The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro smartphones (and possibly a OnePlus 9 Lite) are set to be revealed on March 23 at a virtual launch event for the company. Plus, the smartphone brand has revealed a new partnership with Hasselblad cameras.
Perhaps the OnePlus 9 line will be a synthesis of all the best parts of its previous phones; now that the company has a mid-range line, it doesn’t need to court that price segment with its main series of devices, so the OnePlus 9 line could include some seriously premium phones.
That’s why we’ve come up with this constantly updated collection of official news and unofficial rumors around the OnePlus 9 phones – and we’ve also added our own wish list of features and changes we’d like to see in the new models.
TechRadar has spoken to OnePlus CEO Pete Lau on the camera upgrades you can expect in the OnePlus 9 as well as a variety of other upgrades coming to future OnePlus phones. You can read the full article here.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? OnePlus’ main phone for 2021
- When is it out? Launch March 23, release date unclear
- How much will it cost? Probably at least $699 / £599 (around AU$1,100)
OnePlus 9 release date and price
Normally, we would have expected the OnePlus 9 release date to be April or May but the company has confirmed it will be revealing the new series of smartphones on March 23 this year.
The official launch event is set to be a live stream – there won’t be a physical equivalent of this show – and it’ll begin at 7am PT / 10am EST / 3pm GMT (or March 24 at 1am for those in AEDT).
The actual release date of the phones will likely be a week or two after that official announcement. That’s currently unclear though, and we expect to hear official information at the event.
One source previously claimed you’ll be able to pre-order the OnePlus 9 range on March 23. That’d suggest the phone would be on sale soon after, but we’ll have to wait and see for those details.
In terms of price, that’s hard to tell, especially because each successive OnePlus phone creeps into the premium pricing territory more and more, and because the OnePlus Nord means the OnePlus 9 doesn’t need to cater to people on a smaller budget.
The OnePlus 8 started at $699 / £599 (around AU$1,100) and went up to $799 / £699 (around $1,372) for more RAM and storage, and the OnePlus 8 Pro started at $899 / £799 and went up to $999 / £899.
Those are some high prices – not Samsung Galaxy S-level eye-watering costs, but pricier than OnePlus phones used to be. And given the Nord wasn’t a thing when the 8-series was launched, we could see the OnePlus 9 phones get pricier than that.
There’s growing talk that a lower-end OnePlus 9E model is going to be introduced at some point, too – especially after a recent product listing seemed to accidentally reveal the names of three upcoming devices – which would perhaps offer a more affordable way into the 2021 range from OnePlus. If a cheaper model does indeed arrive, we’d anticipate a price in the region of $599 / £499 (around AU$900).
You also might at least get a freebie with the phone, as a leak suggests that those who pre-order the OnePlus 9 will get a free pair of OnePlus Buds Z true wireless earbuds, while those who pre-order the OnePlus 9 Pro will get the Steven Harrington Edition of the Buds Z.
OnePlus 9 leaks and rumors
We’ve heard quite a few leaks and rumors on the OnePlus 9, enough that we’ve split this section into four sub-sections.
Before that, though, there’s a OnePlus 9 leak which doesn’t neatly fit into any of these sections – it’s around the codename, which is apparently ‘Lemonade’.
A reference to the popular sugary drink, the Beyoncé album, the Adam Friedman song, or just a random word chosen by someone at OnePlus to refer to the new phone? Probably the latter.
The biggest piece of information on the design front comes direct from OnePlus, which has shown off part of the rear of the OnePlus 9 Pro, in the image you can see above.
This shows off a large camera block with Hassleblad branding and four lenses (more on which below).
This looks a lot like previously leaked renders supposedly showing the OnePlus 9 Pro, which you can see below. These include a quad-lens camera and a curved screen.
Interestingly, only two of the rear camera lenses look big enough to house the likes of a main, ultra-wide or telephoto snapper, so one of those might be missing. We’ve also now seen a second set of renders which are near identical.
One other leak meanwhile involves a set of real world photos and captured screenshots showing off the look of the standard OnePlus 9 – these would appear to be the genuine article, so see what you think of them in the images below.
These are similar to other unofficial renders of the OnePlus 9 that we’ve seen (embedded below).
And another source has also leaked images of both the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. The design matches leaks elsewhere, but with the added detail that the standard OnePlus 9 might have a plastic frame, as there aren’t any antenna lines. The source speculates that the back might also be plastic, but they’re not sure.
In all, the OnePlus 9 looks to have a similar design to the OnePlus 9 Pro, just with fewer camera lenses and a likely flat (rather than curved) screen.
Some interesting schematic diagrams of the OnePlus 9 Pro have also found their way on to the web, which you can see below – they give us another look at the possible rear camera array.
And if you’re hoping for water resistance in the OnePlus 9 range you might be in luck – but only with one model. A leaker claims that the OnePlus 9 Pro will have an IP68 rating (likely meaning it can be submerged up to 1.5 meters deep for up to 30 minutes), but that the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9E will have no official IP rating.
Finally on the design subject, we also have an idea of the colors the range might be offered in, with a leaker claiming to have found evidence that the OnePlus 9 will be available in Arctic Blue, Arctic Sky, and Winter Mist colors (or Gloss black and Gloss gradient purple if bought on Verizon), while the OnePlus 9 Pro will come in Stellar Black, Forest Green, and Morning Mist shades.
Another source meanwhile claims that the OnePlus 9 will come in black, blue and purple shades, with the OnePlus 9 Pro launching in black, green and silver colors.
With the OnePlus 9E being the model subject to the fewest leaks, we haven’t yet got an idea of the colors we’d expect to see on this more affordable device.
A big screen leak has given us a hint about the technology we should expect on both the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. Digital Chat Station – a source that has provided correct information in the past – says that both phones will feature 120Hz displays, but the size and technology will differ.
It seems the OnePlus 9 will have a 6.55-inch Full HD+ display, while the OnePlus 9 Pro will move up to a 6.78-inch size with a QHD resolution. Eagle-eyed OnePlus fans will note that means the OnePlus 9 could have the same display as the OnePlus 8T, something a leaker has explicitly stated.
While that leak states the OnePlus 9 Pro will have a 120Hz screen, we’ve heard it could in fact have a variable refresh rate, in which the rate changes depending on what you’re doing.
This could lead to lower battery use, as you won’t be using 120Hz when you don’t need it. The OnePlus 9E is also expected to feature a 6.55-inch Full HD+ display, but with a slightly lower 90Hz refresh rate.
Elsewhere we’ve heard that even the OnePlus 9 Pro might have a 6.55-inch screen, but that seems less likely, as we’d expect it to be bigger than its siblings.
First up, we have some official camera information directly from OnePlus. The company has partnered with Hasselblad, which is a famed camera brand that has been making camera technology since the 1800’s.
See how Hasselblad Ambassadors Cooper and Gorfer capture rich detail and true-to-life colors with Natural Color Calibration on the #OnePlus9Series, made possible by @Hasselblad.March 10, 2021
OnePlus CEO Pete Lau told TechRadar exclusively, “Applying Hasselblad’s color expertise to our smartphones was actually quite challenging, since their color science is created for traditional cameras, which is very different from how smartphone cameras work with color”.
“While this has been a significant challenge to overcome, our R&D teams have been working very closely for months to co-develop our new color solution.
“Natural Color Calibration with Hasselblad, which aims to bring more perceptually accurate and natural-looking colors to photos taken with OnePlus flagship cameras. It also will serve as OnePlus’ new standard for color calibration for its future smartphone cameras.”
The company has also confirmed the series of smartphones will be using a custom Sony IMX 789 sensor. This sensor leaked late last year, and some had expected it to be included on the Oppo Find X3 Pro but that wasn’t the case.
On the collaboration with Sony, Lau said, “We were also able to significantly improve video performance and possibilities, resulting in the ability to shoot in 4K at a very high 120fps, which is something very few smartphones today offer, and DOL-HDR, which ensures subjects are always clear in backlit environments.”
DOL-HDR stands for Digital Overlap High Dynamic Range and it works by shooting two frames at the same time with two different exposures. It’ll then merge the two images together in an attempt to improve lighting within a scene.
OnePlus has confirmed the sensor includes 12-bit RAW support, which a press release from the company says “will be up to 64-times more powerful than before”.
According to OnePlus, the new partnership will see Hasselblad will help OnePlus “bring more perceptually accurate and natural-looking colors to photos taken with OnePlus flagship cameras.”
There will also be a Hasselblad Pro Mode on the phone, which should allow for better control when fine-tuning photos. We should learn more about how this all works on March 23.
That Hasselblad partnership isn’t a one year deal either. According to OnePlus, the company will be using the Hasselblad branding for three years, so expect it to be similar on the OnePlus 10 and OnePlus 11.
OnePlus has also shared an image of the camera block on the OnePlus 9 Pro (which you can see above in the design section), confirming that it’s a quad-lens setup.
And the company has revealed that the ultra-wide camera will be better at avoiding distortion towards the edge of images than conventional ultra-wide snappers are. To demonstrate this, the company’s CEO posted comparison images, which you can see below.
Ultra-wide photography literally broadens your horizons. Shouldn’t it also keep them true? On the left, a shot taken with a conventional ultra-wide. On the right, the same (and yet totally different) photo taken with the #OnePlus9Series, free of distortion. pic.twitter.com/jbtWae2faPMarch 10, 2021
Finally, a seemingly official piece of information which didn’t come direct from OnePlus, is that the OnePlus 9 Pro will have a tilt-shift camera mode. An image of the camera app shared by Marques Brownlee (below) shows this.
This isn’t something we tend to find on smartphones, but it’s a clever visual effect that can make wide-angle photos look like macro shots – it’s hard to explain but easy to get a sense for if you Google some image examples.
OnePlus: Hey Marques you know how you keep telling us to improve our phone cameras?Me: YupOnePlus: You’ve seen this Hasselblad partnership we’ve teased?Me: YupOnePlus: Want to test OnePlus 9 Pro super duper early? Just don’t take it out of this caseMe: Bet pic.twitter.com/uCpvjaajlIMarch 10, 2021
Now onto the leaked information, and we’ve heard some word of the camera specs to expect from some sources. The standard OnePlus 9 may have a 48MP main camera (outputting 12MP images), a 48MP ultra-wide one, and an unknown third camera.
Elsewhere though leaked images (below) suggest that the OnePlus 9 will have a 48MP, 50MP, and 2MP camera combination, which is slightly different to the leak above.
The same images suggest that the OnePlus 9 Pro will have a 48MP, 50MP, 8MP and 2MP combination. We’ve also heard from another source that the OnePlus 9 Pro will have 48MP and 50MP cameras (among other lenses).
The OnePlus 9E meanwhile is thought to have a 64MP main snapper and an 8MP ultra-wide one, though it’s not clear whether it will only have two lenses or whether there will be a third.
One less positive thing we’ve heard, is that apparently no models in the OnePlus 9 range will have a periscope camera, which could limit their optical zoom potential. No current OnePlus phone has a periscope camera either, but it means optical zoom ranges are likely to be around 3x, rather than up to 10x.
Indeed, another camera leak points to 3.3x zoom and is mentions a tilt-shift photography mode for creating shallow depth of field.
Specs and battery
According to the aforementioned screenshots, the OnePlus 9 is going to come running the Snapdragon 888 processor, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage on board, which matches up with other whispers we’ve heard. This device has since shown up on eBay too.
This will slightly out muscle its more affordable sibling, the OnePlus 9E, which leaks suggest will be powered by a Snapdragon 690 processor (along with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage).
From another source we’ve heard that the OnePlus 9 Pro might have 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. A second source has also suggested 12GB of RAM is likely for at least one model of the phone.
OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro will hit T-Mobile. Pro model has 12GB of RAM.February 15, 2021
A benchmark believed to be for the OnePlus 9 Pro also reveals a Snapdragon 888 chipset, along with a slightly disappointing 8GB of RAM – although other configurations will almost certainly be available too, as leaked above.
The scores achieved in the benchmark are also a mixed bag, with a high single-core result but a slightly low multi-core one. Still, assuming the benchmark is even real, OnePlus had plenty of time to improve the phone’s performance from when this emerged.
Other rumors have centered around the battery and charging: the OnePlus 9 is apparently coming with 65W fast charging, 30W fast wireless charging, and a 4,500mAh battery on board.
We’ve also heard claims that both the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro will have 4,500mAh batteries, and the source of this leak hinted that they will sport a dual-cell design, which is needed for 65W charging. Speaking of charging, OnePlus has confirmed that the phones come with a charger in the box.
Interestingly, the OnePlus 9E looks set to come with a 5,000mAh battery based on leaks, which is slightly bigger than the expected batteries on its bigger brothers. Whether this means the OnePlus 9E maintains better battery life at the expense of greater weight remains to be seen, though we’d expect that to be the trade-off.
What we want to see
1. Wireless charging in the non-Pro phone
The OnePlus 8 Pro has wireless charging, but don’t opt for the Pro and you’re losing the feature, which isn’t great for people who want a more affordable handset but still want the convenience of wireless charging.
Perhaps that was just the case because the OnePlus 8 Pro was the first phone from the company with the cordless charging tech, and it was just testing the feature out – if so, maybe the OnePlus 9 will have wireless charging as well as its Pro sibling.
2. A telephoto lens on the non-Pro OnePlus 9
Here’s another piece of tech the OnePlus 8 didn’t have but the 8 Pro did – a telephoto camera. This allows you to take optical zoom pictures, closing the distance without losing any resolution.
Zoomed-in shots are arguably more useful than ultra-wide ones, so it’s not ideal that many companies including OnePlus prefer to use the ultra-wide lenses but not telephoto for less premium devices.
For full photography potential, we’d like to see the OnePlus 9 have a telephoto and ultra-wide camera, not just one or the other – though if it’s got to drop one, at least keep the telephoto.
3. A higher resolution main camera
Both the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro have 48MP main cameras. Since many other companies have 64MP and even 108MP snappers, this feels a little low-res, and we’d like to see some improvement.
Sure, resolution isn’t the only factor that dictates how good a smartphone picture is, as pixel size can be important – but the OnePlus 8 didn’t have the bigger-pixel 48MP sensor that some other phones have, so it missed out on this advantage.
We’d like to see the OnePlus 9, or even just the 9 Pro, have a high-res main camera, or maybe just a primary snapper with bigger pixels to take better snaps.
4. Two selfie cameras
The OnePlus Nord has two selfie cameras, so you can take standard or wide-angle snaps of yourself and friends. We’d like to see this kind of thing brought over to the OnePlus 9, because it can give you a lot of versatility in selfies.
The second front-facing camera wouldn’t necessarily need to have a wide field-of-view – some dual-selfie-camera phones have the main snapper joined by a depth sensor, for improved bokeh or background effects.
5. A 4K screen on the Pro model
There have only been a few phones with 4K screens – and they all come from Sony, with recent examples being the Sony Xperia 1 and Xperia 1 II. No other company has tried to make this kind of super-high-res display for a phone.
Sure, a 4K display is rather unnecessary in most situations, and the 2K of the OnePlus 8 Pro generally is enough for most people. But a ‘Pro’ phone shouldn’t be for everyone, and by definition it has a more limited appeal anyway, so the people going for it might need this kind of high-res screen.
Now that 5G means streaming games, movies and TV in high resolution isn’t out the question any more, we’d like to see the first 4K screen on a non-Sony phone.
6. Palm rejection technology
An issue we had with the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro is that they didn’t seem to have palm rejection technology, and we’d love to see the OnePlus 9 have something along these lines.
Palm rejection technology ensures that, when you accidentally knock the curved edge of the phone screen, the device understands you didn’t mean to press it, so nothing happens.
This stops you accidentally swiping between menus or opening apps when you didn’t mean to, solving an issue many have with curved-edge phones.
7. A larger battery
The OnePlus 8 had a 4,300mAh battery, which went up to 4,510mAh in the OnePlus 8 Pro.
5,000mAh batteries in phones aren’t uncommon though, as such a size ensures the phone will last as long as possible between charges. If the phone has top specs, like a 108MP main sensor or 4K screen (as the OnePlus 9 of our dreams would have), it needs a big battery to cope.
Even if the phone doesn’t end up having these high specs, bigger is always better for batteries, as it generally increases the life.
8. More differences with Oppo Find X line
The OnePlus 8 Pro was very, very similar to the Oppo Find X2 Pro, with the only real differences being that phone having some improved screen optimizations, a better main camera, and a higher price.
That’s not a random comparison – OnePlus and Oppo are both owned by BBK Electronics, as are Vivo and Realme, so they’re considered sibling companies, and much of the tech developed by one is used by another.
But in the OnePlus 8 and Oppo Find X2 lines, it seems a little too much tech was shared, and the phones were a bit too similar. We’d like the OnePlus 9 to have a lot less in common with the Oppo Find X3 phones so we can see a bit more rivalry in the field.