Incredible volume, solid first try

When I first heard about the rumors of OnePlus making a tablet, I couldn’t help but wonder, Why? I say this because the world of tablets seems to be controlled by Apple, which mainly manufactures the Virtual tablet, I wasn’t sure it was worth it for anyone else to give it a shot. Sure, Samsung makes nice tablets too, and they basically fill the rest of the space that isn’t filled with iPads. With both squeezed in for all the big screens, shouldn’t OnePlus’ focus be elsewhere, like trying to win back the enthusiast crowd or US carriers?

But you know what, after knowing everything OnePlus has been trying to offer with the OnePlus Pad and then playing with one for the past couple of weeks, I’m going to say this – why noman?

Well, I’ve got the OnePlus Pad here and I’ve been doing my best to use it in different settings or for various tasks. I mostly failed trying to get the most out of it, because to me a tablet is nothing more than a gaming machine that is also used for watching media. And if you want to throw in some Twitter, read a story or three in Chrome, and then maybe write an email reply from time to time, sure, do that. But for me, a tablet will never do what a PC can do (or what I like to do on a PC), so I haven’t tried to turn a OnePlus tablet into one. I simply used it as I like to use a tablet.

Got it? Here’s a quick review of the OnePlus Pad.

What do I like about the OnePlus Pad?

Size and design. I really think OnePlus has made a tablet with the perfect size and shape. It looks mostly like the iPad Pro 11, with an aspect ratio that’s squared off on the borders. In fact, it comes very close to the smallest iPad Pro (247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm), and only extends beyond its frame by a few mm (258.03 x 189.41 x 6.54mm). But it’s a very good size and shape, as it makes for a comfortable hold in portrait mode, yet wide enough in landscape for watching video or running a few apps. It’s not overly wide like Samsung’s premium tablets, which I find a bit too wide for heavy use.

The OnePlus panel isn’t heavy at 555g and feels mostly premium with this aluminum body. Where it really shines is in the edges, where OnePlus really rounded everything up to give a smooth finish that you can keep on for hours. This is the most comfortable tablet I’ve held in some time.

I don’t necessarily like the green they chose and would have preferred a black or silver tablet, but it’s fine. My biggest gripe is the unnecessary camera hump in the middle of the back. See, tablets don’t need cameras and especially don’t need huge camera humps that are always in the way. I think OnePlus meant for the rear camera to be a highlight of the design, but it looks bad and shouldn’t be put there. Nobody cares about the single camera on the back and they’ll probably get annoyed that it’s there.

Outside of the camera hump, I love the overall design and size of the OnePlus panel as a really comfortable, well-built, premium-feeling tablet.

Price and accessories available. At $479, the OnePlus Pad can be had with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. Packing inside its metal chassis is an 11-inch LCD with up to a 144Hz refresh rate, quad speakers, a decent but budget-friendly Dimensity 9000 chipset from MediaTek, and a large battery that seems to last a long time. You get very little for the price, even if they’re not all top-notch (such as the screen and processor).

If we compare Samsung’s cheapest Galaxy Tab S8 with LCD, it will run you $630. The iPad Pro 11 is the closest iPad with a high refresh rate display, and it starts at $799. If you want a smooth display, powerful performance, and an incredible tablet, the price really can’t be beat here.

On top of the great price, OnePlus made a set of accessories that are fairly standard for any semi-serious tablet. They’re offering a $149 magnetic keyboard case, a $39 folio case, and a $99 pen that charges magnetically on top of the pad. I’ve used the magnetic keyboard case and stylus and don’t have too many complaints about either. The magnetic keyboard case can be a little tricky to play with if you just want to detach the pad, but it does a good job as a keyboard when necessary, with a trackpad to boot. A stylus is a stylus and I have no idea what OnePlus wants you to use it for. I haven’t seen a reason for it to exist other than those who like to… take notes by hand?

Performance looks strong. I have to be honest and tell you straight up that I know very little about MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000. This is the first device I’ve used with it and right now I don’t have any major complaints. As I said in the opening, I use tablets to watch videos, play some games, surf the Internet or social networks. For all of these things, it works well.

Probably the heaviest loads I press on the pillow are long sessions of Pokemon Unite with my son. It has maxed out all graphics and frame rate settings, and there is no problem running the game. It doesn’t get hot, the battery doesn’t drain drastically in an hour of use, animations are smooth, and gameplay never gets stuck. If you see some stuttering, I bet it’s server related and not dimension 9000 don’t keep up.

The only normal problem I find is when using the swipe gesture to leave an app or swipe back. I can’t tell if it’s a display issue around the edges, the way OnePlus’ OxygenOS tries to work, general poor touch responsiveness, or something else. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve swiped from the bottom to leave an app and the tablet acts like I haven’t touched it. It’s strange. It probably won’t stop me from using it, but I’m noticing.

battery life. OnePlus has packed a large 9,510mAh battery into the OnePlus board and given it 67W fast charging. I didn’t keep as much of a battery life log as I do with a phone because tablet use is very spotty. You don’t use a tablet like a phone. You can use it for short periods of time and then put it away while you live your life, use your phone for more important tasks, get on a computer, etc. times over the course of two weeks. This battery and chipset juice, plus the standby time is incredible.

Where are my concerns with the OnePlus Pad?

software and support. I’ve shared my problems with OnePlus’ OxygenOS in recent years, and most of them have to do with the Android skin running on the phones. When working on a tablet, I found it less offensive, that’s for sure. I think this is mostly due to the way I use my tablet, which I described above, in a less aggressive or needy way. Tablets are simple for me, while a phone is a tool I use to get things done.

Overall, OnePlus’ tablet version of OxygenOS is solid. It has all the features you need from a tablet. There are dual screen and dual apps settings, swipe-out quick menus to launch favorite apps, shortcut settings for quick launch of dual apps, a taskbar that shows recent apps, and a split notification area that separates notifications and quick settings. Many apps also take advantage of the larger screen as they should, and you can easily do so Do Multiple things at once if you want.

My concerns are in some of the specialty features. The first is the data sharing system that lets you use your phone to share its data connection while on the go with the OnePlus Pad. There’s also this screen cast feature for quickly sharing photos from phone to tablet for editing, as well as this screen mirroring idea that pops your phone screen onto the tablet. It all looks great! Unfortunately, that’s all if it only works if your phone is also a OnePlus phone. Also, the data sharing connection won’t go live until June.

That’s fine if OnePlus wants to lock all of that into their ecosystem, but it does limit how much you can do if you don’t have one of their phones either. It’s a pity to see him.

My other concern is long term software support. OnePlus says all the right things right now, they’re offering up to 4 years of software support, including 3 years of Android OS updates. But being a new type of device, and also knowing their history of taking longer and longer to update devices as they age, I’ll have to hope they prove me wrong in worrying that support will wane faster than it should.

There is no fingerprint reader. OnePlus did not include a fingerprint reader on the OnePlus board. There isn’t one in the screen, on the side frame, or the backside. Your only options to safely bypass the screen lock are PIN/Pattern/Password or Face unlock. The face unlock feature on this tablet doesn’t work very well, so you’ll find yourself constantly having to enter your secure information. This may sound like a silly complaint that won’t bother you, but trust me, it’s getting old. I’m so used to a fingerprint reader letting me in on any device that I have to manually enter it each time on the OnePlus pad (because again, face unlock barely works) is tedious. Why can’t they just give us a reader in the side frame or inside the power button?

Should you buy the OnePlus Pad?

My basic answer here is: maybe! certainly!

I like the OnePlus Pad for a number of reasons I described above which definitely outweigh my two areas of concern. The shape, size, and finish of the panel are my favorite parts, plus the 144Hz display feels solid for the tasks I put it through. Battery life was great, performance met my expectations, and the operating system didn’t quite hold me back like it often happens on OnePlus phones.

At $479, I’m not sure there are many tablets out there that can match OnePlus’ first large-screen device. While it’s not the best tablet on the market, it’s a good first try and a budget-friendly choice.

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