Sep 17th, 2021

2021 has not gone the way that OnePlus likely envisioned it would at the beginning of the year. We’ve seen a semi-unique partnership with Hasselblad, a bunch of budget and mid-range devices, and a slew of software problems. All of that has culminated into OnePlus essentially being turned into a sub-brand of Oppo, in an effort to keep the company from sinking completely.

The reason we point all of this out has to do with the latest OxygenOS update that is rolling out to OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro owners. This latest update primarily focuses on camera “improvements”, along with adding an all new XPan Mode option within the Hasselblad Camera for Mobile app.

According to the official OnePlus forum post, this mode has been “co-developed” between OnePlus and Hasselblad. When in use, you’ll see a rather unique preview of an image with a 65:27 aspect ratio. This takes pictures at two different focal lengths, and merges the two together.

But when you load the XPan Mode for the first time, you’re also greeted with an extremely odd and awkward layout, with the edges of the screen blurred out, along with guidelines to help lineup the shot. Actually snapping a picture is another ordeal entirely. Using a different exposure, the amount of time between tapping the shutter button and actually being able to view the image is about two seconds longer than normal. You’ll also notice a “negative” shot when taking the image, which is where the additional time comes from.

It’s very clear that this is more of a gimmick than anything else, and it doesn’t really feel like something that is a complete necessity. Instead, OnePlus should be putting more of its focus on improving other areas of the software, and not just adding more options to its camera app.

For those who have no intention of ever using or wanting to use this XPan Mode, there’s more to the update than just that. OnePlus explains that the camera app itself has been improved to launch faster, along with processing images faster than before. There are also a few “image quality optimizations” that have been added to the app, and here’s a list of what those are:

  • Optimize HDR frame retrieving algorithms and reduce noise in multiple scenes
  • Fix the over-sharpening issues in some scenarios in auto-mode
  • Improve the stability of auto white balance.
  • Optimize auto white balance shift between the main and ultra-wide cameras
  • Reduced the over-brightening of photos taken in Nightscape mode in some scenarios, for more natural night photos.
  • mprove the dynamic range in low-light conditions.

Truthfully, these are things that should have been included when the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro launched, not included in a software update more than six months after-the-fact.

On one hand, we’re ecstatic to see the OnePlus and Hasselblad partnership actually start to pay dividends other than just having a new camera app and some extra branding on the phones. But this software release just adds Creedence to the feeling that the announced partnership was rushed, just for OnePlus to get a couple of extra headlines. Maybe when the OnePlus 10 arrives, we’ll actually get a flagship camera experience out of the box.

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