OnePlus 10 Pro Review: The OnePlus 9T Pro that never was
OnePlus has always been in a tricky spot when trying to balance the enthusiast community against the masses. On the one hand, the company’s scrappy beginnings have led to an interesting underdog story. But on the other hand, the company has been veering away from a lot of what made its smartphones great. We’ve seen OnePlus be drawn closer toward OPPO in the past year, and many people were worried that the OnePlus we’ve known and loved was gone now. With the OnePlus 10 Pro, though, the company is making it clear that it’s not settling yet.
The problem with a lot of OnePlus’ marketing has been that its “Never Settle” mantra has made it increasingly easy to turn it into a form of insult against the company. Nearly every year we’ve had to “settle” in one aspect of the smartphone experience when purchasing a OnePlus device. But this time around, it’s harder than ever to say where especially for the price. Starting at $899, this is actually cheaper than last year’s OnePlus 9 Pro at launch, but there aren’t many places you can say you’re getting a downgrade.
Overall, the OnePlus 10 Pro cements OnePlus as a premium smartphone brand worth your time. What’s more, maybe somewhat controversially, I think that the ColorOS codebase merge was one of the best things to happen to OnePlus smartphones in years. To take it a step further, I wish that OnePlus and OPPO had gone ahead with the unified OS, as it would save on development time ensuring increased stability.
If you’re looking to buy a OnePlus 10 Pro though, then I’d be very careful about the reasons why. This doesn’t feel like a OnePlus 10 Pro: it feels more like a OnePlus 9T Pro. The SoC out of the box performs similarly, the wide-angle camera is actually a downgrade, and the slightly faster charging is actually worse when you consider that the time to charge is basically the same and you get a worse charger. There are improvements, but they’re marginal, and you need to ask yourself if the OnePlus 10 Pro is worth the additional $100 over the OnePlus 9 Pro. This is why it reminds us of a mid-cycle “T” upgrade that OnePlus used to do for its flagships — and had the designs been similar, the OnePlus 10 Pro could totally pass off as a OnePlus 9T Pro.
About this review: I received the OnePlus 10 Pro from OnePlus U.K. on the 21st of March, 2022. We also received the OnePlus 10 Pro in US and India from the respective PRs. OnePlus did not have any input into the contents of this review.
OnePlus 10 Pro: Specifications
|Specification||OnePlus 10 Pro|
|Dimensions & Weight||163 x 73.9 x 8.55 mm|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|RAM & Storage||
|Battery & Charging||
|Security||In-display fingerprint sensor|
|Front Camera(s)||32MP, Sony IMX615|
|Port(s)||USB Type-C 3.1|
|Audio||Dual Stereo Speakers|
OnePlus 10 Pro: Design
- All-new unique design
- Great premium feel
- Excellent display that can be seen in direct sunlight
The OnePlus 10 Pro looks significantly different from the company’s past device outings, and that’s largely thanks to the new camera design on the back. While the phone is more or less indistinguishable from any other when looking at it from the front, the back is a different story entirely. It’s squared off from the edge to house three cameras and it curves outward to the body of the device rather than cutting off abruptly. The Hasselblad branding is prominently etched on the side of the camera island.
On that indistinguishable front, though, the device packs a 6.7-inch 120Hz LTPO AMOLED panel, quite similar to the OnePlus 9 Pro. It’s second generation LTPO though which OnePlus says can go as low as 1Hz. It looks great and gets plenty bright outside, remaining visible even under direct sunlight thanks to its maximum brightness of 1300 nits.
The top of the phone has a speaker grille to serve as both an earpiece and a second speaker, though it’s not as loud as the bottom-firing speaker. They sound pretty good though and get pretty loud.
The phone is thick and somewhat heavy to hold in hand, though OxygenOS 12.1’s one-handed mode helps out when trying to use the phone with one hand. The back isn’t a fingerprint magnet at all, and it has a slight matte feeling so it’s not slippery either.
My one major complaint about the design is that I’m a little bit confused about why the”P2D 50T” message is printed on the back, considering it just looks like an eyesore without any particular meaning. I gathered that the 50 was probably in reference to the 50MP primary camera, but I had no clue what the rest meant or why it was there until I asked OnePlus.
We have the Emerald Green variant, and while I’m not typically a fan of green phones, I can deal with how the OnePlus 10 Pro looks in this colorway. It’s not the worst green phone that I’ve seen, and the included case that you get in the box is of the same color too. OnePlus also offers other cases for the phone, though the Quantum Photography case looks kind of tacky and weird. I’ve been using the black sandstone bumper case.
Sadly, there’s no word yet on whether or not OnePlus intends on launching the white version of the OnePlus 10 Pro outside of China.
OnePlus 10 Pro: Camera
- Great primary sensor just like the OnePlus 9 Pro
- Downgraded ultra-wide sensor
- Telephoto struggles in low light
We have already extensively reviewed the camera here on XDA, so be sure to check out our camera review of the OnePlus 10 Pro. However, I’ll still summarise my own experiences. I’ve found that the OnePlus 10 Pro’s camera has been really good on the primary sensor, capturing some pretty great photos in day-to-day usage. It’s a Sony IMX789, the same as the OnePlus 9 Pro, and it’s capable of fantastic shots. The OnePlus 10 Pro’s camera quality is nowhere near a Pixel 6 Pro or Vivo X70 Pro Plus, but it’s also just as serviceable as any flagship tier camera.
However, what I am disappointed about is the ultra-wide sensor. It’s not as good as last year’s sensor, with the OnePlus 9 Pro packing a Sony IMX766 for its ultrawide. This year’s OnePlus 10 Pro only packs the Samsung JN1, which is a smaller sensor that’s not as capable of producing high-quality shots. You will likely notice a small downgrade in photo quality when you’re taking shots with the OnePlus 10 Pro, but that’s on account of the smaller sensor. The telephoto camera also struggles in low light at times.
Overall, the OnePlus 10 Pro is a hit in its photo performance, though it doesn’t feel like the company actually made many leaps here. Any improvements to the main sensor are really only going to be through software, in which case, it’s possible that it can be backported to the OnePlus 9 Pro anyway. In other words, if you’re buying the OnePlus 10 Pro for the camera, you probably shouldn’t. Get the OnePlus 9 Pro for cheaper, or buy another phone entirely.
OnePlus 10 Pro: Performance
- Performance roughly equivalent to the Snapdragon 888 out of the box
- No benchmark cheating
- Great gaming performance
If there’s anything OnePlus is known for, it’s performance, and the company really takes that to heart. The OnePlus 10 Pro packs the best hardware you can get in a smartphone to date, with the fastest UFS 3.1 storage, up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and the best Qualcomm chipset yet at the heart of it all — the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. It has all the generational leaps over its predecessors and a 4nm node size for better performance without a substantial increase in power draw. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 retains the 1+3+4 configuration which Qualcomm has been running for a while, with the single Prime core being based on ARM’s new Cortex-X2.
The Kryo cores are based on the ARMv9 architecture. The first CPU designs to be announced using the new technology were the Cortex-X2, Cortex-A710, and Cortex-A510, and those are the exact CPU designs that form the basis for Qualcomm’s Kryo chips. For the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the singular Cortex-X2 core is clocked at 3GHz. The Cortex-A710 middle cores promise a 30% boost in efficiency and a 10% performance uplift over its predecessor, the A78. The Cortex-A710 cores are clocked at 2.5GHz. As for the three Kryo Efficiency cores, they are based on the new Cortex-A510 design. The Cortex-A510 boasts a 35% increase in performance over the A55, with a 20% efficiency improvement, too. These cores are clocked at 1.79GHz.
However, here’s the thing. Both myself and my colleague Aamir Siddiqui were getting much lower results in AnTuTu and in Geekbench 5 than we were supposed to, as per the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 reference results. My Geekbench 5 results fell a couple of hundred points below what it was supposed to be in both, and in AnTuTu, it was 200k points less. Something seemed off, and so I investigated. From my findings, it seems that OnePlus has limited the performance of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in its entirety by default.
In my testing, I measured that the peak frequency that the OnePlus 10 Pro could realistically reach was 2.4GHz in the primary core, 2.1GHz in the middle core, and 1.79GHz in those efficiency cores. OnePlus is limiting the performance of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 likely for two reasons: to conserve battery, and in turn, to also generate less heat. I spent two days running nine CPU Throttling Tests (4.5 hours worth of tests), along with other benchmarks, and also using my phone as normal when I could. According to DevCheck, my phone was only at 2.9GHz for nine minutes in these two days. I ran Geekbench 5 and the time spent at 2.9GHz went up by three seconds over the entire test. It’s incredibly difficult to get the phone to actually reach those clock speeds, leading me to believe that OnePlus narrowed the conditions that allow for some of the cores to ramp up to their peak frequencies. OnePlus also never mentioned frequencies of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 on any of its specification sheets on its website and didn’t in the reviewer’s guide either.
Given that a lot of manufacturers are currently under fire for increasing the performance of their devices only when certain packages are detected running, we also ran a number of tests to see whether or not OnePlus was engaging in the same practice. We ran the stock version of Geekbench 5 and CPU Throttling Test, and we also repackaged both apps to use Genshin Impact’s package name. The results showed that OnePlus did not appear to be engaging in any kind of preferential treatment either way, which is good to see.
App Opening Speed Benchmark
We created an in-house app launch speed test script using Android’s ActivityManager shell interface to measure how long it takes for the main Activity of 9 applications to launch from a cold start (ie. when not in memory). I modified this test for the OnePlus 10 Pro. These 9 applications are Google Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, Messages, Google Photos, Google Play Store, Slack, Twitter, and YouTube. We launched these 9 activities for 10 iterations (and killed each app between launches) to reduce the variance. Anecdotally, all apps launch quickly and I’ve never felt that an app is taking too long to load versus the experience I’ve had on other devices. These results are decent, though slightly poorer than I expected. There’s also a very large variance in the results.
To be honest, these results are a little bit disappointing as well. These launch times are actually slower than what the OnePlus 9 Pro achieved; not by much, but enough to have me questioning what the cause may be. It’s not something I noticed until actually using the phone though, so I’m not going to slight it too hard. It’s just something to be aware of, as it’s perplexing to me that OnePlus would allow for a regression in performance in its flagship smartphone.
UI Stutter/Jank test
The OnePlus 10 Pro has a 120Hz refresh rate display, but how well does the phone actually maintain 120 FPS? I’ve perceived the OnePlus 10 Pro to be incredibly smooth, without too many “micro stutters” or noticeable frame rate drops. While the phone will lower the refresh rate to 60Hz when a video starts playing, I tested scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, and videos in the feed do not drop the refresh rate to 60Hz. This means you can scroll on social media and not have jarring switches between 60Hz and 120Hz all of the time.
To quantify how well the OnePlus 10 Pro can maintain 120 FPS in real-world scenarios, we ran a modified version of Google’s open-source JankBench benchmark. This benchmark simulates a handful of common tasks you’ll see in everyday apps, including scrolling through a ListView with text, scrolling through a ListView with images, scrolling through a grid view with a shadow effect, scrolling through a low-hitrate text render view, scrolling through a high-hitrate text render view, inputting and editing text with the keyboard, repeating overdraws with cards, and uploading bitmaps. Our script records the draw time for each frame during the test, eventually plotting all the frames and their draw times in a plot along with several horizontal lines representing the target frame draw times for the 4 common display refresh rates (60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz.)
What’s interesting is that it appears that OnePlus is being very selective about when it allows the display to reach its true 120Hz potential. Whether it’s for performance or thermal reasons is unclear, but the above tests show different target refresh rates. Comparing to the Google Pixel 6 Pro shows that there is a consistency to the frame rates that OnePlus allows the device to achieve, though the reason isn’t clear. Nevertheless, I never notice the phone dropping down to lower refresh rates when using it (and I’m usually quite sensitive to that), and if that’s because OnePlus has nearly perfected when exactly to drop the refresh rate of the display, then that’s perfectly fine by me.
Sustained performance and thermals
OnePlus is not hiding that this technology exists, and in fact, openly advertised it during the launch event. It’s not quite as nefarious as the benchmark cheating that both Samsung and Xiaomi have been accused of, but it puts OnePlus in an interesting position. Is it in danger of facing the same wrath from Geekbench, for example? Given that, unless the phone is already warm, you shouldn’t see higher results than you normally would, I’m not too sure. From what I can gather, it simply raises the thermal limits to reduce thermal throttling, and that’s about it. Take a look at the three tests below that I conducted in the CPU Throttling Test in “pro gamer mode”.
Now, compare that to an untouched version of the app. It throttles about five minutes earlier than it would have if Pro Gamer Mode had been enabled. The maximum achievable scores are roughly the same, though.
When we contacted OnePlus, we were provided with the following:
“Hyperboost Gaming Engine technology […] works with compatible games to make them run smoother. One of the compatible games for Hyperboost is Genshin Impact, so that should explain the results you’re seeing. We are of course working with as many gaming brands as we can to get this tech supported even wider.”
To be honest, I hoped that “pro gamer mode” would also be enabling high-performance mode. I don’t understand why it doesn’t, as it would only make sense. Enabling pro gamer mode should roll it all into one, but currently, OnePlus isn’t doing that. To get the best performance possible, you need to enable high-performance mode first, then enable pro gamer mode. Nevertheless, it’s good to see that OnePlus doesn’t appear to be ramping up the CPU frequency when it detects a game or a benchmark.
Gaming performance and storage speed
The OnePlus 10 Pro has an excellent GPU, but we knew that already. It doesn’t seem to be subject to any large-scale throttling, and in fact, performs very well even in my own experience of gaming. Emulators such as AetherSX2 work very well (I’ve been enjoying Ratchet & Clank quite a bit), and the experience is a lot better than on the OnePlus 9 Pro for example when it comes to games performance. Overall, the OnePlus 10 Pro seems to be a pretty good gaming phone, though I’d recommend something more like the RedMagic 7 for better gaming performance, particularly in sustained performance.
OnePlus 10 Pro: Battery & Charging
- 80W fast charging is fast, just as fast as 65W charging
- Good battery life
- 80W charging brick is worse than the 65W charging brick
The OnePlus 10 Pro packs a 5,000 mAh battery and an 80W charger in the box… so long as you live outside of North America, that is. US-based OnePlus fans will instead have to settle for 65W charging in the box. The reason? OnePlus says that the SuperVOOC charging that it uses does not support the US’ 110V/120V power outlets, as the rest of the world generally uses 220V.
While at a glance that certainly sucks, we tested the OnePlus 10 Pro’s charging speed from 10% to 90% using the included 80W charger, a 65W charger from the OnePlus 9 Pro, and using the OnePlus 50W wireless charger. While the difference was going to be pronounced when compared to the 50W wireless charging, there was barely any between 80W charging and 65W charging. You aren’t actually missing out, and as we mention further below, you are better off with 65W charging actually.
As far as 0-100% goes, we could get a full charge in 33 minutes with 80W SuperVOOC and in 46 minutes with 50W AirVOOC. In contrast, it took 35 minutes to charge with the 65W charger, meaning that the difference between global variants and North American variants in charging speed is negligible.
All in all, it’s hard to say that consumers are really getting screwed over here. Both of these charging types are basically identical, though I would worry for the future when OPPO is working on charging speeds as high as 250W. It seems clear to me that OPPO does not see the US as an important market anymore, which means that these new charging technologies may not make it to the market on priority. OPPO doesn’t release phones in the US, so unless OnePlus becomes significant enough for OPPO to prioritize the development of charging technology for the US’ power outlets, then it’s likely 65W charging will be the peak of what OnePlus can achieve.
Aside from the charging debacle, I was also pretty impressed with the battery life when compared to other flagships released this year, even if it’s still somewhat subpar when compared to previous years. I’ve been consistently getting over five hours of screen on time with heavy usage, which is no small feat for how much I use my phone. I make use of a lot of social media, picture taking, music listening, watching videos, and even light gaming on occasion.
Is it possible that it’s related to OnePlus’ apparent heavy-handedness when it comes to performance and refresh rates, as outlined above? Potentially, though I’m not sure why anyone should care. I didn’t notice any performance degradation or reduced frame rates, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Good performance is good performance, regardless of what’s happening under the hood. Overall, I’m a fan of the OnePlus 10 Pro’s battery longevity and battery charging speed — regardless of whether it’s 65W or 80W.
However, there is one major complaint that I have, and it’s actually about the 80W charger itself. OnePlus’ 65W charging brick is a great charger not just because of the high amperage it can provide to OnePlus phones, but it’s actually one of the best USB Power Delivery compliant chargers in general. It can charge a litany of devices at 45W without any problems, and I often used it to charge laptops, my Google Pixel, my Nintendo Switch, and other devices that accept USB Power Delivery.
Given that the 80W charger doesn’t really have any real speed benefits over the 65W charger that users in the US get, I actually think North American users are better off with the 65W charger in the box than the 80W charger. There are likely a handful of minutes in the difference when it comes to the charging speed difference between the two, and yet, the utility you get from the 65W charger is so much more. I’m annoyed that this change is happening and I hope that the company goes back to shipping USB Power Delivery compliant chargers in the future.
OnePlus 10 Pro: OxygenOS 12.1
- Much improved over the initial OxygenOS 12 release
- Looks good
- ColorOS 12 under-the-hood
Aside from that, OnePlus’ own Android outing isn’t all that different from previous versions. Visually, everything looks more or less the same. The same customization options that you know and love are all present, the OnePlus Launcher and the OnePlus Shelf are there too, and it’s a pretty nicely rounded experience, even if I find that OxygenOS now lacks some features versus the competition. Even Google, in my opinion, is beginning to best OnePlus in terms of customization — and Google hasn’t really been known for letting users customize much on Pixel phones.
If I’m honest, I think part of this can be attributed to the ColorOS and OxygenOS merge, but I also think that OPLUS should have continued working on Unified OS. This is still the merged codebase with ColorOS, and it’s very obvious throughout the system if you look for it. No less the mentions of “VOOC” (instead of Warp Charge) but also the layout of the settings application for example is ripped straight from ColorOS. That’s not a bad thing, but essentially taking ColorOS and reskinning it to be OxygenOS takes developmental time and can introduce its own bugs. The outrage over “Unified OS” hasn’t actually been answered, as it’s still very much ColorOS under the hood.
In fact, to illustrate that point, when setting up the OnePlus 10 Pro I came across something pretty funny. I recently reviewed the Realme GT 2 Pro, and one of the features that the phone has is “GT Mode”, essentially a system-wide gaming mode that sets everything to full throttle in terms of performance. I restored my Realme GT 2 Pro settings on the OnePlus 10 Pro during Google setup at launch, and hilariously, the GT Mode toggle was also restored on the OnePlus 10 Pro. It wasn’t skipped over, because, for whatever reason, it was deemed compatible. A few hours later, I noticed that the toggle had disappeared.
As a result, I think it’s pretty clear that OxygenOS has some “weirdness” to it. There are definitely some aspects of the operating system that confuse me. For example, the OnePlus Shelf that can be pulled down from the top right of the phone is actually an app and not just an overlay akin to the notification drawer. Pulling it down when watching YouTube without YouTube Premium will pause the video that you’re watching, and it can be very easy to pull it down by accident. Closing it by swiping it upwards will actually draw an animation as if you were closing an app, as it then disappears from the bottom of the phone. Very odd. OxygenOS 12.1 is very stable though, and that’s the main thing.
As for software updates, OnePlus is promising three years of major updates and four years of security updates. In theory, this should bring the OnePlus 10 Pro all the way up to Android 15.
OnePlus 10 Pro: Miscellaneous
The speakers on the OnePlus 10 Pro sound good and get plenty loud. There are no complaints from me here — overall, I’m a fan. They’re just as loud as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or the iPhone 13 Pro, and they sound alright considering that they’re just phone speakers.
The last-gen OnePlus 9 series featured an in-display optical fingerprint scanner that was positioned towards the bottom edge of the phone. This was a little odd and difficult to position your thumb at, though you eventually get used to it. The OnePlus 10 Pro brings the fingerprint scanner back to a conventionally expected height from the bottom. It works as well as ever, and now you don’t have to do any finger gymnastics either.
Phone calls, signal strength, and 5G
The OnePlus 10 Pro has really good signal strength, and I’m getting signals in places that I knew previous Snapdragon 888 devices could not. No complaints from me here, and other people on phone calls can hear me perfectly clear.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are several caveats to the OnePlus 10 Pro’s 5G capabilities. There’s no mmWave support for one, and you won’t have 5G support at all on AT&T, just like with the OnePlus 9 Pro. The competition in the US has a leg up on these end, so you need to assess if these are dealbreakers for you.
Bootloader unlock and kernel sources
OnePlus has historically been quite good when it comes to bootloader unlocking, and the OnePlus 10 Pro is no different. You can unlock the bootloader in your developer options as you normally would, and the company has also generally been good at releasing kernel sources on time. They haven’t been published yet, but hopefully, they will be in the coming days before the phone reaches the hands of general consumers. Their sources do get out of date when they make platform jumps, so keep that in mind.
It’s technically a folding phone
The OnePlus 10 Pro was found by JerryRigEverything to be a folding phone, though it’s a one-time operation. In his durability test of the OnePlus 10 Pro, the device crumbled at the bend test, meaning that you should probably be careful with this phone in your back pocket. While it may be difficult for you to snap the phone in half, it’s possible that it may end up bending if you apply sustained pressure in the right (or, I guess, wrong) way. OnePlus hasn’t addressed the snapping in half issue, but either way, be careful with the OnePlus 10 Pro.
Schrödinger’s IP68 rating
The IP rating issue with the OnePlus 10 Pro is actually kind of funny because it shows how an IP rating is just a licensing issue. To recap what we’ve talked about here before: an IP rating does not guarantee that your phone will be fixed under warranty if you water damage it. Instead, what it ensures is that your phone is water-resistant, but if water gets in, then you’re still going to have to pay for an out-of-warranty repair. IP ratings merely give you an idea of what should be okay.
Having said all of that, the OnePlus 10 Pro has an IP68 rating… on T-Mobile, only. However, the phone is structurally the same in other regions (except for the fact that the NA OnePlus 10 Pro also has a barometer in the center of the camera module in accordance with U.S. law), meaning that the IP68 rating it has in the U.S. actually applies globally, too. OnePlus can’t advertise it on the specification sheet as an IP rating is something that companies pay for a license to advertise with, but rest assured that your phone is water-resistant.
In essence, the OnePlus 10 Pro has an IP68 rating, but it also doesn’t.
Is the OnePlus 10 Pro worth your money?
The OnePlus 10 Pro is essentially the OnePlus 9T Pro that never was. It has marginal improvements across the board, and none of them matter all that much. For some people, it’s hard to justify the additional $100 investment for the base model, but if you can get the OnePlus 9 Pro for substantially cheaper, then honestly I’m not sure that the OnePlus 10 Pro is worth it.
The performance out of the box is going to be similar to the OnePlus 9 Pro, the camera experience will be similar, and the charging is too. While some people were annoyed that they were going to only get 65W charging in the U.S. (as you rightfully should be on paper), there really isn’t much of an upgrade when using the 80W charging over the 65W charging. In fact, the 65W OnePlus charger being as good and universal as it is makes it better than the 80W charger that comes with the OnePlus 10 Pro, in my eyes. A lot of this is also testimony to the fact that the OnePlus 9 Pro was actually a pretty good product by itself, and a price drop is making it a much better deal than it was at launch. The OnePlus 9 Pro did fly under the radar because of the competition at the time. And it did get bad press with the OxygenOS 12 update, although a lot of the issues around the update have been sufficiently addressed.
All in all, the OnePlus 10 Pro is in a weird spot. It’s a fantastic phone in its own right, but it’s hard to justify the extra expenditure over the company’s own OnePlus 9 Pro. If you’re set on getting a OnePlus smartphone, then assess whether or not you need to spend extra for the OnePlus 10 Pro. The OnePlus 9 Pro often has fantastic deals and could well be worth picking up instead. If you’re really set on getting a OnePlus 10 Pro though, then be sure to check out the best deals and best cases you can get for it.