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Moscow city 360-degree virtual reality tour

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Moscow city 360-degree virtual reality tour

It's no secret that OnePus has struggled with consistency with its smartphone cameras over the years, but it aims to put an end to all the negative press with its new OnePlus 9 series. The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro's new camera sensors have been co-developed under the guiding hand of Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad, which promises to bring its iconic colour science to OnePlus' phone cameras. Hasselblad, famous for its medium format cameras that captured the lunar landings during NASA's Apollo missions (which explains the teasers), has entered a long-term partnership with OnePlus.

It's not uncommon to see smartphone manufacturers partner with big-name camera or lens makers in order to boost the credibility of their products. When done right, it can lead to very good results that actually benefit the end user, for instance Sony's long standing partnership with Zeiss and Huawei's partnership with Leica. Among all the OnePlus smartphones I've tested thus far, I can confidently say that the OnePlus 8 Pro came the closest to having a great camera setup, barring its selfie camera.

Watch Live Moscow city 360-degree virtual reality tour

OnePlus hopes to elevate its cameras to true flagship level, especially with the 9 Pro, and the company has Apple and Samsung in its sights. Apart from the cameras, the 9 Pro is also a true-blue flagship with all the cutting-edge features and specifications one would typically expect. It's time for OnePlus to put its money where its marketing is. We're about to find out just how much of a benefit you can expect from the OnePlus-Hasselblad partnership and how much of it is just hype.

OnePlus 9 Pro price in India and variants

The OnePlus 9 Pro is available in two variants in India: one with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage priced at Rs. 64,999, and the other with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage price at Rs. 69,999. OnePlus sent me the latter variant for review in the Morning Mist colour. The RAM and storage used on the OnePlus 9 Pro are LPDDR5 and UFS 3.1.

The new higher pricing makes the OnePlus 9 Pro a proper flagship and a full-fledged competitor to Samsung's S series and Apple's yearly iPhone refreshes. The OnePlus 8 Pro shed the “flagship killer” image last year when it went all out in terms of features, putting it on par with the big guns. OnePlus has been steadily bumping up its pricing over the years, but compared to the 8 Pro's modest increase in price last year, this is a sizable jump of nearly Rs. 10,000 over the previous model. A lot of factors have contributed to this such, as the new Hasselblad partnership and material costs, not to mention local taxes.

I guess the big question is, are fans willing to pay nearly Rs. 70,000 for a OnePlus phone?

OnePlus 9 Pro design

OnePlus hasn't gone too crazy with the design of the OnePlus 9 Pro, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you see it. I don't really mind it. The core shape and dimensions make this phone similar to the OnePlus 8 Pro, however the 9 Pro is slightly thicker at 8.7mm and a bit lighter (197g). It has an aluminium frame, and Gorilla Glass on the curved front and back. It looks and feels premium, but I'd recommend the Pine Green or Stellar Black colours which have matte finishes, versus the mirror gloss finish of the Morning Mist trim that I have.

The OnePlus 9 Pro has similar dimensions as the 8 Pro, but with a new rear design

The OnePlus 9 Pro is a tall smartphone but I quickly got used to the placement of the volume and power buttons. Tactile feedback is good and the alert slider works as expected. There's no headphone jack but the dual-SIM tray, USB Type-C port (USB 3.1 Gen1), and bottom-firing speaker are in the same positions as they are on the 8 Pro. The OnePlus 9 Pro keeps the IP68 dust and water resistance rating of its predecessor but gets an upgraded 50W (up from 30W) wireless charging system. More on this later.

OnePlus has switched to an LTPO OLED display for the OnePlus 9 Pro, which the company claims cuts power consumption by up to 50 percent compared to the previous model. It's a 6.7-inch display with a QHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and HDR10+ certification. The refresh rate is variable based on the app being used. You also get a new feature called Hyper Touch, which when enabled, is said to improve touch response for certain games such as Call of Duty: Mobile.

The box contents of the OnePlus 9 Pro includes a 65W charger, Type-C to Type-C data cable, SIM eject tool, stickers, case, and the usual documentation. It's good to see the fast charger and other accessories still included with the phone, unlike the sparse contents of Samsung and Apple's flagship phone boxes.

OnePlus 9 Pro specifications and software

OnePlus has picked Qualcomm's best current SoC, the Snapdragon 888. Announced in late 2020, this new beast of a chip was initially seen in the global variants of Samsung's Galaxy S21 series. In India we briefly experienced it in the Asus ROG Phone 5, but this will be our first full review. The Snapdragon 888 uses a similar CPU structure as the Samsung Exynos 2100, but we'll see how performance actually differs between the two. It's built on a 5nm process and features Qualcomm's integrated X60 5G modem.

The OnePlus 9 Pro uses a new LTPO OLED display with the same QHD+ resolution as the 8 Pro

The OnePlus 9 Pro sold in India supports just two 5G bands (N41, N78) for both SA and NSA modes, which is less than in other regions such as the US and Europe. This might not be such a big deal now given the state of 5G in India, but it's something to keep in mind.

Other than the speedy RAM and storage that I mentioned earlier, the OnePlus 9 Pro also features dual-band Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, stereo speakers, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and multiple satellite navigation systems. The company also says it has used a larger vapour chamber, thicker graphite sheets, and a larger copper coil in the OnePlus 9 Pro — all for the sole purpose of managing higher temperatures better.

OxygenOS continues to be a joy to use, and it still is one of the best Android skins around. My OnePlus 9 Pro review unit shipped with slightly buggy firmware but I did receive an OTA update which fixed most of the issues I had. I still think a few more updates are needed to iron out some leftover bugs. For instance, the 9 Pro's always-on display gets really dim intermittently, to a point where it's barely visible. The framerate in the camera viewfinder seems to be stuck at 30fps even after you select 60fps, which wasn't the case before the update.

This is Oxygen OS 11, which is based on Android 11. It looks and feels very familiar to what we last experienced on the OnePlus 8T. Other than a few exclusive settings for the 9 series such as ‘Ultra-high video resolution' and ‘Hyper Touch', there's not a lot that's new.

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