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February 25, 2024
Android & iOS App & Software Review

OnePlus Pad review: punching above its weight

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OnePlus will get quite a lot of issues proper with its first pill, the OnePlus Pad. It’s acquired an amazing display, glorious efficiency, smooth design, and nice battery life. And maybe most significantly, its $479 value undercuts each Apple and Samsung’s top-tier tablets.

If you realize OnePlus as a model, this story seemingly sounds acquainted. The corporate got here on to the scene a few decade in the past with Android smartphones that had premium specs at cut-rate costs. For a very long time, a OnePlus cellphone was the perfect fanatic smartphone deal you can discover. However in recent times, OnePlus’ telephones have steadily gotten costlier and more durable to differentiate from their Samsung counterparts. The Pad, nonetheless, feels a bit like a return to the outdated OnePlus.

That isn’t to say the Pad is ideal — removed from it. Although it has the usual keyboard and stylus equipment anticipated for a pill in 2023, they aren’t pretty much as good as Apple or Samsung’s choices. It additionally doesn’t have practically the extent of software program options, equipment, or integrations as a Samsung pill or iPad. It wouldn’t be my selection for a productivity-focused pill.

However when you’re on the lookout for an Android pill for watching films, taking part in video games (both native or emulated), searching the net, and studying, the OnePlus Pad does the job and does it properly.

How we price and overview merchandise

From its dimension and value, you’d assume the OnePlus Pad would compete with Apple’s $449 Tenth-gen iPad or $599 iPad Air or Samsung’s midrange tablets. However the Pad’s specs and the standard of its display actually make it extra of a competitor to Apple and Samsung’s high-end tablets, simply at a value you’d pay for a lower-tier mannequin.

The Pad has an 11.6-inch display, placing it between the 11-inch iPad Professional and the 12.9-inch mannequin. Due to its trimmer bezels, nonetheless, the Pad suits that bigger display in a footprint much like the 11-inch Professional. These small bezels make the Pad look nice subsequent to an iPad, however they current an actual drawback when utilizing the pill, because the display would ceaselessly register touches on the facet the place I held it. This was most problematic when utilizing the Pad in portrait orientation to learn a e-book or web site.

The Pad’s display could be very spectacular for its value

That’s a disgrace as a result of the Pad’s distinctive 7:5 side ratio means it really works fairly properly in each panorama and portrait orientations. In contrast to Samsung’s Tab S8, which has a 16:10 side display that’s awkward to make use of in portrait orientation, the Pad is as snug to make use of for studying as an iPad. Few Android pill makers appear to grasp how necessary side ratio is to the pill expertise, so I’m glad to see that OnePlus clearly thought of it right here.

The show itself can be very, very good. A 2800 x 2000 pixel LCD, it refreshes at as much as 144Hz and may hit a brightness of 500 nits. That makes it as easy to scroll round and navigate because the iPad Professional and Tab S8, which have 120Hz screens. The display additionally has glorious viewing angles and brilliant, punchy colours, with deep blacks which might be nearly pretty much as good as you get from OLED screens. I used to be legitimately shocked at how good the Pad is for watching films (okay, fantastic, it was Beavis and Butt-Head) — the show is that good. 

Accompanying the superb show is a quad-speaker system with help for Dolby Atmos, much like what’s on the iPad Professional and the Tab S8. The audio system are loud and clear and supply a great audio expertise. Sadly, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, so that you’ll be caught utilizing Bluetooth headphones or a USB-C adapter ($9.95, not included) for extra personal audio.

That cloud appears to be like like a butt.

The Pad can be surprisingly snug to carry for such a big system. As a substitute of following Apple and Samsung’s latest development of flat sides and sharp edges, OnePlus rounded the edges of the Pad and gave it a really soft-feeling steel end that’s simpler to wrap my hand round. It’s skinny, however not too skinny, and although, at 558g (1.23 kilos), it weighs about 80 grams (about 2.8 ounces) greater than an 11-inch iPad Professional, its weight is well-balanced and never fatiguing.

In any other case, the Pad appears to be like very similar to some other pill, although as an alternative of getting its rear digital camera within the nook, it’s center-aligned on the high (when held in panorama orientation). It’s a single-lens, 13-megapixel digital camera with an LED flash, and it really works fantastic for no matter you would possibly truly wish to take an image of with a pill (for me, that’s the occasional doc scan). Additionally, the Pad is available in darkish inexperienced and solely darkish inexperienced, which is an attention-grabbing, if finally inconsequential, selection by OnePlus. I suppose it stands out a bit from the ocean of silver and grey iPads.

The Pad’s 8-megapixel entrance digital camera is situated within the Appropriate Spot: within the bezel on the lengthy fringe of the pill. Which means whenever you’re on a video name and holding the Pad in panorama orientation, you’re not awkwardly off to the facet like on the iPad Professional. OnePlus additionally has an auto-follow characteristic that can be utilized in widespread video calling apps (it labored with Google Meet, Microsoft Groups, and Zoom in my testing) to assist preserve you targeted within the body.

The digital camera is curiously mounted within the middle of the highest edge on the again. Happily, the entrance digital camera is, too, so your video calls don’t look bizarre.

The edges of the Pad are rounded, in contrast to the squared-off edges of the iPad or Samsung’s tablets. That makes the Pad simpler and extra snug to carry.

Inside, the Pad comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There isn’t a microSD card slot and no choices for extra storage at buy, no less than within the US. 128GB of storage isn’t horrible, no less than for this value (Apple’s iPad Air is $120 extra and comes with simply 64GB), however I’d have appreciated for the choice to get no less than 256GB for extra room for offline films and video games.

The Pad’s processor is MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000 as an alternative of the standard Qualcomm Snapdragon we often see in Android units offered within the US. For many duties, this isn’t an issue — the Dimensity supplies snappy efficiency and good energy effectivity. Web sites load shortly, switching between apps is easy, and the UI is responsive. There are, although, some poorly optimized Android apps that are likely to stutter when scrolling (YouTube is probably the worst offender right here).

The Pad’s processor is ok for many every single day duties however can’t sustain with Apple or Samsung in intense video games

I’m not a lot of a gamer, however that is an space the place the Pad’s processing energy fell behind the iPad Professional and Samsung’s Tab S8, as properly. In Genshin Influence, the Pad may handle medium graphics settings at 30 frames per second — far lower than the 144Hz the display is able to and nowhere close to what the newest iPads can play the sport at. The Pad had a greater time with Asphalt 9, an admittedly graphically much less demanding sport.

Battery life was by no means a priority within the a number of weeks I examined the OnePlus Pad. I used to be capable of simply get via a full day of use, and even once I left it unused for a few days at a time, standby drain was minimal. Few tablets have actual points with battery life at this level, nevertheless it’s good to see that it’s not an issue for OnePlus, both. Within the field is a 67W wall charger that takes about 80 minutes to totally cost the Pad.

The OnePlus Pad comes with OnePlus’ OxygenOS software program constructed on high of Android 13. It’s a calmly custom-made tackle Android that principally depends on Google’s implementation of issues like multitasking. The corporate is committing to a few years of OS updates and 4 years of safety patches on the Pad, each a 12 months lower than what it supplies for its telephones.

On a cellphone, a lighter software program contact is usually welcome, however within the case of the pill, it holds the Pad again from being as helpful as Samsung’s choices. Whereas the Samsung Galaxy Tab supplies a full-on desktop windowing setting and will be plugged into an exterior show for extra actual property, the OnePlus Pad has a primary homescreen-plus-app-drawer structure. There are alternatives for gesture navigation to maneuver between apps, and you are able to do some primary split-screening. There’s additionally a floating window mode you could invoke with a four-finger pinch on the display, however that doesn’t work throughout all apps and feels a bit hit and miss. (It’s helpful for utilities like a calculator, nonetheless.)

The Pad doesn’t have as many multitasking or windowing choices as an iPad or Samsung pill, however you possibly can split-screen two apps and have a floating window for choose apps.

The perennial grievance with Android tablets is that there are so few apps that benefit from a pill’s bigger display, which makes them a tough promote in comparison with the iPad. That doesn’t change with the OnePlus Pad — Google’s apps like Chrome and Gmail and Microsoft’s Workplace apps work properly, however there are nonetheless far too many apps that simply behave like blown-up cellphone apps on a big display. In style apps I exploit every single day, corresponding to Slack and Pocket, look comical on the Pad’s practically 12-inch display and are a far cry from how they work on an iPad.

Making issues even worse is the downright abysmal help of keyboard shortcuts throughout the Android app world. Even Google is dropping the ball right here: there aren’t any purposeful keyboard shortcuts in Gmail to assist handle my inbox. There are a handful of systemwide keyboard shortcuts for going again to the homescreen, taking screenshots, and different easy navigation, however they don’t make up for the truth that Android apps simply don’t take into account keyboard navigation to be a precedence.

All of this combines to make the Pad really feel way more snug getting used for content material consumption than any sort of productiveness or creation work. Positive, you possibly can knock out the occasional electronic mail and make amends for Slack messages, however I’d have quite a lot of hassle attempting to switch a laptop computer with the Pad. You’ll have a a lot better time utilizing Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Paramount Plus, YouTube TV, or different streaming companies to observe films and TV reveals. (However not Apple TV Plus, sadly. I couldn’t even get it to work within the OnePlus Pad’s Chrome browser. No Ted Lasso right here.)

Each Samsung and Apple have developed options to make their tablets combine with different merchandise they make, and OnePlus is trying to do one thing comparable. The corporate says the Pad will be capable to help options like hotspot information sharing, clipboard sharing, and name, messaging, and notification sync with OnePlus telephones sooner or later. However that wasn’t accessible to check for this overview and can solely work when you’ve got a OnePlus cellphone, so house owners of different Android telephones received’t be capable to benefit from it.

The $149 magnetic keyboard case supplies entry to features like quantity and brightness and has an built-in trackpad. Sadly, it solely helps one viewing angle.

Just like the iPad Professional and Samsung’s Tab line, you possibly can outfit the OnePlus Pad with equipment to increase its performance. There’s a $39 folio case, a $149 keyboard case, and a $99 stylus that may magnetically connect to the facet of the Pad for storage and charging, identical to the Apple Pencil and the iPad. I had the chance to check each the OnePlus Magnetic Keyboard and the OnePlus Stylo.

Beginning with the keyboard, there are each issues to love and issues to criticize. It comes with a cushty structure and first rate sufficient key journey for correct typing. Its built-in trackpad is small however helps multifinger gestures and scrolling with none points. I additionally didn’t have any issues with palm rejection whereas typing. The important thing structure lacks a devoted operate row, however primary system controls like show brightness and quantity can be found as a operate layer on the quantity keys. It’s a step up in performance from Apple’s utterly function-keyless Magic Keyboard.

The keyboard attaches to the Pad magnetically and connects via pogo pins, so that you don’t have to fret about pairing or charging it. Sadly, it solely has one viewing angle, which is simply too steep for my lap and solely actually works when it’s arrange on a desk, and the keyboard lacks a backlight. In any other case, for the value, the keyboard is completely acceptable and helpful for sending emails or typing paperwork on the Pad.

The Stylo is successfully the identical factor as Apple’s second-generation Pencil, full with help for each tilt and strain sensitivity. It even helps switching between writing and erasing by double tapping on its facet, identical to Apple’s Pencil.

Writing with the Stylo on the Pad’s display is responsive with no perceptive lag or wiggle. However full help for its options, corresponding to fast device switching and decrease latency, is presently restricted to OnePlus’ bundled Notes app, a bare-bones affair that doesn’t sync with any cloud companies. The corporate says it has developed an SDK for the Stylo that different apps can combine for higher help, however there presently aren’t any third-party apps that do. Most individuals can in all probability skip the Stylo with the Pad. 

The Pad’s 7:5 side ratio supplies a cushty studying expertise in portrait orientation.

General, when you’re looking for a pill in 2023 and, for no matter cause, don’t need an iPad, you can do far worse than the OnePlus Pad. Its show and audio system are pretty much as good as Apple and Samsung’s top-tier 11-inch tablets, and it’s a superb system for watching films or studying on. And you may get these premium-level pill options, like quad-speaker and fast-refresh show, for lots lower than the value of an iPad Professional or Tab S8.

After all, when you’ve got an iPhone or Galaxy cellphone and desire a pill that integrates properly with it, the OnePlus Pad received’t lower it. Neither is it actually an incredible laptop computer alternative — it is a pill that’s finest on the conventional pill issues, and that’s fantastic.

The Pad isn’t the one new pill within the Android house this 12 months, as Google’s long-awaited Pixel Pill is anticipated to reach imminently. Google is outwardly concentrating on a bit completely different use case with it, although, and till we get our fingers on it, it’s arduous to say how a lot overlap there will likely be with the Pad and different tablets.

However as a pleasant pill that does pill issues properly for an affordable value, it’s arduous to seek out an excessive amount of fault with the OnePlus Pad. It’s good to see the outdated OnePlus once more.

Images by Dan Seifert / The Verge

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