OnePlus 7 Pro – A True User Review After 70 Days!
Okay, so this is the OnePlus 7 Pro and I’m finally getting around to this review because it’s been a crazy couple of months for us here at the studio. Now I’ve been using this device for the past 70 days, and it is an interesting smartphone in 2019, especially for the price and how it compares to the competition because a lot of premium flagship phones are on sale right now. I’ve got to admit, I initially wasn’t really impressed with the camera performance and some other things with this device, but I’ve got to hand it to OnePlus for rolling out some major software updates over the course of my testing period that addressed a lot of the issues. With that being said, I still have some major annoyances with the OnePlus 7 Pro, so sit back and we’ll go over them shortly.
Compared to the Competition
All right, so let’s kick things off with the price. It starts at $670 USD or $900 CAD, which is not cheap. OnePlus was once known for selling amazing flagship killer phones for less than $400, but that’s not the case anymore. They are slowly creeping into the premium phone category, but they still managed to undercut the big players in the market right now. Actually that statement would be a lot more appropriate a couple months ago when this phone was launched, because right now you can pick up flagship phones like the Galaxy S10 for around the same price as the 7 Pro in some regions. Or you could end up getting a carrier exclusive deal and end up picking up that phone for around $500. Now the Galaxy S10 was one of my favorite Android smartphones of the year, and if you’re interested in a full review, you can check it out right here. We also have phones like the Pixel 3a that just shook the smartphone industry with its incredible camera performance at $400, so why would someone consider the 7 Pro over the competition?
Well, let me start with my favorite feature, which is the 90Hz Fluid AMOLED display. Seriously, I cannot emphasize how amazing this screen is. It’s so fluid and fast, and when you pair it with amazing software this is the phone to beat in 2019, in the display department of course. Scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Gmail is just flawless and responsive. That being said, I should mention that at 6.67 inches, this is a big – and I mean a really big – phone if you’re used to phones like the iPhone X, Galaxy S9, Pixel 3 or just smaller phones in general, the OnePlus 7 Pro is noticeably bigger than those devices. At times I’ve had trouble reaching the top spots when I’m holding the phone in one hand, so I have to sort of glide the phone – hoping that it won’t slip or fall – and then hit those spots. As you can see visually in my hand, this phone is just way too big and it’s not practical for people with smaller hands.
The bigger displays certainly comes in clutch for watching Netflix shows and movies since they take good advantage of the screen real estate, which is another positive thing that I can think of the screen. However, the curved edges on the side are just really aggressive compared to the Galaxy S10, which I still had issues with in terms of palm detection. It’s about the same with the 7 Pro and when watching videos it gets super distracting in well-lit environments. Now, some people did report ghost touching issues on the 7 Pro’s display, but I certainly haven’t experienced any of that. It looks like OnePlus did roll out a software update addressing that, so that’s nice.
The model that I have over here comes in this Nebula Blue finish and it looks gorgeous. The frosted texture is less slippery than the glass back on the Galaxy S10.
The Various Models
You’ll have to pay an extra $30 to get this color over the base model, but you get an extra 2GB of RAM and double the storage, which is a steal in my opinion. Plus, if you want, you can spec this out with 12GB of RAM if you really wanted to brag about it.
Now there are other color options including Almond and Mirror Gray, but keep in mind that those variants can’t be specc’ed up to 12GB of RAM.
The design has been refined slightly from the 6T, so you get stereo speakers where the earpiece acts as the left channel and the bottom facing speaker acts as the right channel. Surprisingly, given their small size, they sound great. There’s a noticeable difference compared to the mono speaker on the 6T, and guys I should mention that the speakers are really loud but they don’t compromise on the audio fidelity, because it sounds clear and doesn’t distort whatsoever. I haven’t missed a notification or an alarm bell so that’s awesome. But I also want to quickly talk about call quality, because it was excellent on 7 Pro. The person on the other end didn’t have any issues hearing me and vice versa, so that’s nice.
Pop-up Cameras & Fingerprint Scanner
The other cool feature about the 7 Pro is the pop-up camera. You see at first I was a bit skeptical about the mechanism and the durability of this implementation, because I’m the type of person who is really not into selfies except when I am on a video conference call. However, it works when I need it to and if I automatically drop the device the gyroscopes and the accelerometer detect the free fall and they retract the camera module. Plus I like it hidden in the first place because that way you get a complete bezel-less and notch-less design. I mean who doesn’t like that?
However, I will mention that the rubber grommets around the camera really didn’t do that much to prevent debris from entering. Also, as you can see, the little camera module can get a little dirty, so I’d recommend cleaning it often. Oh, and the alert stutter is still here, Good job OnePlus. I still can’t believe how other smartphone manufacturers haven’t adopted this, because I’ve taken advantage of this numerous times when I’m at meetings. It’s the little details that makes OnePlus that stand out from the rest.
The in-display fingerprint scanner is ridiculously fast. I’ve had zero issues with it so far. I never even bothered sending a face on logs solely because of how fast and reliable it is. I simply place my thumb and it unlocks right away. It doesn’t even take a second to think about it, and if I were to compare this to the Galaxy S10 there’s just no competition period. The Galaxy is just so slow and unreliable by comparison.
Shortcomings, Maybe For Some People
Now for those of you wondering if you caught my OnePlus 6T review, I mentioned how I had some issues with Google Pay on that device. Well I’m happy to report that I haven’t experienced any of that on the 7 Pro, so that’s good. Now with all of that being said, this phone doesn’t scream rainbows and butterflies because it does lack some key features that enthusiast might look for, especially for the price. For instance, you don’t get wireless charging, no expandable storage, no headphone 3.5mm jack, nor does it even come with an official IP water resistant rating. However, hear me out for a second, because I don’t necessarily value those features for my use case scenario. Let’s start with wireless charging. Sure, it would’ve been really nice to have, but Warp Charge 30 is a good trade-off because it tops up the battery to 60% in less than 30 minutes. Now of course it’s not as good as OPPOs Super VOOC charging feature, but it is what it is.
Then there’s the lack of expandable storage. I personally don’t need more than 128GB as you can see by my usage.
The lack of a headphone jack: I’m honestly over it. I’ve embraced wireless audio because of the convenience. I used the Bullets 2 wireless from OnePlus and it’s been a solid pair so far, although I’m disappointed that OnePlus didn’t include a Type-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box, especially since you’re paying close to $700 for this thing. You see if you’re in the same boat as I am, there’s no reason to complain about the lack of those features, but if you absolutely need them you should probably look elsewhere.
Software & Battery Life
Moving onto the software experience, I really don’t have much to say other than the fact that Oxygen OS is very efficient, customizable, and intuitive to use. Believe it or not, this is the first time that I have not installed a custom launcher or an icon pack on a device. I actually liked the way it looks out of the box. Of course, I had to throw in my own touch to make it somewhat unique. Something else I do want to bring up is that OnePlus has invested a lot of time into refining the Android experience, because over the course of my testing period I received three to four major software updates that not only improved the cam performance, which I’ll get to shortly, but it also helped improve or fix a lot of the bugs and that is just awesome. I mean if there’s one company that I can think of aside from Google that values software, it’s OnePlus.
Now battery life on the 7 Pro is good, but not 6T good. You see in a heavy use case scenario, when I have Bluetooth and GPS enabled and I’m constantly using my phone throughout the day when I’m traveling, I was able to push it to around six hours of screen on time. But on a lighter day I could extend it to a day and a half with around seven hours of screen time. But this all depends on how you use the phone. I can certainly say it’s not as good as a 6T and that’s obviously because of the 90Hz Quad HD display. It’s a lot of pixel to drive, especially at that refresh rate. Now you could go and switch your refresh rate to 60Hz, but that completely misses the point. Why would you go for this phone in the first place if you’re setting it to 60Hz? It just doesn’t make any sense.
Image & Video Quality
And finally, let’s wrap things up with the camera performance. The 7 Pro has three sensors combined to an ultra-wide lens, a standard lens for portraits and a telephoto lens for that extra reach.
You see at first I wasn’t really impressed with the low light performance. As you can see, it decided to apply a Vaseline filter on Dmitri’s face. It’s really hilariously bad and there’s little to no detail. It also lacked a bit of saturation and contrast. Even daylight scenarios with other samples. The pop-up front facing camera takes decent pictures, but it lacks detail and I’m not really into that. It’s certainly not as close as what you can get on the pixel. The ultra white sensor is a welcoming addition. You can capture beautiful landscapes with this thing, but after receiving a major software update recently, it’s a different story guys. There’s a good balance of saturation and contrast. The colors coming out of the sensor will look really good. Low light performance is also improved and I didn’t notice the software playing that weird Vaseline effect from before, so that’s awesome. The only thing that I’d say is that the pictures still lack a bit of detail at least when you compare it to the Pixel 3, but I’m going to let you guys be the judge here.
So this is the video test of the OnePlus 7 Pro, and as you can see it looks really good. I’m actually really impressed with the image quality and the dynamic range coming out of this phone. The one thing to keep note of is that you can only shoot 4K at 60FPS with image stabilization, but at 30FPS you don’t get it. Overall, it’s not as good as the S10. You can still see a little bit of a jitteriness as I’m walking. The other thing to also keep note of is that you cannot use the wide angle lens to shoot video. I can zoom in quickly if I want to get some shots with the telephoto lens, but that’s about it.
This is the front facing camera tests. The image stabilization is not the best, but it does a pretty good job with dynamic range. Also, it’s not as wide as I’d like it to be. The quality is also surprisingly better than the Pixel 3, which I really like.
All right, so final thoughts on the OnePlus 7 Pro at $670 for the base model. I’m still having trouble recommending this over the Galaxy S10 and the Pixel 3, because I’ve used those smartphones and they’re good at a lot of things. For instance, the Galaxy S10 has beautiful hardware, it’s packed with features, it’s got good camera performance, the video quality is top notch. The software is passable provided you actually spend the time setting it up, but really they’re actually behind OnePlus when it comes to software updates. Now the Pixel 3a, I recommended that phone to a lot of my friends. In fact, they keep sending me pictures or sample photos from their phone thanking me for recommending that phone just because of its incredible camera performance, especially since it only costs $400.
I think the best features of the 7 Pro are the 90Hz AMOLED display. It’s just spoiled me to be honest, but it’s amazing. And the in-display fingerprint scanner is just so fast and responsive. And I’ve got to give bonus points to OnePlus for improving the camera performance, and on top of that they value software experience above all. So the 7 Pro does not disappoint in that regard. But I also want to quickly talk about the OnePlus 7 because it really is odd to see OnePlus just announce the 7 Pro in the North American market and not the regular 7. I’m aware that it’s available in other regions, but not having that phone in the North American market is a little bit confusing because you have the OnePlus 7 Pro, but what makes it Pro compared to the non-Pro variant, which should be the 7, but it’s not… it’s the 6T. Let me know what you guys think about the OnePlus 7 Pro. If you’re an existing owner, I would love to know your thoughts about your experience as well.