The many camera issues cap off a small list of annoyances with the OnePlus 7 Pro
The OnePlus 7 Pro is the company's best smartphone to date, as it should be. Seeing as this is the latest model from the company, and it commands its highest price ever. It doesn't quite excel in every single area though, and that's not a surprise either. There's no such thing as a perfect smartphone. But are these downsides a deal-breaker for the OnePlus 7 Pro? Let's find out.
Disclaimer: At Android Headlines, we now review all phones from the “good” and the “bad” perspectives. Our reviews are designed to give a deeper perspective on the positive and negatives of each new device and should help readers who are specifically looking for why a phone is really good, or why its negative aspects might make it worth avoiding. This “bad” review focuses on the negative for the OnePlus 7 Pro. For an idea of everything OnePlus did right with this phone, visit our “good” review.
Curved screens look great in promotional videos & that's about it
There's no argument about how great curved screens look in promotional videos showing off a new phone, or some new features on a curved smartphone. But when it comes to using the smartphone for day-to-day things like sending text messages, or browsing Twitter, it is a nightmare.
Samsung has figured this out actually, which is why it went from a pretty dramatic curve on its early curved smartphones, to a less dramatic curve, that is almost not there. The OnePlus 7 Pro's sides are dramatically curved, and it makes swiping on the screen tough to do. And it means that you basically have to have a case on the phone, otherwise it's going to register unwanted touches, and make your life miserable.
Now we're not saying that curved displays are bad. They do look pretty good, but OnePlus needs to learn the lesson that, very dramatic curves is not the way to go. Hopefully that changes with the OnePlus 7T Pro or 8 Pro later this year or next year, respectively.
Go ahead, get all of your "that's what she said" jokes out of the way now. But the OnePlus 7 Pro is very large, and very heavy. Its dimensions are 162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8 mm, and that's a good millimeter thicker than most other smartphones. It also weighs in at about 206 grams. Now yes, a bit part of that is due to the battery and the glass back. But the Pixel 3 XL was also big and heavy, with very similar dimensions, and it weighs in at about 167 grams. That's a big difference.
Many people do love big phones (I'm starting to become one, myself). But this is bordering on the "too big" for most people. Having a 6.67-inch screen in your pocket is really nice though, for consuming media and such.
By itself, the size and weight is not too much of an issue. But add a case onto the OnePlus 7 Pro, and it becomes a much bigger deal. It becomes a much heavier phone. For instance, we have the Speck Presidio case on the OnePlus 7 Pro right now. And while I am less likely to drop the phone with this case on it, it still seems very heavy and unwieldy.
Mix the size and weight of the OnePlus 7 Pro in with the fact that this is a very slippery phone too, that makes this a recipe for disaster. And by "disaster" we mean dropping the phone and shattering that glass back. It's glass, so yeah it's slippery. But it's also larger and has a curved back. Adding to the slipperiness of the OnePlus 7 Pro. So you definitely need to put a case on this phone. Which takes us back to the point about it being so big and heavy.
Three cameras, three very difference experiences
OnePlus talked up the triple-camera setup on the 7 Pro quite a bit at its launch event. Spending a good half hour on stage talking about the cameras and then bringing up some professional photographers that shot with the phone, to talk about how "good" it was. Now when I was at the launch event, I said that this was a "I'll believe it when I see it" thing. OnePlus has always talked up its cameras, only to fall short once the phones get into reviewers and consumers hands. Unfortunately, that's the case again this year.
In an effort to be transparent. We have the T-Mobile variant of the OnePlus 7 Pro, which has not received the update that improves the camera (and a few other things). Our model is on build number 9.5.5.GM31CB with the March 1, 2019 security patch. OnePlus has said that it has improved the camera with the update to 9.5.6 but T-Mobile OnePlus 7 Pro owners have not yet received it, at the time of writing this review. So keep that in mind when reading this portion of this review.
The main 48-megapixel sensor is pretty good. It is able to get a ton of data and lots of light, providing some really good pictures. It's not perfect though. Even outside with plenty of sunlight, it hasn't been perfect. I took a few shots outside with the $400 Pixel 3a and the OnePlus 7 Pro, and the Pixel 3a gives us a better image.
For this sensor in particular, I believe that the post-processing software that OnePlus has is not up to snuff. This sensor is a pretty popular sensor. HONOR and Huawei have been using it in its latest flagship smartphones, including the HONOR 20 Pro, which I reviewed just before the OnePlus 7 Pro. And it was able to get much better shots out of the same 48-megapixel sensor. So from what I can tell, this can be improved with some software changes, and here's to hoping that happens.
Things get much worse for OnePlus when you use the wide-angle and telephoto sensors. These are really nice sensors to have on a smartphone. The ability to fit more into the frame, without backing up, or getting up close when you are not up close. But pictures taken with these sensors are not good, at all.
Let's start with the telephoto sensor. I took many shots outside, with plenty of direct sunlight (it was around the middle of the day, so about as much sunlight as you're going to get), and the pictures looked somewhat good. But there was still a ton of artifacts in the image. In the Flickr gallery below, you can see an image of a fountain, there are a ton of artifacts in that picture in particular. Look at the car in the distance, it's super blurry without even zooming in. That should not be the case.
It's a pretty similar thing for the wide-angle sensor too. And in my opinion, both of these sensors are pretty useless.
Portrait mode is another interesting thing. I've been able to get better looking "portraits" in the standard auto mode, than in the "Portrait" mode, which its sole purpose is portrait shots.
There's just a lot wrong with the camera on the OnePlus 7 Pro. And we are likely going to see quite a few camera updates to the phone, in the next few months, as OnePlus works to improve that camera.
Sadly, the headphone jack did not make a return
This isn't a surprise, but there's still no headphone jack available on the OnePlus 7 Pro. For audiophiles, this is a pretty big deal. As Bluetooth headphones are still not quite up to the same audio quality as a wired pair of headphones. But recent reports have shown that the majority of people have already moved to Bluetooth headphones. So this is less of a dealbreaker in 2019 than it was previously.
The USB-C port does still support audio, and with the dongle, you can use your existing wired headphones. Unfortunately, the audio output is not that great. It's pretty clear that OnePlus isn't taking audio as seriously as LG is, with its Quad DAC that it has in all of its flagship smartphones.
The story is much different, however, when it comes to using the speakers. There are stereo speakers included on the OnePlus 7 Pro, and they sound very good. These are plenty loud and OnePlus does also have support for Dolby Atmos - a feature that we are seeing more and more these days. So the only audio issue, is really with the headphone jack.
The almost perfect smartphone is just that, almost
The OnePlus 7 Pro checks a lot of boxes for a lot of people. But it's not perfect. There are a few dealbreakers here, with the biggest one being camera. Yes, I know, the camera will get better with software updates. But the thing is, OnePlus has been testing this phone for how long? We shouldn't need to wait for software updates for it to become usable. Then there's the display size. Most people won't care though, as many do prefer a larger smartphone display anyways.
If you can get around the camera, and a few other minor things like no headphone jack, etc. Then the OnePlus 7 Pro is a pretty good phone to buy.