First look at OnePlus and Hasselblad’s $150 million camera collaboration


Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a handful of leaks regarding the upcoming OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, hinting at a collaboration with Hasselblad in regards to the cameras on the smartphone. OnePlus even got in on the action with Pete Lou, the company’s CEO, sharing a picture of the earth taken from the moon which was famously captured with a Hasselblad camera on one of the Apollo missions while teasing a March 8th announcement. 

Well, March 8th has officially arrived and we now have our first look at the OnePlus and Hasselblad smartphone camera collaboration ad what it means for the upcoming OnePlus 9 smartphones. 

While I was a bit worried that the collaboration between the two companies wouldn’t be much more than a simple cross-promotional handshake, there actually seems to be a real collaboration to improve the cameras on the OnePlus 9 series and other OnePlus devices in the future. If, like me, you didn’t think OnePlus was keen on improving its camera technology, this $150 million dollar investment over the next three years proves otherwise. 

In Pete Lou’s own words:

“With OnePlus’ top-of-the-line hardware and computational photography and Hasselblad’s rich aesthetic knowledge in traditional photography, I am confident that the OnePlus 9 Series will be a major leap forward in our ability to deliver a premium, flagship camera.”

Let’s just hope OnePlus can deliver on that promise.

The good news is that it sounds like OnePlus and Hasselblad are teaming up in the same way that Huawei did with Leica all those years ago. Before that, Huawei’s smartphone cameras were forgettable, but once they started working with Leica, they delivered dramatic improvements to their flagship smartphones that pushed them past Samsung and even Apple. If OnePlus and Hasselblad manage to do that same, we could be witnessing the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between the two companies and more importantly, much better cameras on flagship devices from OnePlus. 

What does this mean for the OnePlus 9?

While the collaboration announcement was just made, Hasselblad and OnePlus have been hard at work for a while to deliver an improved imaging experience to the OnePlus 9 phones. 

The first phase will start with how images are processed on OnePlus smartphones with Hasselblad weighing in on sensor calibration, color tuning, and sensor calibration. The jointly developed Natural Color Calibration standard aims to deliver more natural-looking images from the new smartphones. 

The phones will also include a new Hasselblad Pro camera mode that will give users the ability to fine-tune the controls on their own, tweaking ISO, focus, exposure times, white balance and more and capture images that will deliver richer colors and higher dynamic range than what we’ve seen on previous devices. 

As far as the camera hardware goes, the company has revealed that the OnePlus 9 devices will sport a freeform lens that practically eliminates edge distortion in ultra-wide photos. The main camera will feature a custom Sony IMX789 sensor which is the largest image sensor ever used on a OnePlus device. The sensor is capable of capturing 12-bit RAW images with 64-times more color than previous sensors used, leading to improved dynamic range for HDR photos and videos and the ability to capture 4K video at 120 fps and 8K video at 30 frames per second. 

OnePlus is saving the final details regarding the other cameras on its two Oneplus 9 devices, but both are expected to have an ultrawide and zoom camera on the back in addition to the main camera sensor while the pro should have a yet unknown fourth camera as well. 

What will Hasselblad deliver in the coming years?

In the future, Hasselblad will help guide the technology standards of the mobile camera experience on future smartphones and develop innovative imaging technologies for what will be known at the Hasselblad Camera for Mobile.

Some of the improvements mentioned include a panoramic camera with a 140-degree field of view, T-lens technology for lightning-fast focus in the front-facing camera, though we don’t know when those new cameras will be making their debut. 

As for the oNePlus 9 series, we won’t have to wait too much longer. The new devices will make their debut on March 23 at 10:00 AM ET. 

Nick Gray
I'm a life-long tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC. After writing about tech for more than a decade, I jumped at the opportunity to take on the role of Editor in Chief at Phandroid. Please contact me at [email protected].

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