OnePlus 9 review: Still a flagship slayer?
The OnePlus 9 makes just the right compromises to offer top-shelf parts and performance at a competitive price point. Why compromises? You may ask. Well, it is quite simple actually. The all-singing, all-dancing Pro models steal all the limelight these days when it comes to the launch of any brand’s flagship range. Buyers are likely to choose between the two when making a decision. While the most affordable variant in the OnePlus 9 line-up doesn’t get the flagship processor among other things, the spec sheets of the 9 and the 9 Pro are fairly similar bar a few important differentiators. We got our hands on the OnePlus 9 for a comprehensive review to find out what those differentiators translate into in the real world.
With the OnePlus 9 Series, the brand is trying hard to address an area where OnePlus has typically lagged behind the big players of the smartphone world – its camera tech. OnePlus has brought on Hasselblad for a multi-year deal with a significant outlay now dedicated for camera R&D.
OnePlus phones have come a long way when it comes to design and build quality. On first glance, the phones look very similar apart from a slightly different camera module. The materials however are different. The frame is made of plastic instead of aluminium on the OnePlus 9. While you still get a glass back, it doesn’t feel as premium. The screen too is completely flat as opposed to slightly curved on the Pro model. That said, I have never really been a fan of curved screens – unintended inputs are a constant worry. The build quality is top notch and hard to fault. The camera module too gets an update and gets the Hasselblad branding.
The 6.7-inch LTPO OLED panel on the Pro is swapped with a 6.55-inch OLED panel with FHD instead of QHD in the Pro. The screen does support adaptive refresh rate but it cannot go as low as 1Hz on the Pro. The display itself gets plenty bright and is a treat to use outdoors.
Hasselblad’s contribution to this current line is mostly in tuning the colour science and some minor interface changes. The OnePlus 9 packs the same 48-megapixel Sony IMX689 main sensor as last year’s Pro model unlike the 9 Pro which gets an all-new sensor. It also misses out on a telephoto. The rest of the camera package is shared between the phones. Pictures as crisp, reasonably detailed with very good colour reproduction.
Performance, as you’d expect is snappy and on par with the 9 Pro. The same internal hardware, including the same 4500mAh battery, means that the 9 and 9 Pro, aided by Oxygen OS and a high refresh rate display feel effortless. Larger vapour chambers ensure that the internals can stay cool for longer and sustained performance isn’t lost to thermal throttling. The 65W fast charging also means that you’d seldom have to worry about battery life.
With the 9, OnePlus has left behind some of the features that only power users would miss. In doing so, it has made the 9 a formidable device with flagship-level performance, build and user experience at a competitive price point. Hard to not recommend.
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