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Review

OnePlus 7 Pro Review: Finally playing with the big boys

OnePlus 7 is out. We review the top-of-the-line OnePlus 7 Pro with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage. So can OnePlus finally manage to challenge the true flagship devices? Let’s find out.

OnePlus 7 Pro (9)

OnePlus 7 Pro 4.5 5
BGR Rating :
4.5/5

Highlights

  • OnePlus 7 Pro prices in India start at Rs 48,999.

  • The top variant boasts 12GB RAM, and 256GB storage.

  • At this price, OnePlus will be competing against top flagships from Samsung, Google, and Huawei.

The OnePlus 7 Pro is finally here. OnePlus today launched its flagship OnePlus 7 Pro along with a slightly toned down variant called the OnePlus 7. All eyes are no doubt on the OnePlus 7 Pro, which will be available in three variants. The OnePlus 7 Pro price in India starts at Rs 48,999 for the 128GB+6GB RAM model and goes up to Rs 57,999 for the 256GB+12GB RAM model.

At the top range, the OnePlus 7 Pro is clearly aimed at premium smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S10+, Huawei P30 Pro, and even Apple’s iPhone XS Max. The OnePlus 7, on the other hand, is aimed at the price conscious market that makes the bulk of OnePlus fans. Ahead of the launch, we received the top OnePlus 7 Pro variant for review. I have been using it as my primary smartphone while trying to push it to its limits. So can OnePlus manage to challenge the true flagships with its OnePlus 7 Pro? Let’s find out.

OnePlus 7 Pro design and build quality: A bit of Déjà vu?

Lets’ start with the design of the OnePlus 7 Pro. Though OnePlus claims it is a new design, we have seen it in the past on other smartphones with a glass front and back and a metal frame on the sides. Both, the back panel as well as the front screen of the smartphone are curved on the edges. Overall, the smartphone looks very refined and polished when it comes to design and build quality.

The first time you take the OnePlus 7 Pro out of the box, it is hard not to get impressed by the design of the smartphone. This is partly because everything looks premium and well-rounded. In fact, it does not look like OnePlus designed the device on its own as it stands apart from the rest of the devices that the company launched in the past.

However, the more I used the smartphone, the more I got a feeling of Déjà vu. This feeling that I have seen a somewhat familiar design in past smartphones persisted until my colleague pointed out that the new OnePlus 7 Pro design was strikingly similar to Samsung Galaxy S10+. However, this real-world imitation did not affect my opinion of the smartphone as the design is actually really good. That said, the camera set up on the back does jut out a bit, which makes the device wobble when placed on a level surface. The included case, however, should fix that problem.

That gorgeous display on the OnePlus 7 Pro

Moving beyond the design, the second thing that OnePlus 7 Pro buyers will notice is the 6.67-inch Fluid AMOLED display panel with QHD (1440×3120 pixels) resolution and support for HDR10. After years of rumors about a QHD display on the latest OnePlus smartphone, the company has finally added a high-resolution display panel. However, this addition is not just a mere addition of a QHD AMOLED display panel but so much more. The new Liquid AMOLED technology allows OnePlus to change the refresh rate of the display according to the preference of the user. It is also likely working on a dynamic way for automatic refresh rate switching but it is unclear when or if it will roll out.

The increased refresh rate of the display seems to affect the overall user interface in a noticeable way as the phone feels a lot snappier. OxygenOS also comes with a number of ‘Screen calibration’ options so users can choose from ‘Vivid’, ‘Nature’, and ‘Advanced’. The ‘Advanced’ setting allows users to enable ‘AMOLED Wide Gamut’, ‘sRGB’ or ‘Display-P3’ color profiles. The device also comes with a number of new options in the Display section including ‘Resolution’ where users can switch back to FHD mode, ‘Screen refresh rate’, and the ‘Video enhancer’ mode. A new software update also added ‘DC dimming’ as part of the ‘OnePlus Laboratory’ app.

These new options in the software don’t mean a great deal in an individual capacity but they seem to push the OnePlus 7 Pro to a whole new level. In the past devices, the display has been one of the main sections along with the camera where OnePlus has tried to cut corners in terms of pricing to ensure that its devices are affordable. However, here the company seems to have gone all in with almost everything that a top of the line flagship smartphone offers.

OnePlus 7 Pro performance: The fast gets even faster (and Vibrant)

When OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition launched about four months back, we termed it as the fastest Android device in the market. With the launch of OnePlus 7 Pro, things have just improved. The increase in the speed is a combination of a 90Hz display, the UFS 3.0 storage, and the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC. Even though the 90Hz display could seem like an attributing factor to the increase in speed when it comes to performance, we can’t really discount the power of the Snapdragon 855 SoC along with assistance from UFS 3.0 storage.

The OnePlus 7 Pro zipped through everything that we could throw at it from PUBG Mobile at HDR graphics and Ultra frame rates to Fortnite and Shadowgun Legends at High settings. Multitasking between 15-20 or even 30 apps at any given time was no problem for the smartphone. It is worth noting that the phone did heat up significantly, and became difficult to hold despite featuring a 10-layer liquid cooling system. But at the same time, I am sure that no other smartphone in the Indian market provides such flawless lag-free gaming at highest settings possible.

At high temperatures, the system issued a warning, “The temperature of the phone is high”. To bring down the temperature, the operating system automatically reduces the brightness, turns off any hotspots, and even turns off the flashlight in case the user forgot to turn it off. OnePlus has also added a number of gaming related tweaks in the software including the ‘Gaming mode’ that we have seen in previous devices. There is also a new ‘Fnatic mode’ that introduces an advanced DND, ‘enhanced process regulator’, and ‘Network enhancement’.

OnePlus has also added a much better and stronger vibration motor in the smartphone to enhance the overall experience. I would have mentioned this in passing, but the inclusion of this has made life so much easier while using the in-display fingerprint scanner, while typing on the keyboard, with notifications, and while gaming. Users can make adjustments to the vibration intensity of the phone in the ‘Sound & vibration’ section with an option to even change the pattern of the vibration. Beyond that, the new stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support are a great addition with good sound quality.

OnePlus 7 Pro Camera: Three-eyed raven, pop-up camera and Nightscape

The OnePlus 7 Pro boasts a triple-camera setup on the back along with a 16-megapixel sensor on the front in the motorized pop-up housing. Given that I just switched from OnePlus 6T McLaren to the OnePlus 7 Pro, the image quality on the primary 48-megapixel sensor present on OnePlus 7 Pro is exceptional in almost every aspect. However, after extensive testing, I think that the company still needs to improve if it wants to compete against the big boys.

When moving from OnePlus 6T, the OnePlus 7 Pro images have better dynamic range, improved colors, more details, and texture. OnePlus has also improved its Nightscape mode. Talking about the quality of images, OnePlus 7 Pro captures good images in the regular, ultra-wide, and the 3x zoom modes in ideal conditions. However, the images are filled with some noise even under the afternoon sun, which makes us believe that the company is really aiming at more quality and details in the final image by retaining that texture instead of using algorithms to remove all and any noise.

OnePlus 7 Pro

The images do take a hit in terms of clarity, details, and colors when shot in less than ideal lighting conditions. At night, the images shot on the Ultra-wide sensor straight up turn murky, but that is not out of the ordinary for other smartphones with ultra-wide sensors. OnePlus 7 Pro is able to capture much better images at night with the help of its improved Nightscape mode. However, the images shot in this mode seem to be over-sharpened quite a bit. Talking about the front camera, the selfies are alright with decent background isolation in portrait mode.

It is not that OnePlus 7 Pro captures bad images. In fact, the company has done a tremendous job if we look at the improvements done in the software. However, the company is far from done when it comes to optimizing the quality of the camera as its competition including Google Pixel 3 (along with the recently launched Google Pixel 3a), Samsung Galaxy S10+, and the Huawei P30 Pro do a much better job at capturing images that are more clear in night, have better background isolation in portrait mode, and more.

All said, I reached out to OnePlus, and the company confirmed that an update for the OnePlus 7 Pro cameras is being worked on. It is worth noting that OnePlus has already rolled out an update with camera improvements about a week back. Once the new update rolls out, I will update the review and mention how big a difference it makes.

OnePlus 7 Pro software: OxygenOS 9.5 and digital well being

Over the years, OnePlus has gained a lot of praise for its in-house Android-based OxygenOS. The primary reason for praise is the near stock Android interface mixed with features that are extremely useful. The best part about these tweaks is that they don’t get in the way of the experience. OxygenOS 9.5 comes with a number of new features like the Fnatic Mode for gaming, built-in screen recorder, Quick replies to instant message, and the Zen Mode. All these features only seem to improve the overall experience of the device without really getting in the way.

In the duration of the review, OnePlus rolled out one update for OxygenOS which brought the version number to Oxygen OS 9.5.2 with a number of improvements including April 2019 Android security patch, DC dimming, improvements in scrolling, improved gaming with the inclusion of haptic feedback, improvements in the camera and introduction of Digital Wellbeing. As mentioned, the company is also planning to roll out a new camera update for the device in the coming days. Last but not least, OnePlus also hinted that it is working on a number of India centric features in the OxygenOS that the smartphone maker will start testing in June 2019.

One great new feature is Digital Wellbeing, which is being added with the OnePlus 7 series. What’s more interesting is a new feature called ‘Zen Mode’ that gamifies the entire concept of not using the smartphone. This feature is aimed at providing a smartphone free environment to users, 20 minutes a piece.

This feature entices users by referring to them as a ‘Challenger’ allowing them to only make emergency calls, receive incoming calls or take images with the help of the camera app. During the 20 minutes challenge a user can’t use any app on their OnePlus 7 Pro smartphone except the camera, and emergency calls. Google showcased something similar with its “Focus Mode” during Google I/O 2019 last week.

OnePlus 7 Pro battery life

Similar to past OnePlus devices, the OnePlus 7 Pro does not disappoint in the battery department. The smartphone offers about 8.5-9 hours of battery backup on days with heavy usage, which extends to about 11 hours on days with moderate usage. A moderate usage day for me includes 15-25 images, 1-1.5 hours of gaming, about two hours of streaming music, 1.5-2 hours of streaming videos on YouTube or Netflix, 3-4 email accounts constantly on sync, WhatsApp and Telegram all day long.

Given that the OnePlus 7 Pro comes with a QHD+ display along with 90Hz refresh rate, the inclusion of ‘Auto’ resolution switch between a QHD+ and FHD+ display depending on the battery is both essential as well as clever to further extend the battery. Last but not least, Warp Charge 30 is one of those essential things that I can no longer live without. Enough that I don’t mind carrying the wall charger with me at all times.

Should you buy the OnePlus 7 Pro?

As you would have guessed while reading this review, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a great smartphone. It is also possibly the fastest smartphone in the Indian market today. However, there are two aspects that stop me from completely recommending the OnePlus 7 Pro – pricing and camera quality. At this price range, OnePlus is entering a territory dominated by the likes of Samsung and Apple, and branding matters to a lot of buyers. It will be interesting to see how buyers react to spending nearly Rs 50,000 on a OnePlus smartphone.

The second reason I hesitate a bit is the OnePlus 7 Pro’s cameras. Sure the overall quality of images has increased, but it is simply not enough when looking at the top end of the market. OnePlus has promised that an update is coming that will further improve the camera’s performance. It remains to be seen just how much of a difference it will make.

  • Published Date: May 14, 2019 9:49 PM IST