The phone maker has all but revealed most of the details around its upcoming phones and its first smartwatch. For example, we know it developed the camera system on the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro in partnership with high-end camera firm Hasselblad. And we also know it’ll have a pretty impressive display.
However, there’s still a good bit we don’t know despite all the teasers and leaks. For example, we haven’t a huge amount of official information around the rear camera specs, beyond that the phones will use a Sony IMX789 sensor and have the ability to snap a 140-degree field of view shot with reduced edge distortion.
And we still don’t know what internal specs the phone will sport or what the OnePlus Watch will look like, beyond a small shot of its side. Most important, we don't the price for the OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro or OnePlus Watch.
So the OnePlus event is still worth tuning into, and you can follow all the updates here on Tom’s Guide.
How to watch OnePlus 9 March event
Given the coronavirus pandemic is still in full swing, OnePlus will hold a virtual live stream event starting at 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. EST / 2 p.m. GMT on March 23.
The event will be streamed live on YouTube; you can visit the holding page for it and set a reminder to make sure you don’t miss it. But we’ll be keeping track of all the biggest news, so make sure to keep an eye on Tom’s Guide.
OnePlus 9 March 23 event: Watch to expect
Unsurprisingly, you can expect to see the OnePlus 9 and One Plus 9 Pro.
The latter will likely steal the limelight with what appears to be a quad rear camera array with additional sensors; we’re expecting a hefty megapixel sensor main and ultra wide wide lens, say 48MP or more for both - see the Oppo Find X3 Pro as an example of putting 50MP sensors on both the main and ultra wide angle cameras.
We are also hoping OnePlus has drawn inspiration from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and equipped the OnePlus 9 Pro with a telephoto camera to give it a optical zoom capabilities at two different ranges; such a setup is likely a lot more useful than a monochrome lens and macro lens, such as the ones we saw on the OnePlus 8T.
Having more zooming and improved wide-angle options could be matched by the work OnePlus has done with Hasselblad to improve the image processing on the software side of the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. This is an area OnePlus has been weaker in until the OnePlus 8 Pro came along.
The OnePlus 9 will have one less lens — we guess that makes it less professional — but we’d expect it to use similar sensors as its larger sibling. We really hope OnePlus has brought back the telephoto camera seen on the OnePlus 7T rather than the macro lens it popped on the OnePlus 8 and 8T for some bizarre reason. The OnePlus 9 will also use Hasselblad-tuned camera software.
Speaking of which, expect a deep-dive into the Hasselblad partnerships and examples of how it will yield stellar photographs. We only hope that whatever OnePlus shows off actually works in real-world camera shots snapped by people without the experience and time of a professional. The camera performance of OnePlus phones is usually good to occasionally very good, but it’s never quite been able to take on the best from Apple, Google or Samsung.
OnePlus has been talking up the photography capabilities of its upcoming phones, but we’ve not heard much on the video side. Given many smartphones deliver good photos, we’d be keen to see if OnePlus has more to offer on the video front.
One area where OnePlus often excels is in the displays on its phones. The company has already championed the 10-bit 120Hz adaptive display the OnePlus 9 Pro will use; that’s likely to be a panel similar to the Oppo Find X3 Pro’s stellar screen, given the phone makers' share manufacturing processes. This panel can go all the way down to 1Hz, so it's even more efficient than the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
We’re also expecting to hear about the chipset at the heart of the OnePlus 9 phones, likely the Snapdragon 888. But there’s a good chance that OnePlus has done some clever tuning and cooling here to extract the most out of the silicon without destroying battery life.
As for tuning, we can expect some improvement on the software front, with Oxygen OS, likely in its twelfth iteration, building upon its predecessor and tapping into Android 11. Expect an improved game mode and battery optimization.
Speaking of battery, we can expect OnePlus to discuss rapid charging. The OnePlus 8T comes with 65W charging, so we’d not predict a big boost there. But it’s expected to deliver 50W wireless charging for the OnePlus 9 Pro, which would be a decent upgrade over the 30W charging of its predecessor.
There has been some speculation of a third OnePlus 9 phone, coming in the guise of the OnePlus 9R. But we’re increasingly skeptical that’ll make an appearance, as it's a device destined for India only. We suspect OnePlus will keep the Nord line for more affordable phones rather than complicate the OnePlus 9 lineup.
The March 23 event will also see the debut of the OnePlus Watch, the first smartwatch from OnePlus.
It will be targeted as a partner to the OnePlus 9 phones, much like the Apple Watch Series 6 is the partner wearable for the iPhone 12. Only OnePlus plans for its watch to be “affordable.” What’s OnePlus considered is affordable is open to interpretation, but we’d hope it will target around the $200 mark.
As for design and features, we’d expect the OnePlus Watch to sport a rounded design. OnePlus has officially said that its smartwatch will provide “seamless connectivity” to the OnePlus phones as well as audio peripherals, OnePlus TVs and “smartwear devices.”
In short, you can see the Watch as more of a companion smartwatch for serving up notifications, controlling smart home kit, and tracking some fitness and wellness data; just don’t expect it to be as well-equipped as an Apple Watch 6 or some of our picks for the best smartwatches. Of course, we might be wrong and OnePlus could come out with a killer smartwatch that undercuts more expensive wearables but doesn't compromise in features; after all, it’s done this with its smartphones.
With all the above taking into consideration, the OnePlus 9 March event should be one for tech aficionados to pop into their calendars. And keep it locked to Tom’s Guide for all the latest news, rumors, and predictions as we get closer to March 23.
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