I have reviewed the OnePlus 9 Pro 5G and I was left feeling a little bit uneasy as I had a distinct impression that OnePlus had lost its direction slightly. I have now been able to spend a good amount of time with the OnePlus 9 5G. During this time I have been contemplating whether you should go all out on the “Pro” model or should just settle for the normal one.
I am going to try and answer this for you over the course of this review. Instead of doing a full-blown review as I did for the OnePlus Pro 5G, I am going to highlight the key differences between the devices and how they affect the phones usage experience for the better or for the worse whichever it may be.
I would encourage you to read my OnePlus 9Pro 5G review as I am going to talking about that phone a bit and drawing on it for comparisons. They share so much in common it seems daft to repeat the same content here.
Before I get started on the review I just want to add this quick disclaimer. I am basing this review on a sample unit that I have been supplied with by OnePlus. I have not had any form of payment for this review and OnePlus have not had any preview of this review either. The thoughts and opinions in this article are my own and this will always be the case with any reviews for Coolsmartphone.com
This seemed like a good place to start as there are a few subtle design differences between the OP9 Pro 5G and the OP9 5G.
The first and perhaps the most striking is that the OP9 5G has got a flat glass panel over the curve one on its Pro sibling. This panel is also slightly smaller in its footprint. The screen for the OP9 5G comes in at 6.55 inches which is a little bit smaller but the phone isn’t that much smaller when they are placed side by side as you can see in the pictures below.
The screen’s resolution and other details are the same are a bt different the Pro version, with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels, 402 PPI a 20:9 aspect ratio. It is still a 120HZ Fluid AMOLED and has support for sRGB and Display P3. There is however a difference in what the screen is made of in this case Gorilla Glass 5 is used instead of the Gorilla Glass Victus used on the Pro model. As with all the OnePlus phone’s of late, the screen comes with a factory-fitted screen protector, which will get you to buy until you can get something better as the pre-fitted one is rather “sticky” when it comes to typing. In the case of my review unit, took it off after bearing with it for the first week or so!!
The next big change in terms of the design is around the back and it concerns the cameras. On the OP9 5G you only get the main Camera and the Ultrawide camera no Telephoto zoom lens here this time around this makes for a slightly different design to the camera module. Now I will go into the camera details more further into the review but if you want the Telephoto Zoom then this is not going to be the phone for you and you would be better served with the Pro version.
Those are the two biggest and most obvious differences between the two phones but there are a load of other more subtle tweaks that are buried below the skin of the phone. Before we go into them though I feel that we should have a quick whip around the phone in the form of the pictures below.
As is always the way we will start at the top and workaround. So up top, we have a pinhole mic and that’s your lot!
On the right-hand side is where you will find the signature OnePlus notification rocker which I love on these phones and the power key.
On the bottom is the USB type C port that is capable of using Warp Charge 65T (more on that later), another pinhole mic, a speaker grill and the dual nano sim card slot which has got a waterproofing gasket on it.
On the left-hand side is the volume rocker.
Around the back, the only thing of note is the camera array which I have already mentioned only has the Main camera, the Ultra-wide, the flash and the Monochrome lens. The glass here is also Gorilla Glass 5.
The frame of the phone is made up of plastic in this case as opposed to the metal on the Pro version which explains the lack of any visible antenna break lines in the frame.
I have already mentioned the screen above so I won’t dwell on it too much but we also have got the front-facing camera in the top cleft hand corner and the earpiece which doubles as a front-facing speaker which sits snuggly in between the top of the screen and the frame.
That completes the design aspects of the phone. It is a nice looking phone and defiantly has flagship appeal but it doesn’t ooze the Pro feeling that its stablemate does. If however, you prefer the flat screen over a curved one then this is a very good option from a design point of view. There are, as I have already mentioned some hardware considerations that you will want to know about before you make your decision though so let’s have a look at those now.
Firstly let’s gets some specs up here
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
1x Cortex X1 @ 2.84Ghz
3x Cortex A78 @ 2.42Ghz
4x Cortex A55 @ 1.8Ghz
Samsung 5nm LPE
Adreno 660 GPU
|Storage & RAM||RAM：8/12GB LPDDR5 RAM
ROM：128GB UFS 2.1128/256GB UFS3.1 storage
|Display||6.55” AMOLED screen
120Hz refresh rate
1300 nits peak brightness
65w Warp Charge 65T charging
15w Warp Charge Wireless charging
Sony IMX789 48MPF1.8
1/1.43” sensor size
23mm effective focal distance
Sony IMX766 50MP
1/1.56” sensor size
14mm effective focal distance
2mp monochrome sensorF2.4
[email protected], [email protected]/60/120fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, Auto HDR, gyro-EISExtra Features:
Hasselblad Color Calibration, dual-LED flash, HDR, panorama
|Cellular & Wireless||Frequency Bands:
GSM: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G bands: HSDPA 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1800 / 1900 / 2100
4G bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 32, 38, 39, 40, 41, 66
5G bands: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41, 66, 78 SA/NSA
Speed: HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A (CA) Cat20 2000/200 Mbps, 5GWireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot
Bluetooth: 5.2, A2DP, LE, aptX HD
|Navigation||Yes, with dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, SBAS|
|Audio||Double mic noise suppression
|Body||Dimensions:160 x 74.2 x 8.7 mm (6.43 x 2.90 x 0.34 in)
Weight:192 g (6.95 oz)
Build: Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), aluminium frame
SIM: Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)
|Sensors||Ultra-fast in-display fingerprint sensor
Magnetic induction sensor
|Operating System||Android 11,
|Packing List||OnePlus 9 5G
USB Type-C CableWarp Charge 65W Charge Adapter
SIM Card Needle
Screen Protect Film (applied)
Important Product Information (including the Warranty Card)
So quite a good looking spec list there isn’t it. There are a couple of key talking points that I want to go into more depth on.
This is the area where some of the more subtle changes occur between the two devices. Before I dive into it though i do want to say that these changes are not going to have a massive impact on the daily usage of the phone (apart from the camera). The first thing I wish to talk about is the IP rating for OP9 5G. It doesn’t officially have one when you buy the unlocked version. If however you are buying it in the USA and you buy from T-Mobile then you will get an IP 68 rated device. Now OnePlus do say that they test all their phones to the same standards of test so that would suggest that while the phone is IP 68 rated for all devices they just are not marketing it as being so.
Given the presence of the waterproof gasket on the sim slot I would be inclined to say that this is at least rainproof but I wouldn’t go throwing it into the bath any time soon. I would actually go as far as saying that about any IP68 rated phone. I have worked around phones with IP rating for years and I have seen some amazing demo’s of this being showcased back when the tech used was quite new and novel. I even witnessed Sony’s stunt of having a diver in a tank filming passers-by with an early Xperia model to show off its waterproof credentials! Truth be told though if water wants to get in somewhere it will always find a way, so my advice is to try and avoid using the limits of the waterproofing of your phone regardless of its IP rating.
The next key change I want to highlight in terms of the hardware is to do with the charging of the device. Both the phones will work with the new Warp Charge 65T charger and will charge very fast when plugged into this. However, when you are charging via a Qi charger there s a significant difference between the Pro and the standard model. This is down to the design of the Qi could and the battery configurations inside the phones. The OP9 Pro 5G has two Qi charging coils on its rear which are independently wired in the two separate batteries. The OP 9 5G on the other hand has only got one coil that is wired into the batteries.
This means that it can only receive 25 watts of power via Qi whereas the Pro can take 50 (watts when used with the OnePlus Qi charger). Whilst this is not a big issue and has defiantly not been a concern to me it is something worth bearing in mind when choosing between the two phones. As I mentioned though both the phones will charge very quickly from the Warp Charge 65T charger allow you to get a full charge from 0% in just 29 mins which is outstanding, meaning that I have never really had to be that concerned with using my very slow and old wireless charging pad.
Next up is the display.
Now I know I mentioned this above but there are hardware difference’s that come into play here so I wanted to go back into it. The Display composition on the two phones is different it is only a minor difference but it makes for a big user experience difference. So the Display on the OP9 5G is a 120hz Fluid AMOLED display as I mentioned above however the OP9 Pro 5G is ever so slightly different. The Pro version of the phone still uses a 120hz Fluid AMOLED display but it is an LPTO display that supports a variable refresh rate of between 1Hz to 120HZ. This means that depending on the content being shown on the screen, the refresh rate will fit best for that content. So if you are scrolling through a last on a website for example it will refresh quicker than if you were just viewing a picture in the gallery. This makes big difference in how the user perceives the speed of the phone and as result how fluid the UI is. With the Op9 5G you can manually change the refresh rate between 60Hz and 120 Hz but it will not do this dynamically unke its Pro sibling.
The last big change between the two phone’s is the colour options that you can get. The OP9 5G comes in three different colourways of Winter Mist (which is what my review unit is), Astral Black and Arctic Sky.
The OP9 Pro 5G comes in Pine Green, Astral Black and Morning Mist
What is a bit strange is that the phones with the glossy back panels vary between the two phones, so on the OP9 5G if you want the glossy backed version of the phone, you will get the Winter Mist, which is only available with 12GB RAM and 256 GB Storage. If however, you want the glossy backed OP9 Pro 5G then you need to settle with only having 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, as it is the Pine Green version that has the bigger capacities. I find this a bit odd but hey 8GB of RAM is still nothing to be sneezed at!! (It should be said the above screenshots are correct at the time of this review, as my review unit of the OP9 Pro 5G is Morning Mist is the 12GB RAM and 256 GB Storage version)
That about concludes the hardware part of the review. Time to move onto what I think for most will be the biggest differentiator between the phones the camera’s
The cameras that you get on the OP9 5G are solid cameras however truth be told there is room for improvement as they are not faultless. If you have read my review on the OP9 Pro 5G then you will be aware of the Hasselblad tie in and what I thought of the cameras on that phone. The same rings true for the OP9 5G but you don’t have the additional Telephoto lens which does limit what you can use them for. I was reasonably pleased with the camera in isolation but when I then compared it to images I captured on my Note 10+ I was a bit more disappointed. I don’t think the value to camera quality proposition is as skewed here as it is on the Pro version as you are paying less for the phone with the starting price being £629. I just feel that the Hasselblad partnership feels like it has been shoehorned in as a way to increase the brand appeal and it doesn’t add a lot in term of functionality.
I have included a selection of images for you to review for yourself to form your own opinion.
The result is not bad at all and the phone is nice to use for taking pictures. It is also slightly nicer for viewing those pictures despite the smaller screen as it seems that the colours are a bit more vibrant on the OP9 5g than it is on the Pro. I guess I am just a bit disappointed as the marketing leads us to believe that the OP9 range was going to be a step-change for OnePlus in terms of what it can do with cameras as this has historically always been one of their weakest areas.
The video quality is good as well and there is adequate stabilisation for you to use it for filming. One nice thing I did notice is that there is very little in the way of colour shift between the two main lenses which was nice to see as this is normally an area where other manufacturers let themselves down.
Here s a sample from the main camera.
This one is the Ultra-wide camera
As you can see the colours do look the same in both videos which I nice to see.
The same can be said for the photos from both cameras as shown in these next two images
For more impressions of the Camera including the Selfie camera, then check out my review of the OnePlus Pro 5G as everything else is the same.
Moving onto the software
Again there is very little to separate the OP9 5G and the Pro version in terms of software as they both run the very latest software from OnePlus and this is by far and above one of my favourite implementations of Android on any phone to date. The software setup was one of the reasons that I was so keen to get one of these phones in for review. The only real difference that I can see is the lack of Hyper touch which allows for a higher response rate in touch when playing games on the phone. I have covered this a bit further over on the OP9 Pro 5G review so if you want to know more you know what you need to do!
I am happy to say that during my time with both the phones I received the monthly security updates relatively quickly and there have been some other tweaks and fixes that were pushed out alongside these. This is a really good sign and historically OnePlus has always been pretty good on this front so it should be a concern for would-be buyers.
Should you “settle” for the OnePlus 9 5G over the Pro version? This is the question is posed when I started this review and I feel that I can now answer it. However, it is not a simple answer of yes or now as it is more complicated than that.
I can envision 2 scenarios that will give you your answer.:-
- If you are able to splash the cash and want the latest and greatest then I would say spend the extra and get the OnePlus Pro 5G as there are some nice draws to it in terms of the hardware. However, dont expect class-leading results from the camera especially the zoom and colour accuracy (99it is getting better though as Software updates continue to tweak this).
- If on the other hand pricing is more sensitive and you are not that fussed about super-fast wireless charging, screen size or telephoto cameras then I would say that the OnePlus 9 5G is defiantly one to consider.
The starting price of £629 for the entry version does put it up against some stiff competition from the likes of Samsung and also from Xiaomi with the Mi 11 coming in at a very similar price. The good news is due to the software implementation and continual and reliable updates from OnePlus I think it has enough to edge out the competition, they just need to embrace the Hasselblad partnership more to eke out the best from the cameras to make it really competitive.
You can buy the phone from OnePlus now starting from £629