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It takes a lot for a smartphone camera to stand out when it comes to performance at the moment. Today, OnePlus announced its new 9 Pro and 9 flagship smartphones with a focus on a revamped camera system. Here are the key things you need to know about the company’s new top-end phones. We’ll start with the OnePlus 9 Pro.
OnePlus spent a considerable amount of time during its launch event talking about its new camera partnership with iconic Swedish camera maker Hasselblad. Right now, Hasselblad hasn’t developed any of the actual camera hardware, but OnePlus says it helped with fine-tuning the color performance as well as the menu system.
From a hardware perspective, the main camera on the 9 Pro uses a relatively large 48-megapixel Sony sensor set behind a wide-angle f/1.8 lens. That lens provides a wider field of view than a typical smartphone camera. It can capture 12-bit raw images, compared to 10-bits in the previous version, which means more colors in your photos if you’re willing to go through the extra steps of processing a raw photo once you capture it.
OnePlus seems to have put even more focus onto the super-wide angle camera, which has the largest super-wise sensor around and employs a “free form” lens in order to combat distortion at the edges of the frame. By changing the shape of the glass elements inside the lens itself, the company claims to have solved the issue in which images at the edge of the frame appear to bow outward because of the optical quality of the lens.
It’s worth noting, however, that the lens still has an extremely wide field of view, which means you’ll have to get very close to subjects in order to fill the frame. That causes another kind of distortion called perspective distortion, which fancy lens elements won’t fix. So, don’t plan on any close-up portraits with the super-wide without things getting weird.
From a video standpoint, the camera can capture 8K video, as well as 4K at 120 fps. It also offers a new HDR video mode, which attempts to merge long and short exposures simultaneously to keep detail in the shadows while preventing skies from blowing out.
There is a 3.3x telephoto camera that can translate into 30x digital zoom, but that gives cameras like the Samsung Galaxy S21 an edge with its built-in, periscope-style zoom lens.
On paper, OnePlus has given its flagship camera enough firepower to compete at this high level. We’ll have to see what it can do with all that hardware during our full review.
Computing hardware on the 9 Pro
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip handles the heavy computational lifting, which is what you’d expect in an Android flagship at this point. It also promises native 5G support thanks to an integrated X60 modem. The RAM has also gotten a boost from LPDDR4X up to LPDDR5, which promises a 1.5x performance bump. In short, the OnePlus 9 Pro should be able to easily handle whatever Android app you throw at it.
With its new Warp Charge 65T tech, OnePlus claims just 15 minutes of charging will give the device enough juice for a full day of typical usage. It will go from 1 percent all the way up to full in just 29 minutes. Wireless charging is similarly speedy. It can pull a full charge in just 43 minutes.
To accomplish these quick charging times, OnePlus split the 4,500 mAh of battery power into two cells that charge simultaneously. The company claims this offers thermal advantages to allow it to charge faster for longer periods of time without damaging the batteries.
Screen on the 9 Pro
The Pro’s main display is a 6.7-inch, 3216 x 1440 screen. It can run at 120 Hz for smooth motion, but it can scale all the way down to 1 Hz to save battery when the usage allows. When a static image remains on the screen, the image doesn’t have to refresh nearly as often to give the impression of fluid movement, so the lower refresh rate doesn’t affect the overall experience while saving considerable energy.
OnePlus has improved the response time when it comes to recognizing a person’s touch. It can sync at up to 360 Hz, which translates into snappier responses during games.
The display also checks most of the other essential boxes, including 1,300 nits of peak brightness, HDR10+ compatibility, and an ambient light sensor that allows it to change its color temperature on the fly to match your surroundings.
What about the OnePlus 9?
If you don’t want to opt for the Pro version, you’ll still get most of the same features with the 9. It has a 6.5-inch screen with a 2,400 x 1,080 resolution, which is smaller and lower-res than its fancier sibling.
With the stock edition of the 9, you lose the telephoto camera.
Look for a full review of the 9 Pro in the coming weeks.