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There's never been a better time for fans to buy the OnePlus 9 Pro
Okay, so the OnePlus 10 series has been a bit of a disappointment for old fans and newcomers alike. Even the latest OnePlus 10T hasn’t shaken off what has been a bit of a dud year for the once plucky underdog. But don’t despair; there’s never been a better time to pick up a OnePlus smartphone. Just turn your attention to the previous generation OnePlus 9 Pro.
Granted, the handset wasn’t a flawless ten when we reviewed it last year. OnePlus never quite sticks the landing at launch, but the OnePlus 9 Pro has matured well over the past twelve months, especially after a few software patches and the fact that it now retails with a significantly cheaper price tag. Did you know that you can pick up the OnePlus 9 Pro for just $599 through the official US store? That’s a major discount on the $969 launch price and cheaper than its subsequent $799 revaluation. You can even find international models with T-Mobile 5G support for under $500 new on eBay and the like. That’s a pretty good deal in anyone’s book.
Which OnePlus phone would you rather buy?
In terms of hardware, there’s still a lot going for the OnePlus 9 Pro, and the smaller OnePlus 9, for that matter. The display remains as excellent today as it was last year, the Snapdragon 888 processor performs as well as the current-gen Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 for most everyday needs, it sports blazing fast wired and wireless charging, and there’s an IP68 rating — something neither OnePlus 10 phones have. It’s an attractive phone, too, and it retains the signature alert slider that you won’t find on this year’s models either.
That’s all pretty competitive with the OnePlus 10 Pro, yet it costs just two-thirds of its price. Yes, the OnePlus 10T is newer and quite tempting at $649, but it suffers a few too many compromises in a bid to cut costs, such as a weaker IP54 rating (and even that is limited to the US), no alert slider, no wireless charging, and a cheaper design. Fans may lament that the newer models haven’t meaningfully built on the 9 Pro’s legacy.
For instance, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s Hasselblad-branded camera array (part of a partnership that has seemingly moved over to Oppo, for now) is still pretty solid and actually performs better than the cameras in the newer 10 series in some areas. The OnePlus 10T, for instance, has taken a big backward step in ultrawide image quality; a major mark against the handset. Sure, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s camera array won’t blow the very best camera phones out of the water, but there’s a reliable main and ultrawide duo on offer here that continue to hold their own. There are similarly robust selfie imaging and video recording capabilities as well; it’s not like 4K/60fps or 8K/30fps are going out of fashion anytime soon.
It's an older model, but the OnePlus 9 Pro still holds its own against its younger siblings.
Perhaps better still, OnePlus has refreshed its long-term update policy since the phone’s launch. There are two OS upgrades and three years of security patches still to come, which is not bad given you’d be leaping in a year late. Of course, you could buy an inexpensive mid-range model from Google or Samsung that’ll see four to five years of support left, but the OnePlus 9 Pro is a nicer piece of kit overall. It was an excellent phone at launch, still great six months later, and remains a good buy today. That said, there are one or two caveats to consider.
The lingering concern is what OnePlus’ software will look like going forward. The brand’s revamped OxygenOS UI, now built on the same codebase as sister-brand Oppo’s Color OS, has resulted in contention and tangible issues in equal measure. Things have gradually improved with incremental updates to Oxygen OS 12, but the fruits of Oppo’s collaboration won’t be fully felt until the next update with Oxygen OS 13, which is shaping up to look quite different. OnePlus has responded, trying to win old fans back around with a promise to “deliver an experience that long-time OnePlus users will be familiar with.” Unfortunately, the OnePlus 9 series is caught in the middle of a major OS transition that could fundamentally change the look and feel of the handset’s core identity over the coming years.
OnePlus' 9 Pro still embodies the marriage of hardware and software that fans have come to love.
Even at $599, there are other good buys to consider too. The Samsung Galaxy S22 ($799) is perhaps worth stretching for in terms of newer hardware and longer-term support that’ll last until 2027. At a more like-for-like price, the Google Pixel 6 ($599) is a solid shooter, offers sleek software, and has a long-term update pledge that makes it hard to beat for the money. However, these phones don’t carry the same charm as a classic OnePlus phone. Yes, they’re well-built all-rounders, but neither Google nor Samsung brandishes the little eccentricities that have kept OnePlus fans standing by the series for so long, whether that’s blazing fast charging, the little alert slider, or a favorite software feature.
Despite its quirks and controversies, the OnePlus 9 Pro still embodies that sought-after signature marriage of hardware and software. Based on the way things are going, perhaps this is a fan’s last chance to grab a true OnePlus flagship?