Faster charging: When it comes to powering up, Fisco says the OnePlus phones rate among the fastest on the market. And the company claims that its improved Warp Charge 65T technology can fully power up the 4,500mAh battery in the two new phones in just 29 minutes, provided you use the included cord and wall adapter.
For those who prefer slower wireless charging but with less hassle, the company also has a new stand charger, sold separately, that will fully power the 9 Pro in just 50 minutes. For the OnePlus 9, there’s less benefit here. It works with any Qi-standard charger (the nearly universal option) but maxes out at 15W and isn’t compatible with the manufacturer’s Warp Charge wireless technology.
I tried the wired and wireless options and was impressed by how much battery life I could get in just a few minutes. My kids have a habit of draining devices at the worst time, usually right before we need to head out somewhere. But just a few minutes of Warp Charge usually provided enough juice to keep them happily streaming and gaming for a few hours.
Smooth and bright displays: The 9 and 9 Pro both feature large OLED displays. The technology, used in high-end TVs, is known for offering blacker blacks and nearly unlimited viewing angles.
The display on the 9 measures 6.6 inches diagonally. The one on the 9 Pro is 6.7 inches. And both have a fast 120hz refresh rate, which makes quickly scrolling through social media and websites less choppy and offers a better mobile gaming experience.
While the display of the 9 is flat across, the 9 Pro’s is curved at the edges, like those on many Samsung phones. That gives the user just a sliver more display space without making the phone bigger, though sometimes it can be tough to tap on icons or text on those edges. But OnePlus says it has improved the design to be less pronounced and reduce those missed touches.
In the case of the 9, OnePlus says it has boosted brightness to a maximum of 1,100 nits (a measure also used in TVs). That level of brightness improves picture quality when, say, you’re watching an HDR video with shadowy scenes.
The 9 Pro features a new low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) technology used in OLED displays. It’s designed to help cut display power consumption by 50 percent.
OnePlus says LTPO helps optimize the display’s refresh rate, depending on the activity. For example, the refresh rate might jump to 120hz if you’re gaming, then drop to the single digits when you’re just viewing a still photo, cutting down on power consumption.
New cameras: If there’s one area where OnePlus phones have significantly lagged the competition, it’s cameras. While the 8 and 8 Pro received ratings ranging from Good to Very Good for their setups, they significantly trailed the pack overall, especially when compared with premium smartphone models.
But the company says the 9 and 9 Pro feature new Sony cameras that focus faster and deliver better color accuracy. While the rear-camera setup of the 9 includes a regular wide and 0.6x ultra-wide camera, the 9 Pro adds a 3.3x optical zoom boosted by optical image stabilization for sharper shots. There’s also a separate monochrome camera that adds detail to black and white shots.
I took the 9 Pro to my son’s hockey game and found the 3.3x camera very handy. While, admittedly, 6-year-olds don’t skate very fast, it was easy to keep track of the action. The footage I shot from the stands was clear and smooth, despite the fact that I didn’t have a tripod or anything to brace myself against.
On top of the hardware changes, OnePlus recently entered into a three-year partnership with the camera and lens manufacturer Hasselblad. And the first fruit from that deal is Hasselblad Pro Mode. The camera mode, featured on both phones, gives experienced photographers the ability to highly customize settings like brightness, exposure time, and white balance.
Speedier processor: Both phones are powered by Qualcomm’s latest premium processor designed for 5G connectivity, the Snapdragon 888. That’s the same engine behind the Galaxy S21 phones, which all received Excellent ratings for performance.