Hands-On, Smartphone

OnePlus 7 Pro Lands in Malaysia; Retails from RM2,999

Update, 21 May: The OnePlus 7 Pro is now in Malaysia, and it is available in three variants. The 128GB variant with 6GB of RAM goes for RM2,999, while the more generous 256GB models with 8GB and 12GB of RAM retail at RM3,699 and RM4,199 respectively.

The original article follows.

The OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro mark a drastic change for the Chinese company. Not only is it launching two new flagship devices simultaneously for the first time, the Pro model is also OnePlus’ most expensive smartphone yet.

But the higher asking price of the OnePlus 7 Pro isn’t for nothing: it comes with a plethora of improvements, including a faster display, sleeker design, and a much improved camera system. I spent a brief time with the 7 Pro, and truth be told, I’m quite excited to review it now – it’s a really promising flagship smartphone.

Let’s talk about specifications first. The OnePlus 7 Pro comes with a fast 90Hz 6.67-inch 3120 x 1440 “Fluid AMOLED” dual curve display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset paired with up to 12GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of fast UFS 3.0 storage, and a generous 4,000mAh battery. Very respectable list of hardware.

In the camera department, the OnePlus 7 Pro has a 48MP f/1.6 (primary) + 16MP f/2.2 (wide angle) + 8MP f/2.4 (telephoto) triple camera setup, which is touted to be OnePlus’ most impressive camera system yet. According to DxOMark, the 7 Pro’s camera performance got a total score of 111 – that’s just one point behind the current leader, the Huawei P30 Pro.

Compared to its predecessors, the OnePlus 7 Pro is the first device to come with a 1440p dual curve display. Unlike the majority of smartphones in the market now, it also has a fast 90Hz refresh rate. The only other high profile flagship with a similar refresh rate is last year’s Asus ROG Phone. But Asus’ offering is a niche gaming smartphone; the 7 Pro has a much more mainstream appeal.

Nonetheless, the 90Hz display makes a lot of difference. In comparison to a typical flagship’s 60Hz screen, the OnePlus 7 Pro’s 90Hz display is technically 50% faster. The higher refresh rate benefit is very noticeable: everything from animations to scrolling look incredibly fluid.

Display quality of the 7 Pro is very good as well. It supports HDR10+ (much like the Samsung Galaxy S10 phones), it has vibrant colours with deep blacks, texts and images look sharp on the 1440p display, and viewing angles are good too.

When it comes to processing power, the OnePlus 7 Pro should be able to deliver a high level of performance. The Snapdragon 855 powering the phone is a very capable flagship-tier chipset, and in my short time with the phone, it feels very responsive and fast. This can also be attributed to the lightweight nature of OxygenOS, of course.

Build quality of the 7 Pro is very good as well. It feels solid, it has a nice heft to it – though some folks may find it a tad too heavy at 206g – and overall, it’s a comfortable device to hold for long periods of time. The curved back panel and display definitely help with ergonomics.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: the 7 Pro’s pop-up 16MP f/2.0 motorised selfie camera. While it takes a bit of time to activate, it’s fast enough to not feel cumbersome to use. If you’re worried about durability, OnePlus claims that the camera module can be activated over 150 times a day for 5.5 years without any issue.

As there’s no need to make space for a selfie camera on the front of the OnePlus 7 Pro, it has a handsome, all-screen design. There is, however, a small bit of bezel at the bottom of the screen, but it’s small enough to not detract from the phone’s sleek appearance.

OnePlus also improved the in-screen fingerprint sensor of the 7 Pro, which is said to be larger than the sensor found in its predecessor. What caught me by surprise was the sheer speed and accuracy of the optical sensor. In fact, this is probably the quickest in-screen fingerprint sensor I’ve ever tried – even more so than the Xiaomi Mi 9 and Galaxy S10+‘s sensors.

Finally, there’s the triple camera system. Even though the OnePlus 7 Pro has a 48MP primary sensor, it shoots at 12MP by default. This is done because of pixel binning to improve the overall image quality, and from what I’ve observed, it seems to be really quite capable.

Now, I only managed to try out the 7 Pro’s camera for a short while, but it does feel a lot more capable than its predecessor’s camera system. There is very noticeable shutter lag in between shots, but the image output have good dynamic range, colours, and detail preservation. Plus, the telephoto sensor can do 3x optical zoom – most telephoto lenses only does 2x zoom.

All in all, I’m eager to put the 7 Pro’s camera system through its paces in a full review – the 111 DxOMark score has to mean something, right?

I say this with every new iteration of the OnePlus series, but I really do mean it: the OnePlus 7 Pro is the company’s most refined, most impressive flagship smartphone yet. Yes, it still lacks any form of IP rating and wireless charging, but other aspects of the phone make it a very worthwhile option to consider.

That being said, it is also OnePlus’ most expensive smartphone yet. In the US, the 7 Pro retails from $669 (about RM2,790) for the base model with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. It goes all the way up to $699 (approximately RM2,920) and $749 (around RM3,125) for the 256GB variants with 8GB and 12GB of RAM respectively.

These prices are approaching the territory of other flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Huawei P30 smartphones. It’s not easy to stand toe to toe with these behemoths, and this is especially the case if you don’t have any major price advantage. Regardless, we will only know how much the 7 Pro will cost here once it arrives in Malaysia next week on 21 May.

As impressive as the OnePlus 7 Pro is, it will be tough for it to compete on an equal playing field with other established flagship smartphones that are now priced too closely to it. Is the 7 Pro worth picking over other flagship smartphones? Only a full review of the phone can shed some light on this.