As far as recent OnePlus launches go, the OnePlus 9 series is going to be a very different one entirely. The rumors about a potential affordable OnePlus 9 series device look to be true, while we might finally get a camera system that can take on the biggest flagships.

The OnePlus 8 Pro and subsequent OnePlus Nord were defining moments for the firm that has for years cultivated a “plucky underdog” moniker. Prices have risen dramatically, with devices now available at the low- and high-end of the price spectrum. OnePlus’s ties with Oppo and fellow BBK-owned firms are now more obvious than at any other stage.

2021 looks like it might be a big year for the firm, and having shed cofounder Carl Pei, it’s going to be an interesting transition for the firm known for releasing so-called “flagship killers.” We’ve tried our best to sort through the rumors and tidbits and decipher fact from fiction prior to the OnePlus 9 series release.

Video — OnePlus 9 rumors

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Models/variants

This time around there is a supposed budget device joining the crop of OnePlus devices. According to rumors, there will be a OnePlus 9R, OnePlus 9, and OnePlus 9 Pro. All with distinct price-points in mind. It’s not clear just where the 9R will fit in the growing list of “affordable” OnePlus devices launched since the Nord hit shelves in mid-2020.

  • OnePlus 9R — an affordable entry-level device
  • OnePlus 9 — an entry-level flagship tier smartphone
  • OnePlus 9 Pro — an out-and-out flagship

Naturally the OnePlus 9 Pro will be the “flagship” in the early-2021 lineup with all of the top tier specifications and added extras. While the OnePlus 9 will likely provide some notable hardware improvements over the OnePlus 8T, which was released in late-2020:

Design

OnePlus hasn’t been shy of remixing or changing up their design and fusing ideas from previous efforts. We know that there will be three models this time around but the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro look to be on the receiving end of a refresh.

The OnePlus 8T introduced an upper-left domino-style rear camera setup. For early 2021, OnePlus looks to be using this method but with a hint of the large ocular lenses that Apple added with the iPhone 11 series. Obviously there are set to be a few tweaks, and based upon leaks, the rumored camera setups will merge the domino and port-hole style designs together.

At the front, rumors suggest that the OnePlus 9 Pro will simply follow the design path set by the OnePlus 8 Pro released in mid-2020. The standard OnePlus 9 is likely to straddle the OnePlus 8T and OnePlus 9 Pro in terms of hardware design look and feel. Whereas there is very little known about what the OnePlus 9R/9E will look like, it’s not even clear if this device will launch alongside the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro.

Expect display punch-holes, the era of the pop-up camera was fairly short-lived but likely a necessary step towards the full-blown under-display selfie camera. We’re not entirely sure just what the placement will be, but we’d wager a typical upper-left position will be used again this time around.

Features

Expect the entire OnePlus 9 series to launch with OxygenOS 11, which itself is based upon Android 11. We know exactly what to expect from the software — and that is quite the UI overhaul. If you were unaware, OxygenOS 11 has received a major lick of paint that you’ll either love or hate. Samsung’s One UI has been a major influence, but all of your favorite software features have been retained including Zen Mode, Game Space, plus tons more too in-depth to fully list out.

Hardware features might be an anomaly at least until OnePlus starts ramping up the pre-launch teasers. Although we would imagine that the OnePlus 9 Pro will come with all the bells and whistles including an IP68 water and dust-resistance rating, wireless charging, and maybe a few other little intricacies.

That’s not to say some of these options will be completely missing from the standard OnePlus 9. Given that the firm has held off adding wireless charging to mainline OnePlus series devices for so long, surely 2021 is the time to add it to the standard OnePlus 9? Rumors suggest that the OnePlus 9 will finally add Qi charging support, but it’s highly likely that it will be at a lower speed than the Pro model.

More features are likely to be added to the camera systems on all of the OnePlus 9 series, although it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that some tweaks will come to OxygenOS 11 specifically tailored for the latest device cohort.

OnePlus 9 specs rumors

As is often the case, the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro are flagship phones and so will come with only the highest-end internals. Both phones are expected to opt for the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset and throw in a little extra high-end hardware. As you would expect, the OnePlus 9 Pro model will be the marquee device packing in a QHD+ display with a 120Hz refresh rate, plenty of RAM, and Hasselblad-branded cameras.

Unlike last year with the modest OnePlus 8 upgrade over the OnePlus 7T, the OnePlus 9 is rumored to come with a 120Hz refresh rate display although capped at FHD+, 65W charging and may even come with wireless charging this time around.

Alongside wireless charging, an official IP water- and dust-resistance rating has been a thorn in the side of OnePlus hardware for some time. At least globally, only the OnePlus 8 Pro has come with the enhanced device protection. However, rumors suggest that it will be only the OnePlus 9 Pro coming with an IP68 rating again this time around. It’s disappointing but we could have another situation such as with the T-Mobile OnePlus 8T+ that does include an IP68 rating. At this stage, though it’s simply not clear.

Camera

OnePlus fans have clamored for a solid camera setup on a OnePlus device for so long that it almost feels like a pipedream at this stage. That’s not to say previous efforts have been bad, the OnePlus 8 Pro camera setup is very capable, but it just isn’t quite up to “flagship” standards with regard to post-processing.

Rumors suggested a big camera shakeup with the OnePlus 9 series, and recent leaks will give long-time fans real hope. A proposed partnership between Hasselblad and OnePlus looks to bring co-developed lenses to the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. This doesn’t immediately mean that camera results will take a step up, but if the partnership pans out like the Huawei-Leica team up, we might see some massive improvements.

Whether they end up simply providing the glass is a valid concern. However, we’d expect some interesting software-related extras too, like maybe some trademark Hasselblad “looks” or something similar to the Zeiss bokeh effects found on Nokia devices. It’s anyone’s guess at this stage, but it will be an interesting partnership to say the least.

OnePlus 9 Pro Hasselblad camera rumors

The last smartphone firm to work with Hasselblad was Motorola, with a Moto Z3 add-on enhancing the capabilities of the distinctly average camera system there. That didn’t prove to be a great success, but let’s hope that this combination is more like the Huawei-Leica partnership than the Moto-Hasselblad team-up.

A recent OnePlus camera build even hinting at a few upcoming features including a Tilt-shift mode. Tilt-sift photography is an effect that changes the entire plane of focus of an image with results that resemble miniatures and models. It’s a really unique option that at least as far as we can tell has never been possible on a smartphone before. The effect can be added with software, but there could be a neat hardware effect helping achieve it on the OnePlus 9 series.

Other rumored inclusions as part of the OnePlus 9 camera setup unearthed by a recent OnePlus camera teardown include “Starburst,” “Hyperlapse,” and “Moon Mode.” The “Starburst” option looks like it will turn light sources into a star shape. It might be a cool option for light sources blurred by bokeh. Further, there’s mention of a focus peaking filter for the shooting mode that would highlight what’s in focus. That’s a useful feature for more artistic shots. The “Moon Mode” looks like it may assist in taking slightly better shots of the night sky and “Hyperlapse,” a new version of time-lapse specifically designed for clips with more movement.

Colors

In recent years, OnePlus has produced some of best colors on any smartphone. The CMF — color, material, finish — ethos may be overblown but it’s hard to deny that there is a real attention to detail in the colorschemes of devices. This time around OnePlus is set to up the ante yet again with even more color options for the OnePlus 9 series that ever before.

The developers of the fantastic OxygenUpdater recently found evidence in a supposed Engineering Mode APK of the color lineup for the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. If this information is indeed accurate, we will see some color options only be available in global markets, while T-Mobile will offer a limited selection.

The OnePlus 9 will supposedly be available in Astral Black, Arctic Sky, and Winter Mist. There is also evidence of Verizon-exclusive Gloss Black and Gloss Gradient Purple models. While the OnePlus 9 Pro will be available in Stellar Black, Forest Green, and Morning Mist.

Release date and availability

oneplus 9 rumors launch date

The actual launch date — at least at this stage — is not yet concrete. But a teaser has been dropped with March 8 being the rumored date when we’ll learn more about the OnePlus 9 series. There are plenty of theories on the actual shipping date for devices with some pointing toward mid-March, which would be far earlier than in recent years.

Recent evidence also points to full global availability this time around, with the US getting two distinct variants from T-Mobile and Verizon. These devices will likely have some different 5G and LTE band support for US-based buyers, while the rest of the world gets generic GSM frequency band support. Whatever the actual release date, expect to be able to order a device by the end of March.

OnePlus 9 pricing rumors

Let’s make some pretty safe assumptions about the OnePlus 9 series pricing. The OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 7 series help give us a fairly solid ballpark for how this upcoming duo will be priced. We expect the OnePlus 9 to be in the $599 to $699 range, while the OnePlus 9 Pro will likely push toward the $999 barrier as the out-and-out flagship of this generation.

As for the proposed OnePlus 9R, this is likely an affordable option destined only for specific regions. We’d imagine it will come in under $299 below the OnePlus Nord series. This is one area of the OnePlus lineup that is becoming very crowded with multiple devices competing against each other.

What are you hoping to see from the OnePlus 9 series?

We want to open up the floor to you: What beyond the leaks and even including the leaks would you like to see come launch day? We are now on a countdown to the as-yet-unknown release to get to see the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro in the flesh for the first time.

Let us know in the comments section what you are hoping (or not hoping) to see from the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. What OnePlus 9 series rumors are you excited or disappointed by? Remember to keep it civil.

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