OnePlus 7T Pro review: The icing on the cake

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OnePlus’s new flagship doesn’t change much, but then again, it really didn’t need to.

If you needed proof that OnePlus is now a fully-blown, big-boy smartphone manufacturer, look no further than the number of phones it’s been able to field in 2019. Between the OnePlus 7, 7 Pro, 7 Pro 5G, 7T, and now 7T Pro and 7T Pro McLaren Edition, we’ve seen a whopping six devices emerge over the past year.

However, unlike the vanilla 7T, the OnePlus 7T Pro is a fairly conservative upgrade over its six-month-old predecessor. OnePlus fans will recognize it as more of a 3 to 3T upgrade, as opposed to a 5 to 5T. If someone handed you both a OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T Pro, you’d have to examine them in forensic detail to tell the difference.

Nevertheless, that’s more of a measure of how compelling the 7 Pro itself still is, rather than evidence a lack of ambition on the part of OnePlus. With the latest software upgrades, the OnePlus 7 Pro remains hugely competitive. So, take that phone and add in subtle camera, performance and battery improvements and you have yourself a worthy encore.

Unfortunately, the phone isn’t coming to the U.S., at least not at launch. OnePlus, which didn’t bring the original OnePlus 7 to North America, is muddying the waters even more with the release of the 7T Pro, making it available in Europe and Asia, where it replaces the OnePlus 7 Pro, but not in North America, where the 7 Pro will continue to live alongside the 7T. Confused about the whole OnePlus lineup? You’re not alone — we have a complete layout of every OnePlus phone you can get that clarifies things.

At a glance

OnePlus 7T Pro



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Bottom line: OnePlus builds on its best ever phone with faster performance, a bigger battery and new camera modes. The 7T Pro isn’t an overhaul of the previous OnePlus 7 Pro, but it doesn’t need to be. Instead, with a thoughtful selection of upgrades, OnePlus heads into the final quarter of 2019 with an incredibly strong line-up.

Pros:

  • Phenomenal notchless design
  • Screamingly fast performance
  • Smooth 90Hz panel
  • Latest Android with speedy OxygenOS enhancements
  • Competitive cameras for the price

Cons:

  • Heavy and slippery
  • Battery life still falls behind some other flagships
  • No wireless charging
  • Not available in the U.S.

£699 at OnePlus

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Seeing double

Hardware and Design

If you’ve seen the OnePlus 7 Pro, you’ve already seen 99.9% of the 7T Pro. A design overhaul wasn’t needed for this release cycle, and so the OnePlus 7T Pro takes what works very well in the previous model and offers only minor tweaks.

The main color option on offer, “Haze Blue” is lighter and a touch more colorful than the old “Nebula Blue,” with a slightly more pronounced reflective pattern. The top-to-bottom gradient on the outer frame is similarly tweaked, in a lighter hue, but otherwise the same.

The easiest way to tell a 7T Pro and a 7 Pro apart is to look for the telltale laser autofocus module, which now lives in the glass panel itself, to the left of the main camera module.

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Stop us if you’ve seen this before…

All the strengths and weaknesses of the 7 Pro’s return in the refreshed model. It’s still a slippery, heavy beast that’s hard to use in one hand and easier to drop than I’d like it to be. (You may well want to use in the in-box TPU case.) Yet the simple front face design continues to rank as my favorite in any 2019 handset: curved, but not excessively so. And as close as you’re going to get in a mainstream phone to the platonic ideal of an all-screen handset.

The motorized selfie camera, like the 7 Pro’s, is hidden inside the top bezel, and quickly pops up as and when it’s needed.

The panel, though unchanged from the 7 Pro, also didn’t need an upgrade. With ample resolution, brightness and an ultra-smooth 90Hz refresh rate, it can still match and even beat the more expensive competition. The same applies to OnePlus’s excellent in-screen fingerprint scanner, which is just as fast as the older model, but now works better with damp hands due to additional tuning.

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OnePlus’s trademark mute slider is back too, located along the right edge where I’ve occasionally accidentally triggered it while unpocketing the device. Equally, the previous OnePlus flagship’s lack of either a headphone jack nor any official IP rating may be irksome. Personally, I’ve been all-in on Bluetooth audio for a while now, and 7T Pro, like most flagships, was unperturbed by normal use out in the rain during my review period.

The internals of the OnePlus 7T Pro are where you’ll find more meaningful tweaks. It’s using Qualcomm’s very latest Snapdragon 855+ platform, with 8GB/256GB being your only RAM and storage options (the beefier McLaren edition boasts 12GB of RAM). The battery gets a small bump up to 4,085mAh, up from 4,000. And the new Warp Charge 30T charging standard, first introduced with the OnePlus 7T, maintains the same peak wattage as the previous models, but with improved tuning allowing for faster charging speeds during the middle of the charging cycle.

Operating System Android 10 OxygenOS 10
Display 6.67-inch 3120 x 1440 (516 ppi) 19.5:9 — 90Hz Fluid AMOLED
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ Octa-core 7nm Up to 2.96GHz
GPU Adreno 640
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB UFS 3.0 2-LANE
Expandable
Rear Camera 1 48MP main sensor f/1.6 aperture 1.6 μm pixel size OIS EIS
Rear Camera 2 8MP telephoto sensor f/2.4 aperture 1.0 μm pixel size OIS
Rear Camera 3 16MP ultra wide angle sensor f/2.2 aperture 117° field of viewMacro mode
Front Camera 16MP f/2.0 aperture 1.0 μm pixel size EIS
Security Optical in-screen fingerprint sensor
Connectivity 4×4 MIMO LTE CAT 18 Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Bluetooth 5.0 NFC
Audio USB-C Dual stereo speakers Dolby Atmos aptX aptX HD
Battery 4,085 mAh Warp Charge 30T 30W fast charging
Water Resistance
Colors Haze Blue

Meanwhile, the triple camera system enjoys a significant software upgrade (though many of these improvements are also heading to the 7 Pro with the latest OxygenOS 10 update).

So we’re looking at a minor spec bump along with equally conservative design changes. And when it comes to day-to-day performance, you’re not going to be able to tell a 7 Pro from a 7T Pro outside of benchmark apps.

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So smooth

OnePlus 7T Pro Software and Battery Life

Software has been a traditional area of strength for OnePlus, and the 7T Pro is no exception. Building on the solid foundations of OxygenOS 9, the new version 10 brings an upgrade to Android 10, along with some welcome software tweaks from OnePlus.

Thanks to a combination of a fast CPU, a slick 90Hz display and OnePlus’s software optimizations, OxygenOS retains its title as the fastest Android experience out there. That’s not a surprise after years of extremely performant OnePlus phones, but it bears repeating.

The company’s overall design language hasn’t changed, save for a few new live wallpapers and a minor icon tweaks. OnePlus’s staple widget shelf returns, along with other useful features like Zen Mode, which lets you disconnect from notifications and other distractions for a short time. And now Zen Mode is configurable to allow you to take a time-out of up to an hour, up from the previous 20-minute figure.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 7T Pro not only benefits from the Snapdragon 855+’s slightly faster GPU, but also OnePlus’s Game Space feature. Game Space lets you tweak notifications to display as text only, reducing distractions when you’re playing. And there are also a handful of graphical options for enhancing detail in areas of shadow, potentially giving you a small advantage in shooter titles.

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This stuff is all built atop OnePlus’s older gaming features, including FNATIC mode (in partnership with the eSports team) for CPU and GPU tuning.

OnePlus’s revamped gesture navigation also bears mentioning. It’s based on Google’s new navigation paradigm for Android 10, but in my opinion, it’s executed far better. The mechanics of using it are pretty much the same. Swipe up to view recent apps, swipe left to right on the navigation bar to quickly switch apps, and swipe inwards from the side bezel to go back. But the physics of OnePlus’s gestures make it far more pleasing to use, and what’s more, the company has a hard-coded exclusion area on the top third of the screen, which makes slide-out “hamburger” menus in many apps easier to use.

It’s also possible to banish the navigation bar entirely, though in doing so you’ll lose the handy horizontal swipe gesture to quickly switch between apps.

Android’s traditional three-button navigation also remains if you prefer this button arrangement, however the old-style OnePlus gestures seen OxygenOS 9 have unfortunately been retired, as has the Android Pie-style two-button navigation.

OnePlus’s software remains the fastest Android experience out there.

Battery life was one of my major criticisms of the OnePlus 7 Pro, with the 90Hz panel taking a heavy toll on that phone’s 4,000mAh cell in my initial testing this May. With a small battery capacity bump up to 4,085mAh and software enhancements, plus an updated SoC, the 7T Pro enjoys a small boost in longevity compared to its predecessor.

I’ve been getting a comfortable full day of usage out of my 7T Pro, with noticeably less battery usage in weaker signal areas, and screen-on time hovering somewhere around 4.5 hours. Once again, that’s slightly anemic for a phone with such a large cell, but perhaps not surprising considering the size of the display and the power demands of the 90Hz panel.

(As before, it’s possible to switch back down to 60Hz for a less smooth experience, but with the benefit of improved battery life.)

The trend of minor performance bumps extends to the 7T Pro’s charging capabilities, too. Like the vanilla OnePlus 7T, the Pro has OnePlus’s Warp Charge 30T brick bundled in the box. And although the peak charging wattage remains unchanged at 30W, the intermediate charging speeds have been improved, allowing a dead 7T Pro to gain 70% charge in just half an hour.

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A familiar experience

OnePlus 7T Pro Cameras

While OnePlus doesn’t boast the best Android cameras available, the company has consistently punched above its weight in terms of imaging. With that in mind, the OnePlus 7T Pro takes the competent triple-camera setup of the 7 Pro and brings software improvements in addition to a neat new macro photography mode.

The main triple-camera array is largely unchanged from the previous OnePlus flagship. It’s centered around a 48-megapixel Sony IMX 586 sensor behind an f/1.6 lens, with optical stabilization. Telephoto duties are taken care of thanks to a 3X 8-megapixel sensor behind an f/2.4 lens, also with OIS. And the ultrawide camera is an f/2.2 16-megapixel shooter without stabilization. The biggest hardware change compared to the 7T is the ultrawide camera’s new macro photography capability. Tap the flower icon in the camera app and you’ll be able to capture your subject close-up, in minute detail. It’s hardly killer app for the 7T Pro, but it does augment the already competent photographic loadout of this phone.

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While the OnePlus 7T Pro can’t challenge what Huawei or Apple is doing with computational photography and super-sized sensors, the phone’s triple-camera array is more than capable of capturing great photos for social media, printouts or desktop wallpaper use.

Dynamic range is excellent, and while fine detail isn’t quite as well-defined as competitors like the Pixel 3 or Huawei Mate 30 Pro, you’ll have to look very closely to find anything to complain about.

OnePlus’s cameras aren’t the best overall, but they’re excellent for the price.

In particular, I’ve been impressed with how far OnePlus’s Nightscape mode has come since it debuted a year ago. This is one notable area where OnePlus predictably beats Samsung, whose more expensive handsets still struggles to take good photos in the dark.

In terms of video, recording via the ultrawide camera is finally supported on the 7T Pro, however resolution is limited to 1080p. This is one of a handful of areas where OnePlus still seems to lag behind the more expensive flagships in terms of video capture. Nevertheless, if you’re content to operate at Full HD, as I suspect most of us are, you’ll still be able to capture impressive, smooth video.

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The verdict

Should you buy the OnePlus 7T Pro? Yes!

You could very well question why the OnePlus 7T Pro needs to exist. The changes from the 7 Pro are incredibly subtle, and certainly if you own that device, you needn’t feel any FOMO — you already have 99% of the new model. But if you’ve yet to take the plunge, or are perhaps looking at upgrading from a OnePlus 5 or 5T, the 7T Pro does just enough to refresh an already excellent phone, putting it in good stead to compete with the competition’s late-2019 offerings.

The standard compromises involved in buying a cheaper flagship phone haven’t gone away entirely. OnePlus’s cameras, though good for the price, don’t quite match the very best from Samsung and Huawei. And the battery life, though far from disappointing, is markedly weaker than the likes of the P30 Pro and (Snapdragon) Galaxy Note 10+.

Nevertheless, as an overall package, the OnePlus 7T Pro is incredibly competitive, and the company’s particularly potent combination of a smooth display and fast, clean Android 10 software experience makes it an idea buy for enthusiasts.

Peak OnePlus

OnePlus 7T Pro



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£699 at OnePlus

An excellent flagship choice for enthusiasts.

OnePlus builds on its best-ever phone with faster performance, a bigger battery and new camera modes. The 7T Pro isn’t an overhaul of the previous OnePlus 7 Pro, but it doesn’t need to be. Instead, with a thoughtful selection of upgrades, OnePlus heads into the final quarter of 2019 with an incredible strong line-up.