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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 “Pro” moniker and represented the absolute best-of-the-best specs and design for 2019 smartphones at that point.
I’ve been using the OnePlus 7 Pro as my daily driver ever since it launched. Over the past 12 months, it’s become not only my favorite phone of 2019 but my favorite Android phone…ever. Every phone I’ve read about or even had the chance to use since hasn’t topped it.
Now, I don’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 I’ll get to in a bit. But after a full year of using the OnePlus 7 Pro every single day, I can’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 couldn’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.
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 — such as the Asus Zenfone 6 — haven’t had the same resolution, refresh rate, etc.
In terms of balancing design and quality, the OnePlus 7 Pro display just hasn’t been beaten yet — 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 “it should just work” 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 isn’t even close to being the largest capacity we’ve seen, the phone easily gets me through a whole day. That’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 (2019’s Snapdragon 855 Plus and this year’s Snapdragon 865), I honestly can’t tell the difference. I’ve used the Galaxy S20 Ultra quite a bit since it came out and in day-to-day usage I truly don’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 doesn’t count since I don’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.
Cameras are fine for me, and the pop-up is still a hit
Despite OnePlus’ success in the industry, the company just can’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 — including Android Authority — point out that they objectively aren’t as good as the competition.
You know what, though? I just don’t care. To me, the OnePlus 7 Pro takes amazing photos. I’m not a photographer, but I’m sure professionals could point out to me all the ways in which the OnePlus 7 Pro’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 you’re a pixel-peeper or super nit-picky about pictures and video, you’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 — which is a real point of contention — 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 don’t need it, but it’s a fun party trick. Not too long before the quarantine started, I saw someone’s jaw drop when I used the selfie camera on my phone. “That is so cool,” 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. There’s a lot to love about this phone. However, I’m not so star-struck that I can’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 OnePlus’ phones all max out at 256GB of internal storage makes the latter issue even more of a problem, as there’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 doesn’t happen often, but there have been times where I’ve accidentally opened an app or hit a button that’s close to the edge of the display. It’s annoying and I would definitely be happier if there were less curve — not totally flat, but just a little more restrained.
There are also some software aspects missing from the otherwise-awesome Oxygen OS. There’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 Samsung’s One UI, which is disappointing. I can’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. I’m not a fan of blue. Give me all the color options for all configurations, OnePlus.
Is the OnePlus 7 Pro the best OnePlus phone to date?
Honestly, the OnePlus 7 Pro might be too good
Unless something really surprising comes down the pipeline this year, I don’t expect I’ll be upgrading my OnePlus 7 Pro any time soon. The OnePlus 8 Pro doesn’t offer me anything I want that I don’t already have — 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 that’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.
This all makes me wonder if OnePlus accidentally made the 7 Pro too good. As a smartphone geek who works for Android Authority, I don’t even remember a time in which I didn’t want to upgrade my phone. Usually, after just a month or two with a new device, I’m already eyeballing something else that’s better, sleeker, faster, or more powerful. That just isn’t happening anymore, though.
The bottom line is this: if you’re in the market for a phone right now, don’t overlook the OnePlus 7 Pro just because it’s a year old. It’s still got it where it counts and you’re liable to fall in love with it just like I did.