OnePlus 10 Pro Review: The new OnePlus

The OnePlus 9 Pro was, for me at least a relatively disappointing phone, so I really wasn’t all that excited to check out the OnePlus 10 Pro, especially considering that it’s been out for 4 months in China, however despite the similarity to the OnePlus 9 Pro, the 10 Pro is an infinitely more recommendable phone.

OnePlus 10 Pro
+ FOR
  • Lovely Screen
  • Stunning performance
  • Great charging
  • Cameras vastly improved
  • OxygenOS is finally stable
- AGAINST
  • Camera software is sometimes lacking
  • Battery life leaves something to be desired.
  • I hate the back texture

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Disclaimer

OnePlus UK PR send this 10 Pro review sample over, no money has changed hands and OnePlus is not seeing this content before it goes live. The 10 Pro received a single OTA update bringing it to release firmware. It was used on the Three UK network in the Southeast of the UK for 2 weeks.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

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Overview

The OnePlus 10 Pro is a shockingly well-built phone, there is nary a creak or flex anywhere, the Phones 201g mass is hidden relatively well in hand however in the pocket you feel all of it. Taking a look at the hardware we can see this is an evolutionary design, not a revolutionary one, On the front is the gorgeous 6.7” 1440p 120Hz LTPO2.0 Fluid AMOLED screen, what does that mean? it is large, it is very high resolution, it is fast and it consumes (relatively) low power it can scale from 1Hz to 120Hz depending on the content on the screen, neat. Above the screen in the top left is the 32MP front-facing camera, above that in between the frame and the screen is the little slit for the earpiece speaker. And lastly upfront is something you can’t actually see, it is the under-display optical fingerprint scanner, which is thankfully up higher than the incredibly low unit on the 9 Pro, sadly this is not the best fingerprint scanner out there, in fact even after the software update I’m still getting worse accuracy on this than I was on my daily driver Nord 2.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

Moving to the side rails of the 10 Pro, on the right-hand side is the power button and the OnePlus alert slider and doing a 180 we see the volume rocker on the left-hand rail. One thing I want to note about these buttons is how beautifully tensioned they are, specifically the alert slider, I’m a very tactile person, and moving the knurled alert slider is so unbelievably satisfying on the 10 Pro, it once again shows just how freakishly well made this is. On the top of the phone is a partially flattened rail with the secondary microphone, and on the bottom are the loudspeaker grilles, the USB-C port, the main microphone and the NanoSIM tray, it’s dual NanoSIM but no MicroSD expansion.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

Then we come to the rear, which is the biggest difference from the 9 Pro. First, we need to talk about this glass, which on my volcanic black is easily my least favourite part of this phone, I know it is subjective and everyone reacts to textures differently and it might be my autistic brain really amplifying this, but I hate the way this glass feels. It’s almost perfectly smooth, however, it looks like it has texture, it somehow feels silky and almost slimy to my hands. I have handed this phone to other people who don’t have such an extreme reaction to it, but they all said it should have more of a texture than it does.

After that tangent, we come to the main part of the rear, the camera setup. This is a cross between the iPhone 13 series and the Samsung S21 series, it’s a large polished metal square with 4 circular cutouts for the 3 lenses and the flash setup, however, it curves over the edge much like the S21 series, but this is two separate pieces, not a single piece like on the Samsung phone.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

Spec Sheet

  •  6.7 “ Fluid AMOLED screen
    • 1-120Hz  LTPO 2.0
    • 10 Bit colour
    • 3216×1440
    • 1300 Nit peak
    • Calibrated at 100Nits and 500Nits
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen1
    • 1x Cortex X2 @3.0Ghz
    • 3x Cortex A710 @2.5Ghz
    • 4x Cortex A510 @1.8Ghz 
    • Adreno 730 GPU
    • 4nm Samsung Foundry
  • 163 x 73.9 x 8.6 mm
  • 201g
  • Android 12, OxygenOS 12.1
  • 48MP main camera IMX769
    • F1.8
    • 23mm equivalent focal length
    • 1/1.43” sensor size
  • 50MP Ultrawide ISOCELL JN1
    • F2.2
    • 14mm equivalent focal length
    • 1/ 2.76” sensor size
    • 150 degree lens
  • 8MP Telephoto (3.3x)
    • F2.4
    • 77mm equivalent focal length
  • 32MP Selfie camera IMX615
    • F2.2
    • 1/ 2.74” sensor size
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 80w SuperVOOC wired charging
  • 50w AirVOOC wireless charging

Head on over to GSMArena if you want to get a more comprehensive spec sheet of the OnePlus 10 Pro

Performance & Use

In a surprise to absolutely no one, the OnePlus 10 Pro absolutely screams. The Snapdragon 8 Gen1 from Qualcomm is an absolute beast, using the newest core Architecture from ARM. The Cortex X2, Cortex A710 and Cortex A510 are the best of the best currently, and Qualcomm is running them in the optimal and balanced way. The only “downside” of the Snapdragon 8 Gen1, which we’re hearing is going to be remedied soon, is that it is made on Samsung’s troubled 4nm manufacturing process, which is hotter and less dense than TSMCs 4nm, so yes, the OnePlus 10 Pro can get warm when it is pushed, for example, 4K120 or 8K24 video recording, but the thermal solution inside the OnePlus 10 Pro is more than adequate, with a vapour chamber that if laid out flat would take up the same space as an A5 piece of paper.

As stated, the 8 Gen1 is a screamer, I was never left waiting for anything when using the 10 Pro, and it behaves as a flagship should. However, in the last few years, the gap between flagship chips and the step below has been very little, take the Snapdragon 870 and the Snapdragon 888 last year, there was practically no performance difference, almost none perceivably, but it was cooler and used less juice. Is the power of the 8 Gen1 nice? Of course, but is it needed? I’m really not sure. The Nord 2 uses the MediaTek Dimenisty 1200-AI, and very rarely when used side by side did it feel slow next to this. Would the 10 Pro have been cheaper with a Dimensity 9000 or Dimensity 8100? I think so, would it have been noticeably slower? I doubt it.

The big benefit of using the brand new top tier chip however is software support. The OnePlus 10 Pro is launching with Android 12 and OxygenOS 12.1, OnePlus is committing to 3 years of platform updates with a 4th year for security updates, this is still lagging behind other companies like Samsung and Google, but it is better than they’ve been in the past.

Graphically, the Snapdragon 8 Gen1 is a beast, with some synthetic benchmarks apparently rivalry the AMD RDNA2 GPU in the Exynos 2200, whether that is because this is a much better architecture or just because RDNA for Android is so new that the drivers are bad, that I don’t know, but the three games I played on the 10 Pro had no issues keeping a consistent 60fps, I just had a hard time consistently staying alive in said games.

Camera & Samples

This is where most of the differences between the 9 Pro and 10 Pro come in, and what’s weird is that it’s almost all software. When OnePlus launched the 9 Pro last year it was the first generation Hasselblad for Mobile experience, and honestly, it wasn’t great. Hardware-wise the 9 Pro and 10 Pro are capable, however, it was just a supremely “meh” experience, I am incredibly happy to say that the 10 Pro is immensely better than the 9 Pro ever was and we get some really fun things to try this year including a 150 degree and fisheye mode.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

Starting with the main camera, it’s a 48mp Sony IMX789 sensor, with a pretty big 1/ 1.43” sensor size, Sony know how to make sensors and their base sensor tuning is much better than Samsung or Omnivision’s, and then taking a great image signal processor like the ones Qualcomm make, and then adding in Hasselblad for tuning no wonder this is good, except this is the same formula as last year, so I don’t know why this is so much nicer, but it really is. The colours look cleaner, and yes, more Hasselblad-y and contrast-y. Catching and keeping focus is fast and stable, auto-exposure and auto white balance are much more consistent than last year as well, this truly is a 180 from the 9 Pro that I’m shocked.

The 10 Pro’s Ultrawide camera is also very neat this year, as well as getting the same software tweaks as the main sensor, OnePlus also has a 150-degree wide-angle mode and a slightly less useful but still very cool fish-eye mode. OnePlus has swapped the Sony sensor for an ISOCELL JN1 from Samsung. I’m not going to lie to you and say everything is perfect, it isn’t. The colours, whilst better, are still not perfectly matched to the main sensor, and the viewing window is still off centre, Only Apple is paying attention to this, and It gets annoying to point out, but when you’re going to an ultrawide or a telephoto those misalignments add up and those different colours get annoying.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

The 3.3x Telephoto lens is the least interesting to me but not because it is bad, mostly because it works just like i’d expect it to, it’s about 85% of the quality of the main camera, and 3x is pretty much the perfect zoom range, 5x is too much and 2x is basically useless. The issues around colour matching and viewport alignment aside, the telephoto lens works as well as you’d expect.

Part of the software package from Hasselblad is the new RAW+ mode in the Pro mode on the camera. RAW is, as it sounds, a non-compressed image format that preserves all the detail, so you can open it up in Lightroom or equivalent software and bring up the highlights, drop the shadows etc do what you want with it, but sometimes, you don’t have all the space for RAW or you don’t need all the control, that’s where RAW+ comes in, it is slightly compressed and has some of the colour and tonal tweaks that the main camera mode applied automatically. It’s not a feature for everyone, and that’s fine, but for people who know how to work with photos, this is probably a welcome addition.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

Somewhere the 10 Pro I think shines a fair bit is in video recording, I was pretty blown away at the 4K60 from the 10 Pro, whilst the iPhone still reigns supreme with mobile video, and I think Samsung takes a slight lead here, this is a night and day difference over last year and just craps on most other Android phones. The 10 Pro can record at up to 8K24 or 4K120, truly insane feats, but whats cool is that in the Film mode on the camera, you can export your videos in LOG format, what is LOG? It’s basically the video version of RAW, and much like with RAW, if you know what you’re doing, you can do some wonderful things with LOG, and OnePlus is I think the second OEM, outside of Sony, to let you shoot videos in LOG.

Lastly, I want to talk about the front-facing camera, which is slightly less positive, the hardware is fine but it is the software letting things down here, and whereas the rest of the cameras have improved, the front camera tuning has not, especially when you use the front camera in apps like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, this doesn’t look like the camera of an £800 phone, rather the front camera on the iPhone SE beats this. This is almost entirely a software issue, either OnePlus needs to work with developers to better integrate with the APIs on its phones or Google needs to step in, because people don’t just use the cameras inside the camera apps anymore, they hook into services, and those hooks right now, are looking a little rusty.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

 

Software

Over the last few years, OxygenOS has, how do we put this kindly, been circling the drain? It has not seemed long for this world, and last year after the 9 Pro launch, OnePlus and Oppo officially announced they were merging OxygenOS and ColorOS’s codebase, and as a fan of ColorOS, I didn’t think this would be too bad, however, it was a mess, a true disaster on multiple levels. It was better by the time the Nord 2 and Nord CE 2 launched, but even then it was clear that it was ColorOS with an OxygenOS colour palette and icon pack on top. With the OnePlus 10 Pro, things have been walked back more and more of OxygenOS’s identity is back. Do not get me wrong, there is still a lot more ColorOS here than there was 18 months ago, but where we are currently is I think a pretty good place.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

There are many OnePlus features still here, such as the canvas on the AOD, the camera tweaks themselves as well as the shelf, which has been moved to a swipe down from the top right of the screen, but what I’ve noticed is that this is the most stable OnePlus phone I’ve used in a long time, and I can’t help but think that is from the ColorOS underpinnings.

One of the stranger parts of OxygenOS 12.1 is that it doesn’t appear to have adopted the Material You theming options, instead of taking the ColorOS base and slightly altering that. There is nothing wrong with this, and the ColorOS customisation is really nice, you can change the Icons themselves, the icon size, whether you want app labels and more. you can change the style of the toggles in your quick settings from 6 different shapes, you can change the accent colour for your system palette, and finally, you have my favourite one, which is the fingerprint unlock animation. There are 7 animations to choose from, I use the “Fireworks” one as it looks like Doctor Strange opening a portal with his Sling ring. ColorOS has a very extensive user customisation section, but It seems odd to not bring in the Material You aspects when Google made such a big deal about it with the Android 12 launch.

Battery

The battery on the 10 Pro is a bit of a mixed bag. At 5000mAh you’d think it is amazing and it is just okay, it’s definitely more than a 1-day phone, but I’m not sure how much more than that, and what’s worse is that the battery drain doesn’t appear to be linear, i.e the second 50% drains noticeably faster to me. The 5000mAh is in fact 2 2500mAh cells in series to make a single 3.7v 5000mAh back this means that when you’re using the phone each cell only has to deliver half the current so it puts the battery under less stress, this also works in reverse, so instead of having to shove 80w into a single cell, you’re “only” putting 40w into each 2500mAh cell reducing heat buildup and cell degradation.

However, as I said, the battery drain doesn’t appear to be linear, so I can use 45% on day one, and go to sleep and wake up with 40% but that 40% will be 20% by lunchtime. What’s worse is that the idle drain of the 10 Pro is higher than on other phones, and I’m pretty sure this is just a software bug or a rogue app as I’m hearing from friends with the phone they’re having the same issues but not with the Oppo Find X5 Pro or the Samsung S22 Ultra with the same SoC.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

Charging the OnePlus 10 Pro is a breeze, included in the box of all non-North American units is an 80W SuperVOOC charger with a USB-A to USB-C cable, this will fully charge the 10 Pro in just 32 minutes, OnePlus also state you can get a days power in just 15 minutes, which initially sounded stupid, but one day I woke up and realised I forgot to put it on charge, so when I was making coffee, the process takes about 10 minutes, I went from 13% to 55%, a real lifesaver. And whilst the phone did get warm, it was never uncomfortably warm, that thermal solution is doing its job. The 10 Pro can also wirelessly charge at up to 50W using the Oppo AirVOOC stand this will take you from 1-100% in 47 minutes, utterly insane speeds. The only negative I can find is that the 10 Pro, like most other BBK brand phones, tops out at 18w USB Power delivery, meaning that ultra-fast charging is only with the OnePlus cable and brick, that 65w laptop charger you’ve got? It’ll only charge the 10 Pro at 18w, a real shame.

Final Thoughts

The OnePlus 10 Pro marks the beginning of a new OnePlus. No longer the scrappy upstart, but the mature business, and for many that is upsetting. It is also the logical conclusion. It couldn’t stay small enough to listen to the nerds and also make enough money to grow, without having to fix things that normies want to be fixed, and in doing so, OnePlus has become little more than a Western face for Oppo, for better or worse. The OnePlus 10 Pro is an infinitely more recommendable phone than the 9 Pro was last year, and in many ways, it holds up to what Samsung and Apple can offer. Yet Samsung has the software lead right now, both in stability and long term support, and Apple has the overall camera win. We need a third party for this, and maybe OnePlus can be it.

OnePlus 10 Pro Review

About Domenico Lamberti

Technology has been a big part of my life for years, whether it be ripping the family computer apart to see how it worked, playing with the new phones that Dad brought home from work. Senior Reviewer for MTT.

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