It’s raining smartphones and hot off the heels of the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G (review), OnePlus announced a performance-focussed variant of its popular OnePlus 9 (review) smartphone too. Dubbed the OnePlus 9RT, the device is loaded to the brim with top-notch specs and even features a compelling camera setup. Well, seeing how both the S21 FE 5G and the OnePlus 9RT compete in the same price bracket, I decided to pit their cameras’ performance against each other to see which smartphone offers a better experience to budding photographers. Let’s take a look.
First things first, let’s talk specs. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G ships with a 12MP main Sony sensor that works alongside a 12MP ultra wide-angle lens and an 8MP telephoto sensor. For selfies, the device gets a 32MP camera upfront. As for the OnePlus 9RT, the smartphone comes equipped with a 50MP Sony IMX766 main sensor that has been paired with a 16MP ultra-wide camera and a 2MP macro snapper. For selfies, the handset touts a 16MP front-facing camera.
For the most part, the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G are on par with the sensors on the OnePlus 9RT. That said, I noticed that shots from the 9RT were exposed a tad better and the images exhibited meatier sensor details as well. The same was evident whenever I panned to the edges of a photo and objects around the periphery of the frame were rendered sharper on the 9RT’s composition.
Case in point, the slider attached above and here, you can tell that the bark of the tree towards the extreme left-hand side of the photo appears much sharper on the 9RT’s image.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G (left), OnePlus 9RT (right)
In a similar fashion, the exhaust fan positioned towards the top of the blue building appears more defined through the 9RT’s lens as well. I’d like to add that both the phones click slightly over-saturated images, however, between the two, the S21 FE 5G’s photos tend to be a better representation of the actual scene.
Here’s another example that substantiates my findings further. In the slider attached above, you’ll notice that the flower pots towards the left of the frame appear sharper on the 9RT’s photo. Other than that, the two shots are neck and neck, offering similar details around the centre of the frame. I’d also like to point out that the Galaxy S21 FE 5G’s image has rendered the green in the leaves of the shrubs more authentically.
Wideangle, Telephoto and Closeups
Moving on, let’s take a look at the wide-angle images from the two phones. On that note, shots from the OnePlus 9RT look more appealing for multiple reasons. Firstly, the 9RT keeps the fisheye effect to a minimum, and consequently, there’s less fringing towards the edges of the photos when compared to the Galaxy S21 FE 5G’s shot.
I’d also like to add that the 9RT’s wide-angle sensor exposes shadows much better. The S21 FE 5G’s image, on the other hand, appears a tad darkened and the device fails to bring out the details in the branches of the trees near the stone fence.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G has a couple of aces up its sleeves too, mind you. To wit, shots snapped at 2x or 3x zoom offer much sharper textures in the S21 FE 5G’s images. Unfortunately, the 9RT doesn’t ship with a dedicated telephoto sensor and correspondingly, zooms into the subjects digitally.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G (left), OnePlus 9RT (right)
The closeups shot from the two phones are a nip and tuck affair. On one hand, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G is quicker to latch onto the focus and the device snaps truer to life images. On the flip side, the OnePlus 9RT offers noticeably better details and the smartphone doesn’t blotch the colour red as much either. As an example, if you look at the comparison shot attached above then you’ll notice that the red petals offer more definition in the 9RT’s composition.
On the other hand, the closeup of the yellow flower appears more lifelike through the Galaxy S21 FE 5G’s lens.
With that said, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is undoubtedly the better buy for selfie enthusiasts. For one, the handset’s 32MP shooter offers an abundance of details in the frame.
Furthermore, despite disabling all the beautification features, the 9RT’s image appears – for the lack of a better word – doctored.
The lowlight images from both phones were on par with one another. While the OnePlus 9RT’s post-processing swayed in the favour of a sharper image, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G’s shot, albeit softer, had noticeably lesser noise in the frame.
I’d also like to add that both the phones tackled lens flaring equally well, so no complaints here.
So, where does that leave us? Well, the OnePlus 9RT is definitely no slouch in the camera department and the device can snap high-quality photos with an abundance of details. That said, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G is a more versatile camera phone, and the smartphone features a fantastic telephoto camera, as well as a more capable selfie-snapper. Correspondingly, I would recommend the OnePlus 9RT to anyone who tends to pixel-peep the photos they click with their phones. Furthermore, the smartphone’s high-res mode should come in handy when you want to crop the images and upload them to social media. On the other hand, the S21 FE 5G is a better fit for selfie enthusiasts. Do let us know in the comments below which phone you’d rather buy and as always, stay tuned to our blog for more in-depth comparisons and reviews.