OnePlus 10 Pro Preview – PhoneArena


Table of Contents:

Intro

OnePlus has traditionally had two big releases every year, one in the spring and another one in the fall, but last year, it skipped the fall release, so we didn’t get the customary “T” model with upgraded specs. The reason for that is that OnePlus itself is changing: it is integrating tighter with parent phone maker Oppo, and now, after a long wait, the first flagship phone under that new closer partnership is here and… it looks striking!
This is the OnePlus 10 Pro: a big, 6.7″ flagship phone with a brand new look that definitely took some camera inspiration from the Galaxy S21 series, but it’s about more than what’s on the surface. This phone sticks to OnePlus essentials that made the brand great with a clean software that feels incredibly zippy, probably the fastest fingerprint scanner in the industry, top-shelf processor, and charging so fast that it leaves Samsung and Apple in the dust.
But THE ONE question that OnePlus has to answer remains the same this year as in previous times: is this camera finally good enough? And can it rival the very best phones out there? Let’s find out!

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Design and Display Quality

Heavy inspiration from Samsung

We like that the OnePlus 10 Pro is not quite as wide as other XL sized phones, that definitely makes it more manageable even if you don’t have palms the size of an NBA player. It’s also not too heavy, especially compared to your Pro Max iPhones and Ultra Galaxies. Put simply, it’s a tall and narrow slab that is still big, but within reason.

You have two colorways to pick from, both with a subtle matte finish. We have the green one and you also have a black model.

The rest is your typical 2022 flagship situation: no headphone jack, no microSD card slot, Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front and back, aluminum frame, a single USB-C port at the bottom, and then what’s not so typical is the 3-way OnePlus alert slider so you can quickly switch between silent, vibrate and ring modes. IP68 water and dust protection is available as well.

The great thing about OnePlus is that it still includes a ton of accessories in the box. You get the zippy 80W fast charger and the signature red cable, you get a free silicone case, a very useful pre-applied screen protector on the phone, a SIM tool, a selection of OnePlus stickers and the usual user manuals.

A phone is something you use for hours every single day, so having great display quality is absolutely essential. Thankfully, OnePlus checks all boxes with a gorgeous 6.7-inch OLED screen with refresh rate that automatically modulates from 1Hz all the way to 120Hz for smooth scrolling. Max brightness is an excellent 1,300 nits (but the Galaxy S22 Ultra is due with a 1,750 nit screen, if you were wondering). HDR support is included and most importantly the colors are properly calibrated out of the box. Nice!

It’s a bit strange that while the max resolution is 1440 x 3216 pixels, the phone defaults to 1080p, obviously for battery saving reasons, but it only takes a tap on a button in the settings to fix that.

Next up, in terms of biometrics, the 10 Pro features an optical type fingerprint scanner under the screen, which is as fast as these in-screen fingerprint readers get! It’s accurate and nearly instantaneous, truly impressive. If we had to pick a direct comparison, it has got to be with the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner used on Samsung’s Galaxy S series, but OnePlus is significantly faster, while Samsung’s solution feels sluggish in comparison.

The company has moved the fingerprint a bit higher on the 10 Pro compared to previous OnePlus phones, and we found that a good move, making it easier to reach. The only thing with optical fingerprint readers is that they have to light up in order to work, so they can blind you a bit if you use them in bed at night, but I usually slightly tilt the phone away from my face at night and this problem is easily avoidable.

The front camera serves double duty for face recognition as well, and that also works faster than you’d expect, it’s nearly instantaneous. Keep in mind that we have image-based face recognition here, so it’s not quite as secure as Face ID on an iPhone, but it can be helpful and you can set it to work with a mask.

Performance and Software

Big leap for gamers, not so much for CPU performance

With the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor under the hood, the OnePlus is as powerful as Android phones get in 2022. Unlike rival Samsung which uses different processors depending on the market, you get Snapdragon everywhere on the OnePlus and that’s great.

We were extremely curious about this new chip, the OnePlus is the first phone we test with it, so we were a bit shocked to get very low benchmark scores in the beginning. Turns out, the phone defaults to lower chip speeds and you need to actually dig deep in the settings to fix that. On our versions running ColorOS, we had to go into Settings > Battery > Advanced, and only there we found the “High Performance” mode. Enabling it, unleashes the full power of the chip and you see what it’s really capable of. Strangely, we noticed that once you reboot your phone it will return to the default throttled mode, definitely an annoying little detail for those who want the best performance all the time.

Take a look at the benchmark scores below (we ran them in High Performance mode):

You get a nearly 10% boost in single-core performance, and a very slight bump in multi-core performance.

We ought to say that benchmarks don’t really do the OnePlus justice: it’s incredibly fast and animations on it are incredibly smooth. In our opinion, this is as fast as Android gets at the moment and not least thanks to a brilliant gesture navigation implementation. Good job, OnePlus!

In GPU benchmarks, we were worried we would see the phone overheat, and it did indeed get quite warm, but so far we haven’t seen really bad overheating issues. In the 20 minute Widlife Extreme Stress test, the phone throttled more noticeably after 10 minutes.

We have to also say a few words about the software here because this is not the OxygenOS we were used to seeing on previous OnePlus phones. It’s Android 12 but skinned with ColorOS, property of phone maker Oppo, but… it’s not much different. Some familiar features are missing, but the speed and animations are just as smooth. Expect the global model of the OnePlus 10 Pro to have slightly different software, so we will be updating this section once we get to test that.

Camera

It’s not a stove top, it’s a camera system, I swear! (but it sure looks like you can cook on it)

Yes, the iPhone might have been the phone that started this design trend, but with a squarish form and four circles, the camera system on the OnePlus sure looks a bit like a kitchen item. Not only that, but it kind blends with the frame of the phone, much like the Galaxy S21 Ultra. But we don’t mind, OnePlus might not have a super original design, but it has its spin on popular trends, what really matters is whether this camera is finally the one to bring OnePlus on bar with the big guys. 

Let’s get the technicalities out of the way first, the camera specs: 

Nothing truly remarkable here, the main camera sensor is quite big, which is good news, but not the biggest in the industry. The ultra wide camera now actually features a much smaller sensor, but one with a wider, 14mm field of view and a cool new 150-degree, fish eye shooting mode. The 3.3X zoom telephoto lens is the same we had last year, and doesn’t seem improved. The Hasselblad branding, however, still remains and suggests greatness, but let’s see if that’s really what you get.

When it comes to video recording, the OnePlus 10 Pro comes with a bunch of resolutions and options: 8K video! 4K at 120fps! AI video recording! 

All of that is great, but first the details. Yes, you do have 8K video, you can only record it at 24fps, but as you’d expect it is a bit cropped in and you can only use the main camera, plus the files are quite large. For 4K, you have the same field of view as in 1080p, so no cropping. You can use all three cameras while recording 4K30, then you lose the ultra-wide camera at 4K60, and finally at 4K120 you can only use the main shooter.

This new 4K 120fps option is absolutely great for those who edit videos in post and want to capture incredibly detailed slow motion. Unfortunately, the phone gallery app will not slow down 4K120 recordings for you, you have to do it in post. It would have been nice to be able to get 4K slow motion right in the camera / gallery apps, but no such luck.

OnePlus has also implemented a new zoom slider that allows very smooth zooming motion, and we love the idea (we have seen such an interface in some dedicated third-party camera apps). The only thing missing is quick shortcuts to switching between the three cameras, but not a huge deal. Finally, you also have an Ultra Steady video stabilization but that only works in 1080p 60fps resolution, and you also have an AI mode that boosts the colors, but that one also only functions in 1080p mode.

One thing we noticed is recording videos with the selfie camera only works at 1080p resolution (while others offer 4K), and if you have bright highlights, they are completely blown out into white. We have seen other cheaper phones do a much better job at this.

Audio Quality and Haptics

We already mentioned there is no 3.5mm headphone jack here, but you can still use USB-C headphones or wireless headphones.

You also have dual loudspeakers that get very loud, but distort a bit and at the highest volumes lack a bit in clarity and depth. Still, they are among the better ones we have heard and they definitely amplify the experience of watching videos or playing games. 

The haptic feedback is also nice and sharp, and it’s quite useful to get in rhythm while typing or just to notify you about incoming calls and notifications.

Battery Life

Big battery, big numbers

The most remarkable thing about the OnePlus 10 Pro might just be how the company managed to cram in a 10% larger battery in the body about the same size as last year’s model. The 10 Pro comes with a huge 5,000mAh battery, a jump from the 4,500mAh battery on the 9 Pro, that elevates the OnePlus flagship to the same battery heights as the S21 Ultra / S22 Ultra models.

That’s great news, and in our testing we can confirm that this larger battery delivers the goods.

Below, you’d find results from our independent battery tests, where we set each phone at the same level of brightness, putting them all on an equal playing field.

*OnePlus 10 Pro results: YouTube test was performed under default settings. Browsing and 3D Gaming tests were performed under “high performance” mode.

As we were testing the battery, we noticed that ColorOS is much more aggressive in killing background apps and we had to dive deep in the settings to give permissions to particular apps, a step we don’t usually do on other mainstream phones.

The results, however, came out solid. The OnePlus 10 Pro holds its ground well on all three tests, but really stands out in the YouTube video streaming test where it outlasted the competition easily with an impressive scores of 10 hours and 47 minutes, better than even the iPhone 13 Pro Max which was about 20 minutes short of that. The OnePlus also stood its ground well in 3D gaming, but wasn’t quite as impressive in just the web browsing test.

Charging speeds

Equipped with a charger in the box the OnePlus 10 Pro is a rarity on our current flagship market, and we love that. It’s not just any charger either: it’s one of the fastest you can get on a phone at 80W speeds. This time, it’s slightly different than before, it’s an Oppo charger, and interestingly with that, OnePlus has also gone back from a USB-C charger on last year’s model, back to a traditional USB port on the 10 Pro charger (and we do wish it was a Type C charger). How does OnePlus achieve those 80W speeds? The trick is that it uses two battery cells that charge side-by-side.

And charging speeds are, as you’d expect, incredibly fast! We got from 0 to 50% in about 11 minutes, and a full charge takes less than half an hour. You no longer need to charge your phone at night, simply top it up for some 20 minutes, and you’d have enough juice for a full day. We have measured charging speeds in 5 minute intervals below, take a look.

OnePlus 10 Pro charging speeds:

  • in 5 mins — 26%
  • in 10 mins — 45%
  • in 15 mins — 62%
  • in 20 mins — 76%
  • in 25 mins — 88%
  • in 30 mins — 100%

The 10 Pro also supports super fast wireless charging at speeds of up to 50W. You do need a OnePlus charger for that, but we think the speeds are well worth it.

Competitors

Finally, when it comes to rivals, you know the usual suspects in the premium segment: the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the Google Pixel 6 Pro, and the upcoming Galaxy S22 Ultra. The OnePlus stands its ground in terms of battery life and in our opinion, it has the fastest and most refined Android interface. While it lacks some of the advanced features you get in Samsung’s One UI, OnePlus makes up with gesture navigation that is zippy and smooth, and it has a reputation for staying fast for years while others like the Pixel have witnessed performance drops a few short months after their launch.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max might work better for people who value iOS, Face ID and all the whole ecosystem with iMessage, the Apple Watch, AirPods and so on. Not to mention that it’s due to get 5 or 6 years of software updates, while Android phones only get 3 years. If you record a lot of video, the iPhone also remains the best video camera on a phone, and a bonus feature is that it has incredible loudspeakers, if you care about that. But it’s also an enormous phone that is very heavy and might just not be comfortable to carry around and use for many people. The OnePlus has a more reasonable size and the open Android ecosystem in its corner. 
As for the Pixel 6 Pro, you’d be saving some money with the $900 Google flagship and it has proven to have a clean software, fast Android updates and the camera chops (especially with night photography), but it has a slowish fingerprint scanner and some users report problems with battery life and the phone slowing down with time. We cannot tell if this will happen to you and it might not, but reports are out there.
Finally, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has grown wider and is certainly an extra large device, which you should consider, but if you’re fine with that, it seems to have it all: the new S Pen, the huge battery, the more versatile camera, with our doubts being mostly around the rough-around-the-edges gesture navigation in One UI. 

Summary and Final Verdict

At the end of the day, the OnePlus 10 Pro is a step forward, but not a giant leap. We certainly hoped for more in the camera department and while you do get some neat options like 4K120 and 8K video recording, stabilization is still not on par with the best and the color science has room for improvement. On a personal note, with all the hype and expectations around it, I can say that this phone definitely lacks the wow factor. But maybe, it’s just us reviewers getting extra picky.

There is also a lot to love about the 10 Pro. Its speed is — we feel — unmatched in the Android camp and the interface and particularly the animations and gestures have a refinement we usually associate with one fruit company. We also appreciate the new design and our hats go off to OnePlus for keeping the cool little touches like the Alert Slider. The 10 Pro also adds the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which is a nice step up, probably most so for gamers.

Should you buy it? Well, we have to reserve that final judgment until the actual international model arrives and we have to take its price into account, but for what it’s worth, the OnePlus 10 Pro is shaping up to be more of what you already love about OnePlus, but not quite the breakthrough one might have hoped for. If your phone is aging and you are not after the ultimate camera, though, it should be well considered. 





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