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OnePlus 9 Pro Smartphone Review

OnePlus has teamed up with Hasselblad to create the OnePlus 9 Pro smartphone which is billed as 'the most powerful OnePlus camera yet' so we've been putting it to the test to find out how accurate this statement is.


|  OnePlus 9 Pro in Camera Phones
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OnePlus OnePlus 9 Pro
 

Quick Verdict

As a tool for photography, the OnePlus 9 Pro has really impressed us and we have to say it's one of the best cameras we've seen on a smartphone at this price point which might still be high for some but it is less expensive than other premium smartphones. Image quality is superb with great colour reproduction, sharpness and excellent dynamic range. In fact, it's hard to find fault with the majority of the images we captured with the OnePlus 9 Pro. Combine this with the decent battery and good looks and you have a smartphone that's really easy to 'Highly Recommend'.   

+ Pros

  • Image quality is impressive 
  • Decent zoom up to around 8X
  • Excellent monochrome images with good contrast
  • Good battery with fast charging
  • Decent screen
  • IP68-rated 
  • Looks great

- Cons

  • Zoom above 10X isn't great
  • Most expensive OnePlus released so far

 

The OnePlus 9 Pro is the latest flagship smartphone to be released by OnePlus and the on-paper specs line it up to be a premium smartphone with some excellent features at a price point that's slightly more affordable than what the likes of Samsung and Apple offer. OnePlus' journey into making better flagship smartphones begin 8 years ago so there's been a lot of research and development taking place between then and now. Plus, OnePlus has now teamed up with Hasselblad to, in their own words, 'take mobile photography to the next level' so we're expecting great things from the OnePlus Pro. 

On test is the OnePlus 9 Pro 8/128GB in the Morning Mist colour option which has a mirror/silver effect and is available for £829. 

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OnePlus 9 Pro Features

This all-new OnePlus 9 Pro is all about the camera with a 3-year partnership formed with Hasselblad to back this statement up. In fact, the release of the OnePlus 9 flagship range took OnePlus twice as long as they expected as they wanted to fine-tune the camera system to ensure the OnePlus 9 range, particularly the OnePlus 9 Pro, is a major milestone in the journey of OnePlus flagship smartphones. 

The cameras on the back of the OnePlus 9 Pro have been 'tuned by Hasselblad' to ensure colours are accurate. OnePlus says that the process is called "Natural Colour Calibration" and the technology behind was created in conjunction with Hasselblad. Other Hasselblad touches include the orange (on-screen) shutter button and a patented Hasselblad leaf shutter sound (should you want to hear a noise when you press the shutter button). There's also an optional "OnePlus X Hasselblad" watermark available. 

 

OnePlus OnePlus 9 Pro
 

The camera line-up on the rear of the OnePlus 9 Pro includes a 50MP ultra-wide, 48Mp main camera, 8MP telephoto and a dedicated monochrome camera that works with the main camera to add detail to black and white photos. A macro mode is built-in but not a dedicated macro lens as you see on some other smartphones but OnePlus do say that the most used lenses are the wide and ultra-wide ones anyway. 

Sony sensors support the main and ultra-wide cameras and various camera features are built into the camera app including a Pro mode. Video can be captured in 8K at 30fps or 4K at 20/60/120fps. Plus, there's Video Nightscape, Video HDR, Video Portrait and the option to capture stills when shooting in 8K. 

The AMOLED display features Corning Gorilla Glass, measures 6.7" and features a variable refresh rate to save battery life when a faster refresh isn't needed. Talking of the battery, there's a 4500Mah battery built-in that supports fast wireless charging which will give a full charge in 43 minutes. 

If you don't like the look of the Morning Mist option that's on test, you can also choose from Forest Green or Stellar Black.

 

Key Features

  • Rear Cameras:
    • Main Camera - Sony IMX789 sensor, 48MP, OIS, EIS, f/1.8, 23mm focal length equiv.
    • Ultra-Wide Camera - Sony IMX766 sensor, 50MP, f/2.2, freeform lens, 14mm focal length equiv.
    • Telephoto camera - 8MP, f/2.4, 77mm equiv. Monochrome camera - 2MP.
  • Dual LED Flash and Multi Autofocus. 
  • Front Camera: Sony IMX471 sensor, 16MP, EIS, fixed focus, f/2.4
  • Video: 8K video at 30fps, 4K video at 30/60/120fps, Super Slow Motion: 720p video at 480fps, 1080p video at 240fps, Time-Lapse: 1080p at 30fps, 4K at 30fps, Video Editor
  • Camera Modes: Nightscape, Super Macro, UltraShot HDR, Smart Scene Recognition, Portrait mode, Pro mode, Panorama, Tilt-shift mode, Focus Peaking, Cat/Dog Face Focus, Raw file, Filters, Super Stable, Video Nightscape, Video HDR, Video Portrait, Focus Tracking, Timelapse, Hyperlapse
  • Display: 6.7" AMOLED 1440 x 3216 at 525 ppi with Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • In-display fingerprint unlock
  • 4500mAh battery with warp wireless charging
  • USB Type-C
  • OxygenOS based on Android 11
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • 3D Corning Gorilla Glass construction
  • Weight: 197g
  • Dimensions: 163.2x73.6x8.7mm
  • Colours: Morning Mist, Forest Green, Stellar Black
  • 8/128Gb or 12/256GB

 

OnePlus 9 Pro Handling

OnePlus OnePlus 9 Pro
 

When we first took the OnePlus 9 Pro out of its signature red box, our first thoughts were how cool it looks. The Morning Mist colour option is a silvery grey with a hint of blue in certain light and it's really modern. The shiny Corning Gorilla Glass does attract fingerprints like a magnet attracts nails which is a problem for most modern smartphones but a case is provided which will stop this from happening. The case also stops the smartphone from sliding off surfaces. Talking of the case, unlike other smartphones that provide free cases, the one that came with the OnePlus 9 Pro actually feels of decent quality and the colour compliments the colour of the rear camera bump so when it's in place, it actually looks very slick. The modern, slick look is further enhanced with the curved edges, in-screen front camera and the removal of bezels. 

As with past OnePlus smartphones, the OnePlus 9 Pro is long and tall measuring 1632.2mm x 73.6mm x 8.7mm which won't be everyone's cup of tea but 'tall and big' is the direction most modern smartphones are going in now so it's something most of us have just got used to. You can comfortably hold the OnePlus 9 Pro in one hand but due to its length, you can't really operate it with just your thumb. Weight-wise, it feels reassuringly well-built and in grams, it weighs under 200g any way which isn't that heavy. In fact, the weight has been reduced to make the new device even lighter. 

The AMOLED cut-out camera display measures 6.7" and the Corning Gorilla Glass sits inside an aluminium frame with rounded edges that has been improved to prevent accidental side presses - something that occurred with the 8 Pro.  

On the bottom of the OnePlus 9 Pro, you find the USB-C port while the right side is home to the power button and textured silent mode switch. On the left side, you find the volume controls. Turn the smartphone over and you find the rear camera bump top left with the Hasselblad name etched in. The rear camera bump has been designed really well and doesn't protrude and it looks even smarter when you pop the supplied case on it. 

 

OnePlus OnePlus 9 Pro

 

The rear camera line-up is impressive with a 48Mp main camera, 50Mp Ulta-Wide (featuring a Sony IMX766 sensor that's 3.2x larger than the iPhone 12 Pro Max) and an 8Mp telephoto camera with up to 3.3x optical zoom, 30x digital zoom and OIS helps reduce blur. There's also an 8MP Monochrome camera that works with the main camera to add detail to black and white photos and a dedicated macro mode is available but no macro lens as the ultra-wide camera can be used for macro work, capturing images as close as 4cm away from your subject. On the front is a 16MP camera which is cut out of the display. 

OnePlus says that the ultra-wide camera's sensor improves image quality and reduces noise while its Freeform Lens uses a series of unique curves to correct the incoming light, bringing distortion at the edge of photos down to around 1%, compared to 10-20% on most smartphone ultra-wide cameras. 

OnePlus 9 Pro Cameras At A Glance:

  • Main Camera - Sony IMX789 sensor, 48MP, OIS, EIS, f/1.8, 23mm focal length equiv.
  • Ultra-Wide Camera - Sony IMX766 sensor, 50MP, f/2.2, freeform lens, 14mm focal length equiv.
  • Telephoto Camera - 8MP, f/2.4, 3.3x optical zoom. 
  • Monochrome camera - 2MP.
  • Dual LED Flash and Multi Autofocus. 
  • Front Camera: Sony IMX471 sensor, 16MP, EIS, fixed focus, f/2.4.

 

The camera app is straightforward to use with the signature Hasselblad orange appearing on the shutter button, various modes above it and a few more options towards the top of the screen. You can use three options to switch from 0.6x through to 3.3x and you can pinch-zoom all the way through to 30x (digital) zoom. To access the super macro mode, you simply click the flower symbol at the top of the camera app and the OnePlus 9 Pro also makes suggestions on when you might want to switch this on or use the wider lens for capturing landscapes, too. 

The macro lens couldn't be easier to use with fast focus that's easy to see on screen and it just works a lot better than other macro modes available on some rival smartphones we've reviewed in the past. 

Filters can be scrolled through and applied live so you can see how they'll look in-camera which we really like as it saves time and means you don't have to go into your gallery and edit the photos afterwards. To access these, you click the 3 circle icon found to the right of the screen that sits in-line with the zoom options. The last filter option is 'Mono' which uses the built-in Monochrome camera but this is a fixed lens and you can't access the zoom options with it but results are excellent as you'll see in the performance section of the review. 

 

OnePlus OnePlus 9 Pro
 

In settings, you can remove the UltraShot HDR and Smart Scene recognition options that are automatically on but we found them really useful and they certainly enhance images. UltraShot HDR learns your environment and uses AI to blend multiple frames into one shot while Smart Scene Recognition recommends the best shooting effect for what's in the scene. When it recognises something, a symbol pops up bottom left (in the Hasselblad orange) to let you know which will have a tree for landscapes, a building for architecture... etc.

Other modes include: Nightscape, UltraShot HDR, Smart Scene Recognition, Portrait mode, Pro mode, Panorama, Tilt-shift mode, Focus Peaking, Cat/Dog Face Focus, Raw file, Filters, Super Stable, Video Nightscape, Video HDR, Video Portrait, Focus Tracking, Timelapse and Hyperlapse.

You can have a lot of fun playing around with the various modes but if you want more control, switch to Pro mode which is one of the easiest Pro modes we've used on a smartphone. Some other smartphones seem to over-complicate their Pro modes but this one is straightforward and easy to control which is what you want with smartphone photography. Users can also shoot in 12-bit RAW format for 64x the colour compared with 10-bit RAW traditionally found in other smartphones.

Video is an interesting feature on the OnePlus 9 Pro as it can be captured in 8K as well as 4K so you can take stills from the footage you capture in 8K. Video modes include Video Nightscape, Video HDR and Video Portrait. Plus, there's a video editor and the zoom options can be used when capturing footage, too. 

OnePlus 9 Pro Video Options At A Glance:

  • 8K video at 30fps
  • 4K video at 30/60/120fps
  • Super Slow Motion: 720p video at 480fps
  • 1080p video at 240fps
  • Time-Lapse: 1080p at 30fps, 4K at 30fps
  • Video Editor

 

Battery life - The battery is decent at 4500mAh and easily lasted a full day of use which included capturing photos/video. The speed the smartphone can be charged at is also very impressive with the charge going from 40% to almost full battery in under 20 minutes. 

Geekbench 5 Scores - Single-Core: 1129 and Multi-Core: 3685

 


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