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OnePlus 10 Pro long-term review: An imbalanced equation [Video]

In recent years, OnePlus has shifted so far away from the faux “plucky upstart” enthusiast brand, and the OnePlus 10 Pro is the biggest indicator of that. This is our long-term review of the latest OnePlus flagship.

For those looking at the OnePlus 10 Pro and wondering if it’s a device they should upgrade to from last year’s 9 Pro, then we have a detailed comparison that you should check out. The short answer is no. But just how good is the latest OnePlus flagship? We’ve lived with it for a month since its release to better understand what works and what doesn’t.

Video — OnePlus 10 Pro long-term review

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Design and hardware

With previous iterations, OnePlus has experimented with camera positioning on its flagship lines, but there has been great attention paid to the overall feel in part thanks to the enhanced “Color, Material, Finish” design ethos. The “Volcanic Black” model has a crystal-like shimmer in various lighting conditions but retains a nice rough feeling under your thumb for extra grip. If you prefer more striking colors then go for the Emerald Forest model.

I’ll outright say that the OnePlus 10 Pro feels incredible and is among the best I’ve used over the past couple of years. There is a certain svelte aesthetic that isn’t quite as noticeable until you pick up and fondle the phone for yourself.

Although I’m not ballsy enough to test the overall strength of the back panel a la Zack Nelson aka JerryRigEverything, it still feels sturdy despite feeling waif-like without a case. For what it’s worth, I haven’t noticed any particular chassis-related weaknesses, nor am I worried that the OnePlus 10 Pro will break easily. Just avoid folding your phone and keep it in a case. If you do that I think you’ll be fine.

I use the Pixel 6 almost exclusively and despite packing a bigger screen – more on that in a little bit – the OnePlus 10 Pro manages to feel more compact despite having a larger workable area. Personally, I think this is down to the chassis curves, but it’s also a thinner package than Google’s $599 smartphone.

The external frame fuses around into the camera bump in a similar manner to the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S22. It’s a bigger layout but one that is somewhat ruined by the awful “P2D 50T” text emblazoned upon the LED flash. This is shorthand for second-generation Hasselblad 50-megapixel triple-lens camera setup. What’s more confusing is that it isn’t technically true given that not all lenses are rated at 50 megapixels. I can understand the etched “Hasselblad” logo along the camera bump edge though and feel this was all that was needed.

One major annoyance to global buyers is the removal of an IP rating this year. If you’re in the United States, the T-Mobile OnePlus 10 Pro includes an IP68 water- and dust-resistance rating. It’s a silly differentiator that makes no real sense and devalues the device in other regions.

Display

OnePlus 10 Pro LTPO 2.0 display

While not quite as nice as the likes of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the LTPO 2.0 display on the OnePlus 10 Pro is still exceptional. That does not come as much of a shock given that OnePlus has been producing some of the best smartphone displays since the advent of the OnePlus 7 Pro in mid-2019.

OnePlus still includes a basic pre-applied screen protector on all of its flagship lines. I’m grateful for its inclusion as it deflects superficial scars although the screen is coated in Gorilla Glass Victus, micro-abrasions are always something any unprotected screen will suffer from over time.

As for the screen itself, it’s a triumph. The 120Hz refresh rate feels heightened courtesy of some of the tweaks in OxygenOS 12. Can you tell a difference between the OnePlus 9 Pro? No, but anyone with last year’s flagship won’t gain a great deal from an upgrade here.

The claim that the OnePlus 10 Pro display can hit lower refresh rates more often isn’t something I can say that I noticed that 1Hz rate in the month or so of using it as my default device. You might have a better eye than me and spot this more often when using the phone.

I’m not looking forward to moving back to the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro in-display reader such is the snappiness and accuracy of the OnePlus 10 Pro’s fingerprint scanner. This isn’t new to OnePlus phones, nor is it noticeably faster than the previous generation. It’s simply fast and reliable.

Software and performance

There’s a big, bold asterisk on the software side of things when discussing just about any OnePlus phone now that Android 12 is available. The OnePlus 10 Pro is absolutely no different. If you dislike the recent OxygenOS 12 overhaul, this is not the phone for you. Check out our full detailed look at Android 12 for OnePlus phones to learn why the move toward Oppo’s software skin signal the end of the OnePlus many have stood by for so long.

Putting the massive ColorOS influence to the side for one moment, the performance is excellent on the OnePlus 10 Pro. There are some indications of minor throttling, likely to reduce the processor heat. Unless you are looking for constant sustained maximum performance you’ll likely never notice a difference.

At no point have I felt disappointed by what the OnePlus 10 Pro is capable of. From gaming to multi-tasking, the internals stack up well with the best in the business. In tandem with the UFS 3.1 storage and 120Hz refresh rate, things are, as OnePlus is happy to tell us in marketing material, slick and smooth.

Disappointingly there is no 12GB variant at this stage and it might not even come to the US. That said, 8GB of RAM is more than enough to handle everyday tasks and at no point did I lament this. If you are intent on holding on to your device for a few years, this is something to consider though.

The haptics are similarly excellent and alongside the Oppo Find X5 Pro, the best on an Android smartphone that I have used. Being able to tune the vibration motor to your preferred “feel” is also something that OxygenOS 12.1 offers over its predecessors.

Camera

OnePlus 10 Pro Hasselblad certified camera setup in Volcanic Black

There are some important changes to the OnePlus 10 Pro’s camera setup this year that feel very much like a step backward. By ditching the excellent Sony IMX766 ultra-wide in favor of a slightly less capable Samsung JN1 and losing the 2-megapixel monochrome sensor, the 2021 flagship has the edge.

It’s hard not to see that there is still room for improvement in the camera department. It almost feels like we’re saying that year over year, but it just happens to be true. The OnePlus 9 Pro camera was often excellent and with some tweaks and adjustments, it could have been a more direct competitor to the most consistent smartphone cameras on Android. The color tuning on the OnePlus 9 Pro is easily my favorite of any smartphone camera system, so I had very high hopes for the OnePlus 10 Pro.

Even with tempered expectations, you might leave a little confused. OnePlus was in a position to really challenge now that the Hasselblad partnership is starting to bear fruit. While it’s similarly solid, it just doesn’t quite do enough to be considered one of the best – at least to my eye. The colors are arguably the strongest suit, and, of course, OnePlus has Hasselblad to thank for that, but it’s almost as if the team behind this camera setup doesn’t want to step on Oppo’s toes.

Images from the main sensor are a step up over the OnePlus 9 Pro, but the ultra-wide is a notable downgrade. The IMX766 was exceptional and it was a joy to use, the JN1 is just not quite up to scratch here. There is a notable soft look at times and the expanded field of view feels like it was thrown in as an afterthought to help cover up the loss of such an excellent lens on the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro.

It seems as though OnePlus has outright avoided opting for a dedicated telephoto lens over the past few years, and it’s starting to hurt the flexibility of the camera system here. A digital crop does not provide the same look nor does it help when your OnePlus phone over-processes images substantially. Should the OnePlus 11 series be the last to carry the Hasselblad branding as per the original agreement, it feels like much of that added expertise is being squandered here with average camera hardware relying too heavily on mediocre tuning.

All of the Hasselblad-related features are nice additions but are not a reason to select this phone over other more capable smartphone camera systems. However, the 12-bit RAW image shooting is something that gives you true tuning control — so long as you’re happy to use an app such as Snapseed or Lightroom.

Battery and charging

OnePlus 10 Pro with 24% battery life remaining.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the battery longevity of the 10 Pro. It’s a fairly solid all-day performer in my experience and on par with most Android flagships thanks to the upgraded 5,000mAh internal battery.

There are some more puzzling differences here though depending upon just from which region you buy the OnePlus 10 Pro. Luckily, there is a charger in the box. However, in North America, it’s capped at 65W while the rest of the world gets an even faster 80W charge brick. I thought 15W would be substantial, but it seems that this only accounts for slightly faster charge times in the real world.

Either option still has the OnePlus 10 Pro reaching 100% from dead in under 40 minutes. That’s more than impressive, and it does change the way you charge your phone. Slow charging may help with overall device longevity, but superfast charging certainly is nice when you start to hit the low single-digit battery figures.

Final thoughts

The sum of the OnePlus 10 Pro’s parts adds up to a good smartphone, not a great one. Often I find myself looking at other devices and feeling aggravated that the OnePlus 10 Pro is lacking in the same core areas that have been lacking since the starting of the “Pro” series back in 2019. I can’t quite put my finger on why there is a void, but it feels like something is missing.

While the OnePlus 9 Pro missed the mark in just a few minor sections when compared to the biggest flagships of 2021, the OnePlus 10 Pro has really dropped the baton this year. It becomes an even more bitter pill to swallow given that the OnePlus 10 Pro is a device I really want to like more than I actually do.

With a “Never Settle” mantra, it’s bound to be frustrating for any longtime fans and early adopters to see the evolution of OnePlus up the pricing charts but still with compromises in key areas. Another major problem to grapple with is that the Pixel 6 Pro is exactly the same $899 price in the United States as the OnePlus 10 Pro. What you lose in processor power, you gain in software update cadence and camera quality and flexibility.

If you want raw specifications and nice hardware with a so-so camera, the OnePlus 10 Pro succeeds in what it sets out to achieve. The bigger problem is that like early models, it’s an imbalanced equation that favors areas that lack complaints and feels like a return to early OnePlus phones. You have to compromise in a few areas for the sake of high-performance internals and maybe a few key selling features. OnePlus hasn’t settled, it has come full circle.



Author: Damien Wilde
Source: 9TO5Google

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