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Best OnePlus phones – 2021 edition

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When Carl Pei and Pete Lau founded OnePlus more than seven years ago, no one had the slightest idea of the cult status the brand would accumulate later on. The OnePlus One was a fresh start and also a bold step right onto Samsung and Apple’s toes. It actually gave birth to the term “affordable flagship” and steered the smartphone market in a slightly different direction.Today, two dozen models later, OnePlus has more or less found its way into the deep ocean waters of corporate smartphone mass-production, and many of the core fans of the company aren’t overly happy about it. That’s not to say that OnePlus phones aren’t good anymore, quite on the contrary – they’re getting better with each iteration.

But what’s the best OnePlus phone of them all? This is a tough question, as “best” is often quite subjective. With so many OnePlus models we felt that it’s time to make a list. Here’s our take on the best OnePlus phones you can get in 2021. The list is based on our extensive experience with OnePlus phones throughout the years and also features all the pros and cons of our challengers. Let’s begin!

The best OnePlus phones at a glance:

OnePlus 9 Pro

The OnePlus 9 Pro is not only the best OnePlus phone at the moment, it’s the one of the best Android phones you can get! You can read our full OnePlus 9 Pro review if you want to delve into details but the final score speaks for itself. The OnePlus 9 Pro is the pinnacle of an evolution that’s been going for almost a decade – it’s the perfect flagship phone that gave iPhone and Galaxy devices a serious run for their money.
This phone has an excellent camera designed in partnership with Hasselblad, a gorgeous 120 Hz LPTO (1Hz to 120Hz and everything in between) AMOLED screen with a generous 6.7-inch diagonal, chart topping performance and blazing (without the flames, though) fast wired and wireless charging. You can have the phone with either 8 or 12GB of RAM, and 128 or 256GB of native storage, and unsurprisingly the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset powers this technology gem.

OnePlus 9

The smaller sibling in the OnePlus 9 family packs a serious punch at a bargain price. And while the OnePlus 9 Pro is a pretty expensive phone by all standards, the vanilla OnePlus 9 manages to keep the panage and speed, while at the same time avoiding the eye-watering price. It features a 6.5-inch flat screen with a 20:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2400 x 1080. It’s a bright and vivid OLED panel with a 120 Hz refresh rate as a bonus.

The hardware inside is pretty much identical to the one found in the Pro model – you get the Snapdragon 888 chipset, again insanely fast coupled with the light and snappy Oxygen OS. The memory configurations are also the same – either 8 or 12GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of internal storage. You also get the same 4,500mAh battery and the monstrous fast charging that’s able to fill the battery from 0 to 100% in 30 minutes! 

There are only two cameras on board (no telephoto) – the main snapper is a 48 MP camera and the one above it is a 50 MP ultra-wide camera. They get the job done decently enough, and frankly speaking – people tend to use the wide and ultrawide smartphone cameras most of the time anyway. 

OnePlus Nord

When the OnePlus Nord came out many people felt a strong deja-vu taking them back to the OnePlus One years. It’s a $400 phone that may not be the best OnePlus phone of all times but since its release has cemented its place in our Best phones under $400 article and we just can’t see it leaving anytime soon. 

And for your hard-earned $400 you’re getting a lot of “phone” – a beautiful design with a glass back and one of the coolest shades of blue we’ve seen on phone in a long time, a gorgeous 6.4-inch AMOLED panel with a 90Hz refresh rate, 5G support, super fast charging, and a camera that can make flagship phones sweat.

The OnePlus Nord comes with the Snapdragon 765G processor – not your top-of-the-line 888 but still a very capable silicon that won’t leave you with the impression that you’re dealing with a budget phone. The memory configuration is also quite generous – you get 8GB of RAM coupled with 128GB of internal storage. 

Four cameras dwell inside the elongated bump on the back of the phone. The main camera uses a 48MP Sony IMX 586 sensor with OIS and it’s quite good, actually. There’s an ultra-wide 8MP snapper, a macro camera and a depth sensor. However you look at it, the OnePlus Nord is one of the best budget phones money can buy.

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

OnePlus quickly realized what an enormous success the original Nord was, and this fact led to numerous spin-offs. The company started to venture into the affordable market niche, bringing the OnePlus Nord N200 5G to the world. It’s an even more affordable Nord, and even though it’s not the best OnePlus phone – quite far from it, this ultra-budget OnePlus device definitely deserves a place in our list.

The price is insane on this model and for a little over $200 you get a great phone. The OnePlus Nord N200 5G brings to the table a sleek design, superb display, and excellent battery life, along with the futureproof  5G connectivity, which at this price point may very well be enough for many people. Plus you get “old-school” features like a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card slot. There’s nothing wrong with having a budget model for OnePlus fans, right?

OnePlus 8T

There’s nothing wrong with previous-gen models, as you’re all about to see for yourselves. The OnePlus 8T is still a great device in 2021, and it’s worth every penny. It’s positioned somewhat between the vanilla OnePlus 8 and the Pro model, and we’re going with the 8T instead of the 8 for many reasons. The 8T has the 120 Hertz fast refresh rate from the flagship 8 Pro, and also features – what was deemed revolutionary back then, and now still quite fine – charging system.

When we reviewed the OnePlus 8T we were incredibly impressed with the screen – it is a 6.5-inch OLED display with a 1080p resolution with the aforementioned 120 Hz refresh rate for buttery smooth scrolling. The device comes equipped with a Snapdragon 865 chipset, coupled with 12GB of RAM. The onboard storage is 256GB and the 65W fast charging we now know and love can charge this baby from 0 to 100% in 32 minutes! 

The camera system consists of four separate snappers – two of which are not very useful. There’s a macro camera and a monochrome sensor that have quite limited applications but then again, you get two “normal” cameras with decent specs and performance – the main camera uses a 48MP Sony sensor and has OIS, and the ultra-wide does the job too with its 16MP sensor. The OnePlus 8T was competing for the title of best OnePlus phone when it came out, and even now it’s a valid option, especially when you factor in the price.

OnePlus 8 Pro

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the OnePlus flagship that many people thought was too expensive to buy. Now, a year later, things have changed. You can find this phone for as low as $699, and for that kind of money, the OnePlus 8 Pro is a great option.

The OnePlus 8 Pro is a 5G-ready device and comes equipped with a 6.78-inch QHD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate – it’s another gem in the OnePlus display family. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 865 chipset with either 8 or 12GB of RAM, as well as fast storage with either 128 or 256GB of capacity.

The camera system is rather good and one reason to choose this phone over the OnePlus 8T. The main camera has a 48 MP sensor which takes 12 MP photos by default and they look pretty good. The ultra-wide camera also features a 48MP sensor and is calibrated to match the colors of the main snapper – switching between the two is a breeze. There’s a dedicated telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom which is great at taking portraits, actually. All in all, the OnePlus 8 Pro is a well-rounded performer that manages to hold its ground even in 2021.

OnePlus 7T Pro

Here’s a blast from the past. The OnePlus 7T Pro was definitely the best OnePlus phone when it first launched, and even though it’s not quite there by modern standards, this phone offers something unique – an edge-to-edge display with a pop-up selfie camera. Now, this pop-up camera solution was and still is quite polarizing – people either love it or hate it passionately. 

The fact of the matter is that OnePlus phones have always sported great displays and getting one that’s not obstructed by a cutout for the selfie camera is worth the trouble. The large, 6.7-inch Optic AMOLED display is a joy to look at thanks to its high resolution and, most of all, its 90Hz refresh rate. The camera system is also decent with three snappers on the back (48MP main camera, 8MP 3x telephoto camera, 16MP ultra wide-angle), and the pop-up selfie cam on the front. 

On the hardware side of things, we find a Snapdragon 855+ chipset, which is kinda old now but still offers a stutter-free experience. Memory-wise, the OnePlus 7T Pro is available with either 8 or 12GB of RAM and 256GB of fast UFS 3.0 storage. The price of the OnePlus 7T Pro is really sweet, too. You can get it for midrange money!

Conclusion

So there you have it! These are the best OnePlus phones you can get, but of course, this list is not set in stone, far from it. Things are moving so fast in tech nowadays – manufacturers dish out dozens of new models every year. We’re currently waiting for the OnePlus 9T and it’s shaping out to be a great device. The legitimate successor of the original Nord – the OnePlus Nord 2 is coming our way and we’re sure that once it’s here, this device will find its place on this list. So stay tuned and get ready for more OnePlus goodness! 

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