OnePlus 9 release date, price & specs rumours

Alongside codenames, specs and renders, we’ve also seen leaked photos of some of the phones, so we think we know almost exactly what to expect when launch day rolls around. There are also what appear to be final press renders, too.

When will the OnePlus 9 release?

The OnePlus 9 series will launch on 23 March at 2pm GMT, as confirmed by OnePlus itself as it announced its partnership with camera company Hasselblad.

OnePlus 9 launch invite

OnePlus 9 launch invite

Leaker Evan Blass had previously tipped 23 March as the day that pre-orders will kick off, suggesting that the phone might be available to order immediately after the launch. That seems especially plausible since Amazon UK is one of the sites hosting the phone’s launch livestream – which you can imagine it would only do if it expected to be able to take orders at the same time.

The March launch is a month earlier than last year’s OnePlus 8 series – which was announced on 14 April and on sale from 29 April 2020.

The reasoning behind this is thought to be in order to give the phones more time to compete against rival devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S21 line (which also launched earlier than 2020’s S20 line) before the typical T-series mid-cycle refresh manifests.

There’s also the matter of the OnePlus Nord line, which was introduced in mid-2020. Previously, OnePlus only had two discreet releases every 12-month span and adding in Nord devices at around the mid-point has given the company flexibility to move its other big launches around so that they are able to release hardware at a more consistent pace.

As for where you’ll be able to pick a 9 series device up, while we’re expecting them to launch in the company’s most prominent markets across the UK, Europe and the US, it looks like we already have a little more detail on their Stateside release.

XDA Developers member Some_Random_Username unearthed code within the company’s OxygenOS user experience that points to some carrier-specific SKUs of both the OnePlus 9 and the 9 Pro.

Along with a standard version, there will apparently be two carrier-bound variants of the OnePlus 9, destined for T-Mobile and Verizon, respectively (with the Verizon model assumed to support mmWave 5G). A T-Mobile flavour of OnePlus 9 Pro also makes an appearance, while the Verizon-centric 9 Pro appears to be absent as of right now.

How much will the OnePlus 9 cost?

We’re yet to hear anything official around the OnePlus 9’s price. That said, we can look at the company’s existing strategy to see where pricing for this year’s phones may fall.

The company’s handsets are becoming increasingly high-spec with each generation, but as a byproduct of that they’ve also slowly become more expensive – the OnePlus 8 Pro is the company’s priciest handset to date.

That changed a little with the OnePlus 8T, which dropped slightly in price relative to the prior OnePlus 8. We’d be surprised to see OnePlus bring prices back up again so soon after that. So, with that in mind, we’d expect the base OnePlus 9 to start at £549/$649 and the OnePlus 9 Pro to arrive at £749/$849.

The OnePlus 9 Lite should be even cheaper still. This is likely the third model alluded to by tipster Max Jambor, which he originally referred to as the ‘OnePlus 9E’, though we’ve since also heard the name ‘9R’. Jambor didn’t predict a price, but we expect that there will be an entry in the lineup below £500/$500.

One minor note: Evan Blass has also tipped that pre-orders of the OnePlus 9 will receive a free pair of OnePlus Buds Z true wireless earbuds – normally £55/$50 – while Pro model pre-orders net the Steve Harrington design edition of the same headphones. Apparently, pre-orders of the 9R and OnePlus Watch, if they do launch at the same time, won’t come with any freebies though.

Via GSMArena, it’s been confirmed the phones will come with a two-year warranty – double that of many rivals. OnePlus previously committed to two years of OS updates, too.

What will be the OnePlus 9 specs & design?

Let’s start with the specs and details of the regular OnePlus 9, before we move onto the Pro and Lite variants.

First up, you can see part of the phone in a shot on OnePlus’s own website, which we’ve included below. It’s the purple model, alongside a Morning Mist OnePlus 9 Pro – which we have many more images of below.

OnePlus 9 website

OnePlus 9 website

We also have what appear to be the final press shots of the OnePlus 9 from Winfuture, which match the official imagery. You can see the phone from various angles, not leaving much to the imagination.

It looks like the OnePlus 9 will come in purple, blue and black colours. The site says ‘glossy black’ will be an option not found on the Pro and might use a plastic frame, hiding the antenna bands. Ishan Agarwal, a leaker with a good record, also agrees on the plastic frame for the 9 adding that the colours will be called Stellar Black, Arctic Sky and Winter Mist.

OnePlus 9 leaked renders

OnePlus 9 leaked renders

Those names are every so slightly different to some leaked by OxygenUpdater. The site found references to colours in an APK, each tied to variants on the ‘lemonade’ codename, with ‘lemonadet’ and ‘lemonadev’ believed to refer to the T-Mobile and Verizon variants.

  • OnePlus 9: Astral Black, Arctic Sky, Winter Mist
  • OnePlus 9 T-Mobile: Astral Black, Winter Mist
  • OnePlus 9 Verizon: Gloss Black, Gloss Gradient Purple

It’s worth bearing in mind that available colours tend to vary by market, especially given these US carrier exclusives, so the available colours may not be the same around the world.

It was always assumed that the next OnePlus flagships would utilise Qualcomm’s latest and greatest chipset – the Snapdragon 888 – and Geekbench scores for a device called the ‘LuBan LE2117’ (thought to be the OnePlus 9) suggest that to be the case. 

Similarly to their predecessors, 2021’s model names start with the first letters of their codename – ‘LE’ for ‘Lemonade’ – followed by various numbers that denote model and region. LE2110, LE2117 and LE2119 apparently relate to the OnePlus 9, while LE2120 and LE2127 are thought to reference the OnePlus 9 Pro.

There has been some confusion around whether these model numbers could be allocated differently, with LE2127 potentially referring to the 9R/9E/9 Lite mentioned above, however, there’s little in the structure of this naming convention to prove anything just yet.

The LE2117, which is listed as running on 8GB of RAM and with a base CPU frequency of 1.8GHz, achieved a single-core score of 1122 and a multi-core score of 2733.

That matches the specs of the Snapdragon 888 processor and unsurprisingly OnePlus is listed as one of the OEMs confirmed to be working on a phone using the chip – almost certainly the OnePlus 9 series.

Tipster Digital Chat Station claims that the 9 will feature a 6.55in, FHD+, 120Hz flat display, with a 3.8mm punch-hole camera in the upper-left corner. He also notes that it will weigh less than 200g and echoes reports that it will feature the Snapdragon 888, along with a 4500mAh battery and 65W charging.

Many of those specs have since been shared by TechDroider in screenshots from AIDA64 on an alleged OnePlus 9. They show the Snapdragon 888 paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, and also seemingly confirm the 4500mAh battery and 6.55in display at 120Hz. Some camera specs appear here too – the screenshots show a 12Mp rear camera and 4Mp on the front, though factoring in pixel binning this likely really means 48Mp and 16Mp respectively.

TechDroider also adds that a 65W charger will be included in the box with the phone – something OnePlus’ CEO Pete Lau has also gone on to confirm for both the Chinese and international releases of the OnePlus 9 series.

Max Jambor is yet another to claim a 4500mAh battery, tweeting that both the 9 and 9 Pro will feature that capacity, so this spec at least looks near-certain.

In a separate post to the one mentioned above, Digital Chat Station suggests that the base OnePlus 9 will in fact use the exact same 6.55in panel already found on the OnePlus 8T, which would align with the specs already given. As such, the display on the 9 will likely continue to offer HDR10+ support and sport a flat design, as seen in the spy shots below.

The OnePlus 8T’s screen achieved one of the highest ratings currently listed by a device, according to independent testing body DXOMark, so things look promising for the viewing experience on the 9.

The source in possession of the device also sent over screenshots with notable spec tidbits too, all of which agree with details from other sources:

OnePlus 9 rumoured specs | Source: PhoneArena OnePlus 9 rumoured specs | Source: PhoneArena
Apparent OnePlus 9 leaked specs | Source: PhoneArena

Following on from the above shots, the owner of the prototype in question seemingly decided to sell up, as a listing for what looks like an identical phone – photographed on what appears to be the same distinct red carpet backdrop – was posted to eBay, with a listed price of US$3,000.

The listing has since been marked as ‘closed’, although it’s unclear if the device actually managed to sell. One of the most interesting aspects of the additional product imagery in the listing is that, originally, the product photos showed a series of numbers permanently displayed on-screen when the device is switched on.

While the seller’s description highlights that they were unsure what the numbers meant, they’re thought to be unique identifiers to that particular prototype and if OnePlus spotted the listing before the numbers were removed from the images, they may have been able to pinpoint the prototype’s origins and how it came to be listed for sale online.

We don’t know much about the phone’s camera setup yet – including how many of the benefits of the Hasselblad partnership (detailed below) will be included in the regular 9, and how many will be limited to the 9 Pro.

From leaks, it’s thought that, despite it serving as a popular feature on a number of key rivals, the OnePlus 9 series won’t offer a periscopic telephoto camera across any of the launch devices (although a telephoto snapper does feature).

According to Digital Chat Station, this may have something to do with ongoing supply chain issues brought about by the effects of the global pandemic.

What about the OnePlus 9 Pro?

We needn’t wait any longer to know what the OnePlus 9 Pro will look like as the firm couldn’t wait for the launch event to fully show it off. Here we can see it in the ‘Morning Mist’ colour option which looks to have a gradient mirror finish. You can also see the final camera module with Hasselblad branding.

Winfuture also has final images of the OnePlus 9 Pro, saying it will initially launch in black, green and silver (now confirmed as Morning Mist) and return to an ‘optically structured surface’.

The same colour leak mentioned above for the regular OnePlus 9 also included information on the 9 Pro colours, including the expected T-Mobile variant for the US market. As said above, bear in mind that available colour variants do tend to vary by market, so not every country will get the same models:

  • OnePlus 9 Pro: Stellar Black, Forest Green, Morning Mist
  • OnePlus 9 Pro T-Mobile: Morning Mist

OnePlus 9 Pro leaked renders

OnePlus 9 Pro leaked renders

OnePlus confirmed that the 9 series will use a new collaborative camera system – dubbed Hasselblad Camera for Mobile. The collaboration has begun with “color tuning and sensor calibration,” and it’s certain that the benefits will apply to at least the 9 Pro and 9, though it’s not clear if the 9R/E/Lite will also enjoy the same enhancements.

Those enhancements include “more perceptually accurate and natural-looking colors,” and a new Hasselblad Pro Mode. This includes enhanced sensor calibration and a new user interface based on Hasselblad’s own image processing software.

OnePlus also used the announcement to confirm a few specific camera specs – again, all assumed to arrive in the Pro model. The highlight is that it will use a custom Sony IMX789 sensor for the main camera – a larger and more advanced follow-up to the IMX689 used in the 8 Pro. This will be capable of taking 12-bit RAW photos, along with improved HDR video recording, and support for up to 4K 120fps and 8K 30fps video.

In an interview with Tech Radar, Pete Lau said the camera would feature “Natural Color Calibration with Hasselblad, which aims to bring more perceptually accurate and natural-looking colors to photos taken with OnePlus flagship cameras. It also will serve as OnePlus’ new standard for color calibration for its future smartphone cameras.”

Adding that “We were also able to significantly improve video performance and possibilities, resulting in the ability to shoot in 4K at a very high 120fps, which is something very few smartphones today offer, and DOL-HDR, which ensures subjects are always clear in backlit environments.”

OnePlus has also since officially confirmed that the ultrawide unit (thought to feature on the standard 9 as well as the Pro) is the rumoured Sony IMX766 50Mp sensor.

A dive into the leaked device’s camera UI revealed a ‘0.6x’ field of view for the ultrawide in question and a 3.3x telephoto – which would be an increase from 3.0x on the OnePlus 8 Pro. A tilt-shift mode is also present within the shooting mode selection, which would make for a unique entry in the smartphone snapper space currently.

More details of the potential camera setup come from TechManiacs, which has leaked screenshots that appear to be from the 9 Pro’s about screen and camera app.

OnePlus 9 Pro leaked screenshot

OnePlus 9 Pro leaked screenshot

There are a couple of other things to note here. Firstly, the core camera spec: 48Mp+50Mp+8Mp+2Mp – a plausible spec sheet based on rumours we’ve seen so far, and the megapixel counts on the main and ultrawide match the confirmed details from OnePlus.

The leak also showed the same max video specs – 4K video at 120fps, and 8K video at 30fps – that OnePlus has since confirmed, adding legitimacy to the rest of it.

Beyond the quad-camera setup, the screenshot reveals the Snapdragon 888 processor, paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. This is no great surprise, and every tipster agrees that we should expect the phone to be powered by the 888.

As for the display, it looks like we should expect a 120Hz, 6.7in AMOLED – which matches the Dave2D spy shots, which show a curved QHD+ (3120×1440) 120Hz display, and a previous leak from Digital Chat Station pointing to a curved 6.78in display, with its QHD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate.

OnePlus itself has also confirmed that the 9 Pro specifically will use an LTPO – low-temperature polycrystalline oxide – display. This is the tech Samsung used in the Note 20 Ultra and S21 Ultra, and which is widely tipped to appear in the iPhone 13, which draws less power and offers better adaptive refresh rate support.

OnePlus is called its version ‘Fluid Display 2.0’, and says the 9 Pro will be the first phone capable of scaling its refresh rate all the way down to 1Hz (and up to 120Hz) – essentially keeping the screen almost static when appropriate in order to save power.

The company is also introducing tech called Hyper Touch, which will improve touch response rates by up to 6x in compatible games, by streamlining syncing processes between the processor and display. Only certain games will be compatible, but touch latency could be reduced by 25-30ms in theory.

Jambor also claims that the OnePlus 9 Pro will have an IP68 waterproof rating, like the 8 Pro before it, stating that it will once again be the only phone in the line-up with an IP rating. 

Via GSMArena, it looks like the OnePlus 9 Pro and 9 will get 65W Warp Charge with chargers in the box. Wireless charging is thought to be 45W. 

And the OnePlus 9 Lite / OnePlus 9E / OnePlus 9R?

The OnePlus 9 Lite/9E/9R has arguably been the most elusive member of the OnePlus 9 series in terms of leaks, however, we finally gleaned some insight into its hardware when Greek tech publication TechManiacs offered up a number of specs for the most modest entry in the lineup.

While we can’t verify their sources, TechManiacs claims that the Lite/9E/9R will run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 5G chipset, supported by 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (presumably non-expandable).

There’s also mention of a 6.5in 90Hz Full HD+ (2400×1080) display, a 64Mp f/1.7 lead camera, accompanied by an 8Mp ultrawide snapper and, to round things out, a 5000mAh battery – larger than the capacities expected from the standard OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro.

Android Central previously alluded to the phone featuring 2020’s Snapdragon 865 flagship processor and speculated that it will feature the same cameras as OnePlus 8T. Jambor has also claimed that it won’t have an IP rating.

Qualcomm has since announced the Snapdragon 870 chipset – an over-clocked take on the 865 – and confirmed that OnePlus is one of the OEMs working on a phone with the chip. While it initially seemed plausible that this SoC could be destined for the 9 Lite/9E/9R, if TechManiacs is correct it instead appears that it’s meant for another, as yet unannounced, phone.

Leaked OnePlus 9 URLs | Source: Evan Blass Leaked OnePlus 9 URLs | Source: Evan Blass
The first mention of the OnePlus 9R, as discovered by Evan Blass

As for the discrepancy around the phone’s name, tipster Evan Blass recently pulled three seemingly-official OnePlus URLs, which despite lacking any content at present relate to three models of OnePlus 9: the OnePlus 9, the OnePlus 9 Pro and the OnePlus 9R. Ishan Agarwal later reiterated that the 9R is “the name I’m hearing,” so as the launch nears this looks to be the likeliest bet.

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