OnePlus 9 Pro review: powerful and recharges in a blink, but at what cost?

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OnePlus has announced the launch of a new flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 9 Pro. And with its launch, OnePlus has finally shed the image of a tiny, scrappy Shenzhen start-up attempting to outdo industry titans like Apple and Samsung by offering top-tier specs at a bargain price.

The OnePlus 9 Pro demonstrates that the company’s previous “flagship-killing” period is well and truly over. With a price tag that is almost identical to the £1,000 mark, there is no space for error this time around. While some errors were easily forgiven because OnePlus paid less than half of what it would cost to get the latest and greatest from Samsung, Huawei, and Apple… those days are over.

Therefore, can the OnePlus 9 Pro compete with the Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12 Pro series?

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Express.co.uk has been testing the OnePlus 9 Pro, in the gorgeous Morning Mist colour, for the last two weeks, and we’ve finally discovered the solution…

OnePlus 9 Pro review: Price and Availability

The OnePlus 9 Pro is priced starting at £829 for the entry-level model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It’s worth noting that the OnePlus 9 series lacks an expandable storage option, which means you’ll have to make do with whatever storage option you want at checkout. The top-of-the-line model costs £929 and comes equipped with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

Although the £829 model is available in both Morning Mist and Stellar Black, the top-tier model is exclusively available in Pine Green. OnePlus offers the new models SIM-free from its own online store, offering discounts for trade-ins.

Three and Vodafone are currently offering contracts, while O2 and EE are not.

OnePlus 9 Pro Review UK Price Release Date

OnePlus 9 Pro’s Morning Mist finish, pictured here, has an incredibly slippery feel – be warned (Image: ONEPLUS)

OnePlus 9 Pro review: Design

Without a doubt, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s build quality is commensurate with its hefty price tag. That is unsurprising. After all, the Shenzhen-based company has long been known for its stunning designs and sturdy construction, and it’s fortunate that none of that has changed with the new iteration. However, although it is unquestionably robust, the style is a little drab.

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Your mileage may vary, but this isn’t the best-looking smartphone we’ve seen from the OnePlus design team. It’s unfortunate that OnePlus has abandoned the vertically aligned camera stack that defined the OnePlus 7 generation. OnePlus 9 Pro, on the other hand, packs its quadruple camera setup into the same chunky square module in the top left-hand corner that Samsung, Google, and Apple have used.

While it does not look bad on its own, when enclosed in a case, the OnePlus 9 Pro begins to look indistinguishable from its closest competitors. In contrast, Huawei has made a point of using the rear camera to differentiate itself from the competition; we’d love to see the talented design team at OnePlus experiment with something similar.

The OnePlus 9 Pro features a large 6.7-inch AMOLED display on the front. With ultra-thin bezels, a tiny cutout for the front-facing camera, and an in-screen fingerprint scanner, OnePlus has done everything possible to minimise the handset’s overall size and maximise the amount of usable touchscreen. Having said that, this is still a monstrous phone. It’s slightly taller than the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is already very big.

If you’re watching Netflix on your commute, sharing your new vacation photos, or playing fast-paced action games, the 6.7-inch monitor is a pleasure to lose yourself in. If you’re attempting to send a text message quickly while walking, it’s a nightmare.

OnePlus 9 Pro Review UK Price Release Date

OnePlus 9 Pro has four cameras… but the fourth, a 2MP monochrome sensor, really wouldn’t be missed if it was dropped (Image: ONEPLUS )

The rear case’s glossy glass finish also does not help. The OnePlus 9 Pro is a slippery beast that can make you feel like you’re holding a bar of soap if you don’t have a firm grip on it. Indeed, the glass is so glossy that the OnePlus 9 Pro often begins to slip on flat surfaces on its own. We placed the handset on top of a box for security, only to discover it scurrying towards the tablet’s edge — Lemming-like — moments later.

Fortunately, OnePlus includes a really good silicone case with the phone. It has a more matte appearance and a much better grip.This is easily the nicest complimentary case we’ve ever seen included with a new handset, and it ensures that you’ll never be without one.

The OnePlus 9 Pro retains the warning slider in other areas. This enables you to toggle between Ring, Vibrate, and Silent modes with a physical switch, eliminating the need to continually search through the Settings menu. It’s an incredible feature, and we’re puzzled as to why Samsung, Google, and other Android manufacturers haven’t copied it already.

Finally, OnePlus is sticking with a curved monitor. Although this is futuristic in appearance and gives the phone the appearance of a perfectly polished pebble… It can be a bit aggravating to use at times. Although the screen does not curve as much as previous OnePlus handsets, it is still curvy enough that certain web pages can appear blurred near the edge of the screen as photos and text wrap around the phone’s side.

OnePlus 9 Pro review: Features

This OnePlus 9 Pro is jam-packed with innovative new features. As has become customary for the Shenzhen-based business, the fast-charging is the star of the show. Though OnePlus has always claimed to have some of the fastest charging speeds available, this time is completely absurd.

Within 15 minutes, OnePlus claims, you’ll have enough battery life to last a day. You’ll only need 29 minutes to charge from 0% to 100% if you plug into a power outlet.And, unlike some similarly priced handsets from Samsung and Apple, OnePlus includes not only a charger in the package, but also this ultimate quick charger.

Additionally, the OnePlus 9 Pro supports wireless charging. Although you can recharge the battery using any Qi charging pad, such as those built into the tables at coffee shops and fast-food restaurants, the process will be slow. OnePlus, on the other hand, offers its own Warp Charge stand, which can charge the battery from 0% to 100% in 43 minutes. By contrast, the iPhone 12 Pro Max can only be charged to 50% capacity through a wired connection in 30 minutes.

If you forgot to charge your phone overnight, or if you’ve been making long video calls to friends and depleted the battery faster than expected… there’s no reason not to leave the house with at least a 50% charge, if not a full 100% charge, on this phone.

This quick charging feature is particularly useful considering the OnePlus 9 Pro’s battery life is adequate but not exceptional. In comparison to the Pixel 5’s indestructible battery (seriously, a two-hour WhatsApp video call consumes less than 10%, how is that even possible?) OnePlus’s new effort is a little disappointing. If you’re planning a weekend away, you’ll need a battery.

Everything on the OnePlus 9 Pro feels nimble and sensitive, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 system-on-a-chip. Games and photo editing are not enough to keep this phone afloat. The 120Hz high refresh rate monitor contributes to this sense of pace.

OnePlus 9 Pro Review UK Price Release Date

Whether you prefer wired or wireless charging, OnePlus 9 Pro supports a super-fast version of it (Image: ONEPLUS)

For years, OnePlus has lauded high-refresh-rate screens. Although some competitors have caught up (and some still haven’t), it’s easy to see why OnePlus believes these panels are so important. Everything on the OnePlus 9 Pro appears to be crisp — even while scrolling through a lengthy list, you can still make out individual entries rather than everything being a dull blur.

To save battery life on the OnePlus 9 Pro, the company introduced an adaptive refresh rate that scales down when it is not needed (for example, when watching a Netflix show shot at the normal 24 frames per second or viewing a single photo). This appears to work well enough that you won’t be forced to search for a setting to disable the high refresh-rate display, as we were with the Google Pixel 4 XL.

Finally, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s in-display fingerprint sensor is lightning fast and precise, but is placed awkwardly. The sensor is located near the bottom of the handset, which is not in the normal location for our thumbs while holding the phone. For an already slick smartphone, this increases the amount of palm-gymnastics you’ll need to do on a daily basis.

OnePlus 9 Pro review: Camera

OnePlus phones have had a problem with cameras, historically. While the organisation has attempted to deal with this problem in previous years, the OnePlus 9 is making a much more significant effort this time around. Hasselt has teamed up with OnePlus for a three-year contract. Oxygen OS received $150 million in a recent round of funding to assist in the company’s continuing efforts to offer customers “the best mobile experience”.

The OnePlus 9 Pro has four cameras on the back, including a main 48-meg one, an ultra-wide sensor for 2x zoom, and a monochrome for fine detail improvement while shooting in black and white. Hasselblad went to work with the team to help bring the original cameras back to life.

OnePlus 9 Pro Review UK Price Release Date

The main camera is a serious step-up …but OnePlus’ night mode still can’t quite match its rivals (Image: ONEPLUS)

The OnePlus 9 creates stunning images. The main camera packs in quite a lot of detail, but the Hassel Adams Team has done away with some of the colours which might have been electrostatic on the OnePlus, so it will look smooth and natural in all lighting conditions. In the more realistic looking OnePlus frames, the nuclear green and zing red don’t mix together as well. If you want to increase the contrast, there are several post-processing apps to help you out.

The new 50-megapixel Ultra-Wide camera not only takes beautiful images, but also has almost completely eradicated the distorting fish-eye effect. With Ultra-wide cameras, people no longer look terribly distorted in the picture, because they’re uncommon.

It can be said that the OnePlus 9 Pro does a good job as a point-and-and-shoot. It is possible to get more technical by defining a Hassel X mode. While other cameras must be set manually, this camera allows the user to change the ISO, focus, exposure time, and white balance on their own. After your pictures have been edited on a computer, you can also process them in 12-bit RAW.

The only real problem with the 2-megapixel monochrome sensor is that OnePlus only wants to brag about getting a quadruple setup. While all three of these black-and-and-white filters use software for the same purpose, the choice to use the monochrome sensor is buried several menus down. Since we don’t believe there is a noticeable difference between these colour sensors, we claim this one is pretty much the same as the Monochrome sensor.

OnePlus 9 Pro review: Android

OxygenOS 11 is included on the OnePlus 9 Pro, the newest iteration of the company’s Android-based operating system. For previous years, there has been no difference between OxygenOS and Google’s version of Android. OxygenOS looks almost identical to the same as Google’s stock Android, which is offered on the Pixel and some handsets like Nokia and Motorola.

It is possible that OxygenOS 11 integrates the latest and greatest features of Android 11, but beginning with 11.0, OnePlus has chosen to chart its own path. Android now almost looks like Samsung’s One UI. In this version, the items that you often interact with are located near the bottom of the screen to help reduce the size of the overall display. Comic-sized headings take the whole screen for themselves. The OxygenOS 11 theory brings many of the same apps to the OnePlus 9 Pro. Overall, Samsung has redesigned its software more than other phone OEMs do, however, while the software design on the OnePlus is half-done.

OnePlus 9 Pro Review UK Price Release Date

Hasselblad has worked on a new Pro Mode, which offers more granular camera controls for those who know how to use them (Image: ONEPLUS )

Let’s say, for example, as an example, the Messages app on Samsung’s One UI displays the title over half of the screen so that you can easily see all of your active conversations. By OnePlus, the 6.7-inch tablet is given to you. Worse still, there is a ‘hancer’ that gets rid of the hamburger button by hiding it in the far left corner.

Hopefully, there will be some refinements by month’s end. Everyday experiences will be made easier by the moment OnePlus decided to apply palm rejection to its screens using this programme. But in order to be creative, you have to throw yourself into it.

The Pro version of the OnePlus will receive three years of software support. So, you can expect the coming 12 and the next version of Android to be available on this new flagship phone. With a price tag that starts at $29, there is no doubt this phone will last for years.

OnePlus 9 Pro review: Final Verdict

  • Pros: Slick Performance, Brilliant Ultra-Wide Camera, Some Of The Fastest Charging We’ve Ever Used – Wired and Wireless, 5G Support
  • Cons: Design Is A Bland Compared To Previous OnePlus Efforts, More Expensive Than Samsung And Apple Phones, OxygenOS 11 Could Do With Some Work  

At one time, every OnePlus product was tagged with the qualifier “except this one, at this price we’re not allowed to quibble.” He didn’t seem embarrassed by the camera? It’s a good deal; someone else is selling it for more money so it doesn’t matter if it’s cheap It isn’t enough for you? Will it really be worth spending another 300 quid on a Samsung model?

OnePlus has incrementally raised its prices throughout the years, but the OnePlus 9 Pro is a notable shift. By having survived for eight years, the Chinese mobile phone company has managed to increase its price by nearly $100 to match the price of the five-year-old Samsung Galaxy S21 5G, and the iPhone by around $500. Just like that, the OnePlus support has been pulled out from under us. It has to be equal to both Apple and Samsung in order to compete. unfortunately, it does not quite achieve the desired outcome

Though it does have a more robust CPU, future-proofed 5G connectivity, and a faster screen, this is still a competent-enough smartphone. Hasselbad is a stroke of genius. The main and wide angle cameras on the OnePlus 9 and 6 perform beautifully. On the other hand, however, with a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor, there’s little benefit.

On any smartphone, the OnePlus 9 Pro has the fastest charging for both wired and wireless devices. OnePlus, the rivalry, may not be as powerful as you think.

OnePlus 9 Pro Review UK Price Release Date

As you’d expect, OnePlus 9 Pro is phenomenally well built… but the design is a little underwhelming this time around (Image: ONEPLUS )

But it doesn’t have enough features and appeal to the general public to justify buying over its competitors. Although the iPhone lacks a high-refresh rate,it monitor, the 12 has a better camera, software that is updated for years beyond competitors’ and is able to visit a vast network of Apple Stores should there be a problem.

Meanwhile, Samsung has promised the same level of Android updates for three years, established a close relationship with Microsoft, and has a large number of its own retail locations to better assist with accessories.

With all this going on, the OnePlus 9’s consistency and swift charging don’t seem impressive anymore. When the price is right, OnePlus’ tried-and-and-true caveat applies. Other places to spend your money are just as good, but if you are looking to spend £29 on a new phone, we’d recommend looking elsewhere.


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