Does OnePlus still offer a balance between performance and price or does it find itself in a tiny boat in an ocean of murky waters riddled with experienced sharks?
It has been clear since the launch of the previous devices that the focus for OnePlus has now shifted to the mid-premium segment and the Pro is their most premium of the mid-segment offerings yet. Taking a jab at the other big players in the market at a lower price has always been the OnePlus way but this time it is different. Just a tad more expensive and a bit more premium, at least the top-of-the-line 7 Pro with 12GB RAM is at ₹57,999. The more sensible and ‘lesser’ 6+128GB (only Mirror Grey finish) variant enters the market at a healthy ₹48,999 and the mid 8+256GB unit that is the only one currently that sports all three colours, retails for ₹52,999.
Now, this is probably the first time a OnePlus device has demanded that kind of dough from our price sensitive market, so is it worth it? It all depends on your mindset about the brand, but in a word, yes.
Designing the blues
Available in three signature colours (you know how that goes), the OnePlus 7 Pro we have is the stunning Nebula Blue finish with 12+256GB. Apart from the Nebula Blue, you have a standard Mirror gray finish and for those who want lighter stuff, an Almond variant that oozes out a hint of gold is available too to satisfy the itch of elegance. The Nebula Blue variant is inspired by the ‘endless possibilities and mystery of space’ and the matte finish on it reflects light with elegance and sophisticated subtlety. It shows that real effort has gone in to the design and this might just be the best looking OnePlus we’ve seen to date.
The 7 Pro comes with that smooth curvature at the rear for a comfortable grip, and the display swoops into it too, much like the Samsung S10+ and the Huawei P30 Pro, and the Gorilla Glass 5 at the back gives it that premium feel.The multiple layers of light absorbing glass, anti-glare material and coatings are great and quite frankly, not as ‘in your face’ as the Huawei and the Honors. The biggest change comes up top with the pop up selfie camera.
Gone is that hideous notch and in is the massive 6.67in display. The clean and neat look at the top really is refreshing if you’re switching from a notchy phone, but I have been using the Samsung S10 and switching from that to the 7 Pro didn’t feel much of a revelation or something extremely different. The real estate you get is a joy, but the Pro is a huge phone and feels slightly chunkier to hold than our current favourite P30 Pro, so if you’ve got small hands, be prepared for that size and the 206g weight.
The alert slider at the right hand side makes an appearance again, but we wish there were some added functionality to it. May be make it like a pressable button for quick app launch or something OnePlus.
SCREEN: TO THE MAX
The 6.67in Fluid AMOLED behemoth welcomes you with bright, vibrant colours and some sinful detail. This is obviously possible thanks to the little selfie cam shenanigans that pops up from the top and leaves you with a treat ie the massive edge-loving display. Of course, this is the most ambitious way of including the selfie cam and OnePlus has extensively
You get the standard three resolutions to play around with - HD, FHD+ and the retina pampering QHD+. Although the FHD+ resolution makes the most sense since it improves battery life, the QHD+ is the resolution to enjoy because that is why you honestly would buy this device, and it is worth it. The 3120x1440 resolution renders a very cinematic aspect ratio to the OnePlus 7 Pro and it is bright, sharp, feisty and comes with support for HDR on Netflix and other apps.
Although not entirely noticeable at first, viewing content in HDR and that beautiful resolution and big display on Netflix is an absolute joy and a visual treat. It is a welcome break from the world of notches and although we feel that Samsung’s take on the front camera is a more sensible one, the 7 Pro’s Fluid AMOLED display will tempt you to make the less sensible choice, albeit it is the right one.
OnePlus has also upped the ante with the refresh rate, bumping it up from the 60Hz norm to a more fluid 90Hz. Why? Because it makes the 7 Pro smoother than a newborn’s bottom and the gamer’s among you already know the advantages of a higher refresh rate when you’re just about to bite the final piece of the chicken dinner. Now, the high resolution and the 90Hz refresh rate is supposed to impact battery life, but we didn’t find it crippling or the ‘need’ to switch to a lower res and refresh rate through the day.
Screen calibration favourites like the Vivid mode and the Nature mode should suffice for most users, but if you really want to delve into customisation, a host of options are available including sRGB and Display-P3 with a setting to make it warmer or cooler. The Reading Mode turns the display into a beautiful greyscale that makes text really clear and easy on the eyes.
FEATURES AND PERFORMANCE: POWERHOUSE
Shifting from the Samsung’s sonic sensing fingerprint shindig to the OnePlus’ now improved fingerprint sensor was a real treat. Although Samsung’s isn’t half bad, the one on the 7 Pro is just outright faster and an absolute beast although technically less secure. However, I don’t like the fact that it requires you to either tap the display or lift the phone up for it to come on and register your thumbsies. But once you have tapped it (basically brought the ambient screen to life) there is no doubt that it is one of the fastest sensors we’ve used till date.
Another surprise is the fact that Face Unlock works unusually well and fast for a device totting that controversial pop-up cam. It unlocks the phone sometimes even before the little unit completely pops out of its shell, but letting that motor work every time you need to unlock can be taxing and just isn’t a great idea when you really think about it.
Finally you get two speakers instead of one puny little punter and Dolby Atmos trickery to mess with. There’s a Dynamic Mode that lets software decide the best setting for sound output, and dedicated modes for Music and Movie, of which we prefer the Music mode to be our default as that adds some semblance of balance in the tracks. The dual speakers can turn a busy 6:30pm Mumbai local compartment into a party scene if pushed to 11. Yup, it gets loud and isn’t afraid to show it. Both the speaker units manage to pull of impressive audio performance and never left me wanting.
The beautiful Snapdragon 855 processor with 12GBs of RAM honestly feels like overkill and with the 90Hz refresh rate, really makes Oxygen OS feel like the fastest take on Android 9. It scores a healthy 11,300+ on the Geekbench 4 benchmark and is absolutely ready to take on whatever you throw at it. With UFS 3.0 storage there’s hardly a few seconds spent on loading screens. PUBG, dismissed, Lightroom, anytime, there’s not an app or game that can bring the Pro to its knees. Pro tip - Turn animations off to really get your mind blown.
Another nice bit added is the new haptics which are more precise and are quite creatively used throughout the phone and in gaming as well. One integration I really liked was the feedback you get when you are shooting on Pro mode in the camera app and change the variables. The tiny vibrations make it feel like genuine clicks each time you shift the white balance or focus or other values.
New Region-specific features are in the pipeline and have not yet been fully unveiled, but there are some really interesting things OnePlus is cooking in that little lab.
CAMERA: AUTOMATIC HIGH
That pop up camera up top is quite the selfie star and manages to click crisp and detailed selfies while not managing to botch up the exposure drastically. It isn’t perfect, although it doesn’t put oodles of make up on you and has just three levels of beauty enhancement to hide that ageing skin.
The focus here is on the trio at the back which sports a 48-megapixel primary camera , a 16-megapixel ultra-wide and an 8-megapixel 3x zoom with OIS. But then there’s the 40MP mother of a unit that the Huawei P30 Pro sports, and that is outright better, of course it is a bit more expensive too.
However, the trio at the back of the 7 Pro isn’t a half hearted performer. It manages to grab some impressive shots with great dynamic range, great contrast and almost true to life colours. The Nightscape mode has been improved too with it handling the shadows and the exposure in completely dark areas much better than the 6T although it still takes a few seconds to do its thing sometimes.
The zoom is nothing that spectacular at 8MP and it uses the shots from the main sensor as well as this one. It is a definite step above the outgoing 6T and now also has OIS so you are less likely to lose the subject when zoomed in especially if it is the lunar kind, wink, wink. Using the wide angle results in an over all softer image but it is really convenient to have that option.
The Pro mode lets you click 48MP jgp images, while RAW outputs a 12MP photo, which is strange. You get a host of options for video including shooting 4K @ 60fps and slow mo upto 480fps. Having just shifted from the Samsung S10, I felt the 7 Pro’s stabilisation wasn’t as polished as the Samsung’s especially when Super Stabilisation is on. You can zoom in while recording and if you tap the 1x icon, it switches to 3x zoom, which makes for lovely and often laughable bolly soap opera effects.
BATTERY LIFE: CALL IT A DAY
Let’s not forget that OnePlus redefined mobile charging and with the Mclaren Edition came Warp Charge 30 that juices that 4000mAh monster tank lightning quick. However the 7 Pro is no two-day marathoner, You are left with about 35% by late evening but a quick ten minute top up should sort you out for a night out with the mates.
While it may not seem that impressive, the 7 Pro isn’t as stringent about optimizing the apps for better battery as the Huawei’s are. You get your notifications on time at least.
ONEPLUS 7 PRO VERDICT
This isn’t a phone for the typical OnePlus buyer. OnePlus clearly has eyes on the kind of buyer who has the budget for it as well as the smarts. If you ask questions like ‘OnePlus ke liye itna kaun dega?’, you are not that kind of audience. For you and the others who are extra sensible, there’s always the OnePlus 7, but if you’re in the mood for a little luxury and some fluids, you won’t be disappointed. Of course it is not the dream slab that the Huawei P30 Pro is, the OnePlus 7 Pro is just the brand’s natural way forward.