Monday, November 29, 2021
Smart Phones

OnePlus 9 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: has OnePlus made the ultimate “flagship killer”?


With a fast, 120Hz refresh rate the OnePlus has the smoother moves
Both the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max have extra large screens measuring 6.7 inches. However, the OnePlus 9 Pro display is tapered ever so slightly around the sides, while the screen on the iPhone is completely flat. If you ask us, a flat screen is the better experience, but it also makes the iPhone a noticeably wider phone than the OnePlus, and unless you have hands the size of an NBA player, the OnePlus will be more comfortable to handle.


The iPhone also retains the notch, which houses its complex Face ID sensors and front camera, while the OnePlus features a much more discrete punch hole camera on the side that doesn’t obstruct your view. You get used to the notch on the iPhone in daily use, but it remains an annoyance while watching videos and playing games.

The big advantage of the OnePlus 9 Pro is its support for 120Hz adaptive refresh rate for buttery smooth scrolling, while the iPhone maxes out at 60Hz.


The OnePlus 9 Pro comes equipped with the latest and most powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max uses Apple’s home-grown A14 Bionic chip.

Both are the most powerful solutions for each platform, using the most advanced manufacturing technology available: 5nm, millions of transistors, and both just… crash the benchmarks!

Still, the cross-platform GeekBench shows a noticeable advantage for the A14:

While important for specs nerds, this is probably not something that the average user should be overly concerned with as both phones will provide sufficient speed for most tasks. In fact, the faster 120Hz screen refresh rate on the OnePlus might actually be the deciding factor in perceived smoothness, and not the processor.

Sustained Performance in gaming

We have already benchmarked and tested the Snapdragon 888 chip that is expected to power the OnePlus 9 Pro, and one particularly interesting test we use is 3D Mark Wildlife which runs 20 minutes of gaming to see whether the chips inside the phones will heat up and throttle after extended heavy use.

It reveals a few interesting behaviors, notice how the iPhone is capable of super powerful bursts of performance but it quickly throttles to its regular working temperature after just a minute, while the Snapdragon while a bit slower, is able to sustain its performance far more solidly. Of course, we will repeat this test once we get a hold of the OnePlus 9 Pro, but the results above should be a great indicator of what to expect.

5G Connectivity

The big question around the OnePlus 9 Pro is whether it will be available on all US carriers or not. So far, rumors suggest that T-Mobile will be the only carrier to offer the phone, which likely means that the 9 Pro will not support the mmWave flavor of 5G used by Verizon and to some extent, by AT&T. If this is indeed true, the iPhone will have the advantage of being available for all three US carriers AND supporting mmWave 5G. Is that something you should care about? If you are among the 1% that have mmWave coverage AND you really need those super fast speeds, than yes, but for most users this shouldn’t be a deciding factor.


Can a OnePlus phone match the camera quality of the iPhone?
For years, the number one complaint against OnePlus is that the company just wasn’t able to make a camera that would be on par with the very best. Well, last year’s OnePlus 8 Pro challenged that assumption, it was the first truly great camera by the brand, and we have high expectations for the OnePlus 9 Pro as well.

Here are the expected camera specs on both phones:

*OnePlus camera specs are based on leaks and rumors.

Judging by early leaks for 2021 Oppo phones, which often serve as the blueprint for OnePlus devices released a few weeks later, the OnePlus 9 Pro is to adopt a brand new 50-megapixel camera sensor made by Sony, which has improved clarity and low light performance.

The OnePlus 9 Pro is also expected to feature an ultra-wide camera, similar in specifications to that on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The interesting part is the zoom cameras. Samsung has set the bar high with the S21 Ultra and its 10X zoom periscope lens, and neither the OnePlus 9 Pro, nor the iPhone 12 Pro Max quite live up to its capabilities. Still, the OnePlus 9 Pro is expected to come with a 3X zoom telephoto lens, just slightly longer than the 2.5X zoom lens on the iPhone. Both should come in handy for capturing objects afar.

Apple also uses the 2.5X zoom lens for portrait photos which look great on the 12 Pro Max, and we expect an interesting battle between these two for the best portrait shots.

On the video side, we are yet to learn the details about the OnePlus 9 Pro. Expect to see a comprehensive comparison with the iPhone as soon as we get a hold on the phone.

Battery Life and Charging speeds

  • Rumored 4,500mAh or larger battery for OnePlus 9 Pro vs 3,687mAh battery on iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • OnePlus expected to extend its lead as the brand with fastest charging in the US

Finally, these two will have different battery sizes. Android phones like the OnePlus 9 Pro typically come with larger batteries than iPhones, and the OnePlus 9 Pro is another such phone, currently expected with a 4,500mAh battery, significantly larger than the 3,687mAh battery on the iPhone. That’s a nearly 20% bigger battery on the OnePlus, but do keep in mind that using the 120Hz fast refresh rate option will impact battery life, so it’s way too early to draw conclusions about which phone lasts longer in real life.

Expect to see our detailed battery comparison here as soon as the OnePlus 9 Pro goes through our tests.

For charging, the iPhone 12 Pro Max can only go up to 20W, while the OnePlus 9 Pro is expected to support 65W wired charging speeds. And yes, this is literally three times faster! Currently, the 12 Pro Max takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes for a full charge, while current rumors suggest the OnePlus 9 Pro will charge fully in just around 35 minutes. Super impressive!

Oh, and while we’re on the charging topic, the iPhone was the first mainstream phone to ship without a charger, an unfortunate move that luckily OnePlus will not follow as the 9 Pro will come with a charger in the box for free. Take that Apple!

Prices of OnePlus phones started at $300 with the original “flagship killer” OnePlus One, only to reach full flagship level these days. The OnePlus 9 Pro is expected to start a bit below $1,000. Some rumors point to a $900 base price for a 128GB model, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max retails for $1,100 for a 64GB version. Don’t forget that neither of these two phones supports expandable storage, and the storage you buy is what you get (so it might be a good idea to avoid the 64GB iPhone if you shoot a lot of video or play games).

So yes, the OnePlus 9 Pro is definitely shaping up to be the more affordable of the two, which is definitely something to consider.

So… with all this in mind, which one would you go for?


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