Friday, July 23, 2021
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Best OnePlus Phone 2021


When OnePlus broke into the phone industry back in 2014 with the OnePlus One, it made its name with ‘flagship killer’ phones that undercut top-tier handsets on price, while still delivering on premium features and performance.

Since then, the company’s success and expansion has meant that it now makes those very flagships it set out to kill, along with a whole set of mid-range and budget devices – the company released a total of six phones across the price spectrum in 2020, a new high.

Here’s our rundown of the best OnePlus phones you can buy right now.

Best OnePlus phones 2021

1

OnePlus Nord – Best overall

OnePlus Nord

  • Pros
    • Excellent value
    • Affordable 5G
    • Glass build
  • Cons
    • Slower charging
    • Poor macro lens
    • A year old

The OnePlus Nord has proven to be a formidable smartphone in the mid-range market. It delivers a premium experience typically found on devices at around twice the price, including great performance, 5G, versatile cameras, fast charging and a slick user experience.

Sure, other mid-range phones offer even more for less, but few can match the Nord’s sense of style and OnePlus’s superb OxygenOS user experience.

Even though this may not be the most powerful OnePlus phone, we think it’s the best for most people thanks to the sheer bang for your buck it provides – there’s really little reason to spend more.

Read our full OnePlus Nord review

2

OnePlus 8 Pro – Best flagship

OnePlus 8 Pro

  • Pros
    • Excellent camera
    • 5G support
    • Premium design
  • Cons

The OnePlus 8 Pro is arguably the company’s first full flagship, finally incorporating long-requested features like wireless charging and IP68 water resistance to make it a genuine contender with Samsung’s finest.

Understandably the price has gone up accordingly, but even the base model – no slouch at 8GB RAM and 128GB storage – still represents serious value by flagship standards; meaning you will save at least some money by opting for OnePlus over most other manufacturers, and even more so now that the phone is a little older.

The 8 Pro’s camera is OnePlus’s best yet – it even outperformed the more recent 9 Pro in our testing – though it still lags behind rivals slightly. Throw in 5G, a great design, and the best Android skin around and the OnePlus 8 Pro is easy to recommend to anyone who can afford it.

Read our full OnePlus 8 Pro review

3

OnePlus 8T – Best value flagship

OnePlus 8T

  • Pros
    • Great value
    • 65W charging
    • Excellent specs
  • Cons
    • No wireless charging
    • Middling camera

The OnePlus 8T launched in autumn 2020, so it’s still recent enough to compete with 2021 phones where it counts.

With a slick design and reliable camera we’d still take it over its replacement, the OnePlus 9, especially since it’s considerably cheaper.

You still get a 120Hz display, 65W wired charging, and 5G support – though sadly it does omit wireless charging.

Read our full OnePlus 8T review

4

OnePlus Nord CE 5G – Nord for less

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

  • Pros
    • Thinnest OnePlus phone
    • Good value
    • Beautiful display
  • Cons
    • Plastic body
    • Average camera
    • No alert slider

The Nord CE 5G is really a stripped back version of the original Nord.

The CE – which stands for Core Edition – has the same display and a similar design to the Nord. While the Snapdragon 750G chipset is different, performance is also very close, and there’s 5G support too.

The camera isn’t as good as the Nord’s, and the back of the phone is now plastic – but the trade-off is that it’s now both thinner and lighter. 

Most importantly it’s cheaper, and it really is great value – but if you can afford it, we’d still recommend most people stretch their budget a little further and stick to the original.

Read our full OnePlus Nord CE 5G review

5

OnePlus 9 – The greatest of the latest

OnePlus 9

  • Pros
    • Top specs
    • Excellent display
  • Cons
    • Thick
    • Slow wireless charging
    • Unreliable camera

The standard OnePlus 9 is the better buy of the two 9 series phones that have launched globally, and is the one to pick if you know you want one of the company’s absolute latest handsets.

You get a Snapdragon 888, 120Hz display, 65W wired charging, and for the first time in a non-Pro phone, even wireless charging too – though it’s capped at 15W speeds.

You also get the firm’s first Hasselblad-branded camera, though lower your expectations: while the camera gets some things right, it still can’t match the best that Apple or Samsung have to offer.

Read our full OnePlus 9 review

6

OnePlus 8 – Still got it

OnePlus 8

  • Pros
    • Strong camera
    • Beautiful design
  • Cons
    • Slower charging
    • No waterproofing
    • A year old

Minor quirks aside, the OnePlus 8 is a fantastic flagship-class smartphone at an amazing price. You rarely get this quality level of design, features and performance at such good value.

When the biggest let down is that the main camera can do a better job of close-ups than the macro lens, you know you have an excellent device on your hands.

The main problem is that the newer, better 8T outperforms the standard 8 but has a lower asking price – though given its age you might be able to find the 8 for less, which suddenly makes it a very compelling option.

Read our full OnePlus 8 review

7

OnePlus 9 Pro – Best Display & Charging

OnePlus 9 Pro

  • Pros
    • Best specs
    • Fastest charging
  • Cons
    • Disappointing camera
    • Ugly finishes
    • Thick & heavy

The OnePlus 9 Pro was unfortunately a little bit of a let down, and feels like a step back from the phenomenal 8 Pro, and with only minor improvements over the standard 9.

The good is you get the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset, a dynamic refresh rate display (OnePlus’s best yet), and the one-two punch of 65W wired charging and 50W wireless – though the latter is only that fast if you also buy the separate wireless charger. It’s also IP68 rated, which the regular 9 isn’t.

The bad is that the much-hyped Hasselblad camera really underwhelms. The main and ultrawide do well in good light, but struggle the rest of the time, and aggressive sharpening leaves noisy shots even in good conditions. The 9 Pro has the added advantage of a 3.3x telephoto lens, but it can’t compete with zoom lens in rival flagships.

The ugly? Well, the design. It’s big, blocky, and the main Morning Mist colour is the worst fingerprint magnet around.

Buy this if you absolutely need the latest specs, but most people should save money and opt for the 9 or an 8-series.

Read our full OnePlus 9 Pro review

8

OnePlus Nord N10 – Best for budget

OnePlus Nord N10 5G

  • Pros
    • Budget-friendly
    • Headphone jack
    • Expandable storage
  • Cons
    • Nord & Nord CE offer more
    • Weak cameras
    • Bland design

While the OnePlus Nord line is forging a path that stands out in a cluttered mid-range market, the N10 5G doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the original Nord or the fierce competition from rivals such as Realme.

The highlight has to be the Oxygen OS user experience, which despite running on more modest hardware than almost any other OnePlus phone you can buy right now still feels wonderfully responsive and is unquestionably easy to use.

You also get respectable battery life paired to 30W Warp Charge 30T fast charging, expandable storage (unheard of on pretty much all other OnePlus phones) and a 90Hz high-refresh-rate display – all for less than the original Nord.

Read our full OnePlus Nord N10 5G review

9

OnePlus 7T – Bargain buy

OnePlus 7T

  • Pros
    • Cheap if you can find it
    • Striking camera design
  • Cons
    • Older specs
    • Less software support
    • Hard to find

The OnePlus 7T is a phenomenal smartphone that still offers solid specs, featuring a large 6.55in AMOLED display with speedy 90Hz refresh rate, an upgraded triple-camera setup on the rear consisting of a wide, ultra-wide and telephoto lens and rapid 30W charging that boosts your phone by just under 50 percent in 20 minutes.

The design is eye-catching without being too in-your-face, thanks mainly to the frosted glass finish and the lightweight form factor makes it feel great in the hand.

Admittedly this is now one of the older OnePlus phones on the market, which dents its appeal, and makes it trickier to find on sale. But it’s aged well, making it a great choice if you can find it at a discount.

Read our full OnePlus 7T review

10

OnePlus 7T Pro – Big screen at a bargain

OnePlus 7T Pro

  • Pros
    • Cheapest Pro model
    • Beautiful finish
  • Cons
    • Older specs
    • Less software support
    • Hard to find

The OnePlus 7T Pro is still a phenomenal smartphone with a gorgeous design, powerful internals and great camera performance at a pleasing price.

The 90Hz refresh rate display really makes all the difference when using this smartphone, but more recent models have outclassed it – and it’s the same with the triple-camera setup too.

Buy this if you want the larger, curved screen of the Pro models, and can find it for cheaper than the 8 Pro.

Read our full OnePlus 7T Pro review

OnePlus phone range explained

At the flagship end the latest phones are the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. There’s also the OnePlus 9R, but you won’t find that in this list as it’s exclusive to India, and so we haven’t reviewed it.

You might spot that the 9 and 9 Pro aren’t at the top of our ranking – that’s because we found that they were a step back from the 8 and 8T series in a few key respects, like design and camera performance, so for the most part we’d recommend you save some money and buy one of the 2020 phones instead.

The company’s cheaper handsets sit within its Nord line, starting with the superb OnePlus Nord, along with the even-more affordable Nord N10 5G, Nord N100, and the most recent Nord CE 5G – and we’re expecting the Nord N200 and Nord 2 later this summer too.

The secret weapon of every OnePlus phone is the software: OxygenOS is the best Android skin out there, and the only one close to rivalling Google’s own Pixel software. It means that even when the specs are equal, OnePlus phones often have an edge over other Android rivals.

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