I've been a fan of OnePlus going all the way back to 2014 when the OnePlus One was announced. As a broke high-school student, I remember closely following all of the trickles of information OnePlus released leading up to its launch, logging into the forums every single day to chat with folks that were just as geeked as I was, and fighting my way to get a coveted invite to buy the phone. When I finally got my chance to buy the phone, I turned into a giddy school girl as soon as it was delivered and I began to finally use it. To this day, it's one of my all-time favorite smartphones.
I stuck with OnePlus through the years, although not as closely. I skipped over the OnePlus 2 and 3, rocked a 3T for a while, and completely ignored the 5 and 5T. I was able to get my hands on the OnePlus 6 for work purposes last year, and it reignited that initial love I had for the company so many years ago.
When the OnePlus 7 Pro was announced this year, I wasn't quite sure what to think. OnePlus has changed a lot over the years, and the OnePlus 7 Pro marks a shift in OnePlus's strategy — at least for the U.S. The company that used to be about killing flagships and selling incredible phones at dirt cheap prices was no more, and instead, is competing directly with the likes of Samsung, Google, and Apple.
Once again, because I have the best job in the world, I was able to get a OnePlus 7 Pro about two weeks ago. I was moderately excited to check out the phone for myself and see what it was all about, but what I didn't expect was to love using it as much as I am. In fact, it's quickly pushed my Galaxy S10 back into my office drawer and become my daily driver.
We already have two reviews of the OnePlus 7 Pro for you to read if you haven't already, but in this one, I wanted to focus on a few things that really stand out to me and make the 7 Pro so special and why I'm regularly using it over my S10.
The display. Oh, what a lovely display 😍
One of the biggest draws to the OnePlus 7 Pro is its display. This is something that's prominently pushed in OnePlus's marketing for the phone, and I was really pleased to find out that it lives up to the crazy hype that's been built around it.
It's often hailed that Samsung phones have the best smartphone displays on the market, but in my eyes, the OnePlus 7 Pro is now the top dog to beat in this category.
All of the makings are here for a quality screen. The AMOLED panel serves up vibrant colors and deep blacks, and the Quad HD+ resolution ensures that everything is as crisp as can be. Those two things are great, but the real star of the show here is the 90Hz refresh rate.
This is the best display I've ever seen on a phone.
The OnePlus 7 Pro isn't the first phone to have a faster refresh rate than the usual 60Hz standard, but it is my first time seeing a display like this in person. And, let me tell you, it's pretty damn incredible.
You might not think a modest bump to the refresh rate would make a big difference, but it's night and day compared to phones lacking those extra frames each second. Everything on the OnePlus 7 Pro flies with buttery smoothness unlike anything I've seen before, and two weeks later, it's yet to get old. The only downside is that it's ruined most other phones for me.
Also, we have to talk about just how much display OnePlus crammed onto the phone. The quest to eliminate bezels once and for all is in full-force right now, and OnePlus did a hell off a job making the front of the 7 Pro almost 100% screen and nothing else. I do wish that the sides weren't curved as much as they are, but in my opinion, it's a small price to pay for an otherwise perfect experience.
Android's best gestures. Period.
Gestures on Android are a hot mess right now. Google's reverting Pie's initial gesture system in favor of one that will royally screw up in-app navigation for years to come, Samsung's got its own way of doing things, as does Motorola, Xiaomi, and others.
OnePlus is one of the many OEMs that's crafted its own gesture system in place of Google's method, and out of all the ones I've tried, this is easily my favorite one yet. The way they work is quite simple.
- Swipe up to go home
- Swipe up and hold to access your recent apps
- Swipe up from the bottom left or right to go back
Not only do these feel natural to use, but they consistently work well, are matched with nice animations, and don't interfere with app navigation the way Google's new gestures do in Android Q.
And, because this is OnePlus, you still have the option of using Pie's two-button gesture system or going back to the traditional back, home, and recents buttons.
An in-display fingerprint sensor that doesn't suck
If you follow my writing here at AC, you'll know I'm not the biggest proponent of in-display fingerprint sensors. My initial bout with them on the Galaxy S10 almost pushed me away from the idea entirely.
To my surprise, the in-screen sensor on the OnePlus 7 Pro isn't hot garbage. In fact, it's as good as I could have asked for.
It's an optical sensor, which compared to the ultrasonic one on the Galaxy S10, technically should be slower and less secure. In my experience, the 7 Pro's sensor has been consistently faster and more reliable. There have been a handful of times where it didn't register my thumbprint, but the failure rate has been shockingly low.
I'm still not sure if I prefer in-screen sensors over traditional rear-mounted ones, but at the very least, this is the first in-screen fingerprint sensor that I don't mind using on a daily basis.
Clean, unobtrusive software
With most phones being competently built these days, excellent software is more important than ever before. This is something OnePlus has excelled at for a while now, and on the OnePlus 7 Pro, OxygenOS is just as good as ever before.
At least for me, OxygenOS works so well because of how minimal it is. Unlike some custom interfaces, there's nothing about it that feels unnecessary or in the way. All of the additions OnePlus makes on top of Android serve a purpose, such as giving you customizable themes, a reading mode to keep your eyes happy while consuming an e-book, and a Parallel Apps feature that allows you to be logged into the same app with multiple accounts (such as Snapchat).
You can use as many of these features as you want, and if not, you can ignore them without them getting in the way. Something else I particularly enjoy is that the overall aesthetic looks nearly identical to "stock" Android (whatever that means these days).
Companies like Samsung have made considerable efforts not to be so heavy-handed when it comes to its software customizations, but OnePlus's way of doing things has always been my favorite.
It's stupidly fast
The Galaxy S10 and iPhone XS are widely regarded as two of the fastest phones on the market right now, and I use them both regularly. I've never had any issues with their performance, but after using the OnePlus 7 Pro, I've been spoiled.
The S10 and XS aren't slow by any stretch of the imagination, but the OnePlus 7 Pro might be the fastest phone I've ever used. Its Snapdragon 855 processor is found in every 2019 flagship, but when paired with 8GB of RAM and UFS 3.0 storage, it breezes through anything and everything you throw at it. Plus, when you combine that raw horsepower with the smooth 90Hz display, the end result is nothing close of magic.
I'm not sure if this is something the Average Joe will notice, but as someone that uses a lot of phones, the crazy performance that's on offer here is incredible.
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