OnePlus 7 Pro Review – This is the Best Smartphone so far in 2019

OnePlus 7 Pro Review – This is the Best Smartphone so far in 2019

“Never Settle” has been OnePlus’ mantra since the brand released its first smartphone, the “Flagship Killer” OnePlus One. For years, the “Never Settle” motto and “Flagship Killer” title were the butt of snarky headlines. Every new smartphone that OnePlus released would evoke criticism that the company was, in fact, “settling” on something. As the prices of new OnePlus smartphones slowly crept upward, encroaching on the territory of the Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhone, OnePlus fans have wondered when the company will release a truly no-compromise smartphone that deserves the price hike. Today, the company did just that with the new OnePlus 7 Pro.

The OnePlus 7 Pro is the biggest generational leap for OnePlus in its entire history. The list of what’s changed from last year’s OnePlus 6T is remarkable: an upgraded display with a higher resolution and refresh-rate display, the elimination of the notch and nearly all bezels, a triple rear camera setup, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, 30W fast charging, up to 12GB RAM, faster storage, a better fingerprint reader, and much more. In the U.S., the OnePlus 7 Pro starts at $669 – $120 more than the OnePlus 6T, but $70 less than the Samsung Galaxy S10e. Is the OnePlus 7 Pro with all those upgrades really worth the extra $120 over the OnePlus 6T, and is it better than the entry-level Samsung Galaxy S10? Let’s find out in our review.

OnePlus 7 Pro Specifications - Click to expand.

General Specifications

Category Specification Category Specification
Dimensions & Weight

162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8 mm

206 g

RAM 6GB/8GB/12GB LPDDR4X
Design & Colors All-Glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 5)

Nebula Blue, Almond, Mirror Gray

Storage 128GB/256GB UFS 3.0 Dual-Lane
Display 6.67-inch 3120×1440 (19.5:9) 90 Hz AMOLED display. Supports sRGB and DCI-P3. Battery 4,000 mAh (non-removable)
Camera (Image) Front: Sony IMX 471 (16MP, f/2.0, 1.0μm) with EIS.

Rear (Primary): Sony IMX 586 (48MP, f/1.6, 1.6μm) with OIS and EIS.

Rear (Telephoto for 3x optical zoom): 8MP, f/2.4, 1.0μm, with OIS

Rear (Wide-angle): 16MP, f/2.2, 117°

Dual LED Flash

PDAF, LAF, CAF

Charging Warp Charge 30 (5V 6A)
Camera (Video) Front: [email protected], time-lapse

Rear: [email protected]/60, [email protected]/60

Rear (slow motion): [email protected], [email protected]

Ports USB 3.1 Type-C

Dual nano-SIM slot

Software Android 9 Pie-based OxygenOS 9.5 Audio Dual stereo speakers. Audio tuned by Dolby Atmos.
System-on-chip Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 CPU (1x 2.84GHz Kryo 485 + 3x 2.42GHz Kryo 485 + 4x 1.8GHz Kryo 385) with Adreno 640 GPU Multimedia Codec Support Audio Playback: MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WAV, FLAC, APE, OGG, MID, M4A, IMY, AC3, EAC3, EAC3-JOC, AC4

Audio Recording: WAV, AAC, AMR

Video Playback: MKV, MOV, MP4, H.265(HEVC), AVI, WMV, TS, 3GP, FLV, WEBM

Video Recording: MP4

Image Viewing: JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF

Image Output: JPEG, PNG

Connectivity and LTE band information

Category Specification
Connectivity Wi-Fi: 2×2 MIMO, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz/5GHz

Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0, with Qualcomm aptX, aptX HD support, LDAC and AAC

NFC: Yes

Positioning: GPS(L1+L5 dual-band), GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo(E1+E5a dual-band), SBAS, A-GPS

LTE Features Supports 5xCA & 4x4MIMO.

Supports up to DL CAT18 (1.2Gbps)/UL CAT13 (150Mbps) depending on carrier.

LTE Bands – NA

FDD LTE: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/ 20/25/26/28/29/32/66/71

TDD-LTE: B34/38/39/41/46/48

UMTS: B1/2/4/5/8/9/19

CDMA: BC0/BC1 GSM: B2/3/5/8

LTE Bands – CN/IN/EN

FDD LTE: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/ 26/28/29/32/66

TDD-LTE: B34/38/39/40/41

TDS: B34/39

UMTS: B1/2/4/5/8/9/19 CDMA: BC0/BC1

GSM: B2/3/5/8

About this review: I received the Nebula Blue OnePlus 7 Pro (12GB RAM + 256GB storage) from OnePlus on May 2nd, 2019. I have used the device as my daily driver since receiving the device. OnePlus is a sponsor of XDA, but they did not have any input on the content of this review.

OnePlus 7  Pro Forums


Design

The Nebula Blue OnePlus 7 Pro is a beauty. Shining light on the back reveals a purple-ish hue near the top and a lighter sky blue near the bottom. There are multiple layers of glass along with an anti-glare layer. The back doesn’t attract fingerprints like you would think, though you can see smudges if you shine a light directly on the back. Besides the OnePlus logo and branding text, the triple rear camera setup with an LED flash can be found on the back. There’s no fingerprint scanner on the back because the OnePlus 7 Pro, like last year’s OnePlus 6T, supports Screen Unlock.

The frame on the OnePlus 7 Pro is metal and feels sturdy. On the bottom, you’ll find the dual nano-SIM card tray, the USB 3.1 Type-C port, a microphone, and a speaker. On the right, you’ll find the power button and alert slider. On the left, you’ll find the volume buttons. Lastly on top, you’ll find the pop-up camera and another microphone.

The front of the OnePlus 7 Pro is almost entirely adorned with the 6.67-inch Fluid AMOLED display. The phone is definitely tall and hard to use in one hand, but it’s thin and not very wide so it’s easy to reach across the display. Coming from the huge 7.2″ Huawei Mate 20 X, the OnePlus 7 Pro doesn’t feel that big to me, but I realize I’m in the minority here. It’s definitely a big phone that you’ll have to get used to.

There are virtually no bezels to be found on the OnePlus 7 Pro apart from a tiny bottom bezel and an even smaller top bezel housing the second speaker and proximity sensor. The display is curved and thus wraps around the edges, resulting in minimal side bezels. The fingerprint sensor is located under the display. The display is, in my view, the best part about the OnePlus 7 Pro, but before I dive in too deeply I’m going to address how OnePlus managed to make the smartphone notch-less.


About the Pop-up Camera

To achieve such a high screen-to-body ratio (93.22%), OnePlus moved the front camera from the top bezel to the top of the device, retracted into the body of the phone. Unlike the mechanical slider mechanism of similar bezel-less smartphones (the Honor Magic 2 and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 come to mind), the OnePlus 7 Pro’s pop-up 16MP front camera is controlled by a motor. There’s no satisfying click to show and hide the front camera, but the noise you hear from the motor is quiet and the lighting effect on the edge of the display is pretty. Also, since the front camera appears automatically when you unlock the screen (if face unlock is enabled), you can unlock your phone much more quickly than you can on mechanical slider phones.

Since the pop-up camera is controlled by a motor, there are two things to worry about here: Is it quick to appear and is it durable? At a pop-up time of about 600-700ms, I can definitely say that the mechanism is fast enough to not impede facial recognition. The OnePlus 7 Pro scans my face basically instantly after pressing the power button; I haven’t noticed any major differences in face unlock speeds from my OnePlus 6T. Here are two videos I recorded showing the front-facing camera popping out of the top and retracting into the body.


Since Vivo announced the NEX last year, concerns about the long-term durability of motorized pop-up cameras have raged. It’s been a year since the Vivo NEX, and I haven’t heard of any major issues with its front camera. The OnePlus 7 Pro is an entirely different phone, to be fair, so I can’t fully judge its durability using the Vivo NEX as an example. That being said, OnePlus claims the OnePlus 7 Pro can withstand 300,000 cycles of popping the camera in and out of the device or over 400 times a day for 2 years. I can’t fully test that claim in the time I’ve had the device nor would I want to subject my review unit to potential breakage anyway, but I did write a short Tasker script to open and close the OnePlus 7 Pro’s front camera and take a selfie 10,000 times. That’s more than 3 months of use of the front camera, assuming you unlock your phone with face unlock and take selfies 100 times a day.

My 10k Tasker test is by no means a true stress test of the motorized front camera because I didn’t test the pop-up mechanism when there are obstructions, particles, or anything else that could interfere. The front camera should be protected against drops to the floor, however, since the OnePlus 7 Pro will automatically close the front camera when a fall is detected. I tested this by dropping my phone from a few feet onto a bed and the front camera immediately closed after leaving my hand. When I picked the phone up, there was a warning that the camera was closed to protect it. For the average, everyday user, the OnePlus 7 Pro’s front-facing camera should last you throughout the device’s lifetime. If you’re still not convinced and want to see an objective stress test of the device, you’ll have to wait for someone like Zach from the YouTube channel JerryRigEverything to put the phone under the grinder.

Face unlock settings in OxygenOS 9 for the OnePlus 7 Pro. You can either set face unlock to automatically unlock the phone when your face is recognized or you can set it to stay on the lock screen. The former means you’ll almost never see the lock screen while the latter lets you see your notifications while skipping the entry of your PIN/password/pattern.

Sadly, face unlock on the OnePlus 7 Pro is still insecure. Authentication works by comparing a saved image of your face with the live image from the viewfinder; the technology is entirely based on the accuracy of the image recognition software that OnePlus implemented. Because the OnePlus 7 Pro lacks dedicated facial recognition hardware (the flood illuminator, IR camera, and dot projector on the Xiaomi Mi 8 EE, iPhone X, and Huawei Mate 20 Pro, or the TOF sensor on the LG G8 ThinQ), its facial recognition can be defeated if someone has an image of your face. While the OnePlus 7 Pro’s facial recognition is fast, it’s insecure and not recommended for use if you care about securing the data on your device.


Display

A large, bezel-less, curved 6.67” display dons the front of the OnePlus 7 Pro. The OnePlus 6T already had some of the thinnest bezels we’ve seen of smartphones sold in the U.S., but the OnePlus 7 Pro takes things to a whole new level. Almost the entire front of the phone is the display save for a very thin bezel at the bottom and an equally slim bezel at the top housing a speaker. I’ve used a nearly bezel-less phone before in the Honor Magic 2, but the OnePlus 7 Pro does a much better job at keeping me immersed thanks to its superior 516ppi AMOLED display.

The display curves around the sides like on the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. A curved display means the side bezels are nonexistent, the sides are easier to initiate swipes from when the phone is encased, and the sides can be used for cool effects like the notification lighting. (The last one is especially important since the OnePlus 7 Pro, like the OnePlus 6T before it, lacks a notification LED.) On the other hand, a curved display means it’ll be harder to apply an aftermarket screen protector; for better or worse, OnePlus pre-applied a screen protector in the factory so you don’t have to buy one yourself. If you haven’t used a smartphone with a curved screen before, don’t worry. It doesn’t bother me at all when watching a video.

Plenty of new smartphones are nearly bezel-less, so that’s not what makes the OnePlus 7 Pro stand out. Instead, it’s the fact that the new OnePlus has arguably the best display on the market with its 90Hz QHD+ panel.

90Hz and QHD+

The OnePlus 7 Pro packs the best display that OnePlus has ever put on a smartphone. The OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, OnePlus 5, OnePlus 5T, OnePlus 6, and OnePlus 6T all had Samsung-made “Optic AMOLED” displays running at 60Hz at 1080p resolution. The new OnePlus 7 Pro has what the company is calling a “Fluid AMOLED” display running at either 60Hz or 90Hz and at either 1080p or 1440p resolution. QHD AMOLED displays are already a rarity apart from the flagship Samsung Galaxy series, but the inclusion of a display capable of running at a 90Hz refresh rate is truly remarkable. The OnePlus 7 Pro is the first smartphone sold outside of China with such a display.

Out of the box, the OnePlus 7 Pro is set to its native 90Hz refresh rate but automatically switches between FHD+ and QHD+ resolutions. OnePlus says the resolution auto switch takes into account what content is being displayed on the screen. For example, the resolution will dynamically switch to QHD+ if OxygenOS detects you’re watching a video. Personally, I prefer leaving the OnePlus 7 Pro at 90Hz and QHD+ resolution; battery life be damned, this combination provides the best experience! But as you’ll find out in the battery life section of this review, enabling the OnePlus 7 Pro’s best display settings doesn’t have a significant impact on battery life, though the GPU performance is affected.

For many people, the OnePlus 7 Pro will be their first smartphone with a high refresh rate display. It’s actually my first smartphone with such a display, though I’ve used 120Hz gaming monitors and both generations of the Razer Phone for brief periods of time. The benefit of the OnePlus 7 Pro’s higher refresh rate isn’t something that can be shown on video, sadly. It’s something you really have to see for yourself to understand its greatness. Like on every OnePlus flagship, scrolling is buttery smooth on the OnePlus 7 Pro, but it’s absurdly smooth with 90Hz enabled. If you get a chance to play with the device in a store, try reading text as you scroll pages up and down with your finger. At 90Hz, you can actually make out the text as you’re scrolling. At least for me, that’s not possible at 60Hz.

Unlike desktop PCs, the move to 90Hz on the OnePlus 7 Pro doesn’t provide much benefit for mobile gaming. The majority of Android games are FPS locked, meaning you can’t push them beyond 30 or 60 frames per second. For gamers, having a high refresh rate display matters much more on the PC side rather than mobile. However, I would argue that having a high refresh rate display is far more important for general usage on mobile than PC. Users scroll far, far more often on mobile than PC, meaning you’ll actually see the effects of the higher refresh rate outside of gaming.

In-display fingerprint scanner

Last year, OnePlus debuted “Screen Unlock” on the OnePlus 6T. Screen Unlock is their term for the optical under-display fingerprint scanner. There are two kinds of under-display fingerprint scanners: optical and ultrasonic. Optical sensors are found on most smartphones with under-display fingerprint sensors. They work by lighting up the AMOLED panel in the area above the sensor and reading the reflection of the light when your finger is pressed against that part of the panel. Ultrasonic sensors, however, detect the ridges and contours of your finger by measuring the time it takes for an ultrasonic wave to reach your finger and reflect back onto the sensor. The only smartphones with an ultrasonic under-display fingerprint scanner are the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+.

Like all optical sensors, the OnePlus 7 Pro’s in-display fingerprint scanner can have trouble scanning in low-light conditions, scanning wet fingers, or scanning cold fingers. While I personally haven’t had much trouble with the OnePlus 6T or OnePlus 7 Pro recognizing my finger, I’ve heard other reviewers and users complain about the technology. A trick I recommend is to initially train your finger once in a low-light condition and then once more in a bright condition where there’s sunlight. I haven’t had to do this on my OnePlus 7 Pro, but doing this on my Black Shark 2 review unit, another phone with an optical under-display fingerprint scanner, worked wonders to improve recognition.

The fingerprint recognition on the OnePlus 7 Pro has generally been very quick and accurate in the nearly 2 weeks I’ve used the device. OnePlus says the 7 Pro uses a next-generation sensor, which means the recognition area is larger when compared to the OnePlus 6T. I haven’t really noticed a difference, personally. That being said, I have to point out two flaws with Screen Unlock since they still hold true from my OnePlus 6T review. First, the sensor requires a hard press and brief hold against the display unlike the ultrasonic sensor on the Galaxy S10/S10+ which works with a light tap. Second, the sensor lights up the screen and turns off Night Mode when doing so; you may find your face blasted with a bright light if you try to unlock your phone at night. These issues aren’t deal-breakers by any means, but they’re annoyances that I know can be solved by switching to an ultrasonic sensor.

Lastly, the OnePlus 7 Pro comes with some additional Screen Unlock customization options that weren’t available on the OnePlus 6T at launch. The ability to change the fingerprint animation effect returns from the OnePlus 6T, but OnePlus has also brought the “quick launch” feature which was added to the OnePlus 6T a few months after its launch. This feature lets you access app shortcuts or launch an app by continuing to hold your finger against the fingerprint recognition area after the phone is unlocked. After holding your finger for a second or two, your selected shortcuts will appear on the screen.

Curved Edge Lighting Effects

To improve the screen-to-body ratio on the OnePlus 6T, OnePlus had to sacrifice the notification LED so they could fit the proximity sensor and front-facing camera into the waterdrop notch area. Since there’s not much room on the top of the OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus sadly had to once again ditch the notification LED. This time, however, the company has an alternative: edge lighting effects. When the phone’s screen is turned off and an incoming notification appears on the ambient display, a short, blue pulse can be seen on the curved edges. This lets you know that there’s a new, unread notification. While by no means an innovative feature (we’ve seen a form of this on Samsung phones since the Galaxy S6 edge), it’s good to see that OnePlus has heard the feedback from users.

Currently, there’s no way to customize the lighting effect, but we hope that OnePlus introduces such customization in a future OxygenOS update.

Night Mode 2.0, Video Enhancer, DC dimming, Reading mode, and screen calibration

The OnePlus 7 Pro’s display deserves its own review, and we’re planning on having our display analyst, Dylan Raga, scrutinize every aspect of it. As a casual observer, I haven’t noticed any of the usual issues that crop up with AMOLED panels: no ugly blue shifting at low brightness, no image distortions in the curved edges, etc. I’ve watched videos like Game of Thrones, YouTube videos, and anime. I’ve played games like Fortnite Mobile and PUBG Mobile. I’ve spent hours browsing the web on Chrome, wasting time on Reddit, reading emails, and checking social media. In all cases, text and images are crisp, vibrant, and beautiful. Display purists will want to change a few settings on the phone while avoiding others, so here’s a brief rundown on the available features that affect the display:

  • Video enhancer – This feature seems to enhance the vibrancy of videos by increasing the saturation of the display.
  • DC dimming – This feature has started appearing from basically every Chinese smartphone brand. What it does is lower the voltage of the screen to reduce screen flickering at low brightness. This can help reduce screen fatigue, but it comes at the cost of color accuracy.
  • Night mode – A standard platform feature since Android 7.1 Nougat, Night mode shifts the color temperature of the display to reduce eye strain at night. The warmer the temperature, the less blue light gets beamed to your eyes. OnePlus says Night Mode has been enhanced on the OnePlus 7 Pro, which is why they’re now calling it “Night Mode 2.0.” The company says they’ve managed to reduce the brightness to an extremely low level (0.27 nits). Indeed, the phone can get really, really dim if you set the “lightness” slider to the darkest value. Speaking of brightness, on the opposite end the highest brightness level you can manually adjust to is 420 nits while the auto-brightness can kick things up to 600 nits.
  • Reading mode – This feature makes the screen grayscale and blocks heads-up notifications in the apps you select. The idea is to improve the contrast by turning everything black and white, letting you read for longer without your eyes getting tired, while also blocking distracting notifications.
  • Screen calibration – You can choose between the Vivid and Natural display mode presets here. Vivid is considered color inaccurate but more pleasing to the eyes for most users. Natural is, I’m guessing, color accurate, but I can’t say for sure without properly testing the calibration. Lastly, you can choose the “Advanced” option to change which color gamut to target (NTSC, sRGB, or Display-P3) and also the temperature of the screen using a slider.

Continue to Page 2 – Performance, Camera, and OxygenOS

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