OnePlus made a big entrance with its new flagship OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro smartphones that are equipped with powerful camera hardware built and tuned with Hasselblad’s expertise. The brand has promised a leap in its photo quality, calling these phones’ cameras “your best shot.”
Of course, the price difference between the two phones ($729 and $1069) does contribute to camera equipment differences. For instance, the OnePlus 9 Pro comes with a dedicated 78mm telephoto (optical zoom) camera, while the OnePlus 9 uses digital zoom to fulfill this role.
|OnePlus 9||OnePlus 9 Pro|
|Primary||23mm 48-MP f/1.8||23mm 48-MP f/1.8 +OIS|
|Ultrawide||14mm 50-MP f/2.2||14mm 50-MP f/2.2|
|Telephoto||N/A||78mm 8-MP f/2.4|
|Max video||8K/30fps, 4k/120fps||8K/30fps, 4k/60fps|
We don’t expect the OnePlus 9 Pro telephoto lens to compete with high-powered zooms like the P40 Pro+ or Galaxy S21 Ultra phones, but it should be slightly better (in long zoom) than the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Both camera systems share a powerful 14mm Ultrawide camera backed by a Sony IMX766 sensor. That’s the same sensor used in the Oppo Reno5 Pro+ 5G (Primary) and Oppo Find X3 Pro (Primary+Ultrawide). The OnePlus 9 series’ ultrawide camera has autofocus, although it’s not explicitly mentioned in the specs.
This new Ultrawide camera is a power-move move that should dramatically improve the overall capabilities and photo quality in a very common use-case. Well done, OnePlus. Now Huawei will (finally) feel some heat in Ultrawide image quality. That said, Huawei’s larger Ultrawide camera aperture might give it a decisive advantage in low-light.
Their Primary camera uses the same f/1.8 optics (+optical image stabilization) but a different sensor. The more affordable OnePlus 9 features a Sony IMX689 (like the OnePlus 8 Pro), while the OnePlus 9 Pro has a new Sony IMX789. Note that the 9 Pro’s Primary camera has OIS, but the non-pro version doesn’t.
|OnePlus 9 Pro||Mate 40 Pro||S21 Ultra|
|Primary||23mm 48-MP f/1.8 +OIS||27mm 50-MP f/1.9||24mm 108-MP f/1.8|
|Ultrawide||14mm 50-MP f/2.2||18mm 20-MP f/1.8||13mm 12-MP f/2.2|
|Telephoto Short||78mm 8-MP f/2.4||72mm 10-MP f/2.4 +OIS|
|Telephoto Long||N/A||125mm 12-MP f/3.4 +OIS||240mm 10-MP f/4.9 +OIS|
|Max video||8K/30fps, 4k/60fps||4k/60fps||8k/24fps|
|OnePlus 9||OnePlus 9 Pro||iPhone 12 Pro Max|
|Primary||23mm 48-MP f/1.8||23mm 48-MP f/1.8 +OIS||26mm 12-MP f/1.6 (Primary) +OIS|
|Ultrawide||14mm 50-MP f/2.2||14mm 50-MP f/2.2||14mm 12-MP f/2.4|
|Telephoto||N/A||78mm 8-MP f/2.4||64mm 12-MP f/2.4 +OIS|
|Max video||8K/30fps, 4k/120fps||8K/30fps, 4k/60fps||4k/60fps|
Both IMX689 and IMX789 are 48 Megapixel sensors, with the same size 1.12-micron pixels, but the scarce information about the IMX789 suggests that it should have better dynamic range and color accuracy thanks to a native 12-bit RAW format.
Part of the dynamic range improvement comes from a dual-ISO shot capability that should reduce the odds of having ghosting for moving objects.
Electro-optics hardware aside, the OnePlus 9 series can leverage all the computing potential from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 platform, which we have described in detail in features and performance.
That said, other OEMs have access to Snapdragon 888, so that computing speed is not unique to OnePlus, and we haven’t heard of a “killer software feature” at this point. Expect competition to remain very high within that level of performance.
The OnePlus 9 Pro camera can shoot up to 8K/30FPS, or 4K 120FPS, the latter being much more interesting to me, especially since the new sensor’s HDR prowess should work for video captures as well. The non-Pro version does support 8K/30FPS but “only” 4K/60FPS.
“ONEPLUS 9 PRO IS THE MOST POTENT MOBILE CAMERA HARDWARE AVAILABLE IN THE USA”
Our Uber HW Camera ranking system (read our FAQ), shows that the OnePlus 9-series is a very significant upgrade over the OnePlus 8 series. The OnePlus 9 Pro is the most potent mobile camera hardware available in the USA.
A Uber HW Camera score of 215, places the 9 Pro ahead of Samsung’s S21 Ultra (Uber HW score of 201, just like the Note 20 Ultra) and Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max (157). That’s a massive camera leap for OnePlus, and we can’t wait to see how it will rank in our Uber IQ image analysis.
The more affordable OnePlus 9’s camera scores an impressive score of 201, making it one of the best camera hardware under $799, but also one of the best value for your money in that market.
“ONEPLUS 9: ONE OF THE BEST CAMERA HARDWARE UNDER $799”
By focusing capital expenditures where it matters most (Primary and Ultrawide cameras), OnePlus has built a solid camera very cost-efficiently. That said, Samsung does retain an advantage with users who care very much about high-powered zoom. Stay tuned for our Uber IQ image-quality camera review!