OnePlus has taken the wraps off its latest flagship smartphone, OnePlus 9 Pro. The new handset is the successor to the OnePlus 8 Pro announced last year, which didn’t get a refresh at the tail-end of last year when OnePlus announced its OnePlus 8T upgrade. So, what has OnePlus been working on for the last year? And has it been worth the wait?
As you’d expect from the Shenzhen-based phone start-up, OnePlus 9 Pro packs some truly mighty specs. It packs the latest-and-greatest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 system-on-a-chip, a 120Hz high-refresh rate Quad HD+ OLED display, support for superfast 5G downloads, and a 4,500mAh battery that can be recharged from 1-100% in a mind-boggling 29 minutes. And if you’d rather use wireless charging, things don’t get much slower – with the battery recharging to 100% in a little over 40 minutes.
While these numbers are all mightily impressive, they’re nothing new from OnePlus. The seven-year-old company has carved out a reputation by offering smartphones with more digits than a Countdown Numbers Game at a price that undercuts its more-established competitors, like Samsung, Huawei and Apple. So, speedier charging, nippier processors, and millions of pixels are hardly surprising.
What is surprising about the OnePlus 9 Pro is the camera.
The camera has long been OnePlus’ Achilles heel – with the photographs, Portrait Modes, and video not standing toe-to-toe with what you’re able to get from Apple, Samsung or Huawei devices. OnePlus has previously talked about addressing this blind-spot with huge internal investment. However, it has taken a different approach with the OnePlus 9 Pro.
The Chinese firm has partnered with prestigious camera company Hasselblad to boost the camera on the OnePlus 9 Pro. OnePlus engineers have worked with their counterparts from Hasselblad to bring the iconic colour performance its cameras are known for – to a smartphone for the first time. According to OnePlus, this wasn’t an easy task due to the different ways that smartphone camera systems work compared with the traditional cameras the Hasselblad teams were used to working with. Not only that, but Hasselblad has strict requirements for colour performance and image processing on any camera that’s associated with its iconic brand.
To ensure the OnePlus 9 Pro performed to Hasselblad’s specifications, the teams worked together to optimise hundreds of real-life scenes through computational photography to fine-tune the colour based on their understanding of colour performance as well as OnePlus’ experience of its users’ needs and habits. The result of all this hard work? The OnePlus 9 Series now uses OnePlus’ new standard for colour calibration – the Natural Colour Calibration tuned by Hasselblad – to bring more perceptually accurate and natural-looking colours to photos taken with the OnePlus 9 Pro.
OnePlus and Hasselblad have confirmed plans to continue to iterate and work together, which presumably means we’ll see future updates to the OnePlus 9 Pro with more adjustments, maybe some new features, and hopefully more teamwork for whatever handset is coming next from the Shenzhen-based smartphone company.
Aside from all the tuning in the software, OnePlus 9 Pro relies on a 48MP sensor, which has been custom-designed with some help from Sony. As well as pixel-sharp, Hasselblad-approved images, it can also shoot 4K video footage at 120 frames-per-second. Compared to previous OnePlus smartphones, it also offers faster focus speeds, four-times more colour information, cleaner daytime and night shots, and reduced motion blur in videos. As well as the main camera, the OnePlus 9 Pro packs a 50MP ultra-wide sensor and an 8MP telephoto sensor capable of 3.3x lossless zoom with Optical Image Stabilisation to stop shaking hands from blurring your snaps.
The OnePlus 9 Pro comes in three nature-inspired colours – Morning Mist, Pine Green and Stellar Black. The handset, which clocks in at just 2.2mm thick – enough to almost forget it’s even in your pocket, offers an IP68-rating for water and dust resistance. That means it can survive a soaking from rain, spilled wine, or a dunk in the toilet.
For the super-fast wireless charging speeds, you’ll need to fork-out for OnePlus’ new Warp Charge 50 wireless charging stand, which costs £69.95. However, OnePlus hasn’t followed in the footsteps of Apple and Samsung and still includes one of its super-speedy wired charging plugs and cables in the box.
“The OnePlus 9 Series represents a key milestone for OnePlus flagship smartphones. Co-developed with Hasselblad, the new Hasselblad Camera for Mobile will give users the ability to capture their own iconic moments with more accurate colours and premium image quality,” said Pete Lau, Founder, CEO and Chief Product Officer of OnePlus. “Together with the new OnePlus Watch, our latest flagship smartphone series offers a burden-less user experience with even the smallest detail tailored to challenge the smartphone industry and empower our Community through premium technology.”
OnePlus 9 Pro is available to pre-order now and will start hitting shelves in John Lewis, Three and Amazon from March 31 2021. Prices start at £829 for the entry-level model, which ships with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of non-expandable onboard storage. That rises to £929 for a maxed-out model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This top-tier model is also only available in the Pine Green colour option.