OnePlus (OnePlus 9 Review) has built a reputation in two areas for most of the past decade: the best specifications and the lowest price. Over time, the latter has gradually disappeared, and OnePlus has also launched its “Pro” product line, thus creating a device that is directly contrary to the “Never Settle” motto. However, by 2021, the ordinary OnePlus 9 will still stand in the shadow of Pro, but it is a better choice than ever.
From lightning-like performance to the powerful battery, it has a rich lineup of features, all of which constitute a truly sturdy everyday phone. Of course, it may not have the more dazzling features of mobile phones such as Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or iPhone 12 Pro Max, but the starting price is $729 (£629), which is more approachable, it represents a comprehensive excellent value and is a good one.
For mobile phones, consider whether you are not looking for the best product. Shipped on March 26, pre-orders will receive a set of OnePlus Buds Z as a reward.
- Supercharged processor
- Awesome battery life
- Incredible fast charging
- Affordable price
- No official waterproofing
- The camera is good for the money, but not great
OnePlus 9 Attractive Design & Display
It has a smooth back and metal edges, a neat camera, and also the light blue and blue tones on the model. Its screen doesn’t bend well at edges like Pro. Overall, it feels more mid-range than high-end, but is this really the reason for the extra money?
Smooth metal rails and glass back cover ensure the solid quality of the product, although both materials are cheaper than them. The rail doesn’t have the classic “reachable” feel of aluminum, but this is because it is not metal. It’s plastic.
Considering price increases, this is a cost-cutting measure, but unfortunately, this is not a large sum. The back is still glass. Some people mistakenly think that the rear panel is actually plastic, but confirmed through OnePlus that it is indeed Gorilla Glass 5, which is just like plastic, which feels a bit strange.
Regarding the display, the story is almost the same, and OnePlus also said a lot at its own press conference. The 6.55-inch 1080p panel is not particularly clear, but it looks very comfortable.
Enjoying 120Hz as always, we never felt that we missed the Pro’s adaptive refresh rate. Even if both are used at the same time, there is no obvious difference. It may have a slight impact on the battery, but the impact is minor. The brightness is suitable for outdoor viewing; you may experience problems with direct sunlight, but in most cases this is sufficient.
However, the biggest advantage is that the display is flat. There is no curved glass here, just a better flat panel display.
Better Battery Life & Incredible Fast Charging
The battery size of the OnePlus 9 is the same as its 9 Pro sibling, but I find that its battery life is much longer. why is that? This may be related to the screen.
It measures 6.55 inches with 2,400×1,080 pixels, which is slightly smaller than the 9 Pro and has a lower resolution. This means fewer pixels need to be lit, so the battery consumes less power.
In our shutdown test, it ran for 23 hours continuously, which left a deep impression on people, which made it comparable to the S21 Ultra and laughed at the 15 hours reached by the 9 Pro.
If you really want to tap the battery and find that you run out of power in the afternoon, the OnePlus 9 has the same 65-watt fast charging function as the Pro.
The amazing thing is that it can go from empty to full in about 30 minutes. It’s really fast, which means it’s perfect for those occasions where you forget to charge it and just need to recharge it quickly before going out.
Even better, a 65-watt fast charger is included in the box. Although it does not have the 9 Pro’s 50-watt fast wireless charging function, it also supports wireless charging. Personally, I don’t think this is a big loss, but it is worth keeping in mind.
OnePlus 9 Software Performance
OxygenOS 11 is built on Android 11, with some additional custom features and some additional applications. Since the OnePlus 8T last year, the story hasn’t changed much, but it’s not a bad thing.
OxygenOS 11 is a clean and fast interface, OnePlus finally paid some attention to solving the lethality problem of its background applications. During the one-week and one replacement period of using the OnePlus 9 as a smartphone user, I have never encountered problems related to this; even with a model with 8GB RAM.
OnePlus’ software has been changed to look less like normal Android but more like Samsung’s OneUI, but it can fill this gap well.
Very good, very fancy, but there is a caveat. OnePlus was once praised for its excellent software support, but as the company grew, this reputation gradually disappeared.
The OnePlus 8 series can install Android 11 in a few weeks, but the OnePlus 7 series must wait six months to get the same update. OnePlus is very consistent in terms of security patches, but this is because updates are always late and usually skip a few months.
This is a side effect of the way OnePlus handled its launch, but the so-called benefits of making each update more stable have not been realized.
Unfortunately, OnePlus is far behind this situation. The Pixel gets three years of major updates, and Samsung phones get the same updates, plus one year of security updates. When prices are rising year by year, OnePlus really has no excuses to lag here.
I have argued with the 9 Pro that its camera is great, but the Galaxy S21 Ultra or iPhone 12 Pro Max does not. Although the same is true on the OnePlus 9, this phone is not trying to compete with the absolute elite of the smartphone world.
The professional version of the camera is a bit compromised. For example, it does not have an optical zoom, so you will use a standard lens and an ultra-wide-angle lens, and the physical sensor of the main camera is smaller.
For most shots, you may not be able to tell the difference, because it can take some very beautiful photos, even with exposure and a lot of detail.
OnePlus 9’s main camera is a 48MP camera, which uses a slightly different sensor compared to the 9 Pro. The main difference between the two cameras on the main lens is the depth of field. The bokeh on the Pro is more pronounced than on the 9, but in many cases, this is actually more advantageous.
The colors on 9 are also great, and the phone achieves a good balance between bright and vivid images without losing accuracy. Part of the credit goes to Hasselblad, which is part of a collaboration with OnePlus to adjust the colors.
The other two lenses are a 50MP super wide-angle lens and a 2MP monochromatic lens. Frankly speaking, that smaller 2MP sensor is meaningless. There is absolutely no benefit to using it on a regular black and white filter, I would rather see that even a normal telephoto lens can replace it. However, the ultra-wide lens is still good.
OnePlus does a good job of minimizing distortion and preserving details, but in my tests the chromatic aberration between the main lens and the ultra-wide lens is obvious.
We introduced the camera on OnePlus 9 in more depth in the “Shot for Shot” series, but the consensus for smaller phones is that it is indeed as powerful as the Pro.
The pictures usually look just as good, the only real flaw is the lack of any telephoto lens. This is indeed a delightful shooting experience, and it goes well with companies such as Samsung and Google.
There are Little more Things on OnePlus 9
OnePlus has an optical fingerprint sensor underneath its OLED display, and as in the past few years, it is one of the best sensors in the industry. The only complaint is that for whatever reason, the sensor is located just above the bottom of the display, so it can sometimes be a little uncomfortable to touch. However, the speed and accuracy are absolutely reliable.
The important note about the OnePlus 9 and Pro is that the network situation in the United States is very complicated. First of all, dual SIM cards are no longer supported. This feature has been used on OnePlus phones in the United States for a long time, making them the only phones in the United States with proper dual SIM support.
At present, using 5G alone is not very important, but even with this phone, you will only be able to use 4G on AT&T, and there is no hope that this will happen in the future. However, T-Mobile will support this feature on unlocked and carrier-sold models.
There are three key reasons. First of all, the functional differences such as fast charging and wireless charging are relatively small. Secondly, there is not much difference in camera quality. Perhaps most importantly, the price difference is greater compared to the past few years. The price of the Standard 9 is US$729, while the price of the Pro is US$969, a difference of US$240. So, I think the OnePlus 9 is a good choice overall. The hardware here is sturdy and has a lot of value.