OnePlus 9 Pro Review: It’s been quite a while since OnePlus launched its flagship phone for 2021, the OnePlus 9 Pro. And ever since the launch, it’s been surrounded by tons of criticism. Firstly, for the excessive marketing campaign that OnePlus employed to get hype for its partnership with Hasselblad. then there have been a series of software bugs, Bluetooth connectivity, and overheating issues, out of which some are fixed while a few of them still await their turn. So what do you have to expect from the forthcoming long-term review of the OnePlus 9 Pro?
I have been using this phone for a few month now – 2 weeks as my secondary device while i used to be reviewing the Realme 8 Pro, then it’s stayed in my pocket as my primary phone for about 2 weeks. So i feel i’m finally able to share my mini long-term experience of the OnePlus 9 Pro during this review. Let’s get started!
|Body:||73.6 x 163.2 x 8.7mm, 197 gm, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, IP68 dust/water resistant|
|Display:||6.7-inches Fluid AMOLED, 1Hz-120Hz Refresh Rate, 360Hz touch sampling rate, 10-bit color depth, 1300 nits, HDR10+, LTPO backplane, Gorilla Glass 5|
|Resolution:||QHD+ (3216 x 1440 pixels), 20:9 aspect ratio, 525 PPI|
|Chipset:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G (5nm Mobile Platform)|
|CPU:||Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680|
|Memory:||8/12GB LPDDR5 RAM, 128/256GB UFS 3.1 storage (fixed)|
|Software & UI:||Android 11 with OxygenOS 11 on top|
|Front Camera:||16MP f/2.4 Sony IMX471 sensor (punch-hole)|
|Audio:||Dual stereo speakers, Noise cancellation, Dolby Atmos|
|Security:||Optical in-display fingerprint sensor, Face unlock|
|Sensors:||Accelerometer, Electronic Compass, Gyroscope, Ambient Light, Proximity, Sensor Core, Flick-detect, Front RGB|
|Connectivity:||Dual-SIM (Nano), WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (Dual-band), Bluetooth 5.2, GPS / AGPS / Glonass / Galileo / Beidou, USB Type-C, NFC, 4G LTE, 5G|
|Battery:||4500mAh with 65W fast charge (50W wireless charging)|
|Color options:||Morning Mist, Forest Green, Stellar Black|
|Price in Nepal:||not Launched yet|
|Price in India:||8GB/128GB: 64,999 INR | 12GB/256GB: 69,999 INR|
OnePlus 9 Pro Review:
Design and Build
- Glass front, glass back, metal frame
- IP68 dust/water resistant, Gorilla Glass 5
The first thing I’ve really, really liked about the OnePlus 9 Pro is its form factor. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or the iPhone 12 Pro Max, this one is extremely handy and light-weight also . it’s actually , one among the foremost comfortable big, yet snuggly phones I even have held this year.
Still, I do wish there have been some more refreshing color options to settle on from. aside from the Forest Green variant, the opposite 2 alternatives are pretty meh! The Stellar Black variant that I even have with me doesn’t attract smudges because the Morning Mist option does, but i feel OnePlus could have taken some inspiration from S21 Ultra’s Phantom Black finish because that appears pretty dope!
Other than that, its design is nothing exceptional or outstanding. apart from the revamped camera layout and therefore the missing OnePlus branding at rock bottom , it’s basically an equivalent as last year’s OnePlus 8 Pro.
Gorilla Glass… 5?
Weirdly, the corporate also didn’t include the newest Gorilla Glass Victus or maybe the Gorilla Glass 6 for that matter. Instead, OnePlus decided to travel with almost 5 years old Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front also because the back.
Regardless, there also are slight curves on the sides that increase the premium experience. Although the curvature of the sting this point around is a smaller amount aggressive and therefore the palm rejection is sort of good, I’ve witnessed multiple instances of accidental touches which is ever slightly bothersome. Additionally, I found it difficult to slip to the beginning of a YouTube video in portrait mode due to the curves.
- 6.7 inches QHD+ Fluid AMOLED screen
- 120Hz refresh rate, 360Hz touch sampling rate
- 10-bit color depth, 1300 nits peak brightness
The display quality is what you’d expect from a flagship phone of 2021 though. OnePlus 9 Pro uses an equivalent panel because the Oppo Find X3 Pro. You get a stunning 6.7- inch QHD AMOLED display with all the bells and whistles like HDR10+ compliance, a 120Hz refresh rate, and LTPO backplane technology.
Here, this display can dynamically switch its refresh rate to as low as 1Hz, which is technically better than the 10Hz cap on the S21 Ultra. Likewise, throughout the review period, I didn’t face any issue with the luminosity on OnePlus 9 Pro either; be it outdoors on a sunny day or while using in bed in the dark . The auto-brightness sensor also works sort of a charm and therefore the panel produces on the brink of natural colors.
Plus, features like dark mode are well optimized also . to save lots of battery, the ambient display option isn’t always ON by default but you’ll toggle it as so, or maybe schedule when you’d want to show on AoD. And with a replacement feature called Canvas, OnePlus even allows you to use your photo as a background for the always ON display.
Not a perfect display
However, it’s by no means an ideal screen. for instance , while streaming Netflix, videos look a touch darker here as compared to the S21 Ultra. And before the newest update, while viewing certain HDR contents, the blacks weren’t coal black but rather had a grayish shade. Thankfully, this particular issue has been resolved.
On the software side of things, OnePlus has tweaked OxygenOS 11 well to be comfortable to use with one hand, a bit like Samsung’s One UI. Plus, this Android skin has always been known for subtle yet useful customizations just like the systemwide accent color or the straightforward use of an icon pack.
However, it might be great if OnePlus takes the inspiration from Samsung by guaranteeing 3 years of major OS upgrade also . Likewise, OnePlus should have implemented the position of the fingerprint sensor a touch higher like on the S21 Ultra. for somebody like me with small hands, the relatively lowered placement took a while to urge wont to .
Fast in-display fingerprint sensor
Anyway, the sensor itself is wickedly fast and doesn’t miss a mark. But due to its optical heritage, you can’t use it when the display is turned OFF. On the contrary, this is often possible with the S21 Ultra which comes with an ultrasonic sensor instead. So, you’ll require a touch of a trick on the OnePlus 9 Pro, which is popping ON the always-on Ambient display.
That being said, I even have really liked how with every iteration, OnePlus is improving its haptic feedback also because the speakers. If you remember, OnePlus wont to be very faraway with the likes of Samsung and iPhone in these aspects.
But now, these sorts of nitty-gritty details are taken care of. After all, OnePlus is not any longer a brand that creates flagship killer phones. And yeah, this one also has an IP68 rating, which jogs my memory of their tweet from back in 2019.
- Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G SoC (5nm)
- 8/12GB LPDDR5 RAM, 128/256GB UFS 3.1 storage (fixed)
- Android 11 with OnePlus’ OxygenOS 11 on top
Since the beginning of the OnePlus’s journey, the corporate has always used the newest and greatest Qualcomm chipset, such a lot in order that I remember the time when the corporate went with the Snapdragon 810 on the OnePlus 2 despite wide publications of the chip’s massive overheating issues.
And this year’s no different for OnePlus either. Under the hood, you get Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 chipset, LPDDR5 RAM, and UFS 3.1 storage. Pair that with a 120Hz refresh rate and therefore the ever optimized OxygenOS, the phone feels fast, really fast! to match , the Exynos 2100-powered S21 Ultra feels slightly slower than the 9 Pro.
Keeping apps in memory has been piece of cake on the 12GB RAM variant that I even have with me. So, from memory management to practically every aspect of performance, the phone works sort of a champ. And I’m pretty sure which will be the case even after say, 2 or 3 years down the road.
But, I’ve need to mention the heating issue on this thing. Before the newest April update, even updating heavy apps or games, or using the phone while charging would make the phone heat up. Although the matter has been reduced by tons after the few update, it still gets warm and that’s quite frustrating.
For instance, playing graphic-intensive games like PUBG and Genshin Impact continuously for just half an hour takes the phone’s temperature to 42-degree C, which isn’t normal if you inquire from me .
Likewise, even when you’re shooting videos for a extended time, you’ll feel the phone getting warm mostly near the camera module. But especially while gaming for an extended time, I’ve encountered multiple instances where the phone would become extremely uncomfortable to carry , due to which, I had to let it calm down for a touch .
Not cool, OnePlus
Ironically, OnePlus addressed this exact same issue with other phones and bragged how the OnePlus 9 Pro’s “Cool Play” cooling system with 5 layers of copper graphite and other materials would keep the phone comparatively cooler than other flagship phones. Yet, the corporate has did not keep its promise despite multiple updates.
Don’t get me wrong. The gaming performance itself is sort of good—even going beyond the default settings in games like PUBG may result in really stable and smooth gameplay. Demanding games like Genshin Impact can run on the OnePlus 9 Pro without a sweat in its default settings while I only noticed slight lags within the 60 fps mode throughout the review period.
- Quad-camera setup at the back
- (48MP main, 50MP ultrawide, 8MP telephoto, 2MP B&W)
- Hasselblad Color Calibration on rear cameras
- 16MP selfie camera inside the punch-hole cutout
Given all the hype OnePlus had created about its partnership with popular camera company Hasselblad, everyone was super pumped up to ascertain what the OnePlus 9 series had future , me included. But soon after the reviews followed, it wasn’t what everyone expected.
And disclaimer, my verdict regarding the OnePlus 9 Pro’s cameras is that the same. Its cameras are good. the first 48MP lens with the new Sony IMX789 sensor, the zoom lens , the ultra-wide sensor—all delivers top-notch performance. It’s just that OnePlus marketed its Hasselblad collaboration to seemingly yield an otherworldly camera experience, while that couldn’t be farther from the reality .
After clicking over 100s of photos from the OnePlus 9 Pro alongside the S21 Ultra for this review, I found that the first and ultra-wide images from the OnePlus 9 Pro are slightly heavier in contrast.
And although the Hasselblad partnership has mostly worked on fixing the colour science or producing “natural color calibration” within the images, the photos tend to overdo the Red, Green, and Blue hues. Both cameras have an honest focus, but i prefer how the S21 Ultra produces more true-to-life colors.
The color reproduction in ultra-wide mode is analogous to the first images too. I found both cameras doing an identical job apart from the marginally higher contrast in OnePlus’ images.
Also, its ultra-wide shots are a touch distorted within the edges while S21 Ultra manages to take care of details in such areas better. This one especially comes as a surprise seeing how OnePlus promised the precise opposite result from its 50MP ultra-wide camera with a freeform lens.
And during low light and nighttime conditions, OnePlus tries to saturate the photographs a touch more in most cases. But the top result looks nice, so no complaints here. On the opposite hand, S21 Ultra features a very subtle & natural color reproduction both in normal and night mode shots.
OnePlus’ images are slightly noisier than the S21 Ultra but it also reduces distortion within the edges better, hence retaining better sharpness within the corners.
Both phones allow you to shoot ultra-wide nighttime and night mode images and aside from the marginally boosted colors on the OnePlus 9 pro, they are doing quite similar job actually!
About the portraits, photos from the OnePlus 9 Pro portray a smoother and brightened subject. The background features a natural enough bokeh and edge detection is pretty good too. In fact, in some cases, edge detection is best here than the S21 Ultra.
Even so, OnePlus has this really unnatural color tone in its portraits, which i assumed would improve with an update but here i’m .
OnePlus 9 Pro’s cameras are capable of optically zooming up to three .3x via its telephoto camera and up to 30x digitally. The output is sharp but it tends to possess a color shift from the first images.
But, note that it tries to take care of color details and sometimes outshines S21 Ultra like during this picture here.
On the opposite hand, S21 Ultra’s telephoto pictures, don’t suffer from color shift compared to its primary images in the least and appearance more consistent.
Given its flagship tag , I also think OnePlus should have given a further 10x periscope lens because the S21 Ultra.
So, zooming further to 10x or 30x on the OnePlus 9 Pro isn’t getting to offer you good images.
Same ol’ IMX471 upfront
While the corporate is using the newest sensors for its primary and ultra-wide lens with every iteration, for a few weird reason, they’re still using an equivalent old IMX471 for the front-facing camera.
The caveat with this sensor is you’ll only shoot selfie videos at 1080p 30 or 60 fps and zip more. Although the standard is sweet and therefore the videos are stable enough, I desire , being a flagship phone, OnePlus should have gone with a more moderen lens which will shoot at higher resolutions, which the competitors like Samsung and iPhone are providing for years.
Likewise, the sector of view on this thing isn’t great either. So, you’ll always got to stretch your arms a touch when you’re shooting videos. The audio from the microphone is sort of good but still, for vlogging, it’s not the simplest option.
As for the selfie photos, I found it shares similar color reproduction because the portraits where the S21 Ultra delivers relatively natural-looking images while OnePlus whitens and brightens the topic . OnePlus’ selfies also are softer while Samsung sharpens the photographs a touch more.
I had also conducted a blind camera test between the OnePlus 9 Pro and S21 Ultra on our Instagram page and well, the results were 63% against the 9 Pro and 37% for it.
Unlike the selfie video, the OnePlus 9 pro bears good videography prowess from the rear camera. you’ve got the choice to shoot at up to 8k 30 fps. The 8k videos are literally better stabilized here compared to the S21 Ultra so, good job there!
Impressively, the phone can shoot 8k 30fp videos even with its ultra-wide camera, but it doesn’t allow you to switch within the same video. I hope that option comes out with an update. 4K 60 fps videos are nice and stable, because of OIS, and therefore the video looks superb with great detail. Plus, you’ll shoot at 4k 120 fps too that you simply can edit in post to form really cool slo-mo videos.
Also, the macro images from the phone are quite good. Again, Samsung’s Focus Enhancer allows you to go way closer and maintains good colors too. However, macro shots from the OnePlus 9 Pro are, as you’ll see, sharper and better.
Hence, my conclusion on the OnePlus 9 Pro’s cameras is that they’re great as a number of the reviews I even have stumbled upon have painted it bent be. But, if you set it against the simplest camera phones out there, it’ll definitely lag behind, albeit by alittle margin.
The things OnePlus must improve are mainly, the color, shadow processing, and consistency across lenses. With its 3 year partnership with Hasselblad, I hope the corporate are going to be ready to achieve that eventually. immediately though, their collaboration is not any doubt within the initial stage leaving tons of room for improvement.
- 4500mAh battery, 65W wired charging
- 50W fast wireless charging
Like with the camera, the battery life on the OnePlus 9 Pro could see an improvement also . With its 4500mAh cell, i used to be expecting similar endurance as last year’s OnePlus 8 Pro. In fact, it must are doing better due to the aforementioned LTPO screen which will dynamically adjust the refresh rate up to 1Hz counting on the content on the screen.
This average battery life is probably due to the slight heating issue, I don’t know. But it most certainly hasn’t gotten better with the updates. Yet, what i prefer about OnePlus devices is that they provide a 65W Power delivery charger inside the box; which isn’t just super fast to charge the phone, but it can charge my laptop too.
So, I don’t got to carry both the laptop and therefore the phone charger with me. Sweet! It also supports 50W wireless charging that juices up the device in under 45 mins, but I haven’t bought it yet.
So, to sum up this long-term review of the OnePlus 9 Pro, it’s evident by now that the corporate made two critical mistakes when launching this phone. First, they hiked its price compared to its predecessor at a time when prices of other flagship phones are decreasing. And second is that the pre-launch hype of the Hasselblad collaboration, which on behalf of me , was just an excessive amount of .
Still, don’t get any wrong idea, it’s a really good phone. The thing is, after the launch of the OnePlus 8 and eight Pro, it looks like they need exponentially shifted their focus in expanding the portfolio of the company—which isn’t in the least a nasty development. Yet, it’s just that in doing so, OnePlus has did not live up to its own standard or repose on it.
They launched the OnePlus Nord which was an excellent midrange phone, to start with. But then , they launched some Oppo rebranded phones, and jumped into the TV and accessories market (TWS, band, watch).
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