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March 24, 2021
OnePlus everything
OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 2
Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Well now! The OnePlus 9 series and OnePlus Watch have now launched, we know all the specs, the pricing, availability. All that good stuff.

Oh and hey, reviews have dropped as well, giving you a certain indication of OnePlus’ confidence in its latest and greatest.

What happened:

  • The OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9 both feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, 8/12GB RAM, 128/256GB storage, and a 4,500mAh battery, and both offer a 120Hz variable refresh rate display, along with fast-charging now at 65W, as per the OnePlus 8T from last year. And both feature new Hasselblad camera tuning. Oh, and the alert slider remains, and no headphone jack.
  • The OnePlus 9 Pro has a bigger and higher-resolution 6.7-inch 3168×1440 AMOLED, with a slight curve for handfeel, said OnePlus. It also packs 50W wireless charging, IP68 water resistance, 5G mmWave support, and a better camera system, plus telephoto.
  • The OnePlus 9 is a flat 6.55-inch AMOLED display, at a lower 2400×1080 resolution, with 15W wireless charging, no IP rating (although it is IP-rated from T-Mobile), and no mmWave support, losing the telephoto lens and main camera OIS.
  • The OnePlus presentation really pitched it as Apple iPhone 12 series competition, including a very Apple-like slide of features/specs (Twitter) for whatever reason.
  • My thought is that while it’s good OnePlus is gunning for the king, its real competition is with Samsung and the S21 series. More on that below.
  • Also released: the OnePlus 9R, only in India, which retained the AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 65W wired charging, dropped to a Snapdragon 870, and dropped the main camera to a much lower spec quad setup. It starts at 39,999 rupees, or around $550, not that anyone outside of India will be getting it for now.
  • Annnnd, the OnePlus Watch, a sub-$200 wearable. It’s a 1.4-inch round face watch, 326 PPI AMOLED display, and 402mAh battery for “two-weeks” of extended use. Without Google’s WearOS on-board, it’s more like a smart-ish watch: lots of fitness features, with some smart integrations, but few apps. It does offer a heart rate sensor, spot blood oxygen/SpO2 checks, stress detection, sleep monitoring, and users can make and receive calls, respond to notifications, and take photos remotely.

Pricing:

  • While Samsung dropped the pricing of its Galaxy S21 series, the OnePlus 9 Pro has lifted pricing again.
  • The OnePlus 9 Pro starts at $969 (up $70 from the 8 Pro at $899 last year). That’s only $30 off the $999 Galaxy S21 Plus. The top model with 12GB RAM/256GB storage is $1,069, $130 off the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
  • The OnePlus 9 starts at $729, which is up from $699 for the OnePlus 8, but down $20 while the 8T was $749.

Reviews:

  • Oneplus 9 Pro review: “OnePlus blended a smattering of specs and features into a cohesive whole that makes the 9 Pro a phone that nearly topples the industry leaders. Nearly. It boasts a great design and display, excellent performance, and improved imaging, but misstepped a bit with battery life and 5G support… It is OnePlus’ best smartphone in years and one wholly worth considering even at just shy of $1,000.”
  • There’s a lot of focus on the cameras, and the good news is: “OnePlus has done a fine job in closing the gap with its competitors,” though no system is perfect. The downsides, though, are much smaller than usual. 
  • OnePlus 9 review: “The OnePlus 9 is a more comprehensive affordable flagship package than ever before. However, there are some familiar caveats necessary to keep the price down and it may not be the best value proposition on the market right now. Even so, this is definitely a phone that should be on your shortlist if you want amazing specs and a near-premium experience without breaking the bank.”

One thought:

  • Samsung has managed to remain on top of Android in the US for years now, rarely beaten on individual components like camera or performance, and almost never beaten as a whole. As the biggest Android dog, it also has the tightest grip on carriers, along with marketing dominance, and is most likely to be seen in-store or in a deal.
  • While OnePlus was aiming at Apple in its presentation, it’s clearly now the next-best to Samsung, and holding position as the alternative, where Google and LG have largely failed or given up trying. 
  • In Europe, India, and China, the options get more varied, more wild, and altogether more value-packed. But few flagships hold up as well as OnePlus, and this is a return to form.
Roundup

📈 Qualcomm reportedly plans a Nintendo Switch clone based on Android, with Epic Games store support (Android Authority).

📉 Does LG’s mobile phone business deserve to die? (Android Authority).

🦈 Black Shark 4 series launched, with retractable shoulder buttons (Android Authority).

👉 Intel announced it will invest $20 billion into new factories, will produce chips for other companies too (The Verge).

🍎 New Apple Silicon iMacs referenced in latest macOS Big Sur 11.3 beta (9to5Mac).

🛴 Lime launches app-less rides and no fee reservations to get more people riding (TechCrunch).

⛓ Elon Musk says people can now buy a Tesla with bitcoin (CNBC).

🎮 Amazon is opening a new game studio in Montreal led by Rainbow Six Siege developers (The Verge).

📺 Black Widow will hit Disney Plus (for $30) and theaters on the same day: July 9 (Engadget).

🚁 NASA lays out plans for its first helicopter flights on Mars: the earliest we could see a flight is on April 8, with flight zone areas found (Ars Technica).

🌌 Photographer spends 12 years and 1250 hours on this photo of the Milky Way (PetaPixel).

🚀 “How do rockets burn fuel in space if there isn’t oxygen in space?” (r/askscience).

Wednesday Weirdness
ever given

One of the world’s largest ships is stuck (Reuters) in one of the world’s busiest shipping passages, the Suez Canal, which sees around 30% of global container ship capacity pass through in a given year.

  • The Ever Given is a 224,000 tonne behemoth, and it somehow managed to get beached as in the canal, and despite the efforts of a flotilla of tugs and even a digger, the ship remains stuck.

You can peep on it live, via Marine Traffic or Vessel Finder (which seems to be struggling to remain online), but it doesn’t seem like it’s moving anywhere. 

Bonus: Scientists cook hot dogs in lava from Iceland’s erupting volcano (Gizmodo). I’m extremely sorry, but there’s no word on how they tasted.

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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