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OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Which flagship phone wins?

oneplus 9 pro vs iphone 12 pro
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This OnePlus 9 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro battle shows how evenly matched these two phones are as both try to claim the title of best phone

Both the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro come with high-end performance, excellent cameras and good battery life. However, the OnePlus 9 Pro sports crazy fast wired and wireless charging, leaving the iPhone 12 Pro in the dust in this area. Plus, OnePlus offers a 120Hz display, something Apple can't match for now. 

On the other hand, the iPhone 12 Pro has a reputation for better performance, camera quality and more frequent and reliable software updates. Plus, Apple offers a better ecosystem of accessories. 

In this OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro face-off, we will break down all you need to know about these two phones and how they stack up against each other. Both are at the top of their game, and whichever phone you opt for comes down to whether you prefer Android or iOS. 

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Specs

OnePlus 9 ProiPhone 12 Pro
Starting price$969$999
Screen size6.7-inch AMOLED (3,168 x 1,440)6.1-inch OLED (2532x1170)
Refresh rate1 Hz - 120 Hz60 Hz
CPUSnapdragon 888A14 Bionic
RAM8GB, 12GB6GB
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
micro SDNoNo
Rear cameras48MP wide (f/1.8), 50MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 8MP telephoto (f/2.8) with 3.3x optical/30x digital, 2MP (f/2.4) monochrome12MP wide (f/1.6), 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4), 12MP telephoto (f/2.0) with 2x optical zoom/10x digital
Front camera16MP (f/2.4)12MP (f/2.2)
Water resistanceIP68 up to 1.5 mIP68 up to 6 m
Battery size4,500 mAh2,815 mAh
Battery life10:40 (120Hz) / 10:38 (60Hz)9:06
Size6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches5.78 x 2.82 x 0.29 inches
Weight6.9 ounces6.66 ounces

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Price

The OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro are both premium phones that demand a high price tag. In OnePlus’ case, the 9 Pro is the most expensive phone that the company has ever released, starting at $969 for the 8GB/128GB model. For another $100, you can up the RAM to 12GB and double the storage.

The iPhone 12 Pro, meanwhile, costs $999 out the gate for the 128GB model. You can nab 256GB of storage for another $100 or go up to 512GB for an eye-watering total of $1,299. If you’re planning on grabbing the iPhone, be sure to check out our best iPhone deals page first.

The iPhone has the added advantage of being available basically anywhere, while the OnePlus 9 Pro is only sold through a single carrier — T-Mobile. You can pick up an unlocked model straight from OnePlus in addition to online retailers.

The $30 difference between the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 may not seem like much, but it does mean OnePlus’ phone can be had for less. Plus, OnePlus includes the 65W charger in the 9 Pro’s box, so you don’t need to fork over extra cash to charge your phone at full speed. The same cannot be said for the iPhone 12 Pro, which ships without a charger.

Winner: OnePlus 9 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Design

Both the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro are beautiful devices that are striking in their own ways, with beautiful color options and solid build quality. Both have glass backs and metal frames, clicky power and volume buttons, and stellar vibration motors for satisfying haptic feedback. They both feature a mute switch, though the OnePlus has three modes: Ring, Vibrate, and Silent. The iPhone is limited to Silent Mode on or off.

oneplus 9 pro vs iphone 12 pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Those similarities aside, both phones differ greatly in terms of appearance. The OnePlus 9 Pro dwarfs the iPhone 12 Pro with its 6.7-inch display. The 6.1-inch iPhone is more compact and easier to use one-handed. Neither phone is better in this regard — they both feel very premium — and your size preference will determine which one will work best for you.

Up front, the OnePlus 9 Pro uses a simple hole punch for the selfie cam. The iPhone uses the iconic notch for the front camera and Face ID tech.

Speaking of biometrics, the OnePlus 9 Pro uses an in-display optical fingerprint sensor while the iPhone 12 Pro relies entirely on facial recognition. In the absence of face masks, both approaches are good. I think the OnePlus unlocks faster, however, since the iPhone requires you to swipe up to unlock once it recognizes your face.

Finally, both phones feature water- and dust-resistance. The OnePlus 9 Pro is IP68-certified, meaning that it can survive up to 1.5 meters underwater for 30 minutes. The iPhone 12 Pro takes this one step further and survives 6 meters underwater for 30 minutes. 

Both phones amaze us with their build quality, but the increased water resistance for the iPhone 12 Pro gives it the slightest victory.

Winner: iPhone 12 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Display

Having a good display is key to the smartphone experience, and both the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro do not disappoint in this regard. Each phone sports OLED panels, which means vibrant colors and true blacks. Placing the phones side-by-side and testing their displays in a lab gives us a victor, though.

oneplus 9 pro vs iphone 12 pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The OnePlus 9 Pro has a gorgeous 6.7-inch AMOLED display with two color modes: Vivid and Natural. In Vivid, the 9 Pro managed 208.1% of the sRGB spectrum and 147.4% of the more challenging DCI-P3. In Natural, the phone tones everything down, making for 119.9% of the sRGB and 84.9% of the DCI-P3 color gamuts. Finally, a variable 120 Hz refresh rate on the OnePlus 9 Pro tops everything off, letting the phone go all the way down to 1 Hz when needed.

oneplus 9 pro vs iphone 12 pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 Pro features one color profile that reproduced 115.6% of the sRGB spectrum and 81.9% of the DCI-P3 gamut. Its refresh rate is locked to 60 Hz, so there’s no ultra-smooth scrolling like the OnePlus 9 Pro offers. The iPhone’s screen does get just a tad brighter at 740 nits, versus the OnePlus 9 Pro’s 722 nits.

It’s clear from both our lab testing and my personal use of both phones regularly that the OnePlus 9 Pro wins this category. The variable 120 Hz refresh rate really takes the cake.

Winner: OnePlus 9 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Cameras

OnePlus stepped up its camera game this year, entering into a three-year partnership with Hasseblad. The early fruits of this endeavor trickled down to the OnePlus 9 Pro, which features more natural color reproduction, a new pro mode, and a couple of homages to Hasselblad. 

The iPhone 12 Pro, however, remains one of the best camera phones, able to go head-to-head with the best Android cameras.

The OnePlus 9 Pro features a custom 48MP main wide sensor, a 50MP ultrawide with a freeform lens, an 8MP telephoto with 3.3x optical zoom, and a 2MP monochrome. The iPhone 12 Pro sports a 12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, and 12MP telephoto with 2x optical zoom.

In this photo of a produce stand, both phones produced incredibly accurate colors. The OnePlus 9 Pro did an excellent job brightening the image just enough while keeping the colors vibrant. While the iPhone’s shot is excellent, it verges on over-exposure. However, neither image is better to our eye than the other, so this is a draw.

Heading out to a nearby lake, this is a comparison between both phones’ ultrawide shots. The freeform lens on the OnePlus 9 Pro certainly helps with edge distortion, though it’s hard to tell in this OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro comparison. However, the iPhone’s shot feels richer with much stronger depth. I can’t honestly say that I like the OnePlus’ image. Apple wins this one.

Either phone does a good job with portraits, though you can see an obvious difference between the two images of me here. The OnePlus 9 Pro’s shot is dimmer and subdued, whereas the iPhone’s is bright and almost too cheery. I faced directly into the sun for these photos, and the OnePlus did a better job of regulating the incoming light. I prefer its portrait over the iPhone.

OnePlus’ Nightscape night mode has improved much over the years, but Apple’s Night Mode is just so much better and more consistent. When OnePlus’ Nightscape is on point, it’s passable, but it can put out really strange images. Here in the photo of this number plate, you can see how the iPhone captured the details in the glass and bricks, plus the window shutters in the background. Lighting is great. The OnePlus 9 Pro, meanwhile, looks really yellow. It’s fine, but the iPhone clearly wins.

The OnePlus 9 Pro’s 16MP front camera does a decent job with selfies, though I have since found that it struggles with low or medium light scenarios. The iPhone 12 Pro does not have this issue, as you can see in the selfie above. It handled the direct sunlight better, capturing my ruddy facial tones much more accurately than the OnePlus. The red of my beard is richer and the green on my shoulders doesn’t look so washed out.

Because of its stronger night mode and selfie performance, the iPhone 12 Pro wins this camera shootout. The OnePlus 9 Pro put up a very good fight and it shows marked improvements over past OnePlus devices.

Winner: iPhone 12 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Performance

Apple remains king when it comes to mobile performance. The A14 Bionic chipset maintains its lead over the Snapdragon 888 competition. Faster and more powerful, the latest Bionic SoC makes for a fantastic experience in and out of games. 

oneplus 9 pro vs iphone 12 pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

That’s not to say that the OnePlus 9 Pro is a slouch. With its Snapdragon chipset and plenty of RAM, the OnePlus 9 Pro is one of the most powerful Android phones we’ve ever tested. In real-world use, it’s great for games like Genshin Impact, Asphalt 9, and Call of Duty: Mobile and it handles anything you can throw at it with ease. Paired with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, the 9 Pro is screaming fast in app load times, too.

In Geekbench 5, the OnePlus 9 Pro scored 3,685 on the multicore test; the iPhone 12 Pro got 4,078. That's quite a difference. However, in 3DMark’s challenging Wild Life Unlimited test, the OnePlus 9 Pro managed 34.5 frames per second and the iPhone 12 Pro scored a whopping 51 FPS.

Side-by-side, both phones are extremely powerful. In games, intensive titles like Genshin Impact might look a tad smoother on the iPhone, but it’s not really something too many people will notice. However, we have to crown a winner in this section, and the iPhone out-muscles the OnePlus 9 Pro in testing.

Winner: iPhone 12 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: 5G

Despite launching a couple of years ago, the state of 5G in the US remains still a mess. You have low-band sub-6 Ghz 5G, which can occasionally be slower than the LTE that precedes it, or ultra wide-band mmWave, which is incredibly fast, but equally limited.

Both the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro support 5G, with the OnePlus turning to a newer Qualcomm modem than the iPhone. Regardless, you still can connect to any 5G service in the US with the iPhone, but that’s not the case with the OnePlus 9 Pro.

The 5G situation with the 9 Pro is a bit weird. The phone works with all of T-Mobile’s bands out of the box, and it just got certified to work on Verizon’s 5G network (both low-band and mmWave). But on AT&T, you’re out of luck — the OnePlus 9 Pro does not support any of AT&T’s 5G bands and so you’ll be limited to LTE.

Winner: iPhone 12 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Battery life and charging

The OnePlus 9 Pro has a 4,500 mAh battery split into two 2,250 mAh cells. This allows for the crazy fast 65W charging. The iPhone 12 Pro has a 2,815 mAh battery, resulting in noticeably inferior battery life.

oneplus 9 pro vs iphone 12 pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In the Tom’s Guide battery test, where phones are left to endlessly reload webpages over a cellular connection, the OnePlus 9 Pro performed quite well. We tested it with 5G and the 120Hz mode on, and it came out with an average result of 10 hours and 40 minutes. Compare that to the iPhone 12 Pro’s paltry 9 hours and 6 minutes and it’s clear which phone will last longer on a charge.

The OnePlus 9 Pro also wins in charging with a total of 65W wired and 50W wireless. That crushes the iPhone’s 20W wired max. The OnePlus 9 Pro can fully recharge its big battery in just 30 minutes. The iPhone 12 Pro can’t even come close to that, hitting 31% after half-an-hour with one of Apple’s MagSafe chargers.

Winner: OnePlus 9 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Software and special features

Despite similarities in several departments, the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro truly differentiate themselves with software. The OnePlus 9 Pro ships with Android 11 underneath OnePlus’ custom skin, OxygenOS. This rendition of Android beats the Pixel experience as my favorite. Clean and intuitive, it has plenty of customizations to make the phone feel unique to you.

oneplus 9 pro vs iphone 12 pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

But while OnePlus nails the software experience, it doesn’t plan to support its devices for very long. The company’s previous track record with updates leaves a lot to be desired. The OnePlus 9 Pro will receive just two platform updates (through Android 13) and three years of security patches (running through 2024). Compared to Samsung’s new three-year OS and four-year security update plans, we’re very disappointed in OnePlus’ lack of desire to keep its phones going for longer.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 Pro comes with iOS 14, the best version of iOS ever. This version of Apple’s phone software added the App Library, a sort of app drawer-esque way to manage your apps, new options for default browser and email client, and so much more.

Best of all, Apple supports its devices for a very long time. The iPhone 6s, an almost 6-year-old phone, can run iOS 14. The iPhone 12 Pro could possibly see iOS 19 in 2025, three years after the OnePlus 9 Pro stops receiving Android platform updates. While Apple doesn’t exactly state its support plans outright, it has a long track record to go off of, where iPhone owners can expect anywhere from four to six years of software updates. Those updates are also available immediately.

Winner: iPhone 12 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro: Overall winner

OnePlus 9 ProiPhone 12 Pro
Price (10 points)98
Design (10 points)89
Display (15 points)1514
Cameras (20 points)1719
Performance (15 points)1315
5G (5 points)23
Battery (15 points)1310
Software910
Overall (100 points)8688

This OnePlus 9 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro face-off almost ended in a standoff. The OnePlus is just two points shy of matching the iPhone 12 Pro, which is more than the Galaxy S21 Plus could say. The race is so close.

If you’re looking for the best phone you can buy, the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro are both right at the top. If you prefer Android, get the OnePlus 9 Pro (unless you’re on AT&T and you want 5G) — if you like iOS, grab the iPhone 12 Pro. You can’t go wrong with either device. Where one is strong, the other isn’t far behind.

Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. It's hard to nail down one thing that Jordan is passionate about, since his attention span for a single given topic or activity doesn't last long. Jordan tends to lurk on social media, but you can best reach him on Twitter: @jccpalmer — his Instagram feed is mostly photos of his cat.