We’ve had a substantial amount of time now with the OnePlus 7 Pro to formulate a review and gather our thoughts on the flagship killer-come-flagship.
Arguably the step-up in cost will no doubt put off many original followers of the OnePlus line. That said, the bump in overall quality is worth a slight jump in price.
You’re getting the most feature-packed OnePlus phone to date. Admittedly there are removals like the headphone port and physical fingerprint reader, but the addition of the best OnePlus camera system to date is a substantial compromise.
Compromise is one thing you will have to make if you are a OnePlus fan looking for an upgrade. Unfortunately, in the United States, you won’t be able to get the slightly cheaper standard OnePlus 7 model — complete with its 6T shell but upgraded internals.
Let’s reiterate what every news outlet has been saying: The OnePlus 7 Pro is a true out-and-out flagship that steps out of the budget flagship market and into the emergent ‘hyper-premium’ market. Does the jump in cost justify the higher price-tag though?
This is our review of the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Hardware & Design
A little of this, a little less of that
Just a quick rundown, as by this point, you will know all the core specifications of the 7 Pro. We’ve got the Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6, 8 or 12GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of internal storage — in the UFS 3.0 flavor — as the base. There’s a pretty sizeable 4,000mAh battery that is necessary as it powers possibly the best-looking display in the business right now.
The proper edge-to-edge nature of the QHD+ display and the 90hz refresh rate has genuinely had people turning heads when I show them the phone and let them glide through menus and apps. The lack of notch is almost more striking than the admittedly gorgeous Nebula Blue color.
I love the color shift from a lighter blue to a deeper, darker purple. Holding the smooth curved back in different lighting conditions and different angles showcases the almost matte finish. As much as I love the color, the limited Almond option might be my favorite of the three colors.
It feels smooth in the hand thanks to the soft-touch glass that carries over from the OnePlus 6T. I can’t say it feels quite as nice as the frosted glass on the back of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, but it’s smooth and comfortable to hold. Part of that is due to curved edges.
Side bezels are small but when not wearing a case on the phone I find the edges can hinder a proper grip at times. With such a big display and body, the OnePlus 7 Pro is most definitely not for the faint of heart. It is a beast, quite easily dwarfing many other devices.
The pop-up camera within the top bezel does have a slightly different color but the seams are clean, flush and not having the screen blemished by a cutout or notch is a welcome change. Not being much of a selfie-taker, I can’t say I wouldn’t be too disappointed to see the front-facing camera removed entirely.
I was concerned about the pop-up camera full stop. Another mechanical component to potentially fail is always bound to be a point of contention. I can honestly say that it’s quite an elegant solution. It pops up in no time at 0.53 seconds and it doesn’t protrude quite as much as you would imagine.
The process is so quick that should you use the face unlock method to secure your phone, it pops up and down in around a second. It’s worth noting that the tiny camera doesn’t come with any sort of 3D face-scanning tech though, so it isn’t the most secure.
Other biometric unlock methods come in the form of the in-display fingerprint reader, which has a minor overhaul over the quite poor optical option from last years OnePlus 6T. It’s much faster — arguably the fastest in-screen options I’ve tried — but we’re still not quite at the physical reader speed stage just yet. The in-display reader is still much faster than the pop-up face unlocks.
OnePlus may not boast an official IP-rating on the 7 Pro, but we’re led to believe that even with a sealed pop-up camera, the phone is waterproof. It isn’t something that bothers me personally too much. I can definitely see why people would be disappointed that we have the most expensive OnePlus phone ever made without any form of ‘official’ water protection (or wireless charging) though.
An area I have always praised OnePlus in the hardware stakes is the inclusion of the notification toggle found on the side bezel. It is much smaller this year on the 7 Pro, and it has also moved slightly down the side of the right edge to offset the massive screen increase. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mistaken it for the sleep-wake button already. It’s not a huge issue, but when not in a case, I drive myself mad doing it in some form of muscle memory.
I do find myself moving that toggle in-between the settings just to get a feel of those mightly improved device haptics. My goodness are they a step up. I still can’t conclusively say if they are better than the Pixel 3 but they are neck-and-neck that’s for sure.
Audio is another area that has a big improvement albeit not exactly groundbreaking. Firstly, the larger speaker grill up top makes it much easier to hear callers, plus it now doubles as a speaker in tandem with the bottom-firing speaker.
Most of the sound comes from the bottom-firing speak rather than the earpiece. Naturally, this results in an unbalanced audio experience but is exponentially better than one previous non-stereo speaker including OnePlus devices.
Software & Performance
Smoother than butter
Even since our initial review, the OnePlus 6T has remained an exceptionally smooth phone but the OnePlus 7 Pro takes it another level entirely. Having the brand new Snapdragon 855 chipset, and with my OnePlus 7 Pro review unit coming with 12GB of RAM, the performance was never going to be an area the handset showed signs of weakness.
Benchmarking sees the OnePlus tussle and it overthrows almost all comers in the Android space. Of course, that isn’t a measure of real-world performance but the OnePlus 7 Pro manages to back those numbers up.
Oxygen OS 9.5 is a triumph. It adds a few neat new features that I probably will never use like the Fnatic Gaming mode and even the quite neat Zen Mode. If you’ve used Oxygen OS in the past 12 months, you’ll know just what to expect. The internals may fly but it’s the display that ties it all together.
Interactions feel smoother and all the more responsive because the display ‘keeps up’ with the super-fast Android skin. General usage feels lighting fast, and switching between applications games and even intensive tasks doesn’t cause the OnePlus 7 Pro to sweat at all.
I still love the look and feel of Oxygen OS to the point that I have stuck with the stock launcher, forgoing my usual Nova Launcher habits. I even much prefer it to the Pixel Launcher, which feels inhibiting by comparison. Every little touch feels even more fluid because of the 90Hz refresh rate.
Having the world’s first UFS 3.0 certified storage, which in layman’s terms means the phone can read and write data at around twice the speed of any other device on the market right now. This helps loading apps, files and all types of content that bit quicker and enhancing the smooth feeling.
A big step up but still needs a few tweaks
Often the weakest area of any OnePlus device, the camera has had the massive overhaul that is so desperately needed. If you are coming in expecting top tier results though I think you might be left wanting a little. That’s not to say that the OnePlus 7 Pro camera is bad, far from it. The most recent update has vastly improved the image quality on all three of the back cameras.
I would like to see OnePlus make a few more tweaks, as the Nightscape 2.0 has seen the biggest improvement in my testing phase. It truly pales in comparison to the other night shooting Kings in the form of the Pixel 3 and Huawei P30 Pro.
It feels as though OnePlus has struck just the right balance with their triple lens choices. The 3x telephoto zoom lens is about as much as I’ve felt necessary in day-to-day usage, the ultra-wide-angle camera is a great addition — if a little soft. That headline 48-megapixel sensor is effectively a 12-megapixel shooter thanks to the pixel-binning tech utilized.
The biggest change over the OnePlus 6T is the increased overall sharpness in good lighting. You’ll find that it does struggle in poor or tricky lighting conditions. Skin tends to be overly smoothed and shots can be a little too warm for my tastes.
Portrait mode is both good and bad in equal measure. In the right lighting, it has solid false-bokeh fall-off that looks reasonably realistic. At times it can pick up other people which poses problems but in isolation and with some patience the results are very good.
I mentioned before that I was glad of the lack of front-facing selfie camera taking out a portion of the display. At 16-megapixels it is pretty darn good. It’s sharp and the colors are pretty much spot on, although like the rear-camera setup it is not great in low-light.
Touching on the actual application for a moment; the OnePlus camera application is very well organized and laid out. Swiping up from the bottom of the main screen to access all of the extra features including the Pro Mode — which allows you to take true 48-megapixel photos.
Video modes are plentiful, with the combination of OIS and EIS helping provide silky smooth video. I have noticed a tiny bit of a jello effect when moving quickly but that isn’t bad by any stretch.
At the front the pop-up lens doesn’t actually include stabilization of any sort, so videos will be a little shaky if you want to record video-selfies. It doesn’t quite stack up with the rear cameras but I’d consider it a middle of the road front-facing video camera experience.
The size of a battery doesn’t always dictate device longevity, and unfortunately, despite the OnePlus 7 Pro having a larger 4,000mAh battery, after some reflection and review, it just doesn’t quite cut it in my experience. Having such a large 90hz QHD+ display puts a significant strain on the OnePlus 7 Pro battery.
I’ll manage a day of admittedly average usage, ending the day with around four hours or so of Screen on Time. That pales in comparison to other devices on the market.
Lowering the resolution and refresh rate of the display you would think would help the battery life, but in fact, it hasn’t helped a great deal. Plus, you have a gorgeous 90Hz QHD+ edge-to-edge display, lowering the resolution ruins one of the core selling points of the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Topping up is insanely quick with the Warp Charger that comes in the box. The power brick is slightly bigger than the old ‘Dash Charge’ bricks but given this is 30W charging tech, that is to be expected. In the past, I’ve not been affected too much by the lack of wireless charging.
This time around though, with seemingly every phone on the market offering Qi wireless charging as standard, it feels overlooked. I’m not complaining too much though as the Warp Charging is arguably better for quick top-ups. It’s still a few steps behind the 40W fast charging found on Huawei phones, but it’s still well speedy.
The larger power brick also helps offset the heat generated from charging and prevents your OnePlus 7 Pro from getting warm when charging.
Simply the best experience out there right now
The OnePlus 7 Pro is many things, and one of those is genuinely the best outright experience you can get on an Android-powered smartphone on the market right now.
In the early days of OnePlus, it was pretty hard to see the company in the position it is today. Compromises were a heavy component within the hardware of OnePlus devices. That is still sort of true today, the lack of IP rating and wireless charging prove to be two stand out corners consistently being cut.
That does call into question the “Pro” moniker. How can a phone be considered a “Pro” version if it is missing features found on other similarly priced or specced models from rival brands? I suppose that is another discussion for another day, and one that our own Ben Schoon has tackled already to a grand extent.
Even so, without a few features, I can most definitely ‘settle’ for the OnePlus 7 Pro solely for its other merits. It’s a super smartphone that is well worth the price bump. Yeah, there are a few trade-offs here and there that will no doubt irk the ardent or hardcore OnePlus fans.
The biggest problem for OnePlus has always been how they attract a new, more ‘generic’ audience. With the OnePlus 7 Pro I think they can finally grasp that market but potentially at the cost of a few hardcore fans.
If you happen to be a hardcore fan reading this OnePlus 7 Pro review and feel it’s not quite what you were hoping for, then you might want to hold on until the OnePlus 7 hits shelves — sorry USA! It shares much of the OnePlus 7 Pro internals but in a 6T body, think of it as a OnePlus 6TT.