Review, Smartphone

OnePlus 7 Pro Review: Going Upmarket

Every time OnePlus releases a new smartphone, it moves up the price bracket bit by bit. No other smartphone from the company shows this upward trend quite as clearly as the OnePlus 7 Pro, which is also the very first “Pro” model in OnePlus’ range of devices.

Retailing from RM2,999 up to a whopping RM4,199, this is OnePlus’ most costly smartphone yet. But is it worth getting? Is it every bit as good as it’s claimed to be? Well, I’ve used the OnePlus 7 Pro as my daily driver for a couple of weeks to find out.

Specifications

Display6.67-inch QHD+ Fluid AMOLED (3120 x 1440), 90Hz
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 855 2.84GHz octa-core
GPU
Adreno 640
RAM6/8/12GB
Storage128/256GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)
48MP f/1.6 (primary)
8MP f/2.4 (telephoto)
16MP f/2.2 (wide angle)
Camera (front)16MP f/2.0 (motorised)
Battery
4,000mAh
Dimensions162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8 mm
Weight
206g
OSOxygenOS based on Android 9 Pie
ConnectivityLTE
NFC
Bluetooth 5.0
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
USB Type-C

Without a doubt the standout hardware here is the 6.67-inch 1440p Fluid AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. There are only a handful of smartphones with a fast 90Hz screen in the market now – most of them are gaming-oriented phones too – so the OnePlus 7 Pro is definitely unique in this aspect.

Other hardware of this phone are definitely high-end. It has a fast Snapdragon 855 chipset paired with up to 12GB of RAM, a generous 4,000mAh battery, and a very capable triple camera system. Unfortunately, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack or support for expandable storage here.

Design

Aesthetically, the all-screen design of the OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the headline features of this phone. Thanks to the use of a motorised pop-up selfie camera, there’s no need for a notch or hole-punch cutout anywhere on the display. While there’s still a bit of chin at the bottom of the phone, it’s minimal enough to not be bothersome.

As for the 16MP pop-up camera itself, it can activate fast enough to take a quick selfie. If you’re worried about the durability of the camera module, OnePlus claims that the front camera can be activated over 150 times a day for 5.5 years without issue. That assurance is good enough for some peace of mind, but as with all moving parts, there is always a chance it would malfunction over the years.

Personally, however, I think it’s a worthwhile trade-off to get the all-screen design of the phone.

OnePlus’ build quality has gotten better over the years, and the OnePlus 7 Pro is a testament of this. It is very well-built, it has a nice heft to it – though some of my colleagues think it’s a tad too heavy at 206g – and the phone feels very premium. This is especially the case with this Nebula Blue model; the gorgeous glass back panel has a matte finish.

However, there are a couple of ergonomic issues with the OnePlus 7 Pro. Even though the dual curved display gives the phone a very sleek look, the sides of the phone are too thin to get a comfortable grip on it. Besides that, the 19.5:9 aspect ratio of the 6.67-inch display makes it a really tall phone. You can forget about reaching for the top of the display with only one hand.

Nonetheless, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a well-designed smartphone, even if it suffers from some minor ergonomic issues. The Nebula Blue model is especially stunning to look at.

User Experience

OxygenOS has always been one of the main appeals of OnePlus smartphones, and the OnePlus 7 Pro is no different. The user interface is polished and intuitive, it feels extremely zippy, and it is reminiscent of stock Android with its no-nonsense software approach.

I love the fact that there are no unnecessary features or bloatware weighing down OxygenOS; not many phone makers have the same amount of restraint. When it comes to software, less is definitely more, especially if it makes for a fuss-free software experience.

That being said, I do wish OxygenOS came with an always on display – it would’ve made it a more complete version of Android.

What makes the OnePlus 7 Pro such a fast smartphone isn’t just OxygenOS; the powerful Snapdragon 855 chipset under the hood plays a major role too. It’s a very capable SoC, and no matter what I throw at the phone, it still feels very responsive. Needless to say, gaming on the OnePlus 7 Pro is extremely enjoyable as well, thanks in part to the 90Hz display – for games that support that frame rate, anyway.

Ah yes, I can’t praise the 90Hz refresh rate of the 6.67-inch 1440p Fluid AMOLED display enough. Compared to more conventional 60Hz screens, this phone’s 90Hz display makes a world of difference. Not only does everything look extremely fluid (which is probably why OnePlus calls it a “Fluid AMOLED” display), it also gives the impression of extra responsiveness.

But what about the display quality? As expected, it’s very good. It has deep blacks, great viewing angles, and colours really pop on this display. These are inherent traits of AMOLED panels, and the 1440p resolution translates to sharp-looking texts and images.

In-screen fingerprint sensors have gotten a lot better these days, and the one under the OnePlus 7 Pro’s display is easily one of the most impressive sensors in the market now. It is very quick, very accurate, and very seamless to use.

Packing a 4,000mAh battery, the OnePlus 7 Pro can return above average battery life. On average, I can consistently get around five hours of screen on time. That’s really quite good for a 1440p display of this size, and I set the refresh rate to 90Hz too. If I change it to 60Hz instead, I can get around six hours of screen on time – that’s very good battery life.

Charging rate of the OnePlus 7 Pro is reasonably good too. Within 30 minutes of charging with the provided Warp Charger, the phone got up to 52% from completely empty.

All in all, using the OnePlus 7 Pro as my daily driver for the past couple of weeks has been a very pleasant experience. On top of that, I do have to commend the phone’s vibration system; it can provide one of the most refined haptic feedback I’ve come across on a smartphone.

Camera

This is where it gets really exciting for the OnePlus 7 Pro. With a DxOMark score of 111 – putting it right behind the current leader (Huawei P30 Pro) by only one point – the phone’s triple camera system can really deliver impressive-looking shots.

Made up of a 48MP primary shooter, an 8MP telephoto lens, and a 16MP wide angle sensor, this triple camera system can take good shots in daytime and nighttime. Plus, the different focal lengths really make it a versatile shooter, even if there is disparity in image quality between the different sensors.

However, the camera is far from perfect. For one, there is very noticeable shutter delay, and the camera interface as a whole isn’t very…responsive. As a result, taking fast-moving subjects can be quite difficult with this phone, which can get quite frustrating.

But given the time and patience, the OnePlus 7 Pro can really snap some of the most amazing shots; it’s easily up there among the best. Plus, the nightscape mode can brighten up low light shots dramatically, albeit the end results can look overly saturated and artificial at times.

Competition

On OnePlus’ official store on Shopee, three variants of the OnePlus 7 Pro are offered in Malaysia: the 128GB model with 6GB of RAM goes for RM2,999, while the more generous 256GB variants with 8GB and 12GB of RAM retail at RM3,699 and RM4,199 respectively.

Needless to say, the OnePlus 7 Pro is not an affordable smartphone, and it has to contend with a number of noteworthy competition.

Samsung Galaxy S10+

If you’re shopping in this price range, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is one of the easiest choices to make, and for good reasons. Even though it retails at RM3,699 for the 128GB model with 8GB of RAM, you can now get it below the RM3,000 mark.

For about the same price as the OnePlus 7 Pro, the Galaxy S10+ offers slightly better camera performance (the interface is a lot more responsive), water and dust resistance, support for expandable storage, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.

On the flip side, the 7 Pro is arguably the sleeker-looking device with an all-screen design, not to mention the fact that it has a much more desirable 90Hz display than the Galaxy S10+’s conventional 60Hz screen.

Xiaomi Mi 9

When it comes to value for money, not many devices can compete directly with the Xiaomi Mi 9. In comparison to the OnePlus 7 Pro, the Mi 9 has the same Snapdragon 855 chipset, comparable camera performance – though I’m slightly leaning towards the 7 Pro – and similar battery life. The best part is, the Mi 9 is a lot more affordable than OnePlus’ offering: the 128GB model with 6GB of RAM retails at only RM1,999.

Of course, as the more costly smartphone, the 7 Pro does have a few advantages. It doesn’t have a notched display like the Mi 9, it has superior software experience, and its Fluid AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate is a lot more impressive. But are these advantages worth the huge price gap? That’s up to you to decide.

Conclusion

OnePlus was once known for offering incredible value for money with its flagship smartphones, but for better or worse, this has changed dramatically. You can no longer get a OnePlus device below the RM2,000 mark, and even the OnePlus 7 Pro is breaking into the RM4,000 price bracket now. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth getting – you just have to manage your expectations accordingly.

Even though it is the most expensive OnePlus smartphone yet, the 7 Pro can also go head to head with the best in the market. It has excellent camera performance, it looks stunning, and the 90Hz display is something not many manufacturers can offer right now.

If the OnePlus 7 Pro’s feature set appeals to you, you won’t regret picking it up. It is a fantastic flagship smartphone with very little compromises. But just know that at this price range, you have a lot of other options too – some of which even offer better value for money.

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