Both OnePlus and Xiaomi upped the camera ante with their latest smartphones, the OnePlus 9 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. OnePlus teamed up with Hasselblad to improve its image processing, while Xiaomi went all out with a full slate of capable lenses. These phones are at slightly different price points, but they are gunning for the same competitor: Samsung’s Galaxy S21 line, or more specifically the series’ photography champion, the Galaxy S21 Ultra. What does it take to compete with Samsung? Plenty.

In this OnePlus 9 Pro vs Xiaomi 11 Ultra camera shootout, we’ll compare a number of image samples across different shooting conditions to see which phone takes the better picture. You’ll be able to chime in and select your own winner through the poll at the bottom of the article.

The results should be easily differentiated from one another. In addition to different sensors and image processing algorithms, the two phones boast entirely different lens glass and focal lengths. The only thing the 9 Pro and Mi 11 Ultra share is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. How will this jumble of software and parts differ in this OnePlus 9 Pro vs Xiaomi 11 Ultra camera test? Let’s dig in.

Our take: OnePlus 9 Pro review | Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review


OnePlus 9 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: Camera specs

 OnePlus 9 ProXiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Main camera48MP, f/1.8, 1/1.43” sensor size, 1.12 μm/48M pixel size; 2.24 μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, 7P lens, 23mm equiv
OIS, EIS
Sony IMX789
50MP, f/1.95, 1/1.12" sensor size, 1.4μm pixel size, 2.8μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, 8P lens, 85-degree FoV
Supports OIS, dToF laser focus
Dual Pixel Pro, Dual Native ISO Fusion, Staggered-HDR
Wide-angle camera50MP, f/2.2, 1/1.56” sensor size, 7P lens, 14mm equiv.
Sony IMX766
48MP, f/2.2, 1/2.0" sensor size, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, PDAF, 7P lens, 128-degree FoV
Supports macro shooting
Telephoto camera8MP, f/2.4, 1.0 μm pixel size
2x optical zoom
48MP, f/4.1, 1/2.0” sensor size, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel
Supports OIS, PDAF
5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom, 120x digital zoom
Video8K @ 30fps
4K @ 30/60/120fps
1080p @ 30/60fps
8K @ 24fps
4K @ 30/60fps
1080p @ 30/60fps
720p @ 30/60fps
Front camera16MP, f/2.4, 1.0 μm pixel size, EIS
Sony IMX471
20MP, f/2.2, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel
78-degree FoV, FF
Front video1080p @ 30/60fps1080p @ 30fps
720p @ 30fps

Daylight

Daytime photos are when every camera should be at its absolute best. There’s ample light to cover everything, colors will be at their most natural, and shadows are deep and dark. The trick is capturing that color accurately and with good detail in the shadows.

See also: The best camera phones you can get

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Pub OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample DUBLIN PUB Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Pub
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample DUBLIN PUB

In this first image, the pub looks a more pleasant shade of green in the OnePlus 9 Pro shot. The Mi 11 Ultra’s shot looks a bit washed out here. There’s plenty of detail in both images.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Canon protecting town OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample cannon view Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Canon protecting town
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample cannon view

Here’s a standard landscape with green grass, brown trees, and blue sky. It should be a slam dunk for both phones. The 9 Pro shot is a bit cooler than the shot from the Mi 11 Ultra, which comes across as a bit warmer. Otherwise, these images share strong focus and clarity. Details of the small city below are just barely visible in both shots.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample canon OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample cannon Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample canon
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample cannon

This up-close shot of the cannon is dead even between the two. They are different, but in a way that doesn’t really matter.


Detail and HDR

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample fireplace OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample fireplace Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample fireplace
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample fireplace

There’s a lot going on when examining the detail in this shot. You’ve got brick, mortar, lots of green discoloration, and other color anomalies. More importantly, there’s a placard with some text on it. The text visible in the 9 Pro shot comes across just a bit cleaner. In fact, the entire 9 Pro shot is sharper and clearer looking than the Mi 11 Ultra’s, which comes across as slightly noisier and less refined.

Related: Camera shootout: OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample HDR OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample HDR Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample HDR
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample HDR

Here’s a challenging HDR sample. The sun was directly above the bridge, casting a deep shadow onto the support structure of the bridge. Here, the OnePlus 9 Pro absolutely spanks the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. It delivers far more detail in the dark regions, which are all but obscured in the Mi 11 Ultra shot.


Color

When you’re looking at color, there are personal preferences to consider. Are the colors true to life? Do they represent what your eyes saw in the real world when you took the photo? Some phones boost colors in a bid to make their photos look more vibrant. Some people prefer that look, while others prefer more natural tones.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Cluck U OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample CLUCK U Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Cluck U
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample CLUCK U

I’m not sure what’s going on with this set of photos. The Mi 11 Ultra clearly has some issues processing yellow. The yellow color produced by the OnePlus 9 Pro is far more accurate to real-life than that of the Mi 11 Ultra, which borders on orange.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample flower OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample FLOWERS Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample flower
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample FLOWERS

The Mi 11 Ultra didn’t get the greens quite right in the shot with the flowers, either.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample Les Paul OnePlus 9 Pro Photo Sample Les Paul Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample Les Paul
OnePlus 9 Pro Photo Sample Les Paul

Here the Les Paul is more accurate when captured by the OnePlus 9 Pro. There’s just too much extra coloration being applied in the shot from the Mi 11 Ultra. I think the shot from the 9 Pro is slightly sharper, as well.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample PRS Custom 22 OnePlus 9 Pro Photo Sample PRS Custom 22 Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample PRS Custom 22
OnePlus 9 Pro Photo Sample PRS Custom 22

Same goes for this image. The blue is closer to real-life from the 9 Pro when compared to the Mi 11 Ultra. Moreover, the shot from the Mi 11 Ultra has extra sharpening, while the 9 Pro’s shot is a bit soft.


Portraits and selfies

Bokeh-style portraits and selfies are available on both phones. Here is a smattering of samples from both the main camera and the rear camera. One thing worth pointing out is that the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has a selfie preview screen on the rear of the phone, which allows users to use the rear camera for selfies. This leads to dramatically better selfies when taken with the rear camera, though I suspect people will still use the front-facing camera most often for their selfies due to the larger preview screen.

Related: Best Android phones for taking selfies

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Jefferson OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample BOKEH 2 Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Jefferson
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample BOKEH 2

Here’s a look at the way the phones handle bokeh shooting. Each one was able to pull the statues out and blur the background, but you can see more detail in the shot by the Mi 11 Ultra, which is also better exposed.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample selfie OnePlus 9 Pro photo sample selfie Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample selfie
OnePlus 9 Pro photo sample selfie

In this series of selfies, the sample from the OnePlus 9 Pro is inexplicably soft. I’m not thrilled with it. The shot from the Mi 11 Ultra is sharper, but it has done way more processing on my skin and made me look like a mannequin — and that was with the beauty filter set to low! Thankfully you can turn it off entirely if you wish.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample self portrait 1 OnePlus 9 Pro photo sample self portrait Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample self portrait 1
OnePlus 9 Pro photo sample self portrait

In this set of self-portraits, again, the sample from the OnePlus 9 Pro is soft while the image from the Mi 11 Ultra is over-processed. I can’t say I am thrilled with the results from either camera here.


Zoom and ultra-wide

Both cameras boast dedicated zoom hardware. Where the OnePlus 9 Pro has a pretty simple 3.3x optical zoom camera, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has a periscoped telephoto lens that is capable of up to 5x optical zoom and 120x digital zoom. That leads to quite a difference in the photos.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Falls 5x OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample falls zoom Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Falls 5x
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample falls zoom

Here’s a simple zoom shot at each camera’s max optical zoom range. You can see how the Mi 11 Ultra crops in closer. The shots are about on par as far as detail and sharpness are concerned.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Jockey Hollow ultra wide OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample Jockey Hollow wide angle Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Jockey Hollow ultra wide
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample Jockey Hollow wide angle

In this and the following shots, you can see the difference between the 0.6x and 0.5x magnification in the ultra-wide lenses. Other than the magnification, they are close to equivalent. There’s perhaps a hair more detail visible in the shadows of the shot taken by the Mi 11 Ultra.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Falls ultra wide OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample Falls wide angle Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Falls ultra wide
OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample Falls wide angle

In this last wide-angle sample, I like the exposure from the 9 Pro more. The sky is bluer and there’s more visible detail in the trees behind the falls. In the Mi 11 Ultra shot, the trees and damn building blend together. That said, there’s nothing terribly wrong with either of these images.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Bridge ultra wide Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Bridge 1x Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Bridge 5x Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Photo Sample Bridge 10x OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample train bridge wide angle OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample train bridge 1x OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample train bridge zoom OnePlus 9 Pro camera sample train bridge extra oom

Here you can see how the zoom levels work. I’ve included the natural zoom from each of the lenses as well as a hybrid 10x zoom so you can see how each camera handles cropping. Each series is about equivalent in terms of exposure, detail, and color.


Low light

Low light shooting is difficult for phones, which have small sensors and are subject to lots of hand shake. Both phones have a mode for shooting in the dark and they handle things differently. You’ll see the below results are quite divergent.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample low light night mode 2 OnePlus 9 Pro photo sample night shot 2 Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample low light night mode 2
OnePlus 9 Pro photo sample night shot 2

In this first example, the shot from the 9 Pro is more natural-looking and certainly more true to the actual scene at hand. The sample from the Mi 11 Ultra is stunningly over-exposed and given a yellow hue (something we’ve noticed throughout with the Xiaomi). Granted, the Mi 11 shot pulled out more detail from what was a really dark scene, but it’s also unnatural looking.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample low light night mode 1 OnePlus 9 Pro photo sample night shot Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra photo sample low light night mode 1
OnePlus 9 Pro photo sample night shot

The results of this second shot are much more aligned and I think that’s due to the presence of the lights. Either way there’s solid clarity and sharpness for what’s essentially a night shot.


OnePlus 9 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra camera test: The verdict

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra camera shootout silver on top

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Taken as a whole, I’m in favor of the photos captured by the OnePlus 9 Pro when compared to those snagged by the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. Both cameras have strengths and weaknesses, no doubt. I think the biggest issue here is the slight bluish tinge taken on by the 9 Pro and the slight yellowish tinge taken on by the Mi 11 Ultra. However, overall the OnePlus 9 Pro comes out on top, which is impressive considering the Mi 11 Ultra’s “on paper” advantages and the 9 Pro’s cheaper price tag.

More importantly, I don’t think either camera quite rises to the levels of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Pixel 5, or the iPhone 12 Max Pro (the latter especially if you value video capture). OnePlus and Xiaomi are closer than ever, but just short of the best of the best.

OnePlus 9 Pro
$969 .00
Buy it Now
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
$1599 .00

Which do you prefer? Be sure to let us know in the poll above and in the comments below.