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OnePlus 9 Pro camera upgrades revealed — and there's more than Hasselblad hype

OnePlus 9 Pro rear seen in official video
(Image credit: OnePlus)

We already know the OnePlus 9 Pro will get some important camera upgrades when the phone launches on March 23 — and it now seems these go beyond the partnership with premium brand Hasselblad.

In various posts on Twitter and Weibo, OnePlus confirmed that the OnePlus 9 Pro will have a custom Sony IMX789 sensor that cost more than $15 million to develop and that will bring with it a raft of new skills. It's all part of improving the OnePlus range's photographic abilities — something that is sorely needed if it's to take on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

The new custom Sony IMX789 sensor brings with it many advantages. For starters, it’s large enough to handle a 16:11 aspect ratio, giving it better coverage for both 4:3 photos and 16:9 video. 

It’s also set to capture 12-bit RAW images, with 6.87 billion colors; that's 64 times more than most other smartphones. And in line with some of the best Android phones, it'll have support for 8K video, plus 4K video at 120fps, as detailed in the below video.

The sensor will also include Sony’s new Digital Overlap-High Dynamic Range, which has been pulled from the company’s high-end cameras. Traditional HDR photography shoots frames one after the other, whereas in this case the sensor will capture them all simultaneously and stack them together. That has the effect of reducing the number artefacts in the shot, as these are usually caused by movement.

But that’s just the main camera. The OnePlus 9 Pro will also include a free-form lens that offers wider shots in the ultra-wide angle camera. It’s a technique made possible by having two prisms side by side, and bending light by 90 degrees before it hits the image sensor. Those images then get stitched together, almost like a panorama, to create an image with a 140-degree field of view. 

On the front of the OnePlus 9 Pro, the selfie camera will come with a new lens stack of up to 1ms, allowing for faster autofocus. The minimum focus distance has also been reduced to six inches.

We’ve also now had a good look at the rear of the OnePlus 9 Pro, thanks to a video shared by OnePlus yesterday. You can watch that in full above, although the phone is only shown briefly right at the end.

Still, we'll be able to see it in full very soon: the phone will be unveiled alongside the standard OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9E at the OnePlus 9 launch event on March 23.

We already know a fair bit about the OnePlus 9 range. The OnePlus 9 Pro will have a 6.7-inch QHD display, while the OnePlus 9 is set to come with a 6.5-inch FHD display. Both will feature a 120Hz refresh rate, 48MP main and ultra-wide camera lenses, 16MP front camera, between 8GB and 12GB of RAM, 128GB to 256GB of storage and a 4,500 mAh battery.

The OnePlus 9 will also have a third 2MP macro lens included, while the 9 Pro will feature four lenses that are topped off with an 8MP telephoto lens and another fourth lens we still don’t know about.

The OnePlus 9E, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery. So far we’ve heard that it will have a 6.5-inch Full HD display with a 90Hz refresh rate, alongside 8GB of RAM, 12GB of storage, a 5,000 mAh battery, and a 64-megapixel camera. The leaks have been unclear on whether it will have a Snapdragon 865 processor, or a less powerful Snapdragon 690 processor.

Thankfully, we don’t have very long to wait to find out what’s going on: the launch event takes place on Tuesday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT. Stay tuned for more.

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.