First official OnePlus 7 Pro review tests all-new triple camera

OnePlus has fitted its latest flagship smartphone with 3x lossless zoom, like the Huawei P30

OnePlus 7 Pro Review

OnePlus is steadily dropping tasty crumbs of information about its forthcoming OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro smartphones ahead of the official launch on May 14.

Ahead of the official reveal, the company has handed out an early iteration of the smartphone to showcase the improvements made to the camera. OnePlus has already confirmed the OnePlus 7 Pro – the pricier, more feature-packed handset in the OnePlus 7 series – will sport three rear-mounted cameras, but we now know what the pictures from that camera will look like. 

And more importantly, we know why OnePlus has decided to throw-in the extra lens this year.

The first hands-on review of the OnePlus 7 Pro camera was published earlier today by technology magazine WIRED. The team published their early impressions on the new triple-camera and shared some previously unknown details.

OnePlus has moved from a dual rear-mounted camera to a triple-lens set-up to enable the new zoom functionality. The smartphone start-up claims the OnePlus 7 Pro has lossless 3x zoom, matching the Huawei P20 Pro and Huawei P30.

The Shenzhen-based company says it included the feature after its community demanded an improvement to its zoom capabilities on its hugely-popular forums. OnePlus has a chequered history when it comes to zoom. The OnePlus 5, launched back in early 2017, added a second lens into the mix and claimed to offer 2x zoom. In reality, it had a 1.6x lens and made up the rest by cropping the image.

That's not the case with the OnePlus 7 Pro, which has true 3x optical zoom. And based on the early impressions with the handset, it sounds like a dramatic step-up.

"It's a great little zoom that shows up the OnePlus 6T and other software-based solutions, like the Google Pixel 3’s smart OIS motor-based solution," WIRED says. While the publication states that it can't match the 5x lossless optical zoom available on the Huawei P30 Pro (obviously) it does add that "3x zoom is a more accessible field of view than 5x. In certain situations, 5x can seem too much."

Elsewhere, it looks like the new "fast and smooth" philosophy that OnePlus has adopted is bleeding into its camera development. The company has reduced shutter lag – the gap between the moment you hit the shutter button on-screen and the photo is captured by the phone – down to 0.3 seconds. WIRED says it feels incredibly fast when you're using it, albeit not quite as snappy as the Google Pixel 3.

You'll also find Auto HDR on the latest OnePlus flagship, which is designed to stop details being lost in shadow in environments with a particularly harsh light source.

Unfortunately, there's no Time Of Flight (ToS) sensor on the back of the OnePlus 7 Pro, so don't expect vast improvements to the portrait mode-style images, which add an artificial bokeh-style blur behind the subject of the image. Unlike the Huawei P30 Pro, which does have a ToF, you won't benefit from higher fidelity Augmented Reality (AR) on the OnePlus, either.

There's no word on the exact megapixel count on any of the cameras fitted to the back of the new flagship OnePlus smartphone. However, WIRED has revealed that the handset will downsample the raw data from the camera to create a 12-megapixel photograph. This is primarily done to reduce noise in the images.

"There was no option to create photos at 'full' resolution," the article notes. So, we'll have to wait until the launch event to find out exactly how many megapixels are in the sensor and how much downsampling is being done.

As you'd expect from a flagship smartphone carrying the "Pro" title in its name, OnePlus has included a dedicated night mode in the default camera app. While it's good, WIRED says it's no match for rival solutions from Huawei and Google. Although, it says OnePlus' system is much faster than its competitors.

"From what we’ve seen so far, the 7 Pro’s camera array closes the gap between OnePlus phones and less value-driven rivals from Huawei and Samsung," it concludes.

This all sounds very exciting. OnePlus handsets have rarely led the pack when it comes to smartphone photography, but the OnePlus 7 Pro sounds like a genuine step-up in that department. Stay tuned on May 14, 2019 when T3 will bring you everything you need to know from the OnePlus launch event.