We’re expecting the OnePlus 9 to be the next top phone to come from the company, after the recent unveiling of the OnePlus 8T – well, that is unless the OnePlus Nord Lite beats it to the punch.
But here at TechRadar we’re huge phone fans, and we can’t help but look to the future, to the handset we’d expect OnePlus will launch as its main device for 2021. The OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro were great phones, but not perfect ones. That’s why we’ve come up with this wish list of features and changes we’d like to see in the new model.
The leaks and rumors are just starting to come through for the device, but we also wanted to put a wish list of our own out there, so we can see if the OnePlus 9 manages to live up to our expectations.
When more information becomes available about the OnePlus 9, we’ll update this article, and we’re going to put our release and pricing speculation below as well, to give you some context.
Latest news: We may have just been given our first look at the OnePlus 9.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? OnePlus’ main phone for 2021
- When is it out? Likely around April 2021
- How much will it cost? Probably at least $699 / £599 (around AU$1,100)
OnePlus 9 release date and price
We haven’t heard any release information for the OnePlus 9, but like many phone makers OnePlus is a company of habit, so we’d expect the launch to be around April or May 2021.
OnePlus typically teases its phones in advance of the launch though, so maybe we’ll hear something about the launch date in March. The release date of the phone will likely be a week or two after the launch.
That said, one source has told Android Central that the OnePlus 9 will be launching earlier than expected in March 2021. An exact date isn’t clear from that source, but this is our best information yet.
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.
Leaks and rumors
The first OnePlus 9 leak was around the codename – ‘Lemonade’. A reference to the popular sugary drink, the Beyonce album, the Adam Friedman song, or just a random word chosen by someone at OnePlus to refer to the new phone? Probably the latter.
We’ve also now seen the first unofficial renders of the OnePlus 9 (embedded below), and it looks as though the design from 2020 is going to be refined further in 2021. The screen size is apparently going to be larger than the 6.55 inches of the OnePlus 8T, but we don’t have an exact size yet.
What we want to see
1. Wireless charging in the non-Pro phone
The OnePlus 8 Pro has wireless charging, but don’t opt for the Pro and you’re losing the feature, which isn’t great for people who want a more affordable handset but still want the convenience of wireless charging.
Perhaps that was just the case because the OnePlus 8 Pro was the first phone from the company with the cordless charging tech, and it was just testing the feature out – if so, maybe the OnePlus 9 will have wireless charging as well as its Pro sibling.
2. A telephoto lens on the non-Pro OnePlus 9
Here’s another piece of tech the OnePlus 8 didn’t have but the 8 Pro did – a telephoto camera. This allows you to take optical zoom pictures, closing the distance without losing any resolution.
Zoomed-in shots are arguably more useful than ultra-wide ones, so it’s not ideal that many companies including OnePlus prefer to use the ultra-wide lenses but not telephoto for less premium devices.
For full photography potential, we’d like to see the OnePlus 9 have a telephoto and ultra-wide camera, not just one or the other – though if it’s got to drop one, at least keep the telephoto.
3. A higher resolution main camera
Both the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro have 48MP main cameras. Since many other companies have 64MP and even 108MP snappers, this feels a little low-res, and we’d like to see some improvement.
Sure, resolution isn’t the only factor that dictates how good a smartphone picture is, as pixel size can be important – but the OnePlus 8 didn’t have the bigger-pixel 48MP sensor that some other phones have, so it missed out on this advantage.
We’d like to see the OnePlus 9, or even just the 9 Pro, have a high-res main camera, or maybe just a primary snapper with bigger pixels to take better snaps.
4. Two selfie cameras
The OnePlus Nord has two selfie cameras, so you can take standard or wide-angle snaps of yourself and friends. We’d like to see this kind of thing brought over to the OnePlus 9, because it can give you a lot of versatility in selfies.
The second front-facing camera wouldn’t necessarily need to have a wide field-of-view – some dual-selfie-camera phones have the main snapper joined by a depth sensor, for improved bokeh or background effects.
5. A 4K screen on the Pro model
There have only been a few phones with 4K screens – and they all come from Sony, with recent examples being the Sony Xperia 1 and Xperia 1 II. No other company has tried to make this kind of super-high-res display for a phone.
Sure, a 4K display is rather unnecessary in most situations, and the 2K of the OnePlus 8 Pro generally is enough for most people. But a ‘Pro’ phone shouldn’t be for everyone, and by definition it has a more limited appeal anyway, so the people going for it might need this kind of high-res screen.
Now that 5G means streaming games, movies and TV in high resolution isn’t out the question any more, we’d like to see the first 4K screen on a non-Sony phone.
6. Palm rejection technology
An issue we had with the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro is that they didn’t seem to have palm rejection technology, and we’d love to see the OnePlus 9 have something along these lines.
Palm rejection technology ensures that, when you accidentally knock the curved edge of the phone screen, the device understands you didn’t mean to press it, so nothing happens.
This stops you accidentally swiping between menus or opening apps when you didn’t mean to, solving an issue many have with curved-edge phones.
7. A larger battery
The OnePlus 8 had a 4,300mAh battery, which went up to 4,510mAh in the OnePlus 8 Pro.
5,000mAh batteries in phones aren’t uncommon though, as such as size ensures the phone will last as long as possible between charges. If the phone has top specs, like a 108MP main sensor or 4K screen (as the OnePlus 9 of our dreams would have), it needs a big battery to cope.
Even if the phone doesn’t end up having these high specs, bigger is always better for batteries, as it generally increases the life.
8. More differences with Oppo Find X line
The OnePlus 8 Pro was very, very similar to the Oppo Find X2 Pro, with the only real differences being that phone having some improved screen optimizations, a better main camera, and a higher price.
That’s not a random comparison – OnePlus and Oppo are both owned by BBK Electronics, as are Vivo and Realme, so they’re considered sibling companies, and much of the tech developed by one is used by another.
But in the OnePlus 8 and Oppo Find X2 lines, it seems a little too much tech was shared, and the phones were a bit too similar. We’d like the OnePlus 9 to have a lot less in common with the Oppo Find X3 phones so we can see a bit more rivalry in the field.