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ONEPLUS has made a habit of building excellent phones that give Apple and Samsung’s top handsets a run for their money.
There are often, however, one or two niggles that let the Chinese firm’s flagships down and leave them trailing in the dust of more popular mobiles.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is the latest flagship mobile from OnePlusCredit: OnePlus
With the launch of the OnePlus 9 Pro this month, OnePlus attempted to address the gap by going all-in on its camera – the feature that most often falls behind those of its biggest rivals.
But is the new snapper and a sleek reworked design enough to turn heads away from the iPhone? I tested the new gadget for two weeks to find out.
OnePlus 9 Pro – design
OnePlus always smashes it out of the park when it comes to design, and this time around is no different.
The 9 Pro sports a gorgeous aluminium casing with a slightly curved display on the front.
OnePlus says it has heavily upgraded its camera systemCredit: oneplus
The screen has thin bezels and a hole-punch slot for the selfie camera to give users as much screen retail as possible.
On the back, OnePlus has followed in the footsteps of Apple and Samsung by nestling the phone’s quad camera system into a protruding bump.
It sits in the top left corner and, unlike mobiles like the recent Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, doesn’t stick out so much that you really notice it.
The OnePlus 9 Pro’s design is sleek and inoffensive – and if anything that would be my main criticism of it.
For a gadget that’s trying to challenge the world’s top smartphones, it would have been nice for OnePlus to try and stick out a bit from the pack.
Even the colours – Morning Mist, Pine Green and Stellar Black – are a step away from the bright and colourful hues of previous OnePlus flagships.
The 9 Pro is loaded with four rear camerasCredit: oneplus
OnePlus 9 Pro – display and features
It’s no good having a slick-looking phone if it’s no fun to use, but the OnePlus 9 Pro has plenty of substance to match its style.
As with the firm’s previous mobiles, the headline feature is arguably the ultra-smooth and bright display.
The 6.7-inch, AMOLED, QHD panel is as bright and vivid as any other on the market.
Like many of today’s high-end phones, the screen is capable of 120Hz refresh rate, meaning scrolling is smooth and responsive.
Lining it up against the top Apple and Samsung mobiles, I’d say the 9 Pro has a better display than the iPhone 12 Pro, but falls just short of the S21.
As far as the guts go, OnePlus has loaded its flagship with a Snapdragon 888 chip and up to 12GB of RAM.
The mobile charges from zero to 100 per cent in under half an hourCredit: OnePlus
It’s more than enough to handle high-intensity games like Fortnite at 120Hz without stuttering or overheating.
Powering all of that is a 4,500mAh battery that’s got enough juice to last you a day with normal usage.
I’d say the 9 Pro’s battery doesn’t last quite as long as the iPhone 12 Pro or Galaxy S21, but OnePlus counters that with lightning-fast charging tech.
Using the 65W “Warp” charger included in the box, it’s possible to juice up the gadget from zero to 100 per cent in half an hour.
The charging is so fast that I no longer needed to plug my phone in overnight, instead connecting it before hopping in the shower each morning.
By the time I return, it has anywhere between 80 and 90 per cent power remaining – enough to get me through the rest of the day.
It almost goes without saying at this point, but the phone is also capable of 5G connectivity.
OnePlus has loaded its new flagship with a Snapdragon 888 chip and up to 12GB of RAMCredit: OnePlus
OnePlus 9 Pro – camera
The OnePlus 9 Pro boasts a handful of camera upgrades to take the phone a step up from last year’s 8 Pro.
This time around, OnePlus says it has boosted the snapper thanks to a new partnership with Swedish camera firm Hasselblad.
According to OnePlus, this gives your photos more natural colours.
You might hope for a bit more from a $150million collaboration that’ll span the next three years – but for now, that’s what you’re getting.
The 9 Pro has four rear cameras.
They include a 48-megapixel main lens, a 50MP Ultrawide lens, a 3.3x, 8MP telephoto lens and a 2MP monochrom sensor.
The monochrom camera has featured on OnePlus phones before, and helps users take better black and white photos.
It’s nice to have, I guess, but once again I feel like a similar if not better effect can be achieved by simply sticking a filter on your photos.
OnePlus partnered with Hasselblad to develop the phone’s cameraCredit: OnePlus
The 9 Pro’s main and telephoto cameras are decent without necessarily being anything to write home about.
Detail is high, they perform well in low light and the main camera features a decent Macro mode for taking pictures of close up subjects.
The phone’s Ultrawide camera really stands out, however, featuring a sensor as big as the main camera.
It’s three times larger than the iPhone 12 Pro’s, in fact.
That leads to great quality pics with what is otherwise a secondary lens, with good low light performance and excellent white balance.
A perfectly serviceable 16-megapixel selfie camera is loaded into a hole-punch notch on the front of the mobile.
As far as features go, the camera system offers “Nightscape mode” for photos in the dark, as well as 4K HDR video.
Overall, the 9 Pro boasts the best camera system of any OnePlus phone, but for me it’s not enough to topple the snapper on either the iPhone 12 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S21.
In the UK, the mobile starts at £829Credit: oneplus
OnePlus 9 Pro – price and availability
Now we come to the real meaty issue: Price.
OnePlus has gradually raised the cost of its mobiles in recent years, and the 9 Pro is its priciest yet.
Coming in at £829, it’s still a bit cheaper than some of the top-tier Apple and Samsung handsets – but not by much.
For comparison, the iPhone 12 launched last year at £999, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 hit shelves last month at £769.
The 9 Pro launched in the UK on March 23. It’s available to order from OnePlus.com, Amazon, John Lewis and Three.
OnePlus 9 Pro – final verdict
The OnePlus 9 Pro is a cracking phone that should suit most people’s needs.
The display is fantastic, the charging technology is world-beating and it offers silky smooth performance that’s best-in-class.
The 9 Pro is let down, however, by an okay camera and a battery life that will leave heavy-use phone owners wanting.
Should you buy it? Maybe. If you’re a die-hard Apple or Samsung fan, I’d say stick to the brand you love.
However, if you’re looking for something outside of the Big Two, you could do a lot worse than a OnePlus 9 Pro.
In other news, rumours about the iPhone 13 are already spreading ahead of its expected launch later this year.
Apple is adding brand new emoji to your iPhone – including a bearded woman, a new syringe and an AirPods icon.
And, Apple users can now pay with Bitcoin on their iPhones.
What do you make of the new OnePlus? Let us know in the comments!
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