- OnePlus creates premium Android handsets challenging Apple and Samsung’s flagship smartphones.
- The OnePlus 8 Pro, recommended by Consumer Reports, earned high scores in all of its tests.
- The smartphone maker will likely debut at least two new devices on March 23, 2021.
- Partnering with Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad, OnePlus promises to deliver an industry-leading camera with its upcoming OnePlus 9 Pro smartphone.
OnePlus 9 Pro Unveiled Prematurely
The problem with Apple’s reality distortion field is that other companies must navigate around it. OnePlus planned a special event for March 23; however, rumors suggest that Apple has now taken this date to announce new products. It’s unclear whether this is a coincidence or a competitive move. OnePlus phones, with superior screens, batteries, and (arguably) better cameras, give Apple good reason to resort to sneaky tricks.
With Apple stealing its thunder, OnePlus leaked photos of its upcoming phone. The new OnePlus 9 Pro seems to improve over its predecessor, the OnePlus 8 Pro, significantly. With a new camera system co-developed by Swedish optics powerhouse Hasselblad, the OnePlus 9 Pro aims to kill off the best and most expensive iPhone models.
Looking beyond the specs, the device itself sports a gorgeous Morning Mist finish. It’s 2021, and virtually every smartphone design made its way on and off the market over the past decade and a half. The OnePlus 9 Pro’s finish is entirely different, with a matte to shiny gradient. Other than that, it looks like any other flagship smartphone — large, rectangular, and camera-humped.
OnePlus 9 Pro Specs
The OnePlus 9 Pro boasts an impressive screen and camera, among other features. Screens and cameras are the most critical features on modern smartphones, as people compete to produce the best selfies for social media. Large-screen smartphones are also popular content consumption devices.
A pocketable device with an excellent screen is almost like having a movie theater you can take anywhere. iPhone fans may chuckle at that statement, but anyone who owns a flagship Android device with a 120 Hz refresh rate screen may agree. When I watch movies on my OnePlus 8 Pro, especially with apps supporting motion smoothing, it sometimes feels as though there are tiny people trapped in my phone. It looks that realistic. The 9 Pro is even better, according to early reviews. Apple fans will likely get premium displays in 2021, only with the most expensive Pro model.
Although OnePlus orders OLED screens from Samsung, it’s the software that sets it apart. The new OnePlus 9 Pro’s “Fluid Display 2.0” technology uses software to improve power efficiency and visual performance. The result is an industry-leading display that, unfortunately, still won’t sway the most avid Apple fanboys or casual smartphone consumers. They still want an iPhone.
The good news is that you won’t have to camp out for a better and less expensive iPhone killer. Ray Soneira of Displaymates technologies, a company renown for evaluating smartphone screens, praises the new OnePlus display:
“The 9 Pro has a very impressive, excellent, top-tier, world-class smartphone display with close to textbook-perfect calibration accuracy and performance, that is visually indistinguishable from perfect”
Adding to its premium status, the new OnePlus 9 Pro features a camera co-designed with Hasselblad, a company known for developing world-class optics. Its premium DSLR cameras start at around $5000, with top-of-the-line models costing more than most automobiles. The Swedish company partnered with OnePlus to develop the 9 Pro’s imaging system. The camera even carries the Hasselblad brand on its exterior.
Leaks surrounding the OnePlus 9 Pro are new and evolving. OnePlus published an amazing panoramic photo taken with its latest camera. The results are amazing and a harbinger of camera shoot-outs to come. When it finally debuts, camera experts can confirm whether the new OnePlus 9 Pro’s Hasselblad camera is superior to the iPhone’s.
One visual clue seems to suggest the addition of a LiDAR scanner to the OnePlus 9 Pro’s camera assembly. Many speculate that the next OnePlus will use laser-guided autofocus, similar to the top-of-the-line iPhone 12 Pro. This seems likely, but awaits confirmation when OnePlus officially launches the device.
In addition to the industry-leading screen and camera, the OnePlus 9 Pro sports Qualcomm’s brand new Snapdragon 888 processor. Not only does this mop the A14 Bionic with multi-core tasks, the new premium processor supports four years of Android updates, thanks to Project Treble. With up to 12 GB of RAM and an ultra-fast processor, the latest OnePlus flagship will likely match or even outperform Apple’s next iPhone — even the Pro model.
OnePlus 9 Pro Comes With Two-Year Warranty
A recent Weibo post from OnePlus indicates that the company will back its newest premium smartphone with an unprecedented two-year warranty. Since most smartphone customers only hang on to their devices for two years, it may broaden the brand’s appeal. Unfortunately, these warranties don’t cover drops or other accidents but only offer protection from manufacturing flaws. If, for example, the cellular modem fails, they’ll fix it for free or replace the phone.
It’s unclear whether OnePlus will only offer this warranty in China or if it extends globally. Extended warranty coverage is another detail that will become clear after the product launches.
OnePlus Sales Grow As Others Decline
Both Apple and Samsung face declines in market share as OnePlus continues to grow. OnePlus is a new company, still far from market saturation or plateauing demand. They’re more likely to gain market share than lose it, unlike Apple or Samsung. They also have to compete against two of the largest corporations on the planet. OnePlus’s growth is staggering, nonetheless.
Affordable, high-quality flagship devices attract customers to the OnePlus brand. They don’t have glitzy marketing. You didn’t see a OnePlus phone while binge-watching a new, hit TV show. People like me discovered OnePlus from Consumer Reports and other reputable sources. It’s unlikely the company will ever unseat Apple’s iron-clad smartphone hegemony. They may never beat Samsung. OnePlus is for the rational consumer and, therefore, will never be a significant player.
Android Beats iOS
Before I switched to Android, I viewed the operating system with fear and loathing. They ripped off Apple! It’s so buggy! Neither of these statements holds true. Perhaps at first, Android leveraged the familiar home screen with icons. Their smartphones were rectangular with bezels because circles and trapezoids don’t make sense. TVs and computer monitors are also rectangles. It turns out that some characteristics of smartphones are rooted in media and past technology. Movie screens are rectangular. Most books are too.
Apple also ripped off a lot from Android. iOS notifications, in particular, are derivative of Android, however still not as interactive. Notifications are my go-to place for everything, including controlling music playback, the wireless hotspot, or anything else that’s salient. With iOS, I was still pecking at icons or using Spotlight to launch apps and access settings.
As far as stability, Apple no longer has reason to boast. iOS is highly defective and targeted by effective malware. Google Project Zero researcher Ian Beer was able to take over any iPhone within proximity and access all of its contents. Some of the worst defects and malware exist in Apple’s ecosystem, with their flagship products. Their lesser, neglected devices are even worse.
While it’s true that some older Android devices don’t get security updates and can easily succumb to malware, they didn’t cost $1499 either. Premium Android handsets costing less than $1000, running on Snapdragon 888 chips, get security updates for four years. The ability to hang on to a device for up to four years makes premium smartphones even more affordable.
The Android ecosystem offers a broad range of devices. You can still get a decent Android phone for free. There are inexpensive devices, and some are not worth the trouble. The point is, you get more bang for your buck with Android. A $1000 flagship Android phone is better than Apple’s $1499 offering. These phones offer better screens and cameras, with a speedier user experience.
You can also still install and play the latest version of Fortnite on a OnePlus phone. Apple pulled the popular game from the App Store after its developer tried to sell in-app purchases directly to the consumer. Although Android users can’t install it from Google Play, it’s available directly from Epic Games’ website.
Android gives users freedom without sacrificing quality. The iPhone doesn’t come with a 120 Hz refresh rate screen. Sony, not Hasselblad, make its cameras. Both Apple and OnePlus assemble their devices in China with the utmost quality. Yes, there are horrible Android phones, but there are also phenomenal ones. I’m blown away by my OnePlus 8 Pro, and the new model looks even better!
It’s unlikely the new OnePlus 9 Pro will unseat the iPhone. Apple’s marketing message and broad acceptance make it almost impossible for a smaller entity like OnePlus to dominate. Should Apple stumble, its users will most likely defect to Samsung, not OnePlus. The OnePlus 9 Pro won’t be a huge success but will instead offer better options for those who are tired of Apple’s shameless greed and Samsung’s over-abundant first-party software.
Disclosure: I have no affiliation with OnePlus. After purchasing two defective Macs in a row, I got fed up with Apple and decided to give Android a shot. I bought my own OnePlus 8 Pro based on Consumer Reports’ recommendation. It’s my primary mobile phone.