Review: OnePlus 10 Pro – a great smartphone for under $1,000
If you are looking for an amazing camera, look no further.
There have been a lot of black, grey, or white rectangles that have come in fancy boxes, but for some reason the OnePlus 10 Pro just hits different. Right out of the box this thing impresses even though it’s just another matte black smartphone.
The OnePlus 10 Pro is a competitive phone at the level of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Between the camera, battery, refresh rate, screen, and storage, the differences are negligible. Frankly, it comes down to what manufacturer you prefer.
Throughout its history, the OnePlus line of phones has stood off to the side while Samsung, Google, and Apple fight for dominance. With the OnePlus 10 Pro, OnePlus should be right at the top of that competition.
Available on T-Mobile and Verizon networks, the $900 smartphone gets a lot right, so let’s dive right into the review.
It’s all about the camera
Perhaps it’s the massive camera block on the back with three cameras courtesy of a partnership with Hasselblad, but the OnePlus 10 Pro feels like a camera with a phone attached.
The main camera is a 48MP beast. This is complemented by an ultra-wide lens at 50MP and a telephoto lens at 8MP and 3.3x optical zoom. The front camera is 32MP, if you prefer high-quality selfies.
There’s a ton more specs on the camera, but since I’m not a photographer, I’m not going to pretend I know what they mean. It shoots 4K video at up to 120 FPS, 8K video at 24 FPS and 1080p video at 30/60 FPS.
If you’ve been using a Google Pixel or comparable phone, the only thing that the OnePlus 10 Pro might be second to is a brand new iPhone 13 Pro Max. If you live outside the Apple ecosystem and pride yourself on your mobile photography, then you might want to check out this camera.
There is still something off about smartphone camera technology. The better it purports to get, the more it looks like created art, rather than pure photography of actual things. It’s hard to really put into words.
For as crisp and vibrant as photos taken with an advanced smartphone camera can be, there is something ethereal about them that doesn’t quite tie into the reality behind the photo. Regardless, the OnePlus 10 takes damn good pictures, even if there is a sense of detachment.
Tom’s Guide has a good rundown of the specific camera specs as well as side-by-side comparisons. Within this review, however, you can see a few unfiltered, natural light pictures from around my yard that do well to highlight some of the abilities of this camera setup.
Settling in with settings
The thing is, every year there is a slate of black rectangles released. We flip these smartphones over in our hands, compare the cameras, and argue about Apple vs. Android operating systems.
Reviewing these phones, especially within the Android OS ecosystem, can often come down to the smallest of technical details.
It seems that with each new iteration of a phone, there is a slew of boxes to check in the settings. The OnePlus 10 seems to suffer from too many options. This isn’t necessarily negative, as the depth of options gives you more control over your smartphone experience.
The downside, however, is that you get the feeling you are repeating actions to enable or disable a single option.
For instance, in order to manage notifications, it seems that they not only have to be enabled within the app settings menu, but in the overall settings as well.
Some of these specific menus are buried within themselves, adding a one-time burden of tapping through every menu available. This is a minor inconvenience considering the overall smartphone experience.
This isn’t the only minor issue that other reviewers have noted. There’s something about the scrolling refresh rate that seemed to ruffle some feathers. This isn’t something that would get noticed by most users though.
It’s basically one of those situations where someone tells you that they can visually tell the difference between 4K and 8K on a 42-inch TV. In all reality, they probably can’t but want to seem impressive.
10 is greater than nine
I skipped the OnePlus 9, but apparently, the 10 does make some slight improvements, especially within the Nightscape camera mode. The OnePlus 7 Pro McLaren and OnePlus 8 spent time on my desk, but neither ended up displacing my LG Velvet due to durability issues. I drop things a lot.
The OnePlus 10 Pro comes with a screen protector pre-installed over Corning Gorilla Glass. Unlike the LG Velvet (which, was only a $600 phone at the time of release), it’s not IP68 or MIL-STD-810G rated, so you’ll need a case.
It comes in about 3mm taller than the OnePlus 9 and still doesn’t have a headphone jack (another reason I stuck with the LG).
It’s still a strange thing that more phone manufacturers don’t make their phones strong enough so that a case isn’t necessary. There was something very comforting about having a phone that was as durable as any case.
To be honest, most of the OnePlus 10 Pro is what you’d expect from an Android-based phone. But a bit faster. It runs OxygenOS based on Android 12, with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CPU. The OnePlus Pro 10 has 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM so you can doom scroll with superior speed.
It comes locked at 128GB UFS 3.1 2-LANE storage. You really don’t need much more than that since you back up all your photos to the cloud anyway.
Watching and charging
As good as the photos look on this phone, video looks even better. Save for the fact it’s still a tiny screen for my old ass, video was as perfect as it could be on a phone. The 120 Hz Fluid AMOLED with LTPO screen provides just as much depth and saturation as any TV out there.
There is active color calibration that adjusts based on your environment. This means that whether in a dark room or a park bench at noon, you get visible, awesome video.
If you are watching video or gaming all day on your phone, you are going to worry about the battery life, but that’s basically any phone. The OnePlus 10 Pro has one of the best batteries on the market. It holds about a 12-hour charge if you are going hard.
If you are just using your phone in a more casual manner, checking Facebook on the toilet, and texting friends, you will certainly get away with charging every other day. The 65W charger will pump the battery from empty to nearly full (93%) in about 30 minutes.
The final verdict
Three dark mode options sold me completely on this phone. You know I believe in dark mode everything. Gentle, medium, and enhanced dark modes are icing on the cake with the OnePlus 10 Pro. That, the AMOLED screen, and the battery life should be enough, but it never is.
Honestly, the camera on this thing for the price is the biggest selling point. I liked messing around with the tilt-shift feature as well as the 150° feature.
I didn’t get to try the long exposure out as much as I would have liked, but I did capture some lightning in a cloud (shown above) and the kids found that fascinating.
It’s tough to find a phone these days that checks all the boxes in the way of a professional-level camera and display for less than $1,000. The OnePlus 10 Pro checks those boxes without cutting any obvious corners.
This phone should put the Google Pixel out to pasture. It won’t, but it should. If you fancy yourself a smartphone photographer but live outside the Apple ecosystem, the OnePlus 10 Pro is the phone for you.
You can get a OnePlus 10 Pro for around $900, which is a good $200 less than the next comparable camera in the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
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