Google Pixel 6 vs OnePlus 9: Which low cost flagship is a better buy

Google Pixel 6 vs OnePlus 9: Which low cost flagship is a better buy

In the opposite corner, the OnePlus 9 rolled out on March 26, 2021. Prices started from $729/£629 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while a move up to $829/£729 will get you 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. While the OnePlus 9 is technically the more expensive of the two phones, the fact that it’s also seven months older means that you’re more likely to find a cheaper deal. Google has OnePlus beaten on the design front, at least in terms of pure aesthetic appeal. Where OnePlus has stuck disappointingly close to previous efforts with its own “burdenless” (read: slightly bland) design language, Google has tried something bold and new. The Pixel 6’s two-tone finish and prominent horizontal camera block makes it stand out a mile from every other phone on the market. By contrast, the OnePlus 9 could be mistaken for any number of generic Android phones.

The Google Pixel 6 arrived late to the 2021 smartphone party, but it made an immediate impression with its eye-catching appearance, bespoke hardware, and sharp software. It entered a market segment – let’s call it the ‘not-quite-flagship’ – that was already dominated by the outstanding OnePlus 9. For a fairly affordable price, this device had top-tier power, a respectable camera, and sophisticated software. So, which of these two phones should you buy? We’ve had plenty of time to get to know both, so let’s take a deeper look at what they have to offer. The Google Pixel 6 will be available on October 28, 2021. Prices begin at $599 / £599 / AU$999 for


  • One way in which the OnePlus 9 stands apart is with its trademark alert slider, which makes switching your phone to silent much more intuitive. Otherwise, it’s an all-around design win for Google. OnePlus wins on the display count, no doubt. Both phones offer punchy, vibrant OLED displays, but the OnePlus 9 screen is bigger and smoother. It offers a 6.55-inch FHD+ OLED with a silky-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. The Pixel 6, on the other hand, offers a 6.4-inch FHD+ OLED with a 90Hz refresh rate. It’s that latter metric that really seals the win for OnePlus here, but it’s not a massively consequential difference. Both screens are extremely responsive, and you’d have to put them side by side and look closely to spot the difference.

  • They’re similar in size, though. The Pixel 6 measures 158.6 x 74.8mm, with an 8.9mm thickness and a weight of 207g. The OnePlus 9, by contrast, is 160 x 74.2 x 8.7 mm and 192g. It’s a marginal win for the OnePlus when it comes to wieldiness, then. Google wins out on the materials it uses, with a premium glass and metal sandwich approach. OnePlus used a fiberglass-reinforced polymer frame – that’s fancy plastic – instead of aluminum, which makes it feel slightly cheap. When it comes to colors, Google goes with Stormy Black, Sorta Seafoam, and Kinda Coral. OnePlus goes with a slightly duller selection of Winter Mist, Arctic Sky, and Astral Black Both phones have an IP68 dust and water-resistance rating, but while the Pixel 6 goes with a Gorilla Glass Victus front, the OnePlus 9 uses inferior Gorilla Glass 5.