OnePlus 9 review: Camera upgrades make this a must-have phone

OnePlus 9: Specs

Starting value: $729
Screen measurement: 6.55-inch AMOLED (2400 x 1080; 120Hz)
CPU: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB, 12GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras: 48MP main (f/1.8); 50MP ultrawide (f/2.2); 2MP monochrome
Front cameras: 16MP (f/2.4)
Battery dimension: 4,500 mAh
Battery life (Hrs: Mins): 10:51 (120Hz); 10:53 (60Hz)
Charging velocity: 65W, wired; 15W, wi-fi
Size: 6.Three x 2.9 x 0.32 inches
Weight: 6.Seventy seven ounces

The OnePlus 9 Pro is also the premium choice for Android lovers, but don't disregard the OnePlus 9. The less expensive model of the brand new OnePlus flagship may lack probably the most higher-end features of its sibling, similar to a dynamically adjusting demonstrate, a telephoto lens and immediate wireless charging, however the OnePlus 9 provides sufficient at a lower price to compete in opposition to one of the best Android phones available in the market.

The OnePlus 9 provides the features you could have come to expect from OnePlus: forged battery existence, instant charging and remarkable efficiency. But this latest phone goes a great distance towards addressing a longtime Achilles' heel for OnePlus, as it improves  the quality of photos produced by the rear cameras.

In our OnePlus 9 review, we'll take a look at what is progressed in this newest phone from OnePlus and whether it is enough to make this handset the next Android software you purchase.

OnePlus 9 review: Price and availability

The OnePlus 9 starts at $729 for a 128GB model. That's $240 lower than the OnePlus 9 Pro launching on the identical time. More importantly, it's $70 less expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S21, which additionally options 128GB of garage, and the iPhone 12, which provides a meager 64GB. OnePlus' popularity as the phone maker that may beat the prime value of flagship gadgets is secure, a minimum of with this phone. 

OnePlus informed there can be a 256GB model of the OnePlus 9 will cost $100 extra, however to this point, most effective the 128GB model appears on OnePlus' site, where you can buy the phone unlocked. (And why now not? The OnePlus 9 is the best unlocked Android phone through our calculations.) The phone costs €699 and €799 in Europe for the 128GB and 256GB variations, respectively.

The OnePlus 9 shipped in April, you'll be able to purchase it at Amazon, Best Buy and B&H Photo, as well as from OnePlus. If you desire to purchase your telephones immediately from wireless suppliers, T-Mobile also gives the OnePlus 9.

OnePlus 9 review: Design

There's a noticeable design difference between the common OnePlus 9 and the Pro fashion. While the latter phone has a curved show — although no longer as curved as remaining year's OnePlus 8 Pro — the OnePlus 9 sticks with a flat-edge panel. Frankly, I favor the 9's method, as it makes the 6.Three x 2.9 x 0.32-inch phone more straightforward to carry and there is little chance of unintentional screen touches.

Unlike the OnePlus 8, which positioned its rear cameras in a descending line down the center of the phone, the OnePlus 9 follows the lead of the OnePlus 8T with a rectangular camera array within the upper left corner of the phone. The camera bump feels lovely pronounced — such a lot in order that when you lay the OnePlus 9 on its again, you'll get a little wobble in the event you press down at the phone.

As with lots of its different flagships, you will not get an IP rating for mud and water resistance with the OnePlus 9. That's reserved for the OnePlus 9 Pro version sold through T-Mobile. You also won't find a microSD slot on the OnePlus 9 for expanding the phone's storage.

My OnePlus 9 review unit came in Astral Black, which puts a layer of matte-black film beneath shiny glass. OnePlus says the effect reduces fingerprints, and while I did understand a smudge or two on my phone, the OnePlus 9 is without a doubt nowhere near as much of a fingerprint magnet as different phones I've tested not too long ago.

That mentioned, I'd have preferred to see the OnePlus 9 in Winter Mist, the other color choice to be had in North America. That purple-ish phone features a refraction impact that I imagine is more crowd pleasing than a black matte phone, specifically in sunlight.

As with ultimate yr's OnePlus fashions, the OnePlus 9 options an in-display fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone, with a at hand fingerprint outline showing you where to press. It sometimes takes a couple of touches for the OnePlus 9 to acknowledge my fingerprint, regardless that possibly that will enhance as I spend extra time with the phone. 

Better to take advantage of the OnePlus 9's talent to come across your face and release your phone, though this facial reputation feature isn't secure enough to verify cell bills.

OnePlus 9 review: Display

It's not the marvel that the OnePlus 9 Pro display is, however the OnePlus 9's 6.55-inch display nonetheless impresses with its vivid AMOLED panel. You'll experience a 120Hz refresh charge, a step up from the 90Hz refresh fee of the OnePlus 8, though now not the dynamically adjusting display that the OnePlus 9 Pro features. 

Still, that 120Hz demonstrate is superb when you're scrolling through internet pages, and as we're going to see when we speak about the OnePlus 9's battery life, leaving the short refresh charge grew to become on doesn't drain the battery.

I discovered the OnePlus 9 display to be masses vibrant, with a mild meter reading of 696 nits with adaptive brightness grew to become on. That's a touch dimmer than the Galaxy S21 (711 nits), though it beats the iPhone 12's 569-nit reading. I had no downside seeing the OnePlus 9 display outdoor in brilliant sunshine, though it is more uncomplicated to navigate with the brightness cranked up all of the method.

Colors look accurate at the OnePlus 9 screen, whether or not it is the grim, dreary international of Scranton paper pushers in The Office streaming on Peacock or the more colourful scenery in the fictional country of Zamunda in a Coming 2 America trailer on YouTube. 

When I used to be streaming on Peacock, I spotted that the image did not stretch to fill all the OnePlus 9 screen, however that wasn't a problem with YouTube, the place the familiar faces of Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall stuffed up a body that went right to the OnePlus 9's minimum most sensible bezel.

In its Vivid environment, the OnePlus 9 display screen recreates 199.4% of the sRGB color spectrum, a number that drops to 104.1% while you modify the exhibit to Natural. That's in step with the 109.2% that the Galaxy S21 shows off. 

Whether you opt for Vivid or Natural, the OnePlus 9 screen renders colours reasonably appropriately with Delta-E scores of 0.28 and zero.27, respectively. Both ratings are moderately higher than the 0.29 Delta-E scores for the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21. (The nearer the score is to 0, the extra accurate the colours.)

OnePlus 9 review: Cameras

If there is been one common weak spot amongst OnePlus' contemporary flagships, it's the camera performance. It's no longer that OnePlus does not make perfectly nice cameras, but if stacked up against the best camera phones, OnePlus' footage do not glance as sharp or as colourful.

Enter famed camera maker Hasselblad to switch all that. OnePlus has inked a take care of the Swedish company aimed toward improving the cameras on its phones, and the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro are the first fashions to benefit. 

The preliminary effort focuses on natural color calibration, with OnePlus promising herbal, wealthy colours in pictures shot by its 9-series telephones. There are different tweaks as nicely, including a unique shutter sound and orange shutter button familiar to anyone who's used a Hasselblad camera.

The focus is also on tool, but OnePlus isn't ignoring the hardware aspect of things. The OnePlus 9 comes with a 48MP main camera and a 50MP ultrawide attitude lens, the latter of which features a freeform lens aimed toward reducing the distortion you'll be able to find at the fringe of wide-angle pictures. 

There's also a dedicated monochrome camera, which, frankly, I want OnePlus would have left on the strategy planning stage. You may not get a telephoto lens with the OnePlus 9 — that calls for an improve to the OnePlus 9 Pro.

The first actual shot I took with the OnePlus 9 left me questioning whether or not the promised colour calibration was all that it's cracked up to be. This plate of scrambled eggs appears to be like ghostly faded in the OnePlus 9 shot — even the chipotle salsa on most sensible of the eggs turns out muted. 

The iPhone 12's picture does not have that problem, and you'll be able to see the yellow of the eggs along the opposite multitude of colours from the vegetables. Even the grey mushrooms have some pop in the iPhone pic.

We see a similar issue in this picture of a marquee out of doors a eating place, fascinated with each the OnePlus 9 and the Pixel 4a 5G. (Yes, the Pixel 4a 5G is a midrange phone, however it's got the similar cameras as the higher-end Pixel 5, so the comparability is apt.) 

The OnePlus 9 shot appears to be like all proper till you evaluate it to the Pixel's. Google's phone successfully distinguishes the blue and green neon surrounding the marquee, and you can see a patch of blue sky within the upper left nook. OnePlus' cameras washed out the sky.

Fortunately, the OnePlus 9's struggles with colour were simplest sporadic. There's nothing flawed with this shot of a bowl of fruit. Yes, the iPhone 12 gives extra colourful colors and the pink apple within the foreground comes into sharper focus. But the colours in the OnePlus 9 shot are very natural, and I'd be pleased to share this photo.

Moving outside to a Sonoma County pond, we see that the OnePlus 9 once again tackles colour with skill, balancing the greens, blues and yellows in this shot. My daughter — the subject of the photograph — prefers the OnePlus 9 picture because it has a dreamier solid to it, whilst I just like the detail that the iPhone 12 captures within the ripples on the pond. You can't cross fallacious with both picture, although.

Testing out the ultrawide perspective lens, there is a very slight bend to the bushes at the right facet of the iPhone image, however you actually have to look to notice it. 

More glaring is the adaptation in colour — the iPhone 12 in reality offers a deep blue for the sky, and the vegetation rising pondside has a vibrancy lacking from the OnePlus 9. That said, I believe the OnePlus 9 image is perfectly applicable, and it captures relatively extra house than the iPhone's ultrawide perspective lens does. That's handy for sweeping vistas.

As noted, there is no telephoto lens on the OnePlus 9, so you are relying on a virtual zoom when you need to get closer to a shot. Fortunately, the software at the OnePlus 9 is as much as the task for this photo of a consuming fountain erected through the Women's Temperance Union. (No, truly.) 

You can obviously make out the text of the relatively extremist messaging — I got here here to get a drink of water, now not a lecture, people — and the OnePlus 9 in reality does a better job of balancing daylight and shadow than the iPhone 12 did on its zoom.

For low-light images, I put the OnePlus 9 up against the Pixel 4a 5G, since Google's phones are a leader in this area, and I think the brand new OnePlus phone held its personal. OnePlus obviously places the focus on getting the colors right in this shot that is lit handiest through overhead LEDs and a solar lamp in the background. The stuffed animal is in point of fact as red as it sounds as if in the OnePlus photo, while the Pixel mutes that exact color a bit. 

The Pixel does a better task taking pictures extra element like the feel of the brick wall in the background, and it helps to keep the animals in sharper focus. But this is ready as with regards to a push as you'll be able to get, which is excellent news, given OnePlus' track record in this area.

Which portrait shot you prefer is dependent upon whether you prefer up-close-and-personal photos like the only the OnePlus 9 produces or images with extra background, as noticed within the iPhone 12 shot. 

I feel the iPhone 12 is better at isolating my daughter from the tree at the back of her, while the OnePlus photograph gives you a better view of her face. Again, this is an example the place OnePlus holds its personal in opposition to a well-regarded camera phone.

The OnePlus 9 has some particular camera features worth calling out, beginning with its 2MP monochrome camera. By opting for the mono filter, you'll get a true black-and-white shot, like this picture the place I've tired all of the color out of a box of periwinkle plant life. 

At least the monochrome lens doesn't wash out the shadows, and the finished product delivers the black-and-white image promised. I'm simply at a loss as as to whether I'd use this characteristic sufficient to benefit a dedicated lens. 

I used to be way more inspired by means of the tilt-shift mode OnePlus contains in its camera app. Enable Tilt Shift and you'll use selective center of attention to attract consideration to a particular a part of the image. This brick wall that I photographed would not look very attention-grabbing as a regular photo, but the intentional blurs within the tilt-shifted shot produce a relatively artistic view.

I'm now not enamored with the 16MP entrance camera at the OnePlus 9. In this portrait shot, the OnePlus 9 lightened my face a little too much, while the Pixel 4a 5G did not have as much bother with the daylight being cast on me. The A's logo within the Pixel photo could also be sharper, and there's much less over-exposure around my cap. 

OnePlus 9 review: Performance

Like the OnePlus 9 Pro, the OnePlus 9 is powered by way of the Snapdragon 888, the most recent and largest system-on-a-chip from Qualcomm. While it figures to seek out its approach into lots of the top Android phones later this year, the Snapdragon 888 is only in a handful of phones at the moment, akin to Samsung's Galaxy S21 lineup and the brand new ROG Phone 5 gaming handset from Asus. As a end result, the OnePlus 9's performance can fit — or even beat — the highest Android telephones.

Running the Geekbench Five test for normal efficiency, the OnePlus 9 turned in a multicore results of 3,618. That's in the same ballpark as the OnePlus 9 Pro's 3,685 result — no wonder for the reason that telephones are operating at the same chipset. 

The OnePlus 9 also saved pace with the ROG Phone 5 (3,672) while handily outperforming the Galaxy S21 (3,302). You can be expecting best performance from the OnePlus 9, thank you to not only the phone's Snapdragon 888 silicon, but also the 8GB or 12GB of RAM OnePlus includes within the other configurations of the devices.

In 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited test, the OnePlus 9 grew to become in a results of 5,726, or 34.4 frames consistent with 2nd. That essentially fits the graphics performance of the ROG Phone 5, which hit 34.8 FPS on that same test. 

Considering that the ROG Phone 5 is in particular marketed as a gaming software, you can experience a similar revel in with challenging video games on the OnePlus 9, as I found out when playing PUBG Mobile on the OnePlus handset. The sport by no means stuttered, even all through some lovely intense fire-fights, and graphics seemed sharp, save for a few timber that looked a little janky after I sped by way of in a jeep.

Another facet of the OnePlus 9 that is sure to appeal to players is the phone's stereo audio system. Because the speakers are front-firing, you do not duvet them up with your arms when maintaining the OnePlus 9 in landscape orientation, so you'll be able to pay attention each and every remaining sound from your game. And these audio system are loud — such a lot so that when I used to be playing a game, my wife shut the door on me in order that she do not need to listen to the carnage from the other room.

As good because the OnePlus 9 and its Snapdragon 888 chipset is, it is still no match for the iPhone 12 and its A14 Bionic processor, which turned in higher Geekbench (3,859) and Wild Life (39 FPS) scores. 

In our real-world check wherein we have now phones transcode a 4K video the usage of Adobe Premiere Rush, the OnePlus 9 completed the task in 1 minute and a pair of seconds. That's excellent for an Android phone — the Galaxy S21 took a second longer — however it is nowhere close to the 26 seconds it takes the iPhone to transcode that very same video.

OnePlus 9 review: 5G

The Snapdragon 888 silicon contains Qualcomm's built-in X60 5G modem. You'll have no problem connecting with T-Mobile's 5G network, whether or not you buy your phone immediately from the service or pick up an unlocked version. An unlocked OnePlus 9 will handiest work with the LTE networks of AT&T, despite the fact that.

As for Verizon, it's a little bit sophisticated. After we to begin with revealed our OnePlus 9 review, Verizon and OnePlus announced that the phone was certified to work on Verizon's 5G network. (We figured it will — the OnePlus 9 lists the necessary bands for compatibility with Verizon 5G.) However, that it appears guarantees compatibility with just Verizon's slower, national 5G; get right of entry to to the faster Ultra Wideband network is reserved for the OnePlus 9 Pro.

Don't be expecting life-changing speeds from 5G at this point, although that is extra a reflection of the state of 5G networks than any issue with the OnePlus 9. On T-Mobile's 5G network no longer a long way from my Bay Area house, the OnePlus 9 hit a download speed of 34.4 Mbps. My iPhone 11 Pro Max, connecting to Verizon LTE, reached 86 Mbps in that very same spot. Adjust your 5G expectations accordingly.

OnePlus 9 review: Battery existence and charging

One space wherein OnePlus can indisputably educate different phone makers a thing or two considerations the phone's battery. OnePlus not most effective builds gadgets that most often closing a very long time, it additionally boasts the quickest charging speeds of any phone maker.

In terms of battery life, the OnePlus 8T used to be a bit of an outlier for OnePlus. It turned in most effective a median time for smartphones on our battery check, which involves atmosphere a tool to frequently surf the internet over a cell connection until it runs out of energy. 

The OnePlus 9 rebounds fairly effectively on our test, lasting for 10 hours and 51 mins. That's no longer somewhat long enough to land on our best phone battery life record, the place you have to grasp out for Eleven hours or extra, but it's still an excellent time.

Even better, the OnePlus lasted simply shy of eleven hours with its screen set at a 120Hz refresh charge. When we've tested different telephones that provide fast-refreshing presentations, we now have noticed that the function puts a critical hit on battery existence. 

The Galaxy S21 lasts 6.Five hours when its adaptive show is enabled, for example — greater than 3 hours shorter than after we set Samsung phone's screen to refresh at 60Hz. OnePlus should be congratulated for turning in a fast-refreshing display screen with out compromising on battery lifestyles.

We also tested the OnePlus 9 with its display screen refresh rate set to 60Hz. That advanced battery existence by way of... 2 mins, with the phone conserving out for 9 hours, 53 minutes in our check. Essentially, you'll be able to keep the OnePlus 9's display screen set at 120Hz with no need to worry about any meaningful impact on battery life.

It's in charging up the OnePlus 9's dual-cell 4,500 mAh battery the place OnePlus truly units the standard. The phone supports OnePlus WarpCharge 65T technology, which permits the instrument to charge at a higher wattage for a longer duration. 

The result? OnePlus says phones that toughen WarpCharge 65T can pass from 0 to completely charged in 29 minutes. That's 9 mins quicker than the OnePlus 8T.

Our testing didn't relatively hit that speed, though it got here awfully close. After half-hour of charging, our OnePlus 9's battery was at 98%. The Galaxy S21 best were given as much as 55% after half-an-hour, and Samsung's phone does not come with a charger just like the OnePlus 9 does.

You can also wirelessly charge the OnePlus 9, with the phone supporting 15W charging with Qi-compatible charging pads.

OnePlus 9 review: Software

The Oxygen OS that OnePlus uses on its telephones isn't the purest form of Android, however it is a reasonable take at the working method that gives valuable add-ons without much in the best way of bloat. 

OnePlus does include a folder of its personal apps with the OnePlus 9, however those are typically helpful tools for migrating information from any other phone or connecting to the OnePlus group. There's no duplicate options right here like there are on different Android telephones.

The largest addition with Oxygen OS 11, which is constructed on Android 11, comes to the newest model of the Turbo Boost memory-optimization characteristic. OnePlus says Turbo Boost 3.Zero uses RAM compression and virtual RAM to allow you to stay 25% extra apps open within the background than prior to. I will be able to't quantify that particular determine, although switching between apps on the OnePlus 9 feels snappy.

You can expect two main Android updates plus three years of security patches from OnePlus. That's a degree of support befitting a flagship phone, even though Samsung outdoes OnePlus by way of offering an additional Android update and an additional 12 months of security patches.

OnePlus 9 review: Verdict

Until now, the biggest argument towards OnePlus' phones has been the camera efficiency. While some inconsistencies stay, our OnePlus 9 review found that the brand new phone plays a lot better in that department when compared to the leading flagships. You'd nonetheless want pictures from the likes of the iPhone or the Google Pixel, but OnePlus is at least now in the dialog.

Those advanced cameras means that the OnePlus 9 must even be within the conversation if you are wondering which phone to get. Not simplest is the OnePlus 9 inexpensive than the Galaxy S21, it additionally outperforms that phone. 

In reality, you'll be able to even expect performance on par with the ROG Phone 5, making this an reasonably priced option for gamers. And the fast-charging, long-lasting battery at the OnePlus phones continues to provoke.

If you've gotten been undecided about whether or not OnePlus is worth a gamble over gadgets from more established phone makers, let the OnePlus 9 be your assurance that this phone can grasp its personal towards any Android software.

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