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- Thin frames
- Good audio
- Premium screen
- Solid build quality
- Smooth performance
- High contrast and 90-hertz refresh rate
- Gets hot
- Autonomy could be better
- Photography below expectations
OnePlus this time around launched two top-of-the-range smartphones with the OnePlus 7 Pro version (Check on Amazon.com) that seeks to become the very best smartphone you can buy.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Design
Most manufacturers have long decided for a glass and metal “sandwich” for their flagship models since these materials transmit a feeling of higher quality (and allow for wireless charging). OnePlus followed along since the OnePlus 5.
The OnePlus 7 Pro seems different, however, especially considering that the standard version is much more compact and comes in a variety of colors. Our test unit is the Nebula Blue one and has that hologram effect that makes the light shift on its back, giving out shades of violet.
It isn’t like what we saw in the HONOR View 20 (Check on Amazon.com) or the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE, where the tones were much more electric. Here the end result is much more discreet.
The curved edges are now narrower on the sides. This design is similar to what we saw in the Huawei P30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) and is the inheritance of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge. The negative aspect is that the grip gets more uncomfortable (it gives a “sharp” feeling).
On the sides, we find the usual physical buttons (power, volume, and sound). There is no physical key for the virtual assistant, instead, we find the classic slider for the sound with its three positions (on, vibration and mute). The dual SIM tray is at the bottom, next to the USB type C port. Sadly there is no audio jack.
In the upper part, the protagonist is the pop-up camera module that houses the front camera.
In the rear is where we find most changes. The Gorilla Glass 5 is still reminiscent of hard and well-polished plastic, unlike the more premium feel with Samsung or iPhone devices. On the other hand, thanks to the new holographic paint, fingerprints and smudges are much less visible.
As we said before the new “razor” thin corners aren’t the most comfortable in the world, but after a while, you will get used to them. The thing you are definitely going to notice is the weight: 206 grams! A heavyweight contender in the era of featherweights.
As expected, there is no IP certification for dust and water resistance. But OnePlus says that it can be immersed in a bucket of water (you can find the video on OnePlus’ official Twitter account).
OnePlus 7 Pro – Screen
The AMOLED screen is, in fact, one of the key differences between this model and the standard OnePlus 7. It isn’t just bigger (almost half an inch bigger), but hands down better with its higher resolution (QHD+ vs FHD+) and the use of a higher refresh rate (90 hertz) panel.
The resolution is something personal and goes along with our preferences and the sensitivity of our vision (most people aren’t bothered with an FHD screen) but in any case it is a nice improvement: the screen offers much more detail and reaches 516 PPI (pixels per inch), making videos, images or text much more defined.
It is, therefore, very pleasant to look at and the experience can be further improved as we configure the display to 90 hertz, which makes this device feel much more fluid.
It is especially noticeable in games and the only drawback is that the higher refresh rate also leads to higher energy consumption.
As for screen calibration, it comes with the “Intense” setting as the default factory setting. It gives somewhat cold whites and a high saturation level, hence the one we like the most is the “Display-P3” setting, which is more balanced, covers more color space and the color temperatures can be adjusted.
The automatic brightness feature also works better this time around (in the OnePlus 6T the brightness used to be too low when moving to environments with low or medium lighting). This time the “problem” is the opposite: although it is usually quick to react to light changes, it stays high enough when moving to an environment with medium to low light, and that means that we will have to manually adjust it, especially if you want to maximize autonomy. In addition, the automatic screen off function is set at two minutes, something that you will also want to adjust in order to slightly increase autonomy.
The touch sensitivity is spot on, and there is no accidental activation from the curved panel. In the end, we do not understand the reason behind adding a curved display. It doesn’t offer anything tangible and on the other hand, it creates a world of problems, like accidental activation, screen shading, and a poor grip that can impoverish the user experience.
But the great thing, maybe its best feature is the lack of a notch. The front camera is hidden in the pop-up module and that together with a well-integrated elongated speaker and the reduced lower edge, manage to convey the feeling of an “all-screen” better than any other premium smartphone.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Performance
It seems that OnePlus decided not to cut corners anymore. Both OnePlus 7’s equip the Snapdragon 855, with the difference that the Pro version can reach up to 12GB of RAM.
With this spec sheet, it is unthinkable to notice slowdowns or erratic behaviors in relation to app execution and overall fluidity, and indeed there is no trace of it. The OnePlus 7 Pro is fast and reliable and can run any game.
Till now, in fact, I didn’t like playing ‘PUBG’ on any phone. This is a game that demands a huge amount of resources, but the combination of the 90-hertz refresh rate and “Game” mode make this game run absolutely smooth. Chapeau, OnePlus!
However… we did notice that temperatures rise more when gaming than with other less demanding tasks. Most of the time they are not at a worrisome level, but at some point, during our tests, the device became very hot to the touch.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Software
OnePlus keeps dressing up Android with its own software, but in a similar way to hardware evolution, there has also been evolution in Oxygen OS; less and less of OS. It is now a layer of customization and not an operating system.
Thankfully there is no bloatware, beyond the pair of OnePlus’ apps that you can uninstall.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Biometrics
Last year, the on-screen fingerprint reader was one of the differences between a standard OnePlus and its T edition. This time around both 7 devices sport the under-display optical reader.
The one in the 6T had a lot of room for improvement. In this case, the reader is definitely better. It is quick to act and will function most of the time unless you tip the finger too much (something that is bound to happen when using the thumb).
Another biometric system is face recognition. It is also fast (just consider that the front camera takes a second to pop up) but not as secure as the 3D Face Unlock on the iPhones, and it will not work in the dark or in low light conditions.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Cameras
The trio of cameras has returned: we have a standard lens with a 48-megapixel sensor, a telephoto lens and a “super” wide-angle one.
Let’s see them in detail:
- Main camera with 48 megapixels f/1.6 sensor with OIS + EIS. 1.6-micrometers pixel size, with pixel-binning
- A telephoto lens with an 8-megapixel f/2.4 sensor with OIS. 1-micrometer pixel size and optical zoom up to 3x
- Ultra wide-angle lens with f/2.2 sensor and 117º field of view
- Front camera with 16 megapixels f/2.0 sensor. 1-micrometer pixel size.
The front camera can record up to 1080p and 30 frames per second, while the rear one can go up to 4K and 60 fps. This also incorporates super slow motion at 1080p and a series of modes that now with the app and analysis of photographic quality we will see more in detail.
The app works well, is stable and reactive, although the activation/deactivation of the HDR is somewhat slow and the same goes when you want to adjust the shutter speed manually. It is intuitive and maintains a simple interface that makes it easy to use in all modes for both the rear module and the selfie cam.
The OnePlus 7 Pro’s rear module gives us the versatility that we have come to expect from triple rear cameras, but with no outstanding feature. In favorable conditions (good light) it is easy to observe a kind of fog, perhaps a lack of contrast and sharpness, and low saturation, although the latter can be easily edited via the app (or some third party software).
The dynamic range is somewhat low (this is not a deal-breaker) and the colorimetry is realistic (despite the lack of liveliness in general). The use of HDR can help improve the end result. Of course, on some occasions, the contrast is somewhat exaggerated. In low light conditions, it does help improve the photo since it compensates for the slight underexposure of the Automatic mode without increasing the noise.
The optical zoom grants better results when the ambient lighting is more favorable.
The good thing here is that the change from one lens to another is very fast, and the app allows you to play quite well with all the options.
The wide-angle lens is also good when there is abundant light, especially since there will always be some small underexposure thanks to the lens change. Some edge distortion is present (it also happens with Samsung phones and other premium brands) but there is a correction (optional) that manages to compensate. There is no loss of detail, beyond the expected, and this lens is very useful for when you want to maximize the framing and not miss anything in a scene. At night or in low light conditions, underexposure is heavily penalizing so it is better not to use this lens.
At night the noise makes its appearance and while the Night Landscape mode (previous Night mode) does help improve some photos, some noise still creeps in all the same.
Portrait mode is where we see the least evolution with respect to the OnePlus 6T. The app demands a certain distance to the main object in order to activate the mode and it doesn’t let us edit the degree of blur, but the worst thing is that it takes longer to activate; when applied it does produce good photos in good light conditions. The edges are well defined and there is no loss of detail in the main plane, although sometimes the bokeh effect is too light.
The front camera has a good level of detail, although, depending on the scene, the colors and tone could be better processed. There is a noticeable lack of liveliness (similar to what we saw with the rear cameras, although to a lesser degree), especially in well-lit scenes; indoors and in low light conditions the tone turns slightly to magenta.
The HDR can help with the sky appearing burned or with a very low dynamic range.
The Portrait mode is also good with a solid bokeh effect that manages to get the gaps right (for example, the one that is between the arm and the body that usually is left unchanged).
During the day both the 4K and 1080p resolutions give good results. The added stabilization is great and can fight tremors, sudden plane changes or shaking. And although in some cases it may give a somewhat forced result it is worth having it activated.
At night, the footage looks unstable, especially if we make walking videos. In addition, it is relatively easy to cover the microphone when holding the device horizontally.
Slow-motion is solid even in low light conditions.
The Front camera also produces acceptable video footage (in favorable lighting conditions) with realistic colors and a good level of detail. At night, however, the quality drops quite a bit, but the electronic stabilization still works miracles.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Autonomy
The larger screen, the bigger resolution, and the higher refresh rate make the admittedly big 4,000 milliamperes hour battery feel somewhat limited.
During our test, we found out that this smartphone will last an average of 20 hours with about 7 hours and 40 minutes of screen time.
These are good figures, it will not win any awards, and it will not last you more than a day. But it is OK for a phone that you will use daily for watching videos, taking photos and gaming.
The Warp charge (fast charge) can charge the battery from 0 to 50% in just half an hour, and to 100% in 1 hour and 30 minutes.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Audio
Although the screen has been the protagonist of OnePlus’ marketing strategy, it is the audio compartment that has seen some major improvements too. There is no 3.5mm jack, but we do have stereo speakers.
The qualitative leap is remarkable: the audio experience is the one that we would expect from a premium device, and in fact, it is one of the best we have seen this year so far. The sound is clear, with a very wide dynamic range and a maximum volume that can fill a room with hardly any loss of quality (it sounds better if we stay at around 80%).
Stereo sound always gives a more satisfying experience, with more nuance and more enveloping. especially when viewing a video or playing games. Still, it is relatively easy to cover the main speaker with your thumb when holding the device horizontally.
OnePlus 7 Pro – Verdict
The OnePlus 7 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) is a qualitative leap forward, full stop. It gives a more premium feeling shedding one and for all its budget flagship killer skin.
We appreciate the new display, and although it does not offer an outstanding experience in everything (pity for the brightness), it does allow the user to enjoy all kinds of content, whether watching or playing. The audio improvements also help make it a good candidate as a multimedia center, especially considering the almost infinite screen with no notch.
The pop-up selfie camera is a nice touch, although it still has some small hitches with user experience. There is also a lot of room for improvement for the fingerprint reader and the photography, which is good but not on par with other flagship 2019 models.
This is a well built, attractive, and complete mobile phone that will serve you well as long as you don’t prioritize the cameras.