Deep Dive | Meet OnePlus 9 Pro's IMX789 Sensor

  1. Jimmy Z.
    Camera Product Manager Staff Member Apr 16, 2021

    Jimmy Z. , Apr 16, 2021 :

    Hi everyone,

    Today, I'd like to talk about a key component in the OnePlus 9 Pro's Hasselblad Camera for Mobile: the Sony IMX789 sensor.

    When you see a rundown of the OnePlus 9 Pro's main camera specs, you'll see the name of the sensor listed. What you won't see is all of the customization that went into and around it over the course of two years. And that's what this is about: How we took one powerful piece of hardware and made it into something even greater.

    Making a Big Sensor That Actually Works
    Before diving into the details, I'd like to share some of the thinking behind this customization process. A sensor is perhaps the most important part of a camera and directly shapes its performance.

    sensor ÕÅÿÕñº.png

    Over the past two or three years, the sensor size in smartphones has been increasing steadily, approaching or even surpassing those found in many compact cameras. The increasingly big sensor size, combined with computational photography, has pushed the limits of smartphone photography to an unprecedented level.

    PRO - Second camera lens .jpg

    But as you might know, in the smartphone world, a bigger sensor doesn't automatically equal better camera performance. In fact, due to the limitations of optics design, the lens may not match the performance of a huge sensor, which can then in turn create problems like chromatic aberrations, distortions, or soft edges.

    With all this in mind, when we started to customize the IMX789 sensor with Sony, we did not simply intend to get a supersized sensor. Instead, we wanted to find the best balance between sensor size and lens characteristics, harmonizing each part of the camera to bring out the best photo and video quality possible.

    Into the Specs
    Let's get the specs out of the way.

    The IMX789 has a sensor size of 1/1.35″ with 52 MP and a Quad Bayer design. With pixel binning, the pixel size reaches 2.24 μm.
    The special part is the aspect ratio. Instead of the traditional 4:3, the IMX789 adopts a unique 16:11 aspect ratio.

    When taking photos, the IMX789 uses the standard 4:3 ratio, so the actual sensor size used is 1/1.43″ with 48 MP. When taking 4K 120 FPS videos, however, the IMX789 will switch to 16:9 to maximize the areas on the left and right and achieve a wider FOV.

    If you're the sort who likes to geek out over cameras, you might be familiar with this design. Many Panasonic cameras like the Lumix LX100, GH5S, and phones like the Nokia Pureview 808 also adopted a similar sensor redundancy design to balance different aspect ratios.

    In addition to the big sensor, the IMX789 is also equipped with many industry-leading features.

    Take 2x2 OCL, for example. Each pixel on the IMX789 sensor can be used to help focus. Combined with the laser focus, the OnePlus 9 Pro can focus incredibly fast in almost all conditions.

    The IMX789 can also output 12-bit RAW. 12-bit RAW can capture 68.7 billion colors, 64 times as many as the traditional 10-bit RAW format. With this amount of data, you can perform more post-editing in software like Lightroom without worrying about color banding.

    The IMX789 then also offers better performance just in itself. Compared with the last generation's sensor, the IMX789 has higher FWC (Full Well Capacity) and lower RN (Read Noise), meaning it can produce cleaner images and a higher dynamic range.

    4K 120 FPS and DOL-HDR
    We noticed that, over the past two years, the percentage of users who use smartphones to capture video has grown dramatically. So, when we customized the IMX789 sensor, we also worked with Sony to improve its video abilities through several advanced features.


    First, there's 4K 120 FPS recording, just like we just mentioned before. The OnePlus 9 Pro is one of the first phones to be able to record 4K 120 fps with PDAF. This is thanks to the insanely fast readout speed of the IMX789.

    The other leading video feature of the IMX789 is DOL-HDR.
    DOL-HDR stands for Digital Overlap High Dynamic Range, a technology that lets the sensor take shorter and longer exposures almost simultaneously and combine them into one frame with higher dynamic range and almost no artifacting.


    On the OnePlus 9 Pro, DOL-HDR is on by default (that's why you won't find it in the camera settings). When shooting videos in backlit conditions, the OnePlus 9 Pro can automatically use DOL-HDR to improve its dynamic range, so you don't ever have to worry about it.

    Hardware That Gets Better with Time
    In a word, with all the specs and leading technology packed into it, the IMX789 is, without any doubt, our most powerful sensor in any smartphone.

    But of course, we also know that a great sensor is just the base for building a great camera system. Because a great camera isn't just an assembly of top-notch hardware parts, it's what results when those parts are integrated and optimized through the right software.

    For more than half a year, we've been working closely with our partner, Hasselblad, to fine-tune this great IMX789 sensor in the OnePlus 9 Pro, especially the color science. With Natural Color Calibration with Hasselblad, we want to provide you the most natural color in any smartphone.

    Natural Color Calibration with Hasselblad.png

    At the same time, we are still pushing ourselves to get the most out of the IMX789 sensor.

    After the launch of the OnePlus 9 Pro, we have pushed several OTAs to continue optimizing for noise reduction, improving auto balance and HDR performance, and more. And we will continue to optimize our camera performance and add exciting new features in the future. We began by taking the best hardware and making even more out of it. But there is still plenty of potential to explore.

    Stay tuned.

    Never Settle.

  2. SRD.
    Lollipop Apr 16, 2021

  3. GandeDeSa
    Honeycomb Apr 16, 2021

    I1611836717425 likes this.
  4. SachinTS
    Honeycomb Apr 16, 2021

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021

  5. Tokolozi
    Most Original Avatar Apr 16, 2021

    Tokolozi , Apr 16, 2021 :
    Then don't buy it?

  6. SachinTS
    Honeycomb Apr 16, 2021

  7. sumitMZ007
    Jelly Bean Apr 16, 2021

    sumitMZ007 , via OnePlus 6 , Apr 16, 2021 :
    While Some runs highly on higher megapixel count the others like Apple & google doing great work with just 12mp count and to the point image processing! But I appreciate latest technology!

  8. 303276697017
    Gingerbread Apr 16, 2021

  9. Tobikage
    Nougat Apr 16, 2021

    Tobikage , Apr 16, 2021 :
    I imagine OP employees get fined or something if they just say 'OP9 Pro camera' instead of 'The OnePlus 9 Pro's Hasselblad Camera for Mobile' :rolleyes:

  10. McJader
    Marshmallow Apr 16, 2021

    McJader , Apr 16, 2021 :
    Maybe they do.

  11. jactommac
    Gingerbread Apr 16, 2021

    jactommac , Apr 16, 2021 :
    Hope to see software tuning in near future updates. while the color is extremely accurate there still some bugs i have found in focusing and post processing where fine details get blurred that were crisp when captured.

  12. Pupok07
    Donut Apr 16, 2021

    Pupok07 , via OnePlus 8T , Apr 16, 2021 :
    Algorithms 586 sensor would have brought to mind first, then grabbed another. Fortunately, there are enough devices in the line with such sensors, as well as examples from other manufacturers, what a 586 sensor with the correct image processing algorithms is capable of.

    Twist13Cole and northbay5566 like this.
  13. Tokolozi
    Most Original Avatar Apr 16, 2021

    Tokolozi , Apr 16, 2021 :
    Well it's the only thing that really matters no?

    Want to make clear to a company you don't like their strategy? Don't buy their product.


  14. #14
  15. HarshKK14
    Honeycomb Apr 16, 2021

    HarshKK14 , via OnePlus 7 , Apr 16, 2021 :
    It does look that OnePlus worked on improving it's camera. Though reviews suggest that camera isn't the best in class, but that shouldn't be focused on. It's difficult to take a big jump in something we perform poorly.

    So for OnePlus, which I believed to have one of the worst cameras ever, it's a really good start towards a great camera system.

    Hope OnePlus keeps improving the cameras and stop giving the useless mono chrome and depth sensors.


  16. #16
    K1559748632284 likes this.
  17. Shailender Sharma
    Nougat Apr 16, 2021

    Shailender Sharma , Apr 16, 2021 :
    Is it true @Jimmy Z. that custom Sony IMX789 sensor costs more than $15 million to develop?:eek:

    Are you satisfied with the results produced by the OnePlus 9 Pro, 'Money Well Spent'? :rolleyes:

  18. Shailender Sharma
    Nougat Apr 16, 2021

    Shailender Sharma , Apr 16, 2021 :
    No, Employees get fired! ;)

    You said OP9 :p

  19. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Apr 16, 2021

    dsmonteiro , Apr 16, 2021 :
    I don't know why you would think that about OnePlus 9 Pro's Hasselblad Camera for Mobile.

  20. B_Wrath
    Nougat Apr 16, 2021

    B_Wrath , Apr 16, 2021 :
    You messed up the GIF:p:rolleyes: