With the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro likely on their way in early 2021, we lay out the big improvements we’d like to see along with an early look at price, release date and more.
2020 has been an odd year for OnePlus. In the last 12 months we’ve seen three ‘flagships’ at varying prices, an excellent budget option in the OnePlus Nord and then a duo of even cheaper phones.
We’re sure OnePlus is only getting starting at bulking out its once small product line, but here we’ll be looking solely at the duo of high-end devices we expect to see early in the year.
OnePlus 9 release date – expect it earlier than usual?
OnePlus has previously released its high-end devices in April or May, a few months after the likes of Samsung, Huawei. This could change in 2021 though, with rumours suggesting an earlier launch might be on the horizon.
This report comes from Android Central and it suggests we may see the launch up to four weeks earlier than expected, in March.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise and it’s clear OnePlus wants its big device for the year out as close to the competition as possible, Xiaomi has already confirmed the Mi 11 will be one of the first Snapdragon 888 phones and rumours suggest the Galaxy S21 could be released as early as January.
OnePlus 9 specs and features
In terms of rumours surrounding the device, we’re still a little thin on the ground. However, expect that to change drastically over the coming months as we approach the expected release date.
An alleged listing on the Geekbench benchmarking app has been found showing a device reported to be the OnePlus 9 Pro packing 8GB RAM and the Snapdragon 888. OnePlus has always used high-end Qualcomm chips so this news comes as no surprise.
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What do we want from the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro?
1. A OnePlus camera that’s as good as it can be
Cameras on OnePlus phones haven’t been bad as such, but it has always felt like the area where we’ve wanted more.
Instead of focussing on getting the picture quality right with the main camera, OnePlus has built around it and added fairly useless macro, black and white and other sensors that are little more than just dressing for a press release.
If ditching these secondary and tertiary sensors allowed for a strong main camera then we’d be all for it. And, most of the time, the specs are there. OnePlus uses great Sony sensors, has a well-designed app and is lightning quick to shoot with. Yet, the pictures can often fall flat with the background processing not quite as good as some of its rivals.
2. Ditch the curves
There was a time when curved screens on phones were new and exciting, giving them a futuristic look and feel. Samsung pioneered it with the Edge and slowly bought it to all the main Samsung flagships. Others followed and there was a period where curved displays would adorn each and every Android phone.
Thankfully, this has subsided somewhat. Samsung has all but ditched the heavy curve and we’d love OnePlus to do the same. The OnePlus 8 Pro was a beautifully designed device let down by an overly curved body that, when combined with its sizeable footprint, made it tricky to hold comfortably.
If it meant a slightly smaller display and less futuristic look, we’d much prefer OnePlus stick with a quality flat display for the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro.
3. Bring the expandable storage from the N10 and N100
The N10 and N100 were strange releases for OnePlus. They were cheaper devices that lacked some of the stalwarts we expect from a OnePlus device like the very useful ringer switch, in-display unlocking, up-to-date software and OLED displays. What they did bring to the table, for the first time since OnePlus X, was expandable storage.
With these phones shooting videos in 4K (and in some cases HDR at 60fps), game installs getting bigger and the focus on photography, it’s easy enough to fill up even a hefty amount of internal storage. Even though OnePlus has offered sizeable amounts of storage before, the safety net of a microSD card is always welcome.
4. Wireless charging and IP rating as standard
With the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, the brand should understand that features like wireless charging and an IP water resistance rating shouldn’t be ‘Pro’ features, but ones that should be expected.
We’d love to see both devices ship with these handy extras and not used as upsells for the pricier version.
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5. Keep that speedy, high-end feel
Out of all the Android phones we’ve reviewed in 2019, none come close to matching the OnePlus 8T for pure speed. That combination of the 120Hz display, Snapdragon 865 and all the OnePlus optimisations we assume are going in on the background combined to create an absolute speed champion.
We have no doubt OnePlus will look to continue this theme with its 2021 devices and we certainly hope that’s the case.