With all its innovations, the OnePlus 7 Pro gets the most attention, but the Chinese manufacturer also has the ‘normal’ OnePlus 7. The smartphone is not exciting and makes small adjustments compared to its predecessor, but remains an excellent buy. You can read how it works exactly in this OnePlus 7 review.
OnePlus 7 review: high-end Android extensively discussed
OnePlus has a scoop this year because this time the manufacturer is releasing two smartphones at the same time. The front-filling screen without a notch, a higher refresh rate, triple camera, and extendable selfie camera make the OnePlus 7 Pro look impressive, but you can’t say this about the regular OnePlus 7 review. In fact, the improvements compared to the OnePlus 6T are very small and if you place both phones next to each other, you don’t even see the differences.
Nevertheless, normal OnePlus 7 is important for the Chinese company, and that is mainly due to the suggested retail price. You pay 559 euros for the telephone and that is considerably less than for other flagships of, for example, Samsung, Huawei, Google, and Sony. Because of the lower suggested retail price, the OnePlus 7 is interesting for many people, because you get excellent specifications with the best processor and fastest storage memory of the moment.
Identical design and screen
The design shows that OnePlus 7 is a modest upgrade. That is hardly changed compared to the 6T and if you have both phones in your hands, the difference is hardly noticeable. The dimensions are almost identical, the telephones are about the same weight and little has changed on the screen.
It is again a 6.41-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2340 by 1080 pixels, which amounts to a pixel density of 402 PPI. That is sharp enough and although QHD looks nicer, I think the choice for full-HD makes perfect sense. Full-HD is still sufficient on this screen format and a slightly lower resolution also ensures better performance and longer battery life.
The screen quality is excellent and the display can be nice and clear so that you can still read it well in bright sunlight. At the top is a drop-like notch, which only takes up a little space. With daily use I was not bothered by the notch, not even when watching videos or playing games.
A little above the notch you can see a difference with the OnePlus 6T. The 7 namely has stereo speakers and a larger grill at the top. This is good for the sound and music sounds much better on the 7 than on the 6T. It is a pity, however, that the headphone connection is again missing, and it does not seem that OnePlus is planning to reclaim the port in the coming years.
Smooth hardware and better fingerprint scanner
As we are used to from OnePlus, the manufacturer has put the very latest and most powerful hardware into the device. Under the hood is the Snapdragon 855 chip with 6 / 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage space as standard. There is also a version with 256GB of storage.
The OnePlus 7 (and 7 Pro) is also the first smartphone with UFS 3.0 storage memory. UFS 3.0 has much higher read and write speeds than its predecessor. That means you can transfer files to another device faster. Opening and copying files such as photos, music, and videos are also faster.
In practice, the OnePlus 7 is a very fast smartphone. In fact: this is the fastest smartphone I have tested so far, and even the Pixel devices – which run on a completely bare version of Android – do not come close. The OnePlus 7 flies through the menus, loads apps incredibly fast and during my test period, I have not seen a single hitch. This is simply the most powerful smartphone of the moment.
Also very fast: the optical fingerprint scanner under the screen. OnePlus has improved the scanner of the 6T and you actually notice that. Unlocking is considerably faster and at the moment there are no smartphones with a fingerprint scanner under the screen that are that fast. That deserves a compliment, because it now works just as well and quickly as a ‘traditional’ fingerprint scanner on the back, for example.
Android as you would like Android
The software of the OnePlus 7 is also hard to fault. The smartphone runs on Android 9.0 (Pie)with the OxygenOS skin from the manufacturer. For me, that is the nicest alternative Android interface, and that has several reasons. First of all, OxygenOS is similar to stock-Android and the software is particularly well-arranged.
The adjustments that OnePlus makes are also really useful. Many things are adaptable and OxygenOS, for example, has a night mode that comes in handy in the evenings. A new feature is RAM Boost, which uses the working memory predictively and ensures that your favorite apps are already loaded. Also nice are the navigation gestures from OnePlus, which work logically and replace the traditional navigation buttons perfectly.
Furthermore, the OnePlus update policy is very good. The manufacturer promises to give its smartphones two years of Android upgrades and three years of security patches. The company sometimes goes even further than that and recently gave the OnePlus 3 and 3T (from 2016) a third major Android update. You rarely see that – unless you have a Pixel phone. In addition, the OnePlus 5 and 5T, which were released in 2017 with Android Nougat, will receive an Android Q update later this year. OnePlus has since proven that it supports its smartphones for a longer period of time.
Camera: slightly better every time
The cameras of OnePlus phones are generally good, but not great. The manufacturer does take some steps forward every year. This is also the case with the OnePlus 7, which has the same primary 48-megapixel camera as the 7 Pro. The differences are also large. While the 7 Pro also has a telephoto and wide-angle lens, the 7 only has a 5-megapixel depth sensor. It helps with taking portrait photos but does nothing further.
That is rather scanty, because OnePlus used that second camera in the past for optical zoom, for example. Moreover, smartphones such as the Google Pixel 3a and iPhone XR show that you do not need an extra lens at all for good portrait photos. The OnePlus 7 perfectly applies the bokeh effect, but portrait photos of the Pixel 3a and XR look a lot better.
It is especially unfortunate that the camera of the OnePlus 7 is a lot less versatile than its larger brother because the primary 48-megapixel camera does deliver great photos. The phone uses the so-called quad more bay technology to combine pixels, which should provide more detail. The camera also has optical image stabilization, so that you can take sharp shots even with shaking hands.
Photos of the OnePlus 7 review are excellent in daylight. There is a lot of detail, the colors are beautiful and true and the camera is smooth. The dynamic range is fine, but sometimes also somewhat changeable. On a rainy day, for example, the sky looks realistic in one photo, and somewhat flat in another. However, this is not very common and during the day, photos usually look good.
OnePlus especially has something to gain in the field of night photography. The manufacturer has improved its Nightscape function, a night mode that should ensure sharp and clear images in low-light situations. That works reasonably well, but the software is not nearly as good as the night mode of the Google Pixel 3 and Huawei P30 ( Pro ).
The difference between the normal camera position and Nightscape is often small and you see some details a bit better, but unfortunately no more than that. The feature certainly comes in handy and we also expect a device in this price range, but OnePlus cannot match the really big guys. In particular, it must further improve its camera software to get close to the real top.
Excellent battery life and fast charging
Just like the 6T, the OnePlus 7 review has a 3700 mAh battery and it performs well. The battery life is comparable to the 6T and that means that you can get through the day without any problems. At the end of the day I usually had about 30 to 40 percent left, and that’s enough to use the smartphone for the next morning. Devices such as the Huawei P30 and Xiaomi Pocophone F1clearly last longer on a full load, but the OnePlus 7 certainly does not score badly.
The more expensive OnePlus 7 Pro charges enormously fast thanks to the new Warp Charge 30 technology (30 Watt), unfortunately, this is missing in the normal 7. This is not a disaster, because the phone charges with a maximum of 20 watts and that are still fine.
The OnePlus 7 is about 50 to 60 percent full in half an hour, after which you can use it again for much of the day. The fast charging technology is not the best, but the device still charges faster than, for example, the Samsung Galaxy S10 (15 Watt) and Google Pixel 3 (18 Watt).
Wireless charging is missing again
Despite the glass housing, there is no wireless charging and that remains a pity. OnePlus indicates that wireless charging is not yet fast enough, but the company is quite wrong there. Wireless charging is mainly about convenience and is nice to use at night because you don’t have to mess with cables.
In addition, many people use wireless charging to charge their phones during the day, so speed does not play a role at all. Furthermore, with the Mi 9, Xiaomi shows that wireless charging can be fast.