OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro. Photo: hebergementwebs
OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro. Photo: hebergementwebs

OnePlus 9 release date

Normally, we would have expected the OnePlus 9 release date to be April or May but the company has confirmed it will be revealing the new series of smartphones on March 23 this year.

The official launch event is set to be a live stream - there won't be a physical equivalent of this show - and it'll begin at 7am PT / 10am EST / 3pm GMT (or March 24 at 1am for those in AEDT).

The actual release date of the phones will likely be a week or two after that official announcement. That's currently unclear though, and we expect to hear official information at the event.

One source previously claimed you'll be able to pre-order the OnePlus 9 range on March 23. That'd suggest the phone would be on sale soon after, but we'll have to wait and see for those details.

In terms of price, that's hard to tell, especially because each successive OnePlus phone creeps into the premium pricing territory more and more, and because the OnePlus Nord means the OnePlus 9 doesn't need to cater to people on a smaller budget.

The OnePlus 8 started at $699 / £599 (around AU$1,100) and went up to $799 / £699 (around $1,372) for more RAM and storage, and the OnePlus 8 Pro started at $899 / £799 and went up to $999 / £899.

Those are some high prices - not Samsung Galaxy S-level eye-watering costs, but pricier than OnePlus phones used to be. And given the Nord wasn't a thing when the 8-series was launched, we could see the OnePlus 9 phones get pricier than that.

There's growing talk that a lower-end OnePlus 9E model is going to be introduced at some point, too – especially after a recent product listing seemed to accidentally reveal the names of three upcoming devices – which would perhaps offer a more affordable way into the 2021 range from OnePlus. If a cheaper model does indeed arrive, we’d anticipate a price in the region of $599 / £499 (around AU$900).

You also might at least get a freebie with the phone, as a leak suggests that those who pre-order the OnePlus 9 will get a free pair of OnePlus Buds Z true wireless earbuds, while those who pre-order the OnePlus 9 Pro will get the Steven Harrington Edition of the Buds Z, as reported by Techradar.

OnePlus 9 design

Photo: Trak
Photo: Trak

We've seen a couple of sets of renders for the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro, but let's start with the the first live images of the OnePlus 9. This set of photos was given to PhoneArena, and while it appears to be an early build, the phone design looks pretty far along.

The OnePlus 9 features a fairly large 6.55-inch display with a hole punch in the upper left corner of the screen. There's also a fairly prominent camera bump on the rear that houses three lenses and a flash; the name Ultrashot appears in this camera bump.

On the bottom of the OnePlus 9 you'll see USB-C port, speaker and SIM-card tray. The tray appears to have a rubber seal, which should help with water resistance.

The first set of OnePlus 9 renders came courtesy of 91mobiles. It got a hold of CAD renders of the upcoming OnePlus 9. And it appears to include a flat display, corner camera bump and hole-punch selfie camera in the top left-hand corner of the screen.

The OnePlus 9 Pro renders were revealed by OnLeaks, and it too has a hole-punch camera in the top left-hand corner, but it appears to sport a curved display. The OnePlus 9 Pro will copy the 8T by moving the camera module to the top left of the back.

According to a recent leak, the OnePlus 9 Pro could also have a flatter display, which should make it feel less slippery in a user's hands, according to Tomsguide.

Steve Hemmerstoffer (OnLeaks) says that the current prototype “includes up to four camera lenses” and adds that two of them are enclosed in “huge mental rings which protrude slightly from the main camera bump.”

The OnePlus 9 Pro is a 6.7-inch device with a glass back, with speakers on the bottom edge. The Alert Slider and power button are on the right side, with a volume rocker on the left.

OnePlus 9 Models

The OnePlus 8 series featured two models: a regular version and a Pro model. With the OnePlus 9 series, we'll get three models at launch: a OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro to succeed last year's handsets, and a third model in the form of the OnePlus 9 Lite.

With the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, they're about what you'd expect from new OnePlus flagships. Both phones are anticipated to feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset and other top-tier specs, but with the OnePlus 9 Lite, it'll be powered by last year's Snapdragon 865. The 865 is far from a slouch here in 2021, and with word on the street being that the 9 Lite will cost as little as $600, you'll be getting impressive horsepower for a very reasonable price.

The OnePlus 9 Lite could be fierce competition for the likes of the Galaxy S20 FE and Google Pixel 5 — both of which currently dominate the value flagship space. That said, if OnePlus focuses on incredible value for the 9 Lite and a top-tier flagship experience with the 9 Pro, it could put the regular OnePlus 9 in an awkward spot similar to what we saw with the OnePlus 8.

OnePlus 9 cameras

Photo: Tek Deeps
Photo: Tek Deeps

Because it's still early in the rumor cycle, we’re not sure what sort of camera system to expect on the OnePlus 9. However, it looks like OnePlus will use Ultrashot branding for the phone, which signals that the company is taking smartphone photography more seriously this time around.

We know that the OnePlus 9 will have three camera lenses as well as a flash. You can expect a 48MP main camera, a 48MP ultra-wide camera, and an unknown third camera.

Most companies would include a telephoto lens at the very least, though OnePlus has forgone that obvious choice in favor of more eccentric examples – like a macro lens, the 8T’s monochrome camera, or the 8 Pro’s problematic ‘color filter’ lens. The OnePlus 8 Pro included a 3x telephoto lens, and we'd like to see an optical zoom on the OnePlus 9 as well.

A deep-dive into the code for OxygenOS Open Beta on the OnePlus 7T and 7 phones, has revealed references to a suite of new camera modes, such as "Tilt-shift," "Focus Peaking" and moon-based photography filters. Given these new camera features don’t work on the aforementioned OnePlus phones, they could be in OxygenOS awaiting the OnePlus 9’s arrival. This gives us the impression that a lot of the OnePlus 9's camera upgrades will be software-based rather than see the smartphone come with a lot of new camera hardware.

YouTuber Dave2D surfaced an image of what appears to be the OnePlus 9 Pro with a camera module with "Hasselblad" etched into it. Now Hasselblad is a Swedish photography firm, meaning OnePlus might have teamed up with the company to bring a boosted camera system to the OnePlus 9 Pro.

Another new detail is the OnePlus 9 might be focussing on astrophotography. Pete Lau's tweet teasing the release date featured a shot of the Moon, while the URL letting users sign up for news updates also featured "moonshot". So whatever hardware or software OnePlus is showing off, it's likely going to do so with shots of the night sky.

READ MORE: Top 8 Smartphones and Best Deals to Buy in 2021

OnePlus 9 Specs and battery

According to the aforementioned screenshots, the OnePlus 9 is going to come running the Snapdragon 888 processor, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage onboard, which matches up with other whispers we've heard. This device has since shown up on eBay too.

This will slightly out muscle its more affordable sibling, the OnePlus 9E, which leaks suggest will be powered by a Snapdragon 690 processor (along with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage).

From another source we've heard that the OnePlus 9 Pro might have 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. A second source has also suggested 12GB of RAM is likely for at least one model of the phone.

A benchmark believed to be for the OnePlus 9 Pro also reveals a Snapdragon 888 chipset, along with a slightly disappointing 8GB of RAM - although other configurations will almost certainly be available too, as leaked above.

The scores achieved in the benchmark are also a mixed bag, with a high single-core result but a slightly low multi-core one. Still, assuming the benchmark is even real, OnePlus had plenty of time to improve the phone's performance from when this emerged.

Other rumors have centered around the battery and charging: the OnePlus 9 is apparently coming with 65W fast charging, 30W fast wireless charging, and a 4,500mAh battery on board.

We've also heard claims that both the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro will have 4,500mAh batteries, and the source of this leak hinted that they will sport a dual-cell design, which is needed for 65W charging. Speaking of charging, OnePlus has confirmed that the phones come with a charger in the box.

Interestingly, the OnePlus 9E looks set to come with a 5,000mAh battery based on leaks, which is slightly bigger than the expected batteries on its bigger brothers. Whether this means the OnePlus 9E maintains better battery life at the expense of greater weight remains to be seen, though we’d expect that to be the trade-off.

OnePlus 9 Display

Photo: specifications-pro
Photo: specifications-pro

A big screen leak has given us a hint about the technology we should expect on both the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. Digital Chat Station - a source that has provided correct information in the past - says that both phones will feature 120Hz displays, but the size and technology will differ.

It seems the OnePlus 9 will have a 6.55-inch Full HD+ display, while the OnePlus 9 Pro will move up to a 6.78-inch size with a QHD resolution. Eagle-eyed OnePlus fans will note that means the OnePlus 9 could have the same display as the OnePlus 8T, something a leaker has explicitly stated.

While that leak states the OnePlus 9 Pro will have a 120Hz screen, we've heard it could in fact have a variable refresh rate, in which the rate changes depending on what you're doing.

This could lead to lower battery use, as you won't be using 120Hz when you don't need it. The OnePlus 9E is also expected to feature a 6.55-inch Full HD+ display, but with a slightly lower 90Hz refresh rate.

Elsewhere we've heard that even the OnePlus 9 Pro might have a 6.55-inch screen, but that seems less likely, as we'd expect it to be bigger than its siblings.

Why is OnePlus launching the OnePlus 9 so early?

While OnePlus used to launch phones in June a few years ago, it has realized that an earlier launch window is better for positioning its products against rivals like Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, and others.

With these manufacturers releasing their products in February and March, OnePlus will be able to position the OnePlus 9 series as a viable alternative to the S21, Mi 11, and other upcoming flagships by releasing it earlier than before. Samsung launched the Galaxy S21 a month earlier than usual, so it makes a lot of sense that OnePlus would want to follow an accelerated release schedule to get the OnePlus 9 series out the door early, as cited by Androidcentral.

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