For the last couple of years, OnePlus has established itself as the giant killer in the smartphone space. Its combination of hyperfast and easy to use software coupled with elegant yet powerful hardware at affordable prices has made its phones uber popular. The rise of OnePlus isn’t hard see to see as its phones have many of the traits which make iPhones so popular. The hipness of its brand also plays into its hands. However, price has always played a huge role in the popularity of its phones. Over the course of the last two years though OnePlus has quietly increased the price of its phones which has led many to believe that OnePlus can’t hold on to its mantra of “flagship killer”. OnePlus would argue that its phones haven’t reached the exorbitant price points that Apple’s smartphones have started hitting and its latest phone remains the quintessential flagship killer. The new OnePlus 7 Pro is perhaps its boldest device since the OnePlus 3. I’ve been testing the new OnePlus 7 Pro for the last 4 days and I can tell you that it certainly makes a case to be crowned Android’s true iPhone alternative, albeit at 50% of the cost. And that’s going to be a big deal in India as OnePlus’ star has already risen in India with it dominating sales of premium smartphones. In more ways than one, the OnePlus 7 Pro spells doom for the likes of the Samsung, Apple, Google & Huawei in the most profitable segment of the world’s second largest smartphone market.
- The OnePlus 7 Pro truly has a flagship grade screen. It’s 6.7-inch screen may be huge but its pin sharp with a quad HD+ resolution, and vivid in all its OLED glory while also having a 90Hz refresh rate which makes it the ultimate panel to watch movies on or play PUBG on. As surprising this may sound, the Galaxy S10+ screen has formidable competition. The folks at display mate have rated it A+.
- What powers this performance is the bone-crunching combination of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip coupled with 12GB RAM, liquid cooling and 256GB of onboard UFS 3.0 storage. This is cutting edge stuff that’s not there on an Android smartphone currently sold in India. This also means it is probably the best mainstream Android phone for the sake of gaming.
- Triple cameras on the back and slide up pop-up selfie camera on the front makes sure the OnePlus 7 Pro checks all the boxes in the camera department. The main 48-megapixel sensor and wide-angle cameras are particularly good upgrades over the OnePlus 6T and even pushing its image quality in low light beyond that of the current iPhone models. It even gets a DxO Mark score of 111 which is the second highest after the Huawei P30 Pro. If you use it with the Google camera app that you can get from XDA developers, its camera performance truly is in the realm of flagship cameras, but this is a hack.
- OnePlus has ratched up the overall quality of the fit and finish of the phone. Firstly, the new nebula blue in the matte finish is a just stunning and silken to hold. The curved nature of the screen also seamlessly swoops into the frame. It just looks like an expensive phone. There are no two ways around this fact.
- OnePlus has addressed one often neglected aspect of the user experience – the vibration motor. The OnePlus 7 Pro has one of the nicest vibration motors ever put in smartphone which makes any kind of interaction with screen more intimate and enjoyable. This also means if you type out a lot of documents on the OnePlus 7 Pro, chances are you’re not going to mind it considering the haptics and the large screen.
- The 4,000mAh battery coupled with the 30W warp charger means this phone has plenty of juice for medium to heavy usage across a single working day while also having the ability to recharge at warp speed. You can even squeeze more out of this phone if you pull down the screen resolution to full HD.
- There a bunch of cool software optimisations added in Oxygen OS for India like live cricket scores. The software overall has also become more intelligent and has special new modes for gaming, for editing screenshots, caller identification and a bunch of other cool features which will roll out as a software update at a later date.
- Last but not the least is the addition of stereo speakers which also support Dolby’s Atmos technology for directional sound. They sound very good, though not as good as the speaker on the iPhone XS.
- For a phone that costs as much as the OnePlus 7 Pro, the cameras are still not on the level as what they should be. Sure, they are solid upgrades over the OnePlus 6T and in most situations can keep up with Samsung’s Galaxy S10 line, but now that the Pixel 3a exists and the Pixel 3 has received numerous price cuts, this is still not a flagship killing camera phone, no matter what OnePlus may say or try to project.
- The lack of IPX certification is a cost cutting tactic to make sure the phone doesn’t breach the Rs 60k price point, but these days water and dust resistance have become standard features on phones that cost upwards of Rs 50,000, so definitely OnePlus missed a trick here. That being said, OnePlus claims that they have the seals for the certifications but as they didn’t want to increase the price of the phone they opted to not get the phone certified. Whatever that means.
- The absence of wireless charging could be a minor quibble for folks who’ve invested in wireless chargers, but I don’t think it will be a big deal. In addition, to achieve warp charge speeds, one needs to use OnePlus’s proprietary charger and cable.
- The graphics on games are still not on par with what you’re getting on the iPhone – the XR and XS. If you’re looking for a phone that does gaming in a sublime way, the iPhones are still the benchmarks, and while doing so the XR in particular will be cheaper to boot with access to better games and exclusives thanks to Apple’s impending Arcade service.
- With its large 6.7-inch screen, large 4,000mAh battery, new vibration system, triple cameras on the back and pop up front camera system, this is one hefty phone. It is larger than Galaxy S10+ and heavier, so this isn’t compact by any measure.
In a nutshell, the OnePlus 7 Pro is the closest equivalent to an iPhone for people who prefer Android as an operating system. Even for older iPhone users, the OnePlus 7 Pro perhaps is the phone that makes the most sense considering the astronomical price of a new iPhone. Its user experience is silken and polished with its adding flagship grade niceties like a powerful haptic motor, class leading 90Hz curved OLED display and stupendously smooth performance which has never been seen before on an Android smartphone. OnePlus also has a great reputation with software updates and its phones often don’t get bogged down with the test of time, which is an area of expertise for the iPhone. It is the Android flagship for masses delivering an iPhonesque experience at almost 50% of the cost.
Disclaimer: At the time of writing this, I believe OnePlus’s camera software isn’t final. The camera performance is almost certain to improve. By OnePlus’s own admission, it has a huge India focused software update in the works for June. It could couple the camera optimisations or perhaps they could roll them out even before. If the camera receives the needed improvements then this should be perhaps the most complete Android smartphone in the world.