OnePlus 9 Pro goes official. The flagship smartphone is aiming high this time, by fixing the flaws its phones have long been criticised for. The company took the camera feedback seriously and made drastic improvements to finally make amends with camera enthusiasts. The rest of the phone remains in line with OnePlus core strategy of fast and smooth.
OnePlus 9 Pro is priced at Rs 64,999 for 8GB+128GB variant and Rs 69,999 for 12GB+256GB model. We got the latter for review. If you're comparing the pricing with the predecessors, you'll feel OnePlus is burning a hole in the pocket, but we'd strongly recommend looking at what's being offered and the closest competition is far above in the price range.
Let's take a deep dive into the OnePlus 9 Pro to see what makes it flagship worthy and if there's still room for improvement.
OnePlus 9 Pro doesn't take a massive shift from from its predecessor in terms of overall design, with some minute changes that make the 2021 flagship stand out. We received the Morning Mist variant, but we are betting the Pine Green will have many takers or even the Astral Black for its fine sandstone finish.
The rear glass panel has a subtle gradient finish, which shifts from silver to a black shade gradually. Even the reflection goes from shiny to matte from bottom to up. It is a fine piece of architecture and the attention to detail is quite incredible. The rear camera module doesn't protrude much, which means less seesaw when laying flat on the table. The metallic frame complements the Morning Mist extremely well.
It is no surprise that OnePlus 9 Pro has a truly premium feel. Even to just look at it, the handset is a classy poser. Everything from the Alert Slider to the aesthetically pleasing speaker, USB Type-C port, Hasselblad branding and the physical controls on both sides speak true practicality.
OnePlus 9 Pro buyers also get this amazing silicone case, which isn't transparent and has a nice touch-feel. It is complementary and by far the best phone case we've seen with any phone.
When it comes to displays, we always find the Samsung Super AMOLED panels to get it the most right. After all, the Galaxy S21 Ultra gives you makes those pixels bleed to give you a punchy output pleasing to your eyes. While comparing the Samsung flagship with OnePlus 9 Pro side by side, you'll feel the difference. But as we used the OnePlus 9 Pro as our primary, we have to give it to OnePlus for making that 6.7-inch AMOLED panel with LTPO technology and adaptive refresh rate so good. It's not always about how bright or colourful the display appears, it is the response to touch, smoothness while you use it and of course the peak resolution when using the phone.
The 2K+ resolution with 120Hz refresh rate is quite good. The adaptive refresh rate switches between 1Hz to 120Hz depending on the tasks and it works as promised without giving you any hint of the transformation. The colours are more accurate on the OnePlus 9 Pro than its predecessors, which proves OnePlus is not just listening to criticism, but taking it too well and fixing them along the way.
OnePlus 9 Pro's display panel is not same as Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, so don't go comparing, at least for the sake of price difference.
OnePlus sure made a big deal out of its Hasselblad partnership and now we know why. In fact, we are more intrigued about what's to come in the next OnePlus phones, wherein Hasselblad has a more inclusive role than now since the current collaboration has done wonders in the OnePlus 9 Pro. We aren't saying it is by far the best camera phone out there, but boy, have the cameras improved by leaps and bounds.
Hasselblad's role in the OnePlus 9 Pro is the colour processing algorithm, which shows in the colours. They are more accurate and don't look washed out or faded anymore. The photos captured using the primary lens had excellent details, offered great dynamic range and sharpness. The noise reduction could go a long way, but it's only bothersome to eagle-eyed users. Either way, the photos that go on social media are already compressed and suck the life out of them.
The ultra-wide-angle lens does an excellent job at capturing wider landscapes or dramatic shots. And if you get just close enough to the subject, the camera automatically switches to macro mode for some incredible shots, which are sharp and detailed.
The biggest problem we noticed was with autofocusing in low-light, be it shooting in macro or in zoomed shots. Daylight performance is just exemplary and truly OnePlus has come a long way.
The portrait shots also manage to get the bokeh and edge detection right. But the same mode on the front camera suffers. The selfies in daylight capture good details, but the real struggle is in indoor settings. There's also a new tilt-shift mode, which has limited use cases, so we won't bet on you using it much unless there's a requirement. It's good to have a feature and not use it than not have it at all, right?
Since there was lot of moon-related shots in the advertisement, one would be fair to assume the OnePlus 9 Pro can capture those detailed moon shots like the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The straight answer to that is no, it cannot do that. Regardless, we just love the fact that OnePlus has finally made strides in the area where it lagged the most and like we said earlier, the future is promising.
Performance, UI & more
OnePlus 9 Pro is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC, which is paired with 8GB or 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB or 256GB UFS3.1 storage. For performance-hungry users, OnePlus 9 Pro is an ideal smartphone that keeps up with all your needs, be it gaming or running two dozen apps in the background and switching back and forth between 2-3 apps. OnePlus knows too well to test the limits on the chipset and having a powerful SD888 is more than capable to handle your day-to-day tasks, intense gaming, and other demanding tasks. OnePlus said there is a new thermal cooling architecture, but we cannot say the phone doesn't heat up when the performance peaks. You'll feel that when using camera continuously or while gaming for hours together.
OnePlus 9 Pro's OxygenOS 11.2 is by-far the best user interface and the immersive experience it offers can even outmatch the stock Android, a feat which many OEMs have failed to achieve. But of late, we've seen OEMs focus on the software front a lot, be it Xiaomi or Samsung, which have improved a lot in this arena. But OnePlus still leads the pack in 2021.
The clean UI without ads, snappy system, minimal navigation effects, and a whole lot of customisation options are a boon to have. It is the little things like universal search feature that will add to your user experience in the long haul. For instance, quick addition of numbers was as easy as typing the math problem in the search box to get the answer right away - all without having to open the calculator. In full disclosure, finding the calculator app on phones is sometimes a task.
We loved certain new additions like Hyper Touch feature, which improves touch response speed while maintaining frame rate stability. This is noticeable in games like CoD Mobile or PUBG Mobile (still officially banned in India).
There are some new additions too, like the Canvas for lock screen and ambient display transforms your photograph into pencil art, which shows your photo when the phone is unlocked and ready to use. The transition is smooth despite the feature being in beta mode. We also found this feature incredibly cool where the phone sends you an alert when a charging station is nearby.
OnePlus 9 Pro is future-proof with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 support, but that doesn't mean there's any compromise on the current usage patterns. We used the smartphone with Vodafone IN network in Bengaluru and the browsing speeds were at par with other flagships and we did not notice any call drops. Although, there were two instances where the other person on the line couldn't hear anything, but it's fair to write it off on the network at that given time rather than blame it on the phone.
OnePlus 9 Pro has an in-display fingerprint scanner like its predecessors. And it works effortlessly with great accuracy. Although, you might need to adjust your muscle memory to access the fingerprint scanner, which is for some odd reason placed lower than usual.
OnePlus was among the first to popularise fast charging. And the rest became history. Unfortunately, some OEMs are still lagging behind on the fast charging tech, but OnePlus has always nailed it. OnePlus 9 Pro just makes things so much better - faster than ever before.
OnePlus 9 Pro packs a 4,500mAh battery, which is a decently considerable size in our opinion. But the battery life is not the strongest suit in the overall package. We aren't saying it's bad as it will easily get you by the day, but who doesn't like a little extra. But the fact that the phone comes with a 65W Warp Charger 65T GAN charger, it makes more than up for the mediocre battery life.
In our usage, we consistently managed to get close to 5 hours of screen on time and that included the regular amount of calls, excessive use of social media, IM messaging, emails along with some binge-watching of TV shows to call it a day. Gaming tends to drain the battery faster, but if you can take a little heat to the palm, playing while charging is something OnePlus endorses, so go for it. Oh, and that cool silicone case does a fair job of making sure you don't feel the heat as much.
But the fast charging remains the star of the show. In just 30 minutes, we could get the battery to full and ready to use it for the whole day.
OnePlus also shipped the wireless charger for review, which can be bought separately for Rs 5,990. And if you ask us, it is the best investment if you are buying the 9 Pro. While the wired charging in the OnePlus 9 Pro is magical, the 50W wireless charging puts all the wireless charging phones to shame. Slow and wireless charging got kind of synonymous, and OnePlus changed that notion in 2021. In just one hour, you can get the OnePlus 9 Pro to full, which is an incredible feat. While you charge, you can place it horizontally or vertically, so catching up on that one last episode of your favourite TV show just got an excuse.
OnePlus 9 Pro is a complete flagship that is expensive but justifies that price tag quite well. From a premium design to improved cameras and no-compromise performance to blazing-fast charging, the OnePlus 9 Pro has everything you can ask for. The battery life could have been better, but the fast charging saves the day. There are a few kinks in the selfie camera, but that's not a deal-breaker for us and shouldn't be for you too.
OnePlus has used the Hasselblad collaboration to its advantage and if you've had your reservations about upgrading to a OnePlus phone from a different brand or even upgrade your old OnePlus phone, this might just be the one for you.