OnePlus 7 review: absolutely brilliant, but not for everyone

It might have the same design as the OnePlus 6T, but this is far from a reheated repeat of last year

T3 Platinum Award
OnePlus 7 Review
(Image credit: Future)

T3 Verdict

If you've missed the last few OnePlus flagships, the OnePlus 7 is a no-brainer upgrade. It has an extraordinarily generous 6.4-inch AMOLED display, a fast in-screen fingerprint scanner, blazingly quick flagship internals, and a quietly restrained operating system that only adds features that are genuinely useful. If you already own a OnePlus 6T, you're better off waiting for the next cycle, but those with older hardware will see a helluva lot of bang for their bucks (or pounds) here.

Reasons to buy

  • +

    It’s impossibly fast

  • +

    In-screen fingerprint scanner is fast, futuristic

  • +

    Camera is solid

  • +

    Fast-charger in the box

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    Screen is fine, but not the best

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    No water resistance

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    No 3.5mm headphone port

OnePlus 7 is an incremental upgrade to the flagship OnePlus 6T that launched in October last year. The OnePlus 7 is designed for those who don’t fancy coughing up for the all-singing, all-dancing OnePlus 7 Pro or its 5G-enabled counterpart, which start from £649 – the highest price ever commanded by a handset from the five-year-old Shenzhen-based firm.

But while the OnePlus 7 doesn't have the eye-catching new design, triple rear-camera, or headline-grabbing 90Hz refresh rate AMOLED panel featured on the OnePlus 7 Pro, it does have a surprising amount in common with its costlier cousin when you look under the bonnet. OnePlus 7 also manages to skirt around some of the pitfalls that plague the 7 Pro and stopped it getting a gold medal in our prestigious best Android phones and best phones round-ups.

OnePlus 7 review: Price, Release Date

OnePlus 7 ships with either 6GB of RAM and 128GB of built-in storage, or 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Since there's still no expandable storage option via MicroSD we'd recommend opting for the biggest possible model you can afford – otherwise you might find yourself heavily reliant on pricey DropBox or Google Drive subscriptions in future to keep all of your holiday snaps safe.

The 6GB/128GB model costs £499, while the maxed-out 8GB/256GB version is priced £549. Both of these are only available in a plain Mirror Grey finish, so if you want a bit more colour in your life, you're going to have to plump for the OnePlus 7 Pro.

(Image credit: OnePlus / David McCumskay on Unsplash)

OnePlus 7 review: Design, Display

From the outside, it appears like nothing much has changed: OnePlus 7 keeps the same 6.41-inch OLED display with 402 pixels-per-inch resolution seen on its predecessor, complete with the same dewdrop notch, and same 16-megapixel front-facing camera housed within.

OnePlus 7 Key Specs

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Dimensions: 157.7 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm

Weight: 182 g

Screen: 6.41-inch AMOLED, 1080 x 2340 at 402 ppi

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

RAM: 6GB / 8GB

Storage: 128GB / 256GB – no MicroSD card slot

Battery: 3,700mAh

Cameras: 48MP main + 5MP telephoto / 16MP selfie

OS: OxygenOS / Android 9.0 Pie 

That's not much of a criticism, since the OnePlus 6T looked stunning at launch just a few months ago. In fact, it's only when compared side-by-side with the OnePlus 7 Pro that the OnePlus 7's shell starts to look dated at all. Don't forget, a little over six months passed between the 6T and 7 – no other smartphone manufacturer overhauls the industrial design of its flagship phone in that time. Hell, Apple only bothers every 24 months or so.

The display isn’t the brightest, but it is colourful and feels incredibly responsive. And the dewdrop notch for the selfie camera is much, much more elegant than the pop-up camera found on the costlier OnePlus 7 Pro, which noisily emerges from the phone like a miniature periscope each time you take a selfie.

OnePlus 7 has an upgraded in-screen fingerprint sensor which is 36% larger and feels faster and much more accurate than its predecessor, which was a little finicky.

For our money, we've always preferred front-facing fingerprint scanners – not least because it means you can unlock the phone and authenticate secure apps when the handset is resting on your desk without picking it up. So, this new and improved in-display sensor ticks all the boxes.

But if it’s not quite fast enough for you, OnePlus 7 boasts the Shenzhen-based company’s hugely impressive Face Unlock technology, which isn’t as secure as your fingerprint, but is impossibly fast. Like, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fast.

OnePlus 7 Review

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus 7 review: Specs, Software

Speaking of speed, the OnePlus 7 is seriously speedy. According to the Chinese company, its new product philosophy revolves around the tagline “Fast and Smooth,” and that's clearly not just marketing bumf dreamt-up by the intern.

OnePlus 7 can load apps, gobble video edits, and play the most graphically-taxing games without breaking a sweat – something that can’t always be said of phones twice the price. Keeping everything ticking along is up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB/256GB of non-expandable storage. The latter uses the UFS 3.0 standard, which offers speeds at least twice as fast as the 800MB/s read speeds available on its predecessor, UFS 2.1, which appeared in the OnePlus 6T.

Even Google itself can't get the same level of performance out of an Android phone that you'll get from the OnePlus 7. If you're looking for a no-nonsense, never-wait-for-your-app-to-load-again experience, this is your next handset.

OnePlus 7 Review

(Image credit: Future)

But it’s not just what’s under the bonnet that brings the speed, the OxygenOS operating system on the OnePlus 7 offers an incredibly streamlined and zippy experience.

Unlike the heavily skinned crimes-against-software-design you’ll find running on similar priced handsets from the likes of Honor, Huawei, and LG, OxygenOS is almost indistinguishable from the stock version of Android you’ll find on the Google Pixel series.

Given how good Android OS looks these days, that's a massive compliment to the OnePlus team for having some restraint and not tweaking anything for the sake of it.

The latest update includes ability to record your screen, as well as edit and share the videos direct from the Gallery app. There’s also a gaming mode that pushes the phone to its limit to ensure you get the best possible performance – and stops notifications interrupting your play-through.

One disappointment with the OnePlus 7 is that it still uses the Fast Charging solution seen in the OnePlus 6T to replenish its 3,700mAh cell. Don’t get us wrong, it’s still mightily fast, refilling the battery to 50% in a half hour… but that’s slower than the 20 minute top-up available on the 7 Pro. The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition enjoyed these 30W Warp Charging speeds, so it’s omission is a little baffling.

OnePlus 7 Review

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus 7 review: Camera

OnePlus 7 has a dual camera set-up consisting of a 48MP 1⁄2 inch super-sized sensor with an aperture of f/1.7 and built-in Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) to keep things steady when you're nervous, moving, or shooting in tough low-light conditions.

This main shooter is coupled with a 5MP secondary telephoto camera, which is used to shoot Portrait Mode photos with artificial bokeh blur behind the subject, and offers 2x optical zoom. The Portrait Mode shots are pretty decent and will help things pop on your social media account, but scrutinising the images up-close too much will reveal a few weird patches where the bokeh failed to take.

However, that's an issue that still plagues the likes of the £1,000+ flagship smartphones with this feature, so it's not something that shelling out more cash for your next phone will solve.

Elsewhere, still images and videos are generally pretty good. OnePlus has had a bit of a shaky reputation on this front for a while, but this is definitely a step-up from the shots produced by the OnePlus 5 launched two years ago by the company. That said, the results from the OnePlus 7 fall well short of the similarly priced Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, which offers crisper details, better bokeh-blur, and deeper shadows for more interesting, contrast-y shots.

OnePlus 7 Review

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus 7 review: Verdict

If you missed out on the OnePlus 6T, or better yet – the OnePlus 6, the OnePlus 7 will be a phenomenal upgrade that's unlikely to disappoint at all. After all, it has a very generous 6.4-inch AMOLED display, gorgeous all-screen design, fast in-display fingerprint scanner, blazingly quick flagship internals, and all powered by a quietly restrained operating system that only bundles in features that are genuinely useful.

And it still starts from £449.

If you're only looking to upgrade for the camera, you might be better opting for the rival Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL, but you'll be missing out on the stunning design, futuristic fingerprint sensor, and fast-charging, which is all superior to what Google's R&D team can muster at the same price point.

OnePlus 6T owners should definitely avoid the OnePlus 7 and wait until the next handset from OnePlus, or plump for the OnePlus 7 Pro. Otherwise they're unlikely to see much change at all. But everyone else will find a surprisingly brilliant handset in the same outfit as last year's flagship OnePlus 6T.