The OnePlus 9 Pro cements OnePlus as a Premium Smartphone Brand

The OnePlus 9 Pro cements OnePlus as a Premium Smartphone Brand

Since its inception as a smartphone brand, OnePlus has struggled to address the dichotomy between its motto — “Never Settle” — and the actual hardware it puts out. In a sense, if you went with OnePlus, you had to settle in some aspect, usually the display or the camera (but never the performance). Last year though, OnePlus phones finally jumped up a tier into premium flagship territory with the introduction of a top-tier display. This year, OnePlus is cementing its status as a premium smartphone brand with its new OnePlus 9 Pro.

OnePlus finally took the wraps off the OnePlus 9, the OnePlus 9 Pro, and the OnePlus 9R today following weeks of teasers. The OnePlus 9 Pro is the hero device of the trio, and it sports ultra-premium hardware (and an ultra-premium price tag to boot). Featuring a large 6.7-inch AMOLED display that runs at Quad HD+ resolution and refreshes at up to 120Hz, the OnePlus 9 Pro is every bit as premium as last year’s OnePlus 8 Pro when it comes to the display. While there are many notable display and charging improvements over last year’s model, the biggest change has happened to the camera setup. In a multi-year partnership inked with Swedish camera firm Hasselblad, OnePlus promises its new OnePlus 9 series features the company’s biggest camera upgrade yet.

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Marketing and reality are rarely one and the same in this industry, but even if OnePlus’ partnerships with Hasselblad for the camera and Pixelworks for the display end up being marketing fluff, it’s hard to argue with the results. With the OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus doesn’t just deliver on its “Never Settle” motto but also goes beyond that by making one of the best phones available right now.

OnePlus 9 Pro in Morning Mist

OnePlus 9 Pro Specifications - Click to expand

Specification OnePlus 9 Pro
Build
  • Aluminum frame
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front and back
Dimensions & Weight
  • 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm
  • 197g
Display
  • 6.7-inch QHD+ LTPO AMOLED (3216 x 1440p)
  • 525PPI
  • 20.1:9 aspect ratio
  • Smart 120Hz refresh rate (Adaptive 1-120Hz)
  • 360Hz touch polling rate
  • 1300nits peak brightness
  • 10-bit color depth
  • Supports sRGB and DCI-P3 color space
  • HDR10+
  • MEMC
  • Automatic color temperature adjustment
  • Gorilla Glass 5
SoC
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
    • 1x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex X1-based) Prime core @ 2.84GHz
    • 3x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex A78-based) Performance cores @ 2.4GHz
    • 4x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex A55-based) Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz
  • Adreno 660 GPU
RAM & Storage
  • 8GB LPDDR5 RAM + 128GB UFS 3.1 storage
  • 12GB + 256GB
Battery & Charging
  • 4,500mAh battery
  • 65W wired fast charging (1-100% in 29 minutes)
  • 50W wireless fast charging (1-100% in 43 minutes)
  • Warp Charge 65T charger included (supports up to 45W USB PD or PPS for non-OnePlus devices)
Security In-display fingerprint scanner
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 48MP Sony IMX 789, f/1.8, OIS, EIS, PDAF+CAF
  • Secondary: 50MP Sony IMX766 ultra-wide, f/2.2, freeform lens
  • Tertiary: 8MP 3.3x telephoto, f/2.4, OIS
  • Quaternary: 2MP monochrome sensor
  • Dual LED flash
  • Video:
    • 8K video @30fps
    • 4K video @ 30/60/120fps
    • Slow motion: 720p @ 480fps, 1080p @ 240fps
    • Time-lapse: 1080p @ 30fps, 4K @ 30fps
  • Additional features: Nightscape, Super Macro, UltraShot HDR, Smart Scene Recognition, Portrait mode, Pro mode, Panorama, Tilt-shift mode, Focus Peaking, Cat/Dog Face focus, RAW support, Filters, Super Stable video, Video Nightscape, Video HDR, Video Portrait, Focus Tracking, Hyperlapse
Front Camera(s) 16MP Sony IMX471, f/2.4, FF, EIS
Port(s) USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C
Audio
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • Noise cancellation support
  • Dolby Atmos certified
Connectivity
  • LTE 4×4 MIMO
  • SA/NSA 5G
  • Wi-Fi 6 2×2 MIMO (dual-band)
  • Bluetooth 5.2 (aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC support)
  • NFC
  • GPS (L1+L5 Dual Band), GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, A-GPS
Software OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11
Other Features
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • Alert slider
  • Upgraded haptic motor
  • OnePlus Cool Play cooling system (multi-layer system with a vapor chamber and layers of graphite and copper)
Colors Morning Mist, Forest Green, Stellar Black

About this review: I received the OnePlus 9 Pro in Morning Mist with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage from OnePlus USA. I have used the phone for about 2 weeks. OnePlus did not screen this review or provide any input into its contents.

OnePlus 9 Pro Forums

    With a large, 6.7-inch Quad HD OLED display and a Smart 120Hz refresh rate, the OnePlus 9 Pro may have the best display on the market. The cameras, tuned in collaboration with Hasselblad, produce excellent still photos and capture superb 4K video.

OnePlus 9 Pro Review Highlights

  • Clean design that feels very ergonomic
  • Large, immersive display that’s minimally curved
  • High-resolution, adaptive refresh rate display with excellent colors, brightness, and text clarity
  • Ample display enhancement features, including Comfort Tone and MEMC
  • Excellent photos and videos from the main and ultra wide-angle in good lighting
  • Good low-light photos and videos from the main camera both indoors and outdoors
  • Hasselblad Pro Camera mode offers a ton of features
  • Excellent day-to-day and gaming performance with great cooling
  • Ultra-fast wired and wireless charging
  • Reverse wireless charging support for your accessories
  • OnePlus still makes the best first-party cases
  • Powerful haptic feedback engine capable of producing extremely subtle vibrations
  • IP68 rating for dust and water resistance
  • OxygenOS is still one of the better Android-based OSes out there, with tons of customization options and features
  • Still easy to bootloader unlock and mod
  • Morning Mist is a fingerprint magnet
  • Disappointing photos and videos from the ultra-wide-angle camera in low-light scenarios
  • Middling telephoto and selfie cameras
  • Less than stellar battery life
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack or microSD card slot
  • OnePlus is no longer the industry-leader in long-term software support
  • Beware of bugs: So-called stable OxygenOS updates can be buggier than expected
  • OxygenOS still finds a way to delay notifications from messaging apps like Chat and Discord

Navigate this review

  1. Design: The OnePlus 9 Pro in Morning Mist
  2. Camera: Does the OnePlus x Hasselblad partnership matter?
    1. Picture Quality
    2. Video Quality
  3. Display: How enjoyable is it to watch content on the OnePlus 9 Pro?
    1. Panel Quality
    2. Display Features
  4. Performance: How fast is the OnePlus 9 Pro?
    1. Real-world Performance
    2. Gaming Performance
  5. Battery & Charging: How long does the OnePlus 9 Pro last?
    1. Battery Life
    2. Charging Speeds
  6. Software: OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11
    1. User Interface
    2. Features
    3. Development and Modding Proposition
  7. Accessories: Bumper Case, Warp Charge 50 Wireless Charger
    1. Karbon Bumper Case
    2. 50W Wireless Charger
  8. Miscellaneous: Audio, Vibration, Connectivity & More
  9. Conclusion: Should you buy the OnePlus 9 Pro?

Design: The OnePlus 9 Pro in Morning Mist

When the average person looks at a smartphone, it’s hard for them to differentiate between rectangular slabs of glass and metal. The OnePlus 9 Pro is exactly that — a rectangular slab of glass (on the front and back) and metal (on the frame). But even so, OnePlus phones can be distinguished from other phones, even ones from its parent company OPPO.

OnePlus says it strives to create a “burdenless design” in all its products, which the company’s CEO Pete Lau describes as an approach to minimalism, “efficiency”, thinness, and fluidity. Certainly, the bezels, display curvature, and hole-punch cutout are all minimal in size; the phone’s width keeps it well within the palm of my hand; and the phone is speedy as can be thanks to packing a flagship-tier Snapdragon chip, but these are all aspects we’ve come to expect from premium flagship phones. So what about the OnePlus 9 Pro’s design that puts it in that category?