For 6 years OnePlus has claimed to provide the ultimate flagship killer experience on a smartphone. In the truest sense, this wasn’t honest marketing as initially OnePlus’ street cred was built on the fact it was offering a lot of the specs that flagship phones had but for fraction of the cost. But over the years, the products improved but so did the price increase — so much so that in 2018, the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition crossed the Rs 50k threshold.
So now, this flagship killer was neither the most affordable high-performance phone, nor did it provide the best camera, display or design something which brands like Apple, Samsung and Google had built a reputation on. In 2019, we’ve already seen some incredible advancements on the flagship side.
If you’re looking for the best camera phone — the Huawei P30 Pro and Nokia 9 PureView are pushing the envelope. If you’re looking at all-round performance and aesthetic beauty, then too, the P30 Pro comes back into the fold along with the new Samsung Galaxy S10+. If you’re looking at brutal performance the OnePlus 6T still holds its own alongside the iPhone XR or XS.
The OnePlus 7 or 7 Pro have to do more — and they just can’t latch on to the 5G buzz marketing as even in the US there will be few true 5G networks and across the world, next to none. These are the 5 crucial things they have to improve to be truly a flagship killer.
• A true flagship class camera: A true flagship camera means that you should be able to whip it out in any scenario and it takes good photos comparable to some of the other phones it is priced against. There is chatter than that OnePlus will employ a triple camera system comprising of the 48-MP Sony IMX 586 combined with optical stabilisation, a depth sensor and a wide-angle camera running through the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 ISP. This is a good start hardware wise, but software tuning is what separates the best from the good. OnePlus has to make sure that the portrait mode is on point with good low light performance, clarity and edge detection. It has to make sure the night mode is fast and images from it are at least on par with a phone like the Google Pixel 2 if not the Pixel 3.
• A great video camera with better audio capture: The biggest weakness of most camera phones is the video camera. Most phones are getting stills right but the video is harder. This is an area of mastery for both the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. The video shouldn’t just be jitter free, clear with great dynamic range — you need at least great 4K video at 60 fps and 240 fps slow motion. More than that, the phone needs great microphones and a clever noise cancellation algorithm which can cut distortion levels in the loudest environments. For example, right now, OnePlus phones aren’t great for documenting live performances.
• IP67 water resistance: OnePlus phones haven’t had any kind of IP certification which means you can’t depend on the phone lasting a minor drop in the pool. They have to change this. More so, they just need to make a more robust phone in terms of durability. Not that the build quality is an issue, you just don’t feel these phones are sturdy enough. There have been far too many issues related to the display getting damaged because of the screen protector and the back glass is known to break. The overall build quality level has to go one notch up. Heck, they have to because this phone will also have a pop-up selfie camera.
• Brighter and sharper display: OnePlus 6 and 6T models had really nice OLED displays but these displays weren’t the sharpest around with 1080p resolutions and it kind of cut corners with brightness levels under direct sunlight. As the OnePlus 7 will almost certainly cross the Rs 40,000 barrier, they need a better display. Good news is that Pete Lau has already indicated that the phone will have a fast panel with a 90Hz refresh rate which will be really good. So far only the Asus ROG phone has that refresh rate. What’s likely is that it will also be an OLED screen with a higher resolution and full-screen view thanks to an Oppo F11 Pro style pop up selfie camera. So the promise of a flagship-grade screen looks likely to be coming true.
• A faster in-display scanner: The prime letdown from the OnePlus 6T was the in-display scanner — which was slow and not as secure as the traditional one on the OnePlus 6. That has to improve. Generally, across the board, one expects improvements like better haptic feedback, more accurate face detection even though it has been lightning fast on the OnePlus 5T, 6 and 6T and a bigger battery which has been rumoured to be around 4,000mAh.