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OnePlus 7 Pro Camera Samples Look Good, But There's a Catch

Will the triple rear cameras on the upcoming OnePlus 7 Pro finally close the gap that's existed between OnePlus' devices and top camera phones from Google and Huawei? It’s a question we’ve been pondering for a few weeks now, since we first heard of OnePlus’ upcoming super-premium flagship, and we look forward to the answer in a few weeks’ time when the device launches May 14.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Until then, though, we’ve been given an idea of what to expect, courtesy of Wired’s early hands-on with the OnePlus 7 Pro’s camera. The outlet was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to test out the phone’s 3x optical zoom at the Azerbaijan Formula 1 Grand Prix this past weekend, and although we don’t have much to compare it to quite yet, the shots captured in the test are looking quite good.

You should go check out the images themselves in Wired’s article. That said, there was another aspect of the story that was also quite notable — and one that should certainly ring alarm bells for some.

In the story, Wired gets to chat with OnePlus imaging director Simon Liu, about everything the all-new triple camera system can do and the ways it’s improved beyond the OnePlus 6T’s dual-lens stack. Liu pointed out an increased density and clarity of details, as well as a revised HDR mode that has been overhauled to produce photos that aren’t quite as washed out as what you used to get from the firm’s older handsets.

And yet, despite all that progress made, OnePlus doesn’t appear to be quite so confident that the 7 Pro will ultimately take the fight to the Pixel 3 and Huawei P30 Pro.

"I think we have a shot at competing with the first tier phones," Liu told Wired. "I don’t think we can beat them, but the imaging world is always subjective."

While I appreciate Liu’s candidness and realism — even Samsung, with all its resources, couldn’t quite match Google’s processing prowess in our faceoffs — such a statement hardly seems like ringing endorsement for a more expensive range-topper that OnePlus really, really needs to justify in the eyes of consumers everywhere.

OnePlus’ devices have always been nigh unbeatable from a performance-for-money standpoint, but the lone casualty of that value-first strategy has always been the camera. The Chinese startup could make a case for the Pro model’s pricing inching toward top-dollar iPhones and Galaxy handsets if it meant finally getting a camera capable of rising to that level.

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If the OnePlus 7 Pro can’t reliably churn out images that you can get effortlessly in competing phones, it could have a difficult time pulling buyers away from the reportedly less expensive OnePlus 7.

That’s not to say the Pro won’t bring some other extras to the table, such as its pop-out selfie camera and “breakthrough” 90Hz display. (That latter feature just earned an A+ rating from DisplayMate, which makes calibration and optimization software for various displays including smartphone panels.) But if OnePlus expects to charge top dollar for a smartphone, you’d at least hope the company would right the one area in which it’s been the furthest behind.

Liu’s statement isn’t the death knell for the OnePlus 7 Pro’s photo-taking capabilities — we still can’t wait to get our hands on the phone ourselves, and hopefully it’ll draw much closer to the leaders than we think. But it’s definitely given us pause.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.