The $669 OnePlus 7 Pro sports a unique full-screen design with a large 6.67-inch display. It doesn't make performance trade-offs. Its photos are pretty damn good. And while it's not as cheap as the Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL, it delivers so much more than those devices that it feels like a bargain. That's why we're naming the OnePlus 7 Pro to our list of the best smartphones.
Update May 25: Some OnePlus 7 Pro owners are experiencing phantom taps on the touchscreen, though we have not experienced the issue with our unit. OnePlus says it is aware of the issue and is looking into a fix. We've also posted our OnePlus 7 Pro vs Galaxy S10 Plus face-off.
OnePlus 7 Cheat Sheet: What's New
- OnePlus created an edge-to-edge display by embedding the camera lens in a mechanism that pops up at the top of the 7 Pro.
- The 7 Pro sports a triple-lens camera array with wide-angle, standard and telephoto lenses.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and 12GB of RAM put the 7 Pro in iPhone XS territory when it comes to performance power.
- OnePlus improved its low-light Nightscape camera feature, and it shows.
- The OnePlus 7's battery life could be better, but the fast charging impresses.
|Price||$669, $699, $749|
|Display (Resolution)||6.67-inch Quad-HD+ AMOLED|
|Rear Camera(s)||48-MP (f/1.6), 16-MP ultra-wide-angle lens (f/2.2), 8-MP telephoto lens (f/2.4) with 3x optical zoom|
|Front Camera(s)||16-MP (f/2.0)|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|RAM||6GB, 8GB, 12GB|
|Battery||4,000 mAh with Warp Charge 30|
|Colors||Nebula Blue, Mirror Gray, Almond|
|Size||6.4 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches|
Design: As premium as it gets
The OnePlus 7 Pro is, quite simply, gorgeous. Everything about it speaks my language, even though the practical part of my brain hates its size. At 6.4 inches long, the 7 Pro isn't the largest phone you can buy right now, but when I put it in my front pocket, it's big enough to poke me in the stomach when I sit down.
But I'm willing to overlook that because OnePlus combines the best parts of Huawei and Samsung's design sensibilities in a flagship phone that costs a third less than those companies' latest devices.
The 7 Pro's slightly curved AMOLED makes the gigantic, 6.67-inch screen seem every larger and more immersive. It's reminiscent of Samsung's Galaxy S10 Plus, but bigger (and, to my eye, better).
Then there's the glass trim and back. Each of the 7 Pro's three shades offers something a little different, but the Nebula Blue and Almond are standouts in a sea of glossy black slabs. The blue model I tested reminded me of Huawei's ombre flagships, but more refined. The matte finish looked navy when the phone was sitting next to me on a table, but when I glanced at it from across my kitchen, the glass reflected cobalt and baby blue hues. It reminded me of a sports car.
The 7 Pro's Almond color isn't available at launch, which is unfortunate, because it's my favorite of the three. The shade is a creamy vanilla that in certain lights evokes champagne, like the gold iPhone XS does (but more striking).
Display: No distractions
I hate watching TV shows or movies — or anything lengthier than a music video — on a smartphone. Or at least I did, until the OnePlus 7 Pro entered my life.
This screen is gorgeous. The 6.67-inch curved AMOLED panel reminded me of Samsung's Galaxy S10 Plus display. Like that 6.4-inch screen, the 7 Pro's display earned DisplayMate's A+ rating. But unlike the S10 Plus, the 7 Pro's screen is unmarred by camera cut-outs. No notch swoops down from the top. Whether reading long-form stories, pulling up New York Times recipes or binging "My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" on Netflix, the 7 Pro's screen completely pulled me in.
The 7 Pro's screen is both brighter and more colorful than the S10 Plus' panel. The 7 Pro's display covers 180% of the sRGB color gamut, which is a wider range than the S10 Plus (136.5%), the iPhone XS Max (123%) and the Pixel 3 (170.2%). The 7 Pro also notched a 0.18 on the Delta-E test of color accuracy, easily beating displays of pricier flagships, such as the S10 Plus (0.29) and iPhone XS Max (0.22). (Numbers closer to 0 are better.)
OnePlus beefed up the 7 Pro's display with a 90Hz refresh rate, which I didn't think would make a huge difference in my web-browsing experience, but it did. Scrolling through Twitter or reading lengthy articles was a delight. I switched between 60 and 90 in the display settings several times just to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me. It's so smooth.
Cameras: Low-light rivals Pixel
OnePlus isn't the first smartphone maker to extend its display by removing the camera from the screen and putting a retractable pop-up front-facing lens on top of the device. In fact, we saw a front-facing pop-up camera and in-display fingerprint sensor in the Vivo Nex S nine months ago. But that phone lacked polish, which the 7 Pro offers in abundance.
In addition to a pop-up selfie cam, OnePlus stacked three lenses on the back of the 7 Pro: a 48-megapixel standard lens, a 16-MP wide-angle lens with 117-degree field of view and an 8-MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom.
OnePlus has never offered the best smartphone camera, but the 7 Pro's triple-lens array is damn good, particularly outdoors.
In this shot of a cup of ice cream, the 7 Pro's shot is much more natural looking than the Galaxy S10E's photo. The Samsung phone's dual-lens camera added a strange flare to the edge of the peanut butter marshmallow scoop that wasn't there in real life. The Pixel 3's image has better contrast, but is overall darker and cooler than the 7 Pro.
Then I captured the Hudson River at sunset using the 7 Pro and S10E's wide-angle lenses. The 7 Pro's photo was more color-accurate, but the lens also distorted the edges. The S10E's shot is more dramatic, but not as true-to-life. However, the wide-angle lens didn't warp the edges of the shot like the 7 Pro did.
The Nightscape mode introduced in the OnePlus 6T is much improved in the 7 Pro — the shots are brighter and clearer, and the exposure time is reduced so you don't have to hold still quite as long to ensure a clear shot. In my experience, it rivaled the Pixel 3 for amazing low-light images.
I captured a mezcal cocktail perched next to a tall plant in a completely dark bar lit by a single red bulb. The 7 Pro's sensor illuminated the wood paneling so much so that you can see individual grains in each board. You can also see the grooves in the plant. The 7 Pro blows out the rim of the coupe, but overall the 7 Pro's Nightscape mode impressed us.
The Pixel 3's image in the same setting is, surprisingly, more natural. The contrast between the plant, the red backlight and the cocktail glass is heightened in the Pixel 3. But its Night Sight mode did nothing to highlight the couch, and you can barely make out any detail in the plant.
But you do still need to keep your hands steady. I shot lilacs against a backdrop of plants, trees and a night sky, and I waited until the 7 Pro's Nightscape mode told me the phone was processing the image to move my hand. And yet, I still moved it too quickly for the camera, which resulted in a blurry lilac bush.
The pop-up front-facing camera takes perfectly good selfies. And with the extended lens, you'll never forget where to look. Portrait selfies in particular are excellent — the 7 Pro smooths out the area behind my curls in a way that few other flagship cameras can pull off (see: Pixel 3).
OnePlus says the retractable camera can sustain opening and closing up to 300,000 times. I obviously didn't get a chance to test the limits of that claim, but it feels sturdy. The company also told me the phone will retract the camera if its accelerometer and gyroscope sense that the device is in free fall. I did not test this, because I was afraid to.
The 7 Pro's camera results aren't as consistently amazing as the Pixel 3's AI-boosted shots, or as natural as the iPhone XS's images. But they are very good. If you're upgrading from an older OnePlus, the 7 Pro's camera alone is worth the money.
Software: OxygenOS offers new tricks
OxygenOS, the OnePlus take on Android Pie, is my favorite of all the Android OEMs. It’s clean, simple, easy to navigate and looks really, really good. OnePlus added two new features to OxygenOS that are actually useful: Screen Recorder and Zen Mode are both accessible in the shortcut tray just a swipe down from the home screen.
Screen Recorder is self-explanatory, but incredibly handy. Just tap the icon to launch the recorder, then hit the record button to start taking a video screenshot of your activity. This is useful for how-to help — assisting parents with tech tasks without having to be physically present — or for sharing videos of gaming sessions with friends (or the internet).
OnePlus offers a ton of settings for Screen Recorder, including resolution, bit rate, the audio source of the recording, video orientation and, my personal favorite, the option to show a white marker where your finger touches the screen while recording. Instead of adding gimmicky software to an otherwise good phone (LG, I'm looking at you), OnePlus made its latest features practical.
Then there's Zen Mode, which dials up the Digital Wellbeing features that Google has been working on to make smartphones less addictive. Zen Mode locks you out of your phone for a full 20 minutes — no notifications, no distractions. You can't even circumvent Zen Mode by turning the phone off. You can still make and take calls, and shoot photos. But this is so much more effective than setting timers for apps or making everything grayscale (at least for me). Being locked out of my phone is the only way I won't use it.
Performance: With 12GB of RAM, we’re in iPhone territory
Smartphone makers tend to sacrifice in some areas to beef up others while keeping device prices low. Google's Pixel 3a takes amazing photos, but uses an older Qualcomm processor, which results in lagging performance.
You don't make that trade-off with the OnePlus 7 Pro. The $749 version of the phone that I tested came with 12GB of RAM, which resulted in a 11,227 score on the Geekbench 4 test of overall system performance. That's right up there with the $999 iPhone XS (11,420) and its A12 Bionic processor. The 7 Pro easily blazes past the $999 Galaxy S10 Plus (10,732).
Synthetic benchmarks aside, the 7 Pro just feels snappy. Web-browsing, playing endless rounds of Asphalt 9, checking the weather while streaming Netflix — everything I did was quick and easy. No lags, no crashes. That's what I expect from $1,000 flagships. For this price? The bar gets a little lower. But not for OnePlus.
But even if you only spend $669, you'll still get Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 CPU, which powers all of 2019's premium flagships. You might not get iPhone-level speeds, but 6GB of RAM is nothing to sneeze at. For an extra $30, you can snag 8GB of RAM. That'll cost you $699. Meanwhile, Samsung charges $999 for 8GB of RAM and Snapdragon 855 in the Galaxy S10 Plus — and you have to deal with that oval camera cut-out on your phone's display.
Security: Face recognition vs. in-screen fingerprint
The 7 Pro offers two forms of biometric authentication: the in-display optical fingerprint sensor, which OnePlus has improved since first implementing the feature in last year's 6T, and facial recognition.
Both forms are lightning fast. As soon as I pressed my thumb to the highlighted fingerprint sensor on the dark display, I was instantly on the home screen. (OnePlus says the new sensor takes 2.1 seconds to unlock, and recognizes fingerprints more quickly than the 6T.)
Then I set up Face Unlock. I thought it might be inconvenient, because the front-facing camera has to pop up, scan my face, retract and open the phone's home screen. Despite all of that, the 7 Pro's Face Unlock feature is much faster than the iPhone XS's Face ID. OnePlus says it takes 0.53 seconds for the front-facing camera to pop up and then 0.65 seconds for the phone to unlock. It definitely felt like a 1-second process. (Pro tip: Showing this feature to people is an excellent party trick.)
However, the 7 Pro's facial recognition isn't secure enough to authenticate payments. I tried to fool the camera with a photo of myself, which didn't work. That's an improvement over the Galaxy S10, which can be easily unlocked with a photo or video of a person's face. I left both unlocking methods toggled on while testing the 7 Pro, and I almost forgot that my phone was ever locked at all — it was always open to the home screen.
Battery life and Warp Share
The 7 Pro falls short in one key way: battery life. We're beginning to expect more from flagship phones as their battery packs add more milliamps, and the OnePlus 7 Pro's 4,000 mAh battery should result in lengthy battery life. But on the Tom's Guide Battery Test, continuous web-surfing over T-Mobile's LTE network until the battery dies, the 7 Pro lasted just 9 hours and 31 minutes.
The iPhone XS Max (10:38) and Galaxy S10 Plus (12:35) easily cruised past the 7 Pro. Even last year's OnePlus 6T (10:23) outlasted the 7 Pro. Google's Pixel 3 XL (9:30) was right in line with the 7 Pro, but that phone is also 9 months old and its battery life was a bit of a disappointment as well, compared with other Google phones.
The 7 Pro's saving grace is OnePlus' Warp Charge 30 rapid-charging technology, which the company introduced in the 6T McLaren edition. Using the charging brick and cable included in the box, the 7 Pro juiced up from 0% to 60% in 30 minutes. After an hour, the 7 Pro was almost fully charged at 92%. I couldn't be mad.
The OnePlus 7 Pro has a higher price tag than almost any other OnePlus device before it, which can be hard to stomach if you expect sub-$600 phones from OnePlus. But $669 delivers high-end flagship design, performance and software. Compared with other premium Android handsets, OnePlus delivers in every way — for hundreds of dollars less even with this model's jump in price.
It's not a perfect phone. But as companies demand more and more money for more and more features, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a refreshingly affordable alternative.
Credit: Tom's Guide