Back when the OnePlus 9 Pro launched, it didn't quite wow us with its design. OnePlus' designs have gotten increasingly generic over the years to the point where it would be genuinely challenging to pick them apart from the crowd. On the upside, they haven't started plastering giant blocks of text on the back of their phones just yet.
But while the OnePlus 9 Pro design doesn't really flex its creative muscles, it's still a sophisticated and elegant-looking device. Of special note is the Morning Mist color, which gradually goes from cloudy silver to a shining mirror as you go down the back of the phone.
Unfortunately, the OnePlus 9 Pro is really quite big and heavy. One-handed operation feels like a chore, especially if you have a case on. And it's particularly unpleasant to carry around in the pocket.
OnePlus also continues to make your life miserable by putting the volume and power button on either side of the phone, which apart from making you unintentionally take screenshots all the time, also forces you to adopt a weird claw-like grip every time you want to use the buttons on the side opposite to the hand you're using.
The alert slider continues to be a source of joy on OnePlus phones. It truly is a mystery while this handy piece of technology was only ever adopted by two companies in the smartphone space. However, as soon as you put a case on, including first-party ones from OnePlus, the slider becomes rather difficult to use.
One thing you can't fault the phone for is how well-built it feels. The weight and thickness are on the higher side but the phone feels like an absolute weapon in hand. It also has all the IP ratings you expect from a flagship phone these days.
Overall, the design and ergonomics disappoint but the phone is well-made and suitably premium.
The display on the OnePlus 9 Pro is flagship-grade. It's quite large, possibly to its own detriment. It's also curved, which is definitely to its detriment. It also has a bunch of features in the settings, many of which do weird things with the colors and frame rate and are generally best left off.
In terms of sheer image quality, the OnePlus 9 Pro display is one of the best on any phone currently on the market. The pixel density, the color accuracy, even the brightness and viewing angles, are all sublime.
Unfortunately, there's more to a display than just image quality. At launch, the OnePlus 9 Pro touchscreen had truly abysmal palm rejection. The phone would constantly detect touches at the sides of the display, which was difficult to avoid since the display is curved and basically part of the sides of the phone.
Over time, OnePlus managed to reduce the severity and frequency of false touches but hasn't gotten rid of it entirely, and it can still be a problem, especially if you use the phone in bed while holding it over you.
But what was possibly even worse was the way OnePlus had tried to tackle palm rejection in the early builds of the software. It failed to reject any actual accidental touches but would ignore very intentional touches.
The keyboard was most affected by this as the keys on the sides would simply not work at times. Important keys like shift or backspace had to be pressed multiple times because that part of the touchscreen would just go dead. You had to take a break from typing for a second before the entire touchscreen started working normally again, only to run into the issue a few seconds later. It was genuinely impossible to type anything longer than an emoji without wanting to smash the phone.
This actually took an embarrassingly long time for OnePlus to improve. It's still not completely fixed, but it's harder to run into the issue now than it was at launch.
What really solved most of the touchscreen issues with the OnePlus 9 Pro was using a case. The case separates your skin from the display when holding the phone by the sides and minimizes contact. While no one should have to put on a case, for this reason alone, it's what we did, and it did help us. It also made us wonder if anyone even tested this phone without a case.
Overall, the panel on the OnePlus 9 Pro is absolutely gorgeous in terms of image quality, but the curved sides and shoddy software made the display a usability nightmare and required using a case to work.