OnePlus 10 Pro is a work in progress

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OnePlus arrived in the market a few years ago as a tenacious start-up, taking on big players in the Android smartphone space. It did that to good effect, yet the last few years have been one of continued maturity. The company no longer tries to shock and awe, and the focus now is multi-pronged. The OnePlus 10 Pro demands you to spend the most money you ever did on a OnePlus phone. But is it worth it?

It is marginally more expensive than last year’s competent OnePlus 9 Pro. You’ll have the OnePlus 10 Pro available in two variants – 8GB RAM + 128GB storage for 66,999 and the 12GB RAM + 256GB storage at 71,999. This comparatively still exhibits interesting value, because its direct competition (the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Samsung Galaxy S22+) costs considerably more. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is priced 1,09,999 onwards, while the Galaxy S22+ is priced 84,999 onwards. A lot of the specifications between the three phones are similar.

Speaking of the shades, there’s the widely-acceptable darker shade called Volcanic Black. Yet, we’d want you to consider the green, called the Emerald Forest. This should undoubtedly be the star colour for the edition. Then there is the way in which the rear cameras seem to merge from the side – at least the ridge does, which to be fair looks good. The Hasselblad credentials are marked here too, yet it’s a subtle font colour and style. Quite a contrast this, from the very conventional vertical positioning of the triple cameras in the OnePlus 9 Pro.

The physical size differences between this and the predecessor are so minimal that you’ll probably not even realise the difference, except that the same case doesn’t fit on the new phone. That said, OnePlus continues to approach the 6.7-inch display with a 20:9 aspect ratio (wider or taller than most other phones). That’s a sharp contrast to Samsung’s Galaxy S22 series, which are not as tall, but are slightly wider, though the length does have advantages in some cases such as web browsers, mails, and Instagram.

There’s a slight complication on whether the OnePlus 10 Pro has a water-resistant rating or not. The OnePlus 9 Pro had the IP68 rating, but the OnePlus 10 Pro available in India and most other countries doesn’t have it. Yet, the version that’s specifically made for the T-Mobile network in the US, does. OnePlus has told us that there’s no difference in the build quality of the two phones – that’s all they say.

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Under the hood is the most powerful chip available to Android phones – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which we’ve already seen in the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. There is absolutely no shortage of raw performance, and no matter how frantically you may be switching apps or loading this phone with several apps running simultaneously, the phone will not slow down — its flagship level performance as you’d expect.

However, it wouldn’t take long to notice the rear of the phone heat up. And this will be apparent even in instances where you may be using the Edge or Chrome web browser, and regularly switching to check and reply to WhatsApp messages. Our regular readers would remember we have reserved judgement when similar behaviour was noticeable in the Galaxy S22 Ultra as well, and there is now some semblance of confirmation that it’s indeed the processor’s tendency and not solely the phones.

There may be a scenario where this Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 behaviour could be tempered with software updates; maybe that wouldn’t happen.

The thing that OnePlus has managed a bit better than Samsung is its battery life. Though not ideal, because it just gets you through a day, it is a bit more eased out compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Heating is a factor in faster battery drain out. It also helps to have much faster charging (80 watts for the OnePlus 10 Pro, while the Samsung Galaxy S22 makes do with 45 watts), and that the fast charger is included in the box – a real value addition.

You may feel the cameras on the OnePlus 10 Pro are carried forward from the OnePlus 9 Pro, albeit leaving the 2-megapixel monochrome camera behind. The hardware remains the same, the larger focus being on algorithm improvements and drawing on Hasselblad’s expertise for the finer things, such as colour. This comes with the foundation of certain improvements, such as the support for 10-bit colours in photos, compared with 8-bit colour that most phones do instead. Apple does 10-bit already in the latest iPhones.

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The new-gen Android flagships give you the option of even higher quality raw images; the OnePlus 10 Pro does it, and so does the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Even if you aren’t getting bothered by that, there are definite visible improvements to photos overall. Colours look a bit more vibrant, and the computational photography improvements are perhaps the reason why there’s more sharpness on tap. It had long been a bugbear of OnePlus cameras where the frames of some photos would look unnaturally soft – that’s not visible here, at least for the most part.

How the night mode photos look to you will probably depend on your preferences. The OnePlus 10 Pro has the tendency to aggressively brighten low-light scenes. Some would like that, while others may point to the inaccurate colours and shadow areas.

In its glass and metal glory, the OnePlus 10 Pro seems to be getting quite a few things right. It looks good. The one thing we’re still apprehensive about is the software bit – that direction is still ambiguous, particularly if you have come to love the OxygenOS till last year’s evolution. It just doesn’t stay out of the way as much as minimal nature used to earlier, and that is a trend we’d want to watch closely. Will it be that easy after you’ve spent around 70,000 on a phone? Unlikely. There is an undeniable whiff of Oppo’s software in OxygenOS, and not everyone will be a fan.

There are enough things on the to-do list that need more refinement. The heating tendencies need to be tempered down, though it isn’t OnePlus’ fault or the phone’s (the same stands for the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra); it is still a big enough observation. That’ll help battery life too. Camera could do with further optimisation, particularly the low-light photos and the noticeable exuberant illumination.


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