Hands-On, Smartphone

OnePlus 7 Hands-On: 2019 Edition of the OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 7 Pro may be catching all the headlines with its sleek design and 90Hz display, but you shouldn’t dismiss the more affordable device in the series: the standard OnePlus 7. It is also a flagship smartphone through and through, and the best part is, it’s more affordable too.

Although the regular OnePlus 7 is not available in Malaysia yet, you can expect it to be priced lower than the Pro variant. I’ve got my hands on the OnePlus 7 for a quick hands-on session, and if the Pro’s price tag doesn’t entice you, the standard model may be worth a consideration.

If the OnePlus 7 looks familiar, you wouldn’t be wrong: it’s almost identical to the OnePlus 6T, right down to the notched display. That’s right, unlike the Pro model’s all-screen design, the OnePlus 7 still has a notch at the top of the display – the motorised pop-up camera is exclusive to the higher-end Pro smartphone.

That being said, it’s not an entirely bad thing. With no motorised camera module, there are also no moving parts to fail. Theoretically, then, the OnePlus 7 should be more robust than the Pro in the long run. Only in theory, of course.

Beyond the notch, the OnePlus 7’s 6.41-inch 1080p Optic AMOLED display looks great, as an OLED panel should be. The display has true, deep blacks, vibrant colours, and great viewing angles. It may not be as fast or as sharp as the Pro’s 1440p 90Hz display, but the 1080p panel will help with power consumption. Plus, the excellent in-screen fingerprint sensor of the Pro is also found here.

Speaking of which, the OnePlus 7 has a 3,700mAh battery; the exact same capacity as the OnePlus 6T’s battery. Chances are, this phone should be able to return similar battery life. In my review of the 6T, I managed to get between five to six hours of screen on time.

Compared to the OnePlus 7 Pro, the standard OnePlus 7 feels a lot lighter, which really surprised me. Sure, tipping the scales at 182g, it’s not exactly a lightweight smartphone. But for the sake of comparison, the Pro weighs 206g. After using the Pro as my daily driver, I actually prefer the lighter OnePlus 7.

Build quality of the phone, as expected, is excellent. It feels very solid in my hands, the metal frame is nice to the touch, and I really dig the Red colourway of the OnePlus 7. Hopefully, the Malaysian market will receive both the Red and Mirror Grey models once the phone is officially in Malaysia.

Software has always been one of the main strengths of OnePlus smartphones, and the same remains true for the OnePlus 7. OxygenOS’ interface looks great, it feels lightweight, it’s very zippy, and it is reminiscent of stock Android with its no-nonsense approach. The last part is especially important: it’s what makes the software so popular among Android purists.

Then again, OxygenOS is just one part of the equation. What makes the OnePlus 7 so responsive can be attributed to the phone’s fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset paired with up to 8GB of RAM. It’s the same SoC found in the Pro model, so you should be getting similar performance level.

When it comes to processing power, you won’t be short-changed with the OnePlus 7.

But it’s a different story in the camera department. Unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro’s more sophisticated triple camera system, the OnePlus 7 only has two rear cameras: a 48MP f/1.7 primary shooter, and a 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor. There’s no wide angle camera here, and neither is there a telephoto lens.

While it lacks the versatility of the Pro’s camera system, the OnePlus 7 does seem to be a rather competent shooter. The camera interface isn’t particularly responsive (the same issue that plagues the Pro model), but the image output looks promising with good detail preservation and dynamic range.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try out the camera’s low light performance yet – that would be the real test of the camera’s true capability.

The OnePlus 7 is not quite as impressive as the OnePlus 7 Pro, but it does offer the same software experience and performance at a lower price point. These two similarities alone may appeal to some consumers, especially for those who want the most value for their money.

However, at the end of the day, we still don’t know exactly when the OnePlus 7 will be arriving in Malaysia, though we were told it will be coming here in the near future. Nonetheless, until the local pricing of the OnePus 7 is revealed, it remains to be seen if the standard model is worth picking up over the Pro variant – the price gap has to be big enough.