OnePlus 7 Pro review
- Incredible price
- Beautiful design
- Gorgeous display
- Versatile triple camera
- Top-notch performance
- Stock Android experience
- No headphone jack
- No IP rating
- No wireless charging
- No notification LED
It was just six months ago that OnePlus launched the excellent OnePlus 6T and announced its US partnership with T-Mobile. This marked a major turning point for the company, helping it raise awareness for the brand and put its latest phone within reach of a broader audience. As such, OnePlus was able to move beyond its traditional tech-savvy early-adopter market into the mainstream. Today, the company cranks things up another notch, and (spoiler alert) the result is magnificent.
For months now, rumors have been swirling that OnePlus was working on two new handsets, and that’s precisely what it delivered. The OnePlus 7 is exactly what you’ve come to expect from the company — an almost-flagship for about half the price. But it’s not coming to the US. Instead we’re getting the OnePlus 7 Pro, a phone that answers the question: what if OnePlus made a proper flagship, something premium that’s aimed more directly at the iPhone XS Max and Galaxy S10+?
So, is the OnePlus 7 Pro the no-compromise handset we’ve always truly wanted? How does it stand up to the competition? Is it still affordable? What does this mean for the future of premium flagships? Find out in my review.
Hardware and design
OnePlus has been crafting quality phones for a while now, and the OnePlus 7 Pro is no exception. It’s a beautiful curved Gorilla Glass 5 and polished aluminum sandwich that’s close in proportions to the svelte OnePlus 6. As such, it looks more refined than the OnePlus 6T. My Nebula Blue review unit is particularly striking thanks to satin-finished rear glass. Other colors include Mirror Gray and Almond (with gold accents). The notchless, bezel-less display and triple rear camera further position the 7 Pro as a premium flagship.
At 162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8mm and 206g, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a big handset. In fact, it’s about the same size as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9. Still, it’s easy to grip, at least if you have larger hands, thanks to the curved glass front and back. It feels substantial (which is good) but also a bit wide (which is bad). The front is dominated by a 6.67-inch OLED screen, with only a tiny chin at the bottom and a sliver of an earpiece along the top edge. No notch or bezels means there’s a motorized pop-up selfie shooter that automatically retracts when free-fall is detected. Neat.
Round back, you’ll find a trio of lenses (regular, wide-angle, and 3x telephoto) arranged in a vertical pod, a dual LED flash, and the OnePlus logo. That’s it. A pair of microphones, a speaker, the USB Type-C port, and the SIM tray line the bottom edge of the phone, with the aforementioned pop-up selfie camera and a third mic located up top. The right side is home to the power button and mute slider, while the volume rocker lives on the left side — following the now familiar OnePlus 6 / 6T layout.
Unfortunately, the OnePlus 7 Pro lacks a headphone jack. Worse yet, OnePlus doesn’t include a dongle in the box, hoping perhaps that you’ll spend extra on its new Bullets Wireless 2 instead. Not cool. There’s also no official IP rating, but the company says the handset is splash resistant, whatever that means. You know what, OnePlus? It’s time to stop making excuses. If you want your premium flagship to be taken seriously, it needs to be certified against water ingress, even if this raises the price a little.
A beefy (and welcome) 4000mAh battery hides under the rear glass, but there’s no wireless charging coil back there. It’s a bummer, and another reminder of OnePlus’ ruthless drive to save costs. Or is that stubbornness? Ultimately, though, the OnePlus 7 is one of the company’s best designs to date. It’s a sexy phone with solid build quality.
Most premium flagships have Quad HD+ displays these days and for the first time, so does the OnePlus 7 Pro. But the company didn’t stop there. This is a massive 6.67-inch edge-to-edge Fluid AMOLED panel with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio (3120 x 1440 pixels) and a whopping 90Hz refresh rate, hence “Fluid”. There’s no notch here, just a tiny chin and acres of screen covering almost the entire front of the handset and curving into the left and right sides. It’s like Samsung’s Galaxy S10 Infinity-O display, but without the hole punch “O”.
It’s a gorgeous screen that compares favorably with today’s best OLED panels. Viewing angles are excellent, with no obvious off-center discoloration. Colors are vivid but accurate, and blacks are super deep. It’s also bright enough to be usable in direct sunlight and supports HDR10+. But it’s the 90Hz refresh rate that really shines. It delivers an incredibly smooth visual experience no matter what you’re doing. Combine this with a crisp 516 ppi resolution and automatic down-scaling to preserve battery life, and it adds up to one impressive display.
Of course, no notch or bezels means the earpiece is reduced to a slit in the aluminum frame above the screen, and the front shooter lives in that slick motorized pod that slides up from the top edge of the phone. There’s no notification LED, but the curved edges can be set to light up for some notifications. Also, unlike other premium flagships, the Ambient display isn’t a proper always-on mode (it only activates when you lift the handset or notifications come in). My only other gripe, and it’s minor, is that the screen’s corners are too rounded for my taste.
Like most premium flagships these days, the OnePlus 7 Pro packs three rear cameras — a first for OnePlus. It features a 48MP f/1.6 main shooter with OIS built around Sony’s excellent and popular IMX 586 Quad Bayer sensor (1.6-micron 4-in-1 pixels), a 16MP f/2.2 wide-angle camera (117-degree field-of-view), and an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto shooter (3x optical zoom) with OIS and 1-micron pixels. Phew. These three cameras use a combination of phase detection, laser, and contrast autofocus. A dual-LED flash completes the package.
Overall, the OnePlus 7 Pro takes lovely pictures. It’s the company’s best shooter to date, almost matching Samsung’s Galaxy S10, but still falling short of imaging champs like the Pixel 3 and P30 Pro. Exposure and colors are quite accurate, dynamic range is decent, and the main camera performs well in low light, especially when using Nightscape, a mode that’s similar to Google’s Night Sight and Huawei’s Night mode. Strangely, Nightscape isn’t available on the wide-angle or telephoto lenses. Other modes include portrait, manual (called Pro), and panorama.
For selfies, there’s a 16MP f/2.0 fixed-focus shooter with 1-micron pixels. It’s mounted in a motorized tab that comes up from the top side of the handset as needed. Clever. Vivo originally introduced this design with the NEX S last year, but it’s appeared on a few other phones since, primarily in China. OnePlus claims it’s tested this mechanism 300,000 times without problems. The resulting selfies are fine, but don’t particularly stand out in terms of image quality. Ditto portrait mode, which is driven by face recognition instead of depth sensing.
On the video front, the OnePlus 7 Pro captures up to 4k / 60fps stabilized with the main rear camera, and 1080p / 30 fps stabilized with the front shooter. It also handles slow motion video at 1080p / 240fps and 720p / 480fps, and a time lapse mode is available on both the front and rear shooters. For some odd reason, neither the wide-angle nor the telephoto cameras can record video. What’s up with that, OnePlus? Ultimately, the resulting videos look pretty good, with nice, clean stereo audio.
Reception and sound quality
My OnePlus 7 Pro review unit is the unlocked dual-SIM model, not T-Mobile’s single SIM version. I tested it primarily on Verizon and AT&T in San Francisco and New York City without any issues. Calls were loud and clear, and data speeds were quick — just as expected. Like last year’s OnePlus 6T, this new handset is compatible with Verizon’s LTE spectrum (without legacy CDMA support). It also connects to band 71 (600MHz) on T-Mobile’s LTE network, which is great news.
Audio on the OnePlus 7 Pro is kind of a mixed bag. On the plus side, the new stereo speakers sound much better than anything the company’s shipped before. This setup combines the earpiece and the bottom-firing speaker into a stereo pair, like many other premium flagships. On the other hand, the 7 Pro lacks a headphone jack once again. This is annoying at best, and user hostile at worst — especially since there’s no bundled USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box this time around.
Yes, the phone features aptX HD over Bluetooth, and the new Bullets Wireless 2 are pretty decent, but this isn’t what people want — especially OnePlus fans. At least the OnePlus 7 Pro supports both analog and digital USB Type-C audio accessories, and the built-in DAC and amp sound great, even with difficult to drive headphones and earbuds. Finally, it also features Dolby Atmos, which lets you fine tune the audio. I prefer turning it off when listening with headphones or earbuds, but I can see the appeal when using the built-in speakers.