OnePlus 7 Pro review

Phones

The Good The OnePlus 7 Pro is fast, has a neat pop-up camera and its triple rear cameras take fantastic pictures — all at $80 less than its closest Samsung and iPhone rivals.

The Bad OnePlus’ new phone is heavy and isn’t rated for water resistance. It lacks wireless charging and a headphone jack.

The Bottom Line The OnePlus 7 Pro’s camera, performance and price make it the go-to premium Android phone of 2019.

8.8 Overall
  • Design9

     

     

  • Features8

     

     

  • Performance9

     

     

  • Camera9

     

     

  • Battery9

     

     

With the exception of, say, a foldable display, the OnePlus 7 Pro has enough features du jour to keep its fans enticed. That’s because OnePlus packed its latest flagship phone with pretty much every trendy phone feature we’ve seen in the last year or so, including a pop-up selfie camera, an in-display fingerprint sensor and multiple rear cameras. Even a month after the phone’s release OnePlus is still doling out goods, like a big camera update and a special edition Almond color variant.

But to remain relevant in this competitive industry, OnePlus needs to court users outside its loyal base. In the US, the phone works on Verizon and OnePlus’ continued partnership with T-Mobile, which started only last year, helps. But it’s the phone’s $669 and £649 (6GB of RAM/128GB) starting price that is the deal maker and one of the core reasons the phone earned CNET’s Editor’s Choice. (There’s also an 8GB/256GB variant that costs $699 and will be the one available from T-Mobile.)

Since 2014, when the company launched its first OnePlus One, OnePlus has garnered a reputation for making phones with premium specs at a wallet-friendly price. And while every year it gets harder for OnePlus to keep prices low (compared to other brands, OnePlus has one of the highest increases in cost from model to model), the OnePlus 7 Pro is still a great value despite being the company’s most expensive phone. With the OnePlus 7 Pro, the company is giving its customers a top-of-the-line phone at a reasonable price that’s still less expensive than the iPhone XR and Galaxy S10E — the cheapest “flagship” options from Apple and Samsung.

OnePlus 7 Pro pricing

Phone Storage RAM Price
OnePlus 7 Pro 128GB 6GB $669, £649 (AU$962 converted)
OnePlus 7 Pro 256GB 8GB $699, £699 (AU$1,006 converted)
OnePlus 7 Pro 256GB 12GB $749, £799 (AU$1,076 converted)

(Oh and in case you’re wondering, a OnePlus 7 does exist. It’s very similar to the OnePlus 6T, costs  £499 and only sells in certain markets — the US not being one of them. There’s a different OnePlus 7 Pro too, a 5G version you can only get in the UK. There isn’t any pricing or availability info on that yet.)

Bit by bit, OnePlus is losing that wunderkid-flagship-killer magic it had when it first burst onto the scene with the $299 OnePlus One. But there’s no denying it continues to make powerful phones with coveted features at ridiculously competitive prices. In short, the OnePlus 7 Pro’s sharp display, superb triple rear camera setup and fast processor make it not only one of the best phones for its price, but one of the best phones right now, period.

Originally published May 14.
Update, June 18: Adds Editors’ Choice and information about OnePlus camera update.
Update, July 30: Adds water-resistance tests observations.

OnePlus 7 Pro’s 90Hz, notchless display

While most phones have a refresh rate of 60 frames per second (put in another way, in one second the display refreshes 60 times), the OnePlus 7 Pro has a 90Hz display with a crisp 1,440-pixel resolution. By refreshing 90 frames a second, things like scrolling through webpages and apps feels really fluid.

Compared to the previous OnePlus 6T, games like PUBG feel more fluid and silky. The difference isn’t necessarily night and day, but if you’re a gamer, you’ll definitely appreciate that extra smoothness.

Keep in mind that the OnePlus 7 Pro isn’t the only mobile device with an enhanced Hz display. A few gaming phones, like the Razer Phone 2, has a 120Hz display, and are showing users the benefits of those extra hertz. Even though I’m not a gamer I certainly find the feature compelling, and when I switched back to viewing the OnePlus 6T, the screen felt “draggy” even though I knew there wasn’t anything wrong with it.

oneplus-7-pro-20
The OnePlus 7 Pro’s display is seamless.
Angela Lang/CNET

Overall, the phone looks fantastic. Because the front-facing camera sits on the top edge (more on that later) and the left and right sides of the display spill to the edges (à la recent Samsung Galaxy phones), the viewing experience feels more immersive in a way. The display is razor-sharp and thanks to the pop-up camera, it’s all screen; there’s no cutout tab or teardrop notch or “hole punch” dot.

Perhaps my biggest complaint, though, is that the phone feels heavy and big. The OnePlus 6T was already difficult to maneuver with one hand, and the OnePlus 7 Pro is now taller and heavier by 0.77 ounce. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but I definitely feel its weightiness when I hold it, especially when I’m taking a photo with one hand or attempting to stuff it in my jean pockets.

Other design takeaways:

  • The OnePlus 7 Pro isn’t officially IP rated for water resistance. But after a series of water tests, the phone survived 30 minutes in a tank of tap water. It eventually died, however, after being submerged in a 3-foot-deep chlorinated pool.
  • The OnePlus 7 Pro has an in-display fingerprint reader, which means you can scan your fingerprint on the front of the display to unlock your screen. It works faster than the OnePlus 6T’s scanner, but if you don’t like using your fingerprint, you can still use your face or a PIN to unlock the phone.
  • The OnePlus 7 Pro’s stereo speakers are great. When I played Beyonce’s Homecoming, audio was clear and rich, with lots of depth and range.

OnePlus 7 Pro’s pop-up camera and triple lens setup

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The phone’s pop-up selfie camera.
Angela Lang/CNET

On its rear the OnePlus 7 Pro has an ultra wide-angle camera, a standard camera and a telephoto camera. Photos are clear, bright and vibrant and I’m impressed with the camera’s HDR rendering. In one particular shot of a dark room and a big bright window, the OnePlus 7 Pro lit up the foreground better than even the Pixel 3 — the current low-light king — though the latter retained more details of the outside. There were times however that the OnePlus 7 Pro took better low-light photos than the Pixel 3’s Night Sight, which is quite impressive.

The phone’s 3X telephoto zoom combined with a 10x digital zoom means the phone could zoom in on faraway objects while maintaining clarity and stability. With the wide-angle camera, you can fit way more content in each frame, though shots taken on the wide-angle camera appeared muddier near the edges. The OnePlus 7 Pro also took great portrait shots. Though its depth of field was shorter than the Pixel 3, Galaxy S10E and iPhone XR, the falloff between the fore- and background was smooth while my subject looked sharp.

One novel thing about the phone is its front-facing camera. It’s embedded inside the phone and pops up out of the top. The mechanism works smoothly and quickly, and its overall construction seems pretty durable. (Just don’t try to snap it off or anything.) If you accidentally drop the phone, the camera will quickly pop back inside. The selfie camera takes solid portrait shots too, with faces looking clear with a consistent blur effect, and you can also adjust the look in post.

 

Colors are bright and vibrant in this indoor picture.
Lynn La/CNET
Oracle Park as seen through the phone’s standard lens (left) and wide-angle (right).
Lynn La/CNET
Comparing the OnePlus 7 Pro’s HDR mode (left) and the Pixel 3’s HDR+ Enhanced (right).
Lynn La/CNET
In this photo, the OnePlus 7 Pro’s Nightscape mode (left) retained more details than the Pixel 3’s Night Sight (right).
Lynn La/CNET
But in this image, the OnePlus 7’s Nightscape (left) wasn’t as bright as the Pixel 3’s Night Sight (right).
Lynn La/CNET
Comparing portrait shots with the OnePlus 7 Pro, Galaxy S10E and Pixel 3.
Lynn La/CNET

OnePlus 7 Pro’s June 2019 camera update

In June, OnePlus rolled out a camera update for the OnePlus 7 Pro. The update, listed as 9.5.7GM21AA, improves clarity and noise reduction. Most of all, the camera cranks up colors and saturation levels. At times this does make images look surreal and less true-to-life, but users do tend to prefer high-contrast and more saturated colors over photos that depict 100% color accuracy, as other outlets and even OnePlus found in blind tests.

Thankfully, the OnePlus 7 Pro doesn’t boost colors to a point that it goes overboard. Though other improvements are slight in some situations, photos taken with the OnePlus 7 Pro still look sharp and vibrant overall. For more information, as well as more comparison photos, read OnePlus 7 Pro camera update: Punchier colors all around.

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A picture taken with the wide-angle camera before the update (left) and after the update (right).
Lynn La/CNET

OnePlus 7 Pro introduces screen recording and Zen Mode

The OnePlus 7 Pro runs Android 9.0 Pie with OnePlus’ OxygenOS layered on top. Keeping with its minimalist UI approach, the phone is still pretty much a vanilla version of Android, which I like. But there are two notable additions. One is screen recording, which allows you to record and save video of your screen. This is useful when you need to show someone how to do something on the phone, record gameplay or whatever else. Note that with certain apps, like Netflix, the recording will be blacked out due to copyright infringements.

oneplus-7-pro-software

The OnePlus 7 Pro’s screen recording in the notifications shade (left) and Zen Mode (right).
Lynn La/CNET

Like other Android Pie phones, the OnePlus 7 Pro has Digital Wellbeing built-in — a tool from Google that keeps tabs on your screen time and lets you set specific timers for apps. But a new software feature called Zen Mode restricts phone use to another level. Once activated, Zen Mode essentially makes all aspects of your phone inaccessible for 20 minutes, save for making emergency calls and taking photos. That means you can’t open apps, make personal calls or even swipe through the screen until the timer is up. Zen Mode kicks in after continuous phone usage of two to five hours (you can set this yourself) and there’s really no way to escape it once it’s on. Even restarting the phone puts you right back where you left off in Zen Mode. It may seem a bit Draconian, but if you’re serious about decreasing screen time, Zen Mode could be useful.

OnePlus 7 Pro’s battery and performance

Packing the latest Snapdragon 855 chipset, the OnePlus 7 Pro’s performance is speedy and reliable. I didn’t run into any issues or lag with day-to-day tasks like launching apps or unlocking the screen with my fingerprint. Photos that needed extra processing time (like Nightscape or portrait shots) also took a reasonable amount of time to render. On benchmark tests, the phone performed as well as the Galaxy S10E, which sports the same processor, and it predictably beat the OnePlus 6T and Pixel 3 (both have last year’s Snapdragon 845 processor). Aside from just one test though, the iPhone XR comfortably edged out all the phones in the group. Unlike its Snapdragon-toting competition, the iPhone XR has a proprietary Apple A12 Bionic processor.

3DMark Slingshot Unlimited

OnePlus 6T

6,590

Galaxy S10E

7,769

Pixel 3

5,735

iPhone XR

4,268

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

OnePlus 7 Pro

63,886

OnePlus 6T

64,993

Galaxy S10E

57,600

Pixel 3

61,673

iPhone XR

77,814

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 single-core

OnePlus 6T

2,384

Galaxy S10E

3,512

Pixel 3

2,395

iPhone XR

4,814

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 multicore

OnePlus 7 Pro

10,970

OnePlus 6T

8,853

Galaxy S10E

10,959

Pixel 3

7,907

iPhone XR

11,392

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

OnePlus bumped up the OnePlus 7 Pro’s battery capacity to accommodate the bigger screen and higher refresh rate. And while the phone has an excellent battery life (it can easily survive a full work day without a charge), it didn’t outlast the OnePlus 6T. During our lab tests for continuous video playback on Airplane mode, the OnePlus 7 Pro lasted an average of 15 hours and 50 minutes. I ran several tests with the screen both on 90Hz and 60Hz, but because the video was 30fps, it made sense that the battery results were more or less the same. Though this average slightly beats the Pixel 3’s 15-hour result, compare that to the OnePlus 6T and Galaxy S10E, which clocked in 17 hours, as well as the iPhone XR’s nearly 20-hour runtime.

One other great thing about the OnePlus 7 Pro is how fast it charges. Its proprietary charging technology Warp Charge was first introduced in a special McLaren edition of the OnePlus 6T and it’s an update to OnePlus’ Dash Charge technology. The charger juiced up a fully drained OnePlus 7 Pro up to 42% in only 15 minutes. After one hour, the battery replenished by 91%. And a full charge took about an hour and 20 minutes.

OnePlus 7 Pro versus the competition

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The OnePlus 7 Pro.
Angela Lang/CNET

OnePlus 6T: OnePlus plans to keep manufacturing the OnePlus 6T with the release of the OnePlus 7 Pro, since the OnePlus 7 won’t be available in every market. On May 17, OnePlus will discount the OnePlus 6T with 8GB of RAM, so you can get it for $549 (128GB) and $599 (256GB). If you’re choosing between the two, the OnePlus 7 Pro would be “futureproof” (at least for the next few months until OnePlus releases the OnePlus 7T Pro, maybe?) If it were me though, I’d forego the faster processor, third camera and 90Hz display, get the OnePlus 6T and save myself $120.

Galaxy S10E: For $750, the Galaxy S10E offers wireless charging, a headphone jack and expandable storage. It also has the same processor and can take wide-angle photos like the OnePlus 7 Pro (if you’re into that). But even though it’s a solid pick, I’d go for the OnePlus 7 Pro over it because of the bigger, sharper screen and cheaper price.

Pixel 3: The Pixel 3 and the OnePlus 7 Pro appeared neck and neck at times when it came to their respective cameras. But the Pixel 3 retails for $800, has no expandable storage and a less powerful battery, so I’d say go with the OnePlus 7 Pro. Keep in mind, however, that the Pixel 3 has been heavily discounted lately, and if you like the phone’s timely software updates from Google and camera, consider the much cheaper Pixel 3A, which starts at $399.

iPhone XR: Though it has an ultra-fast processor and runs Apple iOS, I’d pick the OnePlus 7 Pro over the iPhone XR. While the iPhone’s wireless charging may be tempting, it also starts at $750 with 64GB and no expandable memory.

OnePlus 7 Pro spec comparison

OnePlus 7 Pro OnePlus 6T Samsung Galaxy S10E Google Pixel 3 Apple iPhone XR
Display size, resolution 6.67-inch AMOLED; 3,120×1,440 pixels 6.41-inch AMOLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels 5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280×1,080 pixels 5.5-inch pOLED; 2,280×1,080 pixels 6.1-inch LCD Retina Display; 1,792×828 pixels
Pixel density 516ppi 402ppi 438ppi 443ppi 326ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.4×2.99×0.35 in 6.20×2.94×0.32 in 5.6×2.8×0.27 in 5.7×2.7×0.3 in 5.9×3.0x0.33 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 162.6×75.9×8.8 mm 157.5×74.8×8.2 mm 142x70x7.9 mm 145.6×68.2×7.9 mm 150.9×75.7×8.3 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.27 oz; 206g 6.5 oz; 185g 5.3oz; 150g 5.2 oz; 148g 6.8oz; 194g
Mobile software Android 9.0 with OxygenOS Android 9.0 Pie with OxygenOS Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 Pie iOS 12
Camera 48-megapixel (standard), 8-megapixel (telephoto), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle) 16-megapixel (standard), 20-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle) 12.2-megapixel 12-megapixel
Front-facing camera 16-megapixel 16-megapixel 10-megapixel Dual 8-megapixel 7-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor 2.84GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 2.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 2.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Apple A12 Bionic
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
RAM 6GB, 8GB, 12GB 6GB, 8GB 6GB, 8GB 4GB Not disclosed
Expandable storage None None Up to 512GB None None
Battery 4,000 mAh 3,700 mAh 3,100 mAh 2,915 mAh 2,942 mAh (not disclosed by Apple)
Fingerprint sensor In-display In-display Power button Back cover None (Face ID)
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C Lightning
Headphone jack No No Yes No No
Special features 90Hz display, pop-up selfie camera, dual-SIM, Warp Charging, notifications toggle In-display fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM, Dash Charging, notifications toggle Wireless PowerShare, hole punch screen notch, water resistant (IP68), Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Water resistant (IPX8), wireless charging support, Pixel Buds USB-C headphones in the box Water resistant (IP67), dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM), wireless charging, Face ID, Memoji
Price off-contract (USD) $669 (6GB RAM/128GB), $699 (8GB RAM/256GB), $749 (12GB RAM/256GB) $549 (6GB RAM/128GB), $579* (8GB RAM/128GB), $629* (8GB RAM/256GB) $750 $799 (64GB), $899 (128GB) $749 (64GB), $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB)
Price (GBP) £649 (6GB RAM/128GB), £699 (8GB RAM/256GB), £799 (12GB RAM/256GB) £499 (6GB RAM/128GB), £529 (8GB RAM/128GB), £579 (8GB RAM/256GB) £669 £739 (64GB), £839 (128GB) £749 (64GB), £799 (128GB), £899 (256GB)
Price (AUD) Converted: AU$962 (6GB RAM/128GB), AU$1,006 (8GB RAM/256GB), AU$1,076 (12GB RAM/256GB) Converted: AU$774 (6GB RAM/128GB), AU$817 (8GB RAM/128GB), AU$887 (8GB RAM/256GB) AU$1,199 AU$1,199 (64GB), AU$1,349 (128GB) AU$1,229 (64GB), AU$1,299 (128GB), AU$1,479 (256GB)

Note*: On May 17, OnePlus discounted the OnePlus 6T with 8GB of RAM to $549 (128GB) and $599 (256GB).