Did OnePlus over-hype its OnePlus 9 Hasselblad cameras? Our photo tests are underwhelming

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

  • OnePlus created a big hype campaign around its partnership with famous camera company Hasselblad.
  • The focus was to bring Hasselblad’s “natural color calibration” to the new OnePlus 9 series’ cameras.
  • Unfortunately, the OnePlus 9 Pro takes less appealing photos than our reference phone, the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The hype surrounding the new OnePlus 9 lineup has been focused on the company’s partnership with famed camera manufacturer Hasselblad. Using Hasselblad’s expertise, the phones’ new camera systems are meant to improve upon previous OnePlus models.  

Specifically for the OnePlus 9, Hasselblad’s involvement centers around “natural color calibration.” Otherwise, everything else, including hardware and software, is either OnePlus or from a third-party, like Sony for the camera sensors. 

Since there was so much hype surrounding this partnership and the revamped cameras, we’ll be focusing on showing you how photos from the OnePlus 9 Pro look. As a reference tool, we’ve opted to compare it with the iPhone 12 Pro Max — a phone that takes reliably good and “safe” photos that don’t reach into extremes for color, contrast, HDR, and exposure, and that many feel confident with for capturing memories and sharing with friends, family, and social media.

When analyzing the photos taken by the OnePlus 9 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, we’re putting ourselves in the shoes of the most average type of camera user — someone who wants to point, shoot, and share without much editing, if at all. 

How do the OnePlus 9 Pro’s photos look?

We found the OnePlus 9 Pro‘s photos to appear pale in color with a heavy lean towards a cooler white balance, at least compared to the iPhone’s photos. One might argue that the paler colors are less processed and more natural, and that the iPhone’s photos have saturated and unnatural colors. While that may be true, we’d argue that the OnePlus 9 Pro’s camera doesn’t produce colors that are as pleasing for the point-and-shoot crowd.

We aren’t saying that the OnePlus 9 Pro, or any phones, should take photos that look exactly like the iPhone’s. But the iPhone’s camera is usually a good point of reference, as it takes photos that are reliably well processed for point-and-shoot users.

It’s also worth mentioning that most people don’t have several high-end phones available for direct side-by-side comparisons. With that in mind, the photos taken by the OnePlus 9 Pro would likely look totally fine on their own. However, the OnePlus 9 Pro underwhelms when its photos are compared to the iPhone’s.

At the end of the day, what really matters is whether you like the photos that the phone’s camera produces — whether you’re happy with the way your memories are captured, and whether you’d feel confident with sharing those photos. 

With that in mind, have a look at some of the photos we took with the OnePlus 9 Pro compared with the iPhone 12 Pro Max: