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OnePlus’ next phones will come out on March 23rd

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Plus, a partnership with Hasselblad to improve its camera systems

OnePlus confirms it will launch its 9-series devices later this month.
Image: OnePlus

OnePlus has announced an official launch date for its next phones: the OnePlus 9 series will be formally announced on March 23rd at 10AM ET. It’s also confirming a partnership with Swedish camera maker Hasselblad to improve the devices’ camera systems — something that’s been leaked and hinted at previously.

Rumors thus far have pointed to the announcement of a OnePlus 9 Pro with curved 1440p 120Hz display, 45W fast charging, and reverse wireless charging. OnePlus’ reference to the “series” product launch would seem to confirm more than one device debuting later this month. There’s also confirmation of 5G, which isn’t surprising in this year of our lord 2021.

As for the Hasselblad partnership, details aren’t super promising. The two companies have agreed to a three-year deal to “co-develop the next generation of smartphone camera systems for future OnePlus flagship devices.” That includes the upcoming 9-series devices. For a start, the companies claim to have tweaked the cameras’ color reproduction to look more natural.

The 9-series will also use a new Sony IMX789 sensor and offer 12-bit RAW image capture, which the Samsung S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max also include. That’s a nice step forward to capture and retain this large amount of data, and it’s helpful for post-processing.

But a standard RAW file — even one that’s 12-bit — still misses out on the benefits of computational photography that you’ll enjoy taking a regular JPEG image with the native camera app. It would be even better to offer something like Apple’s ProRAW, which combines the benefits of those computational techniques and RAW image capture. That doesn’t seem to be what OnePlus is describing here, but we’ve reached out to ask and will update this story accordingly.

It’s fair to treat this Hasselblad partnership with some skepticism. OnePlus is far from the first smartphone manufacturer to partner with a legacy camera brand, and results from previous partnerships haven’t amounted to much. This isn’t even Hasselblad’s first partnership with a phone manufacturer. The company previously loaned its name to a MotoMod that was more or less just an underwhelming point-and-shoot camera. In this case, at least, the results of this joint venture will go into the phone itself — not on something that attaches to it.