After deliberate teases and hints, OnePlus has finally revealed every detail of its latest products. The company is known for its passionate community of supporters, who were in evidence at simultaneous live launch events in London, New York and Bangalore, which all sold out quickly.
OnePlus habitually releases one phone in the spring and another in the autumn. Last year, the company launched the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T across the year. Today, though, two new phones were revealed, the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro.
CEO Pete Lau, live on stage in London, said that the phone he was revealing was the closest the company has come to the perfect product.
It’s certainly a headline-grabber and a pretty large handset: the display measures 6.67 inches, almost 0.2 inches more than the largest iPhone, the iPhone XS Max.
But where the iPhone has a camera unit that cuts a notch out of the top area of the display, here the phone is all-screen, no camera. More than 93 per cent of the phone’s front is screen. Unlike many all-screen phones, the display does not end abruptly above a big chin at the bottom, even if the tiny bezel is not quite even all the way around.
If your first question on seeing the phone is, “Where’s the selfie camera?”, it’s hidden.
This is not the first phone to hide the camera completely, but it has a neat solution. When needed, the front-facing camera rises up out of the body of the handset, takes its photo as required, and slides back out of view. It’s a smooth movement completed in 0.53 seconds and tested to do so 300,000 times, that is 150 times a day for 5.5 years.
Additionally, if you drop the phone with the camera protruding, it automatically senses it is falling and retracts the camera safely. (I have tried this a few times and it has worked every time, even if it was unsettling to do.)
The camera sits a little off-centre, which is surprising at first but quickly becomes familiar.
The result is a phone that looks astonishing: nothing but screen and strikingly high-resolution (516 pixels per inch). The glass has gently pillowed edges which mean the phone, though certainly large, is still comfortable in the hand. The fast refresh rated (90Hz) aims to deliver a smooth result, even when gaming or watching fast-moving video. The curved edges also mean notifications can be displayed as a moving light on the screen edge, visible from a distance across the room.
It can display HDR content, both in the basic HDR10 version and the newer HDR10+ format – something very few other phone screens can manage.
The OnePlus 7 Pro has Gorilla Glass front and back but the glass back is not used to introduce wireless charging, something the company has eschewed in the past. Although it says it hasn’t shunned the increasingly popular technology, but instead it seems to value the faster recharge that wired charging allows.
Several times, OnePlus spokespeople talked about the ultra-slim profile of the phone, so perhaps the wireless charging coil would have fattened it up too much.
The new, powerful charger in the box will deliver a zero to 50 per cent charge in 20 minutes.
The phone comes in three colours, Mirror Grey, a shiny near-black finish, Nebula Blue which is more matte and highly colourful (and a colour inspired by the universe, we were told), and an elegant light colour called Almond.
Screen unlock is done via a fingerprint sensor buried in the display. The last phone, the OnePlus 6T, also had this and it’s pretty cool. Touch your thumb on the thumbprint icon onscreen and an electric fizzing animation appears, letting you in faster than before.
Cameras are always key elements on smartphones and here the main camera is a 48-megapixel sensor at a larger size than last year. Pixel binning, where adjacent photosites are combined to let more light in more accurately, aims to help create better photos.
There are two other rear cameras, a telephoto lens which offers 3x the zoom of the main unit, with eight-megapixel resolution and an ultra-wide lens which has a 0.6x zoom comparted to the regular lens. That’s a 16-megapixel sensor. These cameras are a big step up from last year’s phones.
The front camera, by the way, the one that peeps up and back again, has a 16-megapixel resolution.
The processor and active memory on the OnePlus 7 are also designed for speed. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Pro is leading-edge and is matched by up to 12GB of RAM.
OnePlus is known for delivering high-end specifications at mid-range prices. The rumour was that this policy might run out this time. In fact, the price is pretty keen: from £649, rising to £799 with the 12GB of RAM and 256GB storage capacity. Apart from the almond colour, which is on sale in June, other versions of the OnePlus 7 Pro are instore from next Tuesday, 21 May.
OnePlus also announced something called Zen Mode that encourages you to take a break from your phone: launch the app and the OnePlus 7 Pro can only do two things, use your camera and make emergency phone calls, for the next 20 minutes. Once started, you can’t change your mind, you just have to wait. I really like the sound of this, though I wonder how much I’ll use it.
The second phone of the day, the OnePlus 7, was left to late in the keynote. While not an afterthought, with many of the OnePlus 7 Pro features meaning it is a tidy upgrade from the OnePlus 6T from last year, it was in the bigger phone’s shadow. Still, it is keenly priced, selling for £499, the same price as last year’s OnePlus 6T. It goes on sale in June.
There was one more phone announced, the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, revealed by Pete Lau, Cristiano Amon, the President of Qualcomm, And Mark Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Brands. They talked about the power of 5G and predicted the “era of the super-apps”. The prediction was that 5G phones would be thicker and heavier, but OnePlus claims the new phone is near-identical to the 4G OnePlus 7 Pro. Though no date or price was revealed, the company’s first 5G handset was confirmed as coming soon and will be on the EE network.
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