OnePlus is a smartphone manufacturer that have spent the last five years doing things that bit differently. Sticking increasingly impressive specs into phones that cost far less than those of their rivals has been a winning formula for them, but it’s an ethos that is getting harder to stick to. With the OnePlus 7 Pro they’ve unequivocally put together the most powerful phone they’ve ever built, but that historically low price-point has had to creep up in line with it. Fortunately, OnePlus has still created a flagship-beating handset at a price that’s still well below that commanded by the Samsungs and Apples of this world, and one that’s well worth making the switch to.
The OnePlus 7 Pro range starts at around £649, but the higher-tier OnePlus 7 Pro tips the scales at a fraction under £800. It features the uber -powerful Snapdragon 855, and OnePlus have combined this with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of super-fast storage so you can stuff a wealth of content into it. If you’re saddled with an older phone’s increasingly laggy response and are looking for a fast and responsive mobile, the 7 Pro is nigh-on perfect. OnePlus’s Oxygen OS is a pleasingly light launcher, and is natively pretty close to a vanilla Android 9 experience, both of which will almost certainly be helping, but with the power on hand there’s going to be tons of headroom to customise it as you see fit while retaining that slick responsiveness.
Some of that speed can be attributed to the beautiful 6.67” AMOLED touchscreen which boasts a 90hz refresh rate. While that’s a step behind what some manufacturers like Razer are getting out of their phones in terms of refresh rate, it’s the first AMOLED to feature it, and while some might be slightly faster, I’d argue that OnePlus have found the perfect balance between ultra-smooth responsiveness and battery life. You can always opt to drop it down to a more standard 60hz too if you need to squeeze more life out of it.
You’re going to have to really chuck a lot at the OnePlus 7 Pro to think about engaging the battery saver though. Packing a 4000mAh battery OnePlus boast that they can get you going for the day in thirty minutes via the included Warp charger. Starting from a paltry 7% our phone hit 63% after just a half hour charge, adding 26 hours of average usage to the timer. It’s impressive stuff. The Warp charger is able to do what it does by regulating the temperature that the battery reaches whilst charging, but the reality is that getting a load of charge in a short period of time will unsurprisingly still see your phone get warm. It won’t get anywhere close to burning a hole in your bedside table though, so it’s a piece of tech that does exactly as advertised.
The OnePlus 7 Pro is a beautifully designed handset, and it certainly feels like a premium flagship phone in your hand. The curved metal sides feel cool to the touch, and play host to a volume rocker, the wake button and OnePlus’ trademark slider for switching between the ringer, vibrate and silent modes. There’s the expected poppable slot for your sim, though there’s no expandable storage option so you’re going to have to choose carefully about whether you’re going to need 128GB or 256GB when purchasing your phone.
The back panel is fashioned from a single, gently curved piece of metal, and our Nebula Blue test model looked fantastic under the light, shifting from dark to light blue. There’s a clear silicon case in the box, so you can still show your handset off while keeping it safe. It certainly doesn’t feel as good in your hand than the naked phone, but then it’s so smooth when bare that it’s probably a little too slippery without a case. The three camera lenses are housed in a vertical oblong that sits just over a millimetre proud of the rest of the backpiece, which means the phone is slightly angled towards you if you set it down. Thanks to the raised portion being in the middle it rocks about if you use it like this, though I can’t imagine that’s a dealbreaker for too many people. What may be annoying is that the finish around the camera housing comes off very easily – it had worn away on our test phone with regular use in a very short space of time.
The curved 6.67” AMOLED has only the smallest bezel, thanks in no small part to OnePlus’ intriguing solution that hides away selfie camera, and without a notch or button hole you’re presented with a near-total screen experience. Interacting with it feels luxuriously smooth, and that unblemished screen is a fantastic selling point over the majority of phones, particularly if you watch a lot of video content or if you’re a heavy mobile phone gamer.
Along with its 90hz refresh rate you’re looking at a QHD+ resolution at 3120×1440 with an impressive pixel density of 516ppi. On top of that OnePlus have also packed in the latest HDR10+ technology so video content from providers like Netflix or Amazon Prime is going to look its absolute best. Thanks to its all-screen facia, watching films or TV shows is a revelation and returning to phones that have some kind of extrusion feels positively stone age.
It’s all thanks to OnePlus’ solution to ‘the selfie camera problem’. OnePlus have moved the front facing camera off the front of the camera and tucked it away inside. Switching over to it sees a little mechanical nub rise from the top of the phone, ready to catch you and all your friends looking in different directions when you take a pic. That said, they might not be looking anywhere else at all, as activating the OnePlus 7 Pro’s selfie camera is a party trick that so far simply hasn’t got old.
It’s been built to withstand 300,000 activations, which is a both a lot of party tricks, and a lot of selfies by even the most ardent Instagrammer’s standards. Thus far it seems to live up to the claim that no dust or debris can get in there to gum the mechanism or the 16MP camera up. Does it take decent pictures? For sure, though it won’t match the Google Pixel 3 XL for image quality. When you’re feeling a bit braver later on in the night here’s a second party trick, as the camera will retreat back into the phone if you drop it. Just make sure you’ve prepared a safe landing zone, or your selfie camera will survive while your screen won’t.
The rear of the phone sports three separate snappers; the main 48MP, a 16MP wide lens and an 8MP zoom, and in our testing the results were excellent across the board, capable of capturing an exceptional level of detail that absolutely puts it in the same conversation as the Huwawei P30 Pro, Google Pixel 3 and Samsung Galaxy S10. I was particularly impressed by how well it performed in low-light situations as well, capturing images with far more clarity than many of its rivals can, if not quite matching Google’s Night Sight wizardry.
Mobile gaming is likely to be at the top of many of our readers’ list in terms of features, and thanks to the OnePlus powerful chipset and chunky RAM, it’s more than capable of handling the toughest mobile gaming titles out there. As many manufacturers are now doing, OnePlus have included a dedicated gaming mode – Fnatic Mode for those edgy spelling fans – which alongside optimising the CPU, GPU and RAM gives you the option of blocking all your calls and notifications, restricts background activity and even turns off the secondary sim to enhance your network connection. Certainly, while playing Asphalt 9 on that incredible expansive screen there were no hitches at all, though the handset did get pretty warm while playing. I suppose that’ll be good with winter coming, but you might want to look into a Bluetooth controller grip come the warmer months.
Gaming with the OnePlus 7 Pro does highlight it’s one slight weakness and that’s its speakers. Despite being rated for Dolby Atmos, there’s very little heft at the bottom end, and cranked up to the max there’s some distortion that creeps in. In their defense, they are clear, and dialogue in particular is pretty easy to pick out, but I imagine that most people will really be using headphones to listen anyway.
Sadly there’s no 3.5mm headphone socket, and they haven’t even included an adaptor in the box should you want to use them via USB-C. OnePlus clearly feel that Bluetooth is the only way people really want to interact with their phone, and I suppose that they’ve got a weight of evidence on their side, even if audiophiles vehemently disagree.
The 7 Pro does at least have the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard, and supports both Qualcomm’s aptX, aptX HD, and Sony’s LDAC and AAC so you can experience high definition audio if you’ve got the right kit to do so. For my part my Tidal playlists sounded damn fine through a pair of Bose QuietComfort II’s, but then they bloody well should do!
The OnePlus 7 Pro finds itself in an interesting place price-wise, and while it’s certainly not anywhere close to being a budget phone, it offers features that make it a true flagship contender, beating out both Samsung and Apple while offering similar, or better, performance. There’s the OnePlus 7 if you’re looking for something that’s a bit more wallet friendly, which boasts the same 855 chipset, but you lose the pop-up camera, gain a notch, and the screen isn’t up to the same standard as The OnePlus 7 Pro’s fantastic interface.