Never settling for mediocre.
Low price and great performance is why the OnePlus has consistently hit our Top 10 smartphone list. Although, this time the bargain of the year has been overshadowed by its spectacular sibling - the OnePlus 7 Pro. Does that mean the OnePlus 7 is anything but spectacular? Let’s find out.
OnePlus 7: Red-ily available
The OnePlus 7 is great to hold and it feels amazing in the hand - that’s what we said about the OnePlus 6T and not much has changed since then. It’s rounded around the edges at the back so it hugs your palm and that nice glossy finish never feels cheap too. The Red variant at hand is just too pretty. It’s flashy and unapologetically gaudy but it’s one that we’ve taken a liking to. Only the 8GB + 256GB variant comes in this finish so if you’re looking to bag the ₹32,999 variant you’ll be stuck with a measly Mirror Gray finish.
The buttons and alert slider are where they should be and haven’t moved since dinosaurs were a thing. Much of the design and tear drop notch is exactly the same as the smartphone it’s replacing - the 6T. While that can be a bit boring, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Except the protruding camera module. The camera glass, much like the iPhone XS, will scratch easily if not for a cover protecting it (silicone case included in the box).
OnePlus 7: Display and fingerprint scanner
By default the screen colours are set to boosted which has a cooler tone but with punchy colours. Natural mode is slightly warmer with not-so-vibrant colours. We reckon most of the users will stick to boosted because it just feels better to look at.
It’s still a 6.41in FullHD AMOLED display so in terms of screen real-estate and quality, not much has changed on over the OnePlus 6T. There’s a reason why the 7 starts from ₹32,999 and that’s primarily because much of it has not changed in the span of nine months and we don’t have any complaints because those incremental yet important upgrades are on the inside.
So, before we jump inside the performance of this beast, a special mention on the in-display fingerprint scanner. It’s frickin’ fast and this time it doesn’t light up like a diwali advertisement on your face when you’re trying to reply to a lover at 3am.
OnePlus 7: Performance and battery life
This is it. Life’s just smoother with a OnePlus 7. I said it, moving on to the camera.
What? Seriously. It’s got a Snapdragon 855 and the model we tested has 8GB of RAM. That’s enough to bulldoze through every app and game. However, the party trick is not the all conquering processor, it’s the stupendously fast UFS 3.0 storage. It’s hella quick to transfer files from the OnePlus 7 to a USB drive. We were able to copy 300Mb of 4K video data in a matter of seconds. Actually it took less than three seconds (yes, we counted) and a few images copied in a blink of an eye. It’s one of those moments when technology is so impressive that our ape-sized brains took some time to register, you should try it for yourself.
Fine, we know geeking out over storage speed is not going to sway you but it does help to reduce load times in games and, for apps. PUBG runs buttery smooth and the battery life is phenomenal too. It lasted us an entire day, with our use that shuffles from slipping into Instagram and WhatsApp and then doing hardcore Gmail jabber. Throw in a few rounds of PUBG, two hours of music streaming and you’ve got a good battery life from pillow to pillow. Should you batter your 3700mAh battery in a matter of hours with constant PUBG, Dash Charge will save you the guilt.
There’s really no fault in OnePlus 7 when it comes to performance and that alone has been a constant delight for us. Even the OnePlus 3T we have, works fine in 2019 without any problems. So if future-proofing is your concern, it’s reliable to say the least.
OnePlus 7: Camera
The camera is surprisingly good. It’s not revolutionary or amazing where you can point and shoot and then plaster it on billboards but it gets the job done. If you put it next to a Pixel 3a or even the Honor 20 in terms of image quality, the 48MP + 5MP rear cameras are a tad bit behind.
The colour and contrast are just about perfect but the details is where OnePlus 7 suffers when compared to the Honor 20 and Pixel 3a. HDR mode is not very effective either, it manages to control the exposure and retain the correct colours but only under certain conditions. Most of the times it’s hard to tell between the HDR shot and normal.
The 16MP front camera is actually more fun to use. It’s got sharp details and accurate colours. Even the portrait mode is good on all three lenses and this time it doesn’t blow up the background by much. And if you take your business to the Pro mode then it’s a complete joy. When you tap it will let you separate focus and exposure points, which I was hoping would make its way to the normal mode too. It’s quite a useful feature, especially when you realise Google Pixel 3a doesn’t have a manual mode.
4K videos are best kept off as of now, there seems to be an issue with the colour reproduction which we’ve noticed in Samsung S10 too. The colours come out in shades of neon! FullHD videos didn’t have the same issue but we believe it can be fixed with software updates. This issue was similar when shooting videos in HDR on the Samsung S10 and then playing it back on a non-HDR screen. OnePlus hasn’t told us if this is an HDR issue and the settings don’t spill any secrets either.
OnePlus 7: Software
There’s a dedicated Game mode that will block all annoying family members sending WhatsApp forwards about health reports on gaming for extended hours. That’s not the only treasure of the Oxygen OS atop Android 9. Aside from being the next best Android experience from stock Android, there’s a new Zen Mode which basically blocks you out of your phone for 20mins so you can look up and enjoy the real Pochiniki that is Mumbai.
OnePlus 7 comes with something called a RAM Boost. It’s not RAM on steroids, it's just RAM with a monocle inspecting your usage and intelligently assigning resources accordingly. It’s hard to tell how much of an impact it actually has in everyday use but it might come handy in long-term usage.Other tiny gems inside the Oxygen OS includes a quick launch setting which lets you press and hold down the fingerprint scanner as you unlock the phone to quick launch a few apps that you assign. There’s something called File Dash in the File manager that lets you send files from one device to another via WiFi. The phone creates its own hotspot through which anyone on that WiFi network can access the files from https://one.plus/ or scan the barcode that’s shown. It’s like a faster and simple AirDroid or multi-step AirDrop.
OnePlus 7: Verdict
It’s true that the OnePlus 7 is not making headlines because of the much glamourous OnePlus 7 Pro but only a monkey would dismiss the OnePlus 7 especially when it’s dropping at ₹32,999.
Just like the 6T, the body and screen is same and similarly good. The camera still cannot rival the likes of Google Pixel 3a but it gets the job done and to answer our Stuff reader’s burning question from Instagram, yes sir, the photos come out good enough for your social media posts.
Features like quick launch and File Dash are an example of how the Oxygen OS is user-friendly but manages to stay clutter free too. This is the best budget smartphone you can buy right now. The quality, features and specs are a steal for the price.