note 9 does feature a small forehead and chin, though thankfully they’re not overly pronounced. The curved display comes in at 6.4-inches, and on the bottom of the phone you’ll find a USB-C port and a headphone jack, along with a slot for the S-Pen.

When it comes to durability, neither of the two phones are great. They both feature a ton of glass, meaning that if you drop them, there is a possibility that they could crack or break. The Galaxy Note 9, however, has an official IP68 rating, meaning it’ll withstand being in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. While the OnePlus 6 does feature some water-resistance, it’s not officially rated. Because the Galaxy Note 9 is more durable, it edges out the OnePlus 6 here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9


Galaxy Note 9 front against books
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Smartphone displays are getting better in general, but there are a few differences between the displays on the OnePlus 6 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

The OnePlus 6 has a 6.28-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,280 x 1,080 pixels and a pixel density of 402 pixels per inch. The display ratio comes in at 19:9, which is even longer than the 18:9 displays that have been popular over the last year or so.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s display is also an AMOLED display, and it comes in with a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440 pixels and a pixel density of 516 pixels per inch. The aspect ratio is very similar at 18.5:9.

Because of the higher resolution, Samsung is the clear winner here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9


Oneplus 6 review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and the OnePlus 6 have dual-sensor cameras, but the specs on the two are a little different. The OnePlus 6, for starters, boasts a dual 16 megapixel and 20 megapixel camera, with an aperture of f/1.7 and optical image stabilization. The front-facing camera also comes in at 16 megapixels with an aperture of f/2.0.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, has a dual 12 megapixel and 12 megapixel camera, with a variable aperture of between f/1.5-2.4, and optical image stabilization. The front-facing camera comes in at 8 megapixels with an aperture of f/1.7.

Now, while the OnePlus 6 has a higher number of megapixels, megapixels alone don’t make for a great camera. In our testing, the variable aperture and camera software in the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 makes it the better choice when it comes to smartphone cameras.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Software and updates

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Both the OnePlus 6 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 are Android phones, but it’s not that simple. While the OnePlus 6 features a relatively stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo, and a few tweaks that are aimed at making certain features easier to access, all of the software tweaks are optional — so if you don’t like them, you can easily turn them off. That makes the OnePlus 6 a great choice for stock Android fans.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, features a heavily edited version of Android, which is typical of Samsung phones. The device ships with Android 8.1 with the Samsung Experience skin over the top of it. There’s plenty of customization here, but you will be stuck with a bunch of pre-installed apps and a design that you may not like.

Then there are updates, and neither of the two companies are amazing at them — but of the two, OnePlus will likely be a little better. Because of that, we’re giving this one to OnePlus.

Winner: OnePlus 6

Special features

Galaxy Note 9 pink and blue s pens
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

OnePlus is known for offering a flagship experience at a great price, but the trade-off for that is that OnePlus’ phones don’t offer too many special features. The phone does offer facial recognition through its front-facing camera, but it’s not necessarily as secure as phones like the iPhone X.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, offers a host of special features. The device comes with the Samsung S Pen stylus, with which you can write and draw. Now that it has Bluetooth, you can also use it as a remote for things like the camera, making it a pretty handy feature. The Galaxy Note 9 also has both Samsung Bixby and Google Assistant — though most users will probably want to stick with Google Assistant considering how much better it is right now. The camera in the device also boasts a bunch of cool features, like object recognition and a Scene Optimizer feature that often helps make photos look better. Then there’s DeX mode, which allows you to use your Note 9 as a desktop computer replacement by plugging into a monitor.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 simply offers more features, so it’s the winner here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9


Price is perhaps the main difference between these two phones. While the OnePlus 6 starts at $529, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 starts at almost double that at $999. It’s safe to say, you have to really want the extra features and better camera in the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 to want to spend that much cash on it.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the clear winner here — it performs better, has a better camera, and simply offers more features. That does not, however, necessarily mean you should buy it. If you like the idea of still getting a flagship-spec phone and want to save some cash, the OnePlus 6 is an excellent way to go. If, however, the camera is super important to you and you’re interested in things like the S Pen, you may want to shell out a lot more cash for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

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