5 months into 2019 and it’s already clear that this year is one of the most exciting for new smartphone releases. As Vlad Savov from The Verge put it, “[w]hen the iPhone doesn’t change, Android phones get weird.” We’ve seen penta-camera smartphones, swivel-camera pop-up smartphones, 21:9 smartphones, wearable smartphones, foldable smartphones, and so much more. But no matter how crazy the designs and cameras of new Android flagships get, we still see the same basic hardware: the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, similar batteries, fast wired charging, and bezel-less displays. Even 12GB RAM and 1GB storage are no longer out of the ordinary in 2019! Yet, every flagship phone released this year has featured the same flash storage specification we’ve seen in flagships since 2017: UFS 2.1.
With how flagship-focused we all tend to be, it’s easy to overlook the storage types in favor of storage sizes. For instance, the Redmi Note 7 Pro seems almost as capable as the higher-end POCO F1, but the Redmi’s eMMC NAND makes the phone significantly slower than the POCO F1 with its UFS 2.1 NAND in day-to-day use. Thus, the gulf in performance between the older eMMC standard and UFS is still felt by mid-range smartphone buyers in 2019, but it’s something that used to affect the flagship market back in mid-2017—the Huawei P10 hardware lottery comes to mind here. As we near the end of the first half of 2019, it’s time for us to start paying attention to flash storage once again: UFS 3.0 smartphones are almost here, and the OnePlus 7 Pro may be the first to market with it after the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s botched launch.
The storage chips in the latest high-end smartphones are manufactured by different companies like Samsung, Micron, SK Hynix, and Western Digital, but they’re all designed with the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) standard defined by JEDEC. The UFS standard is made with mobile devices in mind, allowing for fast storage read-write operations and low power consumption. Version 3.0 of the standard was published in early January of 2018, promising significant improvements in sequential read and write speeds with over double the bandwidth per lane.
Comparison of sequential and random read/write speeds for several generations of Samsung’s storage memory. This chart demonstrates the theoretical performance improvements that UFS 3.0 brings to flash memory, but we don’t know exactly which memory chip the OnePlus 7 Pro has.
In real-world use, these speed improvements translate to faster app launch times, faster resource fetching for games (shorter loading times), faster document loading, faster image saving from the camera, faster boot time, and more. The storage specification affects the speed of every file operation on your phone, so the OnePlus 7 Pro having UFS 3.0 storage means it’ll just be overall faster than comparable smartphones…almost everywhere. The Samsung Galaxy S10+, Huawei P30 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 9, and every other flagship smartphone we’ve seen this year have UFS 2.1 storage chips, so OnePlus’ latest smartphone will have a big leg up on the competition when it comes to storage performance.
We’re fairly confident that the OnePlus 7 Pro will have UFS 3.0 storage thanks to the information we obtained from a source familiar with the phone’s development. Our source corroborates the information on the OnePlus 7 Pro’s flash storage specification first shared by Max J., though we can’t confirm the other specifications that have made the rounds on the Internet. We also don’t have any information to share on the standard OnePlus 7 model. OnePlus has already confirmed that the 7 Pro will have triple rear cameras with 3x zoom, a pop-up selfie camera, a significantly better “breakthrough” display, and support for 5G with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and Snapdragon X50 modem. We’ll find out all the details on the OnePlus 7 series in 10 days when OnePlus holds launch events in New York, London, and Bangalore. Be sure to join the XDA forums for the devices if you’re interested in them; we’re certainly interested in benchmarking them to see how fast they really are!
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