OnePlus 7 Pro review: Long battery life, quick performance, and impressive display make it compelling for business users

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Speedy performance
  • Impressive display

Cons

  • Fingerprint sensor takes some adjustment
  • The ultra-wide camera needs some refinement
  • No IP rating for water/dust resistance

OnePlus has grown up. The smartphone maker who, over several years and smartphone releases, is no longer settling. At least that’s the impression I’m left with after using the OnePlus 7 Pro. With models starting at $ 669, the OnePlus 7 Pro is not only the most expensive phone the company has released to date, but it’s also the most impressive.

I’ve been using the most expensive configuration, coming in at $ 749, for the past week. That’s right, the most expensive phone in the OnePlus lineup is the same price as the least-expensive, current-generation offering from Apple and Samsung.

The OnePlus 7 Pro isn’t perfect. It has its share of quirks and things I’d like to see improved, but it’s one of the best bargains you’ll find on a phone in 2019. Let’s take a closer look.

Design

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The OnePlus 7 Pro is a big phone. It’s almost intimidatingly big. Not only is does it have a 6.67-inch display, but it feels thick and heavy, compared to the S10 Plus or the iPhone XS Max.

I think it’s the added height from the bigger display that makes it feel this way because it’s actually 2g lighter than the iPhone XS Max (although it’s 31g heavier than the Galaxy S10 Plus). In total, the OnePlus 7 Pro measures 162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8mm and weighs 206g.

The AMOLED display has a resolution of 3,120 x 1,440 and a refresh rate of 90Hz. The increased refresh rate eliminates any scrolling stutter or lag that was common on past OnePlus phones (and to some extent, all Android phones). The display is crisp, bright, and doesn’t oversaturate colors. The increased refresh rate eliminated any lag when scrolling, and overall, was every bit as impressive to use as the Galaxy S10 Plus or the iPhone XS Max.

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OnePlus once again is using an in-display fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. There’s a green fingerprint icon that shows up just above the bottom of the display, indicating where to place a registered finger.

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With a large display, nearly invisible bezels, and no notch to be found, OnePlus had to figure out a way to add a front-facing camera. The solution? A 16-megapixel camera that raises out of the phone’s body when needed and then closes when you’re finished snapping selfies. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when moving parts are involved is durability. OnePlus claims the elevator mechanism has been tested to raise and lower the camera over 300,000 times, and during the announcement keynote, OnePlus played a video showing the front-facing camera holding up a block that weighed just under 50 pounds.

OnePlus even built a fall detection feature that closes the camera when it detects the phone is falling for added protection.

On the rear of the phone is a vertical line of three different lenses. There’s a new 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens with 117-degree field of view, in addition to a 48-megapixel camera and an 8-megapixel lens with 3x optical zoom.

On the right side is the power button and an alert slider for quickly putting the phone in silent, vibrate only, and sound modes. The left side of the phone is where the volume rocker is found. A USB-C port and a dual-SIM card tray are found on the bottom. 

The dual-SIM card tray is convenient for those with a personal and business phone number, making it easy to use both numbers for texts and calls, seamlessly switching between the two numbers — even if the SIM cards are for different carriers. Frequent international travelers will also appreciate the ability to use a local SIM card for international data, without having to give up your personal number.

All this is powered by a 4,000mAh battery that works with the included OnePlus Warp Charge 30 wall adapter for fast charging.

Performance

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Inside the OnePlus 7 Pro is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, and anywhere between 6GB and 12GB of memory, depending on your configuration. The $ 750 model OnePlus sent me has 12GB of memory and 256GB of storage. The $ 670 base model comes with 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage. There’s an in-between model that’s $ 700 and comes with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage.

It comes with Android Pie 9.0, customized with Oxygen OS. Oxygen OS is mostly pure Android, with small tweaks to the interface and added features. A new feature called Zen Mode locks you out of your phone for 20 minutes (you have to manually enable turn it on each time), as a means to force you to take a break. You can still receive phone calls, make emergency calls, and access the camera. It’s easy to tell yourself to take a break, only to find yourself checking the weather “real fast,” which leads to also checking email, Twitter, and before you know it you’ve spent 20 minutes looking through Facebook. Zen Mode is aggressive, sure, but for those who want to cut back on use, it’s necessary. 

In my use, apps are fast to open, and I haven’t noticed apps being closed in the background and having to fully launch after some time (thanks to the added memory, no doubt). I don’t really see a use case for 12GB of memory in a phone, with the 8GB configuration being more than enough.

Battery life has been great. I never had to top up during the day. On average, I was able to get 30 hours of use between charges, with over 5 hours of screen on time. That includes spending time in Gmail, listening to podcasts, watching a handful of YouTube videos, along with time in Twitter, Slack, and Facebook.

One frustration point for me has been the fingerprint reader. After initial setup, it failed consistently to recognize my left thumb and it was slow. After removing my left thumb and re-enrolling it, the reliability and speed both improved. I think there’s a definite learning curve when using a fingerprint sensor that doesn’t have a physical point of reference. Don’t expect it to be magical out of the box.

Another thing I’ve experienced was random touches on the side of the display due to the curved edges. When holding the phone, my fingers wrap around the edges and end up touching the screen. Most of the time it’s a non-issue, however, there are instances where a link will open, or a page will turn as if I had tapped the side of the screen. It didn’t happen frequently, but often enough that it’s worth mentioning.

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Look at the right edge where the ladders are located. It’s oddly blurry and out of focus — a common occurrence with ultra-wide shots.  

Jason Cipriani / ZDNet

The addition of an ultra-wide angle camera on the OnePlus 7 Pro is a welcome addition. As I’ve said before, the ability to zoom out on a photo without having to physically back up is something all phones should have. The only downside is that there are some weird blurring effects on the edges of photos captured with the ultra-wide angle camera.

Outside of that, the camera set up on the OnePlus 7 Pro is consistent and reliable. Photos are clear and full of detail, and the added bonus of 3x optical zoom came is convenient when taking photos at end of the school year activities with my kids.

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Verdict

If I was going to buy the OnePlus 7 Pro today, I would opt for the $ 699 configuration. It’s $ 30 more than the base model (6GB/128GB, respectively) and is more than capable for my use.

The OnePlus 7 Pro isn’t necessarily a new approach for the company. Yes, it’s the most expensive phone we’ve seen from OnePlus, but it’s always aimed to make the best phone possible, charging less than the Apple, Samsung, and Huawei in the process. And in that regard, OnePlus has succeeded. As the leading smartphone makers around the world continue to push prices over $ 1,000, OnePlus once again undercut the competition by building a phone that mirrors high-end features and performance, for hundreds of dollars less.

Only this time, using the OnePlus 7 Pro doesn’t feel like you have to accept any trade-offs. Indeed, past tradeoffs were minor, but there’s something different about the OnePlus 7 Pro. The OnePlus 7 Pro looks, feels, and performs on the same level as a flagship-caliber phone.

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