Cameras have long been the battleground on which smartphone wars have been fought. Barring any left-wing innovation like folding screens or weird form factors, this should continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. Year after year and generation after generation, companies tout advancements in imaging to stand out.
It makes sense. Smartphones have improved to a point where flagship devices are, as a rule, quite good. And while cameras have been one of those improvements, there is still a lot of room for improvement, both in terms of the hardware and the software / AI that augments it. Recently, OnePlus announced that it will recruit a big name to help it in this fight.
Earlier this month, the Chinese smartphone maker unveiled a three-year deal with Hasselblad, one of the most iconic names in the photography space. Announced today at an event, the company’s new OnePlus 9 series will be the first handset to sport the first fruits of the $ 150 million deal.
The deal makes strategic sense. After all, OnePlus’ transformation from a high-end budget device into a flagship competitor has put companies like Apple and Samsung in its sights. Both of these companies have established long-standing imaging departments for their hardware, so in addition to a clear brand partnership, this appears to be a serious attempt to level the playing field.
It should be noted above that the days of the alternative budget are to some extent over. The OnePlus 9 starts at $ 729 and the Pro starts at $ 969. When it comes to smartphone prices, it’s down to the low end of high end devices, but after the introduction of the Nord it seems safe to say that budget will no longer be a primary differentiator for the main line of. OnePlus.
Naturally, the OnePlus 9 Pro makes the most of these early stages of the Hasselblad tuning. The main camera sports a 48-megapixel Sony sensor, coupled with improved focus speeds and increased color accuracy. The ultra-wide camera has a 50-megapixel sensor (also Sony), with a lens designed to reduce distortion. Interestingly, the company claims it’s also good at taking close-up macro photos with distances as close as 4cm.
The third main camera is an eight-megapixel telephoto lens capable of up to 30x digital zoom (although you’re going to lose quite a bit of information). There is also a fourth monochrome camera, which is mainly used to enhance black and white shots. The standard OnePlus 9 has a similar setup, although you’ll ditch that telephoto lens.
Here’s OnePlus on what Hasselblad is offering this time around:
The new Hasselblad Pro mode delivers incredibly precise and natural colors for a solid foundation for post-editing. It has been revamped with a new user interface based on Hasselblad’s image processing software to give professional-level users a unique Hasselblad look and feel. It also gives expert photographers unprecedented control to fine-tune their photos, with the ability to adjust ISO, focus, exposure time, white balance and more. Users can also shoot in 12-bit RAW format for 64 times more color compared to the 10-bit RAW that is traditionally found in other smartphones.
Keep in mind that the partnership is still in its early stages and a lot of the money is spent on R&D, so we’ll likely see more integration down the road.
The display is the same as that of the OnePlus 8T. It’s a 6.55-inch AMOLED with a 120Hz refresh rate. Brightness reaches a maximum of 1,100 nits and the screen sports HDR10 + certification. There’s a Snapdragon 888 inside, paired with 8 or 12 GB of RAM and 128 or 256 GB of storage. Both models feature a solid 4,500mAh battery that goes from empty to 100% charge in 29 minutes.
Pre-orders begin March 26. The handsets will ship on April 2.