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OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro, and OnePlus 9R buyer's guide: What you need to know

Welcome to your OnePlus 9 series guide! We have all the info you need, including specs, pricing, release dates, and more.
Features
By
November 9, 2021
OnePlus 9 Pro rear profile
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Table of contents

Each year, OnePlus updates its flagship smartphone line with the latest and greatest processors. It also revamps the design and incorporates new features, cameras, and accessories. In 2021, we have the OnePlus 9 series, and this is that family’s buyer’s guide!

This year, there are actually three phones in the 9-series lineup. We’ll let you know what each phone has as far as specs as well as the highlighted features of each model. We’ll also tell you the wheres and hows you need to know for buying one of these OnePlus phones.

See also: A history of OnePlus’ entire lineup so far

Editor’s note: This OnePlus 9 series buyer’s guide is current as of November 2021. We will update it with new content regularly.

OnePlus 9, 9 Pro, and 9R at a glance

OnePlus started out launching just one flagship phone each year. Over time, it’s become more ambitious. This year, for the OnePlus 9 series, we saw the launch of three phones all at once. However, only the two main phones will see wide availability.

OnePlus launched the phones on March 23, 2021. It also launched the OnePlus Watch on that same date — the company’s first smartwatch.

Here’s the need-to-know info for each model in the OnePlus 9 series.

OnePlus 9 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro in hand angled
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

This year’s top-end model from OnePlus has many of the killer features from last year’s OnePlus 8 Pro. Most of those features also come with the expected 2021 upgrades, including the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset. There’s also a new ultra-fast wireless charging standard with this model, coming in at a blazing 50W. Of course, as with last year’s 30W wireless charging on the 8 Pro, you’ll need to buy a proprietary stand separately to get those speeds. The stand costs $70 in the United States.

The big emphasis this year is the camera, though. On the back, you’ll find four lenses: a main, an ultra-wide, a telephoto, and a monochrome. OnePlus partnered with famed photography company Hasselblad to design some of the software features of those cameras. This partnership helps to create the best camera experience on one of its phones yet.

As one would expect, the OnePlus 9 Pro is the most expensive of the 9-series. It has a starting price of $969 (€919/ £829/ 64,999 INR), which is more expensive than the starting price of the 8 Pro last year. Still, this now represents the ultimate cream of the crop when it comes to this company’s devices.

OnePlus 9 Pro close up of hassleblad
OnePlus 9 Pro
The OnePlus 9 Pro reaches the market with a refreshed design, a 6.7-inch AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 888 processor, and a new Hasselblad camera partnership for improved imaging.

OnePlus 9

OnePlus 9 review back
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The vanilla entry this year features a bulk of the high-end specs related to the Pro model. That includes the same processor, the same RAM/storage configurations, and even the same battery capacity. It still does not have an IP rating against water/dust though, and also has a lower-resolution display.

As one would expect, it also has a slightly weaker camera system. It drops the telephoto lens entirely and its primary sensor is an older model.

However, for the first time in OnePlus history, this non-Pro phone features wireless charging. Unfortunately, OnePlus locked the wireless charging speeds to a standard 15W, rather than the crazy-fast speeds of the Pro model. Still, at least you finally don’t need to lose out on wireless charging if you skip the Pro model.

In exchange for giving up some of those higher-end features, you’ll pay a lot less for the OnePlus 9 as compared to the Pro. Its starting price is $729 (€719 / £629 / 49,999 INR), or a whopping $240 cheaper!

OnePlus 9 review hero
OnePlus 9
Value for money
The OnePlus 9 builds on generations of solid performance with an improved camera setup, wireless charging, and an assortment of other high-end technologies. It's not a cheap phone but still represents value for money.

OnePlus 9R

OnePlus 9R in hand showing back
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

We’ve seen Pro models before from OnePlus, but this year, we saw something new. The OnePlus 9R is a first of its kind for the brand. It is a cheaper variant of the main OnePlus 9 phones. Its specs and price put it above the mid-range-focused OnePlus Nord and its associated products, but also below even the entry-tier OnePlus 9.

The phone carries over some of the high-end specs of the main series, including an AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 65W wired charging. However, the processor is a bit weaker in the Snapdragon 870 and the camera system is much lower-end. These sacrifices are significant but will allow the price to drop without taking too much away from the 9-series experience.

Unfortunately, OnePlus is only bringing the 9R to India, at least for now. The price starts at 39,999 INR (~$552) for the model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of non-expandable storage.

OnePlus 9R Official
OnePlus 9R
The OnePlus 9R marks a return to OnePlus' roots as an affordable flagship with plenty of raw power, fast 65W charging, and an attractive 120Hz display.

Are the OnePlus 9 phones worth buying?

OnePlus 9 review in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Here at Android Authority, our readers love OnePlus phones. In 2020, during our mid-year Best of Android event, readers concluded that the OnePlus 8 Pro was the best phone launched at that point. Eventually, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra took the best-of-the-year crown, but the 8 Pro’s mid-year win is certainly notable.

With that in mind, the OnePlus 9 Pro, specifically, has all the features and specs of the OnePlus 8 Pro but adds even more. As such, it makes sense to say that our readers will likely be excited to grab a 9 Pro if they also loved the 8 Pro. We certainly think it’s pretty awesome, as we gave it our Editor’s Choice Award.

See also: The best Android phones you can get right now

The vanilla OnePlus 9, though, is a little less definitive. It doesn’t offer too much more than what we saw in the OnePlus 8 last year, save for faster wired charging and the addition of wireless charging support. It is tough to say whether or not those would be enough to earn a sale from scrutinizing buyers. Still, we gave the phone a Recommended badge.

Also, one must keep in mind that both of these phones are more expensive than they were last year. This is an interesting choice from OnePlus considering the economic turmoil most people have faced (and are still facing) thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the end, it’s possible that buyers will want a OnePlus 9 phone, but not be able to afford one. This puts OnePlus in a precarious situation.       

Thankfully, the OnePlus 9R could solve that problem — but only for buyers in India. That phone isn’t coming to any other global locations, so the rest of us are out of luck

What experts are saying

OnePlus 9 review hero
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

For the OnePlus 9 Pro, our own Eric Zeman gave the phone a very positive review. He loved the 120Hz OLED display and the performance increases that come with the Snapdragon 888 chipset. He also loved the overall design of the phone, commenting that it feels like a high-end, premium device.

Zeman also loved the camera. This is especially notable when you consider OnePlus’ history of failing to deliver photo quality that matches its pricing.

Unfortunately, he also commented that battery life isn’t as good on the Pro as on previous OnePlus flagships. Also, the 5G compatibility here in the US is very confusing at launch. These deficiencies did not stop him from giving the phone an Editor’s Choice Award, though.

Click: Read our full OnePlus 9 Pro review

Robert Triggs reviewed the vanilla OnePlus 9. He agreed that the displays of the OnePlus 9 series are quite good. He also loved the fast charging you get with the included 65W charger. The introduction of wireless charging to the non-Pro model for the first time ever was also a welcome addition. These features helped the phone earn a Recommended badge from him.

Although Triggs didn’t find the camera on the vanilla model to be as good as what we saw on the Pro model, he did find the camera to be good enough for most people.

However, he did have the same complaints related to battery life as Eric Zeman did. He also felt that the phone didn’t have a premium design or feel, especially when compared to the 9 Pro.

Click: Read our full OnePlus 9 review

Finally, Dhruv Bhutani reviewed the India-exclusive OnePlus 9R. While he felt the phone offered a decent overall package, he felt it was more like a rehash of the OnePlus 8T. With the intense Indian competition in this phone’s price bracket, OnePlus will need to do a lot more to win over customers. Still, OnePlus fans on a budget will find a lot to love about the 9R.

Click: Read our full OnePlus 9R review

What other reviewers from around the web think

  • CNET’s Andrew Hoyle agreed with Android Authority’s assessment of the OnePlus 9 Pro, giving it the same total score (4.5/5 stars). Hoyle said the phone is “gorgeous” with a camera that can take “excellent” images. However, like us, Hoyle felt battery life could be way better.
  • The Verge’s Dieter Bohn had the same sentiments related to the OnePlus 9 Pro. In fact, he called it “the best Android alternative to Samsung” and “one of the best experiences you can get using Android,” which is pretty high praise. Unlike other reviewers, Bohn didn’t ding the phone too badly for its lack of battery life, but did call out some flaws with the much-hyped camera system.
  • TechRadar’s David Lumb reviewed the vanilla OnePlus 9. Lumb gave it very high marks and said it was a great phone for its price tag. He did call out the lack of a telephoto camera and its overall non-premium feel. However, those quibbles didn’t stop him from giving it a 4.5/5 score.
  • GadgetsNow’s Komal Mohan reviewed the OnePlus 9R. As with our own review, Mohan referenced the OnePlus 8T a few times in the review, noting that the two phones are so similar that it’s hard to see why the 9R needs to exist. Still, that didn’t stop Mohan from giving it a 4-star rating and calling it “almost a complete package.”

What AA readers think of the new OnePlus phones

Back in October 2020, we asked our readers to sound off on what they wanted to see the most from the OnePlus 9 series. In the chart below, you can see how our readers responded. By examining this poll data now, we can get an idea of what aspects our readers wanted and whether or not OnePlus delivered.

Pre-release: OnePlus 9 wishlist poll results

As you can see, the largest chunk of our readers emphasized the importance of cheaper pricing. Last year, the cheapest OnePlus 8 phone was $699, while the OnePlus 8 Pro started at $899, the most expensive price ever for a normal OnePlus phone at the time. Ultimately, OnePlus raised the prices this year (not counting the OnePlus 9R, which has very limited availability). That should be quite disappointing for the majority of folks who responded to this poll.

The next most important aspect to our readers was the camera. Considering the high-end hardware in the OnePlus 9 Pro as well as the promises of the Hasselblad partnership, we can chalk that up as a win for this category. Obviously, the vanilla OnePlus 9 didn’t get as much love, but that’s to be expected.

Related: We asked, you told us: Here’s how much cameras influence your phone purchase

Finally, pulling up at the back are various premium features and great displays. The displays of both the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro are great, so that’s a win. The introduction of wireless charging to the vanilla model is also a nice gesture, although the continued lack of an IP rating there is unfortunate.

In the end, it appears OnePlus has let fans down with the thing they were most passionate about (price) while delivering on the other three categories.

But what about after the phones launched?

Post-release: Is the OnePlus 9 series hot?

Unfortunately, it appears the bulk of our readers are not fans of the OnePlus 9 series. This possibly has a lot to do with the previous chart, which showed our readers wanted the phones to be cheaper. With them landing as being more expensive, it’s caused many of our readers to reject them in response.

However, it is possible folks could change their minds. As mentioned earlier, OnePlus phones are very popular around here. We’ll need to see how things pan out during our next Best of Android series to see how the dust settles.

Finally, we pitted the camera of the OnePlus 9 Pro against that of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. These both represent some of the best Android-based camera systems you can buy today. Below, you can see which phone our readers think takes the better shots.

Post-release: Which phone takes the better photos?

Obviously, it’s very clear that most of our readers think the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the superior choice when it comes to photography. However, it should be noted that the very idea of a OnePlus phone even standing in the same league as the best-of-the-best offering from Samsung is an achievement unto itself.

OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro specs

OnePlus 9OnePlus 9 Pro
Display
OnePlus 9:
6.55-inch flat AMOLED
20:9 aspect ratio
2,400 x 1,080 at 402ppi
120Hz refresh rate (static)
OnePlus 9 Pro:
6.7-inch curved LTPO AMOLED
20.1:9 aspect ratio
3,216 x 1,440 at 525ppi
120Hz refresh rate (adaptive)
Processor
OnePlus 9:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
OnePlus 9 Pro:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM
OnePlus 9:
Min: 8GB LPDDR5
Max: 12GB LPDDR5
OnePlus 9 Pro:
Min: 8GB LPDDR5
Max: 12GB LPDDR5
Storage
OnePlus 9:
Min: 128GB UFS 3.1
Max: 256GB UFS 3.1
No external storage support
OnePlus 9 Pro:
Min: 128GB UFS 3.1
Max: 256GB UFS 3.1
No external storage support
Power
OnePlus 9:
4,500mAh battery

Warp Charge 65T
65W charger in box

15W Qi-compatible wireless charging
(Wireless only in NA/Europe)
OnePlus 9 Pro:
4,500mAh battery

Warp Charge 65T
65W charger in box

Warp Charge 50 Wireless
10V/6.5A, 20V/3.25A
Output: 50W (with prop. charging stand)
Ports
OnePlus 9:
USB-C 3.1 Gen 1
No 3.5mm headphone jack
No microSD card slot
OnePlus 9 Pro:
USB-C 3.1 Gen 1
No 3.5mm headphone jack
No microSD card slot
Connectivity
OnePlus 9:
5G support
Wi-Fi 6 support
2x2 MIMO
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
NFC support
Bluetooth 5.2
OnePlus 9 Pro:
5G support
Wi-Fi 6 support
2x2 MIMO
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
NFC support
Bluetooth 5.2
Cameras
OnePlus 9:
Rear:
1) 48MP main (Sony IMX689)
1/1.43-inch sensor
1.12μm/46MP or 2.24μm/12MP
ƒ/1.8, EIS

2) 50MP ultra-wide (Sony IMX766)
1/1.56-inch sensor
ƒ/2.2

3) 2MP monochrome

Front:
- 16MP single (Sony IMX471)
1.0μm with EIS
ƒ/2.4, fixed focus
OnePlus 9 Pro:
Rear:
1) 48MP main (Sony IMX789)
1/1.43-inch sensor
1.12μm/46MP or 2.24μm/12MP
ƒ/1.8, EIS, OIS

2) 50MP ultra-wide (Sony IMX766)
1/1.56-inch sensor
ƒ/2.2

3) 8MP telephoto
1.0μm, ƒ/2.4

4) 2MP monochrome

Front:
- 16MP single (Sony IMX471)
1.0μm with EIS
ƒ/2.4, fixed focus
Video
OnePlus 9:
8K at 30fps
4K at 30 or 60fps
Super slo-mo at 720p/480fps or 1080p/240fps
Time lapse at 1080p/30fps or 4k/30fps

OnePlus 9 Pro:
8K at 30fps
4K at 30, 60, or 120fps
Super slo-mo at 720p/480fps or 1080p/240fps
Time lapse at 1080p/30fps or 4k/30fps
Audio
OnePlus 9:
Bluetooth 5.2
aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC
Dual stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos
OnePlus 9 Pro:
Bluetooth 5.2
aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC
Dual stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos
Security
OnePlus 9:
No IP rating against water/dust
In-display fingerprint sensor
Face unlock (insecure)
OnePlus 9 Pro:
IP68-rated
In-display fingerprint sensor
Face unlock (insecure)
Software
OnePlus 9:
Android 11
Oxygen OS 11
OnePlus 9 Pro:
Android 11
Oxygen OS 11
Dimensions and weight
OnePlus 9:
NA/Europe:
160 x 74.2 x 8.7mm
192g

India/China:
160 x 73.9 x 8.1mm
183g
OnePlus 9 Pro:
Global:
163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm
197g
Colors
OnePlus 9:
Winter Mist, Arctic Sky, Astral
Black
OnePlus 9 Pro:
Morning Mist, Pine Green, Stellar
Black

OnePlus 9R specs

OnePlus 9R
Display
6.55-inch AMOLED
20:9 aspect ratio
2,400 x 1,080 at 402ppi
120Hz refresh rate (static)
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 870
RAM
Min: 8GB
Max: 12GB
Storage
Min: 128GB UFS 3.1
Max: 256GB UFS 3.1
No external storage support
Power
4,500mAh battery

Warp Charge 65
65W charger in box
Ports
USB-C 3.1 Gen 1
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Connectivity
5G support
2x2 MIMO
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
NFC support
Bluetooth 5.1
Cameras
Rear:
1) 48MP main (Sony IMX586)
.8μm/48MP or 1.6μm/12MP
ƒ/1.7, OIS and EIS

2) 16MP ultra-wide
ƒ/2.2
123-degree field-of-view

3) 5MP macro

4) 2MP monochrome

Front:
16MP single (Sony IMX471)
1.0μm with EIS
ƒ/2.4, fixed focus
Video
4K at 30 or 60fps
Super slo-mo at 720p/480fps or 1080p/240fps
Time lapse at 1080p/30fps or 4K/30fps

Audio
Bluetooth 5.1
aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC
Dual stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos
Security
No IP rating against water/dust
In-display fingerprint sensor
Face unlock (insecure)
Software
Android 11
Oxygen OS 11
Dimensions and weight
161 x 74.1 x 8.4mm
189g
Colors
Carbon Black, Lake Blue

How good are the OnePlus 9 cameras?

Over the years, OnePlus’ biggest stumbling block has been its camera offerings. Early on, with the company’s rock-bottom pricing strategy, we easily forgave its weak cameras. However, as its pricing has slowly crept up into general flagship territory, that forgiveness wasn’t possible.

See also: How the price of OnePlus phones changed over the years

Thankfully, we can say with confidence that the OnePlus 9 series cameras are the best ever from the brand. We give brief summaries of our opinions below, but be sure to read our full reviews of the phones for more in-depth notes.

Pro-level model

OnePlus 9 Pro camera module
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Without a doubt, the OnePlus 9 Pro camera is the best effort yet from OnePlus. Although we can’t say that OnePlus tops its main competitors this year (Apple, Samsung, and Google), we can confidently say that the company finally stands in the same league as those household names.

Here are some example shots from the Pro:

One of the big reasons the camera on the 9 Pro is so great this year is because OnePlus finally got with the program and offered the lenses photographers want. That means there’s a high-quality Sony main lens, a terrific wide-angle, and a good telephoto. There’s also a monochrome depth sensor thrown into the mix to help with bokeh, aka portrait mode. The gimmicky color filter lens is gone and there’s no corner-cutting to offer the bare minimum to skirt by. This is a flagship camera system — period.

Related: Read our full review of the OnePlus 9 Pro

This hardware combined with some great software tweaks from Hasselblad produces fast, accurate, and terrific-looking images. The telephoto lens offers great results even at 3x zoom. Wide-angle shots look particularly good thanks to software tweaks that help reduce the amount of “warp” we often see at the edges of smartphone photos. And that monochrome sensor really brings some nuance to portrait-style pics.

Here’s an example of the wide-angle camera’s abilities:

Of course, the camera is not perfect. Although the reproduced colors are highly accurate, some people prefer “pushed” photos with higher saturation. Additionally, HDR isn’t as good as it could be, we saw a little too much over-sharpening, and any zoom beyond 10x is going to be nigh unusable. Overall though, these are quibbles compared to the complaints we’ve had for OnePlus cameras in the past.

Regular model

OnePlus 9 review cameras
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Considering the significant price difference between the OnePlus 9 and its Pro-level sibling, it shouldn’t be surprising to know that the camera here isn’t as good as the camera on the 9 Pro. However, that doesn’t mean the camera itself is bad. It’s just weaker in comparison.

Here are some example shots:

Right off the bat, the vanilla OnePlus 9 axes the telephoto lens from the rear module. This forces photographers to rely on a digital crop for any zoom. Image quality under these circumstances isn’t going to be that great.

Related: Read our full review of the OnePlus 9

Also, even though the three lenses on offer here are comparable to the OnePlus 9 Pro, they are not the same. The primary lens, for example, is last year’s flagship model from Sony. That is still a great sensor, no doubt about it, but it’s not as good as the brand new one in the 9 Pro.

Once you can look past these issues, though, the OnePlus 9 offers a perfectly capable system. Wide-angle shots look great thanks to the software tweaks mentioned in the previous section of this article. Color accuracy is also great. Additionally, the camera software itself is fast and versatile.

Here’s an example of the camera’s Night Mode abilities:

Ultimately, the OnePlus 9 camera system is fine for what it is. It only starts to look less-than-thrilling when you compare it to that of the 9 Pro — or some competitor phones in this price range. See more on that last note later on in this article.

Do the OnePlus 9 phones have good battery life?

OnePlus 9 review Warp Charge 65T
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Interestingly, power is a category in which OnePlus upped its game this year while simultaneously dropping it. By that, we mean that the fast-charging and wireless charging upgrades here are most welcome, but overall battery life is actually worse than we’ve seen on previous OnePlus phones.

Let’s start with the good upgrades. The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro both feature 65W wired charging, as first introduced with the OnePlus 8T. This allows you to charge your phone from zero to full in around 30 minutes. Additionally, the vanilla model now supports wireless charging at speeds up to 15W. Unbelievably, the 9 Pro has super-fast wireless charging at speeds up to 50W, which is just insane. That means the 9 Pro is capable of charging faster wirelessly than the 8 Pro’s wired charging speed!

See also: The best Android smartphones with the best battery life

Unfortunately, we saw pretty weak overall battery life during our initial review periods for both phones. To be clear, the 4,500mAh cells in each device got us through a full day handily. However, there isn’t much chance you could get two days out of either phone. This is interesting considering battery life has always been one of OnePlus’ biggest strengths.

Now, it’s possible battery life could get better for both phones with future software updates. We can’t promise that, though.

The bottom line here is that battery life for these phones won’t be anything to write home about. However, with so many fast-charging options — and chargers coming in the box, as they should — that deficiency might not be too big of a deal.

How is performance on the OnePlus 9 series?

OnePlus 9 Pro close up of hassleblad
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Both the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro have the latest and greatest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset. That chipset is paired with at least 8GB of RAM and at least 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage. Those are top-of-the-line specs, so the performance of these devices will be terrific.

In our time with both phones, we saw nothing but exemplary speed and smoothness. Whatever you plan to do with these devices — whether it’s gaming, photography, videography, etc. — they will be able to keep up.

The OnePlus 9 series has top-of-the-line processors. However, OnePlus made some controversial decisions in this realm.

Do note that months after the launch of the OnePlus 9 series, the company found itself in hot water related to the processing of these phones. Apparently, the software automatically throttles processing power when you’re using apps that don’t require it. In other words, if you’re using a low-intensity app such as Twitter, the phone’s software will “turn down” the processor since it doesn’t need to work hard for that app. By contrast, if you run a high-intensity app such as a AAA mobile game, for example, the processor will then “turn up” to use its full power.

Ostensibly, OnePlus did this to conserve battery power and cut down on over-taxing the CPU. However, when the controversy broke, OnePlus fans were not happy. The general attitude was that consumers paid close to $1,000 for a OnePlus 9 Pro so it should work at its peak all the time. OnePlus eventually promised that it would not use this policy in the future and would deliver an update to allow the user to control the throttling. That won’t arrive until Oxygen OS 12 (based on Android 12) lands.

OnePlus 9 software updates

OnePlus 9 Pro standing tall
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The OnePlus 9 series ships with Android 11 skinned over with OnePlus’ proprietary Oxygen OS 11. Years ago, OnePlus was the company setting the bar when it came to fast Android updates and multiple upgrades to the latest versions. Recently, though, that reputation has started to slide.

See also: Which manufacturer updates its phones the fastest?

Thankfully, OnePlus is making some big changes that should result in faster updates that come for a longer period of time. For the OnePlus 9 series, the company promised it would deliver three years of Android upgrades (Android 12, 13, and 14) with four total years of security patches. This new schedule is possible through OnePlus and sister brand Oppo combining teams.

However, this will also result in big changes for Oxygen OS. Starting with Android 12, the codebase of Oxygen OS will be the same as Oppo’s Color OS. Now, that doesn’t mean the two Android skins will be the same, but they will be more similar than they are different, at least at the core. It is very likely that, as time goes by, the two will become more and more alike.

OnePlus 9 vs OnePlus 8 series: What’s changed since last year’s models?

OnePlus 8 series cameras 1

Outside of the introduction of the OnePlus 9R and the new design elements such as sizing, colors, etc., there are only subtle changes this year. Below, you’ll find the most notable changes between last year’s OnePlus 8 lineup and this year’s OnePlus 9 family. Keep in mind that this is not every change — just the most notables ones.

  • Display: The vanilla model still has a 1080p display while the Pro model still has a 1440p resolution. However, now both models have a 120Hz refresh rate (the OnePlus 8 only had a 90Hz rate). The big difference is that the OnePlus 9 Pro has an adaptive refresh rate while the regular model does not. This means that the Pro model’s display should be more battery-efficient.
  • Performance: As one would expect, both phones have the 2021 flagship silicon from Qualcomm. This will make the phones more powerful than the 8-series lineup.
  • Power: For the first time ever, both phones have the exact same battery capacity. Also for the first time, both the regular and Pro models feature wireless charging. The OnePlus 9 Pro’s wireless charging is technically faster if you use a proprietary dock, but the regular model can wirelessly charge as most other phones can. Both phones also feature 65W wired charging, which is nearly twice as fast as last year’s phones. And yes, there is a charger in the box.
  • Cameras: The camera setup on the OnePlus 9 is very similar to last year’s: a main, an ultra-wide, and a monochrome. The Pro model ditches last year’s controversial chromatic lens in favor of that same monochrome sensor. It also has updated versions of last year’s setup, with a main, an ultra-wide, and a telephoto.
  • Price: Both entry-tier models of the 9 and 9 Pro cost more than they did last year. In both cases, it’s not by much ($30 and $70 respectively). But with most other companies dropping prices in 2021, it’s hard not to notice.

You might be thinking these are very iterative changes. We tend to agree, which is probably why OnePlus is putting so much emphasis on the Hasselblad partnership. It’s likely hoping that the promise of a premium camera experience will be enough to entice buyers to upgrade.

OnePlus 9 series: Competition and alternatives

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra 1 1
David Imel / Android Authority

OnePlus’ days as the “flagship killer” are long over. Now, the company basically shares the same space with the flagship phones it used to mock. As such, the most obvious competitor to the OnePlus 9 series is the flagship Samsung Galaxy S21 family.

Looking at specs and pricing, the OnePlus 9 is quite similar to the vanilla Galaxy S21. It’s missing some features of that phone (most notably a telephoto lens) while offering some upgrades in comparison (such as 65W wired charging).

The most obvious competitor to the OnePlus 9 family is the Samsung Galaxy S21 family.

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 9 Pro could compete with either the Galaxy S21 Plus or even the Galaxy S21 Ultra in some respects. In the case of the Ultra, the 9 Pro has a similar quality display, similar dimensions, and the same processor. It’s lacking the extravagant and versatile camera of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it does feature faster wired and wireless charging.

Outside of the Galaxy S21 family, the Xiaomi Mi 11 series would be a good alternative to the OnePlus 9 series. Of course, they are only available in specific areas of the world. This puts Xiaomi at a slight disadvantage, even if its hardware and pricing could be viewed more favorably.

Then there’s the latest Pixel 6 series, which offer less in some areas and more in others. They are competitevly priced — especially the Pixel 6 — and come with a great camera setup.

Finally, we can’t forget about iPhones. Although the iPhone 12 series is months old by now, Apple’s pricing and hardware offerings are quite comparable to the OnePlus 9 series. The vanilla OnePlus phone would probably go head-to-head with the iPhone 12, while the OnePlus 9 Pro would stand next to an iPhone 12 Pro. Then there’s also the iPhone 13 series, which offers more than its predecessor but costs more as well. Of course, you’d need to be willing to leave Android for these phones to be options.

Where to buy the OnePlus 9 phones

OnePlus 9 Pro left rear laying down
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The easiest way to grab a OnePlus phone is directly from the company. Whether you live in the United States, Europe, India, or anywhere in between, your localized version of the OnePlus site will be the easiest way to grab one of these new phones.

You can check out various prices by country and carrier below, but keep in mind that these are launch prices. The phones are currently on sale at many retailers, so you can get them for less.

United States — Unlocked

In the United States, you can buy unlocked variants of the vanilla OnePlus 9 as well as the 9 Pro. Each phone comes in two different storage/RAM configurations:

  • $729OnePlus 9 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • $829OnePlus 9 with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage
  • $969OnePlus 9 Pro with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • $1,069OnePlus 9 Pro with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage

In addition to those configurations, you’ll also have several colorway choices. For the vanilla model, that includes Winter Mist (purple-ish) and Astral Black. For the 9 Pro, there will be Morning Mist (silver/white) and Pine Green. Keep in mind that some colors will be locked to certain RAM/storage configurations, and not all colors will be available from all vendors.

OnePlus 9 Pro
$1,069.00 at Amazon

T-Mobile

For people subscribed to T-Mobile service in the US, your options are a bit more limited as compared to unlocked shoppers. The Uncarrier will have the following options:

  • OnePlus 9 — 8GB RAM/128GB ROM in Winter Mist or Astral Black
  • OnePlus 9 Pro — 12GB RAM/256GB ROM in Morning Mist

If you were hoping to get the Pro model in the lower-end configuration or in a different color, you’re out of luck. The same goes for the 12/256GB variant of the vanilla model.

There will, however, be some deals on offer. If you trade-in a phone or open a new line, T-Mo will give you the phone for free. Conversely, you can instead cut up to $725 off the OnePlus 9 Pro with that same trade-in or new line stipulation. If you just want to get the phone, you’ll pay $30.42 each month for 24 months for the vanilla model. The Pro model will cost you $37.50 each month for the same 24 month period.

United Kingdom

Our friends across the pond have a slightly different set of options. First, here’s the pricing for the 9-series lineup:

  • £629OnePlus 9 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • £729OnePlus 9 with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage
  • £829OnePlus 9 Pro with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • £929OnePlus 9 Pro with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage

Folks in the UK have two extra color options as compared to the US. The OnePlus 9 is available in Winter Mist (purple-ish), Arctic Sky (light blue), and Astral Black. The Pro model will come in Morning Mist (silver/white), Stellar Black, and Pine Green. Once again, not all colorways will be available from all vendors and some colors could be locked to certain configurations.

You could pre-order a OnePlus 9 phone starting on March 23 at 15:30 GMT. Open sales began on March 31 in the country. The phones are available from OnePlus.com, Amazon, John Lewis, and Three.

Europe

People in Europe can buy the devices now. Here’s what you’ll pay total for each one:

  • €719OnePlus 9 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • €819OnePlus 9 with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage
  • €919OnePlus 9 Pro with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • €999OnePlus 9 Pro with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage

As with folks in the UK, Europeans have the full selection of color options: Winter Mist (purple-ish), Arctic Sky (light blue), and Astral Black for the OnePlus 9, and Morning Mist (silver/white), Stellar Black, and Pine Green for the OnePlus 9 Pro.

India

In India, you can buy the vanilla OnePlus 9, the 9 Pro, and the OnePlus 9R, which is exclusive to the country. Here’s how pricing breaks down:

  • 39,999 INR — OnePlus 9R with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • 43,999 INROnePlus 9R with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage
  • 49,999 INROnePlus 9 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • 54,999 INROnePlus 9 with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage
  • 64,999 INROnePlus 9 Pro with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
  • 69,999 INROnePlus 9 Pro with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage

Indian buyers will have the following color options:

  • OnePlus 9 — Winter Mist (purple-ish), Arctic Sky (light blue), and Astral Black
  • 9 Pro — Morning Mist (silver/white), Stellar Black, and Pine Green
  • 9R — Carbon Black and Lake Blue

Once again, not all color options will be available for all configurations and some vendors will have limited color selections.

Top OnePlus 9 series questions and answers

Q: Do the phones have chargers in the box?
A: Yes, all OnePlus 9 phones come with chargers in their respective boxes! They come with 65W chargers, which will allow you to take advantage of those super-fast charging speeds. These chargers are also capable of charging other devices, including laptops.

Q: Can you wirelessly charge the OnePlus 9 phones?
A: The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro both feature wireless charging. However, the vanilla model is locked at 15W of wireless charging speeds while the Pro model can wirelessly charge at a blazing 50W. Do note that in order to see those 50W speeds, you will need a specialized charger that is sold separately for $70. The OnePlus 9R does not have wireless charging.

Q: Do the phones have both mmWave and Sub6 5G support?
A: The OnePlus 9 Pro supports both 5G standards. However, at launch, the phone lacks a 5G certification at AT&T. That means that it will only connect to 4G LTE bands on that company’s networks until OnePlus earns the proper certification. It will connect to both standards on the T-Mobile and Verizon networks out-of-the-box, though, even if you buy it unlocked. As for the vanilla OnePlus 9, it will only support Sub6 connections.

Q: Do the phones have IP ratings?
A: The Pro model has an IP68 rating. This rating offers full protection against dust as well as full water resistance. The regular model and the 9R, unfortunately, do not have IP ratings, so you will need to keep them away from dust and water.

Q: What’s up with the Pro’s refresh rate?
A: The Pro model has a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. This means that the refresh rate dynamically changes depending on the use case. For example, when playing a 120fps-capable game, your phone’s display would be at the full 120Hz rate to match. However, when reading an ebook, the rate drops significantly, to as low as 1Hz. This dynamic response should allow for less power consumption from the display. The regular OnePlus 9 also has a 120Hz refresh rate, but it is static. That means if you set it to 120Hz, it will be that way all the time regardless of what you’re doing with your phone.

Q: Do any of the OnePlus 9 phones have headphone jacks?
A: No. Outside of budget offerings in the Nord line, none of OnePlus’ phones come with headphone jacks.

Q: What about expandable storage through a microSD slot?
A: None of the OnePlus 9 phones have microSD card slots. This is a feature OnePlus rarely offers and has never offered in its flagships. The maximum amount of storage in any OnePlus 9 device is 256GB.

Q: Do the OnePlus phones this year feature Hasselblad camera hardware?
A: No. The lenses and sensors in these phones are normal smartphone camera hardware supplied by Sony. OnePlus’ Hasselblad partnership is featured within the camera software only. Future OnePlus phones could have hardware co-created with Hasselblad, but not this year.

Help other readers out

OnePlus 9 review never settle
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Do you own the OnePlus 9, 9 Pro, or 9R? Do you plan on getting one of them? If so, make your voice heard in our polls below, and then go ahead and post your own mini-review in the comments!

Would you recommend one of the OnePlus 9 phones to a friend?

507 votes

Is the OnePlus 9 Pro worth the $969 price tag?

520 votes

Would you upgrade from a OnePlus 8 phone to a OnePlus 9 phone?

473 votes