OnePlus has been running for close to six years now, launching phones that offer impressive specs without the hefty price tag of other flagships This year, for the first time, it launched two phones together, the mid-range OnePlus 7 and the premium OnePlus 7 Pro, which we're looking at here.

While the OnePlus 7 matches the OnePlus 7 Pro in terms of processor (the blazing fast Snapdragon 855), the latter phone is significantly ahead in most other areas: it has a bigger, sharper screen, an extra lens on the rear camera, and the option of more RAM. The OnePlus 7 Pro is undoubtedly the OnePlus flagship for 2019.

We've been testing out the Pro model for a couple of weeks, and found that it mostly lives up to the hype – it's a serious challenger to the iPhone, the Galaxy S, the Pixel and the other flagships of the moment, and yet won't cost you quite as much.

Design and hardware

As phone makers shrink bezels and notches down further and further, we're seeing some spectacularly good-looking phones hit the market – but the OnePlus 7 Pro might well be the best of the bunch. OnePlus sometimes skimps on screen tech, but not here: the 6.67-inch 1,440 x 3,120 pixel AMOLED display is stunning, with curved edges and virtually no bezels to speak of.

There's no notch either, because of what might be the biggest conversation starter that the OnePlus 7 Pro offers – a motorized, pop-up selfie camera. It slides into action as soon as you turn the selfie camera on, then quickly disappears again when you switch back to the rear camera. At first it sounds like a gimmicky idea, but the build quality of the pop-up unit, and the speed that it operates at, are surprisingly good. In other words, you get used to it.

Switching between front and back cameras takes only a microsecond or two longer than it would do normally, and we think that a lot of people will take a rather awkward-looking pop-up selfie camera in return for no notch. If you don't take many selfies you'll barely notice the pop-up unit is there, and when it's tucked away it hardly disturbs the clean lines of the phone at all.

OnePlus has fitted the fingerprint sensor under the display too – it seems to be faster and more accurate than the tech built into the screen of the OnePlus 6T – so the back of the phone is clean and elegant as well. The OnePlus logo, the flash, and the triple-lens camera system all sit in a straight line.

The back glass of the OnePlus 7 is very much a fingerprint magnet, and slippy too. It won't fall out of your hand, but might slide off a knee or the side of an armchair more easily than you would like. That won't bother everyone though, and really it's difficult to fault the design of the OnePlus 7 Pro in any particular area.

As usual with OnePlus phones there's also a volume slider on the side – which lets you switch between silent, vibrate and ring – and it's something we wish more phone manufacturers would introduce, as it's really useful. As for colors, you've got mirror gray (shown in our review shots), nebula blue, and a limited edition almond to pick from.

Specs and features

The OnePlus 7 Pro comes with the Snapdragon 855 processor that's powering most of the flagship Android phones this year, including the LG G8 ThinQ and the Samsung Galaxy S10. Match that with 6 GB, 8 GB or 12 GB of RAM, depending on your region, and you've got a phone that can hold its own with any rival in terms of performance.

That was certainly evident in the time that we spent with the OnePlus 7 Pro. We didn't notice anything in the way of lag or slowdown, whether we were chewing through dozens of open web browser tabs or running some fairly intensive games. This is a phone that's going to cope with whatever you can throw at it for years to come.

You don't get a memory card slot with the OnePlus 7 Pro, but with a choice of 128 GB or 256 GB of internal storage, you shouldn't really need one. As usual with OnePlus phones, wireless charging and waterproofing are sacrificed to keep costs down, so you'll have to live without those two features.

The 4,000 mAh battery does support OnePlus' own fast charging standard though, and you can get up to 50 percent battery charge in just 20 minutes from zero. That's very good, as was the amount of battery life we had left at the end of each day – usually in the 20-30 percent range (and occasionally even higher). An hour of solid Netflix streaming knocked the battery down from 100 percent to 92 percent, which again is really promising.

We should also note that the 6.67-inch display supports a 90 Hz refresh rate, which few other handsets on the market right now can match. That means the screen redraws itself faster than most other phones, which gives you a fluidity in the motion of the display - whether it's playing games or flicking through menus – which is hard to beat.

Admittedly, the OnePlus 7 Pro doesn't quite tick every box (wireless charging, waterproofing), but it costs a couple of hundred dollars less than phones that do. With top-end specs, fast charging, an excellent screen and very decent battery life, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Camera and software

Camera quality has occasionally let down the OnePlus phones of the past, but the manufacturer has upped its photography game with the OnePlus 7 Pro. The triple-lens rear camera comes out with excellent shots in both daylight and low light, and isn't going to let you down in the vast majority of situations.

The OnePlus 7 Pro rear camera can't pull a low light rabbit out of a hat like, say, the Google Pixel 3a can; but, it can certainly take very usable shots when there isn't much light around at all. It's only in the very darkest scenes that you'll struggle to pick out details, and the built-in Nightscape mode can make a substantial difference (provided you're able to keep the phone still for a second or two).

We tested the OnePlus 7 Pro camera in a variety of shooting conditions and came away satisfied or impressed every time. The camera software is speedy, the choice of modes is fine, and the shots you're going to get will be perfect for Instagram and Snapchat and sometimes good enough to hang on the wall.

Thanks to that triple-lens camera you get a 3x optical zoom that comes in very handy, as well as a wide angle mode that lets you fit a fantastic amount into a frame. With the arrival of the OnePlus 7 Pro, the camera is no longer a reason to avoid a OnePlus phone.

The OxygenOS variation on Android that OnePlus develops continues to go from strength to strength too. It's one of the few versions of Android that can actually compete with stock Android (the version Google puts on its Pixels) in terms of design, features, ease of use and accessibility.

In fact, OxygenOS improves on stock Android in several areas. There's a gaming mode, for example, which shuts out notifications and alerts and optimizes the phone for performance, as well as support for customizable gestures. Overall, it feels more stylish and friendlier than stock Android too, which is a credit to the OnePlus engineers.

Price and verdict

Every year, OnePlus releases a couple of phones that give the flagship models from the likes of Samsung, Google, Apple and Huawei some real, genuine competition. This year (with the standard OnePlus 7 to fall back on), OnePlus has pushed the specs and features further than ever, while bumping the price up a little too.

The screen is fantastic, as is most of the rest of the design, and the overall build quality. The rear camera is really good as well – not a game-changer, but capable of some very fine shots. Add in strong battery life, a really intelligent and thoughtful take on Android, super-fast charging and more, and this is a very compelling package.

So what's not to like? Again, OnePlus has resisted adding a waterproof IP rating to its phone, and wireless charging gets skipped again. That pop-up selfie camera isn't going to be to everyone's taste either, though we suspect when pushed that the vast majority of smartphone users would put up with it in return for no notch.

Plenty of phones pass across the New Atlas desk and it recent years there have been no duds to speak of. There have also been very few phones that really stand out from the flagship pack, but the OnePlus 7 Pro manages to do that – particularly in what it's managed to do with the screen and software.

The starting price of US$669 isn't quite as low as OnePlus has gone in the past, but it still holds up well against the very top flagships of 2019 – for a lot of smartphone buyers it might represent the best balance between price and performance that's available this year.

You might consider paying more for a truly excellent camera, or waterproofing and wireless charging; or you might consider paying less for one of the growing number of very good mid-range handsets on the market at the moment. But the OnePlus 7 Pro sits in a sweet spot all of its own.

Product page: OnePlus

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