Lemonade in [The Lab] - A OnePlus 9 Pro Review

  1. naveenjafer
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Apr 3, 2021

    naveenjafer , Apr 3, 2021 :
    Thank you! Yup, the camera part will be out soon :)

  2. naveenjafer
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Apr 3, 2021

    naveenjafer , Apr 3, 2021 :
    Hey there, thank you so much! :D

    Thank you!!

    xLiKWiT likes this.
  3. naveenjafer
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Apr 3, 2021

    naveenjafer , Apr 3, 2021 :
    @MosheG1 Thank you mate! :D It was a 80D with a Macro lens. Color edits were done on lightroom. I am a fan of the matte finish. The red OP hues have been shifted around to have them not take away the focus from the device.

    MosheG1 likes this.
  4. naveenjafer
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Apr 3, 2021

    naveenjafer , Apr 3, 2021 :
    Thank you Mark, glad you enjoyed it!

    Thank you mate!! :D

    SRD. likes this.
  5. naveenjafer
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Apr 3, 2021

    aristle.jm likes this.
  6. MosheG1
    The Lab - OnePlus 8 Pro Reviewer Apr 5, 2021

    MosheG1 , Apr 5, 2021 :
    Awesome! I am really impressed

  7. Zawwad khan
    Cupcake Apr 6, 2021 at 5:12 AM

  8. naveenjafer
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Apr 6, 2021 at 7:52 AM

    Stickied Post
    naveenjafer , Apr 6, 2021 at 7:52 AM :
    The Hasselblad Promise - Part 1


    There is this interesting stereotype around Mexico’s portrayal in Hollywood movies. The color temperature is cranked up all the way warm. Previously, I could not help but wonder if OnePlus took inspiration from there when tuning their cameras. For context, I come from the OP6, a device where the camera could make most culinary/low light shots look like there is turmeric all over the image. I cannot stress enough how relieved I am that the OP9Pro fixes this temperature skewing. After all, OnePlus’s major selling point was #truecolors. This is how the review will flow. We first compare the 9 Pro to the 6 in terms of color improvements and some other factors before pitting it against a Pixel 4a in Part 1. Part 2 talks about the 9 Pro in isolation.

    PS: None of the images in this review are edited.

    The new vs the old (OP 9 Pro vs OP 6)


    With OP going easy on the yellows, the blues finally get some breathing space in landscape images and you get a chance to catch good glimpses. The OP9 pro is fairly accurate in the below rocky landscape shot.


    Notice how the actual evening sky color is captured by the 9 Pro in between the leaves. It is also pretty much bang on with the greens, the luminance was however slightly on the higher side.


    The 9 Pro does a better job at detailing (as it should, observe the texture on the rocks and the details in the foliage), but in medium light, the advances over 3 generations are not revolutionary as such.


    The second-gen HDR in the 9Pro handles the darker areas in the trees behind better, however the texture of the clouds was a tad bit better on the 6. Overall, the colors and mood in 9 Pro was closest to what the scene was in real life.

    There is something fishy going on while shooting images in the dark. Maybe OnePlus could clarify this, but it appears that the regular photo mode shoots in similar lines as nightscape when you hold the camera still while shooting. In fairly dark scenes, we are talking about a good 2 seconds of the shutter being blocked after clicking a picture. The lighting signature turns out to be closer to how it would with nightscape in certain shots. I am not particularly sure I like this “auto-switching” of sorts (especially since it blocks me from clicking back-to-back shots). If I do need to shoot using nightscape, I would switch to it on my own.


    The first thing I could notice was how the noise is much lesser in dark regions in the image. There are more details in the underexposed areas (check the coconut tree in the left). The borders around bright light sources are more defined and much sharper.

    There are 2 modes while shooting in auto, High res (generates 48 MP images) or regular (at 16 MP). OP suggests that the High res mode only be used when clicking pics in good lighting. It makes sense, you really do not want to be exploding the image only to introduce noise in the 48MP version. And the high res takes up a good 10 MB at the least per image ( I can see the 256 gig version getting flooded in no time). Do yourself a favor and keep it disabled unless you really need to develop the image or use it as backgrounds etc.

    One place that the OP9 really outshines the 6 is how it handles a tree line against a bright blue sky. The OP6 introduces a glow around the treeline which is QUITE evident. Could have been caused due to a buggy HDR implementation or simply the size of the sensors could have been the bottleneck. 9 Pro fixes this issue completely. I am pleased, especially since I love shooting treelines against a clean blue sky.

    The low budget competitor (Pixel 4a)

    Selling at a mere 40 percent of the price of the OP9Pro, the Pixel 4a should not have even had to be pit against the OP9 Pro. But the results are quite surprising. I have only tested it in low light settings, Most of the images tested were with Nightscape/Nightsight barring one.

    Culinary shots


    Both the images were shot in night sight and nightscape respectively. The details on the 9 Pro were much better, but the colors were way off the actual table and food colors. The Pixel 4a was spot on with the colors. At this point, it is important to mention that the nightscape took a good 3 seconds to shoot the image compared to the 1.5 seconds from the OP9 Pro. The benefits of the larger sensor being apparent here. It is pretty Ironic that a OnePlus device for once was suffering from not being warm enough.


    Again, a different Culinary shot with a different challenge. This test included both cool and warm components to test the color balance. The OP9 again loses to the Pixel. The presence of blues shot up the color balance to warmer colors that is evident from the colors on the table. The exposures were slightly more overblown with the 9Pro and overall Pixel 4a is the better option in both the low light culinary settings.



    There was almost no discernable difference between both in this case. The textures were good enough, and colors were on point in both.

    Light sources


    The 9Pro was no contest for the 4a here. This was shot on the regular shooter with both the phones, I am quite surprised that OP lost a considerable chunk of temperature in the scene. The lights were very warm in real and the 4a captures it pretty accurately. Even the underexposed regions in the wall of the stairwell have more detail captured by the 4a.

    Pixel lineup has been regularly great at low light shots, so I was not all that sure about what to expect going in pitting it against the 9Pro. But with OP stressing on true colors, I was really hoping it would deliver when it comes to colors in low light settings. The positive takeaway is the fact that the OP9 Pro images in low light are sharper and have more texture. If OP can figure out the colors in low light settings in a future update, it could potentially dislodge a future pixel flagship from the throne.

    RayLightning4, superplus and TibiTibi like this.
  9. naveenjafer
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Apr 6, 2021 at 8:04 AM

    Stickied Post
    naveenjafer , Apr 6, 2021 at 8:04 AM :
    The OP9 Pro in isolation - Part 2

    Pets and kids are subjects that rarely ever respect the rules of low-light photography. In low light, the shutter opens for longer to let more light in and that causes all sorts of motion blurs in such subjects. A large sensor is beneficial to both reduce the noise and increase the shutter speed. If you have subjects that are moving in a low light setting the large sensors on the 9pro are extremely helpful. These motion blur panning shots (at least an attempt was made, come on) were taken on pro mode after sunset at around 2.3x zoom. The vehicles were speeding down a slope at around 40 km/hr. A large sensor size opens up quite a few possibilities while keeping the noise to a minimum.




    "Can I have some more of the scene please?" - The wide angle shooter.

    Can we take a moment to talk about how GOOD the wide-angle lens is?

    Have a look at the geometry in these shots for proof. I am fairly impressed.


    Additionally, it is at par with the main shooter when it comes to night shots. With covid social distancing guidelines in place, I have not been able to test out how sharp the people in the edges of the shot come out. I am not worried as much about the distortions as such, but the focus and the sharpness is something that I have noticed being a bit off in certain medium-light shots. Could be due to the lack of OIS in the wide-angle shooter.

    "Closer to you" - The Telephoto Shooter


    The 3x telephoto shooter is reliable in good light. It works just fine if the lighting conditions are great and bright. However, at night, I would pretty much stay away from using it. It gets noisy and colors start deviating by quite a bit from the main shooter. You are better off using the main shooter and then cropping in where needed. The color shift from one camera to another is very minimal during day though. If you were shooting in a controlled environment and were able to ground the device, the telephoto works well. Noise is minimal and colors are almost perfect, but the same does not hold outdoors in low light.

    Have a look at the identical color signature across the three shots of this turquoise shed.


    I cannot stress quite enough how happy I am with the colors across multiple modes. The macro, wide, and the regular shooter have all exhibited great color reproduction across various decently-lit indoor and outdoor scenes.

    Pro Mode.


    During nights, the Pro mode is the only mode that gets a very accurate representation of the actual scene. Both in terms of colors and how the true lighting was. Auto mode is inching closer and closer towards nightscape with heavy postprocessing and exposure stacking. As I expressed earlier too, I am no fan of it. There is a world of difference between the very accurate first shot on the pro mode vs the auto and nightscape. Nightscape almost entirely washes out the colors and makes most scenes look like they were shot early in the morning or on a weirdly lit day. Switch to Pro mode (and set all the controls on auto) if you want to capture the true colors of the scene. If you need to take a shot of your friends in a restaurant or a pub, switch to nightscape or auto and it would do justice to facial lighting.


    The portrait signature of an OnePlus is pretty evident here. I honestly noticed almost no difference from the one in OP6. Portrait around the edges is still a hit and miss.

    A brief summary of what happened. OnePlus hyped up the camera. But honestly, I am not quite sure what most reviewers were expecting? A new color spectrum beyond visible light range? It almost felt like all the reviewers HAD to express their disappointment for it to jump in the "Aah, I am not all that impressed bandwagon". I was pretty disappointed that most well known reviewers spent most of the review fussing over their apparent letdown after amping themselves up for the new camera system. However, what I am not disappointed about is the accurate colors and skin tones in decent lighting.







    The ultrawide is very capable of taking pictures that you could use in Social media without needing any sort of edits and exposure corrections even in low light settings.


    I rarely ever shoot videos with my device, I am definitely not qualified to talk about it and would not want to waste your time with surface-level opinions of the same. However, I am quite happy that the 8K option has made its way to the main shooter, the flexibility of extracting high-quality images from the video can be quite a blessing to have in the future.

    My Qualms
    There is an issue of sorts with how the OIS behaves in the viewfinder while shooting videos. Any sharp motion and sudden stop while shooting causes the OIS to shift the lens around in the direction of motion after the motion has stopped. Almost like a half-second ping delay. Weirdly, this does not manifest in the final video output. Even my OP6 has OIS and it does not seem to exhibit this irritating quirk.

    There is no pro mode on the Wide-angle shooter? Which was a little surprising given that the 2 lenses are equally capable.

    Both my primary shooter and wide-angle seem to introduce lens flares occasionally in low light settings.


    Camera Software
    The software look being used in the camera app is completely revamped, I think I like the changes. There are a plethora of combinations with the lenses, settings, shooting speeds, etc and it does appear like a lot of thought has been put into making it a less cluttered experience.


    You can find a collection of the shots taken on the OP9 Pro in this gallery - https://naveen.pixieset.com/shotononeplus9pro/

    The final shot
    Overall, this camera system is probably the least OnePlus camera system I have used till date (Compared to the 5, 6 and 7t). I believe that it is a good thing, a step forward that should auger well for deeper integrations with Hasselblad in the future. As an average consumer, you have 2 reliable shooters packed in that perform equally well. I would not say I am blown away as such, but hey at least the exposures are not getting blown away any more. Additionally, I enjoy the fact that I have finally been able to post on social media without needing any corrections.

    superplus and tobias14 like this.
  10. tobias14
    Ice Cream Sandwich Apr 6, 2021 at 12:29 PM

    naveenjafer likes this.
  11. naveenjafer
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Apr 6, 2021 at 6:09 PM

    tobias14 likes this.
  12. TibiTibi
    Photography Expert Apr 8, 2021 at 11:58 AM

  13. naveenjafer
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Apr 8, 2021 at 1:05 PM

    Stickied Post
    naveenjafer , Apr 8, 2021 at 1:05 PM :
    Oxygen OS
    In the transition from a young teenager to an adult, one of the very first things that come back to bite us is our usernames in social media accounts and email IDs. Choices that you would probably cringe at for the rest of your adult life. Fortunately for OnePlus, their design team would never have to look back at their design choices and find themselves cringing ( Was this a subtle dig at Samsung's OS design choices? Maybe). Oxygen OS has hands down been my favorite launcher among the various offerings out there, and not without good reason. It is not perfect, it does have scope for improvement and issues of its own, but overall, it was historically designed well and has kept up with the rapid changes in the ever-changing design landscape.

    I like the fact that Oxygen OS lets you tweak icon packs, icon sizes, layout, etc without having to switch to a third-party launcher. Samsung’s OneUI, for example, does not have this ability, you are stuck with the terrible design choices that ship out of the box in the launcher.

    Here goes a joke.
    If you wake up as OneUI launcher, whats do you do? You go back to sleep and hope you wake up as any other launcher but that.

    I however wish the OP launcher provides an option to reduce the vertical gap between icon rows. After doing away with the app names in the launcher, I would have really enjoyed the ability to have densely packed icon packs.

    The Shelf
    One of the most irksome things about my OnePlus 6 was the weather graphic in the shelf. It had 3 major issues
    1. The weather artwork was a complete departure from the beautiful design used in the weather app and good design principles in general.
    2. Foggy weather would result in a whiteish background, but the text in the shelf would still stay white, making them almost indiscernible.
    3. Clear weather even at nights would have the graphic of a cloud over a sunny sky.
    Everything about the old weather implementation and color theme (which flows into the entire shelf) was harsh, jarring, and was probably the most non-OnePlus part about the entire phone.

    Fortunately, this is fixed with the latest Oxygen OS on the 9 Pro. The weather and the shelf app's weather graphic are now consistent, which makes for a uniform and pleasant experience.

    Notification Shade
    The notification shade has a new change that I am a little on the fence about. It is a welcome move for sure but comes with an unavoidable compromise. The music controls from any app playing audio is now integrated as a part of the system icons section. The system icons collapse to 2 rows instead of the usual 3. Bringing the music controls as a part of the system icons does make sense and works out well for anyone who needs quick access to music controls without having to search for it in the notification shade. However, the system icons being collapsed to 2 rows and the third row being shifted to the second page is something that messes around a bit with the locations.

    I would not be incorrect when I say that the system icons in the notification shade is something we click on basis of motor memory and not really on visual confirmation of the icons themselves. This shifting between a 2-row setup to a 3-row setup kind of has made me pause for a second before figuring out where I can find the icon of my interest. But I guess this is a compromise I can make do with given the quick music access in the notification shade.

    Alert Slider Software
    Let’s talk about the alert slider. The implementation is almost perfect except for one small inconsistency that I would like to point out. I have loved how my OP6 had different vibration feedbacks while switching from one alert mode to another. This has always allowed me to shift around and get a confirmation that it has been set in the right mode even when the phone is in my pocket. With the OP9Pro, these vibrations have changed around counterintuitively. Switching to vibrate mode triggers a mild vibrate and switching to silent does not result in any feedback while bringing the slider back to general sends a strong vibration feedback. The corresponding vibration modes do not really make much sense to me, the OP6 alert mode to vibration mapping was a more intuitive and sensible one.

    The notifications group well, you now have 3 categories “conversations”, “notifications” and “other notifications”. More or less in decreasing order of how relevant these notifications could be to an average user, which I really like. I have observed a bug that seems to have followed me from the OP6 even on the 9Pro. Clearing all the notifications using “clear all” moves them all away from the shade only to bring back Gmail notifs and messaging notifs once again on the shade before slowly removing them one by one. This is kind of irritating since the notifications reappear as a bunch on top as if they are coming in for the first time on the device.

    Additionally, there is an inconsistency in how time is represented against each notification. Sometimes you get the absolute time, relative time, and nothing at all once in a while. Check out the different time formats below.


    Curved Screen Touch Rejection
    I have already expressed how I am no fan of the curved display and in the usage of the device, my apprehensions were proven right. Occasionally swiping on the keyboard would trigger the back button since the keyboard spills over the curve and touch gets a little weird in that area. The same happens with the Instagram text setting slider on the left in stories. It takes 3 or 4 attempts to move the slider accurately to where you want it to be due to palm rejection kicking in. I honestly wish functionality is given preference over form or appearance in future series.

    Camera Software
    This section should have ideally gone under the camera section, but it kind of does come under the software realm, so here it is.

    The viewfinder now explicitly mentions when HDR kicks in, it is kind of helpful in that it provides a sense of what to expect from the image and compositions. Focus peaking is pretty helpful once you train your eye to use it the right way, especially when you are on manual focus and your vision is not at your prime anymore.

    I wish OP would give an option to drop the “Shot on” part in “Shot on OnePlus X Hasselblad” from the watermark. It is also a bummer that the watermark cannot be added/edited after a shot has been taken. It does restrict frame compositions in post-editing etc when you want to crop the image.

    It is surprising that you have an 8K footage option but no option to extract an image out of it from the device itself. Samsung has this implementation in its S series and I really think this is a must if OP expects mainstream users to start making use of this bump up in shooting specs.

    Some issues with Oxygen OS.
    While using the phone in 120 fps adaptive mode, I have noticed on multiple occasions that the Frame rate drops quite aggressively when passive scrolling on inertia kicks in (meaning, there is no input being currently provided to the touch display). This happens on apps like WhatsApp and google news quite often. A fix could be possible, but I am not quite sure if OP is aware of the same. Additionally, it would have been great to have the ability to software lock the FPS to a minimum value at the least. If performance is my jam, I would love to lock in the minimum fps at 60 to avoid any such stutters that an adaptive display can cause.

    If you are using dark mode and decide to step out of the house on a sunny day with the screen set on auto-brightness, you would notice the greyish black areas on your screen turn into a pale grey and the contrast against the white foreground text gets messy. This is solved by locking the maximum brightness manually to 100% on the slider and disabling auto brightness. My guess is that the range of the manual brightness from 1-100 does not cover the true width of what the phone’s auto brightness setting has to offer. But at full auto brightness, it becomes terrible to read any white text on a light grey (supposed to stay dark grey) background.

    The navigation pill on the bottom has an inconsistency when it comes to colors. In certain native apps (check the shelf screenshot above), the pill is able to hover on top of the existing content on the screen without needing a space block reserved for it. Additionally, it adaptively changes its color on basis of the content behind it, which is a nifty feature for sure! In other occasions where it does need a dedicated space block, for most parts it blends well with the color scheme of the app and stays subtle. However, in some apps like Any.do the color is inconsistent. A white background region is blocked around the pill. Have a look at the below image.

    When navigating back to the home page from any app, the navigation pill decomposes into 2 curved parts on either side of the screen and swiping up on them activates the Google assistant. However, this behavior is not consistent, quite often the pill disappears altogether and the google assistant trigger does not appear. Check the bottom parts in the 2 comparison screenshots.

    Overall Software
    Oxygen OS on the OP9Pro as such has not seen any drastic changes from the previous versions, all the bells and whistles from the previous generation has continued. I honestly hope OnePlus can sort out some of the bugs I mentioned above well before the half-yearly T version rolls out and the 9 series is out of the spotlight.

    The next section will be a collection of my overall thoughts about the OnePlus 9 and a MAJOR issue that I have not addressed yet. Stay tuned.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021 at 10:56 AM

    superplus, Praty_28 and PhotoPicker like this.
  14. ion2910
    Ice Cream Sandwich Apr 9, 2021 at 5:15 AM

  15. superplus
    Head Moderator Head Moderator Apr 9, 2021 at 1:57 PM

    superplus , Apr 9, 2021 at 1:57 PM :
    Wow, I'm blown away by everything, love it all, from the header to the side-by-side comparisons, to the little annotations, expertly researched and beautifully presented! Thanks for such an enjoyable review! :cool:

  16. dom_k
    The Lab - OnePlus 9 Pro Reviewer Apr 9, 2021 at 6:54 PM

  17. Rcoupe_XBM
    Donut Apr 12, 2021 at 7:46 AM

    Rcoupe_XBM , Apr 12, 2021 at 7:46 AM :
    well glossy mirror (you can actualy see yourself in phone bottom) is way off in terms of fingerprints. Also i was hoping it will be more silver than mirror + gradient effect coud be reversed (so bottom mat and top glossy)