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Say what you will about OnePlus and its former underdog status that sold phones at cost to gain market share, but this business strategy, augmented by viral marketing prowess, catapulted it to the status of the only Chinese phone maker that made it in New York... and Alabama... and Oregon. Why?
Well, even if its flagship phone pricing differs less and less from the Apple-Samsung duopoly pricing, the goodwill of the fans that it built just culminated in the fresh OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro that pinpoint what a user wants in a phone, and execute mercilessly. How come? We'll spare you the usual specs rundown, and just go straight for the details that make the new OnePlus 9 series unique among phones that can be bought in the US.
According to OnePlus, "Morning Mist shimmers from silver to black, resembling fog on a glossy mirror," while "Pine Green uses a double-layer matte finish resulting in a softer and warmer hand feel with fewer fingerprints," and these are exactly the colors we are getting in the US. Unfortunately, the "frosted matte glass of Stellar Black resembles the classic sandstone look and feel of the OnePlus One, now smoother than ever before and practically free of fingerprints" is not making it at this side of the ponds.
The OnePlus 9 Pro has the best ever display on a phone
Pixelworks color magic and the most granular refresh controls
Key OnePlus 9 Pro display features:
Full-range 1Hz-120Hz dynamic refresh rate, depending on the content
Full DCI-P3 "wide color" gamut coverage
1300 nits peak brightness and HDR10+ certification
MEMC upscaling of YouTube and other video content to 60fps
Individual factory calibration for perfect color representation (0.4 JNCD)
What's the most important part of a phone? The call quality, the processor, the camera, the memory? Nah, that thing you'll spend a fifth of your adult life staring at, the display. There is a reason the OnePlus 9 Pro screen bagged A+ rating from the panel testing honchos from Displaymate, and, even though they seem to give those ratings like candy lately, in the case of the OnePlus 9 Pro the score is utterly warranted.
We are happy to report that we have a new "best mobile display" crown in the OnePlus 9 Pro. How did it beat the 6.8" LTPO panel of the S21 Ultra that can reach record brightness, and offers granular 10Hz-120Hz refresh rate at the full display resolution, as well as HDR10+ support? Well, all of that, even lower, 1Hz-120Hz variable refresh range, and a Pixelworks X5 Pro visual processor that works together with the camera and CPU to enhance the visual experience in real time, say Pixelworks, and we are happy to report it is indeed the case of the best mobile display so far:
Enhanced by the Pixelworks X5 Pro processor, the new flagship OnePlus 9 Pro smartphone integrates a 6.7” cutting edge Fluid LTPO AMOLED display with WQHD+ resolution and variable refresh rates up to 120 Hz.... Whether viewing pictures and videos captured using the phone’s Hasselblad camera or streaming content or short videos, Pixelworks visual processing technologies are designed to deliver perfect color reproduction, superior display quality and eye comfort in all kinds of ambient lighting conditions.
What about the OnePlus 9's 6'5" 1080p flat screen? It's every billion-color bit as factory calibrated as the 9 Pro, and offers 120Hz refresh rate as well, it's just not as granular and variable as it is on the Pro - you'll get 60Hz display when the software upscales YouTube and other video, or 120Hz in most other scenarios, and that's that.
Unique sensors, Hasselblad partnership: the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro camera specs
How about an insane 50MP ultrawide camera?
Key OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro camera features:
Hasselblad for Mobile Natural Color Calibration blends computational with traditional photography aesthetics
Bespoke Sony IMX789 main camera sensor (9 Pro)
The best ultrawide camera sensor on phones - 50MP Sony IMX766 - on both 9 and 9 Pro
Unique ultrawide Freeform Lens with 1% edge distortion (from 10-20% on most phones)
Detailed MacroLens photography (down to 1.5"/4cm)
Hasselblad Pro mode with 12-bit RAW color recording
Speaking of color calibration, that transforms to the camera units on the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro as well, courtesy of the newfangled partnership with the storied Swedish camera company Hasselblad. You know, the one used to shoot Earth from the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission.
Just like in some Leica (Huawei) and Zeiss (Nokia) partnerships, OnePlus claims that this is not a simple case of logo appropriation, but rather a concerted, 3-year, multimillion dollar effort to improve on its phones' cameras, the only Achilles heel left to protect. OnePlus wanted to take "rich aesthetic knowledge of traditional photography and blend it together with the computational photography that we already do well," and that's precisely why the first Hasselblad for Mobile effort called Natural Color Calibration with Hasselblad was developed exclusively for the OnePlus 9 series:
Hidden behind the colors is Hasselblad’s 80 years of understanding of color in the natural world. To recreate this, OnePlus’ imaging lab and the Hasselblad camera team jointly carried out subjective and objective testing. Together, we have defined the color standard for mobile photography – perhaps a higher standard than ever before for mobile photography.
The OnePlus lab redeveloped its calibration algorithms, taking photos of standard color cards under various lighting conditions, with different color temperatures and intensities. The sensor’s color accuracy was repeatedly calibrated, ensuring that the sensor captured the most accurate color. It was then mapped to Hasselblad’s color and optimized further for more enhanced color performance.
While OnePlus tips that the $150 million Hasselblad for Mobile camera splurge it is preparing over the next three years will at some point include not only color calibration efforts, but also jointly developed hardware like exclusive lenses and sensor calibration, the exclusivity push has already started. The 9 Pro sports a 48MP sensor, which may sound like the same IMX689 one that the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 8 Pro have, but is actually a bespoke IMX789 sensor from Sony no other phone maker has used yet. Add to it the best ultrawide camera for mobiles - Sony's 50MP IMX766 sensor - and, while the 9 Pro won't win any zoom records with its 8MP 3x telephoto cameras, it will deliver where it matters most to users.
The OnePlus 9 swaps the new Sony sensor for the 48MP IMX689 one that is also used in the OnePlus 8 Pro, and skips on the telephoto camera, but something had to give to hit that $729 price sweet spot. It still offers Hasselblad's Natural Color Calibration, though, as well as the unique Hasselblad Pro shooting mode that "allows for an unprecedented amount of control for professional photographers to fine-tune their photos, with the ability to adjust ISO, focus, exposure times, white balance and more." To top it all off, the Pro mode offers "authentic" Hasselblad user interface based on its image processing software, and allows to record in 12-bit RAW mode for the ultimate in mobile photography tinkering.
OnePlus 9 Pro, the fastest charging gun in the West
Barring Xiaomi's Ultra models, OnePlus offers the fastest wired charging out out there, and has supplied its 65W brick in the box of both the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. The WARP charging now has improved controls, both on the hardware and software sides, and takes the dual-cell 4500mAh batteries of the phones from zero to a 100% in 29 minutes, ensuring 50% charge until you've brewed a cup of coffee.
If you think that's impressive, wait to hear why the OnePlus 9 Pro offers the fastest charging combo of any phone on the market. You'd have to buy a dedicated Warp Charge 50 Wireless Charger for $69.99 to make it work, but the OnePlus 9 Pro can be filled up to the brim wirelessly for just 40 minutes! Yep, you read that right - 50W wireless charging is a thing now, and puts Samsung or especially Apple's fast charging efforts to shame, both in the wired, and in the wireless department. The OnePlus 9 makes do with what Apple and Samsung are offering - 15W wireless charging - which one would you get?
OnePlus 9 ($729) or OnePlus 9 Pro ($969), which one would you get?
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