The OnePlus 9 series is the best of OnePlus: flagship features, fully loaded, but also fully expensive. While 2020’s OnePlus 8 Pro managed to stay below the dreaded $1,000 mark, 2021’s OnePlus 9 Pro breaches this barrier for the first time in the brand’s history. How fast the smartphone market changes; it wasn’t that long ago that the OnePlus 6 was controversial for being the company’s first flagship over the $500 mark, while the starting point for the whole series was a lean and mean $299 back in 2014.
OnePlus followed initial “flagship killer” ambitions with talk about performance and speed, taking careful steps to cut corners while making fans happy. But more recently the company has shifted its aim and decided to go for premium flagships options, while still keeping pricing just shy of rivals.
The smartphone landscape has changed since the days of the $299 OnePlus One... and OnePlus has changed with it.
OnePlus burst onto the scene as a disruptor, and changing that viewpoint for many is tough. Growing its brand and support has enabled OnePlus to push further into the US than any other Chinese brand, but the result is OnePlus phones with prices that are almost in line with the likes of Samsung, Google, and even Apple.
Let’s take a look at a quick history of OnePlus phone prices (main series, no special editions) until now, and see what it tells us about where OnePlus is heading in the future.
OnePlus price history
OnePlus One — $299
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, the specs of 2014’s OnePlus One blew people away. OnePlus gambled on a device with no expandable storage and no replaceable battery, plus just 16GB or 64GB of internal storage. While these options were big trade-offs, it still packed a punch. Reviews highlighted availability problems that were once common with OnePlus, buggy software, and poor sound. But the 5.5-inch device delighted many as a hit new brand, if you were able to source one.
With the backing and know-how of BBK and sister-brand Oppo, OnePlus hit the ground running. The OnePlus One offered similar performance to the Samsung Galaxy S5 at about half the price. It wasn’t perfect, and it made sacrifices you had to live with, but it was a premium device at a cost no one could believe. It’s still the favorite device of many Android enthusiasts when they look back.
OnePlus 2 — $329 ($30 increase)
The OnePlus 2 launched just over a year later with the new 64-bit Snapdragon 810, 3 or 4GB of RAM, a fingerprint sensor, USB-C, an alert slider, bigger battery, and OIS on the rear camera. While the specs of the display were the same, fidelity also increased. It lacked NFC and camera performance lagged behind the leaders.
Interestingly, the OnePlus 2 is seen as one of the worst in the OnePlus stable. The biggest blunder was removing NFC support, which OnePlus said wasn’t being used enough. Oddly. Oh, and while a USB-C charging port was a good move, OnePlus crippled its compatibility by not having it conform to USB-C standards. Oops. But valuable lessons were learned.
OnePlus 3 — $399 ($70 increase)
The OnePlus 3 upgraded the processor to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and came with 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage (only), an AMOLED display, and debuted Dash Charge as a highly touted new feature. It brought back NFC and an upgraded the camera. The battery was dropped to 3,000mAh.
OnePlus 3T — $439 ($40 increase)
The OnePlus 3T was an iterative upgrade, the first short-cycle update to a previous device. It was an internal upgrade, including the newer Snapdragon 821 chipset and a 16MP front camera, along with a bigger 3,400mAh battery and a new 128GB option.
OnePlus 5 — $479 ($40 increase)
Avoiding unlucky number 4, the OnePlus 5 was the first device in the family to feature dual rear cameras. It lifted the range to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 64 or 128GB of storage. Styled closely to the iPhone 7, it added 16 and 20MP sensors and retained the all-metal design, but removed OIS. Still, it was reviewed as being worth every penny, with some catches.
The OnePlus 5 received stinging criticism for not having enough significant upgrades to justify a price 50 percent higher than the OnePlus 3. The company also caught heat for slow software updates, a “jelly stutter” effect when scrolling, and inflating benchmark scores.
OnePlus 5T — $479 (no increase)
The OnePlus 5T didn’t offer significant internal upgrades, sticking with the Snapdragon 835 and 6 or 8GB of RAM, but it upgraded the display to a 6-inch model, with a 2,160 x 1,080 AMOLED screen and an 18:9 ratio, and pushed the fingerprint sensor to the back. The company also added face unlock.
OnePlus 6 — $529 ($50 increase)
The OnePlus 6 brought a new all-glass body and a bigger display with a slightly higher resolution, as well as a Snapdragon 845, a better dual camera with OIS on the main shooter and a new Sony sensor, fast LTE, better water resistance, and new software tweaks. The OnePlus 6 was also the first from the brand to take part in Google’s Android beta program.
OnePlus 6T — $549 ($20 increase for base model, higher spec editions unchanged)
The OnePlus 6T came just six months later, with the company removing the headphone jack, adding an in-display fingerprint sensor, reducing the notch size and shape, and debuting with Android 9 Pie. It offered the same specs and almost the identical build to the OnePlus 6, with the removal of the 3.5mm audio jack a controversial choice, for $549.
OnePlus 7 — €559/$630 ($80 increase), OnePlus 7 Pro $669/€709 (new)
2019’s OnePlus 7 series packed the OnePlus 7 and the high-end OnePlus 7 Pro, a first premium offering beyond the usual release.
Both offered the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, while the Pro went with higher-end triple-camera with a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor, pop-up selfie camera, 90Hz panel, and Warp Charge. The more standard 7 model offered the same 48MP primary camera, but stuck with a 5MP secondary sensor, while other features like UFS 3.0, RAM Boost, Zen Mode, and gaming modes made it across.
OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro: Flagship killer, and killer flagship.
OnePlus did also offer a 5G model in the 7 Pro 5G. This version had limited availability and it was more of a test device ahead of 2020 5G models.
The prices are a little tricky to line up. The OnePlus 7 wasn’t made available in the US, just the 7 Pro. The 7 Pro has US pricing and seems cheap compared to the price in Europe, but that’s because sales tax in the US is applied afterwards (in Europe, a VAT tax is applied pre-purchase, and shown in the RRP).
So, how do we compare? Given we only saw OnePlus 7 pricing in euros (€559), that’s effectively all we can go with. That equals $630 in greenbacks, but there’s a pretty good argument that an actual release would’ve been lower, considering US retail pricing goes without tax. But, we’ll never know because OnePlus didn’t do it.
OnePlus 7T $599/€599 ($30 decrease/€40 increase), OnePlus 7T Pro €759/$830 (€40 increase)
The introduction of the OnePlus 7T series added a round of refinement over the 7 series. The major difference in the internals was upgrading both 7T models to the Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset. The OnePlus 7T Pro stuck with the vertical camera arrangement, and added 2GB more of RAM and ticked the internal storage up to 256GB. That’s about it: the changes were so small that OnePlus didn’t bother releasing the 7T Pro into the US.
However, the OnePlus 7T had a significant upgrade by taking 7 Pro’s major features: the 90Hz refresh rate screen and the triple-camera setup on the rear, now in a circular design.
Related: The best OnePlus 7T cases
Yet pricing again is a little tricky. In the US, the 7T launched for $599. Based on comparable pricing to the OnePlus 7, that shapes up as a good deal and the graph below shows a big dip in pricing. In Europe, the OnePlus 7T launch price was €599, or €40 more than the OnePlus 7.
The OnePlus 7T Pro wasn’t made available in the US. In Europe, launching at €759, the 7T Pro saw a price rise of €40 over the 7 Pro, to cover the internals upgrade and refinement (converted: $830, at the time of launch).
OnePlus 8 — $699/€699 ($100/€100 increase), OnePlus 8 Pro — $899/€899 ($60/€140 increase)
The OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro launched with the new Snapdragon 865, 5G capabilities, and high-quality OLED display, with the 8 Pro getting a 120Hz display and wireless charging. Both phones offered higher-spec options, with more RAM and storage, each for $100 more, which brings the highest-spec OnePlus 8 Pro up to $999!
That’s a high-water mark and obviously, OnePlus hasn’t approached this as a high-value phone. But the 8 Pro flagship was still cheaper than the Galaxy S20 Plus or the Huawei P40 Pro while delivering superior performance in some areas. Not a value champion anymore, but the 8 Pro emerged as one of, if not the best Android flagships on the market. The cut-back OnePlus 8 didn’t trim too many corners for the cheaper price, depending on how important wireless charging and a telephoto camera are for you.
Looking to buy a OnePlus 8? Check out our OnePlus 8 buyer’s guide
European pricing was also high, but OnePlus did at least offer a better deal in India, Rs. 41,999 for the OnePlus 8 and Rs. 54,999 for the OnePlus 8 Pro.
One problem was the launch, one day later, of the Apple iPhone SE (2020), at $399, sporting few of the flagship features of the OnePlus range, but some surprising specs, including Apple’s flagship A13 Bionic chip, for a value price.
The other problem was OnePlus itself. From an Android Authority poll of 16,500 votes, three-quarters of respondents thought last year’s OnePlus 7T phone was still a better deal.
OnePlus 8T 12GB, 256GB – $749 ($50 increase), 8GB, 128GB – €679 (€20 decrease)
The OnePlus 8T raised the bar even further in the United States, launching at $749. It matched the previous 8 and 8 Pro with a Snapdragon 865 chip, though you’ll only find the 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage version in the US.
See also: OnePlus 8T buyer’s guide
It’s unfortunate that the OnePlus 8T launched at a more expensive price than the standard 8, though it’s still solidly below $1,000. The two phones also share identical 6.55-inch displays and neither come with an IP rating if you purchase it unlocked. You will, however, find the coveted rating on carrier-locked versions, perhaps because they are footing the bill.
Neither the OnePlus 8T nor the OnePlus 8 had headphones jack onboard, but we did start to see the newer device pull away once you compared cameras. It packed a fourth rear lens compared to the triple setup on the OnePlus 8. The newer 8T also housed a larger battery to the tune of 4,500mAh.
OnePlus 9 $729/€719 — ($30/€20 increase), OnePlus 9 Pro — $969/€919 ($70/€20 increase)
2021’s OnePlus 9 series pushes the envelope once again. The top-end OnePlus 9 Pro variant costs a whopping $1,069, making it OnePlus’ most expensive smartphone yet. That higher price tag nets you a 5nm Snapdragon 888 processor, 12GB RAM, 256GB storage, 5G, fast wireless charging, and a triple rear camera setup developed in partnership with Hasselblad. This phone represents OnePlus’ push for the ultra-premium market but for that money the brand is flirting dangerously close to the highly impressive Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The 8GB OnePlus 9 Pro model, which is still missing from retail stores at the time of writing, is priced at $969. This still makes it $70 more expensive than the OnePlus 8 Pro, continuing a rather aggressive upward trend in the company’s flagship products, but is a little more competitive for a flagship phone. Even so, there’s no escaping that the OnePlus 9 Pro is the most expensive smartphone from the brand yet.
At the lower end, the OnePlus 9 is just $30 more expensive than the OnePlus 8, which is a modest increase. Although the pricier 12GB RAM model is $80 more expensive than the 8T as well. This money still nets you a faster processor, 5G, and fast charging technology, but the phone is missing the more modern camera package and has slower wireless charging. Given that Samsung priced the entry point for its Galaxy S21 series at just $799, OnePlus is clearly now one of the more expensive brands in the business.
To appeal to value-oriented customers, the OnePlus 9R also made an appearance in India with a lower Rs. 39,999 (~$552) price tag and a Snapdragon 870, 8GB RAM, and a cheaper camera setup onboard. However, this phone looks set to remain an India exclusive.
What does it all mean?
First, a chart! Here’s a look at those prices, from OnePlus to OnePlus 9 Pro:
From the $299 OnePlus One in 2014 to 2021’s OnePlus 9 series starting at $729, reaching $1,069 at the very top. There’s been a steady rise in price for OnePlus along the way going from flagship killer to killer flagship.
That isn’t necessarily a criticism; the OnePlus flagship platform has added more and more features, performance, camera tech, and included IP rating and industry-leading wireless charging in the 8 Pro and now the 9 Pro series. Accordingly, it hasn’t been shy about adding to the price.
However, catering to the growing divide between the company’s original and modern mission statements has resulted in an increasingly convolutely product lineup. In 2019, my colleague (and habitual OnePlus upgrader) C. Scott Brown tried to untangle exactly what OnePlus was doing with its increasing number of models and pricing strategy. The OnePlus series again muddies the waters given the value of the 8T, 9 series, and the region-specific OnePlus 9R.
$999 considering the specs and competition wasn't outrageous: but the OnePlus 8 Pro is still costly.
The appearance of devices like the OnePlus 9R and more affordable phones like the OnePlus Nord, and cheaper Nord N10 and N100 models demonstrates that OnePlus still sees a market for more affordable smartphones. At the same time, the brand increasingly wants to compete with the ultra-premium and more profitable markets cornered by Apple and Samsung. The end result is a broader range of products to cater to a wider range of consumers, along with increasingly expensive flagship smartphones.
What do you make of the steady increase in OnePlus prices? Is it justified, or do you long for a return to the good old days? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check out some of our other OnePlus content below.