The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro are finally here after weeks of leaks showing off the flagship phones. One thing we didn't know was pricing and at $729 and $969, respectively, OnePlus has managed to undercut Samsung's price reduced Galaxy S21 lineup.
The question is whether the entire package remains a better value than the Galaxy S21 and at first blush, it's hard to tell. There are some definite advantages on the OnePlus side with the unbelievably fast 65W charging (from a charger that's included in the box) and some notable performance improvements, but the new Hasselblad-branded cameras remain a bit of a wild card with Samsung still able to hold its massive zoom range over OnePlus.
Here's a look at everything there is to know about the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro to help you decide whether these might be the flagships for you.
OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro price and availability
The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro will be available for pre-order starting on March 26 and will be widely available beginning April 2.
The base model OnePlus 9 starts at $729 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in either Winter Mist or Astral Black. For $829, you can upgrade to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage; this model will only be available in Astral Black.
The base model OnePlus 9 Pro starts at $969 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with Morning Mist as the lone color. For $1,069 you can upgrade to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage; this config will be available in Morning Mist or Pine Green.
OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0||OnePlus 9||OnePlus 9 Pro|
|Display (resolution, refresh rate)||6.55 inches, 2400 x 1080-pixels (402 ppi); 120Hz AMOLED||6.7 inches, 3216 x 1440-pixels (525 ppi); 120Hz Adaptive AMOLED|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|RAM||8 or 12GB||8 or 12GB|
|Storage||128GB or 256GB||128GB or 256GB|
|Rear Cameras||Triple camera; 48MP, f/1.8 main; 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide; 2MP monochrome||Quad camera; 48MP, f/1.8 main; 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide; 8MP 3.3x telephoto f/2.0, 2MP monochrome|
|Front camera||16MP, f/2.4||16MP, f/2.4|
|Video capture||Up to 8K at 30 fps; 4K at 60fps||Up to 8K at 30 fps; 4K at 120fps|
|Battery capacity||4500 mAh (65W charging)||4,500 mAh (65W charging)|
|Colors||Winter Mist or Astral Black||Morning Mist or Pine Green|
|Size||6.3 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches||6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches|
|Weight||6.77 ounces||6.95 ounces|
OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro design
OnePlus refers to the design of these phones as "burdenless" and while it may not be flashy, it's not a bad descriptor for the phones. The curved backs make them very comfortable to hold and the lack of a large periscope zoom lens means they aren't as difficult to handle without a case as many other current flagships.
The biggest design change from the OnePlus 8 is to the rear camera array, which like the OnePlus 8T, is now rectangular and located in the upper-left corner of the phones.
The OnePlus 9 Pro retains its curved screen, but slightly less aggressive than the OnePlus 8 Pro in an effort to eliminate mistouches and distortion. The OnePlus 9 sticks to a flat screen like its predecessor.
At 6.3 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches and 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches respectively the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro are very similar in height and width to last year's models, but both are slightly thicker. While the OnePlus 9 also added on weight at 6.77 ounces (up from 6.35), the OnePlus 9 Pro is actually slightly lighter at 6.95 ounces (down from 7.02).
Unlike Samsung's Galaxy S21, even the lower-end OnePlus 9 still features a Corning Gorilla Glass back, which should give it a somewhat more premium feel, we'll see how that holds up in durability testing.
The OnePlus 9 comes in either Astral Black or Winter Mist. The former is a matte finish beneath the glass while the latter is purple with a gradient effect that should make it an attention grabber. The OnePlus 9 Pro will be available in either Morning Mist or Pine Green. The former is a mirrored silver finish that again has a gradient effect and the latter is a forest green with a double-layer matte finish.
OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro display
If you are looking for the feature disparities between these two, the display is one of the most significant. While both feature a 120Hz AMOLED panel, the specs diverge from there.
The OnePlus 9 has a flat 6.55-inch, FHD+ (2400 x 1080) AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The OnePlus 9 Pro bumps up to a 6.7-inch curved QHD (3216 x 1440) AMOLED with LTPO display with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate.
While the resolution break mirrors what we saw on the Galaxy S21 lineup, OnePlus didn't manage to bring LTPO panels to both models, so the OnePlus 9 will require you to make manual changes to the refresh rate rather than having it adjust to content on-screen to save battery life.
It shouldn't come as a considerable surprise given its price point. There had to be some sacrifices made on the OnePlus 9 and as long as it doesn't severely impact battery life, this doesn't really impact most users.
In our testing, the displays are quite close when it comes to brightness with a max of 696 nits for the OnePlus 9 and 722 nits for the OnePlus 9 Pro. Both should be plenty to make these phones handle sunny conditions.
Color accuracy was remarkable on the OnePlus 9 Pro; the natural setting produced a Delta-E score (lower is better) of 0.20, the lowest we've seen on a smartphone. The OnePlus 9 at 0.27 was still above average and with the phones in their vivid setting, the OnePlus 9 only bumped up to 0.28 while the 9 Pro went to 0.32.
Color gamut was somewhat similar with the OnePlus 9 Pro in its natural setting reproducing 84.9% of the DCI-P3 color spectrum, compared to 73.8% for the OnePlus 9. Vivid settings pushed this to 147.4% for the 9 Pro and 141.3% for the OnePlus 9.
OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro cameras
Much has been made of the OnePlus 9 cameras already as OnePlus made a massive $150 million dollar investment over the next three years as part of its partnership with Hasselblad. That deal isn't impacting the hardware yet this year (with the exception of Hasselblad branding), but the software did get upgrades, which we'll test in our full review.
Looking strictly at the hardware, the OnePlus 9 features a 48MP Sony IMX689 main sensor at f/1.8, an ultra-wide 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor at f/2.2, and a 2MP monochrome sensor. The front-facing camera is a 16MP Sony IMX471 at f/2.4.
The OnePlus 9 Pro offers some slight revisions to that lineup with a 48MP Sony IMX789 main sensor at f/1.8, the same ultra-wide 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor at f/2.2, an 8MP 3.3X telephoto at f/2.4, and finally, a 2MP monochrome camera. The front-facing camera is also an identical 16MP Sony IMX471 at f/2.4.
The more balanced wide and ultra-wide sensors are a different play than what we are seeing from Samsung and Apple, so we're eager to find out how that performs in our testing, but the OnePlus 9 does feel a bit behind most flagships without any kind of telephoto offering.
Video is slightly superior on the OnePlus 9 Pro with the option to film 4K at 120fps compared to 60fps for the OnePlus 9. Both, however, can capture 8K at 30fps, for the dozens of people that have an 8K TV.
The real story is going to be the Hasselblad color science being brought to bear on the OnePlus camera system; the company has shown off some impressive samples, but we'll be putting them through the wringer ourselves soon.
OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro performance
The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro are both powered by the Snapdragon 888 chipset. Qualcomm has stated that it offers a 20% boost to CPU performance and 25% to graphics when compared to the Snapdragon 865 in last year's OnePlus 8 lineup.
As we've seen in the Galaxy S21 and even the ROG Phone 5, the Snapdragon 888 can't and won't overtake Apple's A14 Bionic, but at the same time, it offers enough power for any task that you are going to throw at it whether that's productivity, gaming or entertainment apps.
Both the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro feature the same RAM options of either 8GB or 12GB, so unlike the Galaxy S21 lineup, you don't have to go with the top-tier to get more than 8GB of RAM. Storage options are also identical at 128GB or 256GB; upgrading to the higher tier of RAM carries with it the upgraded storage so it isn't a mix and match.
Connectivity is fully future-proofed with support for 5G and Wi-Fi 6.
OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro battery life and charging
The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro both feature a 4500 mAh battery, using the same split battery design we first saw on the OnePlus 8T, which allows for the incredibly fast 65W charging, and yes, the charger is found in the box with the phone.
This allowed us to get the OnePlus 9 charged up to 62% in just 15 minutes and 98% in 30 minutes. The OnePlus 9 Pro performed almost identically at 61% in 15 minutes and 99% at 30 minutes.
In our battery testing, which involves the phones browsing the web continuously at 150 nits, both have held up quite well with the OnePlus 9 averaging 11 hours and 24 minutes at 120Hz while the OnePlus 9 Pro averaged 11 hours and 44 minutes in its Smart 120Hz mode.
The other notable upgrade when it comes to the charging for the OnePlus 9 is 50W wireless charging; the Warp Charge 50 wireless charger will be available separately for $69.99.
The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro still represent a value in the flagship phone space, but it's a much tighter contest after the Galaxy S21 price drop. The company continues to offer some true innovation with fast charging as a real differentiator compared to the stagnation from Samsung and Apple in that area.
On the Android side, OnePlus also has a tremendous software support track record compared to Samsung or any manufacturer outside of Google itself, which isn't to be taken lightly. The question is whether these are enough to sell you against some of the hardware deficits, like the reduced camera array and slightly less impressive display on the OnePlus 9. Our reviews for both phones will look to answer these questions for you and help you find the perfect fit for you.
Stay in the know with Laptop Mag
Get our in-depth reviews, helpful tips, great deals, and the biggest news stories delivered to your inbox.
Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.