True powerhouse

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Our pick

OnePlus 6

If you're looking for the most feature-packed flagship in 2018, the Note 9 should be at the top of your list. The phone combines a gorgeous AMOLED display with high-end internals, the new S Pen enables new experiences, and the 4000mAh battery provides all-day battery life.

$999 at Best Buy

Pros

  • Class-leading AMOLED display
  • Fantastic cameras
  • All-day battery
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • S Pen is much more useful
  • Wireless charging

Cons

  • Bixby continues to be annoying
  • Fast charging unchanged from 2015

The OnePlus 6 shows that phones don't need to cost $1,000. You get the latest internal hardware available today, and OxygenOS offers a software experience that's one of the best on Android. That said, the notch at the top of the display mars the overall experience.

$529 at OnePlus

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Fluid and clutter-free software
  • Decent cameras
  • Great value

Cons

  • Display notch
  • No wireless charging

If you're looking to get a phone that offers the best value for your money, then the OnePlus 6 is a great option. But if you want an uncompromising device that is packed with every feature imaginable, the Note 9 is the one to get.

What's the difference?

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. OnePlus 6

The OnePlus 6 is a fantastic option if you want the latest hardware available today but aren't looking to shell out over $500 for a phone. The software experience with OxygenOS in particular is what makes the OnePlus 6 stand out, and the phone is one of the fastest in the market today. But if you're looking for a more refined product that offers a better camera and more features, the Note 9 is a compelling option, albeit a costly one.

Galaxy Note 9 OnePlus 6
Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo
Samsung Experience 9.5
Android 8.1 Oreo
OxygenOS 5.1.11
Display 6.4-inch Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 (18.5:9)
Gorilla Glass 5
6-inch Optic AMOLED, 2160x1080 (18:9)
Gorilla Glass 5
Chipset Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (U.S., China)
Exynos 9810 (ROW)
Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
4x2.80GHz Kryo 385 + 4x1.70 Kryo 385
GPU Adreno 630
Mali-G72 MP18
Adreno 540
RAM 6GB/8GB LPDDR4X 6/8GB LPDDR4X
Storage 128GB/256GB (UFS 2.1) 64GB/128GB/256GB (UFS 2.1)
Rear camera 1 12MP Super Speed Dual Pixel
OIS, f/1.5 or f/2.4
16MP, 1.22μm, f/1.7
OIS, EIS
Dual LED flash
4K@60FPS, 720p@480FPS
Rear camera 2 12MP, OIS, f/2.4
telephoto lens
20MP, 1.0μm, ƒ/1.7
Front camera 8MP, f/1.7, auto focus 16MP, 1.0μm, ƒ/2.0
Battery 4000mAh 3300mAh
Charging USB-C
Wireless charging
USB-C
Dash Charge (5V 4A)
Water resistance IP68 dust and water resistance Splash resistant (no IP rating)
Security Fingerprint sensor
Iris scanner
Fingerprint sensor
Face unlock
Audio Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos
3.5mm headphone
AptX HD
3.5mm jack
Dimensions 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm
201g
155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8mm
177g
Variants Lavender purple, Ocean Blue, Midnight Black Mirror Black, Midnight Black, Silk White, Amber Red

With the OnePlus 6, the company switched to a metal-and-glass design that gives it a much more upmarket feel. The design and build quality is right up there with the Note 9, and one of the main reasons for the OnePlus 6's success is the fact that it doesn't look like a phone that's $500 cheaper than the Note 9.

The OnePlus 6 is already on Pie, and the Note 9 may not receive it until 2019.

The OnePlus 6 doesn't have nearly as many features as the Note 9, but it excels at the basics. The FHD+ AMOLED display is fantastic, and although the notch takes away from the overall experience a little, there is the option to disable it. What makes the OnePlus 6 stand out though is OxygenOS — OnePlus has done a magnificent job with the ROM, and it continues to be my favorite third-party software skin.

OnePlus has also done a much better job when it comes to software updates. The OnePlus 6 is now receiving the stable Android 9.0 Pie build, and it's unclear if the Note 9 will get the stable update before the end of the year. OnePlus utterly dominates on the software side of things; both in terms of updates and everyday user experience. The lasting impression when using OxygenOS is that of speed — you never get the feeling that the UI is bogged down or laggy, and that's all down to OnePlus' optimization efforts.

Another area where the device comes out on top is charging. Dash Charge is one of the best charging protocols around, delivering up to a 50% charge from flat in under 30 minutes. That's a huge deal if you're looking to top your phone in the middle of the day. Meanwhile, Samsung hasn't made any improvements in this area for over three years.

The Note 9 is the most feature-packed flagship in the market today.

That said, the Note 9 has a few things in its favor. The AMOLED display is the best you'll find on a phone today, and it's clear that Samsung saved its best panels for its flagships. Samsung is also one of the few manufacturers that hasn't gotten on the notch bandwagon, instead sticking to its now-standard dual-curve form factor with thin bezels at the top and bottom. Doing so makes the Note 9 stand out in a sea of me-too devices.

Then there's the added features — you get wireless charging and IP68 dust and water resistance, Samsung Pay, stereo speakers, and S Pen. The stereo speaker configuration in particular gives the Note 9 an edge when gaming, and there are plenty of game-related tweaks on offer that let you get the most out of the experience. The Note 9 also leverages liquid cooling to deliver increased sustained performance figures, and while the tech itself isn't new for Samsung, it does give the phone an added bonus.

I haven't used the S Pen a whole lot in previous Note devices, but that has changed this time around. Samsung has infused the stylus with a host of functionality, and the feature I particularly like is its ability to act as a remote camera shutter.

It all comes down to value

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. OnePlus 6

The OnePlus 6 wins out when it comes to the software, but the Note 9 has a significantly better camera, IP68 rating, and wireless charging. Then again, it does cost nearly $500 more than the OnePlus 6, so if you want a no-nonsense phone that offers great software and excellent value, then it's time to pick up the OnePlus 6.

True powerhouse

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

For those that need the best

The Galaxy Note 9 is a fantastic phone that showcases the best that Samsung has to offer today. The phone delivers key upgrades from the S9+ — particularly when it comes to battery life — and the S Pen works great as a remote camera shutter.

Our pick

OnePlus 6

Best bang for your buck

The OnePlus 6 delivers the same great hardware as the Note 9 but at a much lower price point. The robust hardware combined with the clean software makes it a delight to use, and the OnePlus 6 is a great option if you don't want to spend over $500 on a phone.

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