OnePlus 9: Everything you need to know about the upcoming flagship

While we know that the Samsung Galaxy S21 range comprises of the first flagship Android models to hit the market this year, OnePlus is not too far behind with the OnePlus 9/Pro. Similar to Samsung and Xiaomi, OnePlus is said to have advanced its release schedule – for reasons known only to them. And just like the other two companies, OnePlus’s next high-end smartphone has experienced leaks ahead of its launch. In this hub article, NextPit will list the most credible information about the upcoming OnePlus 9 devices and what to expect from them.

This article will be regularly updated as and when new information is available. Whatever you read here will therefore be listed in reverse chronological order, from the most recent to the oldest. They will all be listed in a summarized list below to help you find your way around more easily.

Contents:Triple or quadruple 50 MP camera module from Hasselblad without periscope zooming

Earlier this year, Pete Lau, the CEO of OnePlus, did mention that the manufacturer would invest heavily in the development of its camera modules. This is one area where OnePlus has traditionally lagged behind when compared to other high-end competitors.

An initial rumour from a leaker known as RODENT950 last December suggested that OnePlus had entered into a partnership with Leica. This rumour was later disproved by another leaker, who has been generally well informed about OnePlus. Max Jambor claimed that the manufacturer has opted for Hasselblad, and not Leica.

Hasselblad is a world-renowned brand in the realm of photography. The company hasn’t been too active in the smartphone market, though. A OnePlus 9 “prototype” armed with a triple camera module inked with the Hasselblad logo was shown off in the visuals provided by Max Jambor to support his claim.

Yes it is true. OnePlus is partnering with Hasselblad on the camera for the OnePlus 9 Series.

This was something they tried to keep as secret as possible and I didn’t think they would put this logo on prototypes🤦🏽‍♂️

But yeah… that’s the #OnePlus9Pro

— Max Jambor (@MaxJmb)
February 6, 2021

Another leak showed what could very well be the back of the OnePlus 9 also illustrates a triple camera module, with the “Ultrashot” watermark. The alleged specifications of the camera module indicate the presence of a 50 MP wide-angle main lens with f/1.9 aperture, an ultra-wide-angle lens at 20 MP and f/1.8 aperture, and a 12 MP telephoto lens with f/3.4 aperture, autofocus and optical stabilization (OIS).

The so-called Ultrashot camera module of the OnePlus 9 / © SlashLeaks

Seeing OnePlus trade in its ageing 48 MP Sony IMX689 sensor for a higher resolution lens is definitely good news even if it is on paper. But the presence of a dedicated telephoto lens on the basic OnePlus 9 seems to be strange to me. Telephoto lenses are normally reserved for Pro models, so I won’t complain too much about this value-for-money offering.

In January this year, XDA Developers discovered several new features within the OnePlus camera application code. This included a “Tilt Shift” mode that allows users to achieve a miniature effect in landscape photos and transform them into dioramas.

Another mode called “Moon Mode” would allow users to apply filters to moon shots in night photos. A “Starburst” mode is supposed to amplify the radiation effects of a strong light source and the “Focus Peak” function should highlight certain areas more when focusing.

Snapdragon 888, 120 Hz screen, wireless charge 45 Watts

It’s safe to say that the OnePlus 9 lineup will use the Snapdragon 888 SoC. There is currently no reliable information available on the hardware specifications, but it would seem logical to return to basic configurations of 128GB/8GB RAM for the OnePlus 9 and 256/12GB RAM for the Pro model.

On the other hand, if the OnePlus 9E, which is the “lite”/affordable variant is confirmed, I believe that there is a good chance that OnePlus will opt for a cheaper processor. I am hoping for a higher-end SoC compared to the Snapdragon 765, which already powers the OnePlus Nord. Who knows? Maybe we’ll end up with the Snapdragon 870 instead for the only non-5G variant in the line-up.

As far as the display is concerned, OnePlus will certainly use a Samsung-made panel with 120 Hz refresh rate, at least on the OnePlus 9 Pro. Perhaps the base model and OnePlus 9E will max out at 90 Hz.

When it comes to the battery, OnePlus introduced its new Warp Charge 65T (65W charging) in the OnePlus 8T.  This was the technology that the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro were not privy to. It would be logical to conclude that the OnePlus 9 and Pro should therefore also be recipients of 65W charging in order to keep up with the times. Apart from that, I do not expect anything new or outstanding on the charging front.

The €39.90 Warp Charge 65T charger had better be included in the OnePlus 9’s box! / © NextPit

As for wireless charging, Max Jambor predicted that the Pro variant could be equipped with 45 Watt wireless charging capability, which is an improvement over the 30 Watt wireless charging found on the OnePlus 8 Pro. The Pro version could also offer reverse wireless charging this time around.

Once again, there is a very high chance that this improvement would be reserved for the Pro model only. According to leaks from Max Jambor and 91Mobiles, both the base model and the Pro version would be equipped with a 4,500 mAh battery and a charger would also be included in the box.

That would be in line with typical OnePlus behaviour of bucking the market trend, which is obviously to ditch the charger. Apart from that, it is a no-brainer in doing so should the OnePlus 9 range come with the Warp Charge 65T charger considering how it is very unlikely for users to already own such a powerful charger, which is required for them to benefit from this fast-charging technology.

9 and 9 Pro

— Max Jambor (@MaxJmb)
February 9, 2021

No big changes on the design side

A first leak of the 3D render of the OnePlus 9 was published on November 14th by 91 Mobiles. You can see a triple camera module that is a rectangle that tapers off at its rounded edges and remains aligned at the top left of the back of the smartphone. The display on the OnePlus 9 base model could very well be flat, while the Pro model retains a curved display. 

Overall, there are really no big changes compared to OnePlus 8T. However, it is worth noting that OnePlus would have maintained its “Switch Alert” button on the right-hand side, which is not present on the brand’s entry-level/mid-range smartphones such as the OnePlus N10 and N100.

Leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer aka OnLeaks released 3D renders of the OnePlus 9 Pro on November 21st suggesting that the Pro model could borrow design elements from its older siblings. The renders showed that it could feature a set of four cameras at the back accompanied by a 6.7-inch curved display that is pierced with a punch-hole notch.

The basic OnePlus 9 design / © OnLeaks x Voice

As it has been the case for a number of years, one would not find it strange to notice how the renders seen here are not too far away from the Oppo Reno5 smartphones that were launched in December last year in China. Critics of OnePlus will even talk about rebranded smartphones, considering how BBK Electronics owns both OnePlus and Oppo, so it would not be remiss for the company to take advantage of a cross-platform development process.

On February 8th, a video of an alleged OnePlus 9 Pro prototype was published by YouTuber Dave2D. The five-minute clip showed off four cameras at the back of the smartphone with the Hasselblad brand emblazoned on it. Notably, the camera positions differed slightly in this image from the renders shared by Steve Hemmerstoffer a few months earlier.

Three models are in the pipeline: OnePlus 9, 9 Pro and 9E

Ever since the launch of the OnePlus 7, the manufacturer has released its new flagships in pairs. But the OnePlus 9 range could go one step further and be built around 3 models. These would be the OnePlus 9, the OnePlus 9 Pro and a more affordable variant, the OnePlus 9 Lite/OnePlus 9E.

OnePlus9 Lite or OnePlus 9E has not been confirmed to exist just yet, although there has been a growing number of rumors of it circulating. It makes perfect sense for the OnePlus 9E/9 Lite to be developed, as there would most probably be a number of hardware compromises made to remain one rung lower than a flagship device, and maintaining a performance level above those of mid-range devices without having to break the bank.

On the one hand, a more affordable OnePlus 9 would be welcome as the brand has dived deep into the premium smartphone end of the pool, where prices of its flagship devices remained largely competitive with its peers in the flagship market. The OnePlus 8 Pro, which sold for €899 upon its release, was “only” €40 more expensive than the basic Samsung Galaxy S21, which in turn was cheaper compared to its predecessor, the Galaxy S20.

But, knowing OnePlus, I’m also afraid that we’ll end up with a flagship that’s too lightweight to be a flagship. With an absolute bargain for the OnePlus 8T (relatively speaking), I don’t see how the manufacturer could further erode its margins while offering the OnePlus 9E that is attractive enough to supplant the 8T,  while leaving selected key features that are exclusive to the “normal” OnePlus 9s.

And it is also one more step for OnePlus in its Oppo-ization process, which is not a good thing at all taking into consideration the compromises made by Oppo on its latest Reno and Find X2 models that disappointed in its “Lite” variants (the Oppo Find X2 Neo and Reno 4 Z).

But who knows? Maybe we’ll end up with a OnePlus 9E that comes with a 120 Hz AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 865 chipset and triple camera module for less than €600. When you see the success of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, you can only hope that OnePlus was inspired by that masterpiece.

OnePlus 9: Release date and price of its upcoming flagships

Currently, there is no reliable information on the price of OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro, and the possible Lite version.

In recent years, prices of the OnePlus flagships have increased by a significant margin. The OnePlus 8 marked a real turning point by being the most expensive smartphone ever to be marketed by the brand. OnePlus 8 was sold in France for a whopping €699 for the 8GB RAM/128 GB variant and for €799 for the 12GB RAM/256 GB model.

The OnePlus 8 Pro with 8GB RAM/128 GB variant was offered at €899, while the OnePlus 8 Pro with 12GB RAM/256 GB variant had a recommended retail price of €999. I don’t expect OnePlus to lower the price on its upcoming high-end smartphones, unlike Samsung.

The manufacturer did not launch its Nord range for no reason at all, as OnePlus clearly wants to segregate its catalogue. But I also hope that the OnePlus 9 will not see another price increase. The possible presence of a Lite variant worries me, as it could be used as an excuse to compensate for more expensive OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. When you consider how the Samsung Galaxy S10e saw the branching of the Galaxy S range into 3 models, and how the S10e did not do all that well, could we see history repeat itself?

Whatever it is, we’ll have to wait for the launch keynote just to be sure. Based on the most recent rumors, the latter should take place in mid-March 2021. OnePlus would have, just like Samsung and Xiaomi, moved up its launch dates while keeping us on the edge of our seats.