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Should I Buy The OnePlus 9 Pro?
- Strong specs
- Great display
- Fast charging
- Disappointing camera
- Clunky design
- Out-priced by rivals
- The OnePlus 9 Pro is a good phone, but it’s certainly not a great one, with a compromised camera and clunky design. Strong specs and fast charging help make the case for the 9 Pro, but for the first time rival flagships deliver consistently better value.
Price When Reviewed
Until now, none of this had affected the company’s core portfolio. That’s changed with the 9 series. For the first time OnePlus feels like it’s missed the mark on hardware design, while the much-touted camera partnership with Hasselblad doesn’t deliver the goods – crippling noise issues and inconsistent colours mean that in many respects this camera is actually a step back from last year’s 8 Pro.
Design And Build
I’ve been testing the phone in the reflective Morning Mist finish, which offers a gradient from a mirrored bottom edge to a misted top. The initial impression is closer to a budget phone, and it only gets worse once fingerprints start to turn the whole phone into one big smudge.
Don’t get too excited though. The Hasselblad logo may be emblazoned on the camera module (and even the phone’s packaging) but its contributions are, for now, limited: a free-form lens for the ultrawide camera to reduce edge distortion; colour-calibration support; and branding touches like an orange shutter button in the app, a painstakingly recreated Hasselblad leaf shutter sound, and a re-designed Pro mode.
The ultrawide – 50Mp, using an IMX700 sensor – fares better for the most part. Colours are less vivid and saturated than in the main camera, though some tones still pop unnecessarily. Hasselblad’s sole hardware contribution – the freeform lens – helps reduce edge distortion on this camera, so you won’t see unexpected curvature on your wide shots. Most phones solve this problem with software, but this hardware fix does seem slightly more reliable.
Setting aside colour calibration, there are wider problems with the 9 Pro camera that seem to afflict every lens equally.
|Even when the 9 Pro (left) beats the 8 Pro on colour from the telephoto, it loses on grain & noise|
Portrait mode works across the main, telephoto, and selfie lenses, and this does work well. There’s also a macro mode that uses the ultrawide camera to unexpectedly decent results – though you’ll want to turn off the aggressive auto macro mode, which kicks in any time you try to photograph something within a metre, let alone the 3-4cm recommended for macro photography.
As for video, you can now record 4K footage at up to 120fps, or 8K at 30fps, but there’s likely little reason for you to do either. Video portrait and night modes are more useful, though both cap at 1080@30fps.
Specs And Performance
OnePlus 9 Pro benchmarks
Once again, you’re getting a 6.7in, 120Hz, QHD AMOLED with 10-bit colour support – essentially a top spec across the board.
There’s one other small tweak, though it’s less welcome. OnePlus has kept the screen curved, but reduced how much of the actual screen goes into the curve, supposedly to reduce mistouches. This really just means the side bezel is thicker than before, while reducing usable screen real estate.
Battery And Charging
If battery life is solid, battery charging is exceptional. Wired charging uses the second-gen of the company’s 65W tech, dubbed Warp Charge 65T. OnePlus claims it offers a full charge in 28 minutes, though it wasn’t quite that fast for me: 15 minutes got me to 56%, while by the 30-minute mark the phone was sitting pretty at 96%. And yes, the charger is included in the box, and will also double as a USB-PD charger for laptops, a Switch, or similar.
OnePlus is continuing to move the aesthetic of its OS away from stock Android, but from a usability perspective, it’s still comfortingly clean and straightforward.
Price And Availability
The additional challenge for OnePlus this year is that while it’s brought prices up, rival brands have generally nudged them down a touch. The iPhone 12 (£799/€719/$799), Samsung Galaxy S21 (£769/€849/$749) and Xiaomi Mi 11 (£749/€749) all undercut the 9 Pro’s starting price while matching many of its specs – and all three trounce the 9 Pro on camera.
- Android 11 with Oxygen OS 11
- 6.7in QHD (1440×3216) LTPO AMOLED, 20:9, 120Hz, HDR10
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 octa-core processor
- 8/12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
- 128/256GB internal storage (UFS 3.1)
- 48Mp main, f/1.8, OIS
- 50Mp ultrawide, f/2.2
- 8Mp 3.3x telephoto, f/2.4
- 2Mp monochrome
- Video up to 8K at 30fps
- 16Mp selfie camera, f/2.4
- Fingerprint scanner (in-screen)
- 11ax dual-band Wi-Fi 6
- Bluetooth 5.2
- Gorilla Glass 5
- Dual-nano SIM
- Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos
- 4500mAh non-removable battery
- Warp Charge 65T wired charging (included)
- Warp Charge 50 wireless charging
- 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm