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May 16, 2019

Exclusive: Everything You Need To Know About The OnePlus 7 Pro

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

The latest OnePlus flagship officially went on sale today after being launched two days ago in Bangalore. We tested the 7 Pro Nebule Blue, which will be available for purchase May 28 onwards, in order to answer some burning questions you might have about the display, camera quality, speed and other features….

A cobalt-coloured OnePlus 7 Pro stares up at me from a huge cardboard box gleaming brightly as it catches the light at various angles. I wonder if the Nebula Blue version has been named after its namesake from The Avengers series — good timing since the hype around the movie hasn’t completely abated — before the reviewer’s guide informs me that this specific variant has been inspired by the mysteries of space. And it’s quite apt; OnePlus’ latest flagship doesn’t need to rely on any kind of pop culture elements to prove its mettle. Just like the aforementioned mysteries of space, the possibilities are endless. Let’s dive in then, shall we?

Does the display live up to the hype?
The OnePlus 7 Pro’s massive 6.67-inch screen will reel you in at first glance and subsequent swipes will lead you to discover the 3120×1440 OLED display that runs at a meteoric 90Hz refresh rate. At 162.6mm×75.9mm, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a bigger device than the Galaxy S10+ (157.6mm x 74.1mm), and it manages to be taller and sleeker than the iPhone XS Max (157.5mm x 77.4mm). A word of caution: you would do well to put on a cover as soon as you unbox the handset, especially if you have small hands like me; the phone is considerably large in size and the glass back is alarmingly slick. Even though OnePlus waxes eloquent about its durability, you don’t want to risk dropping it on your first day of possession.

Thanks to the pop-up camera (covered in detail below), the OnePlus 7 Pro display takes up the entirety of the screen with zero notches, holes or bezels. That being said, we are not big fans of the edge-to-edge, top-to-bottom display since the curved edges gives the impression of a distorted image. This makes reading on the phone particularly cumbersome as many web pages are designed to make the first letter of each line appear in the curved area rendering it indecipherable. The Night Mode 2.0 feature that filters out short-wave blue rays and manages to lower even the lowest brightness setting is some consolation.

How durable is the pop-up front camera?
The OnePlus 7 Pro is loaded with three cameras: normal, wide-angle, and a 3x telephoto. This means you can zoom in as well as out from the regular camera position. The main camera boasts a 48MP sensor but in reality, combines four pixels into one which eventually results in a 12 MP image.

The product team has done away entirely with camera notches in the Pro and introduced a 16 MP front camera that emerges when selfie mode is activated. And while this isn’t the first time the world will witness a pop-up camera — the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 slider phone and the Oppo Find X both have similar front cameras — it is worth noting that the OnePlus 7 Pro handles theirs with a certain delicateness. Where the other two brands have large chunks of metal popping up, OnePlus places their lens on a  tiny square chip. In case you’re wondering what happens to this fragile-looking camera in the event of a mid-selfie tumble, the phone is equipped to detect a fall and retracts the camera automatically. In fact, the company has gone to great lengths to demonstrate the resilience of its pop-up camera in a video that shows it lifting 49 pounds of cement. Whether it actually works remains to be seen; we didn’t have the heart (or the apparatus) to test out this claim on a brand-new phone.

Does the 7 Pro take “Go beyond speed” to a whole new level?
Instead of the usual 60fps (frames per second), all functions on the OnePlus 7 Pro run at 90fps, which means animation playback is smoother, scrolling happens without any glitches and the screen refreshes at a rate of 90 times per second, a whole 50 per cent faster than most other smartphones.

The company also claims that the fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 7 Pro is 36 per cent bigger than the scanner on the OnePlus 6T and reads a finger in 0.21 seconds, an improvement over the 0.34 seconds on its predecessor. And since we’re on the subject of speed, the phone also charges faster with a 30W Warp Charge, which boils down to a 50% charge in just 20 minutes.

Will the storage take care of my burgeoning need for space?
With the OnePlus 7 Pro, you can rest assured that you’re getting one of the best spec packages on the market: a Snapdragon 855 SoC, 6GB of RAM (with options for 8GB and 12GB), and a 4000mAh battery. It pales in comparison to Samsung’s 512 GB and 1TB storage — the OnePlus 7 Pro only comes in 128GB and 256 GB options — but redeems itself by being the first-ever phone to use the super-fast Universal Flash Storage 3.0 standard. This means that it has lower-density storage which allows it to tap into what could possibly be the fastest read/write speed you’ve ever seen.

Will my handset be okay if I happen to fall into any kind of water body?
We are on the fence about this one. The company claims that they have worked on the phone’s water-resistant capabilities, but doesn’t provide an official IP rating to make their case. OnePlus’ defence is that they didn’t want their customers to bear the cost of the IP testing, so they just decided to do away with it altogether. The 7 Pro is immune to most exposure to water, but we would advise against taking it for a swim.

Any new features I might grow to appreciate?
The Zen Mode is a considerate inclusion on the part of the developers but they might be naive to assume we would intentionally give up screen-time. However, for those looking for a lesson in restraint, the Zen Mode is designed to lock you out of your phone for 20 minutes. The screen will alert you just before you opt for it; Zen Mode can’t be cancelled once initiated — notifications are blocked, and nothing, other than receiving calls, will work until your 20 minutes are up. You might panic for the first few minutes but you’ll be better for it afterwards.

What could be better?
With the OnePlus 7 Pro variant selling at $670, the company is definitely looking to target a more premium market but what seems to be missing are a few key features that are present in almost all premium phones: the absence of the always-on display which shows the time, date, and battery status by default. Wireless charging also continues to be conspicuous by its absence. With OnePlus going the standard flagship route of not having a headphone jack, those who are new-age purists in their music-listening habits might feel disgruntled but the Bullets Wireless 2 headset is a sweet attempt at keeping the peace.

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