Right off the bat we should mention that the 7T Pro McLaren Edition is the same phone as the standard 7T Pro, so all the changes are merely cosmetic.
The most notable thing is that the phone comes in black. Previously, this wouldn't have been a big deal as black was always an option for the standard model but this year the standard 7T Pro only comes in blue. This means if you want something darker, the 7T Pro McLaren Edition is basically your only option now.
Of course, the phone isn't just black. As with the 6T, the 7T Pro McLaren Edition has a strip of orange running around the edge on the back of the phone. It's a subtle color and only really glows when hit by a bright light.
There are other orange accents on the phone as well. The camera module now has an orange ring surrounding it. The alert slider is also once again decked in orange. It looks nice and the knurled finish on the button really makes it stand out. We would have liked to see a bit of orange in the USB port as well to match the cable but it's just black.
Now we get to the controversial part. The back of the 7T Pro McLaren Edition has a pattern underneath the glass, which lights up gradually as light hits it. At first glance it resembles wood grain but it's actually based on the carbon fiber print used in the interiors of the McLaren Speedtail. The interesting thing about this pattern is that it starts at the top of the phone and goes all the way to the McLaren logo at the bottom, but depending upon how you look at it or how light hits it, you may only see a very small part of it or not see it at all.
But here's the controversial part; based on the people we have asked in the time since we have had this phone, very few have admitted to liking the pattern on the back. Most people, this reviewer included, either don't like it or really don't like it.
The thing is, we get what it is. We know it's not wood grain, we know where the inspiration came from and looking at the interiors of the Speedtail, it does seem to work reasonably well there. And even if it didn't, it would be fine because the Speedtail is a crazy, limited-edition hypercar that is meant to be evocative. But on the 7T Pro, it just doesn't work.
What looks jarring is that the pattern is primarily silver. This works fine on the Speedtail, which is a silver car with white and silver interiors. The 7T Pro McLaren Edition is a black and orange phone so a silver pattern stands out, and not necessarily in a good way.Interiors of the McLaren Speedtail
To us it seems like the designers were grasping at straws to cram in one more McLaren reference into the design and possibly went for the least suitable one. All of us did say last year that the carbon fiber finish and an orange strip weren't nearly McLaren enough for the 6T but that still looked more appealing than the 7T Pro. This other carbon fiber finish is far more obscure of a reference and more importantly, doesn't seem to work with the rest of the phone's design. Do you know how it would have really worked? If the phone was white and blue. Like the car it's based on.
It's easy to write off the design of the 7T Pro McLaren Edition as subjective and give it a pass. But looking at it a bit more objectively, it just doesn't work and feels like two different design ideas clashing together. We would have liked OnePlus to move away from the black and orange design that it used last year; even McLaren isn't as obsessed with that color scheme as they make cars in all sorts of colors, many of which aren't even marketed in the company's orange theme. And while making something black and orange is the easiest way to market and sell it as McLaren Edition, we would have actually liked to see OnePlus fully commit fully to the Speedtail branding and just make a silver and blue Speedtail Edition, complete with that psychedelic pattern on the back. And why not? After all, the Speedtail is a special edition hyper quick flagship McLaren. Isn't that exactly what this phone is supposed to be?
As mentioned before, the 7T Pro McLaren Edition is basically the same phone as the 7T Pro. The differences are much smaller this year compared to the 6T; in fact, there's just one difference, and that is the RAM.
The 7T Pro McLaren Edition comes with 12GB LPDDR4X memory instead of 8GB on the standard 7T Pro. Literally - and we mean literally - everything else is identical to the standard 7T Pro.
So does the extra RAM make a difference in performance? Nope.