The OnePlus 7 and Pro hit it out of the park

There is a great deal in the new phones for geeks as well as those who simply want a phone with a stunning display and an equally stunning camera

  • Published 15.05.19, 6:37 PM
  • Updated 15.05.19, 6:37 PM
  • 5 mins read
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The OnePlus 7 Pro Picture: OnePlus

OnePlus has proved yet again that premium devices do not need to have a premium price tag. The Shenzhen-HQed company’s new phones — OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro — probably come with the best screen one can buy at the moment but at a cost that definitely doesn’t break the bank. There is a great deal in the new phones for geeks as well as those who simply want a phone with a stunning display and an equally stunning camera. Yes, there is a pop-up selfie camera but it appears as sturdy as the device itself.

t2 met Vikas Agarwal, OnePlus India’s general manager, before the launch in Bangalore on Tuesday evening to discuss the new devices.

In what ways do the two new devices integrate with past OnePlus devices and at the same time break free?

Every year the new launch builds on what we have achieved the previous year. The progression has been gradual since the launch of the first phone. For the first time we are entering a new segment, which is the super premium and OnePlus 7 Pro is the first model in this category. We used to launch one phone every year but this year there are two devices, the reason being the feedback from our community and the maturity we have gained in the last five years. Now we feel more confident that there is a demand for a more premium smartphone. Further, we now have a better presence globally, especially in the US and Europe where the need for a more premium experience is greater.

The US is high on brand loyalty while Asia is about giving big features. How did you manage to come up with devices that appeal to all markets?

The product has delivered consistently, which has brought us credibility. The only thing that was needed is awareness and now we have that too. Only those who haven’t heard of the brand are buying phones from other companies. Customer preferences and expectations are similar across regions, be it India or the US. Now the US market has a better recognition of the brand.

This time we have completely immersive displays to offer a richer experience. And I can say with confidence that the camera set up is among the best in the industry with DxOMark score (111 points for OnePlus 7 Pro) to prove it. For those who want the classic OnePlus experience without a few features that they don’t require, there is the OnePlus 7.

You are also working on 5G devices. How important is it to you?

5G is a transformative technology and it will change the way industries function. 5G is already going live in a few markets, like the US, pockets in Europe and China, and in these markets we already have partners with whom we will launch our 5G device. This will help us have some early learnings and by the time we roll out in India, we will have a good foundation in the technology. We are already working with Qualcomm, Jio and Airtel to start the testing of the technology so that when it actually launches in India, say next year or so, we will have a refined product. We are bullish on 5G and we are planning to set up a 5G lab in India to work with our anchor partners.

The cost of your devices is on the rise....

I would say pricing is a relative term. You can have a very expensive product but ours offers a value that is higher than the most expensive devices around. If you see the industry, pricing is going up. This year we are offering components that are much more expensive than what we had given in our previous products. But now we have users who trust OnePlus and expect a quality product. We are still offering a competitive product at half the price of, say, Apple. This time we have a device that will have 12GB RAM and 256GB storage at a very attractive price.

Does Vikas, the business guy, always listen to Vikas, the customer?

At OnePlus these two merge seamlessly. We always see ourselves as a customer-oriented company. If we go back and see why OnePlus started, it would point to the need for a product that we would be able to use for ourselves. And we want to create technology for people like us... those who want big features at a reasonable price.

OnePlus is the leader in the premium segment in India. Is there too much pressure to cling on to the crown?

We don’t worry much about our competition. It is still early days in the premium segment. Like I have always said, the premium space has always been underserved in India. Globally, the premium segment accounts for 40-60 per cent in different markets but in India it is less than five per cent. There are a lot of users in India who want to use premium products but pricing is a problem. With OnePlus, we are seeing a lot of people buying a premium device for the first time.

Last year, if you take away OnePlus from the picture, the industry has contracted. Globally the smartphone industry is contracting and even in India, growth is slowing down but the premium segment is expected to grow faster because people aspire to buy a premium phone. OnePlus has shown the way to other brands about how to address the situation.

You are also working on smart TVs. Will the phone and TV integrate?

This is where our OxygenOS is going to be very important. We have our own software that powers our smartphones and with smart TVs we want to have an integrated experience. What we are looking at is a seamless experience moving from a smartphone to a large screen. These two have to work together.

National Geographic photographer Andy Bardon has snapped this picture with the OnePlus 7 Pro.
National Geographic photographer Andy Bardon has snapped this picture with the OnePlus 7 Pro. Picture: OnePlus

What about foldables?

Every new technology has a use case and it takes time to iron out initial hiccups. In the long run every new technology adds value to the ecosystem. I think the foldable will have some relevance in the future but in the next couple of years I doubt if it would go mainstream. It will take time for it to offer a reliable experience. If users are paying $2,000 they would obviously expect the technology to work. It is a nice technology to have but it is not something to focus on in the near future.

The OnePlus 7 Pro represents a breakthrough. We started OnePlus because we were not satisfied with the smartphones in the market. We thought we could do better. We have always held on to our ‘never settle’ ideals. Our biggest critics and challengers are our community members. We have heard you — Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus
The OnePlus 7 Pro represents a breakthrough. We started OnePlus because we were not satisfied with the smartphones in the market. We thought we could do better. We have always held on to our ‘never settle’ ideals. Our biggest critics and challengers are our community members. We have heard you — Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus Picture: PTI

What we dig:

The pop-up selfie camera
The pop-up selfie camera Picture: OnePlus

The front camera: After a while you will stop noticing there is a pop up 16MP camera. Face unlocking is super fast, even in pitch darkness; there is zero lag.

Triple camera set-up on the rear: On the OnePlus 7 Pro there are three lenses on the back, including an ultra wide angle 16MP lens (117 degree field of view) and an 8MP telephoto lens. The main shooter is 48MP and it comes with the Sony IMX586 sensor. One can shoot 4K videos at 30/60 fps.

Display: The 6.67 inch Fluid AMOLED display on the OnePlus 7 Pro comes with a 90 Hz refresh rate. This will help video game graphics appear smoother and the lag we notice while scrolling, say, through our Instagram feeds, is missing.

Warp Charge 30: With a 4,000 mAh battery, you’ll easily power through the day and more. The Warp Charge technology gets your OnePlus 7 Pro ready to go in just 20 minutes.

Dual stereo speakers: Powered by Dolby Atmos.

Brand-new UFS 3.0 storage technology: It increases read and write speeds by up to 79 per cent. This means apps will open quicker and the same goes for data transfer.