Why I might ditch OnePlus for the Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21 display in hand 2

Recognition: David Imel / Android Authority

Why I might ditch OnePlus for the Samsung Galaxy S21 1

Opinion from

C. Scott Brown

I wrote for Android Authority since 2017. When I first started freelancing, my daily driver was the OnePlus 5. Later, after becoming a full-time employee, I got a OnePlus 6T. Today I am using OnePlus 7 Pro. Because of my devotion to OnePlus (and especially 7 Pro), I’m known as the “OnePlus guy” on our team. However, the Samsung Galaxy S21 put that nickname at risk.

I’m not going to crush any words here. OnePlus had a very bad 2020. The OnePlus 8 series, especially the OnePlus 8 Pro, went well. Unfortunately, more problems followed than successes. The disappointing OnePlus Nord N10 and N100, Carl Pei’s departure, the Facebook controversy and the brand’s steady opposition made it very difficult to be proud of being the “OnePlus guy”.

Now that my beloved OnePlus 7 Pro is getting old and the company is pulling its feet up on an Android 11 rollout, I’m tempted to switch teams. With the introduction of the Galaxy S21 series, the temptation has increased significantly. In fact, I’ll admit I pre-ordered both a vanilla Samsung Galaxy S21 and a Galaxy S21 Plus. My intention is to try both of them and see if I really want to get rid of OnePlus.

Samsung Galaxy S21: Why I would switch

Samsung Galaxy S21 back against wall 1

Recognition: David Imel / Android Authority

Samsung really improved its game this year with the Galaxy S21 series. The design looks good, the lower pricing is an important and smart move, and the Ultra model finally lives up to its name. The COVID-19 pandemic could keep sales from going over the roof, but I think the company is poised for real success this year.

I wrote that Android Authority Test for the vanilla Galaxy S21. In short, I loved my time on the phone. The camera is great (especially for the $ 800 price tag), its palm-friendly size is a breath of fresh air in the Android “bigger is always better” world, and the Snapdragon 888 processor is a total monster. I didn’t even care about the controversial changes this year. Yes, the lack of a microSD card slot is annoying, but switching to a plastic back is actually good in my opinion. I let you read the review for all of my thoughts on these things.

Listen: The Android Authority Samsung Galaxy S21 review

In the past, the biggest reason I avoided buying Samsung phones was for software. Simply put, One UI is not my favorite Android skin. I’m going to take the minimalist simplicity of Oxygen OS or Pixel UI over the bloated and sometimes incoherent mess of One UI every day. When you took into account Samsung’s bad reputation for providing Android updates, it was enough to make me renounce the brand.

However, things have changed. A user interface is now better than ever. Yes, it’s still full of apps I don’t want and features I’ll never use, but Samsung did a great job making all of that less of a face. Additionally, the company pulled an eighty on after-market support. Security patches fly in very quickly. Android 11 landed on all major flagships in record time.

In short, the Samsung Galaxy S21 series has great hardware and great software. I have never been able to say this with conviction about Samsung phones.

OnePlus 7 Pro: what makes me stay

OnePlus 7 Pro cameras with logo

As great as the Galaxy S21 phones are, the OnePlus 7 Pro is still my favorite Android phone of all time. In many ways, it seems that OnePlus made the phone just for me. It ticks off so many of my most important functions for smartphones.

I’ve already written a whole article about why I love OnePlus 7 Pro, so I’m not going to warm up everything here. I want to focus on the two things the phone offers that the Galaxy S21 series does not: an uninterrupted display and the alarm controller.

Connected: OnePlus Phones: A History of the Company’s Entire Product Line

In my opinion, the pop-up selfie camera is currently the best way to get rid of nicks and cutouts in smartphones. The OnePlus 7 Pro’s pop-up camera is one of the best features, even now that the display cutout has become the industry standard. Yes, at some point we will have under-display selfie cameras that solve both problems. At the moment, however, the technology is not advanced enough to achieve widespread adoption among consumers.

It would be difficult to switch from that gorgeous 1440p display without a cutout to a 1080p display with a large hole in the selfie camera on top. Nevertheless, after a week with the Samsung Galaxy S21, the clipping became less annoying. But every time I started playing a game or watching a YouTube video it was there, reminding me that this display just isn’t as good as the 7 Pro’s.

The alarm regulator would also be hard to give up. For my life I have no idea why not all Android OEMs stole this feature. It’s so nice to just flip up the slider when I don’t want to be interrupted. Thankfully, the premium version of the third-party Side Actions app gives me a workaround for Galaxy devices. Even so, this alarm regulator would be very much missed.

What else is in the pipeline?

Google Pixel 5 Google Logo Macro

Recognition: David Imel / Android Authority

We’re not even out of the first month of 2021 yet. While I’m very impressed with the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, would it be a good idea to wait a little longer for a commitment?

Obviously, the OnePlus 9 series is just around the corner. However, there doesn’t seem to be much that even the OnePlus 9 Pro will offer over the vanilla Galaxy S21. The Galaxy S21 is likely to have a better rear camera system, while the rest of the specs should be largely the same for both phones. Since the 9 Pro also has a display cutout, the only real benefit would be that I could keep the alarm control and stick with Oxygen OS.

Connected: OnePlus has to do a home run with OnePlus 9

The Asus ROG Phone 4 (or 5) will also be available soon. The Asus ROG Phone 3 was my favorite smartphone of 2020, so its tracking is certainly on my radar. However, the big problem I have with the ROG Phone series is how massive the phones are. I love using them for specific tasks – which includes playing, of course – but I don’t like carrying them around with me. Even so, this phone is likely to have an uninterrupted display, which makes it alluring.

On the other end of the spectrum, we also expect a Google Pixel 5a to land sometime in the first half of the year. If it has anything to do with the Pixel 4a, it is sure to be an outstanding device, with a great camera, great software, and a low price. However, my big problem with Pixel phones is that the fingerprint reader is on the back. My phone is on my desk for 10 hours every day, so I need my sensor on the front.

It seems no matter what I do, I have to give up something to get something new.

Decision time: what will it be?

OnePlus versus Samsung

In all honesty, I hoped that writing this decision down would make this decision easier for me. However, I’m not sure if it worked.

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On the one hand, I have the Samsung Galaxy S21. It will have a better camera than the OnePlus 7 Pro, a faster processor, 5G support, and a smaller form factor. However, it has a display section and no alarm control.

On the other hand, I have the OnePlus 7 Pro. It has a seamless, higher resolution display. The Snapdragon 855 processor is still fully functional, the camera is good enough to get the job done, and the software is a lot more to my taste.

Connected: Samsung Galaxy S21 is here, but should you wait for the OnePlus 9?

I inevitably need to upgrade. I can’t use the 7 Pro forever. The question then becomes whether this is the right time or not. The notable aspect of this whole puzzle is that I’m even thinking of switching to Samsung. I don’t know if that says more about how Samsung is improving its game or how OnePlus has been fiddling around recently. 2021 is already a year full of surprises.

Maybe you can help? Answer the poll above and let me know in the comments what you think I should do!

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