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OnePlus 9 Review – What you gain and lose VS OnePlus 9 Pro

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The OnePlus 9 is very, very similar to the OnePlus 9 Pro. Today we’re going to decide if it’s worth buying one over the other – and if it’s time to upgrade from an older OnePlus device. The OnePlus 9 Pro is approximately $240 more than the non-Pro device, comparing both devices with their lowest-tier base pricing. Both have the same display, Hassleblad branding, and a similar camera setup – so what’s the difference?

Display

The OnePlus 9 has a 6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED display panel with 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution, giving it a 402ppi pixel density. This device has a single punch-hole in its upper left-hand corner for a forward-facing camera to peek through. The panel has rounded corners and a flat face.

The OnePlus 9 Pro has a slightly larger display at 6.7-inches, but its left and right side are curved. The display resolution on the OnePlus 9 Pro is 1440 x 3216, giving it a 525ppi pixel density. The OnePlus 9 Pro is both taller and wider (but not thicker) than the OnePlus 9, but because the OnePlus 9 has a flat display, the two devices feel more similar to one another than they would if both devices had the same flatness (or amount of curve).

Because both devices have AMOLED displays, they should be capable of both extreme brightness and extreme dimness. OnePlus suggests that the OnePlus 9 is capable of 1100 nits peak brightness, while the Pro should be able to reach 1300 nits at its peak.

We’re not using any scientific instruments to judge the actual light levels here – but it would appear that both devices can reach almost identical dimness. The peak brightness in the OnePlus 9 Pro is ever-so-slightly noticeably more intense than that of the non-Pro.

The touch polling on the OnePlus 9 isn’t quite as top-tier as it is on the Pro. The Pro has what OnePlus calls “Hyper Touch”, which means we’re getting up to 360Hz touch polling in certain instances, and 240Hz most of the time. The OnePlus 9 has a max 240Hz touch sample rate. NOTE: Simple touch testing suggests we’re certainly MAXED out at 240Hz touch sample rate on OnePlus 9, while OnePlus 9 Pro reaches above 240Hz, unless limited by the active game/app.

Processor, RAM, Storage

Both OnePlus 9 devices have the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and the same amount of internal data storage – either 128 or 256GB. Both devices have the same LPDDR5 RAM – either 8 or 12GB. Both devices run the same software – save the few features that appear on the OnePlus 9 Pro that do not appear on the non-Pro 9 (mostly dealing with display/touchscreen refresh rates).

Materials, Buttons, Sensors, Speakers

Both devices have Gorilla Glass up front and around back, but the OnePlus 9 has a plastic frame (sandwiched between the glass front and back), while the Pro has aluminum. If you’ve got both devices in cases, you’d never know one had plastic or aluminum.

Both devices feel premium in a way that matches their cost. The industrial design choices OnePlus made for the OnePlus 9 series made for a classic product that’s just different enough from the competition to be uniquely OnePlus’ own.

Both devices have the same hardware buttons and options, USB-C, and front-facing camera. Both devices have the same USB-C tech, NFC capabilities, and fingerprint sensor (optical, under display). Both have the same sensors up front and inside, and the same set of speakers (both facing the same directions, forward and down).

The speaker system is very, very good on the OnePlus 9. The speaker system does not appear to be any less powerful and high-quality than what’s running in the OnePlus 9 Pro. OnePlus 9 has the Qualcomm WCD9385 audio codec, Qualcomm Aqstic platform tech, and the ability to deliver Dolby Atmos audio.

Camera

The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro both have Hassleblad branding, and both devices have what appear to be fairly similar camera setups. The front camera on both devices is literally the same – both have the same sensor, no difference.

The backside camera array is different in a few key ways. The main sensor on both devices is a 1/1.43″ 48-megapixel sensor with 1.12 μm/48M; 2.24 μm (4 in 1)/12M pixel size, 7P lens array, 23mm equivalent focal length, EIS, and f/1.8 aperture. But they don’t work with the same main image sensor.

The OnePlus 9 has a Sony IMX689 main image sensor, while the Pro has a Sony IMX789 main image sensor. As such, the Pro has optical image stabilization (OIS) and a slightly more expansive set of video capture abilities. With the Pro, for example, you’re able to capture 4K video up to 120fps, while the 4K video with the non-pro can only capture 30 or 60fps.

The Ultra-wide camera on the back of the OnePlus 9 is identical to that of the Ultra-wide camera on the Pro. Your wide photos are going to be able to be just as wide, regardless of which OnePlus 9 device you choose.

The Monochrome camera on both devices is also identical. You’ll be able to take Super Macro photos at as close-range with one device as the other.

The OnePlus 9 Pro has a Telephoto Camera in its back-facing array of cameras. This is an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with 1.0 μm pixel size and an f/2.4 aperture. This telephoto camera delivers 3.3x (77mm) optical zoom, while the OnePlus 9 has no particularly spectacular comparable zoom capabilities.

The OnePlus 9 Pro also has a laser sensor that’s meant to assist with speedy autofocus. The non-Pro OnePlus 9 has no such laser. Based on our tests with the devices, this feature doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference between the two devices.

Battery

The battery size on both devices is identical. Both devices can use USB-C wired Warp Charge 65T (10V/6.5A), so they can charge up several hours-worth of battery life in a matter of minutes. They can charge from zero to 100% in under an hour – and the majority of the way in just over 30 minutes.

Both devices have the ability to charge wirelessly with Qi-standard wireless chargers, and both devices can reverse-charge. If you activate said feature, one device can act as a wireless charger to charge any other Qi-standard wireless charge-capable device.

The OnePlus 9 wirelessly charges at a maximum 15W, no matter which wireless charger it’s working with. If you’re using the newest wireless charger from OnePlus – the OnePlus Warp Charge 50 Wireless Charger – you’ll be able to charge the OnePlus 9 Pro at 50W. The OnePlus 9 Pro charges from zero to 100% at under an hour with this charger.

The Warp Charge 50 Wireless Charger works with a fan to keep devices cool while they’re charging. If you’re using either the OnePlus 9 or 9 Pro, you can set a “Bedtime Mode” schedule. Bedtime Mode slows the charging and slows the fan to keep quiet so you can sleep (assuming the charger sits at your bedside.)

The battery very easily lasts a full day on a full charge with the OnePlus 9. When using the device for the most basic of purposes – email, camera, social networking, web browsing, we’ve been able to stretch battery life to nearly two full days on a single full charge.

Wrap-up

OnePlus 9 was announced with three different case color options: Winter Mist, Astral Black, and Arctic Sky. There are two options for RAM+ROM, one with 8+128, the other 12+256, priced at $729 and $829 respectively.

SEE TOO: Our OnePlus 9 Pro Review

The OnePlus 9 Pro was announced in Morning Mist and Pine Green. There are two RAM+ROM sizes here too, one with 8+128, the other 12+256, priced at $969 and $1069 respectively.

The most major differences between these devices are in the display size and shape, touch polling, wireless charging speed, and price. If you’re comparing the lesser of the OnePlus 9 models to the lesser of the OnePlus 9 Pro devices, the $240 difference in price is pretty significant – more significant than we’d judge sensible for the benefits.

You’re still getting 120Hz image refresh rate on the display, it’s still an AMOLED display, and the differences between camera systems are almost non-existent. Use the extra cash on a OnePlus protective case and buy yourself a dinner or two instead.

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Tile tracker prospective buyer Life360 accused of selling location data

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Many people who have caught a whiff of the many privacy issues in this digital age may presume that it all revolves around social media. The rather horrifying truth is that almost anything about a person that can be transmitted in a digital manner can be used to create a profile of that person, often for targeted marketing purposes. That especially includes the places you’ve been to, which is why location tracking has been a very thorny subject as far as privacy issues go. That’s why it’s a bit worrying that the popular Bluetooth tracker Tile might be acquired by a company that is now allegedly violating its own users’ privacy, which is ironic given the nature of Life360’s business.

Image Credit: Tile

READ: After trying Apple’s AirTag I can see why Tile is furious

Life360 might not be a familiar name to many people, but it has built a reputation around helping families keep track of one another, often with the goal of ensuring their safety. The app comes in handy in making sure kids are where they should be or that family members can send SOS messages in an emergency. These features obviously require some form of location tracking as well as some expectations of privacy.

A lengthy report from The Markup, however, casts some doubt on the latter. Former Life360 employees claim that the company basically sells the location data of its users to almost anyone for the right price. It even partnered with the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track “mobility trends” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Life365

Most of Life360’s customers, however, are involved in the advertising industry, providing insights for use with targeted advertising. Company founder and CEO Chris Hulls admits that they see this data as an important part of their business model but that they have privacy policies in place that prevent personally identifiable information (PII) from leaking to its clients. Life360 also credits this business model for allowing them to offer free life-saving services like driver safety.

Complicating matters, however, is Life360’s intent to acquire Tile, one of the most popular brands of Bluetooth trackers in the market today. With Apple’s AirTag and Samsung’s SmartTag, that market has seen a renewed interest as well as more intense scrutiny from privacy advocates and regulators.

The report, while not exactly damning, could put a dent in Life360’s plans. According to The Markup, Hulls said Life360 “doesn’t have plans” to sell Tile tracker data.

Regardless of those privacy policies, the mere thought that Life360, a service aimed at families with kids, deals heavily in the data-selling business is enough to raise red flags. Without many external safeguards in place, there is almost no telling how much information its partners are able to glean from the precise location data that it sells. Security and privacy experts have argued that even anonymized data can still be used to build a profile of an individual for targeted advertising, which can then be used to harvest other information from other sources (via Nature).

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Instagram parental controls about to change the way you browse

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Although Meta itself is no stranger to controversy and legal inquiries, it was Instagram that was put on the hot seat a few months back for the way it treated its younger users. From accusations of trying to profit at the expense of teens’ mental health to criticisms for lack of parental control, Instagram has been painted recently as an unsafe place for young people to be, despite its popularity with that demographic. The social network has tried to recover from that bad PR and is now announcing features to reassure parents, but some of those won’t be rolling out until next year.

Image Credit: Instagram

For Parents

Instagram isn’t new to the social networking game, and the bulk of its users come from younger generations. You’d think that, at this point, it would already have safety measures in place to let parents safeguard kids, but that was definitely not the case. To be fair, it wasn’t until recently that Instagram officially allowed minors in, but it should have had provisions ready for that situation.

Image Credit: Instagram

Better late than never, as some might say, and parental controls are finally coming to Instagram. The catch is that it won’t be until March next year before these parental controls become available. When it does, parents will finally have a say on how much time they want their kids to spend on Instagram. The company is also building an educational hub for parents that will probably try to ease their worries about the network’s impact on their children’s mental health.

For Teens

Parents won’t have to wait long for one promised feature, though. Starting today, teenage users from the US, the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia will be nudged to take a break every now and then when they’ve been scrolling through their feeds for too long. Although it’s too easy to dismiss these notifications, Instagram hints it will be a little persistent and almost nagging in reminding young users to leave that setting enabled.

Image Credit: Instagram

Instagram is also improving on limitations specific to teens’ accounts. For example, other people won’t be able to tag them in posts if the teens don’t follow those accounts. The network’s “Limit Even More” option for controlling sensitive content might also filter out potentially harmful search results, though this feature is still in its early testing stage.

For Everyone

There are also features being tested that will benefit not just teens but all users of all ages. Instagram is testing a new tool that will let users manage their activity better, like bulk deleting content, including previous likes and comments. If all goes well, this will be available in January.

Image Credit: Instagram

The social network is also preparing a “nudge” to remind users to look at other topics if they’ve been staring or searching for a single one for far too long. It’s almost like the “Take a Break” feature but focused on certain topics that can become an unhealthy obsession, especially if the subject matter can be deemed to be potentially harmful.

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Pixel Buds A feature drop includes a manual update option

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Unlike their simpler wired predecessors, wireless earbuds aren’t static accessories that you buy with a fixed set of features. At times, they aren’t even “perfect” when they launch, instead leaving plenty of room for improvements or new features. Like many smart devices today, Bluetooth earbuds can be updated to add those missing experiences, and Google is rolling out one such feature drop for its mid-range Pixel Buds A series, as well as a somewhat hidden feature that could make the update process a bit easier.

Image: Google

Google Store

Google announced an update to its Pixel Buds A-series earbuds on the same day as its big Feature Drop for Pixel phones. Whether this is going to be a new thing or a one-off coincidence still isn’t known. At least for the time being, however, Pixel Buds A owners can rest easy knowing they haven’t been forgotten.

The changelog for firmware 282 highlights three specific changes coming to the earbuds. Users will now have finer control over the bass levels they hear, presuming they’ve paired the buds with a phone running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or higher. There’s also a new loudness compensation toggle that will try to improve bass and treble when the volume is too low.

Last but not least, the Pixel Buds A will be smarter when trying to connect to paired devices, falling back to the second to last connected device if the last one isn’t reachable.

New update process leaks

Daniel Bader/Android Police

Updating Bluetooth earbuds’ firmware hasn’t exactly been the easiest, mind. The process often requires waiting for the update to hit, as well as making sure the earbuds are connected and ready for it. Google may be working on simplifying a part of this process, however, though the leak isn’t official just yet.

According to Android Police, some users have seen a new option in the Pixel Buds A’s settings page for manually triggering the update process. However, the actual availability of this update varies from market to market, plus it is a server-side change that users can’t control. The manual option still beats having to wait for the stars to align, though.

Users who don’t have the manual option yet will have to make sure their settings are in proper order, including granting the Pixel Buds app permission to find nearby devices. Google notes that Android 12 users specifically have to grant this permission since it’s a new one for that version of the mobile OS.

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