Mobiles & Tablets

OnePlus 9: The not-quite-Pro choice

Mala Bhargava | Updated on April 16, 2021

Take away a few specs and you have a somewhat more reasonably priced but powerful phone

The OnePlus 9 series isn’t over yet. We reviewed the 9 Pro and the India-only 9R, but there’s one more model tucked away in the middle of the line-up, and that’s the OnePlus 9 regular. All three phones are more similar than different, but we’re making sure to cover each phone because OnePlus phones are popular and have been easy to recommend, except for the fact that they are getting more expensive. But one can’t be blamed for still wanting one because they’re phones that are powerful and don’t slow down in a hurry at all.

The OnePlus 9 is the not-quite-Pro. But the differentiation is very deliberate and meant to offer a product that’s cheaper. The OnePlus 9R costs ₹39,999. The OnePlus 9 Pro costs ₹64,999. The OnePlus 9 is in the middle with a price of ₹49,999 or ₹54,999 if you want the 12GB variant which is the one we got to check out.

Also read: OnePlus 9R: India-only budget variant

The OnePlus 9 arrived in a ‘Winter Mist’ colour which is somewhat lavender really, and again, very reflective taking on fingerprints. To me, it somehow just never quite looks clean, so I covered it up with a nice sandstone case and that was the end of that. The back and front are glass but the framing is polycarbonate which you can forget all about it in a case, but remember it quite suddenly when you think of how much you paid for it.

Except for a few things that were taken away, the OnePlus 9 has much of what the Pro model has. It’s smaller and very noticeably easier to hold, which is great. At the same time, in no way does it feel like a too-small phone; so neither your movie viewing or gaming or everyday tasks are likely to be impacted. The same top-end chip, Snapdragon 888, is used as in the Pro model. The display is a 120Hz 6.5-inch AMOLED. It isn’t an LTPO OLED which would allow for seamless adaptivity with the refresh rate, but I think we can live without that for a reduction in price. The display is not curved which makes it look less elegant, but which makes it easier to use. There’s the usual little camera dot interrupting what is otherwise a very nice screen.

Performance on this phone is great. It’s as fast as a OnePlus is expected to be. It doesn’t heat up and even seems to do better than the Pro model under some conditions. Rest assured you’re in no way getting a slower phone if you decide on this model. The software, OxygenOS on top of Android 11, continues to be a big reason to buy a OnePlus, absolutely devoid as it is of annoying bloatware, ads and other nonsense.

The battery is a 4,500mAh with 65W fast charging but no wireless or reverse. The phone also doesn’t have an IP waterproof rating. Those are a few of the things you miss by not taking up the Pro model.

Also read: The OnePlus 9 Pro is faster than fast

The famous Hasselblad branding from the 9 Pro appears modestly on the camera housing on this phone. It glistens in steely fashion next to the three lenses on the back. The partnership is supposed to have brought colour tuning to the cameras. The main camera is a 48MP and uses the same sensor as the OnePlus 8 Pro. But there’s now no optical image stabilisation which again, for the asking price, is a let down. There is a 50Mp ultra-wide camera which is quite good. And a 2MP monochrome sensor to add detail. There’s no telephoto lens. You can zoom in, but purely digitally. Low light photos are okay. The selfie camera still softens and lacks detail. I wouldn’t advise buying the OnePlus 9 for the camera set-up but more for the power and good ergonomics. And remember, there’s a OnePlus 9R also around. I would say, be led by your budget.

Price: ₹54,999 (₹49,999 for 8GB RAM)

Pros: Powerful smooth performance, good software experience, good display

Cons: Plastic framing not worthy of cost, too reflective, no wireless charging or IP rating though expensive, no OIS, no telephoto

Published on April 16, 2021

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