OnePlus 9 Review

OnePlus has recently launched OnePlus 9 series and we have already reviewed the OnePlus 9 Pro. And after fighting over the early bugs and issues and four to five updates  later, we are here with our OnePlus 9 review. Other than the normal review about the specs and user performance of primary features of the smartphone, we will also try and  answer questions like ‘Is Hasselblad truly worth it or is it just a marketing strategy?’, ‘Is it worth spending, or no?’ and many more. If you are questioning what’s different in this new phone as compared to the its previous version or any other smartphone, you can read this before you go ahead.

OnePlus 9 key specifications
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC
  • Adreno 660 GPU
  • 8 GB or 12 GB RAM options
  • 128 GB or 256 GB UFS 3.1 internal storage
  • 6.55-inch Full HD+ (2400 x 1080) Fluid AMOLED display with 120 Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ and Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Cameras: 48MP with PDAF (wide) + 50MP (ultrawide) + 2 MP (Monochrome), 16MP (wide) selfie camera
  • 4,500 mAh battery with 65W fast charger
  • Android 11 with OxygenOS 11
  • 5G-compliant, Bluetooth 5.2, Dual band WiFi a/b/g/n/ac/6

When OnePlus started teasing the 9 series with the image of the Moon, many people from technology industry already had an idea that they are tying up with Hasselblad for the cameras in the 9 series. Now this partnership with Hasselblad is for 3 years in which OnePlus will invest $150 million through its duration. But for this series, their statement says that, Hasselblad has helped OnePlus 9 series with only colour toning in the cameras. But in many ways, this was a very important moment for OnePlus because a lot of the brands have already tied up with other camera/lens brands and sometimes such collaborations attract more customer.

If you’ve been using many OnePlus phones over the years, then you would know that the performance of their cameras was probably the weakest part of their phones. They’ve always had amazing phone specs and performance, but as good as the other things about the smartphone were, for some reason that same level of outcome would never get translated to their cameras.

OnePlus 9 price in India
Rs. 49,999 for 8 GB RAM with 128 GB internal storage
Rs. 54,999 for 12 GB RAM with 256 GB internal storage

OnePlus 9 Look, Body and Feel
The OnePlus 9 has a similar design to its previous version, the OnePlus 8T, apart from the layout of the camera box. It has the same glass-fronted 6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass and a glass back like the 8T. The lock button and ring/vibrate/silent toggle switch on the right and volume button on the left are in the same positions as well, all of which are in easy reach when you are normally holding the phone. It comes with the same USB-C port on the bottom with the speaker on the right to it, as well as a second speaker out of the earpiece.

The edges on the OnePlus 9 are slim, and make the phone feel thin than it is and the phone feels good to hold. Also, the phone is 0.3 mm slimmer than the 8T, but the company has opted for a glossy finish instead of matte along the edges, which definitely invites a lot of smudge marks. In order to keep it light weight (183 gm), OnePlus has given away the metal frame in the previous versions of OnePlus phones and replaced it with plastic. While it doesn’t feel like plastic to touch, it does put a doubt on the phone’s life. Having a plastic frame on the Nord is acceptable but doesn’t feel accurate on a ₹ 50,000 device.

Just like previous versions, it comes with in-display fingerprint scanner, but unlike the OnePlus 8 or 8T (it was located a little higher than regular for easier access), now they have moved it down a centimeter or two on the 9, and the user has to strain their thumb to reach it. The finger print scanner is highly responsive and works well. The SIM slot is present in the bottom on left side of charging port, and it can fit up to two nano-SIMs. The OnePlus 9 now comes with 5G. Till we have 5G in India, a user can use up to two 4G SIMs. The OnePlus 9’s screen is almost similar to the 8T. It is a 6.55-inch, Fluid AMOLED display with 2400 x 1080 pixels of resolution, 120 Hz refresh rate and brightness of 1,100 nits. The display is extremely colourful and super smooth when using it on different apps. It comes with an option to switch the refresh rate from 120 Hz to 60 Hz to save battery. It switches to 60 Hz automatically in apps that don’t support 120 Hz.

OnePlus 9 Performance and Battery
The OnePlus 9 is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 SoC, and the phone we have is of 12 GB RAM and 256 GB of UFS 3.1 internal storage. OnePlus has always opted for the fastest Qualcomm chip available in market, and no doubt that the performance is top-notch. There was no lag in day-to-day use, or in any of the normal apps or using multiple apps at same time. Gaming was halt-free and totally smooth experience at the highest settings. In popular performance benchmarks like the Geekbench 5, scores are higher than those of the OnePlus 8T. In Geekbench 5, it recorded a Single-core score of 1,112 and a Multi-core score of 3,538, which was pretty impressive with the Snapdragon 888 SoC.

The OnePlus 9 again comes with the same 4,500 mAh battery from the 8T. But the battery life can be slightly less because the Snapdragon 888 draws a bit more than the 865 chip on the OnePlus 8T. The phone runs for close to 28 hours of normal use that includes a normal amount of using social media  apps, browsing, capturing few images, hour of viewing some videos on YouTube and twenty minutes of gaming. OnePlus has maintained the 65 W Warp charger, the charging time has reduced though. It charges the phone from 0 to 50 percent in 13 minutes approximately. The OnePlus 9 goes from 0 to 100 percent in approximately 35 minutes. It doesn’t exactly powers up in 29 minutes as the company advertises, but 35 minutes is definitely faster with a 4,500 mAh battery.

OnePlus 9 Camera
OnePlus has provided three rear cameras on the OnePlus 9 unlike the four cameras in the 8T. The phone packs a 48 MP primary camera with a Sony IMX689 sensor but missing one key feature for the first time since the OnePlus 5T which is Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS). The second camera is a 50MP ultra-wide camera with a Sony IMX766 sensor. This camera can also click macro shots, a feature coming from OnePlus 7T. Everyone was in dilemma that the third camera is the telephoto which is not. The third camera present is a 2 MP monochrome camera that gives a mono filter for photos shot using the primary camera. Pro mode is where Hasselblad plays it role. It gives you better control over the ISO, White Balance, Shutter Speed, EV and Focus, if the user is more into photography they play around with the camera settings. The 16 MP front camera, with a Sony IMX471 sensor, holds its place in the OnePlus 9 like the 8T.

Image Quality

In terms of the daylight images, the camera performed really well. The images shot on OnePlus 9 were great, crisp and sharp. The images had a slight bluish tinge though. Also the camera performed well when it came to portrait mode, the background was smoothly blurred but the edge detection wasn’t that great. The wide camera is something a landscape lover will definitely fall for as OnePlus 9 has minimal distortion while capturing widescapes. And also without a telephoto lens, the camera performs average when capturing at 2x. The image shot at wide and zoom displayed pin cushioning and barrel distortion when it comes to portrait but while capturing landscapes there was very minimal architectural distortion.

In terms of lowlight images, the camera performed average. The images were very well detailed. Though it was slightly under exposed in some places. But the images shot using a nightscape mode were really brilliant, the exposure was nice, it was crisp and sharp. It was bit over saturated in some places but it performed really great in lowlight conditions.

Macro Mode
Continuing this feature from the OnePlus 7T, OnePlus 9 camera and the Super Macro mode is amazing. The images shot on macro mode of the OnePlus 9 is really useful and captures the details sharply and is surely a treat to use.

Tilt shift Mode
Another new feature in the camera is the tilt shift mode, which is something unique and a bonus to capture some different perspectives. But it is not something everyone will use it frequently unless you come across the mode.

The Pro Mode
Now the Pro Mode is where the Hasselblad plays the role when you use it but really it wasn’t something which we really expected with the hype. But yes, the colours are more natural and pure when using the Pro Mode. 

Video Performance
The OnePlus 9 can shoot video in 1080p, 2160p (4K), and 4320p (8K). The main wide camera can shoot 1080p video in 30 and 60fps, 4K video in 30 and 60fps, and 8K video in 30fps. The ultra-wide camera can record 1080p video in 30 and 60fps, 4K video in 30 and 60fps, and 8K video in 30fps. All zooming is done digitally. EIS is available in 30 and 60fps modes but not for the 120fps mode. It features two slow motion modes, 1080p 240fps and 720p 480fps, which save slowed-down footage. The Super Stable mode uses the ultra-wide camera and then crops into a view of the main wide camera and then uses that video to stabilize the shot. The Nightscape mode enables night mode for video on the main camera. The Portrait mode works almost same to the feature available for photos, isolating the subject from the background using an artificial depth of field. Super Stable, Nightscape, and Portrait mode all save videos in 1080p only.

OnePlus 9 starts at a price of Rs. 49,999. The phone has amazing specs and is also a great performer. The smartphone comes with a powerful and high-end Snapdragon processor and runs the latest Android 11 OS. The camera has been the weaker aspect of the brand, but with the OnePlus 9 series, the company has managed to overcome that after a few updates. The OnePlus 9 provides Hasselblad camera which pulls off some stunning results in Pro Mode. A great display, nice loudspeaker and 65W fast charging are the brownie points which you will get with the smartphone. The primary highlight of the phone is its overall performance and the cameras, unfortunately, still come secondary to that.