There’s one other phone that has a genuine shout to get into this super-elite strata: OnePlus’s 7T Pro.
The 6.7-inch handset has arguably the best screen on the market (thanks to its 90hz Oled technology). It also has three good cameras (normal, 3x telephoto and ultra-wide). It has a pretty excellent battery life. And it looks great, thanks to a gorgeous curved screen that isn’t disrupted by any notch.
Maybe most importantly, it costs between €200 and €500 less than the above-mentioned flagship smartphones that have a similar basket of features. The main reason for the cheaper price is a relative lack of marketing and after-sales care. You won’t see ads or billboards for OnePlus phones and you shouldn’t expect similar levels of access to customer care either.
OnePlus has also always been a microbeat behind on its camera technology than the lenses built into the bodies of the big three manufacturers.
With the 7T Pro, they’re a lot closer (although not quite at the level of the best flagships).
Physically, this is very, very similar to both Samsung’s S10 and Huawei’s P30 Pro. In other words, each side curves away. It’s a very premium effect and it puts the 7T Pro into high-end aesthetic company.
That large 6.7-inch display doesn’t come across as bulky or huge because the bezels are practically non-existent – it’s all screen. And by all screen, I mean there’s no notch either. Instead of a selfie camera built in somewhere on the front screen, OnePlus has engineered a pop-up camera from the top of the device. I’m not sure whether this can possibly remain grime-free (or how dust and grit will affect it) in the long term, but it’s a novel way of approaching a selfie camera.
That screen is one of the phone’s main highlights. OnePlus has spent a few quid pushing its resolution to a 1440p, 90Hz Oled standard. What that means is that it looks amazing, renders colours beautifully and scrolls more smoothly than most other smartphone screens.
This is basically the standard that most other phones will eventually adopt. I enjoyed using it immensely.
Any phone that wants to be considered among the premium players these days has to impress with its cameras. OnePlus has never quite been at the level of the flagship players, using cheaper, commoditised cameras rather than lenses that directly match higher-end rivals.
The 7T Pro has a triple-camera array, with a standard lens (48 megapixels), 3x telephoto (8 megapixels) and ultra-wide (16 megapixels).
They’re reasonably good in low light, with an f1.6 aperture underpinning the sensor behind the main lens.
The cameras are stabilised too, which is a considerable advantage for video.
It means that footage from this phone doesn’t suffer from shakiness and jitters of previous models. It does have one special camera feature that few rivals have: a dedicated macro mode. For non-photography buffs, this means you can get incredibly intricately detailed photos by moving the camera much closer to the subject than you normally could (most phones will show you a blurry shot when you try to get too close to something). OnePlus is ahead of the game here. A new macro camera is one of the heavily tipped extra features on the upcoming Samsung S11 phone, to be launched next month.
Even still, it remains a tick off the very best that Apple, Samsung and Huawei have on their phones. Honestly, that won’t bother 98pc of users though.
The 7T Pro is definitely good enough, versatile enough and sharp enough for almost anyone who wants a decent smartphone camera.
Under the hood, this phone is very impressive. It has a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, 8GB of Ram and 256GB of storage. At this price, these are phenomenal specs. And they continue OnePlus’s habit of always offering at least twice as much storage as the top manufacturers offer on their most popular flagship variants
Battery life is generally very good. Its 4,085mAh battery is slightly longer-lasting than on most (though not all) phones on the market.
Finally, I liked the fast charging, which is over 20pc quicker than the previous OnePlus 7 Pro.
On the downside, I’m slightly surprised that this isn’t 5G-compatible given OnePlus’s penchant for pushing up the front with new features.
However, 5G is still not that big of a punter draw just yet, with patchy coverage and most people content with 4G speeds over 10Mbs (which are still perceived as ‘enough’ for almost any phone activity we use right now).
I’m also surprised – and a bit disappointed – that there’s no wireless charging either. I assume that this is more down to OnePlus’s list of savings to help keep the cost down.
And there is no headphone jack, although it’s mainly only budget phones that have this feature now.
But OnePlus might have put a USB-C adapter in the box for those who still want to use wired headphones.
However, overall, the 7T Pro deserves a place on the pantheon of best-in-class smartphones.