The OnePlus 7 Pro is here and breaking with tradition around its smartphones, OnePlus has opted for two models this year. The regular OnePlus 7 isn’t coming to the US, but the OnePlus 7 Pro is, and this is the device the company thinks can take the fight to Samsung and Apple.
I’ve been using the OnePlus 7 Pro for just over a week, and while we still need a couple of days for our full review, these are our first impressions. I’ve used it on the East and West coast with a T-Mobile USA SIM inside, in order to test everything from cell signal to call quality as T-Mobile is the only official carrier partner in the USA. We plan to update this with our full review before the end of the week as we’ve just received a software update that may improve the experience, but for now, let’s get stuck into one of the nicest phones I’ve used in a while.
See what MrMobile thinks of the OnePlus 7 Pro in the video above!
At its heart, the OnePlus 7 Pro is every bit a OnePlus device: it combines a stunning design, has most of the flagship specs you could want and offers it all for a price lower than its competitors. Yet, it’s also different with the company clearly recognizing the need to go above and beyond its usual philosophy around smartphones.
Take the display for instance. I’ve long held off on adopting a OnePlus device as my main phone as I need a QHD display at minimum. The OnePlus 7 Pro has exactly this – 6.63-inches, QHD+ and 19.5:9 aspect ratio to be precise – but it goes beyond that. It’s one of the nicest AMOLED panels you’ll find – save for Samsung of course – and the 90Hz refresh rate makes it one of the smoothest experiences you’ll find. Having used this for nearly ten days, I can safely say that the OnePlus 7 Pro has one of the best gaming and scrolling experiences of any phone.
The one thing you’ll notice quickly is that there’s no front-facing camera, at least that you can notice. OnePlus has thrown the selfie camera in a retractable pop-up camera slider and I love it. Especially when gaming, I love that I have the full screen and there’s nothing in the way of it. Case in point – I love playing International Snooker, but one phones with a notch or hole-punch, it always covers a key part such as the pocket or the ball. On the OnePlus 7 Pro, this isn’t a concern and combined with the smooth scrolling on the screen, it’s perfect for gaming.
On the back is my favorite part of the OnePlus 7 – this is a mesmerizing and simply gorgeous design. The gradient under layers of glass stands out even though we’ve seen gradient-clad phones before. There’s a symmetry between the left and right side with the three cameras in the middle that looks so good. It is a bit of a fingerprint and dust magnet, and very slippery, but there’s a clear case in the box that allows you to retain the beautiful design.
The haptic vibration motor is one of the best on any smartphone right now.
Despite minimal bezels – the phone has a screen to body ratio of 93% – the OnePlus 7 Pro also has dual stereo speakers which are much better than previous OnePlus devices, although not the loudest on the market. A less noticeable but equally important improvement is the placement of the bottom firing speaker – instead of being on the left so it’s covered when you turn it in landscape, it’s now on the right so it doesn’t get muffled when watching a movie or gaming.
There’s also a radically improved vibration motor and in one generation, OnePlus has gone from having one of the worst vibration motors, to one of the best. It’s so good, that it’s almost at Pixel-3 levels of good.
I’ve already said just how good the display experience is, and this applies to the rest of the OnePlus 7 Pro as well. It’s backed by 12GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 855 processor, and it’s fast. Like, really fast. There’s nothing you can throw at this to slow it down, it’s that good. Everyone questions whether you need 12GB of RAM, but the OnePlus 7 Pro proves that even if you don’t necessarily need it, it does make the experience that little bit smoother. The in-display fingerprint sensor is over 20% larger than last year – it’s lighting fast and an absolute joy to use.
Part of this smooth experience is down to Oxygen OS which is possibly the best user experience on Android right now. I’ve used it in the past but having spent the majority of the past few years using Samsung and Huawei phones, OxygenOS is refreshing and my new favorite Android OS.
One of my favorite features is Zen Mode which forces you to put your phone down, disconnect from the world and actually live life. When you enable Zen Mode, it disables everything on your phone – apart from emergency calls and the camera – for 20 minutes. There’s no way to turn it off and you’re forced to disengage from your phone. As a result, I actually found myself enabling Zen Mode when walking along the river, so work and life in general couldn’t disturb the few fleeting moments of peace I have in a day.
Most of the OnePlus 7 Pro experience is extremely positive, but there’s a few things that definitely need work. For years we’ve heard OnePlus say that they didn’t want to go for a QHD display as it would have a marked effect on the overall battery life. The OnePlus 7 Pro feels like the industry forced OnePlus to use a QHD display and the higher resolution combined with the better refresh rate has a huge effect on the battery life.
Whereas the OnePlus 6T battery life was great, the OnePlus 7 Pro is… not.
Coming from the Huawei P30 Pro which has monstrous battery life, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a little bit of a letdown. I’ve been running it with auto brightness, QHD+ resolution and doing a whole lot of gaming each day, and the battery lasts a full day. It still has a little juice left if I leave it overnight, and it’s easy to recharge with Warp Charge one of the fastest charging solutions, but you’ll want to charge it every day.
You might have noticed, I’ve left the camera until last. And that’s because it’s great, and frustrating in equal measure. I’ve tested the camera a fair amount, but we’re saving most of the camera until the full review later this week, where we’ll have a bunch of comparisons against the best flagships on the market right now.
My key takeaway for the camera? It’s great to have three cameras, and all three are definitely useful, but the ultra-wide angle is a little distorted resulting in warping around the sides of the image. Similarly, zoom shots are a little soft, and portrait bokeh shots seem to be lacking in detail. Overall though, it’s the best camera OnePlus has made but there’s definitely a trade-off if you’re hoping for the camera found on the Pixel 3, Huawei P30 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S10.
Talking of trade-offs, it’s missing a few things. There’s no dust or water resistance. OnePlus says it is water resistance but is getting around any claims for water damage by saying that IP certification is expensive. Waterproof or not, the lack of IP rating definitely affects how I use my phone and I’ve treated the OnePlus 7 Pro different to my other IP-rated devices.
Another trade-off is wireless charging and it’s frustrating that I can’t use the OnePlus 7 Pro on my wireless charging pads. Every room in my apartment has a wireless charger, I’ve tried to move away from cables, and I charge wirelessly every night. It’s annoying that I have to change the way I use my phone thanks to the limitations of the technology I use.
This is just our first impressions of the OnePlus 7 Pro and there’s a lot we still need to unpack, but overall, the OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the nicest phones I’ve ever used. Starting at just $669, the OnePlus 7 Pro has a ton of value and is arguably the best phone under $700. There’s a few trade-offs but if you don’t want to spend $1,000 on the super expensive flagships, look no further than the OnePlus 7 Pro.
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