Home / Tech / The best smartphone company you've never heard of just schooled Apple and Samsung in how to make a premium phone with the new OnePlus 7 Pro

The best smartphone company you've never heard of just schooled Apple and Samsung in how to make a premium phone with the new OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus 7 Pro front

  • The $670 OnePlus 7 Pro is so good, and so much cheaper than the iPhone XS and Galaxy S10, that it makes a bit of a mockery of Apple and Samsung. 
  • The biggest thing that sets the OnePlus 7 Pro apart is its screen, which displays the Android operating system and apps incredibly smoothly. It makes a bigger impact than gimmicky features in recent premium flagships.
  • OnePlus also took the risk of ditching the iPhone-style notch and Samsung-style selfie camera cutout by using an unproven popup selfie camera system. 
  • In no uncertain terms, the OnePlus 7 Pro completely outshines the competition based on its price, design, and performance. 
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Phone maker OnePlus usually makes comparatively inexpensive premium smartphones that are as good as the more expensive flagship devices from big companies like Apple and Samsung.

With the recently-announced $670 OnePlus 7 Pro, the company just taught Apple and Samsung a lesson in how to build premium smartphones from now on. The phone will be available on May 17th from the OnePlus website and T-Mobile — though if you buy it straight from OnePlus, it’ll work on AT&T or Verizon, as well as T-Mobile.

Instead of one-upping Apple or Samsung with specs or design, OnePlus thought outside the box and gave the OnePlus 7 Pro a new, buttery-smooth screen that makes a significantly bigger impact than some of the more gimmicky features I’ve seen in recent (and pricier) phones. 

On top of the smooth display, OnePlus also figured out how to completely ditch the iPhone-style notch or the Samsung-style selfie camera cutout, with a clever — but unproven — pop-up camera system.

In no uncertain terms, OnePlus completely outshines its competition.

The OnePlus 7 Pro goes on sale on May 17, but I got to check it out early:

SEE ALSO: You’ve been charging your smartphone all wrong

The OnePlus 7 Pro is the biggest leap in OnePlus phone design.

If you want a pretty phone, then a pretty phone you shall get with the OnePlus 7. 

I’ve been using the “Nebula” blue version with a frosted back and blue metal edges, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. 

It’s also the first time we’re seeing curved screen edges on a OnePlus phones, which is typically a signature feature on Samsung’s Galaxy series smartphones. The curved display edges look just as good as they do on Samsung’s phones, but you don’t notice them as much while you’re swiping around Android and your apps, or while playing a video. 

Indeed, some complain that Samsung’s curved edges noticeably distort content around the edges, but it doesn’t happen so much on the OnePlus 7 Pro. 

The OnePlus 7 Pro is also easier to handle without a case, which is almost a requisite on the Samsung Galaxy S10, where you have to delicately tiptoe your fingers around the edges to prevent an accidental screen tap.

OnePlus has managed something Apple and Samsung haven’t: a screen that’s almost without a bezel, minus a notch or cutout for the selfie camera.

There’s no notch or cutout for the selfie camera on the OnePlus 7. There’s only screen.

Coupled with ultra-thin bezels around the 6.67 inch, 1440p resolution screen, the OnePlus 7 Pro’s full-screen experience is objectively unmatched by Apple’s iPhones or Samsung’s Galaxy series. 

There isn’t a massive revelatory difference while using Android, apps, or watching videos on the notchless OnePlus 7 Pro. But it does feel like everything on the screen has a little more room to stretch comfortably.

 

So where’s the selfie camera if there’s no notch or cutout?

It’s inside the phone. And when you want it, it peeks out — in 0.53 seconds, to be precise. I can’t speak for selfie takers, as I rarely ever take selfies, but it seems quick enough to me. 

 

With that said, it might not be quick enough for unlocking the OnePlus 7 Pro with facial recognition. From the lock screen, you have to swipe up to summon the selfie camera from its hiding place, and it takes just that extra bit of time to scan your mug. It makes facial recognition less useful than the in-display fingerprint sensor.

Good thing, then, that the fingerprint sensor on the OnePlus 7 Pro’s is good. It’s significantly faster and less frustrating to use than the fancy “ultrasonic” in-display fingerprint sensor on the Samsung Galaxy S10. 

The clear concern with a popup camera is durability, especially if it hits the ground after a drop.

 Amazingly, the OnePlus 7 Pro can detect the moment it’s dropped — and if the camera is popped up, it’ll automatically scamper back into its hiding place before it hits the ground.

The popup selfie camera, indeed, retracted itself automatically when I gingerly drop-tested the OnePlus 7 Pro from a distance of about two to three feet onto a soft comfy couch.

OnePlus also says the popup selfie camera can withstand up to 300,000 raises. That’s 150 selfies per day for five and half years straight. I’d like to meet the person who takes that many selfies.

The real test, however, will be out in the real world. It’s still one more thing that can potentially break. We’ll have to see how the popup selfie camera design fares over time, as actual consumers get their hands on it. 

Anyway, here’s a selfie taken with the popup selfie camera. It looks good to me!

oneplus 7 pro selfie

 

How about that new “super smooth” display?

The OnePlus 7 Pro’s screen is noticeably smoother than almost any other phone out there certainly compared to those of the Apple’s iPhone XS and Samsung’s Galaxy S10. 

The result is that the OnePlus 7 Pro feels more premium, more powerful, and faster than phones with regular displays when you’re swiping around Android and using your apps. It has a much bigger impact than gimmicky features like reverse wireless charging.

Indeed, the $670 OnePlus 7 Pro feels more premium, more powerful, and faster than the $1,000 iPhone XS and the $900 Galaxy S10, all because the screen is smoother. It’s totally superficial, as the iPhone, OnePlus 7 Pro, and Galaxy S10 are equally powerful smartphones, more or less. But impressions matter, and the OnePlus 7 Pro’s smoother screen gives off the impression that it’s better than more expensive phones.   

But the OnePlus 7 Pro isn’t pretending that it’s more powerful or faster than a lot of flagships out there. It’s a veritable powerhouse that I’ve found to be smoother and faster than the Galaxy S10 I was using before. 

OnePlus continues to impress with the OnePlus 7 Pro’s performance compared to more expensive flagships.

Running the show from within the OnePlus 7 Pro is the latest Snapdragon 855 processor that most flagships in 2019 will run on. It’s the same chip in the Samsung Galaxy S10 lineup and LG’s G8. And yet, the OnePlus 7 Pro runs smoother and faster. 

With the OnePlus 7 Pro, you’re also getting a minimum of 6GB of RAM with the option to go all the way up to 12GB. I’ve been using a model with 12GB of RAM, and combined with the Snapdragon 855, it easily handles whatever I throw at it. 

Even the 6GB of RAM option should be plenty for the regular smartphone user, thanks to OnePlus’ lightweight and clean Oxygen OS interface running on top of Android. 

The OnePlus 7 Pro comes with all the cameras you need, and they look great so far. Here’s a photo taken with the regular camera.

Here’s one taken with the ultrawide angle lens.

And here’s a photo taken with the 3x zoomed lens.

I’ll be testing the OnePlus 7 Pro’s camera against those in the flagship phones from Apple and Samsung in more detail soon.

The OnePlus 7 Pro comes with the best charger out of almost any smartphone.

The OnePlus 7 Pro and its 30 watt “Warp” charger make a complete joke out of Apple and the measly 5 watt charger it packs with its $1,000 iPhones. 

The Warp charger is also noticeably faster than the 15 watt fast chargers that come with Samsung’s $900 Galaxy S10, too.

It’s ideal for getting big boosts of battery life from quick bursts of charging, and OnePlus’ Warp charger also keeps a good chunk of the heat that charging produces in the charging brick itself. OnePlus said not only does it keep heat away from the OnePlus 7 Pro’s large 4,000mAh battery— batteries hate heat — but it also lets the phone continue to charge quickly while you’re using it when its plugged in.

And if you appreciate the little details, OnePlus’ Warp charger is well built and comes with an attractive red cable. It’s something I appreciated after using Samsung’s cheap-feeling charger and cable in the Galaxy S10’s packaging. 

 

 

There’s still no wireless charging, and it’s not officially rated with any kind of water resistance, but that’s fine in my book.

If you like wireless charging or the comfort of knowing that your phone has an official “IP” rating for water resistance, I’m not going to try and persuade you that they’re worthless features. If you value them, the OnePlus 7 Pro may not be the phone for you, and you’ll just have to pay more for a phone that comes with those features. It’s as simple as that. 

I will say this, however. You’d be missing out if you dismiss the OnePlus 7 Pro for wireless charging and an official water resistance rating. The OnePlus 7 Pro is such a good phone, and it’s cheaper than most of your other options in the premium flagship category.  

A note on water resistance, specifically: OnePlus claimed the OnePlus 7 Pro can still withstand water with an amusing video campaign of the phone dropping into a bucket of water. So it can still take some water, but it’s not officially rated to do so, so let the buyer beware.

OnePlus or any other phone maker that touts any kind of water resistance or official IP rating don’t recommend you actively expose your phone to water. 

The only thing I wish was different about the OnePlus 7 Pro…

The OnePlus 7 Pro is quite a heavy phone at 206 grams compared to the 175-gram Galaxy S10 Plus — the most similarly specced Android phone with a similar size screen. For reference, the iPhone XS Max actually weighs a little more at 208 grams. 

And, speaking for those who don’t like large phones, there’s no smaller option for the OnePlus 7 Pro. 

Other little bits and pieces.

  • The OnePlus 7 Pro has a hardware switch that lets you switch between silent mode, vibrate-only, and ring mode. It’s the only Android phone to come with this feature. The only other phone to come with a notifications switch is the iPhone. 
  • The OnePlus 7 Pro has dual stereo speakers, whereas previous OnePlus phones lagged behind its competition with only a single speaker. 
  • OnePlus replaced the mushy haptic feedback engine from previous OnePlus phones with a much better engine that gives sharp haptic bursts.
  • The OnePlus 7 Pro doesn’t have a headphone jack, which is something you’ll find on the Galaxy S10.

My final thought: It’s the one single device I’d recommend to almost anybody looking for a new Android phone.

It may seem that I’m bashing Samsung and its Galaxy S10 throughout this review — the closest competitor to the OnePlus 7 Pro. But I’m really not trying to. The Galaxy S10 is a great phone.

It’s just that the OnePlus 7 Pro does almost everything the Galaxy S10 does just as well — and a few things better, like a smoother display, no cutouts, better performance, and a better charger while costing less at the same time.

The value in OnePlus phones continues to be unbeatable, even if the OnePlus 7 Pro is the most expensive OnePlus phone yet. It’s the phone I’d recommend to anyone looking for a new phone, even over Samsung’s Galaxy S10 series. 

It’s the only phone that’s made me ask myself why would anyone who wants a premium phone get anything else? Of course, people have their reasons, and I respect them. But no other phone has made me ask myself this question. 

Unfortunately for the US, the cheaper OnePlus 7 won’t be available. But if Americans want the OnePlus experience for a less than $600, the OnePlus 6T from 2018 is getting a price drop down to $550.

The OnePlus 7 Pro will be available to buy on May 17 from T-Mobile and the OnePlus website.