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Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs. OnePlus 5T: Here's what the extra $300 gets you

With the Galaxy S9 series, Samsung isn't reinventing the wheel: the core design aesthetic is the same as last year, but there are a few key upgrades, particularly in the camera department. The pricing hasn't changed all that much either, with the unlocked Galaxy S9+ retailing for $839, a mere $15 more than what the Galaxy S8+ debuted at last year.

If you don't want to shell out over $800 on a phone, there are plenty of alternatives available, and the OnePlus 5T is at the top of that list. Available for $499, the OnePlus 5T offers top-of-the-line specs with great build quality and a software experience that's equatable to the Pixels. So is the Galaxy S9+ worth the $300 premium over the 5T? Let's find out.

What's the same

Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs. OnePlus 5T

Like last year, Samsung is the first to roll out a phone with Qualcomm's latest platform, the Snapdragon 845. The chipset is built on the 10nm node but comes with a slew of improvements that include up to a 20% uptick in CPU performance and a huge 30% boost in the GPU department. The SoC also comes with an LTE modem that goes up to 1.2Gbps, and the new Hexagon 685 DSP leverages artificial intelligence.

The U.S. variant of the Galaxy S9+ is powered by the Snapdragon 845, whereas international models receive the Exynos 9810 version. While the Exynos variant offers marginally better battery life, there isn't any noticeable performance difference between the two models.

The OnePlus 5T is no slouch either, with the phone powered by the Snapdragon 835. It may not be the latest chipset anymore, but it is still one of the fastest available today, and OnePlus' optimizations give it an added boost.

CategorySamsung Galaxy S9+OnePlus 5T
Operating systemAndroid 8.0 Oreo
Samsung Experience 9.0
Android 8.0 Oreo
OxygenOS 5.0.4
Display6.2-inch Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 (18.5:9)6-inch Optic AMOLED, 2160x1080 (18:9)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
or 10nm 64-bit Samsung Exynos 9810
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core
Adreno 540 GPU
Storage64GB/256GB
microSD up to 400GB
64/128GB (UFS 2.1)
RAM6GB/6GB6/8GB LPDDR4X
Rear camera 112MP Dual Pixel, OIS, f/1.5 or f/2.416MP, 1.12μm, f/1.7
Dual LED flash
Rear camera 212MP, f/2.420MP, 1μm, f/1.7
Front camera8MP, f/1.7, auto focus16MP, 1μm, f/2.0
Battery3500mAh3300mAh
ChargingUSB-C
Fast Wireless Charging
USB-C
Dash Charge
Water resistanceYes (IP68 certified)No
SecurityFingerprint sensor
Iris scanning
Face unlock
One-touch fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO, 1.2 Gbps (Cat-18) LTE, Bluetooth 5.0 LE
ANT+, NFC, GPS, Glonass
802.11ac Wi-Fi, 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, aptX HD
USB-C (2.0), NFC
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
NetworkLTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/66
3xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 12, UL Cat 13
Dimensions158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm
189 g
156.1 x 75 x 7.3 mm
162 g
ColorsMidnight Black, Lilac Purple, Coral BlueMidnight Black, Lava Red, Sandstone White
Price$839$499

The OnePlus 5T launched with Nougat out of the box, but the phone picked up the Oreo update at the start of the year. Thankfully, the Galaxy S9+ comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. Rounding out the basics, both phones come with 3.5mm jacks.

The Galaxy S9+ has a marginally larger 3500mAh battery — 200mAh more than what you get on the OnePlus 5T — but the battery life is roughly the same on both phones. You shouldn't have any issues getting a day's worth of usage with each phone.

Both the OnePlus 5T and the Galaxy S9+ also come with a variety of storage and color options. The Galaxy S9+ is available in three colors options at launch — Midnight Black, Coral Blue, and Lilac Purple — and OnePlus has introduced several limited edition models of the OnePlus 5T that include Sandstone White and Lava Red.

What the Galaxy S9+ does better

Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs. OnePlus 5T

The OnePlus 5T has top-notch build quality, but the design itself isn't all that exciting. That's not the case with the Galaxy S9+ — Samsung's Infinity Display design aesthetic is evocative, and the way the light reflects off the glass back is striking. The Coral Blue color option, in particular, looks stunning, and the phone has thinner bezels when compared to the OnePlus 5T.

The dual curved panel also adds to that immersive experience, and for its part, Samsung has done a much better job eliminating accidental touches when using the phone one-handed. The Galaxy S9+ is a full 16g heavier over its predecessor while offering the same 3500mAh battery, and the added weight works in the device's favor. The OnePlus 5T comes in at 162g, and the weight distribution makes it top-heavy, but the Galaxy S9+ feels reassuringly solid.

Then there's the 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display itself, which is the one of the best panels on a phone today. Samsung has been leading the display industry for a few years now, and its best panels rightfully end up on its own flagships. The panel on the Galaxy S9+ is wonderful, offering saturated colors, excellent contrast levels, and great viewing angles. The panel is brighter than the Galaxy S8+, so you'll have no issues with sunlight readability. I've been testing the phone in India's harsh sunlight, and Samsung's claims hold up.

The Galaxy S9+ offers a class-leading display paired with an outstanding camera.

Samsung also did a much better job when it comes to the audio experience, with the Galaxy S9+ featuring stereo speakers tuned by AKG. The secondary speaker is tucked into the earpiece, and the overall sound that comes out of the dual speakers is noticeably louder and clearer than last year.

The camera is the marquee feature on the Galaxy S9+, with Samsung offering a module with adjustable aperture — allowing it to switch from f/1.5 to f/2.4. There's a new 960fps super slow-motion feature as well, which just looks cool. The Galaxy S9+ also gets a secondary 12MP camera that acts as a telephoto lens, enabling 2x lossless zoom.

Galaxy S9+ on the left, OnePlus 5T on the right.