OnePlus 7 Pro review: reinventing premium

The real “flagship killer” is finally here

Performance and battery life

As expected, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a powerhouse. It rocks Qualcomm’s mighty Snapdragon 855, complete with an octa-core Kryo 485 CPU, Adreno 640 GPU, and X24 Gigabit LTE (CAT 18) modem. My review unit came with 12GB RAM and 256GB of built-in UFS 3.0 storage, but there are 6GB / 128GB and 8GB / 256GB variants as well. Like previous OnePlus devices, there’s no SD card support here. Other specs include 802.11ac (2×2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5.0 (with aptX HD), NFC, A-GPS / GLONASS / BeiDou / Galileo, and a comprehensive suite of sensors.

Performance is outstanding. The OnePlus 7 Pro is lightning fast and silky smooth no matter what you’re doing. Whether you’re casually watching Netflix, jumping between several productivity apps, editing a bunch of RAW photos, or playing an intense round of PUBG with friends, you won’t be left wanting (or waiting, for that matter). The display’s 90Hz refresh rate makes everything even smoother. It’s subtle yet noticeable, especially if you switch back to another handset after using this phone for a while.

Overall though, the OnePlus 7 Pro doesn’t necessarily feel quicker than last year’s OnePlus 6T, despite the newer SoC. That’s likely because the Quad HD+ screen and 90Hz refresh rate require more processing. Speaking of which, there’s a 10-layer liquid cooling system to keep the processor ticking when things get hot. OnePlus also updated the vibration motor to a linear motor for much improved haptics, and the in-display fingerprint sensor to a third gen optical sensor, which is now more responsive than the ultrasonic tech in the Galaxy S10. Nice.

Battery life is great, thanks to a capacious 4000mAh battery and a chip that’s 20% more efficient — and despite a more power hungry display. While I didn’t measure exact screen-on times, I twice used the OnePlus 7 Pro for two days without a refill. Basically, most people won’t have any trouble getting through a busy day on a single charge, and when it’s time, the supplied Warp Charge 30 fast charger makes topping off a breeze. Unfortunately, this handset doesn’t support Qi wireless charging. That’s just bad news for a premium flagship.

Software

Like the company’s previous devices, the OnePlus 7 Pro runs OxygenOS (v9.5.2), an almost stock version of Android 9 (Pie) that includes a custom launcher and some (mostly welcome) tweaks. In addition to Reading Mode, which turns the screen black and white, Night Mode 2.0 filters out blue light and lowers the display brightness to an incredibly dim 0.27 nits for use in complete darkness. RAM Boost caches apps in memory for faster load times, and complements Gaming Mode, which mutes notifications and improves graphics performance.

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Zen Mode is by far the most interesting new feature. It encourages you to take a break and focus on life by disabling the phone for 20 minutes. During that time, you can still make and receive emergency calls and use the camera, but that’s about it. OxygenOS now also comes with a handy screen recorder. In all, there’s little to complain about — OnePlus’ software is super polished, and a perfect match for the 7 Pro’s superb hardware. Premium flagships manufacturers take note.

My only real gripe is with Shelf. For some reason, OnePlus insists on replacing Google’s Discover page left of the home screen with its own useless alternative called Shelf. T-Mobile’s OnePlus 7 Pro lets you choose between Discover (the default) and Shelf, but the unlocked model is stuck with Shelf unless you install a third party launcher that supports Discover. Why?

Price and competition

The OnePlus 7 Pro is available unlocked in three configurations and two color options: 6GB RAM / 128GB storage for $669 (Mirror Gray only), 8GB RAM / 256GB storage for $699 (Mirror Gray or Nebula Blue), and 12GB RAM / 256GB storage for $749 (Nebula Blue only). It’s also available from T-Mobile for $699 with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage (Mirror Gray or Nebula Blue). OnePlus is also introducing a trade-in program in partnership with Phobio that offers up to $449 for eligible phones towards a 7 Pro.

At these prices, it doesn’t matter which OnePlus 7 Pro you pick. You’re absolutely getting a premium flagship for hundreds less than the competition. Its closest rivals are Samsung’s Galaxy S10+ ($999), Apple’s iPhone XS Max ($1099), and Huawei’s grey market P30 Pro ($999) and Mate 20 Pro ($699). Google’s Pixel 3 XL is out of the running since it’s getting long in the tooth (4GB RAM, Snapdragon 845), and the new Pixel 3a XL offers the same excellent camera and user experience in a mid-range package for $479.

The only wildcards are the Honor 20 Pro which is launching in London on May 21, and ZTE’s Axon 10 Pro — assuming these are coming to the US. If you’d rather have a smaller handset, consider the Galaxy S10 ($899) or S10e ($749), iPhone XS ($999) or XR ($749), LG G8 ($650), or Huawei P30 ($600).

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Myriam’s bottom line

I’m not going to mince words. The OnePlus 7 Pro is a spectacular phone, and that’s before you even consider the value proposition. At $669, it’s just an incredible deal. It wraps a brilliant screen, amazing performance, a competitive triple camera, and stock android experience into a beautiful, premium device. The fact that it works on Verizon and is available subsidized on T-Mobile is just icing on the cake. In the US, the choice for most people now truly comes down to Samsung, Apple, or OnePlus.

Still, the company made a few compromises. The lack of headphone jack, water ingress certification, wireless charging support, and notification light are all disappointing. Yes, I know — the 3.5mm connector is on its way out, and a missing LED isn’t really a deal breaker — but an official IP rating and Qi charging are par for the course in this category. I realize the company’s modus operandi is to undercut the competition, but I can’t help but wonder how much more expensive (and awesome) a OnePlus 7 Pro with these features would be.

If the OnePlus 7 Pro is on your list and you want a premium flagship but also care about value, performance, and user experience, go ahead and pull the trigger. I’ve tested every premium handset mentioned in this review, and after living with the 7 Pro for two weeks, I can’t help but think it might just be the “flagship killer” OnePlus always promised.

Helena’s bottom line

OnePlus has outdone themselves again, taking things to a whole new level with the OnePlus 7 Pro. To that effect, the camera, display, design, and even the performance have all leaped ahead dramatically from the 6T.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of curved edge displays on a smartphone, but the OnePlus 7 Pro has the best implementation of a curved display that I’ve come across to date, and yet it’s still super ergonomic to grip. Furthermore, the phone’s finish isn’t just pretty, but I really appreciate how its backside isn’t slippery as it tends to be with most other flagships. Instead, it feels practically as comfortable to hold as the OnePlus 6T.

Overall, between its new design and premium specs, the OnePlus 7 Pro is ready to rival the likes of the Galaxy S10 and wipe the floor with them thanks to its combination of excellent hardware and intuitive user interface. Samsung, Huawei, and the other big players should be getting really nervous.

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