Testing the OnePlus 7 Pro: when front cameras move
With a triple camera on the back and a selfie camera on the front that can extend outwards, the display still manages without a notch and an impressively high refresh rate.
A weirdly awesome display
60 Hertz is the current standard refresh rate for smartphones. With the OnePlus 7 Pro, this benchmark is more than met at 90 Hertz. This ensures that movements on-screen appear more fluid. You can already see this in the settings or by swiping through the overview of the picture gallery.
OnePlus does lie behind its competitors a bit in this aspect, but not by much. The Razer Phone, which was designed as a gaming smartphone, already had a 120 Hertz display. However, both smartphones have the same problem. Not every app supports 90 or even 120 Hertz. This is not a disadvantage in the 7 Pro, as it automatically reduces its display to the usual 60 Hertz. However, the advantage is lost.
With a resolution of 3120 x 1440 pixels, the 6.67-inch AMOLED display offers a razor-sharp image, shines in vibrant colours and a rich black and is bright enough to display its contents even in sunshine.
One thing bothers me about the display of the OnePlus 7 Pro, though: the rounded sides create reflections that annoy me with a passion. They're so bright and are the reason for me not to buy the OnePlus 7 Pro because I would have to look at them all the time. So take a look at the display yourself and check if you agree or if you don't care about the reflections.
The OnePlus 7 Pro display is HDR 10+ certified. This should ensure strong contrasts and an even higher level of detail with corresponding content from Netflix, Youtube and Amazon Prime Video. That's nice, but it's not very important in everyday life. Because the display is still too small to really enjoy movies and series. In addition, the aforementioned reflections even manage to be annoying here and despite an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, the image isn't optimal. You can choose between slightly trimmed edges or a cinema for ants – a tiny picture and lots of black edges.
The hidden front camera
Still, at least there's not a notch. The OnePlus doesn't need one as they have an ingenious alternative for their front camera. When needed, it emerges up out of the smartphone. The mechanics are robust and, according to the manufacturer, have been extensively tested and are promised to drive out and back in up to 300,000 times. By the way, this happens so quickly that you can record a selfie with it faster than with the OnePlus 6T, which doesn't have a moving camera. If the pressure is slightly different or if the OnePlus 7 Pro drops, the front camera moves into the housing for its own safety.
You can hear the camera moving. It's just a quiet mechanical whirring – as if a cassette were being wound. It's hasn't got on my nerves yet. Still, I'm not so sure if that feeling will be permanent.
The front camera takes 16 megapixel photos. The quality is fine, but nothing special. The level of detail is high, but without active HDR, the camera can't handle strong contrasts. There's a surprising lack of quality loss in the dark, but you should still look for a light source or activate the flash if you want anything to be recognisable.
Three cameras, a lot of pictures
The OnePlus 7 Pro main camera has three lenses, giving you a wide range of options for your photos. In addition to the main camera, whose sensor resolution is reduced from 48 megapixels to twelve megapixels for better image quality in the final picture, you also have a wide-angle and a triple-zoom telephoto lens.
The attention to detail is high and the colours appear powerfully natural. Still, make sure to activate HDR mode. With it on, contrasts aren't only evened out, but the entire picture seems sharper. However, this won't be the case any longer if you enlarge and inspect it closely. HDR will rob some detail from you in that aspect.
When taking wide-angle pictures, you can activate correction in the camera settings. It removes the typical curves you'll see in corners. The result is a slightly smaller image with distortion in the corners. In that case, I'd rather take the wider angle picture with round edges.
With the triple zoom, you can get up close and personal to your subjects – and with far less loss of quality than you would with a digital zoom.
When it's dark you should definitely activate night mode – even if you have to hold the phone still for a few seconds and can't take pictures of moving objects. Compared to the automatic mode, night mode not only illuminates the images better, but also provides much more detail and sharpness. The wide-angle camera is very dark while the telephoto camera is surprisingly bright but not very detailed.
Lots of power, great sound and a fast battery
The hardware on the OnePlus 7 Pro is good enough to compete with other top smartphones. Devices which usually require more time and effort to get a hang of. The Snapdragon 855 is the most powerful chipset currently available from Qualcomm. No function has managed to slow or weaken it yet. Depending on the model, it has six, eight or twelve gigabytes to play with. You don't notice the difference in everyday life, only with dedicated applications, but for complex video editing a computer will suit you better anyway.
The internal memory should already be sufficient with 128 gigabytes. If you need more, you can also buy the OnePlus 7 Pro with 256 gigabytes. The storage capacity cannot be expanded with a microSD card.
In terms of sound, the OnePlus 7 Pro is more convincing than many other smartphones. Sure, it'll never be able to keep up with real speakers, but the smart integration of the barely visible telephone loudspeaker on the front creates a good stereo sound for videos and games. The second loudspeaker is on the right side – or the top, if you're holding the phone in landscape mode. This should be especially helpful for games, but doesn't help my hand posture either. But thanks to the two speakers, I don't block out the entire sound.
The OnePlus 7 Pro battery has a large 4000 mAh capacity with which I managed to survive the entire day without any problems. And if the battery is empty or you want to recharge in between, the fast charging technology proves to be very helpful. It's called Warp Charge and it's able to pump enough energy into the almost empty battery in 45 minutes to last the day. However, you'll need the included charger with 30 watts and a USB cable. Charging may be slower with other power supplies and cables.
The glass back and Alert Slider
The back of the OnePlus 7 Pro is made of glass, which is differently coloured depending on your variant. The workmanship is very good, but this positive impression is clouded by the protective film on the display. It provides an unattractive edge at its sides, which is annoying every now and then, but can be ignored most of the time. OnePlus has not obtained IP certification for the 7 Pro, which guarantees sufficient diving depth and duration, but promises that it will not be damaged immediately if it comes into contact with water.
The Alert Slider is located above the power button. A handy button that's been around since the first OnePlus smartphone. It allows you to switch quickly and easily from noiseless to vibrating to ringing.
The OnePlus 7 Pro's fingerprint sensor is located under the display. Here’s the good news: compared to the OnePlus 6T, it works significantly faster and more reliably. The face recognition... not so much. It got tricked by a digital photo on my computer. On the second try. It also annoys me that every time the front camera is unlocked, it moves out of the housing.
Android 9: gaming and relaxation
The OnePlus 7 Pro uses OxygenOS. It's based on Android 9 and offers additional benefits on top of its own design. These include the Zen mode and the Fnatic mode.
The Zen mode is a short-term «digital detox». It puts the OnePlus 7 Pro into a coma for 20 minutes and cannot be deactivated. You can only answer calls, make emergency calls or take pictures.
The Fnatic mode was created in collaboration with the gaming specialists at Fnatic. It hides or turns off everything that interferes with your enjoyment. It also draws all the performance and attention of the hardware to the game. And if you want to show others how skilled you are, you can activate the OnePlus 7 Pro's built-in screen recorder.
Verdict: a very good smartphone – with some blemishes
The OnePlus 7 Pro doesn't leave me completely satisfied. Sure, the price/performance ratio is top notch – even if it is the most expensive OnePlus smartphone to date. The hardware is powerful, the software is appealing and past OnePlus updates have been the most reliable yet. The design is pleasing, but it's not as earthshattering anymore these days. The workmanship is exquisite and the sound is excellent for a smartphone.
The camera offers many possibilities and belongs to the top echelon, but doesn't really earn any medals. With the reflections at the edges of the display and the potentially annoying noises of the movable front camera, there are two points that speak massively against the OnePlus 7 Pro for me, despite all the praise I've given it. I prefer to use the OnePlus 7, which imitates the older OnePlus 6T, even if I don't like the notch, or the Google Pixel 3a.