Last year was a bit of a blip in the OnePlus phone bandwagon. If we may even call it a blip, that is. When it was time for the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro to be succeeded, all that came along was the OnePlus 8T. Very competent phone, absolutely no doubt about it and was a genuine successor as successors should be. Yet, there wasn’t a ‘Pro’ variant. Something that logically succeeded the OnePlus 8 Pro. Now finally, half a year later, we have the complete picture again. The OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro return as a pair, in what is OnePlus’s latest pitch for the Android flagship smartphone space.
The positioning remains as simple and complex as before. The OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro are at par on the core specs as far as the performance and the software bit of things are concerned, but there are certain features that the more affordable OnePlus 9 misses along the way. Yet, what it misses out on really is more of a spec sheet comparison, and in the real world, is indeed a really slick package to have.
EXPLAINING THE ONEPLUS 9 VARIANTS
The OnePlus 9 sits one rung below the more expensive OnePlus 9 Pro, and above the OnePlus 9R, in the latest OnePlus smartphone pricing stakes. The OnePlus 9 gets two RAM and two storage options. That’s 8GB and 12GB of RAM and your choice between 128GB and 256GB RAM.
So, your choices are between the 8GB+128GB configuration that is priced at Rs 49,999 and the 12GB+256GB configuration which costs Rs 54,999. Both variants can be had in all three colors—Arctic Sky, Winter Mist, and Astral Black. In a way, the OnePlus 9 seriously undercuts the Samsung Galaxy S21 (prices start Rs 69,999), has the newness advantage over the Xiaomi Mi 10 (prices start Rs 49,999), and is definitely better than the Oppo Find X2 (around Rs 57,990) at least on the spec sheet.
ONEPLUS 9 DESIGN: WORLD HAS EVOLVED FROM A LOVE FOR GLOSSY PHONES TO MATTE FINISHES
The OnePlus 9 design language is a rather interesting mix. The more you look at it, the more you realize that it is still very much holding on to the past to give you a phone design that is typically OnePlus. Yet, there is a lot of newness to it too, a genuine freshening up of the design and a more modern take on what an Android flagship phone should look like. One look at the OnePlus 9, and even if you don’t know the exact identity of the phone, you just know it’s an OnePlus phone. This measures just 8.1mm in thickness, which makes this thinner than its 8.4mm predecessor. This also tips the scales at 183 grams, which’s 5 grams lighter than before. The OnePlus 8T felt great to hold, the OnePlus 9 feels even more so. Its Gorilla Glass at the front and the back, which adds some amount of assuredness too, though not the latest Gorilla Glass Victus.
OxygenOS remains incredibly intuitive to use, is silky smooth, and just looks easy on the eye as well. There is no real visual change compared to the last few iterations of OxygenOS, and that is great because this is already the cleanest and best-looking Android customization, this side of pure Android itself. It has been all about subtle tweaks and improvements for a while, and that evolution strategy is working quite well. The fonts, the layout, and the generously left white spaces (or black spaces if you are in dark mode) really do put a smile on the face.
It has similar niggles that I had also observed with the OnePlus 9 Pro. For instance, when using the Microsoft Edge web browser, tap on the search bar and the Gboard keyboard takes more than a couple of seconds to arrive on the scene. Have not noticed this behavior in other phones. Secondly, in the Gallery app, there is still no option for auto enhance editing—a lot of users prefer that, and it is something that flagship phones do tend to have. Third, when cropping an image using the edit tools in the Gallery, the borders are so thick that you can’t really make a fine adjustment with crops unless you’re really lucky.