Using the OnePlus Pad to write the OnePlus Pad review is obviously advantageous. You tend to realise some traits almost instantly. Like, it's an extremely satisfying typing experience with generous key travel and good spacing between the chiclet keys. Even the trackpad is usable provided you calibrate the sensitivity properly. But then it dawns, the screen only fits the keyboard slot in one, fixed angle and it's not backlit. You can forget about using it in dimly lit areas.
OnePlus Pad review
A rebel with a cause
Standing out from the Android tablet crowd isn't easy, but OnePlus has done a fine job with the design, build and finish of the Pad. The Halo Green shade is distinctive, 2.5D curved glass on the 11.6in display feels premium and the LCD display itself has a high 144Hz refresh rate to make the OxygenOS 13 feel like you're navigating a knife through caramel custard. All the gestures that would make for a great tablet experience have been implemented well. From a two-finger swipe down to open a split screen mode to a three-finger swipe down for screenshot and all the usual multi-window gestures that we have seen on Android phones before, it's all here and it all works pretty well. In fact, it can get a bit overwhelming just learning specific gestures for different apps, but with enough time and daily usage, it becomes second nature.
OnePlus calls this the ReadFit aspect ratio and it's an odd one at 7:5. Apple does 4:3 and Samsung does 16:9, so clearly OnePlus is on to something here. Designed to make reading and split screen work more natural and maximise real estate, it does have its pros when reading a digital copy of a magazine or browsing the web. But on the flip side, watching 16:9 content, which is pretty much every OTT show, the letterboxing feels even more intrusive than on other tablets. Although, the display itself gives no reason to complain. 500nits of peak brightness might not be the benchmark, but is certainly on par with the best and more importantly, the colour accuracy and contrast levels are excellent, with blacks that get close to mini-LED levels, if not quite OLED-beating.
Camera and sound
With four speakers, sonically, the OnePlus ticks another box of living with the Pad without the need for headphones, necessarily. It goes plenty loud as well but lacks the weight and body beyond a certain decibel level, though it doesn't run into distortion. For YouTube and calls, it exhibits enough clarity to make speech intelligible and that's what matters most on a tablet like this. It's only heightened by the front camera in the correct orientation, which is in the centre when planted in landscape mode. The 8MP resolution might not seem like much, but with its subject tracking tech and decent low-light performance, it will encourage you to keep your video on more often during those dreaded Zoom calls. The rear camera is an inconsequential 13MP and it's noisy and struggles in low light, but no one with any dignity should be using a tablet to take pictures anyway.
Performance, thanks to the Mediatek Dimensity 9000 is strong, never breaking a sweat even with 11 apps open simultaneously and moving between windows like a maintenance worker outside Burj Khalifa. It won’t make life difficult for the latest Bionics or Snapdragons, but it is perfectly acceptable for light-to-middleweight tasks. The 144Hz screen is so fluid and smooth that it makes you want to doom-scroll your way to 4 am and you won’t even realise it. The only real drawback is the lack of variable angles once you’ve docked the Pad on the keyboard. It’s perfect for a work desk but using it as a laptop may cause it to catch reflections or show fingerprints and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Apps, like on all Android tablets are a hit or miss on this 7:5 aspect ratio screen, but admittedly, some look even better than on any iPad. A case in point is the Instagram app that looks rich and immersive with full-screen posts and perfect formatting but only works in portrait mode, not supporting auto rotation. Twitter has improved greatly from previous iterations of its Android outing too. You can keep downloading and discovering apps on the go and your facial expression should tell you how well it works for you. The Ctrl+Tab shortcut is a mess though and you have no idea which window will open next when you use it. Nothing an update can’t fix.
OxygenOS, as expected, offers plenty of customization options, including a sideview bar for shortcuts and even a MacOS style taskbar at the bottom to see the docked and recently opened apps. It may all seem like a lot, but eventually you stick to using the basic commands that work best for you instead of being Edward Scissorhands on a Red Bull diet.
Now, the Stylo may sound like a new Disney franchise, but it’s not as sticky. The latency is unnoticeable when you are doodling or annotating but try to write something quickly on the notepad and your handwriting will start resembling a prescription pretty soon. Palm rejection while making an artwork isn’t the best either and we did experience some accidental blotches on our masterpiece. This may sound critical of the Pad, but it’s actually not a deal breaker in everyday situations and the Stylo anyway will only be chosen an optonal accessory by a slim margin of customers.
Battery life and charging on the OnePlus Pad is a welcome departure from the norm. A mammoth 9510mAh battery mated to 67W fast charging gives it the power to last all day and a half and get juiced up to 100% in 30 minutes! OxygenOS gives you loads of granular settings for performance and display settings to dial things exactly the way you want and you can even eek out a couple of days from it if you’re judicious.
OnePlus’ existing ecosystem means if you’re a OnePlus phone user, there are inherent perks tied into the experience. Seamless hotspot sharing, faster image sharing, clipboard for copy/pasting between devices and more, but all promised with an imminent update.
It’s important to keep things simple for the consumer and OnePlus has aced that strategy. One colour and one display size is all you get at launch so there is no confusion. Either you want it or you don’t. Most likely, if you’re in the market for an Android tablet, you should want it because it gets a lot of things right at the right price. Great design with comfortable bezels, excellent display and sound, keyboard folio case that is workable and an OS that looks polished and optimised. The OnePlus Pad is a superb effort to shake up the status quo.
Distinctive design and great performance in a very competitively priced package.
|11.6in LCD (144Hz)
|Mediatek Dimensity 9000
|Android 13 w/OxygenOS 13.1
|9510mAh with 67W SuperVooc charging
|13MP rear / 8MP front