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OnePlus 7 Pro might finally make me ditch Google phones
The OnePlus 7 Pro is OnePlus’ first attempt at a true ultra-premium flagship and I’m a little bit in love with it.
I’ve come to this conclusion after testing a review unit for around a week now and it’s frankly left me in a pickle. Despite the fact my day job for the past five or so years means I’m chopping and changing phones on an almost monthly basis (it’s a hard life), I’ve always gone back to a Google phone as my daily driver.
That could all change with the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Oodles of Google
This trend of mine stretches back all the way to the Google Nexus 4, which became my first Android phone back in 2012 after becoming jaded by incremental iPhone upgrades. The Nexus 5 was my next stop and quickly cemented my love of all things Android and is probably my favorite smartphone of all-time (just behind the Pixel 2 XL and HTC One M8).
Long story short, I managed to smash my Pixel 3 XL (RIP) and needed a replacement. That role was filled by the OnePlus 6T and I was immediately wowed by its rapid speed, not to mention the smaller notch over the Pixel 3 XL’s hideous bathtub cutout.
It wasn’t all wonderful, though. The camera processing left a lot to be desired, I still preferred Pixel software to OxygenOS, and I hated the single speaker that I always managed to muffle when playing games and watching Twitch.
After seven years of Google phones, maybe it's time for a change.
I’ve been flitting between the OnePlus 6T and a brand new, not smashed to pieces Google Pixel 3 XL for a few months now, trying to get a balance between the 6T’s hardware and the Pixel 3 XL’s software.
Then the OnePlus 7 Pro arrived at my doorstep.
Rather than just go over all the great and not-so-great things about the OnePlus 7 Pro, I’m going to run through all the things I would and wouldn’t miss from ditching my Pixel in the vain hope it’ll get me out of another “will I, won’t I” dilemma until the Pixel 4 rolls around.
Things I love
If you’ve read or watched (above) our OnePlus 7 Pro review you already know this thing is blisteringly fast. The version I’ve got is the ludicrously over-spec’d 12GB RAM model and it’s so quick it feels like it might take off.
Coming to this from my irritatingly — and considering the internals inexcusably — sluggish Pixel 3 XL is a revelation. I can now switch between a seemingly infinite number of apps at any time without having to watch them boot all over again. Thanks to UFS 3.0, bloated games like Pokémon Go also load in about half the time. It’s blissful.
The overall snappy feel and tight animations are helped along by the OnePlus 7 Pro’s 90Hz display.
The display in general is absolutely stunning. I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I use a selfie camera in a single year so the trade off of a mechanized pop-up camera that could one day fail for a massive, almost entirely bezel-free screen is a no brainer.
The display curves are perhaps a little too extreme compared to the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, but everything else about the phone’s entire design is stunning, especially in Nebula Blue which has a mesmerizing, soft glow in the certain lights. I’ve never disliked the two-tone Pixel aesthetic, but this blows it out of the water.
The OnePlus 7 Pro's 90Hz display is stunning.
Surprisingly, the in-display fingerprint sensor has been another huge upgrade. I say surprisingly because I’ve had nothing but headaches with in-display sensors, but I’ve found the hit rate on the OnePlus 7 Pro to be really high. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 XL’s rear sensor has always been hit-and-miss for me.
Another plus for OnePlus (see what I did there?) is battery life. While the OnePlus 7 Pro represents a significant drop in battery endurance compared to the ultra-efficient OnePlus 6T, I can still make it through the day on OnePlus’ latest. That’s more than I get from the Pixel. The lack of wireless charging is a shame as I’ll have to retire my Pixel Stand, but 30W Warp Charge support more than makes up for it.
Things I miss
As I expected, my main gripes with the OnePlus 7 Pro have very little to do with the hardware — with two minor exceptions.
The first is the stereo speaker setup. The 7 Pro’s speakers are a stark improvement over the OnePlus 6T’s stupidly positioned single bottom speaker, but they’re still not quite on par with the Pixel 3 XL’s dual front-facing speakers.
The other hardware feature I’d miss is Active Edge. I use Google Assistant a lot (I have five Google Home speakers and counting) so having immediate access on my phone via a quick squeeze has always been a bonus.
In the grand scheme of things, these are both losses I can live with. I’m not sure I can say the same about my issues with the software, however.
Let me be very clear: OxygenOS is by far my favorite OEM skin. It’s incredibly customizable, clean-looking, has almost zero bloat, and often has extra or tweaked features that are better than stock Android (most notably gestures). But I still prefer the Pixel Launcher.
There’s just something about the Pixel’s simplicity and purity as part of the wider Google ecosystem — that I’m perhaps too deeply ingrained in — that I immediately mourn the absence of that signature Material Design look and feature set.
I can remedy this a little thanks to a helpful widget app that mimics the Pixel clock and Nova launcher with a sideloaded Google Discover app, but it’s still not quite the same. There’s also no solution to OnePlus’ continued, inexplicable refusal to add always-on display support — a very personal potential deal breaker, I admit — which is outright baffling at this point.
If there’s one ultimate deal breaker, however, it’s the same thing that led to me resigning the OnePlus 6T back to a drawer: the camera.
Last year I welcomed my daughter into the world and my photo library went from occasional shots of my cat to literally thousands of snaps of a little person, all uploaded safely to Google Photos with unlimited original quality cloud storage and synced to my Google Home Hub (or Nest Hub, I should say).
On paper, the OnePlus 7 Pro camera is great. Its triple-lens setup is far more versatile than the Pixel 3 series’ single shooter and the image quality is an obvious step up from the OnePlus 6T. The OnePlus Camera app is also simple and intuitive.
Unfortunately, the actual results still pale in comparison to the Pixel 3 XL, especially in low light. OnePlus’ post-processing still lags way behind Google’s and when you’re taking photos that you’ll cherish forever that becomes an overwhelmingly large, emotive factor.
The fact that the budget Pixel 3a series, which I’ve also been playing around with recently, produces better results as a point-and-shoot camera phone shows just how far ahead Google is in this area compared to every Android OEM, not just OnePlus.
OnePlus 7 Pro Vs Google Pixel 3: Decision time?
I have a feeling I’ll be going back and forth between the OnePlus 7 Pro and Google Pixel 3 XL for the next few months. The inevitable Pixel Camera port for the OnePlus 7 Pro may throw a curveball at me, though that may make using the telephoto and ultra-wide angle sensors a little more awkward.
My ideal phone still sits somewhere between the two devices with OnePlus’ hardware and Google’s software. That said, I understand that I’m coming at this dilemma from a point of extreme privilege as most people don’t have multiple high-calibre phones they can pick and choose on a whim.
I'm still torn.
For most buyers, the OnePlus 7 Pro offers far greater bang for your buck even when considering the price jump compared to OnePlus’ previous flagships. Likewise, if the camera is your deciding factor as it may be for me, the Pixel 3a is a much better value package than its flagship sibling.
Ultimately, I’m still torn. But it’s not been this close for a while.
Which phone should I go for? Let me hear your opinion in the comments!