After posting my first impressions of the OnePlus 9 Series, I swapped my Mint SIM card over to the OnePlus 9 Pro and began installing and configuring apps. Here are some further impressions.
My most obvious observation, and I guess I should have seen this one coming, is that the OnePlus 9 Pro, which is much bigger and heavier than the Google Pixel 4a 5G I’ve been using since November, feels much bigger and heavier than the Google Pixel 4a 5G I’ve been using since November. Looking at them side-by-side, the OnePlus 9 Pro isn’t that much bigger—it’s barely half an inch taller—but at these sizes, every little bit counts.
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Here are the numbers: The OnePlus 9 Pro has a tall 6.7-inch display with a 20.1:9 aspect ratio, compared to 6.2 inches and 19.5:9 for the Pixel 4a 5G. Its body is 6.43 inches tall, compared to 6.06 inches for the Pixel. And it weighs 6.95 ounces, compared to 5.93 ounces for the Pixel.
You can really feel the weight difference, which I know sounds obvious, and it’s a stretch to reach the top of the screen with a single hand, even one as big as my gorilla mitts. It almost feels top-heavy to me. But I’ll get used to it, of course, and if I were coming from a modern Samsung or Apple flagship, I’d probably not notice this at all. In fact, my iPhone 11 Pro Max is even bigger overall (but not taller) and heavier (7.97 ounces).
The display is … amazing. I’ve experimented with a variety of apps, including several video and reading apps, and it’s just so much more immersive than the Pixel’s dim display. Colors pop, the performance is amazing—with one exception noted below—the customization options that OnePlus provides really help you personalize what you’re seeing. I’ve missed OnePlus’s unique font, and I like customizing the home screen and notification shade with One UI-style icons.
This was the first phone I configured from scratch since I wrote my article about using Microsoft for your password management across platforms and autofill on mobile. And for reasons I can’t quite explain, my experience auto-filling passwords in apps has been mixed. Sometimes I saw a Microsoft Authenticator pop-up for auto-filling a password, sometimes it was handled by Google Smart Lock, and sometimes it wasn’t handled at all, leaving me to manually fumble around for my usernames and passwords. In the latter case, I was sometimes—but not always—prompted to save the credentials I had just entered into the Microsoft system. None of this is on OnePlus, of course. It’s just something that happened.
Zipping around the interface, I was reminded anew of how great it is to have leading-edge hardware and the performance it generates. But as noted, there has been one odd exception: When I open Microsoft Edge and select the address bar, the virtual keyboard is supposed to pop-up immediately so that I can type something. Instead, 2 or 3 long seconds go by before that keyboard appears. Concerned about this, I started testing other instances in which tapping on a text field will display the keyboard, and it’s faster, if not immediate, in other apps. So, again, this might not be on OnePlus, but it’s something that happened.
After getting all the apps I use installed and configured—a self-inflicted laborious process because I choose to do this manually rather than import settings and configurations from a previous phone—I set down that familiar path where apps will issue notifications I don’t want and then I turn that off one by one. During this time, I made and received a few test phone calls and texts, observed how different media apps like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, and others do or do not fill the entire screen with video—a potential frustration for me when I’m watching part of a movie on the elliptical at the gym—and downloaded a few podcasts. And then I basically just started using it.
Unfortunately, it rained all day yesterday and it’s going to be overcast all day today, so it’s not really the best environment for testing photos. But I did take dozens of sample shots inside the house, both before and after dark, and then outside this morning while walking the dog.
I may have some good news. With the understanding that it’s still very early and that I’ve not really had enough time to test the camera system in a variety of conditions and see whether it’s at least more reliable than that in previous OnePlus handsets, the photos I’ve taken so far seem to be about as good as anything I’d take with the Pixel.
I suppose the colors are maybe a bit duller—or, really, more color-accurate—than what I’m used to. But in instances where there is a splash of color, as with a flower, it does a great job.
The cameras also provide a nice macro-style effect without requiring an actual macro lens, so it’s possible to get very close to subjects—again, like a flower—and get some nice detail.
It’s not perfect. I got some motion blur on one shot of the dog this morning, for example. But the slower Pixel would have delivered the same blur, so that’s a wash in my book.
I’ll keep using the OnePlus 9 Pro and testing the camera in different conditions. But so far, I feel much better about this camera system than I had about the previous several OnePlus handsets. It’s pretty clear that the OnePlus/Hasselblad partnership, even in this early phase, has delivered some much-needed improvements.