OnePlus 9 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro: Which camera is better?

Do we have a new smartphone camera champion?

I’ve been reviewing the OnePlus 9 Pro over the last few weeks, and since I also have an iPhone 12 Pro, here are a few sample images to compare how the two smartphones’ cameras perform.

If you want the full resolution image files, I’ve uploaded all the OnePlus 9 Pro sample shots and the iPhone 12 Pro pictures here. Fore more on the OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9, check out my review of the smartphones.

Check out all of the camera comparisons below:

Main camera shots

This first shot shows two very comparable cameras. However, I find the natural bokeh and colour balancing a little more pleasing with the OnePlus 9 Pro.

Once again, we’re looking at two really similar images, with the main difference being how much wider the OnePlus 9 Pro’s basic lens is. The iPhone 12 Pro also over-sharpens the background in this shot.

This example is a masterclass in ‘spot the differences,’ and it really just comes down to colour processing.

In this picture, I like how much more warmth and colour the OnePlus 9 Pro got out of the hallways and how it handled the light at the top of the image.

This image hints at a problem I’ve seen a lot when comparing smartphone cameras. They’re often very inconsistently try to add blue to the sky. In this instance, it was twilight when I was out and the actual colour of the sky fell somewhere between these two pictures.

Both also look decently sharp from a distance, but you can see a significant detail drop off in the ground quality of the pictures, with the field looking like an over-smoothed blur.

This final image shows that once again, OnePlus colour balance has come a long way this year. Compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, the colours of the back wall are really spot on. This is another good example of the nicer, natural bokeh the OnePlus 9 Pro offers when compared to the iPhone 12 Pro.

Wide-Angle shots

OnePlus has hyped up its new wide-angle shooter a lot, and this image illustrates why. As you can see with the iPhone 12 Pro and every other wide-angle camera I’ve tested, the edges of the picture warp. With the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, that doesn’t happen.

Zoom shots

The OnePlus 9 Pro has an instant upper-hand here since its 3.3x zoom reached just a little further than the iPhone 12 Pro’s 2x. Neither is terrible, but I’ll take the OnePlus camera here because it has ability to get a little closer.

Night mode and low-light

I gravitate towards the iPhone 12 Pro here, but I think the OnePlus 9 Pro is a little more natural since it hasn’t boosted the highlights quite as dramatically.

A sample image from a Fujifilm X-T3 mirrorless camera.

I don’t have high-end samples for every comparison, but for reference, this is an unedited jpeg from my Fuji X-T3 with a 23mm (50mm equivalent) lens. The OnePlus 9 Pro lens is a 23mm equivalent, so it’s not quite the same image.

However, if you’ve read my OnePlus 9 series review, you’ll know that while I think it’s fun OnePlus added professional camera specs, I’m worried it’s all for nothing since it’s still leagues behind a real camera. This image illustrates that.

These pictures were both shot with their phones’ respective night modes enabled. The iPhone 12 Pro crushed OnePlus 9 Pro thanks to its accurate colour representation and the fact that it didn’t make my girlfriend Alex look green.

This photo also had the night modes enabled. I would argue that while neither is great, at least you can see a bit more of the scene with the OnePlus 9 Pro’s camera.

Beyond that, in my experience night mode shots across all phones are very hit and miss. It’s a nice feature to have since sometimes you can take amazing pictures (like this one I snapped with a 7T last year), but overall it’s a very tough area to compare.

Portraits

Portrait mode is another area where it seems the iPhone 12 Pro can’t be beaten. The focus is really inconsistent with OnePlus 9 Pro, and I even have a version of the above image that has Alex’s shirt in focus and her face entirely blurry.

The above image is reversed with her shirt having inconsistent focus and the bokeh around her head being too cleanly cut and not perfect.

Even on a different day the OnePlus 9 Pro still couldn’t figure out my camera strap after four tries. It’s slightly better than the above example, but the iPhone 12 Pro took a clean shot on attempt one.

Without Portrait mode enabled, the cameras are a little more evenly matched, but for some reason, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s photo was really washed out when I was shooting here.

Macro

The OnePlus 9 Pro sweeps the maco category since the iPhone 12 Pro doesn’t really have official macro shooting capabilities. That said, this particular camera is definitely more for fun, and I only find myself using it a few times a year. That said, whenever I do use it, I often end up with some cool shots.

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