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better smartphone is not the best

All spotlights seem focused on the OnePlus 7 Pro, but the brand has not forgotten its "old" top range. You can read what is new about the OnePlus 7, and how you like it, in our preview.

Everything you need to know in our OnePlus 7 preview

We have known OnePlus in recent years as a price fighter with a focus on speed. That is why it was perhaps a shock for some fans that the manufacturer introduced a OnePlus 7 Pro of more than 700 euros this week. With its 90 Hz screen, three cameras on the back and up to 12 GB of memory, it is an impressive device, but a bit more expensive than we are used to from the manufacturer.

Fortunately, a "normal" OnePlus 7 also appears in June, which has a suggested retail price of 559 euros, identical to the OnePlus 6T that appeared six months ago. The new model is equipped with smoother hardware, an improved camera and other small upgrades. We probably tried the 7 on the introduction of the new devices in London.

OnePlus 7 preview

Differences between the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 6T and 7 Pro

The OnePlus 7 only makes a small leap compared to its predecessor – even the design is almost identical. The screen fills almost the entire front, with a small notch for the selfie camera at the top. On the back is a double camera that sticks out a little. The fingerprint scanner is in the screen.

The changes can almost only be found on the inside. The OnePlus 7 has the newer Snapdragon 855 chipset, faster UFS 3.0 memory, an improved primary camera of 48 megapixels, and a handful of smaller items. So no flashy new features, but a decent upgrade to update the existing hardware.

That means that many of the features of the OnePlus 7 Pro are indeed missing. For example, the regular 7 does not have a wide-angle and zoom lens, but only a depth sensor as a secondary camera. The 90 Hz screen is also missing. And where the 7 Pro has a 30 Watt charger, the 7 has to do with 20 Watt. Fortunately, it still charges fairly smoothly: the battery is about half full after half an hour.

Camera: 48 megapixel, but without features

The OnePlus 7 has the same 48 megapixel camera as its big brother, but remarkably enough with a slightly narrower aperture of f / 1.7 instead of f / 1.6. Why couldn't the manufacturer tell me right away, and during my short test I didn't really notice the difference either. It is a very good camera, as I wrote in my preview of the 7 Pro.

OnePlus 7 preview

I have only tried the OnePlus 7 to a limited extent in an unnaturally brightly lit industrial hall, but the device managed to shoot sharp, colorful photos. Further away from the focal point, the image is sometimes a bit out of focus, but you only notice that when you zoom in more on a photo taken. OnePlus is not yet at the level of the Huawei P30 Pro or Google Pixel 3, but is now pretty close to the top.

That is precisely why it is a great pity that the OnePlus 7 lacks the wide-angle lens and 3x optical zoom of the 7 Pro. The wide-angle lens in particular is now almost standard in this price range and in much cheaper smartphones. Instead, the 7 only has a 5 megapixel depth sensor. This is used to add a bokeh effect to portrait photos. The background is then blurred, making people or objects in the foreground stand out nicer.

The portrait mode works fine in itself, but a secondary lens that is focused on it nevertheless feels unnecessary. Devices like the Google Pixel 3 prove that you can also add an excellent bokeh effect with software. And no matter how nice such a portrait mode is, on other smartphones I use the wide-angle lens or zoom lens much more often in practice. With a 48-megapixel lens alone, the OnePlus 7 does not really make it: the device is now considerably behind in terms of features compared to just about all competition.

OnePlus 7 preview

Other upgrades: speed and sound

In addition, the OnePlus 7 mainly has a handful of smaller upgrades compared to the 6T. OnePlus smartphones already feel smooth and with the new Snapdragon 855 chip I didn't have a second of problems during my test. Shooting a photo, opening apps, everything goes as smoothly as possible. In addition, OnePlus has again implemented various optimizations to software and animations, making the device feel a little smoother than other smartphones with a similar chipset.

You can also see that speed in the improved fingerprint scanner. It is still in the screen, but the surface that you can touch is, just like on the 7 Pro, made a few millimeters larger (7 by 7 millimeters instead of 6 by 6). That sounds like a small upgrade, but the chance that you place your finger wrong is a lot smaller. Moreover, an extra camera is placed under the screen to scan your finger faster. On the 6T I regularly had to place my finger several times before it went well, but on the 7 Pro (and therefore also the 7) it almost always goes well the first time.

The sound has also received a welcome upgrade. The 7 is (together with the 7 Pro, of course) the first OnePlus device with stereo speakers on either side of the screen. As a result, the sound sounds a little better if you turn it up nicely. Unfortunately, a headphone connection is still missing; according to OnePlus so that there is as much space as possible for parts such as the battery. It has a capacity of 3700 mAh – identical to the 6T, and usually enough for a full day without intermediate charging.

OnePlus 7 preview

Conclusion OnePlus 7 preview

Fortunately, we don't have to worry that the "normal" OnePlus series will disappear completely. In a conversation with Android Planet, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau confirmed that this series and the Pro series will continue to co-exist. Experimental functions will now be the first to be tested on the Pro series and, if successful, will find their way to cheaper OnePlus smartphones. There is a good chance that a possible OnePlus 8 next year will also have a 90 Hz screen.

That does not mean that the OnePlus 7 for now feels a bit like a side effect. The improvements compared to the OnePlus 6T are small and even the differences with the OnePlus 6 are not too bad. It is a complete, good, smooth smartphone that does not otherwise stand out. In a market where competition is extremely fierce, that is already a downside in itself. With the Xiaomi Mi 9, Samsung Galaxy S10e and Huawei P30 you have three excellent alternatives that know how to offer (much) more for less in some areas.

Soon we will bring you a full review of the OnePlus 7. Then we will look deeper into the camera and see how it performs in comparison with the OnePlus 7 Pro. For now, anyone looking for a blazing-fast smartphone would still be well advised to consider the OnePlus 7. If other factors are more important to you, you have more alternatives to choose from this spring than ever.

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