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OnePlus 10 Pro review: A return to form

And the start of a whole new journey.

OnePlus 10 Pro
OnePlus 10 Pro price in India starts at Rs 66,999. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The OnePlus 10 Pro is a return to form for OnePlus. Now, we understand that statement could be controversial depending on where you stand, currently, with the whole predicament that OnePlus has found itself in with its recent merger with Oppo. But say what you will about OnePlus, credit where credit’s due, its knack for taking user feedback seriously and converting it into compelling products, that only get better with time, remains firmly intact, even today. Not only does the OnePlus 10 Pro meet expectations by bettering the OnePlus 9 Pro in almost every perceivable way, but it also exceeds them by delivering all this under great pressure.

PERFORMANCE & BATTERY LIFE

It’s sort of remarkable because the OnePlus 9 Pro could barely take any. It was, often times, too hot to handle. It’s no secret that today’s high-end chips— particularly from Qualcomm – have a tendency to run hot. With phones becoming sleeker by the day, managing cooling has become tricky. The OnePlus 10 Pro has an elaborate 5-layer 3D passive cooling system and as far as we can tell, from using the phone for over twenty days as our daily driver, it works. That is not to say that the 10 Pro doesn’t get hot. It does, but not as quickly as the 9 Pro.

OnePlus 10 Pro
The 10 Pro has reliable performance. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

For all the times when it’s about to get toasty, say, when you’re playing a graphics-intensive game like Genshin Impact or Fortnite, or recording a high-res 4K video, OnePlus appears to have put in some thermal cap on the underlying Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, to prevent the phone from overheating. This has been done smartly, too. You’ll hardly notice it except maybe in benchmarks. The 10 Pro doesn’t score as high as, say, an iQOO 9 Pro (review) or even the Motorola Edge 30 Pro (review) in AnTuTu.

Also Read | OnePlus 10R 150W first impressions: All charged up and raring to go

But you don’t buy a phone to run benchmarks. You buy it for its real-world performance. We’re happy to report that the OnePlus 10 Pro performs exceptionally well, on all fronts, be it basic tasks or high refresh rate gaming. When you’re shooting, the phone would automatically lower the screen brightness, but it doesn’t stop recording (the 9 Pro would infamously just give up in such cases). Throttling stats were within permissible limits during our testing. It does all this consistently, too, without any lag or stutter. OnePlus phones have long been revered for their fast and smooth sustained performance and the 10 Pro lives up to that name.

OnePlus 10 Pro
The phone supports 80W fast charging. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The battery is 5,000mAh now, an increase of 500mAh over the 9 Pro, and with the improved efficiency of a next-generation chip and smart(er) cooling, the results speak for themselves. The 10 Pro is a reliable all-day phone. Sometimes you can stretch it well into the next day thanks to some of the best standby times we’ve seen in any phone of its class. Fast charging is also getting an update. The 10 Pro supports 80W SuperVOOC wired charging (the 9 Pro topped out at 65W). OnePlus claims the bundled charger – which isn’t Power Delivery (PD) sadly— can charge the phone from 1-100% in 32 minutes. In our experience, it took about 40-minutes to do this, which is still quick enough. You also get up to 50W AirVOOC wireless as well as reverse wireless charging in this phone.

The haptic motor deserves a special mention. Not only does the 10 Pro pack some of the nicest haptics in the market today, but OnePlus has also designed dedicated audio effects –and animations – that make interactions more fun and immersive.

DESIGN & DISPLAY

The phone’s 6.7-inch 10-bit 1440p curved AMOLED display is as impressive. It may seem like it’s being carried over from the 9 Pro, but there are a few big upgrades. The panel is a second-generation LTPO that can go from 1Hz to 120Hz depending on the available content and features dual colour calibration which is to say it has been calibrated at 500nits as well as at 100nits to show more accurate colours across multiple brightness levels. It can peak 1300nits and supports HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG playback. There is Corning Gorilla Glass Victus protection.

The in-display fingerprint reader –which is still optical – has been moved slightly higher up making it more convenient than the 9 Pro’s implementation. It is fast and accurate.

OnePlus 10 Pro
The screen gets nice and bright. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Rounding off the multimedia package are dual speakers with support for Dolby Atmos. These get nice and loud with clear mids, though bass response could be slightly better. There is no headphone jack.

Like almost everything else in this phone, its design, too, is a refresh guided by user feedback. You get the usual suspects, Corning Gorilla Glass (version 5) on the back and metal frame, but it’s all been put together with wee bit more attention to detail. The biggest upgrade is the weight distribution. The OnePlus 10 Pro is a big phone (201g, 8.55mm) but it’s balanced well and doesn’t weigh you down. It’s nice to hold and manoeuvre, though the alert slider could have been a bit lower. The backplate has a textured matte finish which shimmers under direct sunlight and resists fingerprints well enough. The Emerald Forest version, we have for review, has a glossy frame. The Volcanic black is matte throughout.    

(Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)
The rear camera assembly is made of ceramic. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Probably the most polarising bit about the OnePlus 10 Pro’s design is its gigantic stovetop burner-style camera assembly. It is made of ceramic and fuses with the frame on one end. We have to say it does take some time getting used to but it grows on you, eventually. Then again, all this is subjective. Whatever be the case, you’ve probably never seen a smartphone design like this before either, so a 10 on 10 for uniqueness and thinking out of the box is surely warranted.  

CAMERAS & SOFTWARE

Behind that stand-out assembly sit three very powerful camera sensors, all basking with great potential at least on paper. At the same time, OnePlus’s ongoing partnership with Hasselblad — now in its second year – promises even better colour tuning and access to some iconic feature set like the XPan mode (the 10 Pro gets this right out of the gate) that bring a hint of exclusivity and nostalgia for those who fancy it. The wide and the telephoto are same as the 9 Pro:

— 48MP Sony IMX789 sensor behind a 23mm-equivalent 7P lens with f/1.8 aperture, OIS, and phase detection autofocus. This can record at up to 4K 120fps or 8K at 24fps.

— 8MP sensor behind a 76mm-equivalent f/2.4 lens with OIS and PDAF for up to 3.3x optical zoom. This can record at up to 1080p 30fps.

The ultrawide camera is getting a refresh with a new 50MP Samsung ISOCELL JN1 sensor which is mated to a much wider 150-degree field-of-view lens. You can shoot at full 150-degrees (with Fisheye) or up to 110-degrees (with distortion correction). There is no autofocus, though, which means it can’t double as a macro (like in the 9 Pro). This can record at up to 4K at 30fps.

OnePlus 10 Pro
The back is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 5. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

There are some new camera chops, too, such as the ability to shoot in 10bit colour across the entire triple camera system and up to 12bit colour in Hasselblad Pro Mode. The OnePlus 10 Pro also gets support for Raw+ which is to say you’ll be able to save in RAW and a processed JPEG at the same time. There are some new filters to explore, as well, inside the camera app. In a word, the 10 Pro is loaded when it comes to camera specs. While their efficacy may vary depending on your skill and all-round compression, it’s a case study of how far smartphone cameras have come.

Still photography on the 10 Pro, especially with the wide and telephoto, is marginally better than the 9 Pro. The phone takes brighter, sharper, and more colourful photos, generally, with good detail and wide dynamic range. Colours are warm and pleasing by default. HDR could be better, but, it’s not a deal breaker. Low-light photos are also competitive with or without night mode depending on the scenario.

OnePlus 10 Pro
The selfie camera is 32MP. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The ultrawide is more whimsy than useful especially when you compare it with the 9 Pro’s. Lack of autofocus shows clearly as photos tend to come out softer regardless of the lighting. Colours are, also, tad cooler when shooting with this camera. That said, the wider scope, even if it is whimsical, is fun and gives you freedom and flexibility to explore your creative side. We’ll take that as a pro. 

There is little doubt that OnePlus wanted to make the 10 Pro a camera phone for the pros, even more so in videography, which is probably why the phone exports video footage in Rec2020 format (not the more common Rec709) for more vivid and natural colours that they would love to edit and make the most out of in post. For everyone else, though, that could be an overkill.

The front 32MP camera is a step-up over the 9 Pro’s in every sense of the still photography word but it still tops out at 1080p 30fps, which seems rather odd for a flagship phone with such towering photography ambitions.

The OnePlus 10 Pro is a step in the right direction, though. OnePlus phones for years have been riddled with inadequate cameras. The 10 Pro gets most things right which makes us hopeful for what OnePlus will do next.

OnePlus 10 Pro
It runs OxygenOS 12.1. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

In the same way that countless many fans and enthusiasts are hopeful about the future of OxygenOS. Those keeping track would know, OnePlus was planning to merge OxygenOS and ColorOS to create a unified operating system. Those plans have since been shelved after taking feedback from the OnePlus community. With the upcoming OxygenOS 13, OxygenOS will revert back to its familiar look and feel— light, clean, and close to stock Android – OnePlus has confirmed, though it will continue to share the codebase with ColorOS. The reasoning is that this would allow for faster update rollout.  

The software experience in the OnePlus 10 Pro – which is Android 12-based OxygenOS 12.1 –though it borrows a few things here and there from ColorOS, has considerably lesser bloat and almost no spammy notifications. It retains its individuality, too, with features like OnePlus Shelf and Scout, Work Life Balance, granular personalisation including multiple levels of Dark Mode, and Private Safe to name a few. The experience, overall, is nice and fluid. The phone is eligible to get three major OS and four years of security updates.

ONEPLUS 10 PRO | SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

The OnePlus 10 Pro is a sizeable upgrade in almost all the departments over the 9 Pro. The design is new. The build quality is top-notch and weight distribution, spot on. The screen is more colour accurate than before and excels at delivering a satisfying multimedia experience. The speakers are louder, the haptics tighter. Software is clean and well optimised. Performance and battery life, too, are solid.  The 10 Pro also supports more 5G bands (9 versus 2 in the 9 Pro). Cameras, while there is room for improvement there, hold up well for the most part, particularly in stills.

Despite so many upgrades, the price hasn’t really gone up drastically either. OnePlus 10 Pro price in India starts at Rs 66,999 for a version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. A version with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage will set you back by Rs 71,999. This is very competitive for a flagship phone in 2022 so OnePlus has priced the phone well.

The iQOO 9 Pro, Realme GT 2 Pro, Motorola Edge 30 Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy S22 and S22+ (review), are all excellent phones that the 10 Pro has to compete with. While it’s true that it pales next to this all-star ensemble in one way or the other, but collectively, it shines as a wholesome package that should appeal to OnePlus fans, both long-term and new. We won’t go so far as to say that OnePlus is back, completely, but the 10 Pro is most definitely the start of a whole new journey and it’s a great start, to say the least.       

Also Read | OnePlus 10 Pro first look at design, specs, top features and more

Pros Cons
Premium design and build No official water-proofing
Bright, contrast-rich display No expandable storage or headphone jack
Beautiful haptics Ultrawide camera lacks autofocus
Fast performance Videography could be better
Clean software
Great battery life
Competitive cameras

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