OnePlus 7 Pro review

Speedy and beefy

Our Verdict

The OnePlus 7 Pro is a flagship that brings everything you would ask in a smartphone of its price. The smooth and seamless performance, immersive display with 90Hz refresh rate and dual stereo speakers make content consumption and gaming a treat. Performance and software experience still dominate the mix. Yes, it's expensive, but there's no denying that it's still the best buy in its price range. Unless you want a better camera or a smaller handset.

For

  • Brilliant display
  • Great for gaming
  • Superfast charging
  • Smooth user experience
  • Rich audio from speakers

Against

  • Camera is good, but not groundbreaking
  • Hefty
  • No wireless charging

OnePlus 7 Pro was one of the most anticipated handsets on our list this year. We have been following OnePlus very closely and there's no way we could miss to review the first Pro variant from the company. 

Before we begin, if there's anyone who doesn't know already, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a more powerful, advanced and feature-rich variant that's launched alongside the OnePlus 7. The latter is the more affordable offering among the two and as the name suggests. The Pro goes as high as Rs 57,999 for the 12GB RAM variant. 

OnePlus says the phone is optimized to a point that it exceeded their own expectations for a high-end flagship. We like the confidence here, and the on-paper specs also speak a similar tone. The OnePlus 6T was a great device for its price, but the story is different here as the prices have shot up taking it close to Samsung's and even Apple. The only difference is that OnePlus' top-end flagship costs as much as the base variant of their affordable flagships. 

While existing OnePlus users may find it worthy to invest in a 50K OnePlus phone, it would take quite some convincing for the brand to cut Apple and Samsung's user base at this price. More so, because they expect slightly cheaper phones from OnePlus. 

To see if it's really worth giving a try over the competition, we reviewed the top-end OnePlus 7 Pro with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage Nebula Blue variant.

OnePlus 7 Pro India price and availability

  • Launches May 17 
  • 128GB+6GB RAM: Rs 48,999
  • 256GB+8GB RAM: Rs 52,999
  • 256GB+12GB RAM: Rs 57,999
OnePlus 7 Pro Specs

Weight: 206g
Dimensions: 162 x 75 x 8.8
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.67-inch
Resolution: QHD+
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB/8GB/12GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Battery:  4,000mAh
Rear camera: 48MP + 8MP + 16MP
Front camera: 16MP
Waterproof: No official rating
Headphone jack: No

OnePlus 7 Pro starts at Rs 48,999 with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and will come in Mirror Grey colour. The second variant has 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and costs Rs 52,999. 

It will be available in classic Mirror Grey colour along with the new Almond and Nebula Blue hues. The OnePlus 7 Pro tops at 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage making it the most expensive OnePlus phone till date at Rs 57,999. This variant will only be available in blue colour.

OnePlus 7 Pro will go on sale for the first time on May 16 at 12 PM on Amazon India for Amazon Prime subscribers. For non-subscribers, the sale starts on May 17. Simultaneous sales will be held on OnePlus India Store with the phones also being available at OnePlus 7 offline stores.

Display

  • 6.67-inch AMOLED display with QHD+ resolution
  • Super-smooth visuals with 90Hz refresh rate
  • HDR 10+ adds to the richness

The display is where OnePlus has done the most work and it's also our favorite element of the phone. It clearly shows how a good display can enhance the whole experience of using a smartphone. Compared to the 6T, there's more screen, better resolution and a higher refresh rate at 90Hz, which ensures fluidity all over the UI. Not just the 6T, but this display is at par with (or better than) the best flagship phones in the market right now. 

What's even better about the display is that it's seamless. Meaning, it's not obstructed by any kind of notch or punch-hole to place the front camera. OnePlus uses Vivo's idea of a pop-up camera, which is very smartly implemented on the OnePlus 7 Pro to ensure it's durability. 

Its bezel-less 6.67-inch display is only half the story. OnePlus calls its display ‘Fluid AMOLED’, touting a refresh rate of 90Hz instead of the usual 60Hz. In our experience, we could clearly notice that the visuals were smoother, more responsive and the content looked more realistic. The HDR 10+ compatibility also makes it a great device for video watching. Apart from smoother UI animations and page scrolling, the high refresh rate contributes more to gaming. We saw gaming phones like the Razer Phone with 120Hz and the Asus ROG Phone with 90Hz refresh rate, but OnePlus is the first mainstream phone to have it. 

Watching TV and playing games, or simply scrolling web pages looked so much better. It’s hard to go back to 60Hz after experiencing the OnePlus 7 Pro at 90Hz – every phone SHOULD have this.

With 800nits of brightness, the screen is easily visible under direct sunlight. Screen uniformity, contrast and colour accuracy is also on point. 

The OnePlus 7 Pro has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio that stretches from top to bottom, making it easier to get sucked into a fast-paced racing game on this screen but its tall proportions also makes it difficult to use with one hand. Especially, for those with smaller hands.

Design

  • Curved edges give it a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus vibe
  • No microSD card slot or IP water-resistance rating
  • In-screen fingerprint sensor is way faster and accurate than on the 6T

The OnePlus 7 Pro has the looks of a flagship smartphone, no matter from which angle you are looking at. It looks like an ever-so-slightly bulkier version of the Galaxy S10 Plus albeit without the punch-hole camera. 

There's a thin black bezel screen border, similar curved edges, and same glass build, with the tapered edges coming to a fine point, making it easy to grasp the thin frame. Although it's a big phone, holding it feels really grippy. Still, like most glass phones it slips when kept on smooth surfaces. And if you’re afraid of dropping it, OnePlus has included a clear plastic no-frills case in the box.

It is also quite bulky at 206g. So it's not a sleek and light OnePlus we're used to holding. This one is hefty. 

OnePlus 7 Pro’s colors are glossy Mirror Grey and the more appealing Nebula Blue gradient in a matte finish, although, as mentioned, your choice of color is dependent on which storage/RAM combination you opt for. Later this year, the company will also introduce a glossy golden Almond color that also looked like a standout hue when we got to see it. The finish on Nebula Blue is quite similar to what we saw on the Thunder Purple variant of the 6T, but without the s-curve.

There are a few elements like the back that don't mirror Samsung’s design, and that’s a piece of good news. We love the physical alert slider and the power/lock button on the right side. The power key sits right under the thumb and you can blindly access the alert slider by moving the thumb slightly upwards. The volume key on the right is also pretty smartly placed so that the index finger lands right on top of it.

The horizon lights is also a good touch to the overall design. 

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It's not a surprise, but we do miss the 3.5mm headphone jack on the OnePlus 7 Pro. The OnePlus 6T was the first handset when the company got rid of the port. But again, that's the reason why the company is pushing hard on selling the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 and the USB Type-C Bullets for those looking for an affordable alternative. 

Some other popular features that it misses on is wireless charging, a microSD card slot and waterproofing (IP certification). While many can do away with wireless charging, having an option to expand the memory externally is always a plus. It's not officially IP-certified water-resistant, though the theory is that this is just a way to save money and it’ll do fine with a normal dunk. We did notice an extra rubber padding at the end of the SIM tray, which hints that there are some extra measures that have been taken to protect it from water damage.

Triple camera performance

  • Main 48MP camera is an improvement over the 6T
  • Introduces 16MP ultra-wide lens for the first time
  • An 8MP telephoto lens for 3x optical zoom 
  • Nightscape mode improves further

If there was one area where the OnePlus has to work harder, its the camera on their phones. The good news is that the new triple-lens setup is more versatile and clicks vastly better pictures than its predecessors. But that doesn't mean it is on par with the best camera phones in the market. 

The main 48MP sensor is Sony's flagship IMX596 with f/1.6 aperture, 1/2-inch sensor size and OIS. The camera setup looks solid on paper and things get even better when you get more variety of shots with the 10MP wide-angle lens offering a 117-degrees field of view with f/2.2 aperture and the 8MP telephoto lens with 3X optical zoom. 

The primary camera exhibits more texture, less shadow and warmer colors compared to its predecessors. The images look brighter, sharper and detailed in good light conditions. 

Another highlight feature of the camera is the three modes of focus - PDAF, CAF and Laser AF. The autofocus is very speedy and fairly impressive if we compare it to the previous OnePlus models. 

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Nighscape

Nighscape
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With Nightscape on

With Nightscape on
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Nightscape off (Normal mode)

Nightscape off (Normal mode)

What lacks here is the dim light performance. Aggressive skin smoothening is what makes it fall behind the competition like the iPhones and Pixels, which essentially is done to compensate noise in pictures. It also warms up the skin a little bit, making faces look reddish in artificial light. In its range, the Pixel 3 and 3A are the best options for smartphone photography enthusiasts.

Portrait mode - Day light vs low light

Portrait mode - Day light vs low light

Portrait mode is good for the price, but again, it doesn't produce the most natural bokeh effect and lacks details in low light.

Night Sight mode is back for such low-light shots, and it’s been improved. Specifically, it’s tempered to not blow out white lights in mixed-lightning night shots. But you’re going to have to put the OnePlus 7 Pro on a tripod to really do this mode justice; a shaky hand on a cold night makes a scene look as if it’s melting all around you, and any movement causes blurriness. But the iPhones don't offer this feature and those who do, it's only the Pixel 3 that does a better job. The high-rated camera of the Huawei P30 has a longer shutter in the Night mode, whereas OnePlus is among the fastest to capture a low-light shot in its full glory.

Normal lens vs telephoto lens 3X zoom

Normal lens vs telephoto lens 3X zoom

The 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens jumps to a 3x optical zoom and, with OIS (optical image stabilization), it does a nice job of capturing far off subjects without distortion. It’s no Huawei P30 Pro with that phone’s 5x optical zoom, but it gets you in tighter than Apple, Samsung and LG’s zoom lenses. 

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Normal lens

Normal lens
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Wide-angle lens

Wide-angle lens

The 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens does the opposite, offering a 117-degree field of view that we found ideal for landscape photos. We really liked the two new additions and it's a treat for photographers who like to experiment.

If we have to pick a better wide-angle shooter between Samsung and OnePlus, then the 7 Pro definitely needs a lot of refinement to match Samsung Galaxy S10's wide angle performance. 

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3X Telephoto lens day light

3X Telephoto lens day light
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48MP primary sensor with Auto HDR in day light

48MP primary sensor with Auto HDR in day light
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Wide angle lens day light

Wide angle lens day light

With the OnePlus 7 Pro, we have a great but not flawless smartphone camera. Its triple-lens configuration offers versatility, but its biggest attribute is the fact that it fixes the problems experienced with last year’s OnePlus cameras. The best affordable flagship camera phone is the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, but this does an admirable job in most conditions. 

Update: After the Oxygen OS 9.5.7 update, the cameras have seen significant improvement in both day light and low light photos. Day light photos come out with better saturation of colors and well defined textures. Even the low light has seen some improvement where the algorithm now shows lesser grains and evenly exposed frames. However, the low light is still not at par with the Huaweis and Pixels, but still more reliable than the iPhones. 

The shutter speed has increased and the sensor is now more capable of handling sunlight without overexposing the scene.

Lastly, a new camera feature is the integration of Google Lens into the camera UI where you can simply long press on the viewfinder to look for the object.

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You can check out the high resolution samples here.

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Pop-up front camera

  • Mechanical pop-up selfie camera
  • Smart freefall protection trick ensures longetivity
  • Actual front camera photo quality is very good, but not the best

We’re not sure if pop-up selfie cameras are the future of our self-indulgent smartphone photos, but it’s a wow-inducing idea for 2019 – and they leave phone screen completely unblemished. The camera pops out of the top of the OnePlus 7 Pro’s body with a faint mechanical whir, but only when the camera app is active and in selfie mode. Otherwise, it remains hidden.

If you're concerned that introducing new mechanical parts would leave this phone prone to damage, then you shouldn't. Because if you drop it – or pretend to drop it like we did to trigger the gyro sensor – the pop-up camera actually retreats back into its protective shell while in freefall. This happens in between the period when the phone slips out of your hand and lands on a surface. 

While this is a smart safety measure to minimize risk, the camera is also touted to be quite durable. At the launch, OnePlus showcased that the tiny camera part can carry up to 22.3kgs of weight. Even the motor is said to last for 16.5 years if you open it 50 times a day to take a selfie.

The quality of pictures thrives in well-lit conditions, smooths skin way too aggressively in dim lighting, and overall has superior HDR compared to the front camera in other phones in this price range. 

It’s a step up from the more ghostly, often blown-out selfie photos we got using the OnePlus 6T and its teardrop-shaped front camera, though be aware that the OnePlus 7 Pro’s pop-up camera exhibits some barrel distortion due to its wide field of view.

Performance and gaming

  • Among the fastest Android phones we’ve tested
  • Up to 12GB of RAM, but the 8GB RAM version will treat you fine
  • First phone in the world with faster UFS 3.0 read/write speeds

OnePlus, from the very beginning, has been associated with speed and power. We've seen some intensely beefed up phones from the company in the past, but the OnePlus 7 Pro has crossed all boundaries. 

For starters, the RAM Boost has been enhanced to reduce the loading time of apps, upon testing we could see that it's a simple launch and go. Further, it's the first phone in the worlds to launch with UFS 3.0 memory, which has around 79% faster memory time than the previous generation UFS 2.1. 

It's a ridiculously smooth phone, it focuses on more than just clock speed. The hardware combined with the 90Hz display and OxygenOS optimizations results in a seamless experience. 

It’s the mighty Snapdragon 855 chipset that delivers a nice boost in clock speed, and up to 12GB of RAM that offers a high ceiling. We had no problem running apps while downloading games, and watching a video all at the same time. That said, most people should be fine with the 8GB version of this phone. The OnePlus 7 Pro is built for performance. It's among the fastest Android smartphones that we've tested. 

To get the most out of its performance, there's a new 10-layer liquid cooling system under the hood that prevents the phone from getting too hot and impacts battery longevity.

There’s also a new haptic vibration motor to provide instant feedback with new levels of granularity. OnePlus has also partnered with Dolby for a better audio experience. There are two stereo speakers that give a three-dimensional audio output while gaming. We were actually amazed to hear the audio while playing games like Asphalt and PUBG Mobile, the same soundtracks that we've heard earlier sounded much more impactful and intense on the OnePlus 7 Pro. 

The big reveal: it's the best mainstream smartphone for gaming right now. PUBG addicts shouldn't look anywhere else. The RAM Boost, cooling system, display and enhanced vibrations combine to make it the go-to phone for high-end smartphone games. With more such games lined-up to release in the next few months, the OnePlus 7 Pro seems like a future-proof solution for gamers.

Software

  • OxygenOS is lightweight and sets benchmark for other OEMs
  • Multiple meaningful additions 
  • Zen Mode is a nice companion to Digital Wellbeing

Oxygen OS is OnePlus’ software skin running on top of Android 9.0 Pie. Although the UI design doesn't match Google's operating system, it still has the same ethos. It offers light and meaningful alterations with a minimalistic flat design. It's one of the better UI designs of all the custom ROMs we've seen. 

OnePlus says they seek constant feedback from their community and on popular demand, there are some new additions to the UI. There's a new built-in screen recorder that sits in the control panel. It comes handy for multiple purposes, but gamers might love it more as they'll now be able to record their gameplay without needing a third party app. 

The Extended Screenshot tool also makes a comeback with more scrolling screen fluidity.

The existing Gaming Mode gets a makeover. OnePlus has partnered with the professional esports organisation Fnatic to further enhance its gaming mode. With the new gaming mode, all the cores dedicatedly focus on gaming (we'll test that), it also reduces lag as it shuts all the other background activities that create network interference and the new DND mode blocks each and every pop-up that might spoil your gameplay. Meaning, no more getting killed in PUBG Mobile because of your overly attached partner. 

Zen Mode is a new software perk along the lines of Google’s Digital Wellbeing, encouraging you to put down your phone more often. Entering this mode restricts your phone usage for 20 minutes – no texts, no checking the news and no social media whatsoever. You can still make and receive calls and take photos, but the point is to give yourself a 20-minute digital break.

The OnePlus 7 Pro is close to pure Android, it has fun software extras, and it’s easy to use. Best of all, the company has been quick to update to new versions of Android – it’s even beta-testing the OnePlus 6T with Android 10 Q.  

As always OnePlus promises two years of update and three years of security patches alongside regular bug fixes.

Battery

The OnePlus 7 Pro gets a bump in the battery with a 4000mAh cell. It’s been good enough to get us through a full day of normal use. It matched our experience with the OnePlus 6T, which has a slightly smaller 3,700mAh battery, but also consumes relatively lesser power. On a regular day, where you don't play games or shoot videos it will last more than a day. 

We never found ourselves frantically hunting for a power socket over the course of a day, but we did need to make sure we had the Warp Charge 30 charger with us overnight – and that’s where the real OnePlus 7 Pro news is, battery-wise: Warp Charge is the fastest charging tech right now, hitting over 50% after 20 minutes of charging. We reached 100% in 1 hour and 23 minutes. 

Fingerprint and face unlock

Another big leap from the predecessor can be seen in the in-display fingerprint sensor. It's as fast as a capacitive sensor 8 out of 10 times. Same goes for the face unlock, where the shady camera pops up and closes in a second to unlock the phone. 

There's no doubt about its coolness, but make sure you set 'swipe to unlock' as the default mode to unlock. The other option is the auto unlock, which we do not recommend as the camera pops out each time the screen turns on. We ended up with the front camera popped out in our pockets quite a few times. Note that we had set the double tap to wake option on. 

Also, we noticed that the Pocket Mode feature has gone missing from the 'Utilities' option under the settings. We don't exactly know why the feature isn't included, but we assume that it's related to the front camera.

When set in the swipe up mode, it adds an extra step where you need to unlock the screen first and then swipe up. While this is up to you how you chose to unlock the phone, we recommend using the fingerprint sensor. It's the best way, and we're pretty confident that it's the best option out of all. 

Verdict

If you love consuming video content and playing gaming on your smartphone, look nowhere else. It has the best screen on any smartphone we've ever tested at this price. It is aided further with clean and powerful audio from the dual stereo speakers. 

We really liked how OnePlus has employed raw power of the Snapdragon 855 and put it out for the users to have the best experience. If you care about experience, the OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the few Android phones that match up to the stability of iOS. It also offers the fancy pop-up camera design, a respectable battery, versatile camera setup and smooth software experience. There are only a couple of reasons why you shouldn't go for the OnePus 7 Pro. First, if you need a compact and handy phone and second, if you want the best camera phone in the range.

If you're not bothered about the display or the camera and need to save some cash, OnePlus 7 also offers great value for money with slightly lesser features but similar hardware.

Image credit: TechRadar