Time doesn’t stand still for smartphone companies, and OnePlus is no exception. After launching the OnePlus 8 in April, and the OnePlus 8T in October, there’s already buzz about the next OnePlus flagship. Set to be the company’s flag bearer in 2021, the OnePlus 9 has some big shoes to fill.
All signs point to an earlier than expected launch for the flagship. Ahead of the official reveal, we’ve gathered up all the credible rumors and early leaks relating to the OnePlus 9. We’ve also put together a wishlist of what we want to see from the next OnePlus flagship series. Be sure to bookmark this page, as we’ll be updating it regularly as we get closer to the release date.
Name and release date
Not much is known about the OnePlus 9 at present, but the device’s codename is expected to continue the food theme of previous OnePlus phones. The OnePlus 9 is reportedly known as “lemonade” internally. For reference, the OnePlus 8 was known as “instantnoodle,” while the 8T was dubbed “kebab.” If you now need a snack break, we understand.
There’s a good chance the OnePlus 9 series will make an earlier-than-expected appearance. According to a report in October, the OnePlus 9 release date could hit in mid-March. That would be around a month earlier than the OnePlus 8’s April 14 debut. It’s a play that could be adopted by Samsung in 2021 too based on early Galaxy S30 rumors.
Models and design
It’s unclear if there’ll be a OnePlus 9 Pro variant, but XDA believes it’ll make an appearance based on code uncovered in an Oxygen OS 11 beta build. The code also hints at Verizon and T-Mobile models.
OnePlus sowed doubt when it dropped the Pro model from the 8T series, so it’s not out of the question that this trend could continue with the firm’s forthcoming flagship line.
Read more: Everything you need to know about OnePlus
We’ve not yet seen any CAD-based renders of the OnePlus 9 just yet, so the design remains a mystery. That said, there are two paths OnePlus could consider. The firm could continue using the OnePlus 8’s design language complete with a centered vertical rear camera array, or adopt the oval-rectangular rear camera array as used on the OnePlus Nord and 8T.
For marketing purposes, the OnePlus 8’s rear panel is arguably more distinctive. The OnePlus 8T’s design, meanwhile, is perhaps too reminiscent of the budget Nord.
OnePlus 9: Specs and features
Credit: Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
We’ve seen few definitive specs leaks so far, but we can make educated guesses based on OnePlus’ previous flagships.
OnePlus employed 6.55-inch displays on both 2020 range-toppers, so we wouldn’t be too surprised if that size trend continues. Android Authority readers have told us they’d love a smaller OnePlus 9 model to rival the iPhone 12 Mini, but there’s little evidence such a device is in the works.
The OnePlus 8T also introduced 120Hz refresh rates into the mix, which we also expect to feature on the OnePlus 9 series.
As for internals, it’s usually a case of iterative upgrades. So expect the Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 to power the flagship line mated to at least 8GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage.
Lastly, if OnePlus goes for a larger display and larger body, we could see a bulkier battery than the OnePlus 8T’s 4,500mAh cell. Speaking of charging, we expect 65W Warp Charge to feature, too.
OnePlus 9: Price and availability
Finally, let’s talk about the OnePlus 9 price. The ace up the OnePlus 8’s sleeve was its sticker. Arriving at $699, it was among the cheapest flagships launched in 2020; a year that saw the likes of Samsung and Apple once again break the $1,000 barrier. Granted, the 128GB OnePlus 8 Pro came in at $899, but we’d argue that’s still a fair price for an excellent flagship. We expect the OnePlus 9 to debut between the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro’s price band.
Read more: How the price of OnePlus phones has changed over the years
A swathe of Android Authority readers wants the firm to drop the price of the upcoming flagship instead of adding new features. It’s unclear if OnePlus would consider doing this with the OnePlus 9.
Should the OnePlus 9 series debut in mid-March, it’ll likely go on sale a few days later in markets like the US. For Indian buyers, the OnePlus 8 was made available more than a month later.
OnePlus 9: What we want to see
With the new rumors swirling, we started thinking about what we’d like to see with the first 2021 flagship from OnePlus. The OnePlus 8 series faced a few setbacks that we hope get corrected. We also hope OnePlus will continue to push forward by offering innovative new features and design elements.
Below is a realistic list of things OnePlus could potentially do with the OnePlus 9 series. We’re not going to wish for things we are relatively certain we are going to get. It’s almost assured that the next OnePlus flagships will have the Snapdragon 875 processor, for example, so wishing for that isn’t worthwhile.
Without further ado, here’s what we want to see from the OnePlus 9!
1. A smaller form factor
This is something OnePlus fans have wanted for a long, long time. With the launch of the iPhone 12 Mini, there’s a big opportunity: it’s time for a smaller OnePlus phone.
Related: The iPhone 12 Mini is proof there should have been a Galaxy S20e
With the differences between the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro being kind of blurry to the general consumer, this would be an easy way to differentiate the OnePlus 9 from the Pro variant. The Pro could stay the same size as we’ve seen from previous Pro-level OnePlus devices, while the vanilla model could be much more compact.
Samsung dropped the ball by not launching a Samsung Galaxy S20e, so a “mini” OnePlus phone would capture an untapped market in the Android world.
2. Wireless charging and IP rating for all
The two big differentiators between the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro were the latter’s IP rating and wireless charging capabilities. In a way, that makes sense, as it makes the price difference between the two acceptable.
However, it will be 2021 when these phones launch. A flagship phone that costs more than $700 needs an IP rating and wireless charging. OnePlus can’t get away with passing over these features anymore, not when it has a budget line for phones without those features and when the $699 Galaxy S20 FE has both.
Granted, it will still need to make sure the OnePlus 9 Pro is better than the regular model. While it can’t wiggle with the IP rating, it could offer ultra-fast wireless charging with the Pro model while just putting regular wireless charging in the vanilla variant. We think buyers would be totally fine with that.
3. Warp Charge 65 for all
Credit: Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
While OnePlus could keep Warp Charge 30 Wireless off the OnePlus 9 and reserve it only for the Pro, it can’t do that with Warp Charge 65. Both the regular and Pro variants need to have Warp Charge 65. It wouldn’t make any sense for the OnePlus 8T to have it and then only the Pro flagships to have it after that.
Related: How fast charging really works
This is probably the wishlist feature that is most likely to come true. However, OnePlus will be looking for ways to make the OnePlus 9 Pro seem more premium than the regular model, and eliminating Warp Charge 65 on the lesser variant could do the trick. Don’t do it, OnePlus, it would be a bad move.
4. The end of gimmicky cameras
In 2020, OnePlus suffered severely from a “more is more” mentality when it comes to cameras. In an effort to get as many lenses as possible into its phones, it started throwing silly gimmicks in. We’re talking about the color filter lens on the OnePlus 8 Pro, the monochrome lens on the OnePlus 8T, or even the macro lenses on multiple phones from the company.
The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro should have three lenses: a main, an ultra-wide, and a telephoto. That’s it. Maybe the Pro could get periscope zoom or maybe the vanilla model could have a weaker sensor in comparison. Whatever OnePlus wants to do there we’ll be fine with, as long as those three lenses are there. No more, no less.
5. Higher storage options, at least for OnePlus 9 Pro
There hasn’t been a OnePlus phone — ever — with more than 256GB of internal storage. There also hasn’t been a OnePlus phone with expandable storage (with the sole exception of the OnePlus X).
It is time for there to be an option for a 512GB variant of a OnePlus phone. The OnePlus 9 Pro would be the perfect candidate for this. It could help justify its inevitably higher price when compared to the vanilla model. It would make fans happy and also entice people who pass over OnePlus phones because they need more storage space.
6. In-display selfie camera
We have heard reliable rumors that Samsung is probably not going to deliver an in-display selfie camera on the upcoming Galaxy S30 series. That makes the OnePlus 9 series the perfect candidate for the first global release of the technology.
OnePlus beat Samsung to the punch with in-display fingerprint sensors with the OnePlus 6T. Now, it has the opportunity to do it again with an in-display selfie camera. It’s perfect.
Of course, this would likely only be reserved for the OnePlus 9 Pro. It also would likely produce weaker results when compared to “normal” selfie cameras. However, being first-to-market has its advantages, even if the quality isn’t there. It’s a worthwhile risk, OnePlus!
7. Flat displays, please (or at least less curve)
The OnePlus 7 series introduced curved displays to the OnePlus portfolio. While people like the idea of curved displays, they do have some distinct disadvantages, such as accidental touches and sunlight glare. Thankfully, the OnePlus 8T dropped the curve entirely and went for a totally flat display.
It’s unclear if OnePlus would continue that with the OnePlus 9 series. It’s possible that the vanilla model could stick with a flat display while the Pro model could see some curves. If that’s the case, that will be fine, as long as the curves are subtle. We don’t need ski slopes on the sides of our phones. Reign it in and keep it classy and it will work. Or, conversely, just go all-flat across the board. That would be cool, too.
8. Better haptics
One of the biggest complaints about the OnePlus 7 Pro was it’s decidedly not-Pro-level haptics. When OnePlus launched the OnePlus 8 Pro, it revealed “Haptic Vibration 2.0,” which is supposedly better. If it is, it’s not by much.
Strong haptics is one of the easiest ways to feel the difference between a premium phone and a not-premium phone. OnePlus needs to up its game here for the OnePlus 9 series, at the very least on the OnePlus 9 Pro. If the vanilla model has the same haptics as the OnePlus 8 Pro, that will be OK, as long as the Pro model gets a serious upgrade.
9. Pricing stays the same
The prices of OnePlus phones have been a point of contention going all the way back to the launch of the OnePlus 2. That was the first time OnePlus raised pricing, and it has barely stopped doing so since. When the OnePlus 9 series lands, the COVID-19 pandemic will still be happening. Budgets will still be tight, many will still be out of work, and the last thing people are going to want to do is to spend too much on a smartphone.
The $699 price of the OnePlus 8 is a good range to stick with for the OnePlus 9. The OnePlus 9 Pro has more leeway — if OnePlus checked off every single one of these wishlist features, I would gladly pay over $1,000 for it. However, with affordable rivals like the Galaxy S20 FE and Pixel 5 around, this upcoming launch is probably the one in which keeping the pricing low is of the utmost importance.
What do you want to see most from the OnePlus 9 series?