2015: It’s a scene from a meeting room or pub that many of us can relate to. A friend or a co-worker – most likely a geek or a creative type with a funky hairstyle (excuse the clichés) shows off a smartphone with a standout sandstone finish and explains what the brand OnePlus is all about. The OnePlus One that first debuted in 2014 set the pace for a brand that quickly went from being the oddball in the office or any group to one of the most sought-after brands in the premium smartphone space. Until a couple of years ago, OnePlus embraced the flagship killer tag (they probably created it too) as they churned out devices that ticked most boxes yet created the same aspirational value as some of the top brands.

Devices like the OnePlus 7 Pro saw OnePlus chart a new course that decided to take the fight to the flagships almost on their turf. This year, OnePlus launched a trio of devices including the top-end OnePlus 9 Pro – the first device we checked out for MW, the entry-level OnePlus 9R and the OnePlus 9 that many believe might become the popular choice. I don’t think it’s such a simple choice this year. The OnePlus 9 Pro charges a Rs 15,000 premium over the OnePlus 9 and your choice between these two devices might just boil down to the features that matter to you.


OnePlus 9


OnePlus has narrowed the gap between the 9 and the 9 Pro in terms of build quality. The OnePlus 9 looks gorgeous with its reflective presence. We checked out the Winter Mist colour variant with subtle pink-violet hues. The light play on this device is terrific. Just like its pricier sibling this one loves fingerprints to; a given for glossy surfaces. It weighs a tad under the OnePlus 9 Pro and feels just right in your hand.

OnePlus has kitted it with a 6.55-inch full HD+ (1080 x 2400 pixels) Fluid AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s not quite in the same league as the curved 6.7-inch display on the 9 Pro. There are a few key differences – you don’t get the curved form, the pixel resolution and the maximum brightness (in nits) is lower. We put both these displays next to each other and it’s not a perceptible difference. Most users can’t tell and the choice of a curved or flat display is usually down to personal preference. We’ll say this, the OnePlus 9 is easily one of the most immersive displays under Rs 50,000. The processing power adds to the fluidity.

Along with the OnePlus 9 Pro, the OnePlus 9 becomes one of the first smartphones in India to be powered by the best of breed Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor with a choice of 8GB/128GB and 12GB/256GB hardware variants. It’s as fast as the 9 Pro; we did multiple benchmark tests (on Geekbench) and the test results validate our experience during intense gaming or just everyday tasks. Everything is ridiculously quick.


OnePlus 9


Now let’s look at some of the compromises vis-à-vis the OnePlus 9 Pro. Some of these might not be compromises if these features are not critical in your wish list. The OnePlus 9 also gets a boost with Hasselblad optics as part of OnePlus’ much hyped partnership with the Swedish brand. The triple rear cam shares the same 48MP primary lens, 50MP ultra-wide lens and 2MP depth sensor but misses out on the telephoto lens. Images and videos in most scenarios are as sharp as the OnePlus 9 Pro but I did notice a slight difference in lowlight. Overall it’s a solid cam and if the zoom lens is not a deal breaker for you, then the OnePlus 9 is all you need. The other thing you will miss out on is the IPS68 water resistance that OnePlus usually reserves only for its top-end device (the 9 Pro in this case).

The OnePlus 9 delivered a better battery life in our tests compared to the 9 Pro. While both devices come with a 4500 mAh battery and Warp charging – the 65W charger in the box can power the device from 0 to 100% in 29 minutes flat, the OnePlus 9 battery has to service a less vibrant display. The OnePlus 9 might be all the flagship many users need, a throwback to the time when the flagship killer tag was usually associated with OnePlus. Except this one’s more loaded than its predecessors.

The OnePlus 9 costs Rs 49,999 (8GB/128GB) / Rs 54,999 (8GB/256GB) and comes in Astral Black, Arctic Sky and Winter Mist.