Camera Comparison: OnePlus 9 vs. Pixel 5 vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra

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The new OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro are now official and we’re lucky enough to have them in our possession. We’ll soon have up full reviews for both devices, but while we’re working on those, we wanted to provide a bit of content focused on the rear cameras of these devices. And naturally, we want to see how they compare to the best shooters currently available, especially with this new Hasselblad partnership.

For camera specs, the OnePlus 9 features a main 48-megapixel sensor (Sony IMX689, same as the OnePlus 8 Pro), with f/1.8, and electronic image stabilization. There’s also a 50MP ultra-wide sensor (f/2.2), plus a monochrome 2MP sensor. For videos, there’s support for 8K recording at 30fps and 4K at 30 and 60fps. The larger OnePlus 9 Pro has an updated main 48MP sensor, the Sony IMX789. It features f/1.8, OIS, and EIS. The other cameras are a 50MP ultra-wide, 8MP telephoto, and 2MP monochrome. The OnePlus 9 Pro also supports 8K and 4K (up to 120fps) video recording.

Before diving into the comparison, a few notes. Let’s talk about this Hasselblad partnership real quick and what it brings to these phones. According to OnePlus, for these two phones, the company worked with Hasselblad to tune the color performance. They’re calling this Natural Color Calibration with Hasselblad and it applies to all of the cameras on each device. Additionally, there’s a Hasselblad Pro Mode (a rebranded Pro mode), providing “more authentic color for pro users in post-editing.” We assume most users won’t mess with this much, but should they, the idea is that the phone captures images the same way a traditional DSLR or mirrorless camera would. With that being said, computational photography features (like HDR) are not automatically applied.

For this comparison, we’ve pit the OnePlus 9 up against the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Pixel 5. Both of those phones have Grade A camera systems, and at least from what my eye tells me, the OnePlus 9 keeps up just fine. Below that, Kellen stacked the OnePlus 9 Pro up against the Pixel 5. No edits have been made to the photos, though, they have been resized and our site’s compression doesn’t help finer details come through. These photos will at least give you a good idea about exposure and color richness.

Feel free to look them over and then let us know in the comments which phone takes the cake.

OnePlus 9 (Left) vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra (Center) vs. Pixel 5 (Right)

Max Zoom Test

OnePlus 9 (max of 10X zoom)

Galaxy S21 Ultra (max of 100X zoom)

Pixel 5 (max of 7X zoom)

As I mentioned, Kellen has the OnePlus 9 Pro and put it up against the Pixel 5. If you’re interested to see how that turned out, have a look below.

OnePlus 9 Pro (Left) vs. Pixel 5 (Right)

It’ll be hard for many to see the subtle differences due to the compression that is taking place, but having seen the full-sized photos, this OnePlus 9 Pro is no joke. The photos are very crisp and capture quite a bit more detail, at least from what my eyes are telling me.

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