Last year’s OnePlus 9 Pro was one of the best phones of 2021 – which surprised some of us. The company substantially improved the cameras and packaged a high-spec phone in a premium body. Now, after several other OnePlus phones have launched with lower prices (and lesser specs), the $899 OnePlus 10 Pro, is finally here. The phone has long been available in China and the company has been teasing its new flagship since January.
With a cheaper price, a 6.7-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen, Snapdragon’s latest processor, a bigger battery and a gorgeous new green color option, the OnePlus 10 Pro sounds like it has everything it needs to repeat the success of its predecessor, but I’m left feeling underwhelmed.
The camera unit, which includes three sensors and a flash, is surrounded by metal which bleeds over the edge to the frame of the 10 Pro. It’s an understated design touch, but I’m glad it looks different from older OnePlus models, its Oppo stepsiblings and other phones doing the same old camera sensor layout. Different is good.
The rest of the phone’s back is covered in a translucent finish that reminds me of the back of the iPhone 13 Pro. The OnePlus logo seems to be etched into this; I actually thought it was a sticker at first. There’s still some Hasselblad branding, too, along the side of the camera unit, but thankfully it's a little subtler than previous designs.
OnePlus’s Alert Slider has clung on for its eighth year. Once again, it’s located above the power button and switches between silent, vibrate and full volume modes, each of which can be manually adjusted to your preferred levels. There’s a USB-C port, supporting 80W SuperVOOC charging and stereo speaker grilles along the bottom edge. Finally, as usual, there’s a volume rocker on the left edge.
OnePlus has upgraded the selfie camera to a 32-megapixel sensor, but it’s still a pinhole camera set in the top left corner of the display. The front-facing camera works with face unlock, while there’s also an in-screen fingerprint scanner. Both seem faster than OnePlus’ last-gen phone, and the fingerprint sensor has been shifted higher up the phone panel, making it easier to access.
While the OnePlus 10 Pro looks different from last year’s 9 Pro, there’s an awful lot of spec overlap. Both models have the same size screen and run at 1,440 x 3,216 resolution, with adaptive refresh rates of up to 120Hz. This year’s phone does have an upgraded LTPO display, however, which OnePlus says is better optimized for dynamic changes in refresh rates. But you’d be hard-pressed to notice any difference between the 10 Pro and 9 Pro's screens; both are crisp, bright and colorful. While more and more phones are beginning to arrive with adaptive refresh rates, OnePlus does it better than most, dipping as low as 1Hz for static content on your phone screen, meaning less power drain. According to OnePlus, the upgraded screen should translate to 1.5 hours of additional use versus last year’s OnePlus 9 Pro.
Comparisons with last year’s OnePlus 9 Pro come up yet again with the cameras. The company heralds this as its second-generation Hasselblad camera, with improvements to the OnePlus Billion Color Solution (which still struggles to sell itself as a compelling feature) and an updated Hasselblad Pro mode, which I’ll explain later.
Glancing at the spec sheet, even if the camera array itself looks notably different, the OnePlus 10 Pro has very similar camera sensors – and in fact there’s actually one less than last year’s OnePlus 9 Pro. Yes, we’ve lost the monochrome sensor, which shouldn’t be a big deal. It was a low two-megapixel sensor and I didn’t miss it at all. Otherwise, all the numbers match: a 48-megapixel primary sensor, a 50-MP ultra-wide lens – this time capturing across 150-degree views, and – like the OnePlus 9 Pro – a middling 8-megapixel telephoto option that tops out at 3.3x optical zoom.
My experience matches what Chris Velazco said last year in his review of the 9 Pro. The primary sensor captures detailed images, especially in well-lit surroundings. OnePlus has further refined the sensor to improve dynamic range and noise reduction in images, and you’ll still get the best shots from the pixel-binned 12-megapixel mode. If you do want to capture all the detail you can, however, there’s a high-res shooting mode that’s easily accessible through most of the camera app’s modes.
The new ultrawide camera gets a few tricks, too, including a new fish-eye capture mode that’s a bit of a gimmick, but it’s fun nonetheless. You can switch between a mild and strong fish-eye effect. I’m not going to win photography awards but the results are clean and it’s a harmless addition.
The telephoto camera remains the weakest part of the OnePlus camera setup. Given the 8MP resolution, shots seem blurry and low on detail. Sometimes my photos just lacked color and vitality, which is a shame because I use the telephoto cameras on phones a lot as it offers some degree of compositional freedom when framing my shots. (I can’t believe I just wrote the phrase “compositional freedom.”)
OnePlus’ flagship held its own against an iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro, but it wasn't the best. The cameras occasionally struggled with scenes with high dynamic range.
Performance and software
OnePlus has long been able to balance a streamlined Android experience close to stock while adding its own tweaks and features. The OnePlus 10 Pro continues that approach despite the closer collaboration with Oppo and a shared codebase. In fact, the latest version of OnePlus’ OxygenOS, version 12, was apparently one of the reasons that the 10 Pro took so long to arrive after its debut, with more time needed to tweak the software for regions beyond China.
I still appreciate the ability to easily switch off OS additions I don’t need. The OnePlus Shelf is a pop-up menu that can be pulled down from the top right corner of the phone. It groups together several adjustable tiles – like those widgets you’ve been able to add to your homescreen on Android phones for about a decade.
In short, I don’t need it and would get frustrated when it pops up instead of the standard Android drop-down menu containing setting toggles and my notifications. Thankfully, I can just tap the settings cog inside the Shelf, and turn the entire feature off.
One addition I won’t be disabling is a new AI adaptive brightness feature. The OnePlus 10 Pro can learn your display brightness preferences and make adjustments, hopefully before you do. Artificial intelligence features inside smartphones are often hard to notice in day-to-day use (think: battery optimization features that are meant to adapt to how you use your phone and reduce power consumption). But OnePlus’ adaptive brightness soon appeared when I would check the 10 Pro in the early hours of the morning, helping to shield me from an unnecessarily bright screen before I’d even had my coffee.
There are also a few gaming improvements to make the most of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip. The HyperBoost game engine, courtesy of Oppo, tries to stabilize frame rates during gaming sessions, while also increasing the responsiveness of the touchscreen through a new feature called O-Sync. Both suffer from my issues with behind-the-scenes AI optimizations. It’s also not compatible with streaming g