In a few short years, Chinese OnePlus has become one of the largest and most popular mobile phone manufacturers on the Nordic markets. Not least, Huawei’s downturn has given OnePlus an opening to take the place, something the company has understood to take advantage of with launches of great mobile phones that are affordable in their respective different price ranges.
Last year we named the top model OnePlus 8 Pro the Best Mobile of the Year in the expensive class, and although the competition this year is sharper, there is no doubt that the company’s new top model, OnePlus 9 Pro, this year is again an obvious candidate to win category.
Design and construction
Unfortunately, the OnePlus 9 Pro is more similar to this autumn’s slightly boring OnePlus 8T, than to its predecessor from last year, the more unique OnePlus 8 Pro. The camera module is rectangular, and is located at the top left, seen from behind when the phone is with the screen down. As on the budget model OnePlus Nord. The camera on the OnePlus 9 Pro is just bigger.
The frame is precisely cut in aluminum, and which on both the 8 Pro and 8T sits the power button and the small knob that switches between sound, vibration and silent mode, on the right side, while the volume is adjusted with the button on the opposite side.
Our test sample came in the color Morning Mist, having an attraction to fingerprints, but the phone is also available in the two matte colors Pine Green and Stellar Black, which we would definitely recommend, unless you like to polish your phone as often as you polish your glasses!
The mobile phone is of course both light and robust, but in terms of design, the details are also elaborate. For example, the camera module immediately appears large, but it still protrudes so little from the body that the phone hardly lifts visibly from the surface when lying on a table.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, the OnePlus 9 Pro comes with an adaptive refresh rate of 120 Hz, which in practice means that the screen frequency adjusts automatically, depending on what is happening on the screen. If you look at a picture, the frequency is lowered all the way down to 1 Hz. When watching video, the frequency rises to 24 Hz, while the maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz is active when scrolling through web pages, scrolling through menus, or playing games.
The curved screen delivers a razor-sharp high-resolution screen image with an almost velvety smooth user experience. In addition, there is the hefty brightness of up to 1300 nits, which in practice means that the screen can be used without problems outdoors even if the sun is shining from a cloudless sky.
In addition to the high refresh rate, the OnePlus 9 Pro also has motion smoothing technology MEMC (Motion Estimation and Motion Compensation), which is designed to make videos look better by increasing the number of frames in the image. This optimizes the video content, which was originally recorded at 24 fps or 30 fps, so that it can be played back with at least 60 fps, and the screen’s high refresh rate is thus better utilized.
When it comes to the audio experience, OnePlus is once again the king of the mobile market.
In a figurative sense, the OnePlus 9 Pro has a built-in ghetto blaster from the 80s (in reality, it is the Qualcomm Aqstic platform that drives the work). OnePlus 9 Pro sounds so good when playing games or watching video without the use of headphones.
Even with headphones, the ears are well taken care of. The built-in Dolby Atmos technology does a good job, and the mobile delivers a wide sound image with lots of details, where both the high notes and the bass are razor sharp.
Although the OnePlus 8 Pro meant a significant upgrade from the past, the camera has been OnePlus’ Achilles heel for years. At least when the company’s annual top model was compared directly with mobiles from Huawei and Samsung in the same price range.
Therefore, this year there are other buns. The camera in the OnePlus 9 Pro has been developed in collaboration with the iconic camera manufacturer Hasselblad, which has been a leader in camera technology for the past 80 years. Hasselblad has for many years been used by the world’s best photographers, and is, for example, the camera that captured Armstrong’s first step on the moon.
Specifically, the collaboration means that the mobile comes with the camera system Camera for Mobile, developed in collaboration with Hasselblad. It includes a new color calibration system that will give your images more lifelike and precise colors.
The mechanics themselves consist of a primary camera optics of 48 Mp, based on a specially designed IMX789 image sensor, developed in collaboration with Sony. In addition, there is an ultra-wide-angle 50 Mp lens with 1/1.56″ Sony IMX766 image sensor, and an 8 Mp telephoto lens with 3.3x optical zoom. A 2 Mp dedicated monochrome camera supports the primary camera.
In practice, the OnePlus 9 Pro manages every nuances without breaking a sweat. The pictures appear colorful and warm without being artificial. The monochrome sensor provides a degree of detail and depth in the images that we have not seen before from OnePlus. Pictures taken in the dark are very good, and the macro lens delivers the goods by creating razor-sharp pictures when you get really close.
OnePlus 9 Pro simply has the best mobile camera to date from the Chinese manufacturer. A comparative test that comes later will go in depth on whether OnePlus this time can beat camera phones like Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Performance and features
Last year, OnePlus surprised with the Warp Charge 30T, which could charge the OnePlus 8 Pro from 0 to 50% in just 23 minutes – and 30 minutes if it were to be done wirelessly. This year, the lightning charge has accelerated further, and OnePlus 9 Pro can now be charged from 0 to 100% in 29 minutes via cable, while the wireless charger (purchased separately) delivers a full 50W, and manages the charge from 0 to 100% on 43 minutes.
The phone is of course IP68 certified, which means that it is both dust and waterproof, and like previous models, the OnePlus 9 Pro comes with LPDDR5 RAM, which is the fastest type of RAM on the market. Together with the latest Snapdragon 888 processor, this means that the new OnePlus mobile is among the absolute fastest smartphones at the time of writing. In fact, only the iPhone 12 Pro Max is faster in certain areas, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has to be beaten at the finish line.
But no roses without thorns. A boring development that started with OnePlus Nord and continued with OnePlus 8T, is also an annoyance with OnePlus 9 Pro.
OnePlus has in fact moved away from its own OxygenOS apps for calling, messaging and contacts, instead focusing on Google’s apps from the pure Android version. It works well in everyday life, but makes the OnePlus 9 Pro more anonymous and a little less OnePlus-like than you could wish for.
In return, the new version 11.5 of OxygenOS offers a couple of innovations that we are happy to welcome. Among other things, various apps and menus have been designed so that they are easier to operate with one hand, in the same way as the camera app has a lightning-fast sharing function so you can share the photo or video you have just taken, with a simple touch of the element thumbnail in the camera app. Smart.
The fingerprint reader is built into the screen, and the camera also supports Face Unlock. Both work fine, but the security is best served by the fingerprint.
OnePlus 9 Pro is among the best smartphones that money can buy right now. We do not think that this year’s best OnePlus mobile is as superior to the competition as last year’s top model OnePlus 8 Pro. This is partly due to the fact that this year, in our opinion, OnePlus has launched a product that is a little more anonymous and a little less OnePlus distinctive, than we could wish for. But it’s also because Samsung in particular this year has come on the scene with a top model that is just incredibly difficult to beat.
In any case, we would still like to recommend the OnePlus 9 Pro, because after all, there are few smartphones on the market right now that can even approach it. And especially at this price, you can hardly get a better Android mobile for the money at the moment.