What happens when you take a really good phone, improve the specifications and reduce the price? You get the OnePlus 7. The OnePlus 7 is, for better or worse, a faster OnePlus 6T. It’s a phone that sticks to the OnePlus ethos of providing top-notch hardware and software at a fair price point and it absolutely nails it.
While the OnePlus 7 Pro takes on the minimalist school of design with its uber-clean front and a hidden front camera, the OnePlus 7 is all about usability and reducing friction. The front of the phone is essentially the same as the OnePlus 6T, right down to the waterdrop notch. The phone makes no pretense of hiding away the front camera in fancy ways like a punch-hole display. It also doesn’t have the curved edges of the Pro, which means the OnePlus 7 is not just easier to grip but also has a higher chance of surviving a fall.
Some might say that the screen here isn’t quite as amazing as the 90Hz, Quad HD panel on the OnePlus 7 Pro, but the display is more than serviceable. This is the same “optic AMOLED” panel we saw on the OnePlus 6T, and unless placed next to the Pro, I doubt any user would find it to be anything less than great.
This is an excellent display with minimal color shift. Colors look vibrant, with just a small dose of over-saturation but it is easy to tone it down in the settings. If I had to nitpick, I wish it would go just a bit brighter. In my short time with the OnePlus 7, I’ve noticed it can be hard to read it outdoors in the blazing Indian summer sun.
The in-display fingerprint scanner works swiftly and reliably, every single time.
The OnePlus 7, like the OnePlus 7 Pro, gets an updated in-display fingerprint scanner and I truly believe the company has finally nailed the implementation. Almost all such fingerprint scanners, so far, have left me with a sense of frustration after repeated attempts at unlocking the phone. No such thing with the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro. It works swiftly and reliably, every single time. If you wish to use face unlock, well that’s available as well, and you wouldn’t have to wait for the camera to pop-up either.
This year round, the OnePlus series has gained dual stereo speakers. The speakers are Dolby Atmos-capable, but realistically, that is little more than a marketing gimmick. What you do get are speakers that are loud and mostly quite crisp to listen to. You won’t be starting your next house party with these, but they’ll do the trick while watching a YouTube video or two. There is little bass here, but the audio comes as clear all the way through and you can comfortably crank up the volume to the max.
Talking about ergonomics, I noticed the OnePlus 7 is a whole lot more comfortable to use compared to the OnePlus 7 Pro. For me, that’s largely because of the reduced weight of the phone. The OnePlus 7 weighs a whopping 24 grams less than the Pro’s 206 grams and that makes a world of a difference.
The camera bump on the OnePlus 7 stands out noticeably.
It’s not just the weight though, the OnePlus 7 is significantly shorter, not as wide and definitely slimmer than the OnePlus 7 Pro. All of this to say that the OnePlus 7 is incredibly comfortable to hold and slip into your pocket. Except for the camera bump. Inexplicably, the camera bump on the OnePlus 7 stands out noticeably, and will definitely catch on to pockets while you try to slide the phone in.
In most countries, the OnePlus 7 will be available in just a glossy midnight black color. Our OnePlus 7 review unit, however, is finished in a candy-apple red that looks downright stunning. This is one of those rare occasions where a color as outrageous as this bold red manages to look sophisticated. OnePlus has wisely opted not to go for a garish gradient design. The mirror-finish red has a certain depth to it that will turn heads, as it reflects light at various angles.
That said, I do miss the attractive, understated matte finish of previous OnePlus devices and can only hope that the company will bring it back in a future colorway. The red edition is exclusive to India and that too, only on the high-spec model with 8GB of RAM.
Let’s talk performance
So what do you miss out when you opt for the “basic” variant of the OnePlus 7 series? Turns out, not too much. The phone is still powered by a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855 chipset and is paired with between 6 and 8GB of RAM. With the higher-end variant, you even get a whole 256GB of storage, which should be enough for most users.
The OnePlus 7 is as fast as Android phones get at the moment. Without the added burden of a 90Hz display and a higher resolution panel from the Pro, it is highly likely that you will get ever so slightly better performance in games. In my time with the phone, I observed blistering-fast performance all the way through. The phone can handle anything you throw at it and then some.
The OnePlus 7 is as fast as Android phones get at the moment.
Oxygen OS continues to be a shining example of a manufacturer skin done right. The company’s approach towards keeping everything as near stock as possible with a few choice additions has helped it become incredibly popular. It doesn’t hurt that it helps OnePlus push out Android updates that much quicker as well.
Like every year, OnePlus has made a few changes to the software, but there has been one addition that caught me by surprise. If you thought Digital Wellbeing shames you about your addiction to your phone, Zen Mode lets you take action on it. Zen Mode completely cuts off access to everything except the camera and emergency phone call access. You will not receive any notifications, nor you will be able to access any app. Arguably, the best aspect of the feature is that you cannot disable it once you’ve switched it on.
The OnePlus 7 ships with a 3,700mAh battery, which is the same as on the OnePlus 6T. While I’ll hold back my final impressions for the full review, battery life has so far been impressive. The phone manages to deliver between six to seven hours of screen on time, with a mixed-use workload including a lot of emails, social media use, and a bit of gaming.
It’s a bit unfortunate that OnePlus did not opt for the larger 4,000mAh battery pack from the OnePlus 7 Pro. The smaller and lower-resolution screen and the lack of a pop-up motor should help in balancing out longevity.
The OnePlus 7 does not support Warp Charge.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the regular OnePlus 7 does not ship with Warp Charge support. Now, the existing 20W Dash Charge solution is plenty fast for most, but if you want the fastest charging capabilities, you will have to upgrade to the higher-end model.
Is the OnePlus 7 camera any good?
The OnePlus 7 has a fairly pared-down camera experience that sticks to the basics. The primary camera is a 48MP sensor, a Sony IMX586 of course, paired with a 5MP depth-sensing unit. The primary sensor uses pixel-binning to combine adjoining pixels to produce a cleaner 12MP image. There is no wide-angle camera here, nor is there a telephoto sensor, so you are fairly limited in terms of creative photo angles.
What the camera lacks in versatility, it makes up for in image quality. Images generally look quite good, though not quite as good as those from a Google Pixel 3a. There is a slight difference in the aperture size between the OnePlus Pro, but I did not notice an appreciable difference in image quality.
OnePlus 7 specifications
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
19.5:9 aspect ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass 6
Supports sRGB, DCI-P3
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Main: Sony IMX586 48MP, f/1.6 aperture, OIS
with 0.8μm pixels,
Secondary: 5MP depth sensor
Dual LED flash
Video: 4K at 30/60fps, 1080p at 30/60/240fps, 720p at 30/480fps
|Audio||USB 3.1 Type-C
No headphone jack
Dolby Atmos certified
20-watt fast charging
|Sensors||Optical in-display fingerprint sensor
Ambient light sensor
|Network||LTE: Supports 5xCA, 64QAM, 256QAM & 4×4 MIMO,
up to DL CAT16 (1Gbps)/UL CAT13 (150 Mbps) depending on carrier support
NA/EU: FDD LTE: Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/32/66/71
CN/IN: FDD LTE: Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/1213/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/66
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi: 2×2 MIMO, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
Bluetooth 5.0, support aptX & aptX HD
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
|SIM||Dual nano-SIM slot|
|Software||OxygenOS based on Android 9 Pie|
|Colors||Mirror Grey, Red (China and India only)|
|Dimensions||157.7 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm
OnePlus 7: What do we think?
The OnePlus 7 is priced at 559 euros / 499 pounds / 32,999 rupees (~$473) for the 6GB/128GB variant depending on the market you are in. Even at the higher end, 600 euros / 549 pounds / 37,999 rupees (~$545) is not a lot of money to pay for the 8GB/256GB version. This is a true return to form for OnePlus to its “flagship killer” origins.
Common sense says that I should like the highest-end, pro version of a smartphone. Yet I find myself drawn to the OnePlus 7. The OnePlus 7 takes the best of the OnePlus 7 Pro and distills it down to a form factor that, for lack of better words, works.
The OnePlus 7 distills the best of the OnePlus 7 Pro to a form factor that is a lot more comfortable.
It is not a perfect phone and it lacks some nice to have features like wireless charging and an IP rating, but it delivers on what it sets out to promise and that is performance. This is one of, if not the fastest Android phones around, period. And that’s not just for the price. The OnePlus 7 has the specs and the brilliant software. More importantly, hardware and software work in tandem to create a usage experience that is one of the best in the business.