OnePlus 9 evaluate: Final efficiency with a middling digital camera

MSRP $729.00

“It is let down by a boring design and a digital camera that simply can’t compete with different units in the identical worth vary.”


  • Wonderful efficiency
  • Clean software program
  • Beautiful show


  • Boring design
  • Digital camera nonetheless wants work
  • Rising costs

Quite a bit has modified within the smartphone trade over the previous 12 months or so. Whereas OnePlus was as soon as the go-to phone for individuals who needed a near-flagship expertise at a couple of hundred bucks lower than the competitors, others have caught on. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, for instance, took the most effective issues in regards to the Galaxy S20, however supplied them at solely $700. Then got here the Samsung Galaxy S21, which begins at $800, a full $200 lower than its predecessor. Google’s Pixel 5 is simply $700, and the iPhone 12 is a palatable $800.

In different phrases, based mostly on worth alone, the OnePlus 9 isn’t a flagship killer. It’s priced on the low finish of the flagship vary, and as such, it must compete on its deserves.

I’m not attempting to suggest that it doesn’t compete. With options just like the latest-and-greatest processor, an attractive display, and a very good software program expertise, the OnePlus 9 brings loads to the desk. To not point out there’s additionally a OnePlus 9 Professional, which we’ve individually reviewed, that takes the OnePlus 9 and turns its options as much as 11. However, let’s dive into the OnePlus 9.

If you happen to’re within the OnePlus 9 Professional, which is dearer but additionally slightly extra technically succesful, learn our in-depth evaluate.

Design and show

The OnePlus 8T represented quite a lot of modifications for the corporate, however the OnePlus 9 is way more iterative. It’s not equivalent to the 8T — however you’d be forgiven for considering it was. It has the OnePlus 8T’s flat show, and its rectangular digital camera module on the high left of the again, each of that are variations from the OnePlus 8 from a 12 months in the past.

It’s not a foul look, however it’s a boring look. It appears to be like like a Samsung Galaxy S20 — which is ok, however not that thrilling in a world the place Samsung rolled the cube on quite a lot of design tweaks for the Galaxy S21 that assist it look each distinctive and extremely smooth.

The OnePlus 9 has a glass again, however to me, it feels slightly low cost, and I truly thought it was plastic at first, although that’s maybe owed to the sunshine weight. It additionally attracts fingerprints simply, and as such it rapidly loses its shiny look. Frankly, I truly choose the appear and feel the look of the plastic on the Galaxy S21, which might cross as frosted glass at a look.

There are points of the OnePlus 9’s design that I do love,although. Chief amongst these is the bodily ringer swap. Sure, it’s a small function, however it’s one I want extra Android phone makers would undertake. I do want that it was swapped with the left side-mounted quantity rocker, contemplating you’re doubtless to make use of the facility button extra usually than the ringer swap, however that’s a small criticism, and also you’ll simply get used to the structure.

There are points of the OnePlus 9’s design that I do love, although. Chief amongst these is the bodily ringer swap.

One other factor I really like in regards to the OnePlus 9 is its show. It’s a 6.55-inch AMOLED show with a 120Hz refresh price, and it appears to be like nice. Due to each the excessive refresh price and the trendy processor, the phone appears to be like and feels extremely responsive. A lot so that you just received’t actually discover that the show has a 1,080p decision moderately than the OnePlus 9 Professional’s 1,440p. You possibly can see a slight distinction between the phones once they’re subsequent to one another, however the OnePlus 9 proves {that a} excessive refresh price is extra vital than a excessive decision, inside cause. That’s one thing Samsung’s found out as effectively.

The show will get good and brilliant too, and is well seen in outside use. In accordance with OnePlus, the show brightness goes as much as 1,100 nits, which is slightly decrease than the OnePlus 9 Professional’s 1,300 nits. Nonetheless, it’s very brilliant, and I by no means discovered myself actually wishing it may get brighter.

Sadly, the machine doesn’t have the 1Hz to 120Hz variable refresh price out there on the OnePlus 9 Professional, however it does go from 60Hz to 120Hz, which continues to be nice, and helps lower down on battery use considerably.

Below the show is a fingerprint sensor, and it really works nice. The sensor is quick and correct, making it simple to get into your phone. It’s a little low on the show, making it a bit awkward to bend your thumb to achieve — however you’ll get used to the position.

Efficiency, battery, and charging

OnePlus phones have by no means actually been about their appears to be like. They’ve been about options for the worth — and that features the specs below the hood. As you’d count on from a flagship-level phone in 2021, the OnePlus 9 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, which is coupled with both 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and both 128GB or 256GB of storage, relying on the mannequin. I’m reviewing the mannequin with 12GB of RAM

The OnePlus 9 performs like a dream, due to the mix of a high-end processor, excessive refresh price, and comparatively light-weight software program. In cell gaming, it loaded rapidly and barely skipped a body. Throughout heavy multitasking, the machine was responsive and quick. If you happen to’re on the lookout for a excessive performer, the OnePlus 9 ticks that field.

The battery life on the OnePlus 9 is ok. It has a 4,500mAh battery that’ll get you thru a full day of use, and maybe a couple of hours into the following day should you miss a cost in a single day. It’s no slouch, however it’s not a multiday phone.

It truly doesn’t actually should be a multiday phone, although. OnePlus’ Warp Cost expertise is getting higher and higher, and it might now cost the OnePlus 9 from 0 to 100% in round half-hour. In different phrases, should you chuck it on the charger throughout a morning bathe, it ought to get nearly all of its battery life again. That’s fairly superb, and removes no matter battery anxiousness you will have from different phones. In fact, it requires utilizing the OnePlus-only Warp Cost charger, however you get one within the field with the phone. Extra bricks will set you again $65 every.

For the primary time, the bottom mannequin of a OnePlus phone additionally helps wi-fi charging, which was beforehand restricted to the “Professional” fashions. The OnePlus 9 helps as much as 15W wi-fi charging — not the 50W wi-fi charging that you must use a separate charger for, like on the OnePlus 9 Professional.

Digital camera high quality

Look in the back of the OnePlus 9, and also you’ll see the title of one other model: Hasselblad. The 2 have buddied up for the colour tuning of the OnePlus 9’s digital camera. There’s a distinction between the colour tuning on the OnePlus 9 and the previous-generation OnePlus 8, however the OnePlus 9 additionally has some new {hardware}, making it slightly tough to discern the variations.

The OnePlus 9 has a triple-camera system with one 48-megapixel primary digital camera, one 50MP ultrawide digital camera, and one 2MP monochrome digital camera that’s used for depth and element. It’s actually unlucky that there’s no telephoto digital camera right here, particularly contemplating that the Galaxy S21 manages to suit one (although calling it “telephoto” is a stretch) into its setup at an identical worth.

In the end, photos taken with the OnePlus 9 aren’t dangerous. They’re not fairly as colourful as, say, these taken with a Galaxy S21, nor have they got as a lot element. Not solely that, however the digital camera isn’t as constant — generally it’ll take higher pictures than different occasions, regardless of being in a really related scenario. However nonetheless, they’re not dangerous.

Sadly, at $730, not dangerous nonetheless isn’t actually adequate. In a world with the Galaxy S21, Pixel 5, and iPhone 12, the OnePlus 9 nonetheless falls brief. Nevertheless it looks like it’s enhancing issues — a software program replace partway via this evaluate course of improved the digital camera high quality a good bit. Hopefully, it would proceed with that pattern, although you need to by no means purchase a phone based mostly on hoping that it’ll enhance sooner or later.

The front-facing digital camera is 16 megapixels, and it’s, once more, fairly good — however not revolutionary by any means. Pictures taken with it appear to have a good quantity of distinction. They’re not essentially all that detailed, however they’ll do the job for the typical selfie.

Sadly, at $730, not dangerous nonetheless isn’t actually adequate.

There are some issues I actually do respect in regards to the OnePlus 9’s digital camera. OnePlus has labored onerous on capturing higher lowlight pictures, and whereas the phone doesn’t compete with another units, it’s leaps and bounds higher than the OnePlus 8. Additionally, the OnePlus 9 permits for macro pictures utilizing the ultrawide digital camera, just like the Galaxy S21. It’s a useful function, and means OnePlus can keep away from transport the low-quality macro digital camera that different corporations (together with OnePlus beforehand) are so keen on.

Software program expertise

If there’s one factor OnePlus has nailed, it’s software program. The phone ships with OnePlus’ OxygenOS 11, which is constructed on Android 11.

OxygenOS basically has been straying additional and farther from inventory Android, however it nonetheless gives a stripped-back expertise that’s easy and simple to navigate. I truly actually like nearly all of the tweaks OnePlus has made to the software program, just like the extra unified look to the Settings app and Fast Settings menu. And, its Darkish Mode now appears to be like and works nice throughout each the core software program and OnePlus’ apps.

OxygenOS additionally now lastly gives a stable always-on show. This function was launched on OxygenOS 11, and was out there on the OnePlus 8T, and it gives a look at info like your battery life, the time, and the climate. It’s much like everybody else’s always-on show, however nonetheless useful that it’s there within the first place.

OxygenOS additionally ships with a sequence of additional options. Notably, you’ll get the App Locker, which lets you require authentication to entry sure apps. You’ll additionally get Parallel Apps, which helps you to set up two situations of an app, to be logged into two completely different accounts. That’s excellent for these apps that don’t allow you to check in to a number of accounts themselves but. And, on OnePlus phones, you’ll be able to nonetheless entry the OnePlus Shelf, which gives fast info just like the climate, deep hyperlinks into some apps, the variety of steps you’ve taken, and extra. For first-time OnePlus customers, it might take some time to get used to remembering to make use of Shelf, however if you do, it might undoubtedly turn out to be useful.

Our take

The OnePlus 9 is an odd launch. It’s phone. With top-tier efficiency, an superior show, and a very good software program expertise, there’s undoubtedly a distinct segment for it. Nevertheless it’s let down by a boring design and a digital camera that simply can’t compete with different units in the identical worth vary.

It’s actually a disgrace, particularly given the software program expertise. You’d be hard-pressed to search out one other phone at any worth that’s as quick, and as clear software-wise, because the OnePlus 9. That’s in stark distinction to the Galaxy S21, which is quick, to make sure, however has extra cumbersome and bloated software program all through.

At $730, the OnePlus 9 simply doesn’t do sufficient to supply an entire expertise matching the worth, and in consequence, I like to recommend many customers to look elsewhere for this sum of money.

It’s vital to notice that the OnePlus 9 solely formally works with T-Cellular and Verizon’s 5G bands — so should you’re on AT&T, you might not get 5G connectivity.

Is there a greater various?

Sure. Chief amongst these alternate options is the Samsung Galaxy S21, which gives related efficiency and as-good show high quality, plus it appears to be like a complete lot higher and has a much better digital camera. If you’d like an Android phone within the $700 to $800 worth vary, it’s the phone you can purchase. On the clean-and-simple facet, however with a lesser show and specs, you’ll be able to decide up the Google Pixel 5 for related cash. Alternatively, you could possibly get the last-generation Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, which isn’t fairly as high-performing, however nonetheless has an awesome show, and arguably a greater digital camera, than the OnePlus 9. It’s solely $600.

In fact, there’s one other phone value contemplating in that worth vary: The iPhone 12. It gives among the many finest efficiency you will get in a smartphone, and it’ll doubtless be performing simply as effectively in three years, like we’ve come to count on from OnePlus phones. It gives a clear software program expertise in iOS, plus it has a superb digital camera. The one actual trade-off is the show, which appears to be like good, however doesn’t have a excessive refresh price just like the OnePlus 9 and Galaxy S21. And, switching ecosystems could also be a dealbreaker for some peiople.

Final however not least is the OnePlus 9 Professional. If you happen to actually like OnePlus’ model, you’ll be able to pay $970 for a higher-resolution show and a telephoto digital camera. You’ll nonetheless get the identical processing energy and total software program expertise. You’ll need to determine for your self if these issues are value that further money.

How lengthy will it final

The OnePlus 9 performs in addition to every other 2021 flagship, and in consequence, it ought to final at the very least three years earlier than it begins to essentially decelerate. It’s manufactured from glass, so that you’ll most likely need to put it in a case to guard it from any drops and bumps.

Must you purchase one?

No. The OnePlus 9 doesn’t do sufficient to justify its price ticket, and you need to get a Samsung Galaxy S21, S20 FE, iPhone 12, or Pixel 5 as an alternative.

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