The OnePlus 9 offers super specifications even if the brand no longer boasts unbeatable value for money. But how does it perform day-to-day?
What we love — Great screen, solid camera, excellent performance
The screen is arguably the standout feature of the OnePlus 9, offering not only a high-resolution AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, but also levels of customisation which you’ll struggle to find anywhere else, such as the ability to set target colour gamuts.
The processor is a true powerhouse, giving you 5G connectivity and plenty of punch for running demanding apps such as games, while the stripped-down software is very well-optimised too.
The camera has traditionally been a blind spot with OnePlus handsets, but as you seen see from the module on the rear, the brand is keen to trumpet its newfound association with Hasselblad, the prestigious Swedish camera manufacturer. Regardless of what happened behind the scenes, the camera system has markedly improved: both the main sensor and the ultra wide lens offer excellent detail, with top-notch autofocus and shutter speed. It still isn’t as good as the iPhone 12 of course, and images may appear a smidge over-processed sometimes, but that’s our only major quibble where the camera is concerned.
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What we don’t like — Battery can drain quickly, no IP rating, still room for improvement with the camera
The only downside of such an excellent screen is that it is very demanding on the battery (the Xiaomi Mi 11 is further proof of this), and it’s especially obvious as the OnePlus 9 doesn’t have a variable refresh rate; generally it will get you through the day, but after three and a half hours of solid gaming, this phone ran out of battery. Fortunately, the astonishing Warp Charge 65T feature does mean that you can bring it back up from zero to 80% in just 15 minutes.
Unlike the OnePlus 9 Pro, this device lacks an IP rating, so you can’t be sure how it will fare if splashed or dropped in water.
Despite improvements to the camera performance, there remain a couple of niggles; the lowlight performance is relatively poor, and the post-processing not only gives an artificial sheen to some shots, but it takes a while to spit out finished images into the gallery (noticeably longer than rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S21).
The OnePlus 9 is a very good all-rounder, and should especially appeal to gaming fans due to its powerful processor and brilliant screen. OnePlus has stayed true to its signature “light touch” user interface, and the camera system has been notably improved compared to previous generations. However, the stunning screen does drain the battery quite quickly, and the camera still isn’t yet shoulder-to-shoulder with Apple and Samsung.