With a crisp, gorgeous 120Hz screen, a new, longer-lasting 4500mAh battery, the latest Snapdragon 888 processor, a great new camera from Hasselblad, and the fastest darn’ charging in the West (or anywhere); the OnePlus range remains a fantastic piece of machinery for the price—even if the latter has been steadily increasing over the years. While no longer necessarily the budget niche the phones’ originally set out to fill; the OnePlus range is now without a doubt amongst the best Android phones you can get—period.
Diving into the specs, the OnePlus 9 comes equipped with the new Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 888 5G Mobile Platform processor—which means up to 25% CPU performance and 35% GPU performance improvements over the previous generation. Coupled with a ridiculous, and to be honest, at this point in time, kind of overboard, 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM (with speeds up to 6400Mbps), and a lightning-fast fully integrated X60 5G Modem-RF System (the world’s first 5nm baseband architecture); and you’ve got quite the powerful little machine in your hand. Whether running games, watching, or editing video, or having 20+tabs open; the phone never stuttered or slowed down. This baby runs smooth as butter and I struggle to think of any application for a smartphone where the OnePlus 9 would feel a power pinch. Even if that does become the case, the Pro Gaming Mod allows users to unlock the full power of the CPU and GPU, along with blocking all notifications from other apps.
The screens, however, are where OnePlus phones shine (literally). The OnePlus 9 base model features a 6.55” 120 Hz Fluid Display AMOLED, with crazy deep colours and clarity. Melting your eyes with up to 1,100 nits and HDR10+ along with 8,192 levels of brightness makes for a hell of a good looking display. It’s gotten to the point where I’m now using the phone screen to compare colours on digital art rather than my—though still running pretty well—aging MacBook Pro screen. From games to photos and videos, it’s a shame I can’t blow the screen up to a decent size and replace my current monitor, it’s that lovely.
Now we come to the cameras. I primarily use my phone as a camera for still photos and videos. I do a lot of outdoor activities, and require something that can handle a variety of lighting situations, fast moving subjects, and everything from up-close pictures of neat bugs I find on the trails to stunning mountain vistas (living on the Best Coast has its advantages). While OnePlus has received flack in the past for having middle-range cameras, at best, I always found them quite capable. With the OnePlus 9, the company has partnered with famed Swiss photographic technology company, Hasselblad.
The main camera is a Sony IMX689, 1/1.43″, 48 MP, 7P, with an equivalent focal length of 23mm, ƒ/1.8. The Ultra-Wide is rocking a Sony IMX766, 1/1.56″, 50 MP, 7P, equivalent focal length 14mm, ƒ/2.2, Freeform Lens—which brings distortion down to 1%. The main camera has 2×2 on-chip lens (OCL), 12-bit RAW, dual native ISO, and 3-HDR. Basically this means that the OnePlus 9 can take great landscape photos, decent nighttime photos, and super fun and clear macro photos—a personal favourite come summer time. It also has a nifty tilt-shift feature, but I wasn’t able to fully explore this at the time of the review. This setup is easily the best OnePlus has ever featured in their phones, and while they still don’t quite compare to top-of-the-line competitors, they still come out looking crisp with deep lush colours and lighting. The Hasselblad “Pro Mode” also allows for a crazy amount of tinkering and customization for your photography nuts out there, allowing for even more control over the quality of your photos.
Oh, it can also shoot in 8K, which is nuts. We have phones now that can shoot in 8K…let that sink in for a second.
Now what happens when you’ve been playing games, watching 4K videos, and shooting all day? You’ll need to charge it. And if there’s one area where OnePlus consistently knocks it out of the park, it’s the charging, especially with the much-better than before 4,500mAh battery. According to OnePlus, the blazingly fast Warp Charge 65T will take your phone from dead-husk to fully charged in 29-minutes. In our test, the phone went from 1-50% in just over 11-minutes, and 32-minutes for a full charge. It’s also compatible with the 15W Qi wireless charging system, but I could never really vibe with this as the slightly-more-convenient aspect of wireless charging doesn’t make up for the added time. I literally watched the numbers tick up at one point, it’s that fast.
The OnePlus range has been a fantastic option for Android users for quite some time, and their devices are only getting better. Industry-leading displays, charging so fast it would make Sonic the Hedgehog do a double-take, and the best cameras OnePlus has ever put into their phones are just a few of the reasons why this brand makes a really good case for itself. The stripped down and relatively bloat free OxygenOS 11 are icing on the cake, offering one of the best Android experiences out there. You’d be hard pressed to find a phone under $1,000 that performs as well in every department as the OnePlus 9.