After a staggered start, the OnePlus 7 is finally off the marks and available alongside its more expensive sibling, the OnePlus 7 Pro. The easiest way to think of the OnePlus 7 is to imagine the OnePlus 6T but supercharged with a few bits and pieces from the 7 Pro.
The design is largely unchanged from the OnePlus 6T. From the front, the only noticeable difference is the speaker grille for the earpiece, which is almost three times as wide on the OnePlus 7 since it now houses a more powerful speaker for the stereo setup.
The more noticeable difference is on the back. The camera module is now almost twice as tall as it was on the 6T and juts out a fair bit from the back of the phone. Itís even taller than the camera module on the 7 Pro. The design has now been changed to also incorporate the flash within the oval.
Other changes to the design pertain to the location and sizes of the various bits and pieces along the sides. The volume button is placed a bit higher up and the alert slider has been moved down a bit and also made smaller. The volume button on the left has also shifted slightly. While these donít present major changes usability-wise, they do make it impossible to use cases made for the 6T with the 7 as the cutouts donít align anymore.
Speaking of cases, OnePlus has launched three new cases for the 7. This includes the Sandstone variant, which is the thinnest and lightest of the bunch. It offers minimal protection but it barely adds any bulk to the phone, which could be a consideration for some people. The silicone case offers much better protection (except for the bottom edge) and also evens out the camera bump on the back. Itís felt lined on the inside to avoid scratching the phone. Lastly, thereís the nylon bumper case, which offers the most protection and is also the most expensive.
Coming back to the design, the fact that itís similar to the 6T is both a boon and a curse. For all its accomplishments, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a massive phone that is also extremely heavy. The OnePlus 7, in comparison, is significantly smaller and lighter and much more comfortable to use.
It also has a flat screen, unlike the 7 Pro, which means less distortion and accidental touches. Thereís also no moving camera module that you have to worry about. Lastly, the glossy back is a bit less slippery than the smooth matte glass on the 7 Pro.
Unfortunately, because itís similar to the 6T, it means it has the same notch in the display. While it is one of the smaller notches on the market, it does mean most applications wonít use the entire height of the display in fullscreen mode and if you force them then the notch cuts into the content.
OnePlus had made a point to mention the loudspeaker on the bottom of the 7 Pro is now on the right so itís harder to cover it with your hand while gaming or watching videos. Unfortunately, the speaker on the OnePlus 7 is still on the left, so itís just as easy to cover as it was on the 6T.
The OnePlus 7 has no ingress protection certification - we never expected it to since even the 7 Pro can't offer that. However, the design looks like it was made to stop both water and dust from entering and should be fine with a dip in a pool or the sink as long as you donít make a habit out of it.
Moving on, the display on the OnePlus 7 is identical to the one on the OnePlus 6T down to the last pixel. As mentioned before, this means you still have to deal with a notch but on the upside, there is no curve on the side that distorts the image, attracts glare and accidental touches. On the downside, thereís no super smooth 90Hz refresh rate here either
and the display is also not HDR10 certified. Still, this is an excellent looking display and gives us very little reason to complain.
Update: Turns out, the OnePlus 7 does support HDR10+. It was able to play our HDR10 test files stored locally on the device as well as support HDR playback on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube. In fact, because the OnePlus 7 display is brighter than the OnePlus 7 Pro display, the HDR is actually more impressive on the 7. It's a real wonder, though, why OnePlus has chosen not to advertise this fact or even mention it anywhere.
The OnePlus 7 has the same optical fingerprint sensor built into the display as the OnePlus 7 Pro and much faster than the one on the 6T. Having said that, you can still trip it up sometimes when you use it with your less dominant hand. Itís like it is expecting you to use a particular finger and when you use your other hand itís caught off guard and has to shuffle through its notes before it recognizes your finger and unlocks the phone.
Sometimes it doesnít unlock at all and keeps asking you to press harder on it. All in all, under-display fingerprint sensors are still not quite there yet and although this one is probably the best of its kind, they are still not as reliable as the old capacitive sensors.
The software on the OnePlus 7 is damn near identical to that on the 7 Pro. One of the changes we noticed was that OnePlus 7 does not have the Fnatic mode found on the 7 Pro. This is more aggressive than the standard game mode and blocks all notifications and calls, focuses all hardware performance on the game and also disable secondary (non-data) SIM to reduce network latency. This option is missing from the Gaming mode menu, as is the option for haptic feedback during games.
Speaking of haptics, OnePlus claims the 7 Pro has an ĎX-axis Haptic Vibration motorí while the OnePlus 7 simply has a linear motor. Itís hard to tell what exactly an X-axis Haptic Vibration motor is and how it differs from a standard linear motor but whatever it is itís far superior to the one on the OnePlus 7.
While the clicks on the OnePlus 7 Pro feel like clicks, on the OnePlus 7 it feels more like a vague rumble. OnePlus probably knows this better than anyone, which is why the haptic feedback on the OnePlus 7 is far more limited and only available in select parts of the UI such as the navigation keys, whereas on the OnePlus 7 Pro itís everywhere. The only good thing that can be said about the vibration on the OnePlus 7 is that it doesnít rattle the phone as it used to on older OnePlus devices.
In terms of performance, the OnePlus 7 is technically identical to the OnePlus 7 Pro. This shows up in the benchmark results as well. However, a big part of the performance of the OnePlus 7 Pro is the perception of speed, which is far greater due to the 90Hz refresh rate. Nothing technically moves quicker but because you have a greater number of frames rendering the same animation or gesture it creates the feeling of a faster moving interface.
Unfortunately, you have no such luck with the OnePlus 7, which has the same 60Hz refresh rate as the 6T. Because of that it feels functionally identical to the 6T in almost every way and thereís no way to tell the difference in the hardware capabilities of the two devices at this point in time outside of synthetic benchmarks.
This is why the inclusion of the 90Hz display on the OnePlus 7 Pro was such a great decision because it utilizes the power of the hardware in a meaningful way and uses it in the here and now instead of just hoarding it for some unknown point in the future when applications may actually be able to utilize it better.
The OnePlus 7 also lacks the improved liquid cooling of the OnePlus 7 Pro. While both phones get hot while gaming, the 7 Pro is able to maintain its performance without throttling whereas the OnePlus 7 did show a small reduction in benchmark scores over multiple consecutive runs. However, this shouldnít pose any issue during actual gaming as thereís still more than enough power for all currently available titles.
The OnePlus 7 also features the stereo speaker setup like the 7 Pro. OnePlus has included the Dolby Atmos audio processing, which is permanently on for loudspeakers and optional for headphones. With the audio set to the default Dynamic preset, the speakers on the OnePlus 7 sounded ever so slightly better than those on the OnePlus 7 Pro set to the same preset.
Both are still somewhat mediocre sounding, with a very mid-forward sound but the OnePlus 7 had just a tad bit more bass and treble presence than the speakers on the OnePlus 7 Pro. This could be down to the drivers themselves or a software tweak. Both get equally loud.
As with the OnePlus 7 Pro, there is no headphone jack on the OnePlus 7. Also like the OnePlus 7 Pro there is no audio adapter provided in the box with the OnePlus 7.
The last bit of performance worth discussing is the camera. The OnePlus 7 has two cameras on the back. The primary camera is the same 48MP Sony IMX 586 with PDAF and OIS. However, you do not get the ultra-wide-angle nor the telephoto cameras found on the OnePlus 7 Pro. Instead, there is a 5MP depth sensor for the portrait mode feature. Also gone is the laser autofocus, which is useful for shooting in the dark. On the front, the OnePlus 7 again has the exact same 16MP Sony IMX 471 camera, minus the pop-up apparatus.
Both the main rear camera and the front camera on the OnePlus 7 work identically to those on the OnePlus 7 Pro. OnePlus does advertise the OnePlus 7 Pro as having an f1.6 aperture and the OnePlus 7 having an f1.7 aperture for the rear camera but taking a look at the EXIF data from both phones reveals the aperture to be f1.65 and OnePlus is merely choosing to market it as a lower number for the more expensive model. In reality, these cameras are perfectly identical, apart from the missing laser autofocus on the cheaper OnePlus 7.
We did take some quick shots with the two phonesa and the results were basically identical. What little differences were could be boiled down to the fact that our OnePlus 7 review unit was running an older version of OxygenOS than our OnePlus 7 Pro review unit. We expect both devices to match exactly once they are both on the same update cycle.
The final bit of the puzzle is the battery. We did not have enough time to do any battery life testing on this phone . However, the battery on the OnePlus 7 is only 300mAh smaller but the display has nearly 50% of the resolution and runs 50% slower than the one on the OnePlus 7 Pro, so itís likely the battery life could actually be better on the cheaper device. The smaller battery should also allow it to charge quicker.
Overall, in our initial impressions of the device, we didnít unearth anything particularly interesting about the OnePlus 7 that we didnít already expect. One could even look at this phone and call it boring.
To put it succinctly, this is a OnePlus 6T with the processor, camera, storage, speakers and fingerprint sensor of the OnePlus 7 Pro. Sure, that may seem a lot but in practice, itís often hard to tell the difference between the OnePlus 7 and the 6T, even knowing everything that has changed.
But the OnePlus 7 is not meant for people who bought the 6T. If youíre the type of person who buys a new OnePlus phone every time they launch one, then youíd have already got the OnePlus 7 Pro by now.
The OnePlus 7 is OnePlus reclaiming the premium mid-range market it lost recently after all the price hikes. Sure, the new OnePlus 7 Pro is expensive but the OnePlus 7 is actually cheaper than the outgoing model, or at least in some markets. In India, for example, the OnePlus 7 is launching at a price that is lower than the launch price of both, the OnePlus 6T and the OnePlus 6.
The price is the real trump card of the OnePlus 7. Itís not that itís a bad phone - in fact, itís among the best ones you can get in that price range but the low launch price is what makes it so interesting. While the more expensive OnePlus 7 Pro offers enough bells and whistles to justify the price premium, for most people the OnePlus 7 offers everything theyíd expect from a premium smartphone but without the premium price. And thatís what the OnePlus brand has been always been about.
I know its been a month since the reply, but just wanted to let you know that I got the 7 Pro as well. Compared both the 7 and 7 Pro side by side and the 7 Pro just won my 15k!