The highly anticipated OnePlus’ flagship Android smartphone series has launched in the form of two handsets: the OnePlus 9 ($729+) and the OnePlus 9 Pro ($969+). Several high-quality cases are also available, along with a rapid wireless-charging accessory and… the first OnePlus watch!
In my view, the handsets are built around three primary strengths: Camera, Display, and Performance.
A new camera architecture and direction, with Hasselblad onboard
As you might know, OnePlus has partnered with Hasselblad for the design and tuning of their camera over the next three years. The OnePlus event has revealed a bit more about this, and I am very excited to see that natural colors are at the forefront of this effort.
OnePlus has also vastly upgraded the camera hardware, especially for the Ultrawide (UW) camera, which is a move that will have a significant positive impact on users. The Ultrawide camera’s 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor promises to take much better UW photos than many competitors, including the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera. We expect it to compete with the Huawei Mate 40 Pro’s Ultrawide camera.
Back when the industry was promoting telephoto as the secondary use-case for mobile photography, we made a case for Ultrawide instead. It was reflected in our Uber IQ (image quality) and Uber HW (hardware) camera scores. Since last year, most of the industry now considers Ultrawide to be the secondary use case, and telephoto as the tertiary one.
The OnePlus 9’s primary camera has a Sony IMX789 sensor with edgy autofocus, better color sensing, and higher dynamic range. On the OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus resurrects the concept of having a monochrome camera to supplement the primary sensor. This is a bit surprising because it was attempted, then abandoned, by everyone else.
The OnePlus 9 Pro also gets a 77mm telephoto lens, which should perform relatively well for some portrait photos. Some sensor fusion could be possible as well to add details on wide-angle images.
This handset might be the first mainstream camera to capture at 8K/30fps as well, or 4K/120fps if you prefer. There’s a super-stabilization feature for the Ultrawide camera, which is extremely useful, in my opinion.
Fluid Display 2.0
OnePlus was one of the first brands to introduce 90Hz displays, and it was only logical that they took it to the next level with a smart 120Hz screen. “smart” means that the refresh rate is variable and can dynamically go from 1Hz (static images) to 120Hz when scrolling. Such adaptiveness limits wasting battery life.
Many classic 3D games can now run well above 60FPS, so it’s really worth having a high-refresh display and a fast processor for gamers. During gaming, OnePlus’ software can optionally block notifications and other nuisances that could cost you your (virtual) life.
For gamers, OnePlus says that the touch screen’s responsiveness has much increased. It is hard to measure, but the screen and processor can communicate 6X faster than before.
Finally, the QHD+ display has an impressive peak brightness of 1300 NITs, is HDR10+ certified, and has a color temperature sensor to compensate colors from being influenced by ambient lighting. This sounds very impressive, and resolution aside, this display seems terrific.
As virtually all high-end Android phones, the OnePlus 9 series is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G with 8GB or 12GB of RAM. We’ve spoken at length about the Snapdragon 888 features and performance. The Qualcomm X60 5G modem and RF system connect is a global 5G wireless broadband system that should work worldwide.
But performance is nothing without a charged battery. OnePlus has always pushed for faster charging and has promised a (wired) charge time of only 29mn to go from 1% to 100%, which is pretty extraordinary. The default 45W charger is so powerful that it can charge 45W thin & light laptops.
The Wireless charging is fast, too: with the optional Warp Charge 50 dock, you could get from 1% to 100% in only 43 minutes.
We will get into more details with the upcoming camera hardware analysis and complete phone review, but today’s launch was grand, and these products are fascinating. OnePlus is genuinely competing at the highest levels.
The waterproof (IP68) design is elegant, and I like the matte finish, which is classy and less prone to fingerprints at the same time.
There is no 512GB storage or microSD support, which is surprising, but perhaps market studies have shown that OnePlus could do without? Let us know what you think. Pre-orders start on March 26 and sales begin on April 2 on OnePlus.com. T-Mobile is OnePlus’s carrier partner in the USA and has deals already.
|OnePlus 9 Pro||Morning Mist
|12+256 GB||USD: $1,069
|OnePlus 9 Pro||Morning Mist||8+128 GB||USD: $969
|OnePlus 9||Astral Black||12+256 GB||USD: $829
|OnePlus 9||Astral Black
|8+128 GB||USD: $729
|Warp Charge 50
|OnePlus Watch||Midnight Black||1GB + 4GB||USD: $159