With OnePlus moving to a two smartphone approach this year and delivering a Pro flagship with a bunch of the company and market firsts it was super easy to overlook the way more conservative OnePlus 7. The fact that it didn’t make it to all markets didn’t help either, but there’s no denying that this is the phone that much better reflects the company’s values. While the 7 Pro aims to beat competitors on features rather than, the regular 7 offers the no-nonsense aggressive pricing approach that made OnePlus what it is today.
Following the sharp increase in smartphone prices for tha past few years, a new “mainstream flagship” segment was born and quite a few companies are looking to take a piece of it. Phones with flagship chipsets that deliver the same core experience, while maintaining a far more reasonable price tag.
The questions then is, if the OnePlus 7 makes the right compromises to make the budget. Let’s have a look at its specs first.
- Body: 157.7 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm, 182 grams, Gorilla Glass 6 front and Gorilla Glass 5 back, metal side frame.
- Screen: 6.41″ Optic AMOLED, 1080 x 2340px resolution; 19.5:9 aspect ratio; 402ppi.
- Chipset: Qualcomm SDM855 Snapdragon 855 (7 nm); Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 485); Adreno 640.
- Memory: 6GB RAM, 128GB built-in storage.
- OS: OxygenOS based on Android 9.0 Pie.
- Rear camera: Main: 48MP, f/1.7, 1/2″, 0.8µm pixel size; PDAF; OIS; 5MP depth sensor; [email protected]/60fps video recording.
- Front camera: 16MP, f/2.0; 1/3.1″, 1.0µm; [email protected] video recording.
- Battery: 3,700 mAh, 20W fast charging.
- Misc: Alert slider, stereo loudspeakers, NFC, under-display fingerprint reader, UFS 3.0 storage, USB-C 3.1 connector, available in Mirror Gray and Red.
Crucially, the OnePlus 7 costs the same as the OnePlus 6T did back when it launched. The initial look may lead you to believe that it doesn’t change that much either and the fact that OnePlus opted to retain the 6T as its affordable alternative points towards the same thing. Yet, a closer inspection reveals that upgrades go beyond a simple chipset switch.
Key improvements include a brighter screen, stereo loudspeakers and an upgraded in-display fingerprint reader. Plus you get the same main camera as the OnePlus 7 Pro and while you’ll be missing on the wide angle and telephoto action, this is the one used for a majority of your photos anyway.
We’ll now set to check if those upgrades are enough to keep the package relevant in 2019, or if OnePlus held back too much. Let’s have a look inside the box first.
Unboxing the OnePlus 7
The phone comes in a standard OnePlus package with the usual user manuals, a 20W fast charging brick, USB-A to USB-C cable for charging and data transfer and a transparent silicone case to keep the 7 safe until you get a better one, because chances are few will be happy with this one.
Unfortunately, the OnePlus 7 sticks to the company’s usual tradition of coming without a pair of headphones. Worse yet, unlike the 6T’s, this one has no USB-C to 3.5mm dongle either. If you want to use your 3.5mm headphones you’ll have to get one separately.
Design and build
The OnePlus 7 looks almost identical to its predecessor, the 6T. In fact, the only notable change are the color options. Now the phone comes in Mirror Gray and Red while last year’s model had a Mirror Black and Midnight Black from the start. The Mirror Gray option comes very close to the Xiaomi Mi 9’s Piano Black and there’s no matte glass option as it’s reserved for the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Compared to the 6T, the 7 is just 0.2mm taller and 3g lighter so even some cases from the 6T will fit on the 7, depending on how elastic they are.
So we are still getting the glass sandwich design (Gorilla Glass 6 on the front, 5 on the back) with a curved back and slightly rounded front glass to the sides. It’s smooth along the whole frame, which is made of aluminum, and button positioning is identical as well. We’ve got the volume rocker on the left, power button on the right and the iconic alert slider right above it.
The USB-C connector is at the bottom along with the main microphone and one of the two grilles. Only one of those is for a loudspeaker, though, the other likely holds the primary microphone.
The SIM card tray can be found close the volume key and when you pull it out, you will see red sealing against water and dust. Like all OnePlus phones, the 7 doesn’t have an official ingress protection rating, and while the company says it will survive an accidental splash or dip, you’ll be taking the full risk if it doesn’t.
Going to the front, we are greeted with nicely slim bezels, although their lack of symmetry might put you off. The top bezel isn’t as thin as the side ones and the chin is beefier than all the rest.
The notch is one of the least obtrusive ones we’ve dealt with although it’s still an unsightly cutout that will bother some. For day to day operations, however, it very rarely gets in the way. Then again the missing LED notification light is a hard pill to swallow in yet another generation of OnePlus phones.
The OnePlus 7 is a big phone and pretty slippery at that. It’s not quite as huge as the 7 Pro, but still there’s a limited number of operations you can do with one hand.
Our Mirror Gray phone attracted a lot of fingerprints, which are easy to spot in almost any lighting. Moreover, the camera bump is sticking out a bit more than we would like and it feels strangely sharp in a way. If you let the phone lie flat on its back, it would start to wobble when using the touchscreen.
On the upside the OnePlus 7 is solidly put together – it’s in no way feeling inferior to the more expensive 7 Pro.
Notched Optic AMOLED screen
On paper the OnePlus 7‘s screen is identical to one on last year’s 6T. It has an identical waterdrop-styled notch, measures 6.41″ in diagonal and has FHD+ (2340 x 1080px) resolution in 19.5:9 aspect ratio.
Our lab tests did show one difference, even if that has to do with the controller rather than the panel itself. The 6T and the 7 both have similar maximum brightness – 453 vs 443 nits, respectively. But while the 6T doesn’t offer an additional boost in brightness when the ambient sensor detects bright sunlight, the 7 can actually go up to 642 cd/m2 for short periods of time. It’s a nice feature to have and a very useful one too.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Contrast ratio|
|OnePlus 7 Pro||0||436||∞|
|OnePlus 7 Pro (Max Auto)||0||616||∞|
|OnePlus 7 (Max Auto)||0||642||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy S10||0||396||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy S10 (Max Auto)||0||820||∞|
|Xiaomi Mi 9||0||428||∞|
|Xiaomi Mi 9 (Max Auto)||0||620||∞|
|Black Shark 2||0||428||∞|
|Huawei P30 (Max Auto)||0||635||∞|
|Asus Zenfone 6 ZS630KL||0.353||424||1201|
|Asus Zenfone 6 ZS630KL (Max Auto)||0.399||455||1140|
Color accuracy is also something the 7 should be proud of. The standard Vivid mode returned an average dE2000 of just 3.2, which isn’t too shabby. Whites err on the blue-ish side.
Switching over to the Natural mode, the display impressed us with an average dE2000 of 1.1and a maximum deviation of 2.8. So if color accuracy is of great importance, we suggest sticking to the Natural mode.
There’s also an advanced mode that lets you choose between AMOLED Wide Gamut, sRGB or DCI-P3 color spaces with manual control over color temperature.
The OnePlus 6T already had great battery life but the OnePlus 7 was able to build on that by adding a respectable amount of minutes in the screen on tests. A 3,700 mAh unit may be only average by current standards, but it’s all about real life performance and the OnePlus 7 really delivers there. We were pretty impressed by the web browsing and video playback times, but the standby draw was very low too.
It all adds up to a total score of 102h easily overtaking some high-end flagships. Interestingly, though, it’s still not enough to dethrone the Asus Zenfone 6 in this price segment, which scored a whopping 112h.
Aside from the great battery life, the OnePlus 7 also has a fast battery charging using the proprietary OnePlus wall charger and USB-A to USB-C cable capping at 20W. A 30-minute charging session got us from a dead battery to 55% – just like last year’s OnePlus 6T. The 20W charging standard is no longer the fastest around, but it’s still up there, particularly in this price segment.
OnePlus has finally added a second speaker to its phones, although it’s the more space-efficient hybrid systems, where the earpiece doubles as one and you get a downwards-facing second speaker. Still the different direction along with the fact that the dedicated loudspeaker is somewhat more powerful makes them sound roughly equal.
They deliver very good loudness and reasonably rich sound although vocals get lost with some tracks. Still, as far as smartphone speakers go the OnePlus 7 has it better than most.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Pink noise/ Music, dB||Ringing phone, dB||Overall score|
|OnePlus 7||68.1||73.1||82.2||Very Good|
|OnePlus 6T||67.2||72.5||84.5||Very Good|
|Black Shark 2||67.7||73.6||82.9||Very Good|
|Sony Xperia 1||69.8||74.5||81.0||Very Good|
|Xiaomi Mi 9||70.1||74.2||81.6||Very Good|
|Asus Zenfone 6||77.0||75.9||81.2||Excellent|
|Samsung Galaxy S10||82.2||74.9||85.5||Excellent|
|OnePlus 7 Pro||79.6||77.7||87.2||Excellent|
An important thing to mention before we begin here is that the OnePlus 7 doesn’t ship with a USB-C to 3.5mm audio adapter in the box. So to complete the test we used a passive adapter we had laying around. This means the results are only going to be representative if you also purchase a passive adapter – an active adapter or headphones with built-in DAC would yield a different result. With that out of the way let’s see how the OnePlus 7 did.
The phone posted perfect scores for clarity with an active external amplifier and was very close to perfect with headphones too. The only reading to be damaged was stereo crosstalk and that too took a far smaller hit compared to most phones out there.
Volume levels on the OnePlus 7 weren’t quite so impressive – with the phone being below average in both parts of the test. This might prove problematic if you need to drive high-impedance headphones to high loudness, or not matter at all if that’s not your use case.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|OnePlus 7||+0.03, -0.01||-91.0||91.9||0.0016||0.0085||-91.5|
|OnePlus 7 (headphones)||+0.10, -0.06||-90.5||91.4||0.0023||0.094||-70.6|
|Asus Zenfone 6||+0.03, -0.01||-85.8||86.8||0.0012||0.014||-76.2|
|Asus Zenfone 6 (headphones)||+0.05, -0.01||-81.1||82.7||0.0068||0.059||-52.0|
|OnePlus 7 Pro||+0.03, -0.01||-93.0||92.6||0.0023||0.021||-89.6|
|OnePlus 7 Pro (headphones)||+0.10, -0.05||-92.0||91.4||0.0034||0.106||-74.8|
|Xiaomi Mi 9||+0.02, -0.01||-93.9||93.1||0.0015||0.0066||-91.9|
|Xiaomi Mi 9 (headphones)||+0.05, -0.04||-92.6||93.5||0.0026||0.072||-58.7|
OxygenOS based on Android 9.0 Pie
The OxygenOS is designed to look like stock Android distribution with just a couple of custom features to add to the overall experience. OnePlus has made a couple of other under-the-hood changes over the years and has made this one of the better performing platforms on the market, even if in typical Chinese maker fashion it’s a bit more aggressive with handling background tasks.
A large part of what makes OxygenOS feel so fast is the absence of certain animations that you otherwise have to wait for while navigating the UI.
Another big advantage of OnePlus phones over the rest is the especially strong modding community, if we can call it that. There are tons of supported third-party ROMs and mods for OnePlus handsets and the best part is that the OEM doesn’t care if your phone is rooted or with a different ROM. This won’t void your warranty and thus attracts plenty of Android enthusiasts year after year.
But when it comes to features, the OxygenOS is closer to stock Android than other OEM’s iterations like One UI from Samsung or Huawei’s EMUI. Some may call it “barebones” and they might be right.
The added features include screen-off gestures like launching the flashlight or the camera by drawing a letter on a locked screen, OnePlus‘ unique gesture-based navigation and the alert slider, but little else.
We found that the gesture for the flashlight works a lot better than on the last year’s OnePlus 6T. There were no accidental triggers and the gesture worked almost every time. The alert slider options haven’t changed, however. There are two modes – Vibration and Silent. The names of the modes are pretty much self-explanatory.
The first of the gesture options is the well-known pill navigation that you find on almost all stock Android phones. Then there’s OnePlus‘ take, where swipe from the center-bottom brings you back to the home screen, swiping from the bottom near the left or right edge works as a back button while swipe and hold opens up the recent apps. A quick side-swipe from the bottom-center to the right will quickly switch between your previous and current app. It takes a little time getting used to but also works very well.
For another year, OnePlus refuses to introduce a proper always-on screen feature. In its place, the OnePlus 7 offers Ambient display. It will light up when you receive a notification, tap it once or twice or when you move it ever so slightly. Either of those will trigger the ambient display showing the clock, notifications and the fingerprint reader area.
And while we are on the fingerprint scanner topic, we must say that the upgrade is more than welcome. OnePlus says the 7 and the 7 Pro are equipped with the latest generation optic in-display fingerprint readers, which are bigger in size too and you can tell.
The scanner works incredibly fast in all conditions and it’s hands-down one of the fastest under-screen implementations we’ve ever tried. It may struggle with dusty or sweaty fingers, but the face unlock is particularly fast alternative and can serve as a reliable backup. Perhaps the fact that there’s no unlocking animation adds to the overall sense of speediness.
There’s also this thing called Quick Launch. You can launch an app or an action of your choice by just holding down the fingerprint area once the phone unlocks and a couple of shortcuts pop up.
Going through the general settings menu shows the usual options. The Display sub-menu offers the usual settings like night mode, reading mode (black and white scheme for more comfortable reading), hiding the notch option and customization of the status bar.
The Battery section offers all the usual Android Pie settings like Battery optimization and the Adaptive battery feature. And, of course, all the information regarding battery usage you’d want.
The Utilities sub-menu is where you will find some useful features that may apply to your use case, including gaming mode. It’s been a growing trend these days with gaming modes that aim to improve the phone’s performance during gameplay and also let in fewer distractions while gaming. You can set up how your notifications appear and how to answer the phone – via the loudspeakers or the earpiece.
OnePlus has been marketing one particular gaming feature called Fnatic mode. It takes the DND mode to another level allowing notifications only for low battery, alarms and timers. Calls and other notifications won’t go through and interestingly, missed calls may not be recorded in the call logs.
The system also prioritizes the game over other apps running in the background to improve performance while the Network enhancement will disable your second SIM slot to minimize interference and latency, which are essential for competitive online gaming.
The cool thing about the Gaming mode is that you can set it to run automatically on other apps as well, like in YouTube or Netflix so you can watch your shows and videos uninterrupted.
The OnePlus 7 packs the top of the line Snapdragon 855 chipset – the latest and greatest from Qualcomm. We’ve seen how the SoC performs in other phones as the OnePlus 7 wasn’t the first one to get it. The 7nm chip holds an octa-core CPU with a 1+3+4 core configuration – 1×2.84 GHz Kryo 485, 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 and 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 485. And an Adreno 640 GPU to take care of graphically-intensive tasks.
The handset ships with either 6GB or 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM paired with 128GB or 256GB internal storage, respectively. What’s interesting here is that just like its Pro sibling, the OnePlus 7 boasts the newest UFS 3.0 flash storage. Loading times are significantly reduced, read and write speeds are twice as fast compared to the previous generation UFS 2.1.
A 48MP main camera with a 5MP depth sensor
The 5MP secondary unit on the OnePlus 7 may sound like a downgrade when you compare it to the 20MP unit on the previous two OnePlus models but in reality they are both limited to depth sensing functionality so it hardly makes much difference. Sadly, there are no ultra wide-angle or telephoto lenses here either as those are reserved for the 7 Pro.
You do get the same main sensor as the more premium phone though – 48MP, 1/2″-type with 0.8µm pixels and OIS. The only difference is in the aperture size – f/1.7 compared to the f/1.6 on the 7 Pro.
On the front, we’ve got the familiar 16MP unit with f/2.0 aperture and 1.0µm pixels – the same unit in the OnePlus 6T and the 7 Pro.
The camera menu is pretty straightforward. Swiping left and right cycles the camera modes and an upwards swipe brings out the additional modes like the Pro mode, Time-lapse, Panorama and Slow motion. There’s also the settings menu where you can rearange the camera modes and select which is the default one.
The settings menu also gives you control over the video and photo resolutions and the rest of the usual features. Oh and to shoot in 48MP mode, you have to go in the Pro mode and select the 48MP JPG icon on the top of the viewfinder, near the notch. Not that you’d want to do that very often as shooting in their native resolution isn’t what Quad-Bayer sensors are all about.
The 7 is capable of taking great photos with wide dynamic range, a good amount of detail, no noise and we didn’t notice any sharpening artifacts along the edges of the buildings, for example. Contrast is nice as it makes the colors pop out more.
As we already said, we expect little difference compared with the 7 Pro since they both share the same 48MP primary sensor, but we did find a slight difference in color rendering. The 7 tends to take pictures with a bit colder white balance while the 7 Pro’s photos are somewhat warmer. That aside, the too snappers perform identically in good light.
We did an impromptu shootout with Zenfone 6, which is one of the OnePlus 7‘s direct rivals and also shares its 48MP camera sensor. The two were very close with the OnePlus 7 having a slight edge in resolved detail and contrast.
The OnePlus 7 has a slightly slower lens than the 7 Pro, which makes a slight difference when the light start to fade, but you’d have to be looking really closely to spot it. In fact the slight differences in color rendering are more notable than the minimal edge in resolved detail of the 7 Pro. Interestingly enough this time the OnePlus 7 is the one to produce the warmer tones.
Neither is particularly great when it comes to resolved detail, but the OnePlus 7 is actually coming off better here as it’s the much more affordable phone and as such carries far lower expectations.
On the upside the noise is kept at reasonable levels and the dynamic range is excellent – in most cases, neon signs and other sources of light remain well-preserved.
Turning on Night mode improves the photos significantly, helping the OnePlus 7 achieve much better exposure, significantly improving the detail levels, while also restoring the punchiness of the colors.
With the launch of the 7 Pro this year, this takes off some of the pressure for the OP7 to punch above its class. Still, we’re happy to say that it offers excellent image quality considering its price range in a wide range of scenarios.
Portraits are plenty good with natural skin tones and plenty of detail. The OnePlus 7 also simulates the bokeh effect quite well and has one of the best edge detection algorithms we’ve seen. Even with a more complex background, the phone did pretty well.
In fact, to our surprise, the OnePlus 7 often makes better portraits because it uses the main camera while the 7 Pro allows you to shoot only with the telephoto lens. In most situations, the telephoto gives you a better perspective but if there’s not enough light the tiny sensor of the telephoto camera means things go South really fast. Also, there’s a bit more detail coming from the main 48MP sensor so there’s that.
We hope the 7 Pro receives an update allowing you to shoot with the main camera when needed, so it gets the best of both worlds.
Disappointingly the front camera lacks autofocus, but at least its sweet spot is set so it works at a comfortable arm’s length. You don’t have to go to the extreme to get the sharpest possible selfie. Pictures offer good colors and dynamic range as long as the portrait mode isn’t active. As with most selfie cams, image-stacking is disabled while taking portrait photos and results are mediocre at best.
The quality of the videos is decent – colors are accurate if slightly dull, contrast is good and there’s no noticeable noise. Dynamic range is also more than satisfactory with just a little loss of detail in the dark parts of the scene. Still, it appears to be a bit soft compared to most of its rivals. Overall it’s competitive but needs a bit more detail to be considered as one of the best in its class.
And here are two videos shot in 1080p and 2160p at 30 fps to see how the EIS works. It is doing a great job really and on most occasions, it will totally be worth the slight reduction in viewing angle.
Again, you can head to our video compare tool to best see how the OnePlus 7 stack up against the competition.
The OnePlus 7 may have thought it would have it easy, leaving the 7 Pro to fight with the big guys, while it faces far inferior competition with its lower price tag. Yet, its relatively late arrival meant some of the H1 flagships already got their first price cuts, while those from value-oriented brands have managed to expand their market presence.
One of the most obvious alternatives to the OnePlus 7 is the newly released Asus Zenfone 6. It has that top-notch chipset, while costing a lot less than most of its rivals, including the OnePlus 7. It has the same primary camera, but also an ultrawide module and produces the best selfies in the class thanks to its clever flip-camera mechanism. It also has a stock-looking Android just like the OxygenOS, leaving OLED panel as the OnePlus 7‘s only advantage. Then again the Zenfone doesn’t have a notch, so even that isn’t exactly clear-cut.
Then there’s the Huawei P30, which has fallen down in price to below what the OnePlus 7 charges. With the Chinese giant’s issues with the US authorities seemingly on the way to being resolved, the P30 seems like a huge upgrade in terms of camera, while offering an audio jack and a memory card slot (sort of). The OLED screen on the P30 is smaller though and the Kirin 980 is a step behind the Snapdragon 855 in the GPU department. And then there’s the choice between the feature-rich but somewhat less streamlined EMUI and the stock looks of the OnePlus 7 UI.
Another affordable Snapdragon 855-powered solution would be the Mi 9. It brings a triple rear cam with ultrawide, regular and telephoto modules, an OLED screen of very similar size to the OnePlus 7‘s at the very tempting €400 price point.
So the OnePlus 7 faces some properly tough competition and at a lower price to boot. It’s not without it chances though, with it being the only one to offer the particular combination of stock-feeling Android, OLED screen, amazing UD fingerprint scanner and UFS 3.0 storage. The mod-friendly approach of the maker could also win a few fans over.
OnePlus 7‘s camera is one of the better in the price range, but sadly with virtually all of its competitors offering at least one of the extra focal lengths (ultra wide or telephoto) it really lacks in versatility.
Stereo loudspeakers make for an even stronger case, although two of the three nearest rivals come with a dedicated audio jack and memory expansion. But there’s no escaping the fact that all of a sudden, the OnePlus phone lost at its own game – being able to match the performance of rivals while undercutting their prices.
It appears then that unless OnePlus considers a prompt price cut, its market success might be very reliant on the loyalty of its fan base and the number of people looking for the exact feature set we listed above.
- Great OLED screen
- Top notch under-display fingerprint performance
- Decently sounding stereo speakers with very good loudness
- Excellent battery life
- Excellent main camera
- Bloat-free, stock-looking and snappy Android experience utilizing the rare UFS 3.0 storage
- 20W charging speed is better than most in the class
- No ultra-wide angle or telephoto cameras
- No 3.5mm audio jack
- No microSD card slot
- No official ingress protection rating
|128GB 6GB RAM||$ 630.00||$ 660.00|
|256GB 8GB RAM||$ 455.89||$ 499.99|
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