Insane value. That’s the cornerstone on which OnePlus has sold their smartphones over all these years, the reason why many overlook any flaws or missing features in the device as acceptable compromises for what you end up getting ‘for the price’.
That changes with the OnePlus 7 Pro. With its most ambitious smartphone ever, OnePlus has finally taken the leap of faith from its humble “flagship killer” beginnings and jumped onto the flagship bandwagon good and proper. This is a phone that goes up against the big boy, with its premium glass-metal design, a sharper, more fluid notch-free display with a pop-up selfie camera, a triple rear camera system and the best flagship grade internals out there, and it thoroughly deserves its “Pro” moniker. It’s an all-out effort by OnePlus to make the best phone ‘no matter the price’.
But is it all that it’s been made out to be? Here’s our considered take on the not-so-little-phone-that can, the OnePlus 7 Pro.
The OnePlus 7 Pro Mirror Gray 6+128 and the 8+256 variant go on sale on Amazon.in and OnePlus.in on the May 16 for Rs. 48,999 and Rs. 52,999 respectively, while the Nebula Blue 8+256 and 12+256 variants will be available starting May 28. We used the top-end Nebula Blue variant for our review.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Pros
Design: OnePlus phones had begun to look a little samey over the past few years, and the all-new design is a big leap forward, one that comes together cohesively like a proper high-end phone without losing sight of the small touches that made the original OnePlus popular (I’m looking at you, Alert Slider!). New this time around is a nearly bezel-less design made possible by concealing the selfie camera in a pop-up mechanism in the top of the device. It comes up in 0.53 seconds and is plenty quick to unlock the phone with your face, though it doesn’t work well in the dark.
The curved front and rear glass sandwiching the narrow metal frame reminded me more than once of Samsung’s flagships S9+, and the Nebula Blue two-tone matte finish is downright gorgeous, if a little slippery. That’s the other thing you instantly notice about the 7 Pro – its sheer size. It’s wider and taller than the Galaxy S10+ and the Pixel 3 XL, to the point of being unwieldy and tough to hold sometimes. I’m all for the reassuring heft of a solidly built phone, but the 206g of the OnePlus 7 Pro is just plain heavy. Thankfully, OnePlus makes some fantastic first-party cases to protect your investment.
Display: Despite turning up to the table with pretty decent AMOLED displays in previous devices, the folks at OnePlus have really turned up the dial all the way to 11 for the downright insane display on the OnePlus 7 Pro. First, they dialed the resolution up to QHD+ and then added a buttery smooth 90Hz AMOLED panel, and you really have to see the panel to believe it or get why it makes such a difference. Everything, from using the already smooth Android interface to scrolling through the app drawer or web pages, benefits from the added fluidity and it’s the kind of change you can’t unsee when you go back to a regular 60Hz phone. Plus, it checks all the other checkboxes – HDR support, custom color palettes and Corning Gorilla Glass 6 protection, and had it been a tad brighter and punchier, this would have bested the S10+ and claimed the ‘best display on an Android’ crown.
Under that stellar display is the new fingerprint sensor which is significantly improved over the 6T’s and is one of the few in-screen fingerprints sensors I don’t cringe from using to unlock the phone every day. The other big improvement is the new haptic motor, which has improved the feedback to nearly Google Pixel levels of refinement.
Performance: This is almost a given with OnePlus devices, but let’s state it again – the phone delivers one of the smoothest experiences any money can buy. Snapdragon 855 with 6, 8 or 12 gigs of RAM and the fastest storage on the market (UFS 3.0) all come together with the heavily optimized Oxygen OS to make this a veritable beast in daily use.
Clean Software: The OnePlus 7 Pro runs Oxygen OS 9.5.2 based on Android Pie with April security patches, and adds in a bunch of features on what is already one of the most polished Android skins around. Zen Mode, for example, kills all phone functions for 20 minutes so you can disconnect and do other stuff outside of your phone, with the exception of using the camera. Or the Fnatic mode which optimizes the gaming performance and puts your phone on a do-not-disturb mode so you can focus on your gaming.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Cons
Camera: OnePlus has never been known for turning out stellar images, yet there was a lot of noise around the OnePlus 7 Pro topping the DxOMark ratings for smartphone cameras with its trio of a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor with an f/1.6 aperture lens, an 8MP telephoto (3x) shooter and a 16MP wide-angle (117-degrees) camera.
The reality is that while the OnePlus 7 Pro’s primary camera takes great landscape shots, it lacks details when shooting people and images go softer still when you switch to the wide-angle camera. Low-light shots have never been OnePlus’ forte, and images taken in auto mode are noisy and rather average looking. It’s the Nightscape mode where OnePlus has made some big improvements, and while it’s no Pixel Night Sight or Huawei P30 Pro, it’s not that far behind either, which is saying something.
Overall, the OnePlus 7 Pro really needed flagship grade cameras to look every bit the part of the flagship it otherwise is, and it did address that in part with the versatility a three lens setup affords. Image quality falls short on a number of counts, though the 4K video recording redeems somewhat.
Battery: The battery may have seen a bump up to 4,000mAh (from the 3,700mAh cell on the 6T), but the larger, higher resolution display and faster frame rates take their toll on battery life. I saw middling battery performance, between 4 and 5 hours of screen on time, with the resolution set to QHD+ and refresh rate set to 90Hz which, of course, can be extended to nearly 7+ hours by lowering the resolution and refresh rate as long as you don’t mind the drop in visuals. Middling stuff, just not the stellar stuff we’re used to seeing on OnePlus devices. OnePlus provides the option to toggle these settings so if you know what you’re doing, you can pick what works for you. Trouble is, the settings are maxxed out by default and regular customers may not find their way around to changing them and wonder why their OnePlus 7 Pro invariably disappoints on battery life. Well, at least charging is somewhat fast, with 30W Warp Charging completely juicing up the device in a little under 2 hours (I say somewhat since the P30 Pro’s 50W fast charging has changed my expectations about how fast phones can and should charge).
What’s Missing: The missing SD card slot and headphone jack aren’t the issue, but the lack of water resistance and wireless charging are tablestakes in the price segment that the Pro is now operating. OnePlus has gone to great lengths to justify these exclusions, but it’s a hard pill to swallow.
90Hz Not Ready for Primetime: It’s baffling that with the marquee 90Hz display and the raw power on tap, OnePlus didn’t have even one game running at 90fps at launch. Games that had been known to run at higher frame rates on the Asus ROG Phone and the Razer Phone 2 ran capped at 60fps. Upon our asking, the company confirmed that it needed to whitelist individual games after testing to take advantage of the new screen so that errant apps wouldn’t negatively impact performance and battery life.
Pricing: Compared to the premium flagship range, the OnePlus 7 Pro proves yet again that other phones cost way too much. Except, it’s at a price point where the likes of the upcoming Asus Zenfone 6 the second generation Poco phone, and also the lower-end OnePlus 7, will continue to entice consumers who don’t want to spend all that much money on top specs, much like it does to the top end brands.