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 being one of the prime examples.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
The camera system on the OnePlus 7 Pro has received major overhaul compared to the OnePlus 6T. At the back, we have a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 primary sensor, which is the same as the one used in phones such as the Redmi Note 7 Pro. You get an aperture of f/1.6 and optical stabilization (OIS) as well. Next is an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, OIS and an aperture of f/2.4. Finally, we have a 16-megapixel sensor with an ultra wide-angle lens. This gives you a 117-degree field of view and an aperture of f/2.2.
In Auto mode, 48-megapixel frames are oversampled to give you a 12-megapixel picture. You can shoot at the full 48-megapixel resolution in JPEG and RAW, which saves oversampled JPEG and DNG files, in Pro mode. We found it best to stick to the oversampled shots, as images lack detail at the native resolution. We also noticed a weird stuttering issue when panning through a zoomed-in view of any 48-megapixel sample in the gallery.
In daylight landscapes, the OnePlus 7 Pro captured decent details with lively colours. The laser autofocus and PDAF features helped in locking focus quickly, and HDR worked well under harsh sunlight.
When shooting macros, we did encounter an annoying issue — the camera would simply refuse to lock focus on our subject, despite us tapping the viewfinder repeatedly. We also noticed this when shooting videos and when trying to focus on small objects using the telephoto lens. Details were decent in close-up shots but very often, edges tended to lack sharpness.
The primary sensor on the other hand did a much better job with low-light shots. Noise was handled well and there was good detail in distant objects. Nightscape mode gives you a brighter image, with a bit more detail and better colours. Macros looked good too, although zooming in revealed slightly burry edges even under ample artificial light.
There’s a lot to like about the OnePlus 7 Pro. If you consume a lot of media on a daily basis, then this phone is sure to keep you happy. The display is among the best we’ve come across. Its massive size and the lack of interruption from a notch or hole-punch make watching video and playing games all the more enjoyable. The stereo speakers complement this well very well too.
Then there’s this phone’s raw power. The Snapdragon 855 SoC runs pretty much anything you throw at it, without breaking a sweat. Add to that a lean and well-optimised operating system, and you get one of the best Android experiences outside the Pixel universe. The cameras have gotten a nice upgrade too, with some handy secondary sensors for zoomed-in and wide-angle shots.
However, if we’re treating this as an “ultra-premium” smartphone, then it’s still missing quite a few luxuries that should come with the territory. An IP rating for water and dust resistance would probably be tough to achieve for phone with a physically moving part, but there’s no excuse for leaving out wireless charging. The cameras also seem like they need some polish, especially in the video and autofocus department.