It all started when Oneplus announced that they have spent $150 million for the partnership with Hasselblad. Oneplus is a darling in the Android smartphone world. I still remember the invitation I got to buy the first Oneplus device and was very skeptical about it. Oneplus smartphones give what you want in your day-to-day life in a cheaper package. It is one of the reasons why a reviewer can easily recommend an Oneplus smartphone to his audience, friends, and family.
Like all brands, Oneplus also needs to go forward. They have to up their game, and for that, they have to steadily increase the pricing model after model. Now the Oneplus Pro has got into the $1000 range, and they know that they have to fix even the minor gripes in their phones in order to justify the pricing. So Oneplus has entered a three-year partnership with the famous Hasselblad to improve their smartphone camera. The Oneplus 9 series is the first device in this partnership.
Does it live up to its hype? That’s what we will analyze in this post.
Oneplus 9 Pro Design and Color
I will talk about the camera later because we need to talk a lot about it. Let’s start with the design.
As soon as you see the Oneplus 9 in the flesh or pick the phone, it will remind you of the older glass sandwiched Samsung devices. It feels like the Galaxy S20 for me. The slightly curved glasses, aluminum rails, and the glass back everything are put nicely together. You will feel it is premium.
There are three color options — Morning mist, Pine Green, and Stellar Black. The Morning Mist color alone uses a glossy back, and the other two use a matte finish. To be frank, the morning mist feels a little dull to my liking, even fresh out of the box, so see the Morning mist color food yourself first if you are planning to go with that color.
Oneplus 9 pro has a beautiful screen. It has a 1440p and 120hz screen, which flies when you use it. This one also uses an LTPO panel like in the S21 ultra to easily adapt the screen refresh rate. Oneplus does give you the option to easily switch between the 120hz and the standard 60hz in their display settings if you like to save some battery. In the 120hz setting, the screen occasionally stutters a little when you scroll fast, which can be fixed via a software update, I think.
The stereo speaker setup is maintained this year also, which is good. If you consume lots of content on their mobile, you will love this phone’s stereo speaker setup. Not only the speaker but the haptic motor in this device is awesome; it gives you feedback when you adjust the brightness or change the volume. Overall, the Oneplus 9 will give you a connected feeling.
Battery Life and Charging
Oneplus 9 pro has a 4500mah battery, which is definitely small for this device. If you keep the 1440p and the 120hz refresh rate on, use it in 5G, and do some gaming, you can easily kill this device. That’s the reason why Oneplus has given you a 65watt adapter in the box, which can charge your phone zero to full in just 30 mins.
Suppose you want the same fast charging experience in wireless charging, you can spend $30 extra and can get the 50watt wireless charger. The dual coil design in the Oneplus 9 independently charges two batteries and helps you charge the phone quickly. You won’t regret spending a little extra on the Oneplus 50w fast wireless charger. For other phones, the wireless charger will work at 15w.
Oneplus 9 pro has a four-camera system — 48MP Main camera, 50MP ultra-wide camera, 8MP telephoto camera, and a Mono camera. The mono camera is unnecessary, and you can completely ignore it because all it does is take a monochrome image, which can be easily done with a black & white filter nowadays. The telephoto feels like an afterthought to me; I will get back to it later.
How far has Hasselblad worked in this camera? As of now, they have assisted Oneplus in the color science and in the Pro mode settings alone. There is news that Oneplus and Hasselblad are working on new hardware, which we can expect in the next iteration. What Hasselblad partnership brings in the 9Pro is the color science.
Images in the previous Oneplus devices, for example, the 8 Pro had slightly vibrant images. Not as vibrant as the Samsung, but a little vibrant. Hasselblad has helped Oneplus mute the color tone to let the final images reflect the actual/natural color.
For me personally, pictures taken with the iPhone have the perfect color when you are speaking of natural colors. Here in Oneplus 9pro, the colors look a bit dull, so I feel that the image I took doesn’t have the color I saw. Some of the pictures taken in perfect sunlight came out so beautiful, and I feel the colors are natural. As a result, I feel the Oneplus 9 pro camera’s natural colors are nearly perfect. Take a look at Dave2D’s video for more shots and to clearly understand the color reproduction of OnePlus 9 pro camera.
Another problem with the 48MP main camera lens is the white balance. The white color has a little blue tint to it, but the 50MP ultra-wide camera gets the white almost right.
The ultrawide lens on the Oneplus 9pro is big; In fact, it is even bigger than the one on the iPhone 12 pro max. As a result, the low-light photographs are brighter.
Another area where Oneplus wants to push a lot is the shadows. Again, if the lighting is perfect, the shadows and subject look beautiful. But, in a challenging environment, the Oneplus 9 pro camera is unnecessarily highlighting the shadows.
The ultra-wide lens gives lots of information to the processor, and this information is used to make the edges clear. Sometimes this rich information leads to over-processing and over-sharpening of images. When the information and the processing are done properly, you get natural-looking images, and when the image is over-processed, you get an artificial look.
Telephoto in Oneplus 9 pro is inconsistent. When you zoom in on an image, you can see lots of color shifting, and shadows get played a lot. Main lens and the ultra-wide works synchronously, but the telephoto feels like an afterthought. You get 30X spatial zoom in the 9 PRO like in the S21 ultra but the image you take in full zoom is totally distorted. If I were you, I wouldn’t disturb the telephoto lens.
Pro is Where it gets Better
The Pro mode on the Oneplus 9 pro is great. Hasselblad has made the pro interface really friendlier to use. Even first users can easily understand what they are adjusting. Because of the straightforward controls and frame control options, you will have lots of fun with this.
Hasselblad is not known for videography. Surprisingly, this phone’s low light videography ability is good. Thanks to the big lens for bringing in more light and improved optical image stabilization in the main lens make the videos look better than in the 8 Pro.
This year Oneplus tried putting in the 8K video shooting ability into its phone. On paper, it looks great, but in reality, the 8K videos shot on Oneplus 9 pro lacks detail.
In the videography, you can expect a slightly improved performance from that of its previous 8 Pro. Other than that, nothing stands out.
Should You Buy One
If you are reading till this point, you might feel that this phone has a mixed opinion. Since Oneplus has taken its phone into the $1000 price range, the competition here is immense. If Oneplus didn’t create all this Hasselblad marketing hype, it would be great. The Oneplus 9 Pro would be a nice phone, and people might even actually feel that the colors got better in their images. Because of all these hypes and few videos fully talking about cameras before the launch, it might make you feel that this phone could have something unique from others.
As I said before, Oneplus and Hasselblad are creating some custom hardware. If Oneplus has reserved this hype for the future and used it when the custom hardware is available for the audience, the impact would be great.
Should you buy one? Even though the Oneplus 9 pro got into the $1000 mark, they still manage to undercut the top players like the Samsung and iPhone. Keeping the camera aside, you get a phone with a stunning display, fluid to use, phone that charges 0 to 100 in almost 30 minutes. As a whole package, the Oneplus 9 Pro is a great phone.
Regions that don’t get Samsung S21 ultra with Snapdragon 888 processor, should consider the Oneplus 9 pro over it, if you are not that much into photos & videos.
The Oneplus 9 and the interesting Samsung Galaxy A52 phone reviews are in the queue, so don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t.