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OnePlus 7 Pro Review: The Benchmark

Rating: 9/10 ? 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage 3 - Strongly Flawed Design 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons 5 - Acceptably Imperfect 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana Price: $670-750 OnePlus 7 ProBenchmark: noun; The standard by which all others are measured.  Cameron Summerson

The OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the most impressive Android devices I’ve ever had the privilege of using. It’s sleek, fast, gorgeous, and—most importantly—offers incredible value. It sets a new standard for Android devices moving forward.

Here's What We LikeIncredible performance Stunning display Beautiful aesthetic and excellent build Unprecedented value And What We Don'tIt's huge No wireless charging No official IPA rating

While the OP7 Pro’s predecessor, the OnePlus 6T, is an excellent phone in its own right, the 7 Pro shows how far OnePlus has come in a very short amount of time. This is the most mature, refined, and forward-thinking device ever released by the company, and it does it all while keeping the low price point (relatively speaking) the company is known for.

To put it as bluntly as possible: this is the best Android phone you can buy right now. I’d even be willing to bet that this will be the best Android phone of 2019. With a starting price of $670, no other manufacturer will be able to compete at this price point. Period.

Specs and Performance: The Fastest Android Phone I’ve Ever Used

I’ve used a lot of Android phones, but never have I been so taken aback at how insanely fast one is right out of the box. When I first started using the OP7 Pro, I was almost convinced that it was reading my mind—it’s so fast it almost seems like it can execute tasks before I even touch it. It’s mind-blowing.

I swear I think it knows what I'm going to do before I do it. Like it anticipates where I'm getting ready to tap and pre-emptively loads it up. It's mind-reader fast.

— Cam 🤔 (@Summerson) May 26, 2019

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 RAM: 8GB or 12GB Storage: 128GB or 256GB Display: 6.67-inch edge-to-edge notchless QHD+ AMOLED panel (56PPI) w/ 90Hz refresh rate and pop-up front camera Cameras: 48MP main camera, 8 MP telephoto lens, 16 MP ultra-wide lens; 16MP pop-up front camera Ports: USB-C Headphone Jack: No Battery: 4,000 mAh Fingerprint Sensor: In-display Connectivity: Wi-Fi a/b/g/b/ac, 2.4GHz/5GHz; 2×2 MIMO; Bluetooth 5.0; NFC; AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile support Colors: Mirror Gray, Nebula Blue, Almond Price: $670-$750 (depending on configuration Specs as reviewed: 12GB RAM, 256GB storage, Nebula Blue, $750

As soon as I popped it out of the box, one thing was clear: this phone is special. The edge-to-edge display is beautiful, the Nebula Blue finish on my review unit is killer, and the overall fit and finish is next-level.

It wasn’t until I starting using the 7 Pro that I was really blown away, though. As I said earlier, it’s the fastest Android phone I’ve ever used, which is impressive enough by itself. But there’s something else, something a little less tangible, that makes the OnePlus 7 Pro such an impressive piece of hardware.

There’s something that sits between the performance and the aesthetics that can’t be quantified.  The experience provided by any handset is a make or break detail that often gets overlooked (or rather, not emphasized), which is where there 7 Pro truly comes into its own. It offers an experience unlike any other Android phone—somehow familiar like a current-generation smartphone (so there’s no learning curve or feature gap), but simultaneously like something new and futuristic.

I almost want to call it a stopgap between current smartphones and the impending shift to something new, but that would be a disservice to the 7 Pro. To call it anything other than spectacular, simply put, feels wrong.

Build and Hardware: Big, Bold, and Beautiful OP7 ProCameron Summerson

While I’ve already mentioned that the 7 Pro’s aesthetic is gorgeous, it’s equally as impressive in its build. This is a $750 flagship phone, and I will tell you right now: if another company released a product at the same level as the 7 Pro, it would easily cost $1200+. No question about it.

The 7 Pro’s build is rock solid from top to bottom, front to back. The edges of the display meet the seams of the phones so perfectly it’s almost as if they don’t exist—one material melts into another like they were made to be this close to each other all along. It’s a beautiful piece of hardware in every way.

If you know anything about me, you know that I have a policy about smartphones: if it comes in black, buy it in black (also, yes, I do have a red iPhone XR—I sometimes break my own rules). Well, my 7 Pro review unit is Nebula Blue—a color I didn’t think I would like because, honestly, I don’t like blue. I’ll be the first one to admit when I’m wrong, and when it comes to this finish, I was wrong. It’s a gorgeous sort of chameleon paint that seamlessly flows through various shades of blue and purple as the light hits it in different ways. The finish is matte, giving it a very silk-like appearance. As a bonus, it doesn’t attract fingerprints the way glossy or even matte black phones do. It’s so well done.

OnePlus 7 ProCameron Summerson

While the back of the phone is very nice to look at, the real star of the show is around front: the huge, edge-to-edge display. At nearly seven inches (6.67 to be exact), the 7 Pro’s screen is one of the biggest on a smartphone today. Pair that with a pixel density of 516 PPI (pixels per inch) and HDR10+, and you have all the right pieces for an excellent panel. But that’s not the best part of the 7 Pro’s screen—that title goes to the 90 Hz refresh rate.

Thanks to the increased refresh rate, the 7 Pro is so much smoother than other phones (which generally have a 60 Hz refresh rate). The downside is that this does use a bit more battery, but the silky-smooth transitions between screens are well worth the tradeoff. It’s such a subtle difference that makes a truly dramatic impact.

Since the screen is an elegant edge-to-edge panel with no notches or camera cutouts, OnePlus had to figure out a new way to keep the front-facing camera accessible. The solution? A pop-up camera. It’s nestled inside the phone when you’re not using it, then slides up as soon as you open the front in any application (like the camera or Instagram, for example). It’s not only practical, but it looks damn cool too.

The OnePlus 7 Pro's Display is big and beautifulNot notches, not cutouts, no bezel. Well, minimal bezel. Cameron Summerson

Of course, the big concerns with something that has moving parts like this are longevity and durability—how many times can the camera pop up before it breaks? How fragile is it? OnePlus wanted to set users’ minds at ease on this one, claiming that the camera is “designed to withstand sliding out up to 300,00 times.” That’s enough to “take over 150 selfies every day for 5.5 years.” That’s so many selfies.

As for durability, OnePlus took a video of the front camera lifting 49 pounds of concrete to show its robustness. I guess that could come in handy if you need help lifting just under 50 pounds of something around 5.5 millimeters. Anyway, the point is that there probably isn’t a lot to be concerned about where the pop-up camera’s durability is concerned.

The OnePus 7 Pro with the front camera hiddenThe OnePlus 7 Pro's popout front camera

While the hardware is beautiful and well made, it’s not perfect. There are a couple of omissions in the 7 Pro’s design: it’s missing wireless charging and doesn’t have an IP rating. While the former isn’t a huge deal (most people I know who have phones with wireless charging don’t even use it), the latter is a bit more of an issue. Well, kind of.

First off, what is an IP rating? “IP” stands for International Protection, which covers a device’s water and dust resistance—this is something that you want. But the 7 Pro doesn’t have an IP rating because OnePlus didn’t want to pay to get one. The company claims this keeps costs down, but notes that the phone is water resistant. It’s honestly kind of weird, but whatever. It’s also worth noting that if it does get water damage, the warranty won’t help you. So there’s that too.

Software: Close to Stock Without Being Stock

One thing OnePlus does well with OxygenOS is to keep things clean. The OS is pretty similar to stock Android, though there are a few touches here and there to make it slightly different. These are thoughtful add-ons, though, and not a bunch of superfluous crap thrown in just because.

When it comes down to it, the software on the OnePlus 7 Pro is virtually identical to the OnePlus 6T. Instead of re-wording what I’ve already said, I’ll point you to the applicable section of my 6T review.

Cameras: No Magic The OnePlus 7 Pro's triple camera arrayCameron Summerson

When I reviewed the OnePlus 6T, I said the camera was “ehhhhh.” While I ultimately took some good pics with that camera, I still say it’s not great—it just okay. And had I gone to the OnePlus 7 Pro directly from the 6T, there’s a chance the 7 Pro’s camera would’ve been more impressive. But something happened in between the 6T and 7 Pro usage: a little plastic phone called the Google Pixel 3a.

The Pixel 3a reminded me of what Google can do with camera software, even in a $400 phone. Despite being almost half the price of the 7 Pro (and less than half the price of other flagship phones), the Pixel 3a’s camera wipes the floor with all others. Because it has that Google Magic. Honestly, despite having three cameras that can take good pictures, it’s hard to feel anything aside from disappointed with the 7 Pro’s image output.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s an upgrade from the 6T (or any OP phone before it). If you’re coming from one OP phone to the 7 Pro, you’re going to be happy with the image output. It’s fine! Good, even! It’s just not great. This realization was like hitting a wall for me: as I was thumbing through Google Photos to see the 7 Pro’s image output, I immediately knew when I got to the timeframe where I was using the 3a. And it wasn’t because I remembered the images—it’s because there was a sudden and dramatic shift in quality. What Google does in software is unmatched on other phones. Period.

If I could take the Pixel camera’s software and put it on the 7 Pro, then we’d be in business. (And yes, I’m aware of GCam, the project to port the Google Camera to other phones, and it’s janky at best, so I don’t consider it a “solution.”) But as it stands, the 7 Pro is missing the magic that you’ll find on a Pixel camera.

Now, all that said, it is worth noting that the 7 Pro’s three-camera setup is an excellent addition to the phone. It has a standard 48 MP camera, an 8 MP telephoto lens, and 16 MP ultra-wide lens, the latter of which are pretty rad to use. The telephoto lens is always going to be better than digital zoom (even with Google’s photo-fu), and the wide-angle lens is a great way to get more into the shot without it looking distorted or generally janky.

Here are some test shots comparing the three cameras (top to bottom: wide angle, regular, telephoto):

As you can see from the last image, the telephoto lens washes the photo out—it has a distinct color difference compared to the other two lenses, which look very similar. Here are some more shots, all taken with the phone’s primary camera, save for the last two which used the telephoto lens.

Battery Life: With the Right Settings, It Can Be Insane

The OnePlus 6T had some of the best battery life I’d ever seen in an Android phone, so I expected more of the same for the 7 Pro. Having seen crazy screenshots with 8+ hours of screen on time from this phone, I had high expectations. And while I’m not disappointed in what I’ve seen, I will say that I haven’t been able to recreate nearly double-digit screen time numbers.

The odds are that all these crazy numbers I saw before I got into the nitty-gritty of using the phone were all using best-case-scenario settings, which means dropping the screen resolution from QHD+ to FHD+ and switching to the 60 Hz setting. Neither of those things is enabled by default (Auto-Switch for resolution and 90 Hz are set out of the box), which I left alone. I thought about switching to 60 Hz, but after getting used to the buttery smoothness of 90 Hz, I could bring myself to do it, battery life be damned.

So as it stands, I used the phone with all the stock settings. I didn’t optimize anything to improve the battery life and used the phone as I usually would. On average, I saw about six hours of screen-on-time, which is nothing to scoff at for an Android phone—especially one with a massive and beautiful 6.67-inch display.

So as it stands, I’d say the OnePlus 7 Pro has excellent battery life with the option to make it truly incredible if you’re willing to give up some of its nicer display features. That’s your call and something that you can easily change on the fly. Know you’re doing to need extended hours from your phone on a given day? Drop down to FHD resolution and 60 Hz refresh rate. While that probably won’t get you multiple hours of extra use, it will help squeak a bit more out of the already-good battery life.

Conclusion: The Best Android Phone You Can Buy The OnePlus logo on the 7 ProCameron Summerson

So here’s the thing: is the OnePlus 7 Pro the perfect Android phone? Nah—but it’s damn close. If you were to slap Google’s camera software and wireless charging onto this phone, that’s pretty much all it would take to call it the best Android phone of all time.

But as it stands, it’s the best Android phone you can buy right now. At a starting price of $670, there’s nothing else that even comes close. Honestly, even if you had a couple hundred to that price tag, you’re going to find compromises somewhere along the way. The only other phone you’ll find on the market that can compare to the OnePlus 7 Pro is, undoubtedly, an iPhone. Specifically, the iPhone XR—but if you’re an Android user, you don’t want an XR. And I understand that.

If you want the best Android phone you can buy right now, though, this is the one.

Rating: 9/10 Price: $670-750 Here’s What We Like Incredible performance Stunning display Beautiful aesthetic and excellent build Unprecedented value And What We Don't It's huge No wireless charging No official IPA rating Read More

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