OnePlus 7 Pro Review: One of the Best Smartphones You Can Buy

I covered the OnePlus 7 Pro announcement with excitement. This flagship smartphone features a gorgeous 6.67″ AMOLED display; it has a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, and you can get yours with 6, 8, or 12GB RAM and 128 or 256GB user memory.

But it was its notch-less screen and the pop-up camera that had my eyebrows raised and my interest piqued.

OnePlus sent out special media kits for the 7 Pro launch; mine included the phone, three OnePlus branded cases (a clear Otterbox case, a black nylon bumper case, and the super-slim Sandstone case), the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2, and the OnePlus Warp Charge 30 car charger.

Inside the OnePlus 7 Pro’s box, I found the phone (with a factory-installed screen protector in place), a Warp Charge 30 Power Adapter, a Warp Type-C Cable, a quick start guide, safety information and warranty card, a SIM tray tool, a welcome letter, and a OnePlus logo sticker. The OnePlus site mentions that the phone comes with a case, but I’m not sure which one is included in the retail package. The OnePlus 7 Pro is available in Mirror Gray with 6GB Ram and 128GB user memory or 8GB RAM and 256GB user memory, Nebula Blue with 8GB RAM and 256GB user memory or 12GB RAM and 256GB user memory, or Almond with 8GB RAM and 256GB user memory. I was sent the Nebula Blue OnePlus 7 Pro with 12GB RAM and 256GB user memory.

The OnePlus 7 Pro Specifications

  • Display: 6.67″ (measured from corner to corner) Fluid AMOLED; 3120 x 1440 pixels 516ppi resolution; 19.5:9 aspect ratio; 3D Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Operating System: OxygenOS based on Android 9
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (Octa-core, 7nm, up to 2.84 GHz), with Qualcomm AI Engine
  • GPU: Adreno 640
  • RAM: 6GB/8GB/12GB LPDDR4X
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB UFS 3.0 2-LANE
  • Battery: 4000 mAh (non-removable) Warp Charge 30 Fast Charging (5V/6A)
  • Front Camera:
  • Rear Cameras: The main camera is a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 (f/1.6 aperture) with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS); the Telephoto Lens is 8-megapixels (f/2.4 aperture) with OIS; the Ultra Wide Angle Lens is 16-megapixels (f/2.2 aperture) with a 117º field of view; LED flash
  • Rear Camera Video: 4K video at 30/60 fps; 1080P video at 30/60 fps; Super Slow Motion: 1080p video at 240 fps, 720p video at 480 fps; Time-Lapse; Video Editor
  • Rear Camera Features: UltraShot, Nightscape, Studio Lighting, Portrait, Pro Mode, Panorama, HDR, AI Scene Detection, RAW Image
  • Front Camera: a 16-megapixel Sony IMX471 (f/2.0 aperture) with EIS and fixed focus
  • Front Camera Video: 1080P video at 30fps; Time-Lapse
  • Front Camera Features: Face Unlock, HDR, Screen Flash, Face Retouching
  • LTE: 4×4 MIMO, LTE Cat. 18, DL 5CA, UL CA, Supports up to DL Cat18 /UL Cat13 (1.2Gbps /150Mbps), depending on carrier support
  • Bands: FDD LTE: B1,2,3,4,5,7,8,12,13,17,18,19,20,25,26,28,29,30,66,71; TDD-LTE: B34,38,39,41,46,48; UMTS: B1,2,4,5,8,9,19; CDMA: BC0,BC1; GSM: B2,3,5,8
  • Wi-Fi: 2×2 MIMO, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0, support aptX & aptX HD & LDAC & AAC
  • NFC: NFC enabled
  • Positioning: GPS (L1+L5 Dual Band), GLONASS, Galileo (E1+E5a Dual Band), Beidou, SBAS, A-GPS
  • Unlock Options: In-display Fingerprint; Face Unlock
  • Audio: Dual stereo speakers; Noise cancellation support; Dolby Atmos

Notably absent are wireless charging capability, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a water-resistance rating. I don’t mind using a cable, I have plenty of Bluetooth headsets, and I haven’t got a phone unintentionally wet in years. Not one of these is a deal-breaker for me, but they may be something that would give someone else pause.

Let’s take a look at the OnePlus 7 Pro, and then I’ll tell you about the five things the phone offers that I love, and the one thing I’m not thrilled about …  because there’s always something, right?

The OnePlus 7 Pro measures 6.4″ long by 3″ wide by 0.4″ thick; the sides are slightly rounded and tapered, so it seems much slimmer. It weighs 7.3 ounces without a case. On the front of the phone, which is made up entirely of the display, there is a center top speaker; near the center bottom there is a spot that will light up when it’s appropriate to use the in-display fingerprint reader. The in-display fingerprint reader is fast and accurate; I’ve been pleased by its performance.

On the left side, there are volume up and volume down buttons.

On the bottom, there is a nanoSIM tray (the tray holds a nanoSIM card on each side; the phone is dual SIM), the USB Type-C port with a microphone on each side, and a speaker.

On the right side, you’ll find a power button and a sliding mute switch. I’m used to the button placement on the Pixel 3XL, so it took me a couple of tries to remember that pressing the mute switch wasn’t going to turn the screen on … oops. But it’s just a matter of getting used to the new button placement, and I soon acclimated.

At the top of the phone, there is a microphone, and an odd oval thing that looks like a button, but when activated …

… reveals the 16-megapixel front-facing pop-up camera! This little guy will smoothly slide up when you are using your face to sign in, when you’re making video calls, or when you’re taking a selfie. It’s how the screen gets away with having no notch or punch hole, which is pretty cool. Is the pop-up camera a gimmick? Because it actually serves a solid purpose and enhances the display by removing any distractions, I’d say no.

The back of the OnePlus 7 Pro is made of 3D Corning Gorilla Glass. The back is slick, and it is beautiful … but a good solid drop on concrete will likely shatter it. Put a case on it; you’ve been warned!

The triple rear cameras are arranged vertically with the LED at the bottom.

Now that we’ve done a walk-around the hardware, let’s dig into what I love about the phone …

Things I Love: 1. The Solid and Attractive Build

When it’s not in a case, the OnePlus 7 Pro could easily win a contest for the phone you most want to fondle. There are no sharp edges, and everywhere you touch is smooth, slick, and solid. The colors are vivid and multi-dimensional; it’s really a beautiful phone.

On the left, the 8GB/’356GB Almond OnePlus 7 Pro; on the right, the 12GB/256GB in Nebula Blue.

The OnePlus 7 Pro is a little bit longer and a little bit less wide than the iPhone XS Max and the Google Pixel 3 XL. It feels well balanced in hand, and it stops just short of being too tall. While I have grown to prefer the flat edges of the iPhone and the Pixel, the smooth contours of the 7 Pro’s sides don’t feel so steep that you feel like your fingers are falling off or you aren’t making good contact with items wrapped into the display’s edge.

A benefit to the slightly less wide display is that it makes one-handed operation easier for anyone with average or larger sized hands. I’m a tall woman and while I have longer fingers, I still struggle sometimes to reach the other side of the phone’s screen when I am using my XS Max or Pixel 3 XL one-handed. I do not have any issues reaching across the display with my thumb when the 7 Pro is in hand.

Things I Love: 2. The Notchless Display

Full-screen phones without a black bar at the top and bottom are becoming de rigueur, but even the fanciest and most expensive ones will usually have a notch in the top center of the display or a punch hole in the center or one of the upper corners. It’s not that I mind a notch or punch hole so much, but there is something jarring about staring at a gorgeous, colorful screen full of content and seeing a section of it that is blacked out by necessity. It’s understandable, of course; I mean, where else are you supposed to “hide” a phone’s front-facing camera? By even complaining about it, I’m engaging in classic #FirstWorldProblems, right? But if I had the choice, would my iPhone XS Max or Pixel 3 XL have that notch? Of course not.

Here’s what not having a notch or a punch hole on your phone’s screen looks like … in a word, it’s brilliant.

Email

No nasty notch!

Reading Books

No weird black bar at the top! I usually keep the Kindle on my Pixel in dark mode so it’s less noticeable. With the OnePlus 7 Pro, that’s not necessary. The 90Hz refresh rate means that swiping and scrolling are done smoothly with no jitters or jumping.

Bonus: You can activate Reading Mode if you want to block peek notifications and optimize your display screen for text and a more eReader-like experience.

Watching Movies

No bezels or any of the sides makes the OnePlus 7 Pro perfect for watching movies!

Games

Not having the notch or a punch hole to distract you is pretty awesome, right?! Plus, when you are playing games, you can opt to turn on “Fanatic Mode” which optimizes the system to play at its best while getting rid of pesky distractions like notifications.

Note that this is a near bezel-less display experience! There is a tiny chin at the bottom, but it is hardly distracting. I wish ALL phone displays looked like this!

 

Things I Love: 3. The Frequent Updates

It’s really important to choose a phone that gets regular updates as issues are found or improvements can be made. The OnePlus 7 Pro had an update waiting for me to install the day I got it.

And I just downloaded another one a few days ago.

This is an update schedule that is similar to the one that has made me a huge fan of the Pixel phones; regular updates that improve the experience of using this phone are sent without fail. This might not seem like a major point, but if you have a phone from a manufacturer who doesn’t regularly update, it can take forever for improvements to be made or for new features to be available (if they ever come) … and that’s lame.

Things I Love: 4. Impressive Power, Speed, and Memory

One of the first things you’ll notice when using the OnePlus 7 Pro is its speed; its speed is insane. There are no stutters, no stops, and even if you have a bunch of programs open, you will never feel a lag. The OnePlus 7 Pro’s speed makes my Pixel 3XL seem like a wheezing old man! Even the lowest tier 7 Pro will have at least 6GB RAM, which is two GB more than the Pixel 3XL; when you get into the 8GB RAM and 12GB RAM 7 Pro models, it’s like the difference between a jog and a sprint as far as speed and performance.

While I wish phone manufacturers wouldn’t make the iPhone-esque move of making you buy your memory when you buy your phone (in other words, you can’t add a microSD memory card to add more storage memory), the 256GB is more than enough for me to keep a lot of my Spotify music downloaded along with all of the books and documents I like to keep handy. Having so much memory available also means that I can keep all of my photos on my phone, rather than having to “delete from device” as I have been trained to do with my 128GB Pixel 3 XL. This is closer to the experience that I had on my 256GB iPhone, where I have over 50K photos stored and accessible at all times (I am a photo hoarder … now you know). It’s only $80 more to get the top of the line OnePlus 7 Pro with 12GB RAM and 256GB user memory versus the base model with 6GB RAM and 128GB user memory … totally worth it.

Battery life on the OnePlus 7 Pro is more than adequate to get you through the day — unless you are gaming heavily or streaming videos constantly. But with typical use — making a few calls, checking social media, taking and uploading some photos, watching one or two YouTube videos, reading a book, playing games in your off moments — the phone will carry you through a full day. I tend to use my phone more heavily, so even though it’s a 4,000mAh beast, I am still never without a battery pack.

Things I Love: 5. The Cameras

From top to bottom, the cameras on the rear of the OnePlus 7 Pro include the 16-megapixel Ultra Wide Angle lens, the 48-megapixel wide-angle lens, two laser autofocus ports, the 8-megapixel telephoto lens, and the dual-LED flash.

I have been absolutely spoiled by the front and rear cameras on the Pixel 3 XL. The One Plus 7 Pro also has really good cameras, and I’d say that this phone is one of the few that gives the Pixel 3 series a run for its money, but it’s not quite as good. Here are some photos that were taken with the OnePlus 7 Pro. Each thumbnail section is part of a slideshow, so click on one to open a larger picture. The 3X optical zoom used in the telephoto lens is a great way to get a closeup of something further away without compromising photo quality too much.

Rear Lenses in Action

Food Shots in Low Light

Outdoor Protography

Vivid Daytime Colors

Street Photography

 

By and large, there is much to love about the OnePlus 7 Pro. The screen is absolutely gorgeous, and it refreshes quickly; the phone is fast, there is no notch or punch hole on the display, and the phone charges very quickly when you use the Warp Type-C Cable and charger. The camera is better than most, and the hardware is spectacular. Even better, the price of the OnePlus 7 Pro is much less the original prices for just about every other company’s flagship phone.

Why can’t the OnePlus 7 Pro be my daily driver, then?

The Biggest Thing I’m Not Thrilled About: There Is No WiFi Assisted Calling on AT&T

This is something that may not be a concern for most people, but if you live in a fringe coverage area as I do, you’ll agree that it is very important to be able to use WiFi Calling as coverage assistance for your phone calls when at home. I’m with AT&T; I have used WiFi Calling ever since it was available as an option on one of my earlier iPhones because it has been the one way I could ensure solid voice coverage at my house. I believe that every smartphone sold by AT&T offers this option, but it is also available on my non-AT&T Google Pixel 3 XL.

WiFi Calling is not, however, available on the OnePlus 7 Pro when it’s got an AT&T SIM installed; T-Mobile customers, however, do have that option. Unfortunately, this is a deal-breaker for me. As much as I love the build quality, performance, and camera on the 7 Pro, it drops or never registers calls regularly at my house because phone service can’t be assisted by WiFi Calling. I realize that this is AT&T’s fault — not OnePlus’s. When I am out and about with the phone in good coverage areas, I have no issue with calls dropping.

Trying to find my single “end-all-be-all” phone has become something like the quest for the holy grail. An excellent camera and long battery life are near the top of my list, but that’s just the beginning. It has to also feel good in my hand, not drop the few calls I make or take, be fast, and have a little something extra that gives it a wow factor. The OnePlus 7 Pro ticks almost all of those boxes.

The OnePlus 7 Pro starts at $669, and it is available directly from the manufacturer and from T-Mobile.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Excellent build quality; It feels great in hand; Brilliant and beautiful display; Near bezel-less display (there’s a tiny chin at the bottom, but it’s not distracting at all); It’s super fast; The pop-up camera is a neat trick that removes any notches or punch holes from the display;

What Needs Improvement: No WiFi Calling if you are on AT&T (T-Mobile customers get it, though!); No Qi (wireless) charging capability; You can’t add a microSD, so it’s smart to get the 256GB version


About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
I've had a fascination with all types of gadgets and gizmos since I was a child, beginning with the toy robot that my grandmother gave my brother - which I promptly "relieved him of" in 1973. I'm a self-professed gadget magpie. I can't tell you how everything works, but I'm known world-wide for using a product until I have a full understanding of what it does, what its limitations are, and if it excels in any given area — or not.