OnePlus’ first tablet is for Android fans who secretly want an iPad

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pros and cons

Pros

  • Speedy performance with MediaTek processor
  • Battery life that can last up to a month
  • Stellar display with 144Hz refresh rate
Cons

  • Android apps remain a tablet’s biggest obstacle
  • Keyboard and trackpad are finicky
  • Pretending to be an iPad is boring

I don’t remember the episode, and my Google skills are failing me right now, but it was just a couple of years ago (maybe three?) during my now-retired podcast, co-hosted with Jason Perlow, where I brought up my desire for OnePlus to release a tablet. I went on and on about how great it would be to see OnePlus push the boundaries with Android tablets, bringing competition to the marketplace that’s dominated by low-end Amazon Fire tablets and Samsung.

OnePlus has spent years churning out smartphone after smartphone that often punched above its price point when it came to performance and specs. In other words, OnePlus is known for providing value. And if one area in the Android ecosystem needs innovation and value, it’s tablets.

Also: Why the Android tablet struggle stays real 

Indeed, Google is about to release — or at the very least unveil more details about — the Pixel Tablet, and it could very well provide value and an exceptional experience. But for the past month, I’ve been using the OnePlus Pad, a tablet I’ve wanted to see exist for years. 

And, for the most part, I’m just as happy as I thought I’d be. Let’s dig in.


Specifications

Display 11.61-inch 2,800 x 2,000, LCD, 144Hz, 500 nits
Processor MediaTek Dimensity 9000 Mobile Platform
Operating system Android 13.1 based on Oxygen OS
Memory/storage 8GB/128GB
Cameras 13 megapixels rear, 8MP front
Battery 9,510mAh, 67W Supervooc charging
Connectivity 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, USB-C
Dimensions and weight 189.41 x 258.03 x 6.54mm, 555 grams
Price $479

What’s new with this model 

What’s new with the OnePlus Pad? Everything. Not to repeat myself, but this is OnePlus’ first tablet. All of its uncharted territory for OnePlus. And, for the most part, there’s a lot to like here.

1. Smooth performance and multitasking

Describe what's shown in the image.

Opening two apps at once is made easy with gestures.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Inside the OnePlus Pad is a MediaTek Dimensity 9000 processor, 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage. That memory and storage combo is the only configuration OnePlus is offering, and the amount of storage isn’t expandable. 

While I can see the storage amount being an issue for those who download a lot of games or videos for offline viewing, the processor and memory haven’t been an issue in my use for the last few weeks.

I’ve used the OnePlus Pad as strictly an entertainment device, with some very light gaming, and as my primary writing device, using iA Writer and Google Docs, and never have I felt like it was underpowered or that it was struggling to keep up with whatever task was at hand.

Also: How to clear the cache on your Android phone or tablet (and why you should) 

One aspect of the overall experience I enjoyed using was the multitasking features built into OxygenOS, the operating system the Pad runs. More specifically, I found myself frequently using a quick gesture on the display to effectively split the display in half, putting one app on the left side of the screen, and a second on the other half. A two-finger swipe down from the top of the screen was all it took.

I’d often used iA Writer on one side of the screen and Chrome on the other for writing and research, respectively. I also used Chrome and Google Maps side by side during a recent trip to Chicago while I was researching various venues to eat at.

2. A month’s worth of battery life, tested.

The OnePlus Pad's keyboard and trackpad.

The OnePlus Pad’s keyboard and trackpad are part of the optional Magnetic Keyboard.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Inside the OnePlus Pad is a 9,510mAh battery, which the company touts as having enough juice for a month’s worth of standby and up to 12.4 hours worth of video playback. It’s sort of refreshing to see a vendor offer such a specific number for battery life, especially as companies have started offering a very generic and subjective “all-day” battery life descriptor.

Also: Best tablets you can buy right now   

After seeing the standby estimate of one month, and knowing that I’d have the OnePlus Pad for close to the amount of time, I set it up, charged it to 100%, and then let it sit on my desk, unused, but still receiving alerts and email notifications for nearly two weeks. Once in a while I’d turn the screen on, just to check the battery level or toggle Do Not Disturb, but that’s it. 

After just under two weeks, the battery had 56% remaining. I’m no math major, but that’s pretty close to trending toward that one month’s worth of standby. Impressive. 

I also put the video battery life estimate to the test by looping a 4K video with the display brightness set to 50%. I recorded the display using a Wyze Cam in Timelapse mode to capture an image in one-minute increments. The result? The OnePlus Pad lasted 15 hours and 41 minutes, or over 3 hours longer than expected. 

Review: OnePlus 11: $699 for all the speed you need 

I even took the Pad with me on a trip to Chicago, using it to catch up on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor on Disney Plus. And after watching about six hours of video on a couple of different flights, the battery had over 60% remaining. 

Battery life on the OnePlus Pad is the least of my concerns, and I’d wager if you end up buying one, you’d have the same feeling.

3. The display that looks great, even if it’s not OLED

OnePlus Pad with a multitasking interface.

The display looks great, but you only get one viewing angle when using it with the keyboard accessory. Bummer. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The 11.61-inch display has a resolution of 2,800 x 2,000 and a max refresh rate of 144Hz that adjusts its refresh rate depending on what you’re doing. In turn, the display provides a smooth experience when doing things like scrolling web pages or long documents.

The screen has a unique aspect ratio of 7:5 that feels natural when you’re holding the tablet in portrait orientation while reading a document or looking at Facebook. In landscape mode, I didn’t have any issues with any content being cut off the screen or clipped in apps or when streaming videos. 

Also: The 5 best small tablets right now

The color saturation, clarity and brightness of the screen are reminiscent of what I’d expect from one of Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs, although without the OLED part of Samsung’s display equation. That said, it still looked great, even at higher brightness levels. 

In some aspects, I almost prefer the OnePlus Pad’s display over my 12.9-inch iPad Pro, partly due to size, but also because of the overall look and feel. 

What I’d like to see in the next model

While performance, battery life and even the display are all highlights and worth pointing out, there are some areas where the OnePlus Pad needs some work. 

1. Android apps that are better optimized

OnePlus Pad homescreen

The OnePlus Pad’s home screen with app icons and a dedicated app dock. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Android tablets and their apps, be it from Google or third-party developers, have a reputation for not providing the best experience. Over the years, Google has made improvements to its own apps and the Android tablet experience overall, but it’s still far from perfect. 

Most of my time using the OnePlus Pad has been connected to the optional $149 Magnetic Keyboard. Due to that, the tablet has spent a lot of time in landscape orientation. And for the most part, it’s been a fine experience. Some apps have a tablet-like layout that shows a column of information on the left side of the screen, with the right side of the screen showing more details and data. Google Maps is a perfect example of being optimized for a larger display. 

Also: Meta is developing a decentralized Twitter alternative: Here’s what we know

But, the experience hasn’t been perfect. For instance, the Facebook app doesn’t support landscape mode. Nor does the Reddit app. So, when you’re using the Pad docked in its keyboard and you open either one of those apps — both of which are reputable companies — you’re forced to remove the tablet from the keyboard and rotate the Pad to use the app.

Alternatively, you can always just use Chrome to visit their respective websites and go that route. But I think this shows a bigger issue with Android tablets.

With the Pixel Tablet presumably just a few weeks away, I really hope that Google has addressed some of the lingering app issues that have plagued Android tablets for years.

2. Iron out the keyboard and trackpad wrinkles

The OnePlus Pad's mouse pointer.

See that dot over the menu button? That’s the mouse pointer. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

OnePlus offers a Magnetic Keyboard accessory that uses Pogo pins to connect to the Pad for power and data connectivity. It doubles as a protective case, covering the back of the tablet with a soft material that’s held in place by magnets. You can even fold the keyboard portion of the case all the way open, and magnets will hold it in place on the backside of the tablet. 

You can’t adjust the viewing angle of the tablet when it’s docked in the keyboard, thanks to those pogo pins being on the side of the tablet. You get one viewing angle, and you’re going to like it.

Also: Best cheap tablets for under $400 

But when it comes to the keyboard and trackpad experience, there’s some work to be done. Actually, the keyboard experience itself is fine. It’s a little cramped, but that’s a byproduct of the overall size of the Pad and OnePlus doing what it can with minimal space, while also including a trackpad. 

I do wish there was an easier way to view keyboard shortcuts, regardless of what screen or app I’m currently using. I found the shortcut lists once, maybe twice, in the Settings app, but quickly forget what keys I needed to press to do things like go back to the home screen.

Also: The best keyboards to type your way to productivity

My biggest gripe about the Magnetic Keyboard accessory is with the trackpad. It’s good, but not great. I spent a lot of time adjusting the sensitivity and speed of the pointer and tinkering with the rest of its settings, but I never felt as if the trackpad and the pointer on the screen were entirely in sync. 

3. A tablet that’s less inspired by the iPad

An alert that the OnePlus Pad Stylo is charging.

If you have an iPad and an Apple Pencil, tell me, does this popup look familiar? 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

From the moment I opened the shipping box, I’ve been annoyed with the OnePlus Pad and the approach the company took with various marketing decisions and software features. More specifically, it feels a heck of a lot like OnePlus is trying to leave potential customers and eventual users with the impression that the Pad is an iPad.

Look at the box that the Magnetic Keyboard comes in. See how the back cover is floating above the keyboard as if it stays there at all times? Yea, it doesn’t do that.

oneplus-pad-magnetic-keyboard

The tablet doesn’t float in the air like this box would make you think. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The OnePlus Stylo looks very much like the Apple Pencil. In fact, it even magnetically attaches to the top of the Pad, just like the Pencil does on Apple’s tablets. And when you remove the Stylo, you get a small notification on the Pad’s display that looks an awful lot like the one shown on the iPad.

Oh, and that mouse pointer I was just talking about in the last section? Identical to what’s used on iPadOS. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab lineup and the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro also has keyboard/trackpad options, but all use a traditional mouse pointer, for what it’s worth.

Bottom line

The OnePlus Pad is a heck of a first-generation tablet from the company that’s made a name for itself with its smartphone line. Its performance, display and battery life are fantastic, but don’t buy it expecting an iPad Pro replacement. Android apps and the keyboard/trackpad experience are to blame for that. 

The OnePlus Pad is available to pre-order directly from OnePlus right now for $479. Preorders for the $149 Magnetic Keyboard, $99 Stylo and $39 Folio Case are also open. Deliveries are expected to start on May 8, and OnePlus plans to add more retailers towards the end of next month.

Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for a tablet that doesn’t have an Apple logo on the back and you just want something for basic tasks like browsing the web, watching videos and light gaming, then the OnePlus Pad is a solid choice. 

However, if you’re in the market for a tablet to use for triaging your inbox or working in and writing long documents or spreadsheets, then you’re better off looking at the alternatives below.

Alternatives to consider 

samsung-tab-s8

BEST PRICE

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

Samsung has arguably the best Android tablet lineup there is. The Tab S8 is more expensive than the OnePlus Pad, but offers a more robust overall experience, especially if you’re looking for a laptop-like replacement. 

lenovo-tab-p12-pro-hero.jpg

BEST PRICE

Lenovo Tab P12 Pro

The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is another reliable option for those who want a workhorse tablet, and not something built just for entertainment. 

2022-ipad-air-fifth-generation-7.jpg

BEST PRICE

Apple iPad Air

Apple’s iPad line provides exceptional performance, has a wide app selection and developer adoption, and the iPad Air makes for a more affordable tablet for work and play when compared to the iPad Pro line.



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