OnePlus is known for its special edition phones, and now it’s creating another for its latest Nord 2 5G smartphone — but this time, it’s moving from iconic cars to iconic video games. The company has unveiled the OnePlus Nord 2 x Pac-Man edition with custom covers, themed wallpapers and even a Lego-like smartphone holder.
The back of the phone has a film with a small Pac-Man logo, and it even glows in the dark to reveal a maze. There’s also a translucent themed case featuring Pac-Man and his enemies Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde. once its turned on, you get one of eight Pac-Man-themed wallpapers, along with a Pac-Man-themed charging animation, redesigned retro icons/notification sounds and more. The box is also Pac-Man themed.
If also comes with a Lego-like Pac-Man stand you build yourself, provided you order it directly from OnePlus. Finally, it includes a pre-installed version of the 2015 (free-to-play) game Pac-Man 256.
Otherwise, it’s the same OnePlus Nord 2 we recently tried, complete with a 6.43-inch 1080 90Hz OLED display, MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI processor and 4,500mAh, 65W fast-charging battery. On the back, you’ll find a triple-camera setup with a 50-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 2-megapixel monochrome camera. It goes on sale tomorrow for £499/€529/₹37,999 in the UK, Europe and India respectively, and as with the regular Nord 2, isn’t available in the US.
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If the original Doom is often used as a litmus test for computing devices, both seriously and jokingly, Crysis is sometimes used to test the graphics capabilities of a computer or GPU. There might be other more graphics-intensive games these days, but the tradition has remained the same throughout the years. Now Crysis is again being used for something almost so unlikely you wouldn’t expect it to work, yet some did just make Crysis run on a OnePlus 6T running Windows 11.
On the one hand, it is cheating a bit since Windows 11 on ARM is a full desktop experience, not like Windows 10 Mobile. On the other hand, the hardware and software requirements of running a Windows game on a phone still make this quite an achievement, regardless of the actual platform. Consider that the game runs on a phone not designed to run such games is even more impressive.
When we say “run,” though, we really mean it in its most literal and minimal sense for a video game. As you can probably expect, the graphics quality can’t be pushed to its best settings, and there might be a few frames dropped here and there. It’s still playable, though, which is no small feat for a 2018 Android phone.
Crysis isn’t the only game that has been tested to run on Windows 11 on phones. Hitman 4: Blood Money is shown below, running with better frame rates and visual quality. Skyrim reportedly failed to make the cut. Ironically, no one has tried running Doom yet.
Unfortunately, these are tests with few practical long-term benefits. Microsoft is unlikely to allow Windows 11 to run on phones from other manufacturers and won’t be distributing official images to make that happen. It would be a complete shame, though, since these experiments show the possibilities if Microsoft pushed through with its own Windows 11 phone.
OnePlus raves on about the smooth performance of its phones every year… but the company was caught red-handed throttling the performance of over 300 apps on the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. The company has gone on the defensive now, saying this step was to “ensure better battery life.”
The issue came to the fore when AnandTech published a detailed report into OnePlus’ sneaky performance-limiting practices. Reporter Andrei Frumusanu first found issues with benchmarks of Chrome browser, which were unusually low for Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor designed for high-end phones.
Further investigation found that the Chinese manufacturer possibly has a list of apps whose performance is limited, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. Surprisingly, AndandTech’s report found OnePlus’ own apps in this list.
The issue escalated so much that Geekbench, a software that measures benchmarks of phones, decided to remove the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro from its listings. It said, “We view this as a form of benchmark manipulation.”
OnePlus’ statement to XDA Developers indicates that it indeed made these ‘performance optimizing’ changes:
Following the launch of the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro in March, some users told us about some areas where we could improve the devices’ battery life and heat management.
As a result of this feedback, our R&D team has been working over the past few months to optimize the devices’ performance when using 300 of the most popular apps, including Chrome, by matching the app’s processor requirements with the most appropriate power. This has helped to provide a smooth experience while reducing power consumption.
The company added that this tweak resulted in lower ratings in benchmarking apps, but users matter more. Okay… so why not communicate these changes to them?
Friends, it appears OnePlus is going to launch a tablet. Its name? The OnePlus Pad. Let us all raise our fists to the heavens in honor of the person who got paid to come up with this moniker.
OnePlus hasn’t released any public details about the device, but it registered the “OnePlus Pad” name with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, also known as EUIPO. This was first spotted by MySmartPrice.
The filing didn’t go into much more detail than this. You can look at it below, if you’re that way inclined:
So… what can we expect from the OnePlus Pad? Honestly, it’ll probably be a lot like OnePlus phones: solid, affordable, and unremarkable.
This isn’t a bad thing in itself.
In most instances, I’d rather something that is solid and works, than an experimental device that promises much, but delivers little.
But… the OnePlus Pad? Really? I mean, it’s not a terrible name, but it’s unbelievably generic. At least add a bit of personality. How about the NordPad? The TabPad? The ScreenSlab? The Holy Fuckener?
How real is the OnePlus Pad?
Well, this filing with EUIPO doesn’t actually mean that the OnePlus Pad will see the light of day. There are encouraging signs that this is more than just making sure they hold the trademark to the OnePlus Pad name.
I still have my doubts about how successful something like the OnePlus Pad will be. Of course, it could find a home in the market. Tablet sales on an upward trend and the company has a strong track record, which may drive consumers into its arms.
For me, the biggest question is how OnePlus will differentiate this tablet from its competitors. The Android tablet market is jam-packed and, at the moment, it’s tough to see how the OnePlus Pad will stand out from offerings like Huawei’s MatePad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Let’s just hope the company’s engineering team is a bit more inspired than whoever decided on the ‘OnePlus Pad’ name.
OnePlus revealed today that they’d be expanding their software update and support system for new devices and old devices back to OnePlus 8. To make this happen, OnePlus is “working on integrating the codebase of OxygenOS and ColorOS.” According to OnePlus OxygenOS Product Lead Gary Chen, this is a change that users wont likely notice on their phones – meaning there’ll be no major change to the software UI, for now.
Behind the scenes with OPPO
“This is a change that you will likely not even notice since it’s happening behind the scenes,” said Chen. “We now have a larger and even more capable team of developers, more advanced R&D resources, and a more streamlined development process all coming together to improve the OxygenOS experience.”
SEE TOO: OnePlus and OPPO are merging: Here’s what that means
Chen also suggested that the company decided that they’d “best leverage our shared resources with OPPO” by integrating the codebase of OxygenOS and ColorOS. This would, said Chen, “improve efficiency and standardize the software experience across our portfolio.”
The next big change in software, with this new “more stable and stronger platform” will occur in a single OTA update that’ll also deliver Android 12. Devices that are released in the future will have this newly integrated platform right out the box.
OnePlus Android update commitments
OnePlus committed to 3 major Android updates and 4 years of security updates for all OnePlus devices, including T and R series, back to OnePlus 8. If you have a OnePlus flagship device that is a OnePlus 8 or newer, OnePlus suggests you’ll get 3 major Android updates – that effectively means you’ll get the key Android update of the year for the three years after the phone was first launched.
OnePlus committed to 2 major Android updates and 3 years of security updates for the first OnePlus Nord phone and newer Nord/Nord CE devices. The Nord N series, starting with the Nord N10 and N100, will get 1 major Android update and 3 years of security updates.
All OnePlus devices released prior to the OnePlus 8 series will remain part of the guaranteed “2 major Android updates and 3 years of security updates” system. OnePlus also suggested that certain devices may not follow along with the pack in this regard if they are a “carrier version.” Per Chen, “Software update plans for carrier versions will follow the requirements of our carrier partners.”
OnePlus takes great pride in how it handles customer feedback, sometimes even conceding its position to accommodate their requests. It is, however, far from perfect as this latest incident around a user survey demonstrates. It may have been a simple clerical error but when OnePlus asked owners of the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7T about the Always-On Display feature that came with OxygenOS 11, those owners were up in arms because that feature was not made available to those devices without prior warning or explanation.
Always-on Display has been one of the most requested features from users to the point that OnePlus eventually agreed to implement it. It arrived together with OxygenOS 11 and Android 11 and users were definitely excited about it. Unfortunately, it seems to only apply to the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 8 generations as the stable OxygenOS 11 update for the OnePlus 7 and 7T was silent on that feature.
Now OnePlus is asking owners to fill in to give their feedback on the update and asks about their experience with the AOD feature. Users definitely made their displeasure known on the OnePlus forums for what they considered to be an insulting question given the context. It is, of course, a single non-essential feature and might have been just a clerical error but the incident has rubbed salt on still open wounds.
The OxygenOS 11 update for both phones has been widely regarded as buggy and, for some, almost unusable. There is, of course, no way to go back to the older Android 10 version, especially without wiping one’s phone completely. A vocal number of users have not only called out OnePlus over it but also stated their departure from the brand.
Some of those have pointed out this survey as an example of how OnePlus doesn’t listen or pay attention to user feedback, which makes the exercise moot and academic for them. To be fair, though, there are also instances where OnePlus has indeed listened or at least acknowledged the community’s concerns but its silence over the OnePlus 7 OxygenOS 11 update and missing AOD feature isn’t helping its cause.
The OnePlus 9 Pro arrives with a major focus on camera performance, an improved display, and the newest Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 888. Over the years, OnePlus has been aiming at the flagship end of the market, hoping to gain a foothold in that exclusive smartphone tier. But do these latest improvements—particularly in the camera—put OnePlus in a position to challenge Samsung’s Galaxy S21 or Apple’s iPhone 12? Let’s dive in.
Pre-orders for the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro open March 26th, while the release date is slated for April 2nd. For this launch, there are four different phone configurations, each with its own color and spec combination. The lowest-end OnePlus 9 model comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and costs $729. The top-end configuration (which I review here) costs $1,069, and features 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. As such, the 9 Pro hits basically the same price as the Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G, and costs a bit more than last year’s OnePlus 8 Pro.
Main: 48MP, f/1.8 aperture, Sony IMX789 sensor, OIS/EIS
Ultra-wide: 50MP, f/2.2, Sony IMX766
Telephoto: 8MP, f/2.4
Front: 16MP, f/2.4, Sony IMX471, EIS
OnePlus 9 Pro camera: Minor improvements
In early March, OnePlus announced a partnership with Hasselblad, the boutique professional camera manufacturer that’s been operating for more than 80 years. The goal: to improve the camera systems in its phones dramatically over the course of three years. The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro are the first phones to emerge from this partnership, and receive prominent Hasselblad branding inside the camera module. But does having Hasselblad involved actually improve the camera experience? Let’s first touch on how the companies work together.
Hasselblad has a long history of making high-end camera gear, including world-famous lenses. The lens systems in today’s smartphones are very complicated, and if there’s any company that could help out in this department, I’m fully confident it’s Hasselblad, especially given its track record in refining glass. OnePlus claims only one-percent edge distortion on its ultra-wide camera, while most smartphone lenses rate at 10 to 20 percent. In practical terms, this means photos taken with OnePlus’ ultra-wide camera will be sharper around the edges and suffer less extreme warping.
This holds true in my testing, and, in fact, edge distortion is the biggest improvement in the OnePlus camera system. In side-by-side comparisons, the 8 Pro’s images looks smeared around the edges compared to the 9 Pro’s, exhibiting plenty of what’s called chromatic aberration. This shows up in the 8 Pro’s images as purple outlines around dark edges, and is a surefire marker of poorer lens quality. There’s always some bending and wrapping of the light in such small lenses, but Hasselblad was definitely able to refine the system in the 9 Pro.
The next area of focus for the Hasselblad/OnePlus partnership was in the camera’s color science. Color science, in simple terms, is a camera’s unique approach for capturing accurate and pleasing colors. Every camera—including every smartphone camera—boasts its own color science that blends the quest for color accuracy with the manufacturer’s own subjective preferences.
This is easier said than done. The camera must balance color coming from different light sources, determine how that color affects objects in frame, and then make decisions on how all this information will affect colors in the final image. Improving color science isn’t as easy as “being more accurate.” Rather, it involves a lot of software tuning, an area where Google has excelled in its Pixel phones, but where OnePlus has traditionally fallen short.
In my testing, this isn’t a cut-and-dry win for the 9 Pro over the 8 Pro. With smartphone cameras featuring multi-sensor arrays, it’s always difficult to maintain the same color quality across each camera—and the 9 Pro features a three-camera array on the back. This means you’ll see slightly different colors as you go from the ultrawide to main to telephoto sensors. This was a problem with the OnePlus 8 Pro, and it continues to be a problem on the 9 Pro.
When directly comparing equivalent lenses between the two OnePlus generations, I don’t see any drastic improvements in terms of color reproduction. In fact, there are plenty of scenes where I prefer the colors of the 8 Pro, especially when shooting in mixed-lighting scenarios. The 9 Pro holds an edge in brightly lit outdoor scenes, but the 8 Pro does a bit better in low-light, indoor scenes. Once again, color preferences can be very subjective, but for all the hoopla OnePlus is touting with its Hasselblad partnership, I expected a more consistent experience.
The final piece of the Hasselblad/OnePlus partnership falls in the software/image processing department. In this area I’m a bit more skeptical because professional camera needs are quite different from smartphone camera needs. Hasselblad cameras are made for professional use, and their image processing is very much tailored around that use case. Mobile photography is more focused on ease of use and extreme JPEG processing—two things I would never call a strength for Hasselblad.
So did Hasselblad add image processing value to the OnePlus 9 Pro? In my testing, the biggest differences I’m seeing between the processing in the 8 Pro and the 9 Pro are in sharpness and HDR. The 9 Pro features sharper photos when viewed under scrutiny—some of which is the result of lens improvements, but also more aggressive post-processing sharpening. This is obvious in the more “contrast-y” edges around small details like rocks and wood grains.
In images that don’t feature people, this is a great. But it can backfire when taking photos of faces, as it tends to accentuate imperfections. The 8 Pro’s images feel natural and were plenty sharp to begin with, so depending on the subject of any photo, I wouldn’t call this a win for the 9 Pro.
OnePlus has already stated that its partnership with Hasselblad is going to be a multi-year journey, and that’s backed up by relatively incremental improvements in the 9 Pro. While there are already some signs of positive change, it’s not a drastic leap over the 8 Pro, so don’t get your hopes up. But I do believe this is a step in the right direction, and I look forward to the day when a OnePlus phone stands toe-to-toe with the best smartphone cameras on the market.
OnePlus 9 Pro OS experience
The OnePlus formula has always been marrying high-end specs to a simple phone experience, and then offering that package at an affordable price. While this approach has changed over the past few years as OnePlus gradually increased prices, the OnePlus 9 Pro still packs the high-end specs you’d expect of a flagship.
We first experienced the Snapdragon 888 processor in the Samsung Galaxy S21, but it continues to impress in day-to-day snappiness and solid battery life. For everyday use, the phone’s 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage have been more than capable of keeping up with my workload. The new Turbo Boost 3.0, meanwhile, uses a couple of technologies to allow more apps to stay open in the background. I can’t actively remember a time that I saw one of my main apps needing to reload because it fell out of memory. Everything, including games, loads quickly and seamlessly with no hangs.
The 9 Pro’s 4,500 mAh battery easily lasted me through some days of heavy use, while other days it hit 20 percent by 8:00 pm. This really seemed to depend on the things I was using my phone for, and probably varies due to the new display technology (more on that later). Luckily the phone’s fast-charging capabilities—over wired and wireless connections—continue to impress. A mere 15 minutes on the Warp 50 Wireless Charger (sold separately for $69) charged the 9 Pro from about 20 percent to 50 percent—more than enough to get me through the rest of the day.
The 9 Pro’s fast performance is complemented by a smooth and beautiful display. On top of the high refresh rate of 120Hz, OnePlus has implemented a LTPO OLED display that features multiple benefits. For starters, the new display tech uses less power—OnePlus claims 50 percent less—thanks to its Smart 120Hz feature.
In a gaming phone that’s tuned for pure speed, the display’s refresh rate will be locked to 120Hz, and the display will drain more power to maintain that speed. But if you’re doing a mixture of tasks in normal usage, you want the display to adapt to what you’re viewing. Scrolling Twitter or Instagram? You want smooth motion. Pausing to read a PCWorld article? Then you don’t need the screen to refresh as fast, which should ultimately preserve battery. Thanks to its Smart 120Hz feature, the display in the OnePlus 9 Pro can even go down to a refresh rate of 1Hz—that’s a first for a smartphone. The screen was plenty bright to see outside in daylight, and wasn’t blinding in a completely dark room.
The QHD+ (3216×1440) display is also great at color reproduction. The long list of calibration features are interesting to a professional like myself, but in plain terms the colors just pop. Colors look bold and vibrant even in bright light, and I never had to worry about odd coloring when editing photos for Instagram. This is easily one of the best and most comfortable displays I’ve used to date, a real treat.
When it comes to the Android-based operating system, Oxygen OS 11, I’m still not a huge fan. I much prefer the more stock-like Android approach of past OnePlus phones. Still, it’s got a nice, clean design that organizes everything in a simple and easy-to-use way. The latest Oxygen offers a snappy experience that rivals what’s found on Samsung Galaxy phones.
That said, I wish various design elements didn’t take up so much space. Each “bubble” in the notification shade takes up more space than I would like, and the menu layout in the Settings app takes more scrolling than I believe it needs. These are all personal preferences, of course, and you might love the look and feel. But like I mentioned, I tend to lean toward stock Android—probably more than most phone reviewers.
OnePlus 9 Pro: Who should buy it?
Other than its marvelous display, the OnePlus 9 Pro isn’t a giant leap over the company’s Pro devices of the past few years. I’m absolutely loving the new display, and even if you’ve purchased a OnePlus device in the past year, this might be worth a look for the screen alone. If you’re coming from an even older device, this one will blow your socks off—and you will, of course get the generational upgrades in terms of camera and processor speeds.
I’ve always believed that a OnePlus phone is the next logical step for Google Pixel users, as it improves upon stock Android in smart ways without bogging down the experience. While the camera system isn’t as consistent and reliable as a Pixel phone’s, the rest of the hardware is a major upgrade in both looks and performance. OnePlus does typically offer quick Android version updates (though of course they will never be as quick as on a Pixel).
If you’ve been burned by other Android devices with more bloated OS experiences, then Oxygen OS will be a breath of fresh air. While the hardware doesn’t feature any whiz-bang crazy new gimmicks, OnePlus devices have always favored dependability more than flashy tricks and a bunch of features that most people don’t use.
OnePlus 9 Pro: Bottom line
Ever since the 5T came out, OnePlus became my de facto choice for “best bang for the buck” in an Android phone. The OS improved on the stock Android experience in smart ways, the physical hardware was typically clean and good looking, and OnePlus packed high-end features while undercutting the prices of competitors.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is a rock-solid phone in every aspect, and continues to build on that great legacy established with the 5T. The screen is beautiful, the OS is snappy and clean, and the camera system, while a work in progress, is off to a promising start. Overall, it gets my recommendation, if only for the awesome display.
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OnePlus already confirmed the existence of its next mid-range phone, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G. Since then, a lot of rumors and leaks have sprung up but, in typical OnePlus fashion, it isn’t letting others drive the narrative. Instead, it is doing its own bit of teasing of the features that its fans can expect and, to be fair, it definitely bodes well, despite some of the things that the OnePlus Nord CE 5G will be leaving cutting out.
With a name like “Core Edition”, OnePlus already let it be known that the Nord CE 5G will offer “distilled essentials”. What that means in practice is still unknown but some have already leaked the use of an older Snapdragon 750G, which isn’t confirmed yet. What is more or less confirmed, however, is the single front-facing camera down from the OnePlus Nord’s two.
That confirmation comes from OnePlus itself while teasing the phone’s 64MP camera. The short clip, along with other official teasers, also confirms the phone’s design. Contrary to rumors, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G will still have the same camera design as its predecessor, though the LED flash may have been moved down just a bit.
OnePlus also confirms one very important good news for Nord hopefuls. Despite boasted to be thinner, the phone still has room for a 3.5mm headphone jack, a feature that was missing from the original OnePlus Nord. This will definitely be welcome in target markets where wired earphones are still the norm.
Pricebaba provides the revised render pictured above that looks eerily similar to the first OnePlus Nord in most ways. Other leaks also hint at a 90Hz 6.43-inch screen, also similar to the OG Nord, and other features that make it seem few things have changed. We will get the final details in a few days on June 10 so it won’t be a long wait for those interested in what the next-gen OnePlus Nord will bring to the already congested mid-range phone market.
Last year, OnePlus embarked on a new journey towards the mid-tier smartphone market with its new Nord series, and, at least according to the company, they are hot-selling items in markets where they launched. It’s a bit curious, then, that the next OnePlus Nord that the company will launch might actually be a slight downgrade from the first one. Regardless, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G is coming next week and this latest leak leaves no stone unturned.
Granted, the switch from a Snapdragon 765G in the OnePlus Nord to the Snapdragon 750G rumored for the OnePlus Nord CE 5G isn’t as big a step down as it may sound. Dropping from two to a single 16MP front-facing camera, on the other hand, may disappoint some but is probably negligible. There is also one less camera on its back but the main camera does get upgraded to 64MP.
In other aspects, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G does have some upgrades but a lot is also the same, at least according to MySmartPrice’s report. The battery is larger at 4,500 mAh but the memory and storage selections are the same as last year’s model, which means 6 or 8 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of storage. There’s also an in-display fingerprint scanner, which is also present last year.
All in all, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G seems to live up to its name of being a “Core Edition”, which means a distilled OnePlus Nord experience. Whether or not it will live up to expectations as a successor of the first OnePlus Nord remains to be seen when the company unveils it on June 10.
According to the leak, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage will cost around 25,000 INR, roughly $340. Of course, OnePlus already announced that it will launch first in India and European markets and North American customers will have to wait for a much more “distilled” OnePlus Nord N200 5G later this year.
OnePlus just loves tying up with companies to put their brand on its devices and spread its devices to fans of those franchises. It tried that tactic for a few years with racing car marque McLaren but that partnership ended last year. Now it seems to be cozying up to other companies, including CD Projekt RED and its controversial Cyberpunk 2077 game. As it did for one of its phones, it is now making a OnePlus Watch Cyberpunk 2077 Edition that you won’t be able to get easily unless you live in China.
Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most anticipated games of the past few years so it’s no surprise how large the outcry was when it failed to deliver. It was plagued with bugs, especially on consoles, and was criticized heavily for some of the content. Still, it also had its fans and surprisingly sold well despite all odds.
OnePlus made a big gamble on that game franchise’s popularity and notoriety when it debuted the OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk Edition late last year, around the same time that the game launched. It may have paid off, at least with positive first impressions when we unboxed the rare device. Now it’s giving its equally controversial OnePlus Watch the same treatment, albeit with much less fanfare and fan service.
Unlike the OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition, the OnePlus Watch version is visually indistinguishable from a regular OnePlus Watch, especially with its screen turned off. The only telltale sign is the black rubber straps with yellow accents that match the game’s aesthetics. There’s also a custom watch face with yellow digits and cyan highlights.
Other than that, it’s the exact same OnePlus Watch hardware and, more importantly, software. The initial version of that custom OnePlus smartwatch software hasn’t been received warmly but the company has been pushing out updates to address those criticisms. The OnePlus Watch Cyberpunk 2077 Edition is slated to launch on May 24 but, just like its OnePlus 8T counterpart, might be exclusive to the Chinese market only.