OnePlus 9 review: semi Pro

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 really matter: an important display, glorious efficiency, good battery life, and a succesful digicam. However 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 fundamental digicam and broad 5G help.

As an alternative, it presents some neat however arguably not as helpful extras, like actually quick charging and a very good ultrawide digicam. It leaves this system in considerably uncommon territory: it’s good and well-priced, but it surely’s not the Android flagship I’d advocate to only anybody.


Good Stuff

  • Snapdragon 888 chipset supplies glorious efficiency
  • Massive, 120Hz display
  • Excessive-quality ultrawide digicam

Dangerous Stuff

  • No fundamental digicam stabilization
  • Lack of telephoto digicam
  • 5G help throughout US carriers is a blended bag

What’s right here is nice; it’s what’s lacking that offers 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 capable of share any particulars concerning the scenario with AT&T. (T-Cell is promoting the OnePlus 9 immediately, and because of this, it has no issues with the provider’s low and mid-band 5G service.)

Likewise with the principle digicam’s lack of optical picture stabilization, you could find yourself with photographs that look a bit delicate attributable to digicam shake in reasonable to dim mild. Taking a number of further pictures will normally be sure that there’s a tack-sharp one within the bunch, however that workaround doesn’t go well with everyone or each scenario. OIS would even be a giant assist with protecting video regular; the 9 presents first rate digital stabilization for this, however outcomes aren’t as easy as when each applied sciences are used collectively. You may know already for those who can reside with these quirks, however they’re too vital to make this a high all-around choose for the typical smartphone purchaser.

Should you’re curious how the 9 stacks up in opposition to the upper specs of its 9 Pro sibling, I’ve higher information: for those who go for this inexpensive mannequin, you quit little or no. The 9 presents the identical Snapdragon 888 processor, high 120Hz refresh charge, 50-megapixel ultrawide digicam, and Gorilla Glass again panel because the 9 Pro.

It provides as much as a telephone that seems like a small step ahead, reasonably than a assured stride into mainstream flagship territory

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

In comparison with final 12 months’s OnePlus 8, the 9 is a bit more costly but additionally somewhat higher outfitted. Whilst you do achieve some helpful options together with 15W Qi wi-fi charging, a refresh charge enhance from 90Hz to 120Hz, Qualcomm’s newest processor, and a bit greater battery, these really feel like needed evolutions. It provides as much as a telephone that seems like a small step ahead, reasonably 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) incorporates a barely smaller 6.55-inch display in comparison with the 6.7-inch 9 Pro.

OnePlus 9 display and construct high quality

(*9*)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 facet ratio, giving it considerably tall proportions that make it somewhat extra comfy to make use of one-handed. The 1080p OLED show is barely lower-res than the 1440 display on the 9 Pro, but it surely presents the identical glorious 120Hz refresh charge. This makes animations and scrolling seem very easy. Should you’re coming from a telephone with a regular 60Hz show, utilizing the OnePlus 9 will really feel somewhat extra slick and polished. Fancy, even.

It’s a grownup-looking system with match and end well-suited to its $730-plus value

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 reasonably than the marginally curved display on the Pro, however that seems like a matter of aesthetics to me and I don’t discover it to be an important loss. The flat design can also be much less vulnerable 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 charge to hassle me.

Total, it’s not a daring or groundbreaking design, but it surely’s a grownup-looking system 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 way of T-Cell — the one US provider that may supply it immediately — will embrace 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 dangerous occurred. So relying on how you purchase it, the 9 might not have that stamp of approval, however you may relaxation assured it’s simply as sturdy as its friends.

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OnePlus 9 efficiency 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 nearly as good as you’ll discover in an Android telephone at any value proper now, so its presence in a $730 telephone is a serious professional for the 9. I examined the model with 12GB RAM, which is $830, so bear that in thoughts. However let me let you know — this factor is slick as all heck. Apps load shortly, and leaping from app to house display and again is seamless. I couldn’t actually throw something at it to sluggish it down. This can be a spot the place the OnePlus 9 shines, and it’s an vital one.

The 9 turns in good battery efficiency, too. The 120Hz display attracts extra energy than final 12 months’s 90Hz show, however this 12 months’s battery is a tad greater, too: 4,500mAh in comparison with 4,300mAh. I don’t have any battery complaints, although my typical use is on the reasonable aspect. It’ll get most customers by way of 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 so that you can depart it unplugged in a single day and simply cost it up throughout a typical morning routine. Wi-fi charging is supported, too, which is a pleasant addition over final 12 months’s mannequin. The 9 is suitable with commonplace Qi chargers for as much as 15W speeds.

Being confined to 4G on AT&T and Verizon proper now isn’t a giant deal, however it will be a big downside when the carriers begin deploying their C-band frequencies

The OnePlus 9 is a 5G telephone, as all 2021 flagships have to be, but it surely has an advanced relationship with the expertise. The telephone helps the extra extensively 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. Should you purchase the telephone unlocked, it’ll be LTE solely on both of these networks, at the least for now. OnePlus says it’s actively working with Verizon on 5G certification, but it surely couldn’t say if AT&T 5G compatibility can 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 most likely for the very best since their 5G networks aren’t superb but — however it will be a big downside when the carriers begin deploying their newly acquired C-band frequencies and 5G efficiency improves.

The OnePlus 9 ships with the corporate’s OxygenOS UI constructed on Android 11. It feels fashionable and clear, with a number of pre-downloaded apps however in any other case not a lot bloatware. It’s a grownup UI that doesn’t make you have a look at an advert to verify 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 finest at school. Samsung’s flagships get a minimal of 4 years of safety updates, although they decelerate towards the tip of the system’s life span, whereas Google supplies three years of updates and safety patches for Pixel telephones.

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The 9 options fundamental and ultrawide rear cameras, plus a monochrome sensor for added black-and-white data.

OnePlus 9 digicam

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

The primary digicam sensor is the Sony IMX689 utilized by the OnePlus 8 Pro. We favored its picture high quality in that system, and that’s nonetheless usually the case right here. Mixed with the brand new Hasselblad shade tuning, the OnePlus 9 takes very good pictures in good mild, and I feel does a very good job with landscapes. This much-touted “pure” shade is ok however didn’t blow me away; it appears vulnerable to occasional oversaturation and white stability misses simply as a lot as some other smartphone’s picture processing. It’s actually not a cause by itself to expire and purchase the 9 or 9 Pro, but it surely hasn’t damage the output both.

It’s not a cause by itself to purchase the 9 or 9 Pro, but it surely hasn’t damage the output both

For individuals who wish to get hands-on with picture processing reasonably than leaving it as much as the digicam, RAW capturing is on the market. The 9 and 9 Pro shoot 12-bit DNG information through the Pro mode within the digicam app. These information comprise extra shade data than the everyday 10-bit RAW file you’ll get from most different telephone cameras, which is useful for post-processing.

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

Grid View

The 50-megapixel ultrawide chip places out very good 12-megapixel pictures. This digicam makes use of a brand new freeform lens that includes a nontraditional design to supply a large view with minimal distortion. It additionally makes use of a 1/1.56-inch sensor that’s considerably greater 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 admire.

Again to the principle digicam, although: it’s good in shiny mild, however darker situations like nightfall or dim interiors are a problem. These are the sorts of situations the place optical picture stabilization generally is a huge assist protecting issues sharp, however not like the 9 Pro and just about all of its rivals, the 9 solely presents much less sturdy digital picture stabilization. I noticed this crop up in a set of portrait mode pictures taken exterior in dim mild that got here out somewhat delicate. I obtained one sharp picture out of the bunch, however I believe OIS would have helped enhance my hit charge.

What’s lacking from that stack of cameras and sensors is a telephoto digicam

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 may 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 efficiency.

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 plenty of different telephones supply now. There’s nonetheless a 2x digital zoom shortcut within the digicam app interface. Photographs taken this fashion work okay in a pinch, however there’s an apparent softness for those who look intently at them — it actually isn’t an important substitute for an precise telephoto digicam.

Oh, and that 2-megapixel monochrome digicam isn’t one you may shoot with immediately. As in earlier OnePlus telephones, its job is to provide further data when utilizing the monochrome filter mode with the principle digicam. If it makes a distinction, we will’t inform and would a lot reasonably simply have a telephoto digicam subsequent 12 months as an alternative, please.

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The OnePlus 9’s included quick charger is certainly one 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 efficiency, and cameras aplenty. You’ll get top-of-the-line efficiency for about $100 lower than the opposite base mannequin flagships. That in itself is a good cause to think about the OnePlus 9.

But it surely’s not the telephone I might advocate to completely everybody. Its distinctive propositions really feel somewhat area of interest to me. Quick charging is neat, with a number of attraction to heavy telephone customers and vacationers, however I feel lots of people are simply advantageous with their in a single day charging routine. I like that there’s an above-average ultrawide digicam, however I’m most likely within the minority right here. And the Hasselblad shade tuning is ok however nothing outstanding.

You’ll get top-of-the-line efficiency for about $100 lower than the opposite base mannequin flagships

What ought to be simple to advocate — a well-priced telephone with nice efficiency — as an alternative carries some vital ifs. If extraordinarily quick charging or the larger display are particularly interesting, then the 9 is a good possibility. However for those who’re on AT&T and also you’d wish to preserve your telephone for a number 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, then you definitely may wish to look elsewhere.

I feel with somewhat tuning, the OnePlus 9 may have been a completely killer premium midrange system. And I nonetheless assume it’s an important system 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 excellent, but it surely isn’t a runaway winner.

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