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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
90Hz QHD+ screen is best on market
Immersive design with no notch or cutout
Super speedy experience throughout
OxygenOS is the best Android skin around
Strong battery life
Priced below competing flagship phones
Triple-camera array is second-rate
No 3.5mm headphone port or adapter
No water resistance certification
A middling camera aside, the OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the best, most powerful phones that you can buy today—and the best deal you'll find on a high-end handset.
OnePlus isn't very well-known in North America, but that could—and should—change with the release of the OnePlus 7 Pro. The Chinese company has cultivated a devoted fan base by delivering flagship-level smartphones, albeit with minor tweaks that result in a much lower price than the top offerings from Samsung, Apple, or Google.
The OnePlus 7 Pro is the first model that matches the recent crop of ultra-premium handsets by embracing higher-end components to go head-to-head with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S10, Apple iPhone XS, and Huawei P30 Pro. It's also the priciest OnePlus phone to date. Overall, it brilliantly succeeds at delivering one of the best all-around phones on the market at a price hundreds of dollars less than the competition. It's a true marvel.
Have a glance at the OnePlus 7 Pro. Do you see a front-facing camera anywhere? There's no iPhone-like notch, no Galaxy-esque punch-hole cutout, and no big chunk of bezel above the screen. So where is the camera? Surprise, it's hidden away, only becoming available at the press of a button. Just open up the camera app, switch to the front-facing view, and it emerges immediately from the top of the phone.
The OnePlus 7 Pro isn't the first phone with a pop-up camera module, but it's the first major one to make its way to this part of the world. That makes it an amusing novelty, but it's actually super clever and useful. The lack of a permanent front-facing camera gives the OnePlus 7 Pro its dazzling allure, and the pop-up action is speedy and effective, with OnePlus rating it durable enough for 300,000 total usage cycles. Also, if you drop the phone with it out, the module will rapidly slide back in, which is a cool trick.
With the camera out of sight, the OnePlus 7 Pro is free to plaster its enormous 6.67-inch screen all over the front of the curved phone, resulting in the most immersive-looking screen we've seen on any smartphone. It has a very small "chin" of bezel at the bottom. The chin isn't as uniform as on an iPhone—but then again, those iPhones have a giant notch at the top. This is basically all screen, which is glorious indeed.
The phone does feel a little bit too large, however. We normally love large phones (and typically use the Apple iPhone XS Max with its 6.5-inch display), but OnePlus 7 Pro does feel a little bit unwieldy at times. It's certainly not a one-handed phone in most use cases, but if you crave a huge screen in your pocket, there's no better option right now.
No other phone packs this kind of top-end design, stunning screen, and impressive speed at this kind of price.
On the right side of the phone, above the power button, you'll find the company's familiar alert slider. It's like an enhanced version of the iPhone's flickable mute switch, letting you swap between ring, vibrate, and silent modes in a snap—and you can further customize it if you please. It's a handy little addition that saves the hassle of flicking through software menus to quiet your phone at a moment's notice.
We reviewed the Nebula Blue model, and the frosted glass is beautiful, revealing a deep blue hue that is understated instead of excessively flashy. The glossy blue aluminum frame is a nice complement as well. There's also a less-distinctive Mirror Gray model, as well as a newer Almond color that's very eye-catching. On the back glass, you'll find the three cameras stacked in a vertical module at the top-center, along with the OnePlus logo beneath and the company's wordmark near the bottom.
Unfortunately, there's no 3.5mm headphone port here—and also no dongle adapter for wired headphones. You'll have to buy that yourself separately. And since there also aren't USB-C headphones in the box, anyone without Bluetooth or USB-C headphones won't have a way to privately listen to music and media right away. That's a bit annoying. Also, while OnePlus claims that the phone is water-resistant, it doesn't have the same kind of IP certification typically seen with other phones. We recommend keeping it as dry as possible, especially with that pop-up camera module.
The OnePlus 7 Pro comes in models with either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage, and even 128GB is quite a lot to work with. Unfortunately, you can't use a microSD card for expandable storage, so be sure to think hard about how much storage you might eventually need.
Given that the OnePlus 7 Pro runs a skinned version of Android 9.0 Pie, it's no surprise that the setup process is just as straightforward and easy to understand as most other new Android phones. Simply press and hold the power button on the right side of the phone and then follow the on-screen prompts. You log into your Google account, choose whether or not to restore from backup, and agree to the terms and conditions. You should be up and running in a matter of minutes.
Here's where the OnePlus 7 Pro makes its largest impact, thanks to its big, beautiful, and uniquely fluid 6.67-inch screen. As mentioned, it's a huge screen, and the lack of a notch or cutout means there's nothing impeding your viewing experience. It's also an incredibly clear and bright QHD+ resolution (3120 x 1440) AMOLED display with impeccable contrast and inky black levels.
What truly sets this screen apart is the 90Hz refresh rate. That means that the screen refreshes the image more often than a typical 60Hz smartphone screen, resulting in a much smoother-looking interface than any we've seen before. Compatible games also benefit from the added refresh rate; even scrolling through websites is velvety-smooth.
This Samsung-made panel is the best screen we've seen on a smartphone, even beating Samsung's own Galaxy S10 on that front.
It sounds like a small perk, but once you've experienced it, the difference feels night and day—and difficult to come back from. All flagship phones going forward should have 90Hz screens. As of now, this Samsung-made panel is the best screen we've seen on a smartphone, even beating Samsung's own Galaxy S10 on that front.
Much like the Galaxy S10, there's a fingerprint sensor built right into the screen, although this one uses optical technology instead of an ultrasonic scanner. Whatever the reason, the OnePlus 7 Pro's sensor is dramatically better than the incredibly inconsistent Galaxy S10 sensor, which still misses as much as it hits even after a software update. Our thumbs were quickly recognized by the OnePlus 7 Pro on the first attempt about 90% of the time, and when it wasn't, it was usually a matter of us misjudging the thumb placement.
We registered faster speeds on Verizon's 4G LTE network with the OnePlus 7 Pro in our usual testing area, about 10 miles north of Chicago, than we've typically seen with other handsets. We typically saw about 45-50Mbps down, as opposed to the 30-40Mbps we usually see using a wide array of other phones. The 8-11Mbps upload speed was pretty typical. The OnePlus 7 Pro easily connects to both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi networks.
The OnePlus 7 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, one of the absolute fastest Android processors right now. Depending on which model you buy, the chip is flanked by either 6GB, 8GB, or 12GB of RAM. We reviewed the maxed-out model with 12GB onboard, which seems like an absurd amount of RAM for a smartphone, but we had to put it to the test.
Sure enough, it didn't disappoint. The OnePlus 7 Pro is speedy everywhere, and the sensation is amplified by the 90Hz screen (keep reading). We didn't experience any noticeable lagging anywhere along the way, and games like Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG Mobile looked as good as we've seen on any phone. Some 90Hz-compatible games—like Pokémon Go—even looked better than we've seen elsewhere.
Benchmark scores agreed with our anecdotal experience. In PCMark's Work 2.0 benchmark test, the OnePlus 7 Plus scored a 9,753. That's nearly 500 points higher than the Samsung Galaxy S10, which has the same processor (albeit with 8GB RAM). In GFXBench, however, the OnePlus 7 Pro notched the same scores as the S10: 21 frames per second (fps) in Car Chase, and a solid 60fps in the T-Rex demo.
Also boosting the performance is the UFS 3.0 2-Lane internal storage, which reads and writes data about twice as fast as the previous UFS 2.1 standard seen in most phones. It helps cut down on any potential delay, further ensuring a consistently butter-smooth experience.
Between the bottom-firing speaker and the tiny earpiece above the screen, the OnePlus 7 Pro produces solid stereo playback for music and media. Dolby Atmos 3D audio support is enabled, and the results stay pretty clear until you boost the volume near the top of the register—that's when playback gets a bit muddled and you can hear the limitations of the speakers. Call quality on Verizon's 4G LTE network was consistently strong, however, and speakerphone was as loud and clear as we'd hoped.
Camera quality has typically been the one biggest area in which OnePlus falls short compared to the pricier flagship competition, and that's true again with the OnePlus 7 Pro. On one hand, this is the best camera setup that OnePlus has put onto a phone to date, but it just doesn't stack up to the current market leaders.
The OnePlus 7 Pro packs a triple-camera setup on the back, with a 48-megapixel standard sensor, 16-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, and an 8-megapixel telephoto 3x zoom lens. That's a versatile setup similar to the one seen on the Samsung Galaxy S10, giving you a very nice zoom ability that can retain a lot of detail in ideal lighting, as well as a wide-angle mode that provides a broader view of your surroundings—great for landscapes and large group shots.
But these cameras don't deliver the kind of consistent quality results we got from the Galaxy S10. It's definitely possible to pull a sharply-detailed, well-judged shot with abundant lighting, but the results are spottier in lesser conditions. Outdoors shots were sometimes overexposed and blown out, while indoors shots were frequently blurry or lacking clarity.
Amongst flagship phones, the OnePlus 7 Pro's camera array is second-rate.
Video footage turned out pretty well, maxing out at 4K resolution at 60fps, but still shots just didn't deliver as often as we wanted. Google's Pixel 3 phones typically capture a lot more detail, while Apple's iPhone XS is a much more consistent performer. Sadly, amongst flagship phones, the OnePlus 7 Pro's camera array is second-rate.
On the front, the 16-megapixel pop-up camera takes stellar selfies, and pops up quickly enough to make facial security viable. That said, it's a basic 2D camera without the kind of 3D-scanning sensors seen on the iPhone XS and LG G8 ThinQ, so it's not nearly as secure of an option. We suggest using the fingerprint sensor instead, just to be safe.
The 4,000mAh battery pack inside the OnePlus 7 Pro is hefty, coming in above the Galaxy S10 (3,400mAh) and iPhone XS Max (3,174mAh). However, the large, high-resolution screen and rapid refresh rate definitely push it harder than competing phones.
In other words, despite the beefy battery size, the OnePlus 7 Pro isn't a two-day phone. However, with typical everyday usage—emails and web browsing, occasional calls, music streaming, and a bit of games and video—we typically ended the day with 40-50 percent charge remaining. It's built for a heavy day of usage, ensuring that you have enough padding to play games on your commute and stream TV shows without needing a top-up.
The OnePlus 7 Pro doesn’t have wireless charging onboard—that's one of the premium perks that the company has consistently eschewed in favor of lower price tags. However, the 30W Warp Charge power adapter lets you rapidly top up your handset with a USB-C cable.
Has OnePlus made an Android skin that's actually better than Google's stock Pixel approach? As surprising as that sounds, we're tempted to say yes. The company's OxygenOS skin doesn't significantly deviate from core Android 9.0 Pie, but the additions and tweaks all go towards making for a more pleasurable and useful experience.
It's the little things, really. We love the custom OnePlus font it offers during setup, which helps give the experience a distinctive flavor. Likewise, the automatically engaged Fnatic gaming mode (named after an esports team) minimizes notifications and routes additional processing power and network connectivity to games. On the flip side, Zen mode forces you to unplug for 20 minutes, should you choose to do such a thing. That's your call.
Most importantly, OxygenOS is incredibly smooth and fluid throughout, flowing beautifully on the 90Hz display. Even the company's core apps (like Weather) look great, as do the animated wallpapers onboard. OnePlus has a stellar track record of keeping OxygenOS updated and in sync with the newest Android versions, so you can make a reasonable bet that the OnePlus 7 Pro will stay up to date for years ahead.
At $669 for the base model (6GB RAM and 128GB storage) and $749 for this maxed-out edition with 12GB RAM/256GB storage, the OnePlus 7 Pro feels like a steal in the current flagship phone marketplace. Compare that to the more costly $899 Galaxy S10, or even the $999 Galaxy S10+, which is more comparable on screen size. You can also put it up against the Google Pixel 3 XL ($899), and especially the $1099 iPhone XS Max.
No other phone packs this kind of top-end design, stunning screen, and impressive speed at this kind of price. Camera quality is the one big drawback, however, and it could be enough to convince some smartphone snappers to spend more for a rival top-tier phone.
We were hugely impressed by the Samsung Galaxy S10, and that opinion hasn't changed, even when comparing it against the OnePlus 7 Pro. It's one of the best high-end handsets you can buy today, with a gorgeous 6.1-inch punch-hole screen, a versatile triple-camera setup, and handy perks like wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, and Gear VR headset support.
The Galaxy S10 turns out more consistent photos than the OnePlus 7 Pro and has more premium perks onboard, but the OnePlus 7 Pro otherwise does so much for $230 less (base model). It has the better, larger screen and feels even speedier thanks to the 90Hz display, OxygenOS, and UFS 3.0 internal storage. And its fingerprint sensor is dramatically more effective than the Galaxy S10's. If a lower quality camera isn't a deal-breaker, we recommend the OnePlus 7 Pro over the Galaxy S10.
It's an amazing phone for a reasonable price.
The OnePlus 7 Pro is a "budget ultra-premium flagship,” it can hang with the highest of the high-end phones with the best screen around, not to mention impressive speed and design. However, there's one key trade-off in terms of camera quality, with a triple-lens array that isn't as consistent as pricier heavyweights. Still, given the fantastic price point, the OnePlus 7 Pro should satisfy a lot of prospective flagship buyers with its head-turning design and excellent Android experience. Camera aside, it's an incredibly impressive phone.
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