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Hands on: OnePlus 7 Pro 5G review

Low-cost, high-speed 5G

What is a hands on review?
OnePlus 7 Pro 5G

Early Verdict

The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is minimally different from its non-5G version, but that's okay – the base phone is phenomenally powerful at a lower price than the competition, and thus is one of the least expensive options for hooking up to one of the next-gen phone networks.

For

  • Powerful, sharp screen
  • Less pricey than competing 5G
  • Seamless front screen

Against

  • 5G with Sprint isn't the absolute fastest
  • No spec difference from cheaper non-5G version

The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is pretty much identical to the OnePlus 7 Pro. The only difference? Yup, you've guessed it, 5G connectivity. With that in mind, please read our full OnePlus 7 Pro review for a much more in-depth look at all aspects of this device.

Here, we'll give you a more experiential look at the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, reflective of our time using the handset on UK carrier EE's 5G network in London, England and with US carrier Sprint's 5G network in New York City.

5G coverage and speeds will vary depending on your country, city and even exact location – coverage areas are still touch-and-go. It's very much early days for 5G, and the next generation network is currently only available in a handful of cities around the world - and only certain areas within those.

Availability of 5G, and its coverage, will improve over the coming years, but even if 5G has 'launched' in your country, you may want to wait 18-24 months to allow networks to improve, to see more 5G-capable handsets launch and for prices to become more competitive.

But if you're keen on picking up a 5G-compatible handset now, you wouldn't go wrong with the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G (and save money compared to the more expensive 5G phones out there).

The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G boasts a large 6.67-inch, QHD display, plenty of power under the hood in the form of the flagship Snapdragon 855, 256GB of storage and a whopping 12GB of RAM. There are three rear cameras in the expected regular-ultrawide-telephoto array, while the selfie snapper pops out of the top of the handset on request, leaving you with a notch-free, uninterrupted screen on the front.

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus 7 Pro 5G price and availability

OnePlus 7 Pro 5G specs

Weight: 206g
Dimensions: 162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.67-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3120
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256GB
Battery: 4,000mAh
Rear cameras: 48MP + 16MP + 8MP
Front camera: 16MP  

The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is only available in a few countries at the moment; the US, UK and Finland. It will likely come to more countries, but for nothing we've not had confirmation as to where. Some regions may have to wait to see if a OnePlus 7T supports 5G.

In the UK it's available exclusively from EE, where you'll have to pick it up on contract.

The cheapest monthly cost is £64 (over two years) with a £50 upfront outlay, getting you unlimited calls and texts, and 10GB of data in return. If you want the most data available, you're looking at £79 per month (plus £10 upfront) over two years for 120GB of data.

In the US, you can pick up the device through Sprint for either $840 or a special $20/month rate for 18 months, after which you can either upgrade to a new device or pay off the difference (presumably $360) in a lump sum or with six additional monthly payments.

It means the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is more expensive to own that its non-5G sibling (which costs $749 / £799 / AED 3,249 at these specs), so you'll need to ensure you spend most of your time in a 5G area, and will make use of the additional speed before opting for this phone.

The 7 Pro 5G is cheaper, however, than the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, falling into a similar price bracket as the Oppo Reno 5G and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G.

OnePlus 7 Pro 5G

(Image credit: Future)

5G experience

The good news is, if you're lucky to live in a 5G hotspot of coverage, the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G can deliver impressive speeds direct to the palm of your hand. 

On numerous occasions we saw speeds top 550Mbps in Central London, and when you consider the average 4G speed in the British capital is around 15Mbps-25Mbps, it's a considerably leap. Using Sprint's 5G NYC network in the US, we saw speeds top out at around 330Mbps, which is still far higher than 4G LTE.

OnePlus 7 Pro 5G

OnePlus 7 Pro 5G getting speeds above 330Mbps in NYC.

(Image credit: Future)

When you're getting these sort of speeds, you're able to downloads apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp in a flash. You install and in less than a second they're downloaded. It's that quick.

It's also great for streaming video, with our Netflix and Prime Video streams running smooth with no waiting around for the content to buffer. With the large, QHD display of the OnePlus 7 Pro - with no notch in the way - they look great too.

Downloading video on those networks was fast, but not quite as blistering as the 1Gbps speeds seen on other networks. In our NYC testing, we downloaded the first season of Stranger Things (eight 50-plus minute episodes) in just under five minutes; on Verizon 5G in Chicago with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, we got it in under 40 seconds.

Theoretically, 5G networks can deliver speeds of over 1Gbps, which is double or even triple what we have seen, but the likelihood of getting close to those optimal conditions is slim to none if the carrier is running lower-frequency setups. Sprint 5G in the US, for instance, runs on the 2.5GHz band, while Verizon uses higher-frequency 'millimeter wave' at 28GHz and 39GHz bands. 

Regardless, maintaining consistent high speeds on 5G is also difficult. While we were able to record some impressive peak speeds during our tests on the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, we also witnessed widely variable speeds in the same location.

Once you've found an area of 5G, the speeds tend to be comfortably quicker than 4G, but there were times where we found 5G to even be a little sluggish, bottoming out at 50-60Mbps.

This isn't a criticism of the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, as 5G networks are still very much in their infancy and are still building out for consistency, coverage area and speed - but it's something you need to consider before opting for the handset.

Everything else

The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G looks identical to its non-5G sibling, and by all accounts, its internals are no different (aside from, conceivably, a 5G modem). Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, it's not a supersized version of an earlier phone.

That means the 7 Pro 5G doesn't have more battery than the regular version - a move other phonemakers have made to account for the extra drain expected when downloading or streaming mass data on 5G. Given the 4,000mAh capacity on the OnePlus 7 Pro/5G, we aren't too worried, but we'll certainly test this out.

(Image credit: Future)

Early verdict

5G coverage will only get better, and thus the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G will be able to justify its price - and existence - more and more as the months go by.

If you're willing to accept patchy 5G signal (or in some cases, no 5G signal at all) in hopes it will improve over the lifetime of the phone, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a solid buy with plenty of power, capable cameras and a great display. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.