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OnePlus continues to find its place in the smartphone industry with the OnePlus 9 duo. The 9 and 9 Pro establishes OnePlus with a new partnership in the camera space – every major Chinese OEM has one, after all. With the new smartphones bearing the “Hasselblad” name, does the OnePlus flagship finally have a camera experience free of compromises? OnePlus uses the tagline “Your best shot” so we are setting our expectations high for the cameras’ performance.
OnePlus has entered into a three-year cooperation agreement with Hasselblad and the first phones to benefit from that are the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. For these phones, Hasselblad and OnePlus collaborated on calibrating the contrast and color processing with a view of tuning them to Hasselblad’s distinct style.
OnePlus 9 • OnePlus 9 Pro
In this review, we’ll focus on the larger of the two phones. The OnePlus 9 Pro‘s overall look does not deviate far from its predecessors, but it does dial back on a couple of design elements that help to improve the phone’s ergonomics. The centered linear arrangement of cameras is no more, and the 9 Pro now has a more conventional camera placement in a rectangular setup.
OnePlus 9 Pro next to OnePlus 9
The display on the 9 Pro uses a new display technology that OnePlus promises should reduce the power consumption of the panel by up to 50 percent. The savings is credited to a new LTPO backplane in the AMOLED panel. This enables the new ‘Smart 120Hz’ feature that variably adjusts the refresh rate all the way down to 1Hz if it needs to.
Debuting with the OnePlus 8T last year, the 9 Pro now sports the same dual-cell battery system compatible with an included 65W charger, capable of fully replenishing the 9 Pro’s battery in just about a half-hour but with improved charging software and lower internal battery resistance, they’ve been able to provide even faster initial charging from flat. OnePlus is also debuting a faster Warp Wireless charger with the 9 Pro that outputs 50W and we’ll be giving that a test as well.
OnePlus 9 Pro specs :
|NETWORK||Technology||GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE / 5G|
|2G bands||GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2|
|CDMA 800 / 1900|
|3G bands||HSDPA 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1800 / 1900 / 2100|
|4G bands||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 32, 38, 39, 40, 41, 66 – EU|
|1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 30, 32, 38, 39, 40, 41, 46, 48, 66, 71 – NA|
|1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 46 – IN|
|1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41 – CN|
|5G bands||1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41, 66, 78 SA/NSA – EU|
|1, 2, 3, 7, 25, 28, 41, 66, 71, 78, 258, 260, 261 SA/NSA/mmWave – NA|
|41, 78 SA/NSA – IN|
|1, 3, 28, 41, 78, 79 SA/NSA – CN|
|Speed||HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A (CA) Cat20 2000/200 Mbps, 5G|
|LAUNCH||Announced||2021, March 23|
|Status||Available. Released 2021, March 30|
|BODY||Dimensions||163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7 mm (6.43 x 2.90 x 0.34 in)|
|Weight||197 g (6.95 oz)|
|Build||Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), aluminum frame|
|SIM||Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)|
|IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 min)|
|DISPLAY||Type||LTPO Fluid2 AMOLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1300 nits (peak)|
|Size||6.7 inches, 108.4 cm2 (~90.3% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Resolution||1440 x 3216 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~525 ppi density)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 5|
|PLATFORM||OS||Android 11, upgradable to Android 13, OxygenOS 13|
|Chipset||Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm)|
|CPU||Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.42 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A55|
|Internal||128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM|
|MAIN CAMERA||Quad||48 MP, f/1.8, 23mm (wide), 1/1.43″, 1.12µm, multi-directional PDAF, Laser AF, OIS
8 MP, f/2.4, 77mm (telephoto), 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 3.3x optical zoom
50 MP, f/2.2, 14mm (ultrawide), 1/1.56″, 1.0µm, AF
2 MP, f/2.4, (monochrome)
|Features||Hasselblad Color Calibration, dual-LED flash, HDR, panorama|
|Video||8K@30fps, 4K@30/60/120fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, Auto HDR, gyro-EIS|
|SELFIE CAMERA||Single||16 MP, f/2.4, (wide), 1/3.06″, 1.0µm|
|SOUND||Loudspeaker||Yes, with stereo speakers|
|COMMS||WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA|
|Bluetooth||5.2, A2DP, LE, aptX HD|
|Positioning||GPS (L1+L5), GLONASS (G1), BDS (B1), GALILEO (E1+E5a)|
|USB||USB Type-C 3.1, OTG|
|FEATURES||Sensors||Fingerprint (under display, optical), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, color spectrum|
|BATTERY||Type||Li-Po 4500 mAh, non-removable|
|Charging||65W wired, PD, 1-100% in 29 min (advertised)
50W wireless, 1-100% in 43 min (advertised)
|MISC||Colors||Morning Mist, Forest Green, Stellar Black|
|Models||LE2121, LE2125, LE2123, LE2120, LE2127|
|Price||$ 450.80 / € 579.00 / £ 567.97 / ₹ 35,999 / C$ 1,419.00|
|TESTS||Camera||Photo / Video|
|Loudspeaker||-24.1 LUFS (Very good)|
Disclaimer. We can not guarantee that the information on this page is 100% correct.
Apart from the screen size and resolution, the main difference between the 9 and 9 Pro‘s camera systems is the addition of a dedicated telephoto camera on the OnePlus 9 Pro. The main camera gets an updated IMX789 Sony sensor which still supports omnidirectional Phade Detection auto focus and dual native ISO, and the ultra-wide now gets a 50MP sensor and a new type of lens to reduce lens distortion.
Video recording has been beefed up to support 8K video at 30 frames, and 4K video at 120 fps. There’s also a new Nightscape Video 2.0 which promises better low-light video so we’re looking at all-around improvements to the camera system on the 9 Pro.
We’re excited to see how much the image quality has improved on the camera trio (main, tele, wide) of the 9 Pro with this new Hasselblad partnership. We’ll also be looking to see how much battery life will improve despite having the same 4,500 mAh capacity as its predecessor. The lower-power display and Snapdragon 888 with integrated Qualcomm X60 modem should help in this regard.
Tag along as we look over the ins and outs of OnePlus‘ new flagship device. If you’re looking to upgrade from an older OnePlus device, we’ll give you the scoop on whether the 9 Pro is improved in all the right places or if it’s more like a scoop of ice cream you’ve already tasted before.
The media package that we received from OnePlus included both the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, along with one protective case for each, and the Warp Charge 50 Wireless Charger. This time around, some may be happy to learn that the new Wireless charging dock does come with a removable connector and supports any 50W USB-C PD charger.
The OnePlus packaging has become a standard fare and the 9 Pro is no exception. Inside the now familiar red box is the phone at the top layer, followed by some paperwork, a silicone case in some markets, the 65W Warp Charge power adapter, and the usual red Type-C to Type-C USB 2.0 cable.
The silicone case this year has been switched to an opaque design. It’s not clear yet why OnePlus chooses to omit this accessory in some markets and decides to leave it in elsewhere. There will be aftermarket cases, obviously, along with some first-party options from OnePlus.
Two things that we can always count on OnePlus smartphones to come with are a set of OnePlus stickers, and a letter from the company’s founder Pete Lau that encourages customers to participate in the OnePlus community forums. A SIM tool is attached to this letter.
As usual, there are no audio accessories inside the package. Not even an audio adapter.
With prices going up and the OnePlus 9 Pro starting at a lofty $969, there’s no shortage of quality alternatives on the market.
We will start off with the toughest competitor of all, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. While the phone is technically priced at $1199, as per Samsung tradition it can frequently be available below that. At the time of writing, the price was down to just $900 with a special coupon, which is handily undercutting the OnePlus 9 Pro launch price.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the most accomplished smartphones we have tested. Whether it’s build quality, display performance, camera performance, or battery life, the S21 Ultra has you covered on all fronts. The camera performance, in particular, is most impressive and we think that the S21 Ultra has one of the most versatile camera systems on the market.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Another great option is the recently launched Xiaomi Mi 11, which is Xiaomi’s implementation of the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ smartphone. While not available in all regions, the Mi 11 does undercut the OnePlus 9 Pro in pricing in regions where it is available. That’s not to say it’s compromised in any way, as the Mi 11 is packed to the gills with all the bells and whistles. Sure, MIUI may still be an acquired taste but in every other aspect it is a very strong contender in this segment.
Xiaomi Mi 11
Next is the Find X3 Pro from OnePlus‘ sister company, Oppo. The Find X3 Pro combines a stunning industrial design, top-notch feature set, and an excellent set of cameras, great display quality, and the same sort of blazing fast charging speeds that OnePlus is known for (it’s essentially the same tech). At $1099, the Oppo Find X3 Pro comes at a premium but one that may be worth paying, especially if you’re already considering spending over $900 on a phone.
Oppo Find X3 Pro
If you’re more into gaming, you might want to consider the ASUS ROG Phone 5. While marketed as primarily a gaming phone, the ROG Phone 5 is an extremely accomplished phone even outside of gaming, with great build quality, a quality display, terrific loudspeakers, great battery life with fast charging, and relatively clean build of Android. And while the camera quality may not be quite on par with some of the other flagships, it’s still very impressive and has come a long way from the original model. On top of all that, it’s also the cheapest phone in this bunch.
Asus ROG Phone 5
Lastly, there’s the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max. There was a time when it wouldn’t have made any sense to compare a OnePlus phone with an iPhone due to the large gulf in price tags, but those days are long gone now. As for the phone itself, it combines exceptional industrial design, class-leading display color performance with Dolby Vision support, an excellent set of cameras all-round, best in class performance, great battery life, easy to use software with unparalleled software and game library, legendary customer support and a high resale value to boot.
Few devices can match the complete package that the iPhone is and the 12 Pro Max is the best of its kind. Sure, the 60Hz display isn’t quite modern and the lack of fast charging in the box (or any kind of charging) is disappointing after paying so much but these may be things worth sacrificing if you want one of the most well-rounded smartphones on the market and aren’t tied to the Android platform.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
The OnePlus 9 Pro is pretty much what we have now come to expect from OnePlus, a likable, dependable smartphone with almost all the bells and whistles one could ask for but not one that’s particularly exciting or game changing. It’s as if the company is content with making smaller changes rather than doing something disruptive or potentially controversial.
You can see this in the year over year growth of the Pro line. Whether you look back one year to the OnePlus 8 Pro or even two years to the OnePlus 7 Pro, you aren’t going to be seeing a remarkable difference. And that’s the crux of the matter here as there is a palpable sense of staleness in the air surrounding the brand that we can’t quite shake off.
But this staleness, this sense of contentment with slow progress, is at odds with the steady increase in the price year over year. OnePlus fans and critics over the years have lamented the company’s slow but sure move upward on the pricing ladder, turning from the hero who rallied against the oligarchs to living long enough to becoming the villain.
But with a $969 starting price, the company is now truly into the upper echelon of the smartphone market. We are talking about a market of discerning buyers where there is no room for missteps, misgivings, and certainly no room for slacking or slowing down. Even brands like Samsung have to sweat it out every year to keep customer attention in check and companies like Google who couldn’t keep up with the pressure had to fall back and reevaluate.
Is the OnePlus 9 Pro good enough to compete in this segment? Not quite. Sometimes, it’s not enough to just dress for the job you want. You also have to be good at it.
- Great display performance
- Relatively clean software and great UI performance
- Powerful loudspeakers
- Good performance from the main wide and ultra-wide cameras
- Excellent 4K 120fps mode
- Fast charging
- Rear camera performance still behind the competition
- Outdated front camera
- No pro video features or true HDR recording
- Hasselblad partnership mostly a marketing gimmick
- Telephoto camera lacks Nightscape and 4K video support
- Worse battery life performance than previous models
- Most games still locked to 60fps