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OnePlus 9 Pro review: Very good smartphone with few weaknesses

OnePlus 9 Pro review header
Picture: TechnikNews
(Post picture: © 2021 TechnikNews)

Last year's OnePlus 8 Pro was one of the best, if not the best smartphone of the past year. It was particularly impressive with its OLED display, performance and numerous functions, such as Warp Charge 30T or the IP68 certification against the ingress of water and dust. There was only a little room for improvement with the cameras and this is exactly where the successor, the OnePlus 9 Pro, take a giant leap forward.

OnePlus entered into a partnership with the camera manufacturer Hasselbald in order to be able to provide customers with the best results. However, the cooperation with the OnePlus 9 refers Pro only on software and especially on colors that are as accurate as possible. In the following lines you can find out whether the new camera is really that good and how the smartphone has otherwise fared in everyday life.

Haptics, design and processing

With dimensions of 163,2 mm in height and 73,6 mm in width, the OnePlus 9 counts Pro Although one of the larger smartphones, it can surprisingly still be used relatively well with one hand, which is also helped by the comparatively low weight of 197 grams. The thickness of 8,7 mm is also perfectly fine. In terms of handling, I like it much better than that S21Ultra or the very similar one OPPO Find X3, because OnePlus is slightly better at letting the back flow smoothly into the frame. The OPPO feels a bit sharp-edged in comparison and the S21 Ultra is by far not as pleasant in the hand due to its enormous size. Together with the Huawei P40 Pro More i have the 9th Pro actually preferably in the hand at the moment. OnePlus has done a great job here and improved a few things compared to the predecessor.

The frame is made of aluminum with a high-gloss finish and therefore feels extremely high-quality. The disadvantage, however, is that fingerprints are almost magically attracted, also on the back, at least in the silver color "Morning Mist" that I tested. The surface is glossy throughout, but the color appears matt due to the matt finish in the upper area and the lower area of ​​the device can be used as a mirror. At first I wasn't a fan of this color, but after a few hours of use I got used to it and finally found the color very chic. For those who don't like “Morning Mist”, OnePlus has two other colors on offer, black and green, both of which are matt.

In addition to the colors, the new camera design should also be noticed immediately. While the predecessor was equipped with three vertically arranged cameras and a fourth sensor directly next to it in the upper third, the manufacturer decided on last year's OnePlus 8Tto match the competition by positioning the cameras on the top left. It's the same with the new OnePlus 9 Pro, even if the end result is a little nicer than the 8T in my opinion, because the camera bump is in the device color and no longer in black. The cameras protrude slightly from the case, which means that the smartphone wobbles slightly when being used on the table.

If we turn the smartphone around, we see a huge display, which is only interrupted by a small punch hole in the left corner. The front camera can be found here, which is not annoying at any time in everyday life. Different from the regular one OnePlus 9 the panel is slightly rounded on both sides, making the device appear even narrower and therefore more comfortable to hold. The bezels around the screen are extremely thin and overall the front looks beautiful and harmonious.

There is absolutely no reason for criticism when it comes to processing. The case seems extremely stable and the back can never be dented. I would like to mention positively the excellent positioning of the keys and the high-quality pressure point. The typical alert slider above the power button is also disabledprowell made and is easier to use than the normal OnePlus 9.

Display - one of the best

Since the 7th Pro from 2019, OnePlus is at the forefront when it comes to displays and it's the same this year. The OLED panel measures 6,7 inches and, thanks to the WQHD+ resolution of 3.216 x 1.080 pixels, ensures a pin-sharp display. Individual pixels can never be seen in everyday use. That's exactly what you want for an RRP of 900 euros. Furthermore, the screen supports a smooth refresh rate of 120 Hertz, which means that the smartphone can display 120 frames per second. As a result, all animations and scrolling appear noticeably smoother than on smartphones with only 90 or even 60 Hertz.

OnePlus 9 Pro Display

The display of the OnePlus 9 Pro is currently one of the best on the market. (Picture: TechnikNews)

As is typical for OLEDs, we are dealing with excellent black and contrast values ​​and even the white value is at a very high level. In addition, there is an almost perfectly calibrated color reproduction, because colors are reproduced beautifully intensively, but sufficiently realistically. In this point it is even slightly better than the OPPO Find X3. Even with the maximum brightness I have nothing to complain about. Even in direct sunlight I never had Proproblems with readability. In a direct comparison, the S21 Ultra looks a bit brighter, but it is in a league of its own when it comes to the display.

The only thing that isn't quite on flagship level is the viewing angle stability. When viewed from the side, the panel turns slightly yellowish, which is not the case with the regular OnePlus 9. However, an S21 Ultra does not have perfect viewing angles either, which is why I do not want to complain too much here. It's not nearly as bad as it was with the Pixel 2 XL. You come with the viewing angle stability of the OnePlus 9 Pro definitely fine.

Software - OxygenOS 11

One of the greatest strengths of OnePlus smartphones has always been the software, because the in-house user interface OxygenOS based on Android 11 is very simple on the outside and equipped with useful additional functions. For example, there is an excellent always-on display, a very good night and eye protection mode, in which the blue light of the display is filtered out. Furthermore, the accent color can be changed according to your own taste.

The Chinese manufacturer recently announced that the OnePlus 9 series will be provided with software updates for three years and security updates for four years, which is definitely extremely commendable. However, it has recently taken a long time for the updates to be rolled out. At the time of the test report (July 28th), the security patch of my device was still at the state of May. This is definitely better for the price offered.

Performance - it doesn't get much better

The Snapdragon 888 from Qualcomm works under the hood, paired with either 8 or 12 GB of RAM and 128 or 256 GB of internal storage, which unfortunately cannot be expanded via a microSD card.

Together with the smooth refresh rate and the simple software, the smartphone flies through everyday things. You won't find any stutters or delays here and overall the operating speed is at an extremely high level. Even larger apps or games never cause problems Protrouble. Together with the OnePlus 9, we are currently dealing with the best performance in a smartphone. The predecessors were already really good, but OnePlus simply tops it up year after year. Big praise.

Heat development in everyday life

However, the smartphone gets noticeably warm after a little longer use, but also when taking pictures. However, it is by no means a concern and a Xiaomi Mi 11 still gets a little warmer. Still, there's room for improvement here and I feel like the new Snapdragon 888 comes with heatproproblems. For example, the OPPO Find X3 with the slightly weaker Snapdragon 870 performs a little better here.

Battery - full quickly and empty quickly

The battery is 4.500 mAh and can be fully charged in half an hour with the included power supply unit with up to 65 watts, which is extremely impressive. Samsung and Apple can only dream of such values. Big compliments to OnePlus. Wireless charging is possible with the in-house wireless charger with up to 50 watts, which is also extremely impressive. For comparison, Apple only brings it to 15 watts.

As impressive as the charging speeds are, the battery life is disappointing. With 120 hertz activated and full resolution, I can just about get through a day, but if it lasts longer or if I play a game in between, I can't get through the day. The screen-on-time was 5,5 to 6,5 hours. If you mainly use it in the WLAN, up to 7 hours are possible. These aren't terrible values, but I would have expected much better runtimes from a 4.500 mAh battery, an energy-saving Snapdragon 888 and an LTPO OLED display. Even the regular OnePlus 9, whose battery life I wasn't really happy with, lasts an hour longer on average, and the very similar OPPO Find X3 with the Snapdragon 870 manages up to two hours longer. For heavy users, the OnePlus 9 Pro definitely not the right choice.

Camera - very good, but not perfect

On the back, three vertically arranged cameras are positioned at the top left. The top sensor is the 50 megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with a bright aperture of f / 2.2. This is the IMX766 with a sensor size of 1 / 1.56 ″, which is also used in the OnePlus 9, OnePlus North 2 and OPPO Find X3 is used. The IMX789 main sensor with a sensor size of 1 / 1.43 ″ sits directly below. It has a resolution of 48 megapixels and is extremely bright with an aperture of f / 1.8. There is also an 8 megapixel telecamera, which enables a 3,3x optical zoom, and a monochrome camera with only 2 megapixels. The 16 megapixel front camera is the same as in the OnePlus 9. In terms of hardware, a lot has changed compared to the predecessor, but that's not enough, because a lot has also been improved on the software side. The Chinese manufacturer worked with Hasselblad in order to be able to deliver images with particularly realistic color reproduction.

OnePlus 9 Pro Camera

The Hasselblad quad camera of the OnePlus 9 Pro. (Image: TechnikNews)

In good lighting conditions, the main camera takes very sharp pictures with an excellent dynamic range, which, however, sometimes appear slightly artificially sharpened, which I noticed with the regular OnePlus 9. According to OnePlus, the cooperation with Hasselblad relates in particular to accurate colors and I can definitely confirm that. Especially in comparison to OPPO and Samsung, colors are reproduced much more naturally, which I like very much. However, the OnePlus 9 skins Pro from time to time also quite wrong, which means that red tones in particular are displayed too oversaturated. The sky also often looks unnatural and the camera rarely tends towards warmer colors. In addition, slightly darker areas, such as plants in the shade, are rendered much too dark, almost black, which means that many details are lost. This also has relatively little to do with realistic colors, because in reality dark areas were not nearly as dark as the OnePlus 9 Pro has played back. Despite all this, there are visible improvements in color reproduction compared to the predecessor, although I would have hoped for a little more here. When you work specifically with a camera manufacturer to ensure accurate colors, I expect consistently reliable shots with natural color reproduction.

As soon as the lighting conditions deteriorate, the night mode ensures sharp images, which can usually convince with an accurate white balance. In principle, the general color reproduction is also convincing across the board, but the OnePlus 9 Pro Protrouble to map the sky correctly. He often seems oversaturated. Overall, I'm very happy with the lowlight performance. The manufacturer could still improve a little with future updates, but OnePlus is still at the top in poor light conditions.

However, the biggest improvements are in the new ultra wide-angle camera. Rather less in good lighting conditions, because the predecessor was already able to convince here. Great color reproduction, excellent dynamic range and very good edge sharpness are the highlights of this camera in daylight. When it comes to general sharpness, however, other smartphones can keep up and are sometimes even a bit better. However, when it gets darker, Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi and Vivo can no longer keep up, especially in terms of brightness. The pictures taken by the competitors are often too dark, sometimes too bright. The OnePlus 9 Pro on the other hand, shoots perfectly exposed photos at all times. Even the finest details are still clearly visible and the color rendering is on point. Along with its smaller brother, the Find X3 and X3 Pro we are dealing with the best ultra wide-angle camera in a smartphone. Let's see if Huawei can keep up with the upcoming P50 series.

In principle, zoom shots are okay, as the colors have been improved a bit compared to the predecessor, but unfortunately I don't see any improvements in terms of sharpness and overall it has to be said very clearly that OnePlus cannot keep up with Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi by far. These offer periscope cameras with 5x or 10x optical magnification.

Strangely enough, black and white photos are extremely blurry, although the good main camera and not the 2 megapixel monochrome camera is used for this. So I recommend everyone to take a normal color photo and then edit it.

The front camera takes solid pictures, but they can't quite keep up with the competition. The same sensor has been installed here for over two years. So it's time for a new front camera.

Test photos

Let's take a look at a few test photos. The following images are absolutely unprocessed, but compressed without loss in order to keep loading times and memory consumption of the website low.

Comparison with the OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Finally, we want to compare the cameras with the competition in different situations. I decided on the one hand for the predecessor to see what has changed after a year and on the other hand for the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which is currently one of the best in terms of cameras on the market.

As you'd expect, the OnePlus 9 delivers Pro the most natural shots in good light conditions. The sharpness and the dynamic range are also convincing across the board. However, the tide turns with zoom shots. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra clearly wins here, whereas the 9th Pro has a clear edge on the ultra-wide-angle camera, especially in low-light conditions. Here sharpness and color reproduction are on a different level. However, if you switch to the main camera in poor light conditions, the differences are very limited.

Others - speakers, fingerprint sensor, and more

The OnePlus 9 Pro uses stereo speakers that sound surprisingly good. They get very loud, deliver a nice sound and even the bass, if you can say that about a smartphone, is convincing across the board. OnePlus is definitely at the forefront here.

The smartphone can be unlocked using the fingerprint sensor integrated into the display, which is positioned far too far below for my taste. In terms of reliability and speed, it is currently one of the best on the market. Often just a short tap on the fingerprint sensor icon is enough to unlock the device.

One of my highlights is definitely the built-in vibration motor, which gives an incredibly high-quality feeling and vibrates very precisely. Unlike some other vibration motors, it does not sound annoying at any time. Together with the regular 9 and the Xiaomi mi 11 ultra has the OnePlus 9 Pro currently the best vibration motor.

Last but not least, I would like to mention that the smartphone is IP68 protected against the ingress of water and dust.

Summary

The OnePlus 9 Pro is a successful further development of its predecessor. The cameras have gotten even better, the design and feel have been perfected, the speakers are incredibly good, and even the loading speeds and performance have been improved. The smartphone only has major weaknesses when it comes to battery life, which in my opinion is the Processor is owed. If you attach great importance to battery life, you should probably not use this smartphone unless you don't have one Proproblem of charging the device again briefly in the evening.

For currently 800 euros I can buy the OnePlus 9 Pro I would recommend it in principle, but I would advise everyone to get the regular one before making a purchase OnePlus 9 and 8 Pro to take a closer look, as they also offer a really strong overall package for currently only 600 euros.

Thank you to OnePlus Germany for providing the OnePlus 9 Pro!

OnePlus 9 Pro buy

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Fabian Menzel

Fabian has been part of since mid-September 2020 TechnikNews and regularly provides the site with various news, but also with some test reports on smartphones. It's a lot of fun for him and he's extremely grateful to have such a great team at his side. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to music and occasionally taking photos with his Huawei P50 Pro.

Fabian has already written 260 articles and left 22 comments.

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