OnePlus, popularly known as the maker of ‘flagship killer’ smartphones, has grown over the years to become one of the most successful premium smartphone manufacturers in India. The OnePlus 6 (Review), helped propel the company to the top spot in the Indian premium phone segment, beating even Apple and Samsung. Since the launch of that model, OnePlus has continued to dominate this segment with the updated OnePlus 6T (Review).
However, things took a slightly different turn in the first quarter of 2019, as Samsung’s Galaxy S10 trio managed to wrestle the top position back from OnePlus. Samsung’s aggressive pricing in India also meant there wasn’t a very big price disparity between some its phones and OnePlus’ offerings any more. Let’s not forget the ongoing price war in the premium smartphone segment which has resulted in huge discounts on premium phones — the Apple iPhone XR (Review) being one of the prime examples.
In the global scheme of things, Apple, Samsung, and Huawei are still dominating the top three positions. If OnePlus hopes to crack this, it needs a new approach for its 2019 flagship. This is where the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro come in. The trend of launching multiple flagships together has caught up with OnePlus, but rather than just having two very similar phones with only different display and battery sizes, the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro serve different purposes.
The OnePlus 7 is aimed at people who still want a ‘flagship killer’, which is to say, a phone with top-end hardware but at a relatively low price. The OnePlus 7 Pro, on the other hand, is positioned as a proper flagship, for those who aren’t shy of splurging Rs. 50,000 or more on a phone. These buyers, who would typically go for a Samsung, Apple, or Google phone, can now consider a OnePlus option too. At least, that’s what the company hopes will happen.
As good as the OnePlus 6T was, it lacked some luxuries such as waterproofing, wireless charging, and even an elaborate camera setup. With the 7 Pro, OnePlus is taking the opportunity to go all-out and deliver a truly stunning product. But has it managed to succeed?
OnePlus 7 Pro design
From a design perspective, OnePlus has done a pretty good job. The OnePlus 7 Pro gets an all new design, with curved glass on the back back and front sandwiching an aluminium frame in the middle. The design reminds us a lot of the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (Review) and Huawei P30 Pro (Review), which is a good thing
However, all this glass and metal has made the phone quite heavy — 206g to be precise — and this is something you’ll notice immediately when you pick it up. The OnePlus 7 Pro is also a bit top-heavy, probably due to the three rear cameras and the pop-up selfie camera, which doesn’t make single handed use easy. The smooth finish for the back also makes this phone quite slippery, especially for one-handed use.
Our unit is the Nebula Blue colour version, which looks gorgeous. The frame and the glass back have a gradient finish, which starts with a navy blue (almost black) shade at the top and transitions to a cerulean blue at the bottom. The matte finish diffracts light, which alters the blue hue depending on the angle you look at it. There are also a Mirror Grey option, which has a glossy surface, and Almond, which has a soft gold finish.
Onelus 7 Pro back ndtv oneplusThe Nebula Blue version of the OnePlus 7 Pro looks really good
In the front, you get a massive 6.67-inch ‘Fluid AMOLED’ display, which for the first time for a OnePlus device, has a QHD+ resolution. Images and text looks sharp, thanks to a pixel density of 516ppi. The resolution automatically scales between full-HD+ and QHD+ depending on what you’re doing, or you can force it to run at either of these resolutions. You also get very slim bezels all around, which makes any interaction with the phone feel immersive.
The display panel runs at 90Hz by default, which makes scrolling through the interface and Web pages feel very smooth and fluid. You can set this to 60Hz, if you want to squeeze out a bit more battery life, but given the large battery, we didn’t find any reason to downgrade. The display is also HDR 10+ certified, which means you’ll be able to take advantage of HDR programming in streaming apps such as Netflix and even YouTube.
Overall, we found the display to have excellent sunlight legibility, punchy colours, and among the best black levels we’ve ever seen. These characteristics have also earned it some high praise from the likes of DisplayMate.
The physical buttons are easy to reach with your thumb and fingers but feel a little too stiff. You also get the trademark alert slider, which has been around since the OnePlus 2 (Review). We said goodbye to the headphone socket on the OnePlus 6T and it doesn’t seem like it’s coming back. The dual-SIM tray is at the bottom, along with the USB Type-C port and a speaker. Another first for a OnePlus smartphone is the presence of stereo speakers, as the earpiece acts as a second channel for audio.
Onelus 7 Pro pop up camera ndtv oneplusThe OnePlus 7 Pro features a pop-up selfie camera
The OnePlus 7 Pro uses an in-display fingerprint sensor, which the company says is improved thanks to a larger CMOS sensor under the display. In our experience, we found it to be very reliable and quick. The only times it failed to authenticate us was when we didn’t have our finger properly placed over the sensor. You can opt for face recognition too, which is usually equally quick, but doesn’t work in extremely low light.
There are two features that we’ve longed for in a OnePlus phone, but sadly, these still haven’t made it to the OnePlus 7 Pro. We are of course talking about IP-certified waterproofing and wireless charging. OnePlus has confirmed that the 7 Pro has a water-repellent treatment but it doesn’t have an IP rating.
Then there’s wireless charging. Pretty much every premium smartphone today offers wireless charging, and even though it’s not the fastest way to charge your phone, there’s no denying its convenience. Plus, wireless chargers have gotten really affordable, and there’s a wide variety to choose from, so not including this feature feels like a missed opportunity.
The OnePlus 7 Pro doesn’t come with headphones in the box, but the rest of the accessories are what you’d expect. You get a Warp Charge 30W power adapter in the box, which debuted with the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition (Review), a USB Type-C cable, a SIM eject tool, stickers, and a clear silicone case. The case makes the phone easier to grip, without making it much fatter, and the clear plastic means you can still see that wonderful blue colour.
OnePlus 7 Pro specifications and software
OnePlus has always used the top-end SoC from Qualcomm for all its flagships, and this one is no different. What makes the 7 Pro special though is that it’s the first phone to launch in India with the Snapdragon 855 mobile platform. Compared to the last year’s flagship, the Snapdragon 845, the new 855 processor offers a bunch of improvements.
The Snapdragon 855 is built on a 7nm fabrication process so it should be more power efficient (claimed to be up to 30 percent better), and the new CPU and GPU are said to be 45 percent and 20 percent faster respectively than those of the outgoing model. What’s really interesting is the way the new Kryo 485 CPU cores have been designed.
Onelus 7 Pro ports ndtv oneplusThe OnePlus 7 Pro has its USB Type-C port and dual-SIM tray at the bottom
Rather than having two clusters (ARM’s BIG.little architecture) of four CPU cores each, the Snapdragon 855 has a single asynchronous core and two clusters of three big and four little cores. Qualcomm is introducing the new concept of a Prime core with its Kryo 485 design, which is a single Cortex-A76 core running at 2.84GHz, which is used for single-threaded applications. Next, we have three Cortex-A76 “big” cores, clocked a little lower at 2.42GHz. Finally, we have four smaller Cortex-A55 cores running at 1.8GHz.
The Prime design allows Qualcomm to use just a single CPU core for tasks such as scrolling through webpages and launching an app, instead of activating multiple cores, thereby conserving power.
The OnePlus 7 Pro is also loaded with ample RAM. You can choose between 6GB, 8GB, and even a maddening 12GB of LPDDR4X RAM, which is the version we have for review. It’s also one of the few smartphones out there to feature the brand new UFS 3.0 flash storage standard, the only other so far being the Samsung Galaxy Fold. This new standard theoretically doubles the bandwidth of UFS 2.1 storage, which is what most premium phones of this generation use. This means you can expect faster app launches and snappier system response.
Other specifications include NFC, Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Gigabit LTE, dual 4G VoLTE, support for five satellite navigation systems, and the usual suite of sensors. It’s worth noting that FM radio and Wi-Fi 6 aren’t supported.
The OnePlus 7 Pro ships with a new version of OxygenOS (v9.5), which is based on Android 9 Pie. Our unit also had the April 2019 security patch. Many of its features are similar to what we’ve already seen in the current build on phones such as the OnePlus 6T, but there are some new additions too, which we’ll cover here.