The days of OnePlus being the ‘flagship killer’ are a thing of the past. OnePlus is now a legitimate flagship premium brand that wants buyers to look at it in that manner. In the last two years, ever since OnePlus went the ‘Pro’ way, things have been different. The
It’s no surprise to see OnePlus upping the ante in camera. OnePlus has partnered with Sweden-based Hasselblad to offer better photography on OnePlus 9 as well as the OnePlus 9 Pro.
OnePlus 9 Pro is the company’s most expensive phone yet. It comes with a starting price of Rs 64,999 for the base 8GB RAM model. The price goes up to Rs 69,999 for the 12GB RAM model. We have been using the smartphone for some time and here’s our review
OnePlus 9 Pro: Design
In terms of camera placement and body build, OnePlus 9 Pro inherits much from the previous OnePlus phones. But there are plenty of other improvements that make it a premium phone with classy and elegant looks.
Beginning with the front, the smartphone has a curved display with a punch-hole camera placed at the top-left. Compared to the OnePlus 8 Pro, the OnePlus 9 Pro has more refined curves that do not extend towards the sides. This makes it look less bulky and thinner. Also, it offers a slightly tighter grip even when held with one hand.
Then, at the right edge of the smartphone is the power button and above it is the alert slider. At the bottom edge are the USB Type-C charging port, SIM card tray and two-spot speaker grilles. On the left side of the OnePlus 9 Pro is the volume control button. The placements of the button are both aesthetic and ergonomic. They are accessible even for single-hand usage.
What makes OnePlus 9 Pro a true star of the show is its rear design. We reviewed the Morning Mist variant of the device. It has a glossy silver design which gradually shimmers to a mirror-like but black surface towards the bottom.
The camera module is rectangular shaped and is placed at the top-left corner on the rear side. The module is edged by a metal lining on all sides which helps it blend with the overall design on the phone. The camera module protrudes out from the rear body and it does make the device wobble when kept on a flat surface like a table.
OnePlus logo is placed at the centre. The overall design looks neat and classy. Having said that we would like to add here that this metal surface is a magnet to fingerprint marks. Those who are obsessive about keeping their phones clean may find themselves cleaning the phone after every use. Or a simple solution is to use a back cover. It may hide the phone’s premium looks, but will at least help keep the device neat.
Build quality of the phone is great. It is made up of glass but comes with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and rear side. Also, OnePlus 9 Pro is IP68 rated. So you need not worry about those accidental drink spills or the dust either.
OnePlus 9 Pro measures 73.6×163.2×8.7mm and weighs 197 grams. It is definitely a tall phone, but shorter when compared to OnePlus 8 Pro. Also, it is 2 grams lighter than OnePlus 8 Pro which weighed 199 grams.
OnePlus 9 Pro: Display
The smartphone comes with a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen with an HDR resolution of 3216×1440 pixels. The phone’s screen has a variable refresh rate which can go as high as 120Hz and as low as 1Hz. OnePlus 9 Pro is capable of automatically adjusting the screen’s refresh rate depending on the use cases.
While this helps in providing the best viewing experience, variable refresh rates are known for draining out the phone’s battery. To counter this problem, OnePlus has introduced LPTO technology that can reduce power consumption.
OnePlus also gives the Standard 60Hz refresh rate for those who do not bother much about refresh rates and are more concerned about battery life. The display offered in this mode will be reduced to standard smooth from the Ultra smooth.
The phone’s display has a pixel density of 525 ppi which renders sharp images on the screen. It offers a peak brightness of up to 1,300 nits. So there is nothing to complain about using the phone outdoors. Thanks to the adaptive brightness feature, the phone automatically optimises brightness levels as per light available in the surrounding.
Another screen feature on the phone is the Screen Calibration that helps you choose from vivid, natural and advanced screen colours.
OnePlus 9 Pro: Camera
The camera is one feature that OnePlus has bet big on this time. The company has partnered with the professional camera manufacturer Hasselblad to enhance the camera performance of OnePlus 9 Pro. OnePlus seeks to draw upon Hasselblad’s expertise in colour science with the Natural Color Calibration feature on the device. It aims to offer more accurate and natural colours than before.
Let’s get the facts straight first. OnePlus 9 Pro ships with a quad-camera lens at the back. The camera system comprises of a 48MP Sony IMX789 sensor (aperture f/1.8), a 50MP ultra-wide Sony IMX766 sensor (aperture f/2.2), an 8MP telephoto lens and a 2MP macro lens. For selfies, the handset is equipped with a 16MP Sony IMX471 sensor with an aperture of f/2.4.
Now, a partnership with a camera company would make one assume hardware integration of something on those lines. But remember, Hasselblad only fine-tunes the colours to render colour accuracy in the photos.
Daylight photography on OnePlus 9 Pro is good. In the standard mode, the phone manages to click some reasonable shots while balancing the exposure and retaining the natural colours of the subject, thanks to the Natural Colour Calibration. Despite having a larger sensor than its competitors — Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max — the main camera fails to block out grains from the images. This is especially true for the default 12MP images. Photos tend to improve in the Pro mode and ultra-wide.
The 50MP ultra-wide lens comes with a freeform lens to correct the incoming light to reduce the fish-eye effect in the images. OnePlus says that the lens helps reduce the distortion in images to around 1% in ultra-wide shots. The camera captures ample details and true to what the company says, reduces distortion in the images to a great extent. This is true even for the subjects at the edge of an image.Ultra-wide mode
The 8MP telephoto lens on OnePlus 9 Pro offers up to 3.3x magnification. The sensor captures good photos and you may not need to zoom up to 3.3x as the default magnification is good enough to click good photos that are rich in detail. The sensor works well in good lighting condition and may not be ideal for night time.
Then there is a 2MP macro lens for shooting the objects in proximity of 4cm or less. The Pro mode on the phone allows one to click photos in 12-bit raw mode. This helps in capturing more information in the photos and gives a more dynamic range.
Macro shotPortrait shotB&W lens shot
Talking about the low-light photography on OnePlus 9 Pro, it is one of the best. Be it detailed and more cleaner images with less noise or colour in the images to brighten them up, the smartphone’s night camera performs really good. It may take a little longer to focus on the subjects that are distant away.
Selfies are good too with decent levels of details, close to real skin colours and depth effect for portrait shots. What is missing is the autofocus. Also, the field-of-view feels restricted for group selfies.
OnePlus 9 Pro: Performance
This most expensive OnePlus smartphone to date comes powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 octa-core chipset which is built on the 5nm processor. It is equipped with one Cortex-X1 core clocked at 2.84 GHz, three Cortex-A78 CPU cores at 2.42 GHz, and four energy-efficient Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz.
This flagship processor offers a smooth and really fast performance. We tried editing some photos and videos on OnePlus 9 Pro and couldn’t find any problem like excess heating, lag or the device’s slow-down. Desired effects were rendered pretty quick.
The phone packs up to 12GB LPDDR5 RAM which the company says is 1.5 times faster than the LPDDR4X RAM. OnePlus 9 Pro has an internal storage of up to 256GB UFS 3.1 to offer a smooth, lag-free experience.
For day-to-day usage, this flagship OnePlus phone turns out to be one of the best performers in the market out there. We used the device for streaming online videos, browsing online, listening to music and scrolling social media. OnePlus 9 Pro simply makes the whole experience buttery-smooth. Colour reproduction on the screen is accurate. Viewing angles are good too without any glare. It may be safe to say here that the handset packs more power than one may need.
The handset runs on Oxygen OS 11 based on the Android 11 operating system out-of-the-box. The OS brings several new features to the device. For example, it brings Turbo Boost 3.0 memory optimization which can manage 25% more apps in the background. The UI is neat and clean with a near-stock Android experience. Oxygen OS allows one to make changes like customising app icons from the default circular ones to square ones.
One can also change the launcher layout. He/She can choose from Home Screen only to Home screen + Drawer settings. Then there is Always-on ambient display mode which shows you time, date and notifications on the phone’s locked screen. You have three options to choose — use it for all-day or schedule it for a particulate period or turn off the feature altogether.
During our review period, the phone received a software update that upgraded the software version to Oxygen OS 11.2.2. OnePlus 9 Pro is 5G ready. It comes integrated with X60 5G Modem-RF system. OnePlus claims that X60 is the world’s first 5nm baseband that is designed to deliver fast, low-latency 5G mobile speeds using 5G carrier aggregation across FDD and TDD.
As far as the gaming performance of OnePlus 9 Pro is concerned, the handset refuses to slow down even during heavy gaming. Though there was noticeable heating of the device after use of half an hour or so. This despite the CoolPlay feature that the handset comes with. But, there was no significant fall in the phone’s performance.
OnePlus 9 Pro comes with a Hyper Touch feature which basically increases the syncing speed while gaming to 360 Hz. OnePlus says that the feature also improves the responsiveness of the screen during games, thus giving better response time.
OnePlus 9 Pro: Battery
OnePlus 9 Pro is backed by a 4,500mAh battery. It is roughly the same as its predecessor OnePlus 8 Pro which has a 4,510mAh battery. What is a major upgrade in terms of specs is that OnePlus 9 Pro comes with WarpCharge 65watt. Its predecessor came with the WarpCharge 30T.
OnePlus claims that the phone can juice up from 0% to 100% battery capacity in less than 30 minutes. Our test results find that it takes one or two minutes extra than the claimed minutes.
Having said that it is still one of the fastest charging speeds available these days. It’s like you plug your device, go out for a small stroll and bang. The phone is ready to use for another day.
Talking about the battery performance, we feel that it could have been better. It can be stretched to last a day with various customisations. But by the end of day, you are left with no power and have to plug in the phone before it drains out completely.
Along with the wired charging, OnePlus 9 Pro also offers 50watt wireless charging. The handset also supports reverse wireless charging which means it can be used to charge other Qi-compatible devices.
So, should you buy the OnePlus 9 Pro? If you are looking for a flagship Android phone with a fast and lag-free experience, and willing to spend over Rs 60,000, then nothing should stop you from buying the OnePlus 9 Pro. The handset comes with some of the latest and flagship features. Be it the latest Snapdragon 888 processor, the near-stock Android experience with Oxygen OS, the 6.7-inch QHD display or the natural colour reproduction on the Hasselblad camera, OnePlus 9 Pro checks all the boxes. The camera performance is good but it faces strong challenges from the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. It’s a tough ask for any brand — even Apple and Samsung — to convince people to shell out close to Rs 70,000. OnePlus 9 Pro makes a convincing case but how compelling remains to be seen.