OnePlus 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy S9+ camera comparison: Closer than you'd think

We've already compared the OnePlus 6 to the Galaxy S9+ in general, and found the OnePlus 6 to be a formidable opponent to Samsung's latest despite a $300 difference in price. But with the history of OnePlus phones having mediocre cameras and Samsung phones having great cameras, it's a good idea to hone in on photography in particular.

OnePlus made a huge leap in camera quality from the OnePlus 5 to the OnePlus 6, but is it enough to also challenge one of the best cameras available today? That's what we're here to find out.


Considering the aggressively mediocre camera offerings in previous OnePlus phones, I'll admit I had pretty low expectations for this comparison — but after taking daylight shots, I was pleasantly surprised with how well the OnePlus 6 compared to the Galaxy S9+. Scrolling through my Google Photos library or seeing the images I share on Instagram, you wouldn't be able to tell which shots were from the OnePlus 6 and which were the Galaxy S9+. Both produce images that are fundamentally sound and visually pleasing, with no consistent aberrations or issues that were repeatable from shot to shot.

The Galaxy S9+ takes better daylight photos — but the difference isn't dramatic.

When you set them side-by-side, as I've done here, you start to notice some of the more subtle differences that illustrate where the OnePlus 6 is slightly inferior. Across the board, the Galaxy S9 takes brighter, more colorful shots that take advantage of HDR to make a bit more of an opinionated photo. The OnePlus 6 is a bit simpler, still with strong colors but sometimes not leveraging HDR to the point where it brings out the color and details across an entire scene of mixed lighting (the shot of the monorail tracks above is a great example). When zooming in, you'll notice the Galaxy S9+ has sharper lines and crisper fine details, which may not be immediately perceptible when viewed normally but do contribute to an overall cleaner look. The Galaxy S9+ is just insanely sharp, even when you get in and pixel peep.

The only knock you could put on the Galaxy S9+ in this comparison is that it still tends to overexpose sometimes, which can over-brighten images to the point where it's distracting. The OnePlus 6 may not have the high brightness and colors across the board, but the upside is that it never over-brightens photos. The rest of the differences here really are subtle, but when you add them up I feel you still get better photos out of the Galaxy S9+ in daylight — the difference just isn't dramatic, and that's a great sign for the OnePlus 6.

Low light

When comparing the OnePlus 6 to its predecessor, it was immediately clear that it made a huge stride in low-light photography. I would easily classify the OnePlus 6's low-light performance as being above average (regardless of price), but that's not enough to match the Galaxy S9+. The Galaxy S9+ is sharper and clearer across the board, and often brighter with better white balance as well. This applies to fully dark scenes, but also challenging indoor scenes with very dark areas in addition to lighter areas.

The OnePlus 6 has come a long way, but it can't match the best in the business.

Unlike daylight photos where the differences were mostly in color and brightness, there's a distinct difference in sharpness and details between these phones at night — zoom in a little on any of the photos and you'll see why. The Galaxy S9+ is amazing at processing lines and flat surfaces to be incredibly sharp and smooth, sometimes to the point where they almost look unnatural. On the other hand, the OnePlus 6 just doesn't process things very much, and you get a photo with soft or muddy details by comparison. Take a look at the photo of the flowers above — the OnePlus 6 shot is good, but it's a little soft and doesn't have sharp edges on the petals; the Galaxy S9+'s photo is so sharp you can actually see the individual fibers in the weave of the petals ... because they're fake flowers. You can't even tell in the OnePlus 6 photo.

This is another situation where you wouldn't likely be unhappy with the OnePlus photos on their own, but in this case if you set the Galaxy S9+ examples right next to them you'd take the GS9+'s shots every time.

Bottom line: Which one is best?

OnePlus 6 vs. Galaxy S9+

The OnePlus 6 has broken the mold of having a camera that's "good for the money" — as this comparison has shown, the camera is good without any caveats or qualifications. In situations with ample light, the OnePlus 6 takes consistently great photos with a little punch of color, good details, and adequate brightness. At night, it's a massive step beyond the OnePlus 5 and worthy of praise considering its basic components and sub-flagship pricing.

The OnePlus 6 deserves applause for what it can do for $529 — but the GS9+ is just better.

But if we start looking at the marginal differences that move the camera from "good" to "great," like when comparing to a truly great camera in the Galaxy S9+, you can see the OnePlus 6 isn't quite there yet. In good lighting, the Galaxy S9+ produces colors that really pop and a dynamic range that is outstanding. At night, the Galaxy S9+ has the same level of sharpness, smooth surfaces and fine edges that you get from the OnePlus 6 when it has good lighting — the GS9+ is just amazing at night, and the OnePlus 6 doesn't match it.

The OnePlus 6's camera is within a stone's throw of the Galaxy S9+, and that's darn impressive when you look at the $300+ price difference between these phones. If you buy a OnePlus 6, you have no reason to be disappointed by the camera — it can take fantastic photos in a variety of situations. But if you want the absolute best camera, the Galaxy S9+ is the one to get out of these two choices.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • You know what's not close? Touch latency. Between the bad touch latency and horrible vibration motor, I couldn't even type on my OP6 and had to return it. Back on my S9+ now and the difference is night and day. I'm not sure how people deal with the latency that comes with using sub-par digitizers in cheaper phones. The rest of the phone was fine, this was just a huge deal breaker for me. I'm not sure it's something software can really mitigate either. To anyone who replies with "mine is fine" or "you must have had a defective phone". No. Use it side-by-side with a GS9, V30, or iPhone and you'll notice the difference immediately. If you can live with that, more power to you. I can't.
  • I've heard the 5T has bad haptics so it's not surprising the 6 had them also.
    I must admit coming from a Pixel and S7 I didn't notice.
    Latency on the other hand is superb on the 5T I believe there have been some reports of "some" phone's. Maybe a QC issue.
  • PS you did removed the pre fitted screen protector?
  • Always! It’s the first thing I do.
  • Interesting comment. I do have a Galaxy S9 as another one of my phones and I have used them side-by-side and I never noticed this issue you're referring to. Maybe I'm just not as keen to notice these minute differences.
  • Haven't noticed the touch latency being particularly bad ... but the vibration/haptics are quite bad.
  • I thought it was just the vibration motor at first, so I completely turned off haptic feedback and even tried Swiftkey. I still couldn’t type without making a ton of mistakes. It was like the keys were sticky. They just didn’t keep up with my fingers. Adjusted keyboard size, everything. I’d think it was my imagination, but I used both the S9+ and LG G7 right after and the difference was night and day. Not sure why I seem to be the only one affected.
  • There were some reports on the Oneplus forum regarding the 5T and latency.
    I think you just got a bad one.
  • The only thing I've heard about is the vibration motor being weak. You are the first I've heard out of all the reviews and comments I've read about any sort of latency issue.
  • A few other people in the OnePlus forum agreed with me, but only a few.
  • For vibration motor, you probably mean the "light" setting of the default GBoard. Yes it's weird. But if you use another keyboard like Swiftkey, you can adjust the vibration to even lower value (1 ms), and here it's perfect.
    For latency probably it's due to the vibrations? Again, with Swiftkey, no latency here.
  • It's not the keyboard. It's every time the vibration motor engages in the entire system. It's the motor itself.
  • Wow, that is so interesting, I have the exact opposite feeling. I went back from a s8 to the op6, and what a relief. No waiting, no stuttering, no sense of slug. Probably just in the mind, but I love the smoothness of EVERYTHING of the OP not just the typing.
  • Well right now you can get a S9+ for $612 (I bought one last night). So at this price its not even close.
  • Still around £300 more in UK.
  • Unlocked? If so link please
  • Verizon version, which is unlock and you can probably install the unlock firmware just like with the S8 has been really cheap with Student or EPP discount. S9 for $480 and S9+ for $592. This directly from Samsung online store.
  • Agreed, in some places like the US you can get the S9 cheaper through Amazon, Ebay or rebates from Best Buy, which bring the price down to OP6 prices.
  • Side note: The pictures cannot be seen in the app for some reasons. Have to go in the browser to view them. Back to the comparison though, I find them really close even in low light. Some of the shots I even prefer the OP6's photos quality.
  • I agree, I think the op6 actually looks better in the set of photos comparing the cityscape and the flowers
  • Very impressed and suprised by the 6' performance.
    The 9 will have more scope in manual mode I assume, but think the 6 can claim to be among the better cameras now.
  • So in comparison to the S9 it falls a bit short, and the S9 falls short to what other device?
  • The P20. Probably the Pixel 2 and iPhone.
  • This.
  • Pixel 2 in some cases. Huawei P20 Pro in others.
  • I wish OnePlus would make a OnePlus X sized device, with similar internals to the 6. I loved my OnePlus X. I was kind of bummed when I broke it. I'm probably going to get an Xperia XZ2 compact in the coming months, because no one else is making anything that can fit in your hand. I didn't mean to make this a reply to booboolala2000's post. Oh well.
  • I'm using the Android AC app. I'm logged into my account on AC. I cannot read the article. An ad or ads keep popping up. The most I've managed is 2 paragraphs.
  • Same here. I understand they need ads to operate but come on...
  • Imho the biggest advantage of the S9+ is the one you don't even mention.. the 2x optical zoom!
  • I actually preferred all the night shots from the OP6, more details in the background!
  • I just come here for kicks, how much money AC makes by promoting products they get paid for. Lol I bought the LG G3 reading all the good stuff about it after selling my Note 3 and it was a disaster. And ever since I see how funny it is, that these guys would post conflicting articles based on who is paying them more. All the hype Huawei devices created in US market was driven by AC. Yeah right keep telling yourself the One Plus 6 is better than the S9+. It's not and the author should remember few things
    1) People looking for the best product, don't care about the price.(Think macbooks and ipads)
    2) Some people will buy a product irrespective of its price (think luxury products)
    3) Its not really $300 difference, there has been so many promotions that you can literally get a S9 and S9+ for $500 and $600 which is a $30 difference and the screen quality, camera quality, brand value, accessories support, warranty, resale value everything is so much better. This article reminds me of the days back in 2004 when someone suggested hey why buy a corolla when you can buy a kia for 25 percent less and guess what I still have the coroalla from 2004 with 280 k miles and the friend who bought the kia didnt even have the ca till 2006 before he had to get another car. My Note 8 which I bought for $300 from Samsung promos still beats the One Plus 6 and will also beat the One Plus 6T in every way.
    If you dont have money, just buy a pixel xl certified refurbished from amazon and guess what for $200 difference you are still at a stone's throw distance between SD 820 and SD845!
  • Not read the review on here that claims the Oneplus 6 is better than the S9+.
    I'm really looking forward to the Note 9 but I'm not blinkered enough to know the Oneplus UI would have probably been better (for me) the Oneplus will probably be faster and smother after 6 months and will probably get updated more.
    I like many phones and am lucky enough to try quite a few and like most people that can do this I see the pros and cons for each.
    Your assumption reviewers are paid for good reviews and their reviews are not honest assessment from people actually using the phones is typical of someone who has their favourite and must justify their choice by criticizing other people's.
  • I didn't say the OnePlus 6 is better than the S9+ tho?
  • Well said and your automotive comparison is 100% on point. First of all, you can get a Galaxy S9+ on Ebay for $650ish so the difference is really around $100. I had the Oneplus 5T. It was a nice phone, but the screen is not as good as other flagships (Samsung, etc.), the speaker especially the first 50% of the volume was awful, camera was good for a $300 phone. Maybe the 6 has a WAY better camera than the 5T, but I remember reviewers raving about the 5T camera. I remember watching this video on Youtube where the Youtuber bashed I think the Oneplus 4 when it came out and Oneplus banned him and refused to sell him any of their devices in the future. It's obvious to me that Oneplus is biased and pay reviewers . At the end of the day, you get what you pay for
  • Never a good idea to try an draw analogys between phones and cars, or anything else.
    Never makes sense.
    You could just say you believe the Samsung phone will last longer. (Really?)
    The fact Samsung discount their phones so heavily and Oneplus doesn't doe's make a big difference to which phone offers better value, but doesn't discredit an honest opinion from someone who uses both.
    People have different requirements from their phones. IP rating, 4k screen, and speakers are less important to me than the UI and camera.
    Bashing the Oneplus 4 was probably a joke, but name who it was?
  • I can't speak for the relationship OnePlus has with any other reviewer, but I can unequivocally say that OnePlus did not and has not ever paid anyone at Android Central for coverage or reviews. Also, there was never a OnePlus 4. There was a 2, 3, 3T then 5.
  • Yeah, some people have an idea of what they want a review to be and if it differs in any way automatically accuse the source of getting paid for it.
  • I have the OnePlus 3 it's camera is awesome, that being said I will be going to the Samsung Galaxy note 8 or 9 or the s9+. Some points though about your comment since your being critical. #s 1 and 2 are essentially the same issue. Also reviewing price is fine just because some people buy premium phones or junk luxury devices(iPad, iPhone) doesn't mean others want to, it's also not like he concluded stating anyone should get the OnePlus 6 due to it's lower price point.
    His review concluded with saying the OnePlus 6 is inferior to the s9 just not total crap.
  • The OnePlus does fairly well, but am I the only 1 that thinks the s9 shots are just crisper over all. More detailed, sharper especially day time. That's not saying one plus doesn't do ok but I just don't see it as close as everyone else I guess.
  • I'd like to note that the OnePlus 6 is very new. The S6+ has been out for a while now and had refinements done to it's camera software where the OnePlus 6 hasn't really had any. I always find these comparisons misleading in that respect. The 5T camera has been refined to the cameras maximum ability and is excellent now, while still retaining it's low light problems to a smaller degree than originally. But in well lit applications it exceeds many top tier phone cameras costing hundreds more. In a month the OP6 will be refined a bit and that will yield a fair comparison.
  • Why do people insist on using 'hone in' when referring to the act of digging deeper into an issue? In any case, Samsung is my preference due to the software. I dig it.
  • The daylight shots are nice, so good job OnePlus. there are a few shots I can see the extra sharpness of the S9, and on the donut shot, the focal plane of the OnePlus seems unusually narrow. But then I got hungry and stopped looking at it ;) The S9 pulls ahead in low light, and it becomes obvious in the shot with the big A. The text on the camera and the books makes the clarity of the S9 stand out.
  • OnePlus - Design of OnePlus 6 Glass body The OnePlus 6 is the most polished, premium smartphone the firm has made in its short existence. It boasts an all-glass design, bringing it in line with big-name flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X, a large 6.28-inch display complete with the on-trend notch, dual rear-facing cameras, both fingerprint and face unlock, and up to 256GB of storage. There are several core improvements over the OnePlus 5T (and OnePlus 5) that it replaces, and while it may not break any new ground in terms of features, the OnePlus 6 brings an attractive package that makes it relevant in 2018. Display OnePlus' biggest-ever display at 6.28 inches
    Full HD, Full Optic AMOLED panel with 19:9 aspect ratio
    84% screen-to-body ratio thanks in part to notch
    The OnePlus 6 display is one of the big new features on the phone. In fact, it’s the biggest display the firm has ever squeezed into a phone, with the 6.28-inch Full Optic AMOLED panel eclipsing the 6.1-inch offering found on the 5T. OnePlus has continued to support the now-popular 19:9 aspect ratio too, giving you a taller display that offers up more on screen when you’re scrolling lists such as your Twitter feed. While the display may be bigger, the resolution stays the same at ‘just’ Full HD. That’s 2280 x 1080 to be exact, which ensures it keeps the 402 pixels-per-inch density of previous OnePlus flagships. However, in a world where QHD is fast becoming the norm at the top end of the mobile market, the screen resolution on the OnePlus 6 is a key area where the firm has looked to cut a corner in an attempt to keep costs down. On its own the screen appears bright and vibrant, providing a pleasing level of detail. Slide it alongside a Galaxy S9 and you’ll see the screen on the OnePlus 6 isn’t quite as good - there’s no HDR support here either - but when you consider the price tag of this phone it’s not really an issue. With the reduction in bezel above and below the screen the OnePlus 6 also boasts a 84% screen-to-body ratio that will likely please fans of outright display real estate. However this has come at a price: the inclusion of a divisive ‘notch’ at the top of the screen. It’s smaller than the notch on the iPhone X, but larger than the camera-sized cut-out of the Essential Phone, lining up pretty closely with the implementation on the Huawei P20. OnePlus tells us the notch wasn’t simply added as a ‘me too’ feature though. A spokesperson for the firm told TechRadar: "[OnePlus] fully appreciates the trend for reducing bezels and increasing screen-to-body ratio. [We] thought long and hard over the decision [to include the notch]. "We want to deliver the technology that currently works the best and we have to be sure of the technology we put into our devices, as we only make one [device] at a time. "[The notch] works the best at the moment. Ultimately it’s not about the notch, it’s about the screen." Whether you’re for or against the notch it serves a useful purpose on the OnePlus 6, housing the front-facing camera, earpiece, LED notification light and ambient light sensor. For those who really don’t like the notch trend you can effectively ‘hide’ it on the OnePlus 6 by making the screen either side of it black to create one continuous bar. The choice is yours then, but there is something rather satisfying about seeing your wallpaper wrap around either the side of the notch. Or maybe that’s just us. Slide the OnePlus 6 out of its packaging and you’ll see that it comes with a factory-fitted screen protector, which is always nice, although it does detract slightly from the overall look of the phone, as well as being a bit of a dust- and fingerprint-magnet. It’s easy enough to remove, and doing so instantly makes the OnePlus 6 look more premium – but you’re then exposing the display to potential scratches and scuffs, so don’t hastily whip it off as soon as you get it out the box.
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  • There really should be a OnePlus 6 Vs Pixel 2 XL camera comparison.
  • Think the Pixel 2 XL would smoke the OP6 in photos alone as well as video. Google already has amazing image processing under their belt and if they put it to use with something like the P20 Pro's triple camera setup or at the very least the same dual aperture setup of the S9, later Pixel devices would wreck shop with every phone they're pitted up against in the camera department alone.
  • All the tech reviewers seem to love OnePlus every time, but then you go somewhere like Reddit, and the actual users seem pretty negative about them, i have never used one, so i dont really have an input
  • User of the S9+ and OP6 here. Love them both but I gave the S9+ to my daughter and kept the OP6. The OP6 is an amazing phone without even having to factor in price.
  • One Plus just executes. Complaints are just that - complaining children in a world drenched with tech.
    Now when complaints turn into material damage to markets because of bad execution - ref: Samsung -
    then the details are important. Personally, I've yet to experience a major brand phone that feels as quick and smooth as a OP5 or 6 - but that is just subjective opinion. So in a nutshell, OnePlus is executing in a market saturated with frills and high priced, incremental advancement. And they do it rather well.
    Do the math.
  • THIS x 1000
  • For those with unsteady hands OIS is a must. Just because a good photographer with steady hands can take good photos doesn't mean most people can in those lighting conditions can. Does lack of OIS on the secondary camera affect things?
  • Nobody actually seems to have looked at the photos or read the review that says the Samsung is solidly better. They're better than the garbage OnePlus used to produce but if photos are important to you, the price difference isn't important.
  • If blown out highlights and inaccurate color representation is important to you then choose Samsung.
  • The OP6's camera doesn't blow out highlights as much as the S9+, which I atrribute that to Samsung's typical processing in post as well as that wide F/1.5 aperture. Only reason why I didn't go for the OnePlus 6 at this point was the vibra motor haptics. It isn't Razer Phone horrible (that thing is just....NO) but it feels really cheap when typing.
  • Better camera or no I can't bring myself to buy a phone with 978686796987 preinstalled apps that I can't delete and will never use. I also think their Android Skin (Grace UX) looks terrible. But to each their own I suppose.
  • Yes, yes I agree Galaxy S9+ is relatively much better than OnePlus 6. But the point here is "PRICE". I have used it and found it amazing in speed and camera quality.
  • Samsung phone cameras over exposed and over sharpened. That's the thing I DON'T like about samsung phones. if you have ever done any photography you would see that problem.