If you've been here a while, you might know that I'm a fan of OnePlus. One of my favourite pieces of writing thus far was a post I wrote exploring the rise of the company from an obscure Chinese OEM to one of the best Android manufacturers in the industry. Since then, the company has risen even further, claiming a top five spot in the global premium smartphone segment. The company recently released their latest flagship, the OnePlus 7 Pro, and initial reactions have been hugely positive. With last year's OnePlus 6T being named by some as the best phone of 2018, could we be looking at an early contender for the title in 2019? I think so.
Fast and Smooth
This is the mantra OnePlus was promoting leading up to the phone's launch, and after watching/reading several reviews and hands-on, it seems like it was right on the money. There isn't just one reason why the 7 Pro feels faster and smoother than other phones, but a combination of factors. Firstly, the display. While most phones sport a display with a 60 Hz refresh rate, the 7 Pro ups the ante by including a 90Hz display. It's not as high as some gaming phones like the Razer Phone 2 which has a 120Hz display, but that phone houses an LCD display, not AMOLED like the 7 Pro. Also, gaming phones are still very niche, while the 7 Pro is the first mainstream smartphone to come with such a display. Those 30 additional frames per second mean scrolling and animations on the 7 Pro are so smooth and fluid that OnePlus came up with "Fluid AMOLED" as a buzzword for marketing. But it's not just marketing fluff, it actually does make a difference. So much so that many reviewers have been spoiled by the display, claiming they simply can't go back to 60Hz screens again.
But it's not just the display that contributes to the perceptible speed of the phone. Storage on the 7 Pro utilises the newer UFS 3.0 standard, which basically means everything on the phone is accomplished faster than phones with older storage formats. Coupled together with the latest Snapdragon 855 chipset, between 6 to 12 GB of RAM, and Oxygen OS which is widely acknowledged as one of the best Android skins, and you have a phone which is quite literally one of the fastest on the market.
That display also has another feature which could make video consumption on the 7 Pro stand out from its competition - HDR10+ certification. With a 1440p display for sharpness and clarity, 90Hz refresh rate for fluid animations, and HDR10+ certification for amazing colour and contrast, is it any wonder why DisplayMate gave the 7 Pro's display an A+ rating?
Also, a display with no notch is always great for media.
But video consumption is more than just the visuals. Audio is important as well. Which is why I'm happy to see OnePlus finally add stereo speakers to its flagship smartphone. No more single bottom firing speaker. Being made in collaboration with Dolby is another great addition to this phone which should make media consumption much better.
And if you're the type who prefers to keep your media locally on phones rather than stream it or keep it in the cloud, the 7 Pro base model comes with 128GB of storage. Plenty for all your media.
Expensive, but still affordable
OnePlus built a reputation for selling good phones at affordable prices. The original OnePlus One came with many flagship features for just $300. Which is why many diehard enthusiasts are mad (entitled?) that the 7 Pro now costs more than double that price. It's been a trend over the past few years where OnePlus has slowly been increasing the price of its smartphones year after year, so this price hike wasn't totally unexpected. But you know what else wasn't expected? The fact that despite the price hike, this phone still feels very affordable. Not compared to other "premium mid-range" phones which OnePlus used to compete with, but compared to proper full-fledged flagships from the likes of Apple and Samsung which the 7 Pro will now compete with. Take a look at this segment from the keynote event where the price was announced.
The audience was quite surprised to see the full retail pricing. I suspect not because it's too expensive, but because it's not as expensive as they were expecting. With everything the 7 Pro offers, those hardcore fans would have to be delusional if they were expecting the 7 Pro to cost around $500. You just can't expect OnePlus (or any company) to keep making substantial improvements to their products and not increase the price, and the 7 Pro is a substantial improvement over OnePlus' past offerings. What's that saying, about keeping your cake and eating it too?
Ultimately, I feel the price of the 7 Pro is not only justified, it's actually very affordable (relatively speaking of course). This phone will be competing in the same space as the iPhones, the Galaxys, and the Pixels, and to carry a retail price between $200-$300 cheaper, with features like that display and arguably the best performance you can get on any smartphone, the phone is sure to garner a lot of mainstream attention. RDJ will undoubtedly help with that too.
There's still a lot more about the phone to write about, but I'll just breeze through them before I end this post. The phone comes with a triple camera setup which still isn't as good as other flagships like the Pixel for example, but having the versatility of a wide-angle and telephoto lens means the phone is a lot more flexible when it comes to photography. Warp Charge, which was introduced on last year's special OnePlus 6T McLaren edition returns on the 7 Pro, promising insanely fast 30W charging speeds for that huge 4000 mAh battery. There's still no wireless charging, but I'd rather have Warp Charge anyway. OnePlus chose to save some money by not going for an official IP certification, but just like previous phones, it'll be fine with the odd splash here and there. It can also survive a shallow submersion for a period of time, but you still shouldn't go swimming with it. Lastly, the in-display fingerprint scanner is better than the one on last year's 6T, some say even better than Samsung's Galaxy S10, which is great since the selfie camera will need to popup for face unlock, making it slightly slower than many would like.
The OnePlus 7 Pro represents OnePlus' first true attempt to go toe to toe with the big boys. Though they've always made flagship smartphones, it feels like the company has finally taken the gloves off. The 7 Pro is the most impressive phone the company has ever made, and it is still significantly cheaper than many competing flagships from other companies. Only time will tell how well this translates to sales, but I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be the company's best selling phone to date.