One year with the OnePlus 7 Pro: Officially my favorite Android phone ever
One year ago today, OnePlus unveiled its newest flagship: the OnePlus 7 Pro. It was the first phone from the company with a â€œProâ€� moniker and represented the absolute best-of-the-best specs and design for 2019 smartphones at that point.
Iâ€™ve been using the OnePlus 7 Pro as my daily driver ever since it launched. Over the past 12 months, itâ€™s become not only my favorite phone of 2019 but my favorite Android phoneâ€¦ever. Every phone Iâ€™ve read about or even had the chance to use since hasnâ€™t topped it.
Now, I donâ€™t want you to think that this is going to be a OnePlus puff piece. The phone is far from perfect and there are plenty of things I would change about it if I could, which Iâ€™ll get to in a bit. But after a full year of using the OnePlus 7 Pro every single day, I canâ€™t help but still be incredibly impressed.
The OnePlus 7 Pro display won me over
Before I owned the OnePlus 7 Pro I owned the OnePlus 6T. That phone came out only six months prior to the OnePlus 7 Pro. Since the 6T was still pretty new, I saw no reason to upgrade, at least at first.
I changed my mind immediately, though, when I first used the 7 Pro. Although the display on the OnePlus 6T was really good, it couldnâ€™t hold a candle to the OnePlus 7 Pro display. The better resolution, higher refresh rate, and the fact that there was no notch of any kind and ultra-thin bezels instantly made my OnePlus 6T seem ancient in comparison.
Related:Â Not all 120Hz displays are made equally, and hereâ€™s why
In fact, the display is the main thing that, so far, has prevented me from lusting after any other phones. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is a specs beast with an incredible display, but it has a cutout at the top that interrupts its beauty. The Google Pixel 4 XL has a similar resolution and the same 90Hz refresh rate as the OnePlus 7 Pro but it has sizable bezels that make it feel less premium. Even phones available here in the US without notches and bezels â€” such as the Asus Zenfone 6 â€” havenâ€™t had the same resolution, refresh rate, etc.
In terms of balancing design and quality, the OnePlus 7 Pro display just hasnâ€™t been beaten yet â€” not even by OnePlus itself!
Performance and battery have been stellar
For a phone to work as my daily driver, it needs to be dependable above all else. It needs to have long battery life and it needs to do what I need it to do when I need to do it. The old adage of â€œit should just workâ€� is essential for a phone to be something I use every day.
Thankfully, the OnePlus 7 Pro fits this description. While the 4,000mAh battery in the phone isnâ€™t even close to being the largest capacity weâ€™ve seen, the phone easily gets me through a whole day. Thatâ€™s with streaming music, watching videos, texting, browsing the web, taking photos, and capturing video on a regular basis. I could probably get through two days without charging if I wanted to, but I always just charge it up on my nightstand when I go to sleep, so this has never been necessary.
Even though the OnePlus 7 Pro is a 2019 phone, it feels as fast and powerful as the 2020 flagships I’ve used.
While the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor inside the OnePlus 7 Pro is now outdated by two newer models (2019â€™s Snapdragon 855 Plus and this yearâ€™s Snapdragon 865), I honestly canâ€™t tell the difference. Iâ€™ve used the Galaxy S20 Ultra quite a bit since it came out and in day-to-day usage I truly donâ€™t see it being any faster or smoother than the OnePlus 7 Pro. The only thing I have noticed is that the Galaxy S20 Ultra is better for console emulation, but that doesnâ€™t count since I donâ€™t use that every day (if you want to read more on this, check out my other article here).
The bottom line is that this phone with a 2019 processor and a 4,000mAh battery still feels like it can go head-to-head with something like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which has a 2020 processor and a 5,000mAh battery. I call that a win.
Related: Why smartphone battery life is far more complex than just having a big battery
Cameras are fine for me, and the pop-up is still a hit
Despite OnePlusâ€™ success in the industry, the company just canâ€™t catch a break when it comes to smartphone cameras. It tries so hard to push just how great its cameras are only to have review sites â€” including Android Authority â€” point out that they objectively arenâ€™t as good as the competition.
You know what, though? I just donâ€™t care. To me, the OnePlus 7 Pro takes amazing photos. Iâ€™m not a photographer, but Iâ€™m sure professionals could point out to me all the ways in which the OnePlus 7 Proâ€™s camera is inferior to something else, such as the iPhone 11 Pro Max or the Google Pixel 4. I would politely nod my head, but, in the end, the photos I take with my 7 Pro look so close to the photos I take with other, higher-end phones. Unless youâ€™re a pixel-peeper or super nit-picky about pictures and video, youâ€™d probably be happy with them, too.
Camera shootout: OnePlus 8 Pro vs Galaxy S20 Plus vs Huawei P40 Pro
On a related note, the pop-up selfie camera â€” which is a real point of contention â€” has proven to be one of the star features of the OnePlus 7 Pro. Not only is it more convenient, aesthetically pleasing, and secure to have the selfie camera hidden away when I donâ€™t need it, but itâ€™s a fun party trick. Not too long before the quarantine started, I saw someoneâ€™s jaw drop when I used the selfie camera on my phone. â€œThat is so cool,â€� they shouted. How often does that happen with smartphones anymore?
Only a few gripes and all are minor
Really, I could gush about the OnePlus 7 Pro for a long time. Thereâ€™s a lot to love about this phone. However, Iâ€™m not so star-struck that I canâ€™t see that there are some very notable flaws to the device that I would change if I could.
For starters, the phone is missing two things that a lot of people require for a smartphone: a headphone jack and expandable storage. The fact that OnePlusâ€™ phones all max out at 256GB of internal storage makes the latter issue even more of a problem, as thereâ€™s nothing you can do if you need more space.
The lack of a headphone jack, no microSD card, ultra-curvy sides, and even the one choice of colorway are just some of the things I would change.
Additionally, the curved glass on the sides of the phone is maybe a little too curvy. It doesnâ€™t happen often, but there have been times where Iâ€™ve accidentally opened an app or hit a button thatâ€™s close to the edge of the display. Itâ€™s annoying and I would definitely be happier if there were less curve â€” not totally flat, but just a little more restrained.
There are also some software aspects missing from the otherwise-awesome Oxygen OS. Thereâ€™s no always-on display on the OnePlus 7 Pro, which there absolutely should be (and hopefully will be soon). There are also fewer customization options when compared to something like Samsungâ€™s One UI, which is disappointing. I canâ€™t even do simple things such as change the fingerprint sensor animation or the system-wide font unless I choose one of the very few options OnePlus gives me.
Oh, and I had to buy the phone in blue to get the top-tier 12GB RAM/256GB ROM version. Iâ€™m not a fan of blue. Give me all the color options for all configurations, OnePlus.
Honestly, the OnePlus 7 Pro might be too good
Unless something really surprising comes down the pipeline this year, I donâ€™t expect Iâ€™ll be upgrading my OnePlus 7 Pro any time soon. The OnePlus 8 Pro doesnâ€™t offer me anything I want that I donâ€™t already have â€” and even if it did, that display cutout would prevent me from buying one. The Galaxy S20 series is ho-hum at best this year, and the Galaxy Note 20 will likely just be a rehash of that line with an added stylus. The Google Pixel 5 is expected to be more a mid-ranger this year, and I have no desire to jump ship to iOS with the iPhone 12 series.
In fact, the only phone thatâ€™s really caught my eye in 2020 so far is the Poco F2 Pro. Surprise, surprise, it looks a lot like the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Related:Â OnePlus 8T and 8T Pro: 7 things we want to see
This all makes me wonder if OnePlus accidentally made the 7 Pro too good. As a smartphone geek who works forÂ Android Authority, I donâ€™t even remember a time in which I didnâ€™t want to upgrade my phone. Usually, after just a month or two with a new device, Iâ€™m already eyeballing something else thatâ€™s better, sleeker, faster, or more powerful. That just isnâ€™t happening anymore, though.
The bottom line is this: if youâ€™re in the market for a phone right now, donâ€™t overlook the OnePlus 7 Pro just because itâ€™s a year old. Itâ€™s still got it where it counts and youâ€™re liable to fall in love with it just like I did.
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