[ The Lab ] OnePlus 9 Pro Pine Green

  1. Alexandre SIGT
    The Lab - OnePlus 9 Pro Reviewer Apr 1, 2021

    Alexandre SIGT , Apr 1, 2021 :
    OnePlus9 pro.jpg


    Let's begin - Unboxing the OnePlus 9 Pro :

    What's inside the box :
    • OnePlus 9 Pro in Pine Green
    • Warp Charger 65
    • The red cable
    • A protective case (also in Pine Green)
    • A letter with the pin
    • A guide and some safety information




    Thanks to OnePlus for sending the phone over and trusting me with the review. My OnePlus 5 was starting to show some weakness so I am pretty happy with the upgrade (I would have done it anyway, but don't tell them)

    I received the Pine green version, the color is discrete and very pleasant to look at, the matte back should not attract to much your finger print and gives a very premium feeling.
    Again OnePlus opted for a dual SIM and no possibility of adding extra storage, that should not be a problem, with 256GB storage and 12GB of Ram, it is plenty of room for the next few years.

    The build quality is on point for a flagship phone, the screen is gorgeous with a slightly curved bezel, once turned on the phone shows very nice color gamut, very good brightness and responsiveness.
    A plastic screen protection is also there to prevent the front from getting scratched, even though a tempered glass will always be a safer choice, that protection has a good enough quality and will do the job for careful people.
    The battery life is fine, it should last you the whole day, even with high settings. The 29 min full charge makes adding more battery almost irrelevant.

    It is overall a very nice phone, feels good, looks good and works well. I am very excited to jump into the camera review and give you feedback on my usage.

    Not so Quick presentation of myself:

    My name is Alexandre, I am from France and I have been selected to give you my opinion on the OnePlus 9 Pro camera.

    My photography journey started in 2017, when I went to Budapest. That was my first time in Hungary, it was amazing, the beauty of the place really inspired me, between the building, bridges and parks there were so many things to shoot, no surprise that my first "real" pictures were made there.

    At that time, I had only a phone and some blurred idea of what makes a good photo, needless to say that neither the pictures nor my skill were sharp, it was the beginning.
    Like every new comer in photography I was thinking that having better gear would make better pictures... oh boys and girls I was wrong.
    Nevertheless I went online, looking for the camera that would bring me the most value, I eventually stumbled upon the OnePlus 5 announcement video, they promised a flagship phone with real photo and video capabilities. That was exactly what a was looking for, all the more it was at a very affordable price. They had me hooked and the morning of the launch I bought one.

    Few months went by, I did not find much inspiration and I was not taking as many pictures as I thought. Luckily some big changes were about to come.
    In 2018 I went to live and work in India, with my trusty OP5 I traveled the whole country. From north to south, from east to west, the 64GB storage were not enough, I was taking pictures and videos of everything. Slowly but steadily my photography skills increased and I eventually felt limited by the phone. It was time for me to invest more into something that became my passion.

    I left my OP5 as a camera but kept it as my daily driver and selfies taker.
    Until today, with Hasselblad partnership and the OneP... wait..wait...wait... let's be honest the One Plus 9 pro won't make me give up on my camera even with Hasselblad branding. But I am sure that it can be a very good starting point for beginners or casual photographer that don't want to carry around a camera.
    And if it helps someone to develop a new passion for photography, I will definitely share my experience using it.

    Let's now talk a bit about photography, I am an enlightened amateur so I don't claim to have all answers, neither the truth, but I have my opinions so I will start with that.
    I believe that the most important thing about photography and videography is the creation part, hence in that review I will do my best to show you how capable is the One Plus 9 Pro at creating.
    In that matter, it won't be an exhaustive test of every single functionality that the phone is offering, instead it will be a review to see if the phone brings me what I need during my creative process.

    The camera review

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 27, 2021

  2. Alexandre SIGT
    The Lab - OnePlus 9 Pro Reviewer Apr 27, 2021

    Stickied Post
    Alexandre SIGT , Apr 27, 2021 :
    Let’s now talk about the camera, the One Plus 9 pro is equipped with a 4 camera module, out of which two have optical image stabilization (OIS).
    • The main camera (OIS)
      • Resolution : 48mpx
      • Focal length : 23 mm equivalent
      • Aperture : f/1,8

    • The ultra wide angle camera
      • Resolution : 50mpx
      • Focal length : 14 mm equivalent
      • Aperture : f/2,2

    • The telephoto camera (OIS)
      • Resolution : 8 mpx
      • Focal length : Approx 77 mm equivalent
      • Aperture : f/2,4

    • The monochrome camera
      • Resolution : 2mpx
      • Focal length
      • Aperture : f/2,4
    Those are the 3 options you have when you will be out shooting, yes I said 3 options, the monochrome camera is not usable as a stand alone, it is supposed to add layering to your pictures when taken in black and white.
    (Quick tip : always take your pictures in color, then turn them into black and white using your favorite editing software #keepyouroptionsopen)

    How does the OnePlus compare to my camera bag ?

    When I am going for a shoot I am usually taking 3 lenses
    • A wide focal : 14mm
    • A medium focal : 50 mm
    • A long focal : 135 mm
    It gives a wide range of possibilities, from the contextual shot with the wide angle to the very situational shot with the telephoto lens.
    One Plus 9 is taking a similar approach, from a very wide angle with the 14mm to a tight one with the 77mm on the telephoto.
    In that regard the OnePlus 9 is offering a good range of action that will be very usefull while being out taking pictures.

    Note 1 : I will be only using the camera at their native focal length, the zoom between focal is done digitally by cropping on the picture and will degrade the image.

    Note 2 : I will not use any additional accessories like extra phone lens or studio light

    Note 3 : Pictures are not retouched unless it is specified.

    Day one, the resolution worship :

    First day out with the phone, I told you that it was about the creative process... but we all know what you want, One Plus has been screaming at you the size of their sensor with 50mpx. Let’s get that high resolution religion out of the way so we can focus on something else.

    Here are two similar pictures, they are taken with the automatic settings as most of the people will do, the first picture has been taken with the basic resolution of 12mpx (I believe 50mpx downgrade to 12mpx) the second is taken with high resolution mode reaching a crazy 50mpx

    At 100% the high resolution feels a bit sharper

    Same on the 112%, but it is not obvious


    And a 300%, here we can easily see the difference

    Unless you plan on cropping a picture by 300% we can move on and save some space by taking "low" resolution pictures (12mpx is enough).

    Day two, it's all about color :

    It will not be a surprise to anyone that colors in photography are important. They give a feeling to the image, creates contrast and point of interest in the image.
    What might surprise you more is that every brand has their signature color science and style. It's like an edit before the edit, and it is done in the camera with a combination of process that I actually don't know.
    Hasselblad is known for their very natural and organic color science, that's where the One Plus 9 Pro and Hasselblad partnership makes more sense. It is to bring Hasselblad knowledge about color inside the One Plus device, to help everyone take better pictures.

    In my opinion it is a success, as you will see from the few following samples, colors are natural and accurate, it definitely matches the environment I was taking the picture from, no extra saturation or contrast.


    Pictures were taken just after the rain, clouds were still there and the light was diffused and clean.

    In the same environment, the light was soft and the phone did not add extra saturation for the sake of it.

    Around an hour after, the sky cleared up from all the grey clouds and we could enjoy the sun starting to set. I took that picture literally looking at the sun and the HDR did a great job at keeping details in the sky and in the shadow. The colors are still pretty decent and even good regarding the condition.

    Day three, let's click some buildings :

    When someone is talking about wide angle lens, my first thought always goes to landscape photography, unfortunately we are in lockdown in France and moving out of the city is not allowed. So instead I am going to take pictures of buildings.

    I first went to the cathedral near the city center, the place is very small and you really can't go further back. As you can see it was not much of an issue, the 14 mm is wide enough to take the whole monument.

    Picture 4 .jpg

    A quick switch from the extra wide angle to the telephoto lens allows me to get a different perspective of a cathedral. Let's be honest, I quite enjoyed being able to get that without changing lenses, I might eventually buy a zoom for my camera...

    The longer the focal length, the shakier the image will be. It can be a very difficult task to take zoomed pictures without any stabilization.The OIS did an impressive job and it was a breeze to take the photo, no issue with the shaking.

    Picutre 2 Telephoto (with okay light) quite a lot of detail in the rock.jpg

    Day 3.5, editing:

    All those pictures are very nice, but I usually like to edit them a bit/a lot depending on the mood I am looking for.

    The best way to edit pictures is first to take them in RAW, and I can't stress enough about how important it is for beginner to shoot RAW (Not only because it can save a picture with bad exposure but also because it will give you more options once in the editing software).

    However, it is a phone and 95% of the user won't ever use the "Pro mode" to have their file in RAW. They will anyway want to edit and apply filter on them and for that reason I tried to edit picture taken with the automatic mode (in JPEG) to see how well it was handling modifications.

    Here is the original file straight out of the camera, it's looking pretty decent, but not dramatic enough.


    In the first edit I used the built in application of OnePlus, it gives you the possibility to do slight correction on exposure, contrast and saturation. You won't be able to do local adjustment with it.

    Picture 1 Edit avec le soft OP.jpg

    For the second one I used an application from Google called Snapseed it is a very powerful application that even allows you to retouch RAW files. Some will say that I could have used lightroom, but I feel like Snapseed is more user friendly and give more option to edit on the go.


    One last edited picture with OnePlus application before leaving you with more non edited samples.
    (Here as well, I snapped to the telephoto lens to take another interesting perspective of the building, enjoying the process)

    Picture 3 Edit avec OP.jpg

    Here are some more sample pictures without any edit.



    Day four, portraits :

    I don't think that I have told you yet, but most of my work is portrait, either with model or taken candid in a street photography fashion, this is what I enjoy the most doing.

    Taking a good portrait is a combination of multiple factors.

    In no specific order :
    • The light and shadows around the subject that create depth on the subject itself
    • Details in the face, especially in the eyes.
    • The expression of the subject, either it's genuine or faked for the sake of a shoot
    • The depth of the pictures often created by a blurred foreground and background as well as leading lines.
    • The colors, the skin tones are very sensitive and the human eyes can quickly detect when colors are wrong in a face.
    So I took the phone out during a portrait session with models... and it was unfortunately not exciting. We will start with the good points and end up with the bad points

    Note : Portrait is my favorite kind of photography and in that regard I can be very critical with the pictures I am taking as I want each following pictures to be better than the previous one, here I will give you my opinion about how I felt trying to take good portrait with the OnePlus 9 Pro, it shows more how it does not suits me than how good it is. Most of the people using it will be more than happy with the provided result

    The OnePlus 9 Pro is giving you good colors, the skin tones are right and you will be able to have very nice souvenir pictures with your friends. You can add the blurred background if you want for your next profile picture on Tinder, Facebook or any social app you are using. The blurred background is also working when multiple persons are in the frame, so everyone gets a little of blur... amazing isn't it.

    Well, no, the OnePlus give the possibility to digitally add a blurred background to your portrait pictures, and that feature is... let's say a bit inconsistent.



    Beside the fact that it has the "added in post" feeling, the blur is unfortunately too often cutting hairs, ears and even once fingers. That review being about creation, I can't really see myself doing 50 takes for one portrait because a part of the subject has been eaten by the phone.

    Talking about eating things, the details in the skin, from far the skin looks nice and smooth, and indeed it is smooth, if you happen to zoom in a little bit to reframe the shot, you will see that the face is a mess of pixel and digital sharpening, not very usable for creative work.




    Let's now talk about light and shadows, while I was taking portrait I felt like the phone was always trying to enlighten the face by removing the shadows and darker areas. And when it keeps some dark, details inside are just not existing.



    In all honesty, I was using the automatic mode all along and might have worked that shadow issue out using the pro mode and a RAW file, which brings me to my last point.

    When you reach the point of having to use the "Pro mode" to get the detail out of the dark and the skin it means that want good portrait, and I feel (It is just my opinion) that it can be challenging to get an amazing result with a phone. You would neither have the out of focus foreground and background nor the details in the skin and eyes.

    Don't get me wrong, you can get very fine portrait with it, but It will be (very) much harder to create a powerful portrait.

    One more point, I could not go over the fact that taking pictures of people in the street will make me look like a weirdo. So I did not try it.

    Day five, back to architecture :

    Even though I prefer portrait over any other kind of photography, I could not really go 100% into it with a phone. So I went back to architecture photography, or actually architecture photography came back to me.

    I was walking back to my home after an afternoon shooting with a model. I was enjoying the warm weather and thinking about what kind of edit I would be doing, my eyes were wandering around and found that very nice angle from a building. I was a bit tired due to the shooting and usually I would have not stopped to take out my gears in that situation. But I had the One Plus in hand and thought it was worth it to give it a shot.
    I opened the application, took the telephoto lens and clicked the first picture.


    I was very satisfied with how easy and how good it turned out to be, so I went closer, went into the wide angle mode and clicked the second picture.
    Same feeling, I could get those 2 shoots in a matter of second without taking out some heavy gears. I went on Snapseed, to give it that crazy black and white look and in a minute I had a very good result


    Overall, I really enjoy that wide angle and telephoto lens to take urban landscape, It feels very natural and right for that purpose.

    Day six, astrophotograpy:

    Three years ago when I bought my OnePlus 5, I tried to do some astrophotography, I spent hours trying to figure out the settings and hours taking long exposure pictures. I could not get very decent results.
    When they sent me the One Plus 9 I thought it would be the same and did not plan on even trying it out.
    Then I checked out @Mohan_G review... I was amazed by how well it worked, so I am going to give it a go !
    I don't have the experience he has in astrophotography, but hopefully I will get some good pictures

    Work still in progress... available soon !

  3. cyrusthelegend
    Donut Apr 13, 2021

    cyrusthelegend , via OnePlus 6 , Apr 13, 2021 :
    Good work Alexandre . This gives a common user's perspective to the first impression. I've been using my OP6 for almost three years now and I was planning on upgrading. This gave me an honest feedback on the device. Waiting for the camera review to drop . Keep the good work up. Cheers mate !

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  7. dom_k
    The Lab - OnePlus 9 Pro Reviewer Apr 13, 2021

    dom_k , Apr 13, 2021 :
    Nice presentation! Have a nice time taking photos with this beast :)

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    S1618330365950 , Apr 13, 2021 :
    Thanks for such a detailed unboxing review, Alex. I really liked the 'pine green' color and the matte back cover looks like a good upgrade from the transparent covers. I've been using my OnePlus 5T for more than 3 years now and your feedback makes me want to buy this new model.
    Looking forward to your opinion on the camera and maybe, I'll go for it.

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    The Lab - OnePlus 9 Pro Reviewer Apr 13, 2021

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  18. Nerofir
    Cupcake Apr 27, 2021

    Nerofir , Apr 27, 2021 :
    Hello there,
    In depth analysis of real life scenario, i like that kind of review mate! I'm a novice but i feel like those portrait are quite good haha, would be more than enough for me. I was wondering, we have a lot of information about photo but not much about video. Do you think you could give us a feedback on how good or bad the cameras behave for video with different light ? (during the night ?)

    PS: this last picture in black and white is awesome !!


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  19. Alexandre SIGT
    The Lab - OnePlus 9 Pro Reviewer Apr 27, 2021

    Alexandre SIGT , Apr 27, 2021 :
    Hello Nero,

    Like I said in the review, I am very critical when it comes to portrait, sure that most of the people will be very satisfied by the phone capabilities

    Yeah I will add a review on the video, as we are still in lockdown here, we are not allowed to go out during the night, but I will try my best to provide some insight on the video performance.