OnePlus has just announced two new smartphones in its flagship series in the form of the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. Both smartphones share the distinction of being the first devices powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset to enter the Indian market. It can be reasonably assumed that the dup are not lacking when it comes to performance. In fact, both phones are currently among the fastest devices you can buy in the Android world. The chipset does play a vital role, and being powered by the latest and greatest silicon from Qualcomm does come with its benefits. The Snapdragon 888 SoC was announced back in December and it’s the first 5nm chip from the brand, putting it in direct competition with the Exynos 2100 from Samsung and Apple’s A14 Bionic.
The Snapdragon 888 is an octa-core chipset that follows Arm’s big.LITTLE architecture of four performance (big) cores and four efficiency cores (LITTLE). Like the Snapdragon 865 before it, the 888 also uses 1+3 big cores, though the architectures for the two cores in the latter are different. The new Cortex X1 core powered by a Kryo 680 Prime CPU has been introduced, that can be clocked at 2.84GHz, while the rest are three Kryo 680 Gold CPUs part of the Cortex A78 core that can be clocked at 2.42GHz. The efficiency cores consist of four Cortex A55s that have the Kryo 680 CPU which spin at 1.8GHz. In comparison, the Qualcomm 865 uses a single modified Cortex A77 core with the Kryo 585 Prime CPU having a maximum frequency of 2.84GHz and three A77s with Kryo 585 Gold CPUs spinning at 2.42GHz. The efficiency cores are Cortex A55s with the Kryo 585 Silver CPUs.
The OnePlus 9 is looking to replace the OnePlus 8T (review) and while it is obvious the former will outdo the latter in processing prowess, it is important to know by how much. Cost-wise, the OnePlus 9 will sell at a starting price of Rs 50k, while the OnePlus 8T (pictured above) starts at Rs 42,999. Let’s find out in this gaming and benchmarks test whether the OnePlus 9 is worthy of an upgrade.
Benchmarks, as you might be aware, provide a quantitative measure of how well a device can perform. For the purpose of this comparison, I will be using the most popular ones on the market, which are Geekbench 5, Antutu, GFXBench, and 3DMark. For the purpose of the testing, both the OnePlus 9 and 8T are equipped with 12GB RAM, and 256GB of storage.
This test stresses mostly the CPU and gives results based on single-core and multi-core performance. The OnePlus 9 performs exceedingly well with scores of 1,093 and 3,401, respectively. The OnePlus 8T doesn’t fare too bad either by getting 900 on the single-core test and 3,186 on the multi-core one. The new Cortex X1 has made a clear difference as is visible in single-core usage with the OnePlus 9 having a nearly 20 percent jump in processing. The multi-core usage does remain about the same with the OnePlus 9’s advantage being a meagre 7 percent.
On Antutu, the overall score is a metric of how good the CPU, GPU, Memory, and UI performance is. The jump in performance from the OnePlus 9 is quite apparent, especially when it comes to the GPU. The overall score for the device happens to be 702,736 which is about the highest score I’ve seen on Antutu to date, possibly until the ROG Phone 5 comes out. The OnePlus 8T gets a score of 590,758 and in terms of an increase in overall performance, the OnePlus 9 has a jump of about 16 percent. Even more so, looking at the GPU score of 300,497 on the OnePlus 9 and the 218,377 on the 8T, there is a nearly 30 percent gain. This would likely be due to the Adreno 660 on the Snapdragon 888 clocked at 840MHz as compared 587MHz on the Snapdragon 865’s Adreno 650. The UX, Memory, and CPU scores are about the same for both devices with slight gains by the OnePlus 9.
For a deeper understanding of GPU performance, GFXBench is a very handy tool. It runs a bunch of synthetic tests and returns a score based on a total fps count. I ran the T-Rex and Manhattan tests for gauging graphical performance. The OnePlus 9 flourishes with 60fps total on both the tests while the OnePlus 8T also brings in the same fps count. The 1080p offscreen tests however, showed the OnePlus 9 scoring 241fps and 145fps respectively on T-Rex and Manhattan. For the OnePlus 8T, it was 207fps and 127fps which shows that offscreen GPU tasks, that are not directed at the display (this includes things like generating reflections, shadows, a blur for depth of field, etc), are performed better on the OnePlus 9.
3DMark is something I use for a second opinion on GPU performance. The SlingShot Extreme benchmark turns a result of “Your device is too powerful to run this” on both the devices which should give an idea of the kind of performance you are dealing with. Nevertheless, the Wildlife benchmark works quite well and the results were as expected. The OnePlus 9 outdoes the OnePlus 8T with a score of 5,786 with the latter getting 3,827. This is nearly a 34 percent jump and is quite significant.
It becomes clear from these benchmarks that the OnePlus 9 is indeed a better performer but not so much in the processing part as it is dominant in GPU usage. The Adreno 660 is indeed doing a splendid job but how well does it actually do during an intense gaming session? Let’s find out.
The OnePlus 8T had offered an impeccable gaming experience during my time with the device and I’m expecting the same with the OnePlus 9. In terms of TDP, both chipsets draw 10W of power when at maximum frequency, and also the battery capacity happens to be the same at 4,500mAh. My testing banks on Call of Duty Mobile (CoDM) which happens to be a good metric and the next best thing after the ban of my preferred choice, which is PUBG Mobile.
Basically, both the phones run CoDM at the maximum possible settings whether it is the Graphics Quality (GQ) or Frame Rate (FR). You can also have Depth of Field, Real-Time Shadows, Bloom, Ragdoll effect, and Anti-Aliasing toggles turned on. However, a recent update has also introduced an Ultra option for FR that works only when the GQ is set to High rather than the Very High setting available. This is true for both devices. Also, the Bloom and Anti-aliasing toggles happen to be turned off by default in this setting. Since FR does put a higher test on the GPU, I decided to run both the devices on the Ultra FR setting and the battery level at 100 percent. During the 30 minute session, the OnePlus 9 drained a total of 12 percent battery while the temperature rose from 28 degrees to 37 degrees. For the OnePlus 8T, the battery was down by 15 percent while the phone gained 14 degrees in temperature as well.
I think it is safe to assume that if it is a better gaming experience you are looking for, then the OnePlus 9 is more battery efficient and runs cooler. Any other GPU-intensive task will also be performed better on the OnePlus 9 as is apparent from the benchmarks. Even so, your typical smartphone activities like multi-tasking or split window operations, or some light photo editing can be performed well on both devices. If you are an avid mobile gamer, the OnePlus 9 seems like a worthwhile investment given the performance gains available.