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OnePlus 9 vs OnePlus 8: Cameras, 120Hz screen and 65W charging worth an upgrade?

The OnePlus 9 is here and although many users will be choosing between the OnePlus 9 vs OnePlus 9 Pro, many OnePlus 8 users may be considering an upgrade to the latest standard edition.

OnePlus has lifted the lid on its flagship offerings for 2020. While the OnePlus 9 Pro will make most of the headlines for the larger screen and impressive camera array, the standard OnePlus 9 is still a head-turner and a stellar upgrade on the excellent OnePlus 8.

But where do those improvements lie and how do they merit an upgrade from the 2020 model? Read on to find out…

The new OnePlus 9 costs £629 for the 8GB RAM/128GB storage edition, while £729 will get you the 12GB/256GB configuration. That’s more expensive than last year’s OnePlus 8 model, which started at £599. Slowly but surely, OnePlus prices are rising, but we’ll let you decide whether the slight price bump is worth it.

OnePlus 9 lead

The OnePlus 8 represented a significant leap forward from a design perspective and the OnePlus 9 continues the trend. The rear-facing cameras have been moved to the top left of corner of the device and now has a more pronounced bump. There are still those curved edges that around the display and the selfie camera remains in the top left corner. The OnePlus 9 retains the handy slider switch on the side of the phone, which allows you to switch between silent, vibration and ring sound profiles. The 3.5mm jack remains absent, while the glossy finish is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, our reviewer bemoaned.

In terms of the display, OnePlus retains the 6.55-inch OLED display and 2400 x 1080 resolution, but the big update here is the 120Hz refresh rate, an upgrade from the 90Hz display on the OnePlus 8. However, that top setting does eat up battery life due to the absence of a variable refresh rate.

Once again there’s no formal water resistance rating from OnePlus.

OnePlus 9 refresh rate

The OnePlus 9 upgrades the processor from the Snapdragon 865 CPU to the brand spanking new Snapdragon 888 SoC. Both of which can be paired with 12GB LPDDR5 and RAM and 256GB of storage. Our review of the OnePlus 9 cited the strong performance while gaming. While we had no complaints about the OnePlus 8 performance, but the Snapdragon 888 takes things to the next level.

Our reviewer wrote: “In real-world use, I found the phone wholly capable of running every process I threw at it. Demanding games such as PUBG and CoD Mobile ran at their highest graphical settings with zero issues. The robust cooling system also ensured I never experienced CPU throttling, even when stress-testing the device using 3DMark’s Wildlife benchmark.”

OnePlus 9 switch

The OnePlus 9 has a slightly larger battery than its predecessor, upgrading from 4,300mAh to 4,500mAh. Even with the display set to 120Hz our reviewer comfortably got through the day. However, both handsets offer mediocre battery life compared to some of the other flagship devices on the market.

The good thing is, it doesn’t take very long to recharge. At all. The OnePlus 9 offers a massive upgrade over its predecessor with the 65W Warp Charge tech which, in our tests, got the phone back to 80% charge in just 15 minutes. The OnePlus 8 only has 30W charging, which is still fairly decent. The OnePlus 9 also offers 15W Qi wireless charging, while the OnePlus 8 does not support wireless charging at all.

Perhaps the OnePlus 9’s headline feature is the new Hasselblad cameras. The company has never quite matched the flagship performance of a Samsung Galaxy, but it is certainly moving in the right direction this time around.

The OnePlus 9 has a 48-megapixel Sony IMX689 main, 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 ultra-wide and 2-megapixel monochrome units. The ultra-wide camera is also capable of capturing macro photos. We were  pretty impressed with the automatic modes, ultra-wide landscape images and the bokeh effect in portrait mode. We weren’t overly keen on the aggressive image processing, but that seems to be par for flagship phones these days.

Related: Best camera phone

On the contrary, we were only mildly impressed with the OnePlus 8 camera (48-megapixel Sony IMX586 a 16-megapixel Sony IMX481 ultra-wide camera, 2-megapixel alaxycore GC2375 macro), calling it a “good mid-range camera with decent video.”

OnePlus 9 camera app

The OnePlus 9 moves forward in enough ways that we’d be comfortably recommending the upgrade for OnePlus 8 owners who find themselves tempted. The performance boost provided by the Snapdragon 888, the much-improved cameras, the 120Hz display and the staggeringly fast wired charging (plus the addition of wireless) adds up to more than enough to justify those pangs guilt. The company does say Never Settle, right?

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