Once in a while we see flagships that are competitive, affordable yet beefed-up. They are powerful enough to get your attention. We’re talking about OnePlus 7 Pro, a smartphone that is often called upon with ‘flagship’ in one breath. The smartphone, which has just been launched by the company, once again seems to have zoomed-past rivals like Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, Google Pixel 3 XL or even the Huawei P30 Pro when it comes to price and specifications. It reclaims the ‘flagship killer’ banner but now bears a higher price tag of Rs 48,999 (base price) going up to Rs 57,999. And what you get for that much? Not just a powerful smartphone but the ‘premium-ness’ that was a long time coming.
In what has been a short yet momentous journey, OnePlus has indeed come a long way. Till now it was following a tried and tested path — launch two phones every year with tweaks here and there — but for the first time the company has changed its strategy. It has launched not one but two smartphones — OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7 — at the same time to give multiple offerings. OnePlus seems to have taken a leaf out of Apple, Samsung and Google’s book to have an ‘affordable’ premium device.
What makes this even more interesting in OnePlus’ case is that the whole premise on which OnePlus has been built is ‘offering flagship experience at not-so-flagship prices’. The OnePlus 7 Pro is a new territory for OnePlus as it is the most expensive phone ever launched by the company. Will that be an albatross around OnePlus’ neck or has the company delivered a phone that will not only strengthen its position in the market and worry competition? We used the OnePlus 7 Pro for a while to find out the answers to all these questions and more. Here’s our review:
As delicate as it looks, OnePlus 7 Pro is indeed a heavy smartphone once you pick it up. We did find it heavier than Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones. That may primarily be because of the larger battery, use of denser metal construction and even a separate retractable camera module. Nonetheless, the device feels balanced and it indeed is easy to use. It’s definitely sleeker than before and taller as well with a 6.7-inch screen size. The ‘premium’ feel comes largely because of the all-glass front with curved sides and zero distractions in the form of notches or punch holes.
We had the Nebula Blue colour variant, which is also the most marketed variant by the company this year. It’s not your typical gradient Blue look at the back but a mix of two shades that change based on the light reflection. It’s not as flashy as it may sound and looks good mainly because of the multi-layered glass back design which is not glossy but more of a frosted glass look, which was introduced with OnePlus 6’s Silk White colour variant. The material also does a good job in hiding the fingerprints and smudges.
That said, we found the power button, volume buttons and the alert slider slightly towards the upper side, for which we often found ourselves shifting the smartphone to access them. But that’s the only single nagging point here. The vertical camera setup at the centre, stereo speaker placement and everything else were just fine.
OnePlus 7 Pro also comes in Mirror Gray and Almond colours. While the Mirror Gray is not as dark as the Midnight Black colour variant seen in older OnePlus phones, it surely looks more stealthy. However, it has a glossy back which makes it a fingerprint magnet. Many may find the Almond colour version better as it looks similar to Silk White but with a more beige colour tone. It also does a very good job in hiding smudges and fingerprints. It doesn’t use the frosted glass look but still manages to look elegant. The sides however are in Gold, which bring the premium-spin to the device.
If there’s one thing that OnePlus has proclaimed is a massive improvement over the last year’s flagship OnePlus 6, it’s the near bezel-less screen. And by saying near bezel-less we mean seriously thinner bezels than what’s present in Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, something which by default makes the 7 Pro’s screen impressively immersive. The company has already adopted OLED screens with older smartphones and the 7 Pro just creates a new benchmark with a QHD+ Fluid AMOLED display that has HDR support, all clubbed with 90Hz refresh rate. Yes, we have seen 90Hz AMOLED screen in the past with Asus ROG Phone but this one has an elegance of it’s own with near-zero top and bottom bezels with curved sides, making the viewing experience nothing less than ‘eye-popping’.
As a regular user or a gamer, the screen won’t disappoint you at any time of the day. It’s wider than the panels used in Huawei Mate 20 and is just the screen without any distractions in the form of punch holes or a notch. Where it does disappoint is when it comes to the Blue-ish colour tint on the left and right edges, something Samsung has perfected over the years and has pretty much nailed it. We noticed it while looking at the screen from an angle.
It is understandable that for the price and the ‘premium’ label of the handset, one would expect the best of the best but unfortunately the colour tint somewhere pulls down the entire viewing experience to some extent. It’s definitely not a deciding factor but is something that could’ve been worked upon. Nonetheless, you win some and you lose some at the end of the day.
That said, the 90Hz refresh rate is a major win for OnePlus and really makes the entire UI look smoother. Many probably won’t notice it as increased refresh rates are more noticeable on larger screens such as tablets or TVs. But nonetheless, this looks good. From scrolling down the notification panel to pulling up the app drawer and browsing the Settings app, everything looks ‘fluid’. You do get the option to switch back to 60Hz, which is a ‘normal’ in smartphones. And since you have HDR10+ support now, streaming HDR content looks way better. The cherry on top comes in the form of high 516ppi that gives sharper visual experience and a bright screen, but not enough to compete with the Galaxy S10, as we found it’s screen a bit better.
Like every other smartphone these days, OnePlus 7 Pro also has a Blue Light filter in the form of Night Mode. And with Night Mode 2.0, the screen now has the ability to go dimmer than before. OnePlus claims the screen can go dim up to 0.27 nits, which we definitely found more comfortable to use in low light situations. A part of credit also goes to the AMOLED screen.
Over the years OnePlus has made such an impression of its smartphones that one is bound to expect the top of the line processors. Keeping the tradition, OnePlus 7 Pro harnesses the power from Qualcomm Snapdragon 855. This also makes the device first in the country with this processor. Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones also come with the same processor but not in India. The processor is clubbed with Adreno 640 and up to 12GB RAM, the variants which we received. You can also get it in 6GB and 8GB RAM variants, which should be equally powerful. Needless to say, playing games, working on multiple apps, streaming videos and music, the experience iOS as smooth as it gets. The big question, however, to ask is if the smartphone really takes advantage of 12GB or even 8GB RAM capacity or just shows-off with no real use.
There’s no heating issue as such and the apps are quick enough to open or close. We didn’t find any kind of hiccups while unlocking the smartphone as well, something where many end up delaying by a few seconds. It’s definitely consistent. The interface is snappy and the smooth animations just add to the overall experience.
Talking about the interface, OnePlus has given special attention to its OxygenOS 9.5 this time. The OS based on Android 9 Pie not only boasts of improvements but also some new features that are particularly good. For starters, you finally get the screenshot editor, which is a nifty yet long overdue addition. It doesn’t have many features but whatever is there, it’s useful and exactly what most users would need to quickly edit them and share.
Another feature introduced this time is the Zen Mode, which is OnePlus’ aim to let you achieve your work-life balance. You won’t find it in the Settings app though but it is possible to activate it from the notification drop down. Take it as a kind of a challenge. When you activate Zen Mode, the smartphone mutes phone calls, notifications and locks all the apps except for the camera, for 20 minutes. You can still receive phone calls and make emergency calls though. It’s just OnePlus giving the users an option to not stay glued to your smartphone.
This comes in addition to some Digital Wellbeing features including Wind Down and Grayscale feature in Wind Down. For those unaware, Wind Down aims to keep you cut off from your smartphone while sleeping. It’s nothing new in the world of smartphones but is definitely a value addition in OnePlus smartphones, provided how addictive these powerful devices can become.
As for gamers, they get an improved Gaming Mode this time that takes care of graphics on light and dark colours in a game and delivers better haptic feedback, something we did find impressive and better than most of the Android smartphones. A major credit for improved haptic feedback goes to the new vibration motor inside the OnePlus 7 Pro. As confirmed by the CEO Pete Lau, there’s an ‘industry leading’ X-axis motor that we found really well balanced in ringtones and alerts besides gaming. Activating the mode also gives you the option to experience the Fnatic mode as well. This mode not just blocks all notifications and calls but also restricts background to boost the game and stop secondary SIM to enhance the network. Gaming mode is slightly less strict and shows call notifications, choose how the notifications should be shown on screen, enhances the the display and more.
Some other addition that may go unnoticed by users are 10-layer liquid cooling system. This, in addition to ample RAM, UFS 3.0 storage and Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, didn’t heat-up the smartphone even for once. There’s also a 10-layer liquid cooling inside so even playing graphic-intensive games for hours shouldn’t be something to worry about. So that’s a thumbs up right there.
While the bezel-less QHD+ 6.7-inch screen with HDR10 support is enough to make content immersive, OnePlus has gone ahead and included stereo speakers for the first time in the smartphone. And yes they are two different speakers instead of just one main speaker and the secondary resonating speaker. Add, 4000mAh battery on top of this and you may have a winner.
With OnePlus 7 Pro, the company has finally joined two new bandwagons – triple rear cameras and a front-facing pop-up camera. The centre camera placement design is retained from the OnePlus 6 and 6T except that there’s a third lens in the mix. The camera sensors have been upgraded this time along with the specifications and the overall quality. You get a 48MP Sony IMX586 primary camera with 1.6 um pixel size, 7P lens glass, OIS, EIS and f/1.6 aperture. This comes with an 8MP telephoto camera (3XL optical zoom) with 1um pixel size, OIS and f/2.4 aperture and a 16MP ultra-wide angle lens with f/2.2 aperture and 117-degree FoV.
Before we talk about the camera performance of OnePlus 7 Pro, it is not difficult to decipher that OnePlus smartphones are not particularly known for their cameras. However, with OnePlus 7 Pro, the company has tried its best to bring a beefed-up and over-capable cameras that do deliver better shots than what the predecessor delivered but are still strides behind when we compared it with Samsung Galaxy S10 or Google Pixel 3 cameras.
When you talk about the overall image quality, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a good proposition but it’s only the specifics that make you think twice. The daylight shots were really good to look at with bright colours and balanced brightness/contrast mix. However, we did notice the primary camera offering sharp and crisp shots as compared to the images shot using ultra-wide and telephoto lenses. At times we noticed OnePlus 7 Pro’s primary camera blowing up the highlights in order to light up the shadows in the auto mode while keeping both balanced in some cases. The colours are, however, retained so the overall image doesn’t look as bad as it sounds.
The portrait shots have definitely improved and should be good enough for most people. However, it’s yet to catch up with the likes of Pixel 3 or even the 3a series which you get for a lesser price.
As for the 16MP ultra wide shots, we noticed the smartphone often offering a cooler colour tone for daylight shots. This is not bad per se but slightly steers away from the ‘natural’ shot. The quality is also pushed down when you zoom into the image but still, better than others. However, the lower the ambient light gets, the smoother the overall image becomes. That’s probably to hide the noise but you do lose the sharpness. This also applies for the primary camera. Nonetheless, including a wide-angle camera is something that we don’t see in many smartphones these days and it’s good to see OnePlus finally featuring it.
The telephoto lens with 3X optical zoom works impressively well in daylight. Slightly moving objects can also be captured with enough sharpness that you can post without editing much. Like we said above, the resulting images are not as sharp as what you get from the 48MP primary camera but it manages to capture colours well without making it appear fake. We did find the camera struggling in reproducing the Blues at times like what you see in real life but that’s just a minor issue and most likely be fixed with a simple software upgrade.
Low light capabilities of the OnePlus 7 Pro have been improved drastically, thanks to Nightscape and the improved hardware with a larger pixel size. The images captured in the Nightscape mode are sharp and better than most others we’ve seen in the sub Rs-50000 price bracket. The shadows, highlights and the colours are intact for the most part but don’t expect the night sky to go all black like what you get with Huawei P30 Pro. It’s still gray but the overall image is really good to look at. Nightscape does take a second to start processing the image after you click the shutter, but that shouldn’t be a point of worry here.
The video recording section is not the best that we have seen off lately but is also not bad at all. If you really want a good video-recording smartphone, you can go for LG G series or probably the Pixel because of its video ‘stabilisation’ feature. The slow motion videos are good to look at but one can make out the difference in the quality, which is somewhat the same situation with most upper-mid range smartphones. OnePlus 7 Pro has the ability to shoot 4K videos in 60fps, going down to 720p video recording at 480fps. There’s a Time-lapse feature as well alongside a video editor.
One of the highlights of the smartphone, the pop-up selfie camera, takes crisp images in daylight and artificial light conditions. In low light, the sensor unsurprisingly tends to make images soft. The portrait mode does work in low light selfies but be ready for a smooth face and a lighter skin tone. The 16MP Sony IMX471 is a step up from 16MP Sony IMX371 used in OnePlus 6T and it shows. The shutter is fast and so is the focus. We wish Nightscape worked in front-facing camera.
OnePlus smartphones were already a champion in the battery department and OnePlus 7 Pro just carries forward the torch. The 4000mAh battery is one of the longest running ones (in a single charge) we’ve seen in an Android smartphone. We used the device as our primary driver, making it perform tasks like checking multiple email accounts, browsing social media for hours, playing games non-stop for 3-4 hours in a stretch, streaming audio, videos, all while keeping auto brightness activated and the display on 90Hz refresh rate. All of this gave us an impressive 14+ hours worth of juice on an average. The screen on time performance was consistent at 6 hours and above, which is good given the powerful specs and display features. The main counteracting element here is the screen and reducing the animation to 60Hz could give you slightly more battery life. We didn’t feel the need to play around with the refresh rate options as the overall performance was good.
This time you get Warp Charge 30 fst charging tech, which makes use of 5V/6A or 30 Watts charging speed to go from 0% to 47% in around 30 minutes of charge, which is one of the fastest around. And that’s without generating heat.
What’s unfortunate here is there although OnePlus aims to bring its ‘best’ smartphone to the market and is aiming at those who want a no compromise device, it still doesn’t provide wireless charging with OnePlus 7 Pro. Sure, no wireless charging tech is as fast as Warp Charge but for someone who is paying Rs 50,000 on a smartphone, it’s natural to expect all the major features in a a device. Seems like OnePlus still doesn’t consider it as a ‘flagship’ feature. It available in Galaxy S10 smartphones, Huawei P30 series and even the iPhones now.
Nonetheless, we found the overall battery performance good with the Game Mode and Fnatic Mode adding to the performance optimisation and making the device more efficient than before. You also get the usual battery saving modes in the Settings page that cut down on background processing and animations.
With top-end smartphone processor onboard, impressive display, ample RAM and storage options, beefed-up camera setup and and efficient battery, OnePlus is surely among the best premium smartphones right now. However, there still are some misses in the form of wireless charging and the overall camera performance. Even though wireless charging may still not a big issue for many, cameras are. Like we said above, the OnePlus smartphones are not really known for cameras and that stays true even with the OnePlus 7 Pro. So, if you have enough to spend, by all means this is a worthy handset as you would typically have to shell out more to get all these features in a single smartphone. However, if you want to make better use of the money, we would still recommend you to save your money for OnePlus 7, which will be coming out in June.
The smartphone has the same processor, same primary rear camera, 6GB and 8GB RAM options and UFS 3.0 storage. The differences are in the display, number of rear cameras and battery capacity (300mAh less). OnePlus 7 starts at Rs 32,999, which is Rs 16,000 less than OnePlus 7 Pro’s starting price of Rs 48,999. If you are looking for a camera-centric smartphone at that price, you probably have the Pixel 3 as an option. But of course, if you want the most powerful device that manages to balance most of the specs and is still priced lower than most other flagships, then OnePlus 7 Pro is the phone to go for. But for now, OnePlus 7 Pro looks like a no-compromise smartphone. Well, almost.