The Hasselblad camera system on the OnePlus 9 Pro is the best on any OnePlus phone. If you haven’t read my review, you can find that here with tons of photo comparisons. Today, we’re focusing just on the OnePlus 9 Pro’s low-light and night photography. Specifically, how it compares to Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The OnePlus 9 Pro’s main 48-megapixel camera uses a Sony IMX 789 sensor. It’s massive for a phone and its ability to collect tons of light means low-light photography, even without Nightscape (OnePlus’ name for night mode), gets a big boost.
In this photo of a street taken at almost midnight, the OnePlus 9 Pro takes a brighter image with more details in the shadows.
I gotta hand it to OnePlus. Nightscape has come a long way and it’s incredible on the OnePlus 9 Pro. You can see the individual bricks in this building that you simply can’t in the S21 Ultra night mode shot. I’m actually floored by not only the shorter exposure time on the 9 Pro (usually 2-3 seconds faster than the S21 Ultra), but the clarity. Just look at the dynamic range in the rain on the ground, too. Spectacular!
The selfie camera on the 9 Pro is showing its age. Most phones usually turn the screen into a flash by momentarily flashing white before you take a selfie in low light. By default, the 9 Pro didn’t do that... ever. But the S21 Ultra did. In this comparison, one photo looks really dark and the other looks too bright. A good night selfie portrait would ideally land in the middle, preserving some feeling of darkness while maintaining enough detail.
While we’re testing the selfie camera at night, here are regular selfies. Just like the portrait mode selfies, the OnePlus 9 Pro didn’t turn the screen into a flash to illuminate my face. The result is a more natural night selfie, but one without as much detail. The S21 Ultra lit up my face and exposed my clothing, but it’s clear I had an extra light boost.
At longer range zoom, the OnePlus 9 Pro gets crushed. Even though the S21 Ultra’s second telephoto takes grainy photos at 10x optical zoom, it still looks better than the OnePlus 9 Pro’s 10x digital zoom. It’s no contest. Color is a different story. On the 9 Pro, you can actually see the blue light coming in from this person’s apartment, which is what it looked like IRL.
The OnePlus 9 Pro’s main and ultra-wide cameras are *chef’s kiss* for night photography. The images don’t lie. Where the OnePlus really lags is with the telephoto and selfie cameras — the hardware is literally from years ago and it shows. Portrait photography at night still needs work, too. But that goes for every phone, including the iPhone.