Back in December, it was reported that OnePlus would be getting external help from Leica with its photography for the OnePlus 9 lineup. But it turns out that the company is turning to another brand for camera co-development.
Leaker Dave2D has now produced legit-looking images of another prototype 2021 OnePlus device — this time the OnePlus 9 Pro. The camera hump on the back clearly has the Swedish photography expert Hasselblad logo in between its four lenses.
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There’s not much else in the video about cameras, other than some screenshots showing a tilt-shift mode, and a 3.3x zoom (a minor upgrade on the OnePlus 8 Pro’s 3x equivalent.)
Still, as Dave2D explains, this is quite a big deal for a number of reasons. Firstly, unlike the likes of Leica and Zeiss, Hasselblad doesn’t do smartphone collaborations very often. Fans of MotoMods — the modular expansions for the Motorola Z family — may remember a $299 Hasselblad add-on.
This move is somewhat unexpected, because OnePlus’ sister company Vivo has previously worked with Zeiss. You would assume that the existing relationship would make Zeiss the natural partner for OnePlus in its bid to improve its camera reputation, but apparently not.
Still, it's easy to see why OnePlus would want a more premium partner. If you do a search for Hasselblad cameras, you’ll find medium cameras that routinely go into thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. And while nobody is suggesting the OnePlus 9 Pro will be anywhere near as expensive, it’s pretty clear that OnePlus is hoping that the brand association will make consumers feel more positive about the phone’s photographic credentials.
That certainly matches the noise that OnePlus has been making. Just last month, company co-founder Pete Lau was insisting that OnePlus would invest “huge resources” in upping its camera game.
Of course, Hasselblad involvement isn’t a guarantee that the OnePlus 9 Pro will immediately top our list of the best camera phones around, but it is a suggestion that OnePlus is taking photography seriously, and that’s a positive, as that has historically been a mild weak spot in an otherwise excellent series of smartphones.
We’re expecting the OnePlus 9 Pro to launch next month alongside a regular OnePlus 9 and a OnePlus 9 Lite using last year’s Snapdragon 865 processor (though that model may not be sold outside of China and India). If the previous leaks hold, we’re optimistic that the OnePlus handsets will be up there alongside the best Android phones you can buy.