OnePlus 9 Pro review

GSMArena Team, 23 March 2021.

OxygenOS

OnePlus' OxygenOS has come a long way. With version 11, the UI was tweaked with one-handed usage of a large display in mind. Many of the built-in apps and settings screens are designed with controls, tabs and buttons in the middle and lower portions of the screen to make them easier to reach one-handedly.

One new feature debuting with Oxygen OS on the 9 Pro takes place in the background. Turbo Boost 3.0 combines both RAM compression and Virtual RAM to let you keep up to 25% more apps open in the background. Virtual RAM reserves a small chunk of storage to temporarily be used as RAM when the main modules are at capacity.

OnePlus 9 Pro review

We covered many of the changes made on OxygenOS 11 in our OnePlus 8T review. The 9 Pro arrives with this same version of the OS so we'll just brush over the basics.

During setup, you'll be asked to choose between the default "Roboto" font and "OnePlus Sans". The latter is a light font with a modern look, but some may prefer the former for its superior legibility. You can change this later in the "Customization" tab under Settings.

Font choices - OnePlus 9 Pro review Font choices - OnePlus 9 Pro review
Font choices

The fingerprint scanner is significantly lower on the display, but that doesn't really interfere much with its usability. At most, it may take a couple of days to get used to its new location if you're coming from another OnePlus device.

Fingerprint setup - OnePlus 9 Pro review Fingerprint setup - OnePlus 9 Pro review Fingerprint setup - OnePlus 9 Pro review
Fingerprint setup

With Oxygen OS 10.5, OnePlus moved the "OnePlus Shelf" from the left of the home screens to a secondary shade that's pulled down. The Google Feed now lives on the leftmost home screen. The home screen grids can be adjusted in the home screen settings - the default grid is 5x5. Icons can be switched from the default round appearance to square ones as seen on Hydrogen OS, the Chinese counterpart to Oxygen OS. In more recent developments, OnePlus announced that new OnePlus devices in China will launch with a customized variant of Oppo's Color OS Android skin.

Home screen - OnePlus 9 Pro review Google Feed - OnePlus 9 Pro review Grid setting - OnePlus 9 Pro review Icons - OnePlus 9 Pro review
Home screen • Google Feed • Grid setting • Icons

The notification shade features six Quick Settings at the top, a brightness slider, and media controls if they are available. Below this top cluster is where notifications (both audible and silent) will populate. There are even more Quick Settings available to add and rearrange.

Notification shade - OnePlus 9 Pro review Quick Settings - OnePlus 9 Pro review More Quick Settings - OnePlus 9 Pro review Media Controls - OnePlus 9 Pro review Media Controls - OnePlus 9 Pro review
Notification shade • Quick Settings • More Quick Settings • Media Controls

The other pull-down drawer is the OnePlus Shelf. To access it, you swipe down on any area of the OxygenOS launcher's home screens. The notification shade is accessed by swiping down from the very top.

The Shelf can be customized with preloaded tools like a step counter, weather widget, and a parking widget. Additional third-party widgets can be added here as well. Think of this as a customizable place for your favorite shortcuts and widgets that won't take up space on any of the home screens.

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OnePlus shelf

The settings for the Ambient Display are all in the "Customization" tab in the Settings app. Here you can change the accent color, system icons, wallpapers, font, and the Ambient Display clock.

Insight is the Ambient clock that also offers a glimpse as your phone's usage, showing you how often you unlock the screen throughout the day.

Customization: main screen - OnePlus 9 Pro review Customization: accent - OnePlus 9 Pro review Customization: tile shape - OnePlus 9 Pro review Customization: Ambient clock - OnePlus 9 Pro review Customization: Insight - OnePlus 9 Pro review Customization: Insight - OnePlus 9 Pro review
Customization: main screen • accent • tile shape • Ambient clock • Insight

OxygenOS 11 is great on the 9 Pro. It's not quite as bone-stock as it used to be, but it looks and flows well. OnePlus has managed to add plenty of function and features without bogging down the overall user-experience, all while keeping the interface clean. Settings aren't perfectly organized, but that's true of many Android skins these days.

There is still no dedicated one-handed mode in OxygenOS 11, though this is a feature that's evidently coming to the next major Android release.

Synthetic benchmarks

The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro are the first few devices that arrive to market with Qualcomm's latest mobile chipset built on the 5nm fabrication process. The Snapdragon 888 Mobile Platform powers both devices with an embedded X60 5G modem.

The Snapdragon 888 is an eight-core processor made up to three clusters that outperforms the Snapdragon 865 by up to 25%. The top cluster is a single 2.84GHz Kryo 680 Prime using ARM's Cortex-X1 design. Then there's a triple-core cluster made up of three Kryo 680 Gold cores @ 2.42GHz based on Cortex-A78. Finally, there's a quad-core cluster of efficient and low-power Kryo 680 Silver cores clocked at 1.8GHz.

OnePlus 9 Pro review

Powering graphics is the Adreno 660 GPU that promises a 35% increase of performance over the Adreno 650. It supports Open GL ES 3.2, Vulcan 1.1, and a new variable rate shading technology.

Both the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro come with LPDDR5 RAM that the company claims can run at speeds of up to 6,400 Mbps. The phones are using UFS 3.1 storage (non-expandable).

Only the OnePlus 9 Pro supports Hyper Touch. This is a feature that taps into faster responsiveness when playing competitive games. The display typically synchronizes at 60Hz-120Hz but with Hyper Touch enabled, the speed is 360Hz. Only four mobile gaming titles currently support the feature: PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile, League of Legends, and Brawl Stars.

OnePlus 9 Pro review

Cool Play is another feature that's on both the 9 and 9 Pro. It introduces larger materials in the phones' thermal systems including thicker graphite sheets, larger copper foil, and a larger vapor chamber. The latter helps to divert heat generated from playing games into the frame where it can be dissipated from the phone's panes of glass. After a match of PUBG, the phone was significantly warm, but the heat was distributed all over the phone's body.

Let's get into the benchmarks!

In the first benchmark, the OnePlus 9 Pro kept up with the ROG Phone 5, though it fell just barely behind. It still scored negligibly ahead of the Exynos 2100-powered Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, the 888-powered Xiaomi Mi 11, and the Oppo Find X3 Pro. The 9 Pro was slightly bested by the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, albeit only with that phone's "Performance mode" enabled.

Single-core scores are nearly uniform across all the recent flagships. Apple still leads the charts with its A14 Bionic chip in both single and multi-core tests.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 12
    4067
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    4056
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode+ FAN)
    3745
  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    3710
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode)
    3709
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (perf. mode)
    3704
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    3636
  • OnePlus 9
    3629
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    3518
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    3489
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)
    3374
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    3316
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro
    3275
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    3244
  • Huawei P40 Pro+
    3203
  • OnePlus 8T
    3126
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    2721
  • OnePlus Nord
    1953
  • Google Pixel 5
    1647

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    1611
  • Apple iPhone 12
    1605
  • OnePlus 9
    1129
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode+ FAN)
    1127
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    1126
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode)
    1121
  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    1110
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    1109
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    1107
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    1085
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (perf. mode)
    1020
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    926
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro
    920
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)
    902
  • OnePlus 8T
    893
  • Huawei P40 Pro+
    781
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    720
  • OnePlus Nord
    610
  • Google Pixel 5
    594

The 9 Pro's graphics performance is quite great. The ASUS ROG Phone 5 was able to squeeze a few more frames out but the difference is negligible. The ROG Phone 5 has active cooling work in its favor, though. GPU performance is right in line with the other Snapdragon 888 performers from Xiaomi and Oppo.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 12
    132
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    132
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode)
    123
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode+ FAN)
    123
  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    122
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    119
  • OnePlus 9
    119
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (perf. mode)
    117
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    113
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    111
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    109
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    107
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro
    97
  • OnePlus 8T
    88
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)
    86
  • Huawei P40 Pro+
    76
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    68
  • OnePlus Nord
    38
  • Google Pixel 5
    22

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode)
    72
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode+ FAN)
    72
  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    71
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    70
  • OnePlus 9
    70
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    70
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    67
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    66
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    64
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    64
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (perf. mode)
    64
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro
    56
  • OnePlus 8T
    53
  • Apple iPhone 12
    53
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)
    51
  • Huawei P40 Pro+
    44
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    41
  • OnePlus Nord
    21
  • Google Pixel 5
    13

The onscreen tests scored in favor of those devices that have screens with Full HD+ resolution.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode+ FAN)
    104
  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    103
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode)
    103
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (perf. mode)
    78
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro
    64
  • OnePlus 9
    60
  • OnePlus 8T
    60
  • Apple iPhone 12
    60
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    60
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    58
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    58
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    57
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    57
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    55
  • Huawei P40 Pro+
    52
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)
    43
  • OnePlus Nord
    34
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    33
  • Google Pixel 5
    22

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    59
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode)
    59
  • OnePlus 9
    58
  • Apple iPhone 12
    58
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    58
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode+ FAN)
    58
  • OnePlus 8T
    46
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (perf. mode)
    43
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    36
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    33
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    33
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    33
  • Huawei P40 Pro+
    31
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro
    25
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)
    24
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    19
  • OnePlus Nord
    19
  • Google Pixel 5
    12

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (perf. mode)
    6679
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro
    6170
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode+ FAN)
    5763
  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    5744
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode)
    5740
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    5701
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    5691
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    5673
  • OnePlus 9
    5667
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    5653
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    5547
  • Google Pixel 5
    1033

The 9 Pro performed well in the Antutu run, though it fell behind both the Asus ROG Phone 5 and the OnePlus 9. Still ahead of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro and the other devices powered by the same chipset.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode+ FAN)
    718864
  • OnePlus 9
    715196
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 (X Mode)
    708531
  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    708216
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    691055
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro (perf. mode)
    686835
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    668722
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    657273
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    657150
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    656467
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    596244
  • Apple iPhone 12
    579048
  • OnePlus 8T
    576625
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)
    573276
  • Huawei Mate 40 Pro
    531270
  • Huawei P40 Pro+
    529687
  • OnePlus Nord
    312794
  • Google Pixel 5
    289261

There's no room for complaints on the OnePlus 9 Pro's performance. It handled a long PUBG session beautifully, with all in-game graphic settings maxed out.

The phone did get significantly warm so we don't anticipate that the "Cool Play" feature will live up to its name in every situation. Cool Play, however, was certainly working as advertised because heat was being actively distributed throughout the phone's surfaces and didn't hang around one hot spot.

We ran the 3D Mark Wild Life Stress test and the OnePlus 9 Pro scored 55.6% stability with the display settings maxed out to QHD+ and with Smart 120Hz enabled. Frame rates steadily fell after the fourth or fifth loop run but didn't begin to really drop until the 9th loop. Frame rates bottomed out on the 19th loop.

Reader comments

DX tested the camera before the last update so...

  • Anonymous

Any chance for long term review to touch on the camera and "performance" fix?

  • R.

Well said. Makes sense. Stick with your apple