The OnePlus 9 is an excellent telephone that holds its personal in opposition to different (typically dearer) flagships. It has all of the issues that actually matter: an incredible display, wonderful performance, good battery life, and a succesful digicam. But for higher or worse, it nonetheless doesn’t really feel fairly like a tool that’s well-suited for the mainstream. It misses a few options current on the competitors like a stabilized principal digicam and broad 5G assist.

Instead, it presents some neat however arguably not as helpful extras, like actually quick charging and a very good ultrawide digicam. It leaves this machine in considerably uncommon territory: it’s good and well-priced, nevertheless it’s not the Android flagship I’d advocate to simply anybody.

What’s right here is nice; it’s what’s lacking that provides me pause. For instance, it’s a 5G telephone that, at launch, received’t work on two of the three main US carriers’ 5G networks: Verizon and AT&T. OnePlus says it’s working with Verizon on 5G certification however wasn’t in a position to share any particulars concerning the state of affairs with AT&T. (T-Mobile is promoting the OnePlus 9 straight, and consequently, it has no issues with the provider’s low and mid-band 5G service.)

Likewise with the primary digicam’s lack of optical picture stabilization, chances are you’ll find yourself with photographs that look a bit smooth as a result of digicam shake in average to dim gentle. Taking a couple of further pictures will normally make sure that there’s a tack-sharp one within the bunch, however that workaround doesn’t go well with all people or each state of affairs. OIS would even be a giant assist with preserving video regular; the 9 presents first rate digital stabilization for this, however outcomes aren’t as clean as when each applied sciences are used collectively. You would possibly know already in case you can stay with these quirks, however they’re too vital to make this a prime all-around choose for the common smartphone purchaser.

If you’re curious how the 9 stacks up in opposition to the upper specs of its 9 Pro sibling, I’ve higher information: in case you decide for this less costly mannequin, you surrender little or no. The 9 presents the identical Snapdragon 888 processor, prime 120Hz refresh fee, 50-megapixel ultrawide digicam, and Gorilla Glass again panel because the 9 Pro.

Here’s what you don’t get versus the dearer mannequin: a more recent 48-megapixel Sony IMX789 principal digicam sensor, a telephoto digicam, principal digicam stabilization, quick wi-fi charging, a higher-res display, millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G, and in some instances, an official IP water and mud resistance score. Sure, a few of these options could be good to have, however for a further $240? Personally, I’d save the additional money and go along with the 9.

Compared to final 12 months’s OnePlus 8, the 9 is a bit more costly but additionally a bit higher outfitted. While you do achieve some helpful options together with 15W Qi wi-fi charging, a refresh fee increase from 90Hz to 120Hz, Qualcomm’s newest processor, and a bit larger battery, these really feel like essential evolutions. It provides as much as a telephone that looks like a small step ahead, moderately than a assured stride into mainstream flagship territory. That’s a disgrace as a result of OnePlus had a chance to personal this premium midrange class that it helped create with a transparent standout.

The OnePlus 9 has a slightly smaller screen

The OnePlus 9 (proper) encompasses a barely smaller 6.55-inch display in comparison with the 6.7-inch 9 Pro.

OnePlus 9 display and construct high quality

OnePlus likes to make a giant telephone, and the 9 is not any exception. It has a 6.55-inch display with a 20.1:9 side ratio, giving it considerably tall proportions that make it a bit extra comfy to make use of one-handed. The 1080p OLED show is barely lower-res than the 1440 display on the 9 Pro, nevertheless it presents the identical wonderful 120Hz refresh fee. This makes animations and scrolling seem very clean. If you’re coming from a telephone with an ordinary 60Hz show, utilizing the OnePlus 9 will really feel a bit extra slick and polished. Fancy, even.

You’ll discover Gorilla Glass on the back and front panels of the telephone, that means there’s no step down in construct high quality from the Pro in that sense. The 9 does use a flat show moderately than the marginally curved display on the Pro, however that looks like a matter of aesthetics to me and I don’t discover it to be an incredible loss. The flat design can also be less liable to unintentional touches on the edges of the display like we noticed on the OnePlus 8 Pro. As on the 9 Pro, there’s an optical in-screen fingerprint reader that’s usually fast and dependable. I seen some failures however not at a excessive sufficient fee to trouble me.

Overall, it’s not a daring or groundbreaking design, nevertheless it’s a grownup-looking machine with match and end well-suited to its $730-plus value. Glass on each the back and front make it really feel suitably premium, and the branding on the black unit I examined is tasteful and understated.

The OnePlus 9 offered by T-Mobile — the one US provider that may provide it straight — will embody an IP68 score for mud and water resistance, which is the usual on this flagship class proper now. The unlocked model is not going to have that official score, however OnePlus tells us that the {hardware} is all the identical. I used the 9 in a few of Seattle’s ever-present drizzle and nothing unhealthy occurred. So relying on how you purchase it, the 9 might not have that stamp of approval, however you possibly can relaxation assured it’s simply as strong as its friends.

The OnePlus 9 is an excellent telephone that holds its personal in opposition to different (typically dearer) flagships. It has all of the issues that actually matter: an incredible display, wonderful performance, good battery life, and a succesful digicam. But for higher or worse, it nonetheless doesn’t really feel fairly like a tool that’s well-suited for the mainstream. It misses a few options current on the competitors like a stabilized principal digicam and broad 5G assist.

OnePlus 9 performance and UI

The OnePlus 9 makes use of a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 888 processor and both 8GB or 12GB of RAM. It’s pretty much as good as you’ll discover in an Android telephone at any value proper now, so its presence in a $730 telephone is a significant professional for the 9. I examined the model with 12GB RAM, which is $830, so bear that in thoughts. But let me inform you — this factor is slick as all heck. Apps load shortly, and leaping from app to residence display and again is seamless. I couldn’t actually throw something at it to sluggish it down. This is a spot the place the OnePlus 9 shines, and it’s an vital one.

The 9 turns in good battery performance, too. The 120Hz display attracts extra energy than final 12 months’s 90Hz show, however this 12 months’s battery is a tad larger, too: 4,500mAh in comparison with 4,300mAh. I don’t have any battery complaints, although my typical use is on the average aspect. It’ll get most customers by a day after which some, and for these whose use is heavier, OnePlus has one other function to assist out: quick wired charging. The included quick charger will take the battery from 1 to 100% in a scant 29 minutes. That’s quick sufficient for you to depart it unplugged in a single day and simply cost it up throughout a typical morning routine. Wireless charging is supported, too, which is a pleasant addition over final 12 months’s mannequin. The 9 is suitable with customary Qi chargers for as much as 15W speeds.

The OnePlus 9 is a 5G telephone, as all 2021 flagships should be, nevertheless it has an advanced relationship with the know-how. The telephone helps the extra broadly used Sub-6GHz frequencies and is licensed for C-band when it begins arriving in late 2021 however not ultra-fast, super-scarce mmWave.

Not having mmWave is not any nice loss, however there’s the aforementioned incompatibility with Verizon and AT&T’s 5G networks. If you purchase the telephone unlocked, it’ll be LTE solely on both of these networks, a minimum of for now. OnePlus says it’s actively working with Verizon on 5G certification, nevertheless it couldn’t say if AT&T 5G compatibility could be added with a future software program replace. Being confined to 4G on AT&T and Verizon proper now isn’t a giant deal — truthfully, it’s in all probability for the very best since their 5G networks aren’t excellent but — however it will be a major disadvantage when the carriers begin deploying their newly acquired C-band frequencies and 5G performance improves.

The OnePlus 9 ships with the corporate’s OxygenOS UI constructed on Android 11. It feels fashionable and clear, with a couple of pre-downloaded apps however in any other case not a lot bloatware. It’s a grownup UI that doesn’t make you take a look at an advert to test the climate.

OnePlus will provide the 9 and 9 Pro with two main Android upgrades and three years of safety patches — a wholesome life span, however not precisely greatest in school. Samsung’s flagships get a minimal of 4 years of safety updates, although they decelerate towards the top of the machine’s life span, whereas Google supplies three years of updates and safety patches for Pixel telephones.

The OnePlus 9 is an excellent telephone that holds its personal in opposition to different (typically dearer) flagships. It has all of the issues that actually matter: an incredible display, wonderful performance, good battery life, and a succesful digicam. But for higher or worse, it nonetheless doesn’t really feel fairly like a tool that’s well-suited for the mainstream. It misses a few options current on the competitors like a stabilized principal digicam and broad 5G assist.

The 9 options principal and ultrawide rear cameras, plus a monochrome sensor for further black-and-white info.

OnePlus 9 digicam

The OnePlus’ rear digicam array, relocated to the higher left of the again panel this 12 months, features a 48-megapixel principal digicam, 50-megapixel ultrawide, and 2-megapixel monochrome sensor. On the entrance is a 16-megapixel selfie digicam. It’s lots of cameras, however not outdoors the norm for telephones in 2021.

The principal digicam sensor is the Sony IMX689 utilized by the OnePlus 8 Pro. We favored its picture high quality in that machine, and that’s nonetheless usually the case right here. Combined with the brand new Hasselblad coloration tuning, the OnePlus 9 takes very good photos in good gentle, and I feel does a very good job with landscapes. This much-touted “natural” coloration is okay however didn’t blow me away; it appears liable to occasional oversaturation and white steadiness misses simply as a lot as every other smartphone’s picture processing. It’s actually not a purpose by itself to expire and purchase the 9 or 9 Pro, nevertheless it hasn’t damage the output both.

For those that need to get hands-on with picture processing moderately than leaving it as much as the digicam, RAW capturing is offered. The 9 and 9 Pro shoot 12-bit DNG information through the Pro mode within the digicam app. These information include extra coloration info than the standard 10-bit RAW file you’ll get from most different telephone cameras, which is useful for post-processing.

But not like with a conventional digicam, capturing RAW on a telephone misses out on the multi-frame picture processing that it applies in its customary JPEG mode, which is usually higher for the ultimate picture than enhancing a single RAW file — even a 12-bit one. It’s a function that sounds good on paper, and a few devoted cell photographers would possibly recognize it, however not one which I can get enthusiastic about.

The 50-megapixel ultrawide chip places out very good 12-megapixel photos. This digicam makes use of a brand new freeform lens that includes a nontraditional design to offer a large view with minimal distortion. It additionally makes use of a 1/1.56-inch sensor that’s considerably larger than what you’ll discover on the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21’s ultrawide cameras. Ultrawide cameras can form of really feel like an afterthought, and this one doesn’t, which I actually recognize.

Back to the primary digicam, although: it’s good in brilliant gentle, however darker situations like nightfall or dim interiors are a problem. These are the sorts of situations the place optical picture stabilization is usually a huge assist preserving issues sharp, however not like the 9 Pro and nearly all of its opponents, the 9 solely presents less strong digital picture stabilization. I noticed this crop up in a set of portrait mode pictures taken outdoors in dim gentle that got here out a bit smooth. I received one sharp photograph out of the bunch, however I think OIS would have helped enhance my hit fee.

On the video aspect, the 9 helps 8K recording at 30p for as much as 5 minutes per clip. Recording at 4K and 1080 can also be supplied at 60p or 30p. At 30p in both 4K or 1080 mode, you possibly can allow HDR, although I didn’t see a significant distinction in dynamic vary with it on or off. The OnePlus 9 Pro features a newer DOL-HDR mode that mixes frames of various exposures, which ought to give higher performance.

What’s lacking from that stack of cameras and sensors is a telephoto digicam, which places the OnePlus 9 on par with the iPhone 12, however behind what Samsung’s S21 and lots of different telephones provide now. There’s nonetheless a 2x digital zoom shortcut within the digicam app interface. Photos taken this manner work okay in a pinch, however there’s an apparent softness in case you look carefully at them — it actually isn’t an incredible substitute for an precise telephoto digicam.

Oh, and that 2-megapixel monochrome digicam isn’t one you possibly can shoot with straight. As in earlier OnePlus telephones, its job is to provide further info when utilizing the monochrome filter mode with the primary digicam. If it makes a distinction, we are able to’t inform and would a lot moderately simply have a telephoto digicam subsequent 12 months as an alternative, please.

The OnePlus 9 is an excellent telephone that holds its personal in opposition to different (typically dearer) flagships. It has all of the issues that actually matter: an incredible display, wonderful performance, good battery life, and a succesful digicam. But for higher or worse, it nonetheless doesn’t really feel fairly like a tool that’s well-suited for the mainstream. It misses a few options current on the competitors like a stabilized principal digicam and broad 5G assist.

The OnePlus 9’s included quick charger is one in every of its distinctive options.

The OnePlus 9 checks all of the bins required of a 2021 flagship telephone: Snapdragon 888 processor, nice high-refresh display, good battery performance, and cameras aplenty. You’ll get top-of-the-line performance for about $100 less than the opposite base mannequin flagships. That in itself is a superb purpose to think about the OnePlus 9.

But it’s not the telephone I’d advocate to completely everybody. Its distinctive propositions really feel a bit area of interest to me. Fast charging is neat, with plenty of attraction to heavy telephone customers and vacationers, however I feel lots of people are simply fantastic with their in a single day charging routine. I like that there’s an above-average ultrawide digicam, however I’m in all probability within the minority right here. And the Hasselblad coloration tuning is okay however nothing exceptional.

What must be simple to advocate — a well-priced telephone with nice performance — as an alternative carries some vital ifs. If extraordinarily quick charging or the larger display are particularly interesting, then the 9 is a superb possibility. But if you’re on AT&T and also you’d wish to preserve your telephone for a couple of years, proceed with warning. If you need top-notch digicam capabilities, or if quick charging feels extra like a nice-to-have than a should, you then would possibly need to look elsewhere.

I feel with a bit tuning, the OnePlus 9 might have been a completely killer premium midrange machine. And I nonetheless assume it’s an incredible machine for a subset of the smartphone-buying inhabitants. There are only one too many ifs for it to earn the title of class-leader. The OnePlus 9 is superb, nevertheless it isn’t a runaway winner.