Business

Samsung vs OnePlus in 2020: One UI clones and stolen Buds

It’s the final stretch of the year and in many ways, we’re all happy to leave 2020 behind. For Samsung and its customer base, 2020 was a good-enough year given the circumstances. Firmware updates have arrived on time for the most part and plenty of exciting devices have come out of Samsung’s factory gates throughout the year.

But instead of looking back at the company’s achievements in a vacuum, perhaps it would be more interesting to compare Samsung’s performance in 2020 with that of its key rivals. After all, Samsung doesn’t exist in a bubble, but rather it competes with a wide variety of OEMs. OnePlus, the brand that coined the term flagship killer, being one of them.

Samsung vs OnePlus in 2020: Someone is a fan…

Samsung is a giant compared to OnePlus so it would be unfair to compare their influence across the industry. The former has developed exciting new technologies and has released two foldable smartphones, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Galaxy Z Flip, whereas the latter has more or less maintained its course.

More important than how each OEM has influenced the industry is how they’ve influenced each other. And in this respect, Samsung was clearly the inspiration. OnePlus seems to have borrowed a lot from Samsung, especially with its latest custom Android skin which, to put it very lightly, draws inspiration from One UI.

Not every UI element is the same or in the same location across Oxygen OS and One UI, but anyone who doesn’t possess a trained eye will be forgiven for not telling the difference between the two.

OnePlus also took a page from Samsung’s book when it came to the wearable market. OnePlus doesn’t produce smartwatches but the company did release a couple of new totally-wireless earbuds this year. And, in case you haven’t heard, you’ll be surprised to learn that they’re called the OnePlus Buds and OnePlus Buds Z. But don’t worry; although they’re called the same as Samsung’s Galaxy Buds series, they look nothing alike and aren’t a direct competitor.

The OnePlus Buds cost $79. The Buds Z are a $49 alternative. They’re cheaper than the Galaxy Buds+ and the Galaxy Buds Live, obviously, and that’s because they lack in features, from the number of on-board microphones to their battery sizes, lack of wireless charging, ANC and more. And again, the OnePlus Buds? Really?! A jury would dock a point just for that.

The bottom line is, Samsung left a noticeable mark on OnePlus in 2020, which might be a hint as to the direction OnePlus might be going next.

Samsung vs OnePlus in 2020: Adapting to market changes

Samsung has more high-end phones on offer than ever before, which seems counter-productive given the economic climate. OnePlus has so far released three OnePlus 8 models – one less than last year. OnePlus did things a little differently and released three brand-new mid-range phones labeled Nord. OnePlus evangelists consider the Nord series to represent the flagship killer’s return and a threat to Samsung.

In reality, it might already be too late for any flagship killers to challenge Samsung’s diverse smartphone portfolio. But regardless, OnePlus was able to adapt to the market changes in 2020 and create a new smartphone series as a response.

In the opposite camp, the Galaxy A and Galaxy M series were very successful in 2020 thanks to a combination of great value and specs, whereas the Galaxy S20 FE can be viewed as a direct response to the whole flagship killer concept. The company has also released the Galaxy Note 10 Lite as its first S Pen smartphone that wasn’t a flagship.

But although there’s a lot more variety in Samsung’s smartphone portfolio, perhaps the company may have gone a little too far with its budget offers this year. The Galaxy F41 and the Galaxy M31 Prime stand out as desperate attempts at reselling existing phones under a different brand. And did anyone really need a re-release of the Galaxy J2 Core in 2020? These releases were some of Samsung’s low points of 2020, but then again, this year the company has also released some of the most impressive mobile products of the decade.

Samsung vs OnePlus in 2020: An unexpected role reversal

OnePlus seems to be losing its way while Samsung has set an example in terms of firmware support this year. It’s almost as if the roles have reversed. OnePlus used to be the Android OEM to beat, but this year the company has unexpectedly decided to launch its new Nord series with a frankly embarrassing guarantee of a single Android OS update.

galaxy s20 software update

Samsung is now promising three major Android OS updates for the majority of Galaxy smartphones that got released with Android 9 or later, whereas OnePlus guarantees only a single Android OS update for the brand-new OnePlus Nord N10 and Nord N100. You could say that Samsung is beating OnePlus at its own game.

One Plus is offering better, faster firmware support for its flagship series compared to Nord but, surprise! So is Samsung, who’s now rolling out One UI 3.0 even earlier than expected. The experience itself has gotten better, with new features and a refined UI contributing to the package.


Samsung did a stellar job against OnePlus’ Nord offensive and flagship killer concept this year, we believe, especially given the market conditions. But what do you think of the competition between the two? And, be honest; have you ever considered switching from Samsung to OnePlus this year? Feel free to join the conversation below.

Join the Discussion