OnePlus do not have an official presence here in Australia but that hasn’t stopped many Australians from purchasing OnePlus devices. There are a few ways to get your hands on one — many grey market importers sell them and there is always the mail forwarder option.
OnePlus tell us that they see quite a few activations of their smartphones in Australia and that does not surprise us. We have used them and all love them — what’s not to love? The best Android software available, top notch hardware paired with a decent but not spectacular camera, all at a very affordable price.
This year OnePlus have released what they are calling an ultra-premium device, something to compete with the big dogs such as the Galaxy S10+, the P30 Pro and the Pixel 3 XL. The price is more than their previous devices but is still nowhere near that of the other ultra-premium smartphones — first qualifier.
We were in New York for the launch of the ultra-premium OnePlus 7 Pro and managed to snag ourselves a review unit and have put it through its paces for the past few weeks — albeit through three to four different software upgrades chasing bug fixes and on one occasion creating a new one that still is not fixed.
So what did we think about it? Coming from a OnePlus 6T as my main device you can be sure I am very fluent with OxygenOS so most of the review will be focused on the hardware and how it performs, although there are some new software bells and whistles to be aware of.
|Full screen 90Hz display is amazing for media consumption and scrolling through apps||Ghost touches persist and are extremely annoying|
|Pop-up camera rids the requirement for a notch/cutout||Some software bugs still linger|
|Faster and more reliable fingerprint sensor||Slower face unlock due to pop-up camera having to slide up|
|Best. Android UI. Ever.||Curved display leads to glare at the outer edges and occasional accidental edge touches being registered|
What a stunning design!
Yes. OnePlus have come a long way since the very industrial OnePlus One. The back of the Nebula Blue review unit is a matte blue glass and although a tad slippery, looks amazing. It’s gradient colours change with the lighting angle on it.
OnePlus make some great cases such as the nylon one and the sandstone one but that ends up hiding the amazing colour and finish OnePlus have created with this phone. The good news is that for those who wish to use a case (I normally do not, except at the gym) they have included a decent, well-fitting clear case in the box.
The rear of the device curves around a very similar curvature to the display giving a sense of balance but also makes it feel very comfortable in the hand but it is slippery so be careful. At the launch we also laid eyes on the Almond and Black colours — Almond with gold edging, including around the pop-up camera was beautiful, something my fiancee loved. The black was, well, black. Boring old safe black.
The phone, encased in glass and packing a heap of hardware inside with an added thickness is ever so slightly heavier at 206 grams compared to the 185 grams of the OnePlus 6T. When holding the device that increase in size did not bother me at all and was not even noticeable.
The phone is big. All phones seem to be growing as displays get larger and larger. The OnePlus 6T was bigger than its predecessor and the 7 Pro is bigger than the 6T, by about 5mm. It doesn’t seem like much but surely phones cannot keep growing by a few millimetres each year. We must be nearing the end of their growth.
At 162.5mm tall and 75.9mm wide the 7 Pro is taller and wider then the 6T and often requires some decent finger and thumb gymnastics to be able to operate it fully. It did not worry me as I like big phones and have adjusted to them and how I use them but if you prefer smaller phone or just are not sure this is something you should keep in mind before purchasing.
High end, top of the range hardware as per usual for OnePlus
Not only did OnePlus pack in a Snapdragon 855 processor they gave customers the option of 6GB, 8GB or 12GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of onboard storage. Some of those are just overkill but it makes the Pixel 3 phones seem positively mid-range with their specs (and they suffer for it).
The battery life takes a hit with the new flagship from OnePlus. Add in a bigger, brighter display, a pop-up camera mechanism that needs to be powered and a 90Hz display that chugs juice all day long and the battery suffers. I was able to get through a day with the battery — and I am tough on the usage of my phones. It was a fair way behind where the OnePlus 6T sat — the OnePlus 7 Pro gave me about 4 to 4.5 hours of screen on time compared with a good 6+ with the OnePlus 6T.
I am pushing this review unit to the limit though and running the display at full 2k resolution and 90Hz the entire time — both of these can be dialled down for those who wish to conserve some battery life. Luckily OnePlus have included their Warp Charge 30 charging to charge the 4000mAh battery extremely fast. A quick 10 minutes on the charger can give you another few hours of use — very handy. In my experience, only OPPO have faster battery charging.
Under the display is an in-display fingerprint sensor which is much faster than previous generations. Not only is the fingerprint area 38% larger than in the 6T but faster — it can unlock the phone in 0.21 seconds. Both of these are extremely noticeable and it is great to see how far fingerprint sensors have come in such a short time since their first appearance in a mainstream phone.
OnePlus have once again included their Alert Slider which has more options than in previous iterations and the ability to quickly change the phone from sound to vibrate and to fully silent is fantastic — all the while allowing certain notifications through.
Other notable inclusions are a USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port (unfortunately the cable included in the box apparently does not fully support the speed of this), Bluetooth 5.0 with support for aptX & aptX HD & LDAC & AAC, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G and 5G bands, and stereo speakers (one bottom firing and the other in the earpiece).
The much vaunted and publicised display
OnePlus came out early, well before the phone’s announcement, espousing how good their new AMOLED display would be in the OnePlus 7 Pro. It has a 2k resolution, runs at 90Hz refresh rate and had received DisplayMate’s highest A+ rating.
The 6.67-inch Fluid AMOLED display is both what is good and bad about this phone — in a very simplified nutshell.
First the good. The colours on the display are amazing. The deep blacks and vibrant colours make for a very enjoyable experience. OnePlus have included more options than, for example, Google do with the colour options. There is Vivid, Nature and Advanced. Within advanced you can choose AMOLED Wide Gamut, sRGB or Display P3 (recommended by OnePlus and display nuts) and then from here the display can be made colder or warmer.
The 2k resolution can be kept at that (QHD+) or FHD+ (2336 x 1080) or an auto-switch where the phone switches automatically between the resolutions. I’m not sure how it decides when is the best resolution for each but I chose the QHD+ all the time. QHD+, for me, although it uses more battery provides a much better experience when using the phone.
The 90Hz refresh rate of the display really does make a difference to the user experience — and not just in games. The scrolling at 90Hz is extremely noticeable when placed side by side with a standard 60Hz display.
That rounds out what could be the crowning glory on one of the best phones for 2019. Unfortunately there are some negatives.
When the first update arrived for the OnePlus 7 Pro, not long after release it created a new bug (well, it hadn’t been noticed before this) where ghost touches were continually registered at the top of the display. At first it was noticed in CPU-Z but more people started noticing it in other apps such as WhatsApp. For me I noticed it in Relay for Reddit, Google Maps (it is extremely frustrating to have ghost touches in Maps while navigating while driving) as well and even on the OnePlus launcher.
A couple of updates have come since the first appearance of the ghost touches and yet the bug remains. It would seem that the fix is not as simple as first thought. Turning NFC off results in no ghost touches but then you have to remember to turn it on whenever tapping onto public transport or paying using Google Pay. It is obviously a critical bug because using the phone is extremely frustrating when these ghost touches occur. Hopefully the bug is actually fixable and that OnePlus can release a patch for it soon — without the fixes this phone is far from ultra-premium I’m afraid.
Sure I am not a huge fan of the massive curved display — same as on the Galaxy S10+ as the display doesn’t feel as usable. The side bezels of the phone and the curved display result in a lot of false edge touches. Not sure why OnePlus have gone for this curve on their display — Google have shown you can make an ultra-premium phone without a curved display.
111 for DxOMark? For reals?
The hardware for the OnePlus 7 Pro camera systems includes a rear triple camera with a 48MP Sony IMX586 main camera with OIS, EIS and an aperture size of f/1.6, an 8MP telephoto lens with OIS and a 16MP ultrawide angled lens with a 117 degree FOV. The front camera is a 16MP Sony IMX471 with a fixed focus and aperture of f/2.0.
OnePlus stated at the launch for the OnePlus 7 Pro that they had received a score of 111 from DxOMark for their new ultra-premium flagship. In their review DxOMark did say that they were using software that was not available to consumers yet and I assume it is still not. Having used the Mate 20 Pro and the Galaxy S10+ (both phones with scores either higher or very close and their photos were breath-takingly amazing.
Unfortunately the OnePlus 7 Pro’s photos are not. They are better than the 6T and they are still extremely decent images but they are not in the same league as the two phones that have those scores. There have already been two or three updates bringing camera fixes since its release last month but it is still not quite perfect. It is close but just doesn’t have the wow factor.
Nightscape has gone backwards and I was finding it taking upwards of 20 seconds to take an image while at Vivid in Sydney — who can hold a phone steady for 20 seconds? Certainly not I. In a dim stadium (the netball) the phone took a good 5-10 seconds to capture the image — not good enough, Google can do it in a second (but then their low light photography is the benchmark that all aspire to.
OnePlus have included a 3x zoom in the phone which is in real essence a 2.2x zoom. They do optical zoom to 2.2 and then magnify the image to get 3x zoom by cropping the image to 8MP instead of the 13MP that the phone normally produces. The zoom was still great though and when combined with the wide angled mode offers many options for smartphone photography of a large range of subjects.
Let’s not forget about one of the coolest things about the OnePlus 7 Pro — the pop-up camera. It isn’t super fast to pop-up, about half a second but it is smooth and yes when the phone feels it is dropping it does retract into the body like a turtle’s head. The images from it are pretty good as you can see below.
Once again the interface OnePlus have provided is great. Looks standard but you can easily reorder the different camera shooting modes within settings so that those that you use more often are closer to the standard camera mode.
Best. Software. Ever.
Although Google manage to create a smoothness that cannot be matched on their Pixel phones the OnePlus 7 Pro’s OxygenOS combined a smoothness that is extremely close to Pixelly with an amazing speed that needs to be seen to be believed. Add in all the fantastic options they provide — think custom ROM types/numbers of options — and you will see why it is such an achievement for them to have such a fast phone. Other manufacturers who offer a heap of options such as Samsung fail to produce the speed and smoothness that OnePlus do.
Some of the cool options they include are:
- Various usable themes
- Video enhancer
- Parallel apps — allows two accounts for various apps that don’t usually support it
- Quick launch from fingerprint sensor/gesture
- Navigation gestures — I prefer these over Google’s new and old implementation
- Gaming mode
- And many many more….
I have often railed and ranted about how useless launchers from manufacturers are. Not so the OnePlus launcher. Sure it doesn’t have the sheer number of options as for example Nova Launcher but it has a heap of options and is extremely fast and usable. I have not even used Nova Launcher on this phone and have not at any time thought that I was missing out on anything.
Should you import one?
At the moment it is still a bit of a risk to import one for two reasons — the ghost touches are still not fixed entirely (they are better than they were at this stage though) and the camera is not ultra-premium smartphone quality. It is very good but not amazingly great.
OnePlus have been hard at work working on these bugs and even if they only manage to fix the ghost touches this phone makes a very compelling case for buying it. The camera is basically as good as where it is priced — around the AU$1000 mark — but if they manage to improve it, and we have seen already several improvements in the first few weeks of its existence, then this will be the phone of the year.
The UI and UX is amazing and second to none. The hardware is also basically second to none with the Snapdragon 855 processor and a heap of storage and RAM. The display is amazing to view and the 90Hz refresh rate makes you want that in every phone you use. The pop-up selfie camera seems to be a gimmick but it’s cool and allows for the full screen display which is an amazing immersive experience when consuming media. The design of the Nebula Blue and Almond are absolutely stunning to behold.
I would put this phone as a hold until the ghost touches are fixed but once they are it is most definitely a buy buy buy!
not sending it back to the US