OnePlus 7T Review

Buy it. For less than $700, the OnePlus 7 Pro offers a gorgeous design, stunning display, powerful performance, solid cameras and a stellar version of Android. You can’t buy a better phone for the price.

Pros:

  • Powerful performance
  • Pop-up camera doesn’t feel gimmicky
  • Excellent low-light photos
  • Fast-charging is impressive

Cons:

  • Underwhelming battery life

Sure, you could drop $1,000/£1,000 on an iPhone XS or Galaxy S10 Plus. Then there’s Google’s $399/£399 Pixel 3a, which makes performance trade-offs for amazing photos. But what if you want it all?

The $669/£649 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.

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.

OnePlus 7 Pro availability

After years of only selling its phones unlocked, OnePlus has started selling some models through carriers. T-Mobile offers the 8GB/256GB version of the OnePlus 7 Pro for $699.

All other models can be bought directly from OnePlus, including the entry level 6GB/128GB version for $669. Unlocked OnePlus 7 Pro models work on the GSM networks of T-Mobile and AT&T. Verizon customers can use the phone on that carrier’s network, too, but they’ll have to contact Verizon to route all calls, messages and data traffic over LTE.

In August, Sprint announced it would sell a 5G-capable version of the OnePlus 7 Pro. The phone costs $840, which is more expensive than other 7 Pro models, but a relative bargain compared to other 5G phones like the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, which Verizon sells for $1,299. Currently, you can lease the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G at Sprint for $20 a month for 18 months (a $15 discount off the normal rate). The 5G version of the OnePlus 7 Pro is currently available in cities where Sprint offers 5G coverage.

For people in the UK, you can buy any of the three versions directly from OnePlus for £649/£699/£799 respectively, or the 8GB/256GB and 12GB/256GB versions from Amazon UK. The 7 Pro 5G is also available on contract with EE, for between £59 and £79 a month depending on how much data you’re willing to pay for.

Design: As premium as it gets

The OnePlus 7 Pro is, quite simply, gorgeous. Everything about it speaks the language. At 6.4 inches long, the 7 Pro isn’t the largest phone you can buy right now, but when you put it in your front pocket, it’s big enough to poke you in the stomach when you sit down.

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.

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 7 Pro’s Almond color wasn’t available at launch, but it is now. And it’s the 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

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 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.)

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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

OnePlus says the retractable camera can sustain opening and closing up to 300,000 times. The company also said the phone will retract the camera if its accelerometer and gyroscope sense that the device is in free fall.

 

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 the 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, the 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, 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.

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/£799 version of the phone 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/£999 iPhone XS (11,420) and its A12 Bionic processor. The 7 Pro easily blazes past the $999/£799 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.

But even if you only spend $669/£649, 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/£50, you can snag 8GB of RAM. That’ll cost you $699/£699. Meanwhile, Samsung charges $999/£799 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 you pressed your thumb to the highlighted fingerprint sensor on the dark display, you are instantly on the home screen. (OnePlus says the new sensor takes 2.1 seconds to unlock, and recognizes fingerprints more quickly than the 6T.)

 

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.

 

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 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%.

Conclusion

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/£649 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.

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Author: James Steinmetz

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