The Great OnePlus smartphone buying guide

Purchasing a OnePlus device used to be a simple task a few years ago. Until 2019, OnePlus generally used to launch two phones at the most in the year. The “usual” OnePlus would be launched earlier in the year, while a ‘T’ variant, often with a newer processor and slightly tweaked design and cameras, came out later in the year. However, since 2019, purchasing a OnePlus phone has become a little more complicated. First came the ‘Pro’ variants and then in 2020, we had a whole new series called the Nord, which later on had its own variants, even as the main OnePlus range added an ‘R’ variant to its ranks.

The result? Today if you express a wish to purchase a OnePlus phone, you will be offered more than half a dozen options across different price points. Which one should you go for? Let us try to make it easier for you:

OnePlus 10 Pro 5G: The latest and greatest

Rs 66,999 onwards

OnePlus 10 Pro design

If budget is not an issue, and you want the best OnePlus can offer, then this is a no brainer — you go for the OnePlus 10 Pro. There is not even a non-Pro version to confuse matters this time around. You get pretty much the best OnePlus phone out there, with a brilliant, curved 6.7-inch quad HD fluid AMOLED display and 120Hz refresh rate (which adjusts as per content), powered by the fastest chip on the Android block, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Generation 1. There is good stereo sound and plenty of RAM for speedy and smooth multi-tasking. There is also Hasselblad infused camera wizardry – and unlike in the 9 Pro, where it was largely nominal, here its presence can be felt, with special filters. The 48-megapixel main sensor is superb, the 50-megapixel ultrawide can even deliver up to 150-degree field of view and ‘fisheye’ snaps and the 8-megapixel telephoto gets you a decent 3.3x optical zoom. Even the selfie camera has been bumped up to 32 megapixels from the “regular” 16 megapixels found on most OnePlus flagships.

Round that off with a classy and very eye-catching design (thanks to a distinct ceramic camera unit), a still-largely uncluttered OxygenOS (with Android 12), a large 5,000mAh battery with super-fast 80W SUPERVOOC charge support (50W wireless), and the OnePlus 10 Pro gets into the premium flagship zone, not too distant even from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22 and the iPhone 13!

Perfect for: Those wanting the best OnePlus experience around

OnePlus 10R 5G: Super different looks, even more super-fast charging, super performance at a super price

Rs 38,999 onwards

The latest member of the OnePlus 10 series is very different from others. The OnePlus 10R is the first of the premium flagship series to sport a MediaTek processor, the MediaTek Dimensity 8100-Max, and also is the first to come with a very different design, with straight sides, and stripes flowing on part of the back from the camera unit. The result is perhaps the most distinct-looking OnePlus flagship device we have seen. It is a very solid performer too – that processor is very powerful and capable of high-end gaming, the 6.7-inch display is a bright full HD+ fluid AMOLED one with 120Hz refresh rate, and stereo speakers make the multimedia experience immersive.

The 50-megapixel main sensor delivers great shots, and the 8-megapixel ultrawide gives some variety, although the 2-megapixel macro sensor is a little decorative. You do get Android 12 with the clean OxygenOS experience, and then there is the battery and its charging speed. The OnePlus 10R comes in two versions – a SUPERVOOC Endurance Edition with a 4,500mAh battery and perhaps the fastest charging around at 150W (the phone gets charged in under 20 minutes), and SUPERVOOC Edition that comes with a 5,000mAh battery and “slower” 80W charger, that still gets charged in a little more than half an hour. Its starting price of Rs 38,999 makes the OnePlus 10R one of the best options for anyone looking for a budget flagship that looks different!

Perfect for: Those who want a phone to flaunt, and one which works too. Those with a need for fast charging speed will be over the moon!

OnePlus 9RT 5G: The nine in a ten world

Rs 46,999 onwards

Perhaps the oddest member of OnePlus’ 2022 flagship lineup is the OnePlus 9RT, which came to India a little after its launch in India. It has a lot going for it, including a very good 6.62-inch full HD+ fluid AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, and the still very powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. The combination of 50-megapixel main sensor and 16-megapixel ultrawide also delivers great snaps, although the 2-megapixel macro is a little superfluous. The 4,500mAh battery with 65W fast charging is very good too, and the OnePlus 10R looks reasonably elegant and smart as well. So what is the catch? Well, the OnePlus 9RT is actually more expensive than the more eye-catching and much faster charging OnePlus 10R and thanks to a price cut, is not too far from the OnePlus 9 Pro, which boasts better design and specs. We would say it is perhaps the best option for anyone seeking a flagship-level OnePlus on a tight budget, but with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. Yes, we know that sounds a little odd, which is why we think this OnePlus is the oddest one of the brand’s new flagship lineup.

Perfect for: Those seeking a OnePlus flagship on a tight budget, and not impressed by the OnePlus 10R (that design can polarise) and not having the extra bucks for the OnePlus 9 Pro (more of that later).

OnePlus Nord 2 5G x PAC-MAN Edition: For those seeking a fun phone

Rs 37,999

Yes, this is basically the OnePlus Nord 2, which we will discuss shortly, but we think this phone merits a mention in its own right, because it is just so radically different from most phones out there. As its name indicates, it is basically the OnePlus Nord 2 with a PAC-MAN touch, but this being a OnePlus, the PAC-MAN touches are subtle and classy. The back actually glows in the shape of a PAC-MAN maze in the dark, there is special PAC-MAN content on the phone (including pixilated filters for that retro feel) and even a LEGO phone stand with PAC-MAN characters. All that on top of the very good hardware on the Nord 2 (more of which shortly), make this not only the most fun and funky OnePlus but perhaps the most fun and funky phone out there. And it works very well too.

Perfect for: Those seeking a phone with a strong fun element.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G: The best OnePlus (or any phone) below Rs 30,000

Rs 27,999

OnePlus created a new segment in the market – the premium mid segment – when it released the Nord 2 in 2020. With it, the brand also marked a return to its value for money segment which many felt it had moved away from a few years ago when it started ascending the price ladder. The Nord series was not about flagship killers but about well-crafted phones that offered surprisingly good performance at relatively affordable prices. And the Nord 2 follows that tradition. For its starting price, you get an elegantly designed device with a 6.43-inch fluid AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, a very capable MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chipset and a triple camera set up spearheaded by the very capable Sony IMX 766 50 megapixel sensor seen on more expensive flagships (and with OIS too, a rarity in this price segment). Add stereo speakers, a 4,500mAh battery with support for 65W charging and that clean OxygenOS UI and the Nord 2 emerges as one of the best phones you can get for under Rs 30,000 now.

Perfect for: Those wanting a premium-looking, smooth performing phone without crossing the Rs 30,000 point.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G: A Nord plus and minus a few things

Rs 23,999

OnePlus Nord CE 2

With the Nord series becoming a bestseller, OnePlus increased its presence in the mid-segment with an even more affordable option. It called this device the Nord CE with ‘CE’ standing for ‘core experience.’ The move once again paid rich dividends with the first OnePlus Nord CE, and the OnePlus Nord CE 2 builds on those strong basics. Yes, you still do not get features like the alert slider, OIS on the camera and stereo speakers, but on the flip side, the Nord CE 2 is still smart-looking and also the first OnePlus phone to come with both a 3.5mm audio jack and expandable storage. What’s more, you still get a good fluid AMOLED full HD+ 6.43-inch display with 90Hz refresh rate, a good 64-megapixel main camera, and the power of the MediaTek Dimensity 900 processor, which is a good mid-segment performer. A 4,500mAh battery with 65W fast charge support and Oxygen OS make this a very smooth performer. If you cannot afford a proper Nord and still want a OnePlus, this is the one(plus) to go for.

Perfect for: Those wanting a good OnePlus experience but not having a budget for the Nord.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite: The most basic OnePlus of them all

Rs 19,999

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G

This is the most affordable OnePlus of them all. It is also perhaps the best phone for those who want the OnePlus brand equity on a reasonably powerful mid-segment phone. The highlight of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chip, which is one of the most powerful in the Rs 20,000 range, and which for many would make the phone a great option. The other specs are a little scaled-down – you get a full HD+ display with 120Hz refresh rate, but it is an LCD, not fluid AMOLED; and there is no in-display fingerprint scanner or alert slider. The 64-megapixel camera is also adequate rather than exceptional. But you get a 3.5 mm audio jack, expandable memory and a massive 5,000mAh battery, albeit with a ‘not quite so fast’ charging support of 33W. OxygenOS flies around easily on these specs though, delivering a very good experience. It is as basic as OnePlus gets, and even that is very good. But yes, we would still suggest saving a little more and getting a Nord CE 2, if possible – that display, camera and charging make a difference.

Perfect for: Those wanting a OnePlus below Rs 20,000. Or just wanting a smooth working phone below that price point.

OnePlus 9 Pro 5G: Better than the OnePlus 9RT?

Rs 47,999

It might be about a year old, but we think there’s plenty of life left in the previous OnePlus premium flagship. It still looks slim, sleek and stylish. Its curved, 6.7-inch fluid AMOLED display with a quad HD resolution 120Hz refresh rate is still quite brilliant, and its cameras have actually improved over time. Indeed, there are many who believe that the 50-megapixel ultrawide sensor on the OnePlus 9 Pro is better than the one on the new OnePlus 10 Pro. You get the still very snappy Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor under the hood, good stereo speakers, super-fast 65W Warp Charging and 50W wireless charging. It also has received an Android update and has Hasselblad features in its photography, which is spearheaded by a very good 48-megapixel main sensor, supported by very able 50-megapixel ultrawide and 8-megapixel telephoto sensors. At its current price, we would consider it to be a notch above the newer OnePlus 9RT even.

Perfect for: Those wanting a premium OnePlus phone at the lowest possible price.

With inputs from Akriti Rana