The OnePlus 9 Pro arrives with a significant give attention to digital camera efficiency, an improved show, and the latest Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 888. Over the years, OnePlus has been aiming on the flagship finish of the market, hoping to realize a foothold in that unique smartphone tier. But do these newest enhancements—significantly within the digital camera—put OnePlus able to problem Samsung’s Galaxy S21 or Apple’s iPhone 12? Let’s dive in.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

OnePlus 9 Pro review unit in Morning Mist coloration choice.

Pre-orders for the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro open March twenty sixth, whereas the discharge date is slated for April 2nd. For this launch, there are 4 completely different telephone configurations, every with its personal coloration and spec mixture. The lowest-end OnePlus 9 mannequin comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and prices $729. The top-end configuration (which I review right here) prices $1,069, and options 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. As such, the 9 Pro hits principally the identical value because the Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G, and prices a bit greater than final 12 months’s OnePlus 8 Pro.

Here are the OnePlus 9 Pro’s key specs:

  • Dimensions: 163.2mm x 73.6mm x 8.7mm
  • OS: OxygenOS 11
  • Display: 6.7-inch AMOLED, 1440×3216 decision, 1-120Hz refresh fee
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 12GB LPDDR5
  • Storage: 256GB UFS3.1
  • Battery: 4500 mAh, Warp Charge 65T (10V/6.5A)
  • Cameras:
    • Main: 48MP, f/1.8 aperture, Sony IMX789 sensor, OIS/EIS
    • Ultra-wide: 50MP, f/2.2, Sony IMX766
    • Telephoto: 8MP, f/2.4
    • Monochrome: 2MP
    • Front: 16MP, f/2.4, Sony IMX471, EIS

OnePlus 9 Pro digital camera: Minor enhancements

In early March, OnePlus introduced a partnership with Hasselblad, the boutique skilled digital camera producer that’s been working for greater than 80 years. The aim: to enhance the digital camera methods in its telephones dramatically over the course of three years. The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro are the primary telephones to emerge from this partnership, and obtain distinguished Hasselblad branding contained in the digital camera module. But does having Hasselblad concerned really enhance the digital camera expertise? Let’s first contact on how the businesses work collectively.

OnePlus 9 Pro Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Hasselblad has a protracted historical past of creating high-end digital camera gear, together with world-famous lenses. The lens methods in at present’s smartphones are very sophisticated, and if there’s any firm that might assist out on this division, I’m absolutely assured it’s Hasselblad, particularly given its observe file in refining glass. OnePlus claims solely one-percent edge distortion on its ultra-wide digital camera, whereas most smartphone lenses fee at 10 to twenty p.c. In sensible phrases, this implies images taken with OnePlus’ ultra-wide digital camera will probably be sharper across the edges and endure much less excessive warping.

OnePlus 9 Pro ultrawide Adam Patrick Murray

OnePlus 9 Pro ultrawide check.

This holds true in my testing, and, in truth, edge distortion is the largest enchancment within the OnePlus digital camera system. In side-by-side comparisons, the 8 Pro’s pictures appears smeared across the edges in comparison with the 9 Pro’s, exhibiting loads of what’s referred to as chromatic aberration. This exhibits up within the 8 Pro’s pictures as purple outlines round darkish edges, and is a surefire marker of poorer lens high quality. There’s at all times some bending and wrapping of the sunshine in such small lenses, however Hasselblad was undoubtedly in a position to refine the system within the 9 Pro.

oneplus9pro vs 8pro street Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Ultra-wide edge correction check. Top: 9 Pro, backside: 8 Pro.

The subsequent space of focus for the Hasselblad/OnePlus partnership was within the digital camera’s coloration science. Color science, in easy phrases, is a digital camera’s distinctive strategy for capturing correct and pleasing colours. Every digital camera—together with each smartphone digital camera—boasts its personal coloration science that blends the hunt for coloration accuracy with the producer’s personal subjective preferences. 

(*9*) Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Color science check. Left: 9 Pro, proper: 8 Pro.

This is simpler stated than performed. The digital camera should steadiness coloration coming from completely different gentle sources, decide how that coloration impacts objects in body, after which make selections on how all this data will have an effect on colours within the last picture. Improving coloration science isn’t as simple as “being more accurate.” Rather, it entails a number of software program tuning, an space the place Google has excelled in its Pixel telephones, however the place OnePlus has historically fallen quick.

oneplus9pro docks Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

OnePlus 9 Pro three digital camera system coloration science check. From left to proper: ultra-wide, most important, telephoto.

In my testing, this isn’t a cut-and-dry win for the 9 Pro over the 8 Pro. With smartphone cameras that includes multi-sensor arrays, it’s at all times troublesome to keep up the identical coloration high quality throughout every digital camera—and the 9 Pro incorporates a three-camera array on the again. This means you’ll see barely completely different colours as you go from the ultrawide to most important to telephoto sensors. This was an issue with the OnePlus 8 Pro, and it continues to be an issue on the 9 Pro.

oneplus9pro vs 8pro monstera Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Color science check. Left: 9 Pro, proper: 8 Pro.

When instantly evaluating equal lenses between the 2 OnePlus generations, I don’t see any drastic enhancements when it comes to coloration copy. In reality, there are many scenes the place I want the colours of the 8 Pro, particularly when taking pictures in mixed-lighting eventualities. The 9 Pro holds an edge in brightly lit out of doors scenes, however the 8 Pro does a bit higher in low-light, indoor scenes. Once once more, coloration preferences will be very subjective, however for all of the hoopla OnePlus is touting with its Hasselblad partnership, I anticipated a extra constant expertise.

oneplus9pro vs 8pro restaurant Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Indoor coloration check. Left: 9 Pro, proper: 8 Pro.

The last piece of the Hasselblad/OnePlus partnership falls within the software program/picture processing division. In this space I’m a bit extra skeptical as a result of skilled digital camera wants are fairly completely different from smartphone digital camera wants. Hasselblad cameras are made for skilled use, and their picture processing may be very a lot tailor-made round that use case. Mobile images is extra targeted on ease of use and excessive JPEG processing—two issues I might by no means name a energy for Hasselblad.

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Sharpness check. Left: 9 Pro, proper, 8 Pro.

So did Hasselblad add picture processing worth to the OnePlus 9 Pro? In my testing, the largest variations I’m seeing between the processing within the 8 Pro and the 9 Pro are in sharpness and HDR. The 9 Pro options sharper images when seen below scrutiny—a few of which is the results of lens enhancements, but in addition extra aggressive post-processing sharpening. This is apparent within the extra “contrast-y” edges round small particulars like rocks and wooden grains.

In pictures that don’t function individuals, it is a nice. But it will possibly backfire when taking images of faces, because it tends to intensify imperfections. The 8 Pro’s pictures really feel pure and have been a lot sharp to start with, so relying with regards to any photograph, I wouldn’t name this a win for the 9 Pro.

oneplus9pro vs 8pro sign Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

HDR check. Top: 9 Pro, backside: 8 Pro.

OnePlus has already acknowledged that its partnership with Hasselblad goes to be a multi-year journey, and that’s backed up by comparatively incremental enhancements within the 9 Pro. While there are already some indicators of constructive change, it’s not a drastic leap over the 8 Pro, so don’t get your hopes up. But I do consider it is a step in the appropriate route, and I stay up for the day when a OnePlus telephone stands toe-to-toe with the very best smartphone cameras available on the market.

OnePlus 9 Pro OS expertise

The OnePlus formulation has at all times been marrying high-end specs to a easy telephone expertise, after which providing that package deal at an inexpensive value. While this strategy has modified over the previous few years as OnePlus regularly elevated costs, the OnePlus 9 Pro nonetheless packs the high-end specs you’d count on of a flagship.

OnePlus 9 Pro Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

We first skilled the Snapdragon 888 processor within the Samsung Galaxy S21, however it continues to impress in day-to-day snappiness and stable battery life. For on a regular basis use, the telephone’s 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage have been greater than able to maintaining with my workload. The new Turbo Boost 3.0, in the meantime, makes use of a few applied sciences to permit extra apps to remain open within the background. I can’t actively bear in mind a time that I noticed considered one of my most important apps needing to reload as a result of it fell out of reminiscence. Everything, together with video games, masses shortly and seamlessly with no hangs. 

The 9 Pro’s 4,500 mAh battery simply lasted me by way of some days of heavy use, whereas different days it hit 20 p.c by 8:00 pm. This actually appeared to depend upon the issues I used to be utilizing my telephone for, and possibly varies as a result of new show know-how (extra on that later). Luckily the telephone’s fast-charging capabilities—over wired and wi-fi connections—proceed to impress. A mere quarter-hour on the Warp 50 Wireless Charger (bought individually for $69) charged the 9 Pro from about 20 p.c to 50 p.c—greater than sufficient to get me by way of the remainder of the day.

OnePlus 9 Pro & Warp 50 Wireless Charger Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

While it’s not the very best wanting wi-fi charger, the Warp 50 is loopy quick and definitely worth the cash.

The 9 Pro’s quick efficiency is complemented by a easy and exquisite show. On prime of the excessive refresh fee of 120Hz, OnePlus has applied a LTPO OLED show that options a number of advantages. For starters, the brand new show tech makes use of much less energy—OnePlus claims 50 p.c much less—due to its Smart 120Hz function.

In a gaming telephone that’s tuned for pure velocity, the show’s refresh fee will probably be locked to 120Hz, and the show will drain extra energy to keep up that velocity. But in case you’re doing a combination of duties in regular utilization, you need the show to adapt to what you’re viewing. Scrolling Twitter or Instagram? You need easy movement. Pausing to learn a PCWorld article? Then you don’t want the display to refresh as quick, which ought to in the end protect battery. Thanks to its Smart 120Hz function, the show within the OnePlus 9 Pro may even go right down to a refresh fee of 1Hz—that’s a primary for a smartphone. The display was a lot shiny to see exterior in daylight, and wasn’t blinding in a totally darkish room.

OnePlus 9 Pro Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The QHD+ (3216×1440) show can also be nice at coloration copy. The lengthy record of calibration options are attention-grabbing to knowledgeable like myself, however in plain phrases the colours simply pop. Colors look daring and vibrant even in shiny gentle, and I by no means needed to fear about odd coloring when enhancing images for Instagram. This is definitely among the best and most comfy shows I’ve used thus far, an actual deal with.

When it involves the Android-based working system, Oxygen OS 11, I’m nonetheless not an enormous fan. I a lot want the extra stock-like Android strategy of previous OnePlus telephones. Still, it’s bought a pleasant, clear design that organizes every thing in a easy and easy-to-use manner. The newest Oxygen presents a quick expertise that rivals what’s discovered on Samsung Galaxy telephones.

OnePlus 9 Pro Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The notification shade and settings menu take up an excessive amount of house with design UI.

That stated, I want numerous design parts didn’t take up a lot house. Each “bubble” within the notification shade takes up extra space than I would really like, and the menu format within the Settings app takes extra scrolling than I consider it wants. These are all private preferences, after all, and also you may love the appear and feel. But like I discussed, I are inclined to lean towards inventory Android—in all probability greater than most telephone reviewers.

OnePlus 9 Pro: Who can purchase it?

Other than its marvelous show, the OnePlus 9 Pro isn’t a large leap over the corporate’s Pro units of the previous few years. I’m completely loving the brand new show, and even in case you’ve bought a OnePlus machine previously 12 months, this could be price a search for the display alone. If you’re coming from a good older machine, this one will blow your socks off—and you’ll, after all get the generational upgrades when it comes to digital camera and processor speeds.

OnePlus 9 Pro Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

I’ve at all times believed {that a} OnePlus telephone is the following logical step for Google Pixel customers, because it improves upon inventory Android in good methods with out bogging down the expertise. While the digital camera system isn’t as constant and dependable as a Pixel telephone’s, the remainder of the {hardware} is a significant improve in each appears and efficiency. OnePlus does sometimes supply fast Android model updates (although after all they may by no means be as fast as on a Pixel).

If you have been burned by different Android units with extra bloated OS experiences, then Oxygen OS will probably be a breath of contemporary air. While the {hardware} doesn’t function any whiz-bang loopy new gimmicks, OnePlus units have at all times favored dependability greater than flashy methods and a bunch of options that most individuals don’t use.

OnePlus 9 Pro: Bottom line

Ever because the 5T got here out, OnePlus turned my de facto selection for “best bang for the buck” in an Android telephone. The OS improved on the inventory Android expertise in good methods, the bodily {hardware} was sometimes clear and good wanting, and OnePlus packed high-end options whereas undercutting the costs of rivals. 

OnePlus 9 Pro Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The OnePlus 9 Pro is a rock-solid telephone in each facet, and continues to construct on that nice legacy established with the 5T. The display is gorgeous, the OS is snappy and clear, and the digital camera system, whereas a piece in progress, is off to a promising begin. Overall, it will get my suggestion, if just for the superior show.

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