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OnePlus 7 Pro preview: fast, powerful, and aggressively games-focused

OnePlus 7 Pro preview
©OnePlus, Fnatic

It occasionally feels like OnePlus snuck up on us. Although it only busted onto the scene in 2013, the hardware manufacturer has already cultivated a die-hard following and has become one of the top 5 premium smartphone brands in the world. Conquering the market so fast feels appropriate, though; ‘speed’ was one of its watchwords during the 7 Series launch in London on 14 May. After going hands-on with the OnePlus 7 Pro, it’s clear that this isn’t marketing bumph either. It’s one of the nippiest phones I’ve gotten my hands on, and that’s an exciting prospect when it comes to gaming. 

Yes, I was sceptical too. But the improvement’s noticeable. Swapping between apps, scrolling, and swiping is genuinely quicker here than on any other device I’ve used. That’s thanks to a smooth 90Hz refresh rate, which is 30Hz more than most other mobiles. Quad HD+ visuals with a resolution of 3120 x 1440 help, of course, not to mention 516 pixels per inch and HDR10+ for an extra pop of colour. In technological terms, this thing is jacked.

There’s a lot of power behind that AMOLED screen, too. You can get models with up to 12GB of RAM, and they all pack a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor that OnePlus claims is 45% faster and 20% less power-hungry than previous models. What’s more, this is a device with built-in liquid cooling. That’s usually the territory of high-end PC gaming rigs, so to see it here is impressive. It also suggests that the OnePlus 7 Pro will be able to chew through more demanding games with ease. This was certainly the case when we tried out a range of titles on the show floor, including gorgeous arcade racer Asphalt Legends and Fortnite.

Gaming mode - going into overdrive

OnePlus 7 Pro preview

©OnePlus, Gameloft

The phone’s dedicated gaming settings are just as noteworthy. OnePlus has been working with eSports team Fnatic since Paris Games Week 2017, and the result is ‘Fnatic Mode’ – a feature that promises “aggressive CPU focus, with almost all available resources being concentrated into the game.” That’s accompanied by low-latency gameplay achieved via blocking network access from other apps, and a ban on all calls and notifications while activated. It’s essentially PC-style overclocking for your smartphone.

Naturally, the OnePlus 7 Pro has eye-catching perks outside of gaming as well. Alongside the fastest unlock for any phone at 0.21 seconds, quick charging, the inclusion of Dolby Stereo, and UFS 3.0 storage tech that apparently “increases read and write speeds by up to 79%”. However, the honour of ‘coolest gadget’ would go to its camera. Well, ‘cameras’ – plural. Packing a 48MP main lens, an ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 3x optical zoom telephoto lens, this device has got a lot of photographic goodness crammed into one package.

OnePlus 7 Pro preview

©OnePlus

Swapping between each lens was easy, and it resulted in an array of gorgeous pictures with minimal effort. The wide-angle lens was particularly notable; it’s supposed to capture vistas as the eye sees them, providing 48% more range than other handsets. The front camera was pretty cool, too. Fitted to a mechanised arm, it whirrs out of the main body like a periscope/Star Wars droid to maximise screen-space. What’s more, it’ll automatically retract when dropped. Because the phone is on the large side and therefore a little awkward to use one-handed, that’s a real godsend.  

Overall, then, the OnePlus 7 Pro may well become one of the best gaming phones around. We’ll have to get in some more testing to know for sure, but it’s certainly the device to beat if all the company’s promises pan out.