OnePlus got almost everything right with its first tablet, but software needs more. (Image Credits: Mohammad Faisal/ News9Live)
TL;DR: OnePlus Pad does almost everything it set out to do, but it lacks a software that could utilise its powers
I’ve always found tablets interesting. They’re like the middle child in a family who always complains about neither getting respect like their elder sibling nor unconditional affection like the younger one. Some would say the middle child gets the best of both worlds, while others may argue in disagreement. Tablets find themselves in a similar situation between a laptop (think elder sibling) and a smartphone (think younger sibling). Now let’s break the analogy before my sister starts relating to a tablet.
Tablets are beautiful gadgets that suffer from an existential dilemma. Do they want to replace a smartphone or are they here to serve as a super lightweight laptop? In my opinion, tablets don’t need to snatch the space from either of these devices, because they have a distinct use case right in the middle that the other two cannot fulfil, and that is being portable yet big enough for entertainment and as a work machine. The latest entrant that wants to win this space is the OnePlus Pad.
This machine comes with powerful specifications on paper, including a 4nm Dimensity 9000 processor, 144 Hz HDR10+ screen with Dolby Vision, 13 MP primary camera, 8 MP selfie camera, 67 W fast charging, and over 9000 mAh battery; it is advertised as 9,510 mAh but you should never waste an opportunity to say “over 9000” in Vegeta’s voice.
For a starting price of Rs 37,999, this sure looks like a sweet deal. But is it really good in real life? That’s what we are here to talk about.
OnePlus Pad review
First of all, the OnePlus team deserves a pat on the back for not getting tempted by the flat-edge trend and choosing to go with rounded edges instead. The OnePlus Pad looks beautiful with the metal back giving it a premium look. The radial patterns coming out of the circular camera module are a nice touch, which adds a subtle design element to the otherwise plain back. The build feels sturdy, the buttons are tactile, and the dimensions of the device are just spot on with a 7:5 aspect ratio– making it perfect for reading ebooks, comics, and writing tasks in addition to serving well for content consumption as well.
The device uses an LCD panel, but since it has nice contrast and colours, I’m not complaining. A good LCD screen is any day better than a cheap OLED display. Also, since the LCD panel is bright enough to use outdoors, like in a metro, I am more than happy with the screen. This 2800 x 200-pixel resolution screen supports 10-bit True Colour, 296 ppi index, and 500 nits peak brightness.
The 11.61-inch size of the display is neither too big nor small, but exactly the size I prefer in a tablet. The tablet supports 144 Hz refresh rate, but since it is limited to some specific apps only, you get to experience only 120 fps during scrolling. Still, it makes reading ebooks, Mahnwa (Korean comics), and Manga (Japanese comics) as well as scrolling web pages like Reddit’s comment section and house listings on various platforms a superior experience. The 552-gram weight of the tablet doesn’t feel much and I could carry it anywhere with me without any problem.
The OnePlus Pad has a quad-speaker sound system with Dolby Atmos support, which coupled with Dolby Vision HDR makes watching content on Netflix quite enjoyable. Ever since I’ve been using this tablet, I did not feel the need to turn on my high-end Monitor to watch TV shows.
The MediaTek Dimensity 9000 processor is more than capable to handle any and everything you throw at the tablet. According to Nanoreview, this chipset is slightly better than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, making the OnePlus Pad a flagship device. The device comes in an 8 GB RAM + 128 GB storage model and a 12 GB RAM + 256 GB storage model. My review unit came with 12 GB RAM and it registered a single-core score of 1145 and a multi-core score of 3208 on Geekbench.
The chipset allowed me to easily edit videos on the VN Editor, use it as a screen for PS5 Remote Play, and worked as an extra screen to aid my office workflow. I also replaced my laptop with this tablet for a day where I used dozens of apps and around two dozen Chrome tabs simultaneously and kept switching between them every few seconds. The power of this tablet kept up with the tasks and never left me hanging. The OnePlus Pad is a powerful machine, but it is held back by the software that greatly reduces the effectiveness of the multi-tasking capability and leaves the performance untapped for the most part.
The OnePlus Pad currently runs Oxygen OS 13.1, based on Android 13. While Google has modified the Android tablet experience with a taskbar on the bottom like a Macbook and a vertically split notification panel when you are using the tablet in landscape mode. While these modifications are more than enough for a budget tablet, the Android still needs lots of other modifications to make the OS fit for a premium tablet like the OnePlus Pad.
This tablet supports split screen mode, but it is limited to some specific apps like Docs and Chrome. It also supports floating windows, but it is limited to only a single app at a time. While the tablet can handle multi-tasking without a hitch, the software doesn’t allow it to utilise its maximum power. Something like Samsung’s DeX desktop mode could have been a game changer for the OnePlus Pad.
As mentioned earlier, I replaced my laptop with the OnePlus Pad (coupled with OnePlus Magnetic Keyboard) for a day, and my work output was reduced to half because of software constraints. I found the device more suitable for those kinds of works where you only need a maximum of two windows opened. For instance, I wrote the review for Street Fighter 6 on the OnePlus Pad where I used the split screen function to open the SF6 website in one window and Google Docs in another. This time my output stayed 100 per cent. Chances are, most users will find this tablet suitable for work, but it is just not right for me who needs to constantly switch between Chrome, Edge, and a dozen other apps.
That being said, I found the OnePlus Magnetic Keyboard brilliant. Both the key travel and key spacing are nice and I didn’t even need time to adapt my typing. Since the keys are clicky, I actually enjoyed typing on this keyboard. The magnets in this folio-style keyboard are powerful and don’t let the tablet fall off even when you don’t handle it with care. That being said, it needs a sturdy base to let you operate, because, in the end, it is a magnetic keyboard and not the actual base of a laptop.
The OnePlus Magnetic Keyboard also features a touchpad, which is pretty useful despite being small in size. It has a good touch-and-click response, feels premium, and is a lot better than touchpads on some laptops that cost over Rs 50,000. The cursor, however, is a circle that can jump over to the apps. It reminds me of the iPad and I think OnePlus deliberately redesigned it to mimic Apple, probably to give iPad users a sense of familiarity who would shift from an iPad to an Android tablet. As someone who prefers Android tablets over the iPad (because side-loading! duh!!), even I don’t have any problems with the cursor choice.
The OnePlus Stylo looks like a copy of Apple Pencil and that is a good thing, except for the White colour of the stylus which doesn’t compliment the green tablet and green keyboard. The OnePlus Stylo connects to the OnePlus Pad via Bluetooth and attaches magnetically to the top to charge up. You don’t need to set it up for connectivity as it connects automatically as soon as you attach it to the magnet on top of the tablet. OnePlus says that the stylus offers a low latency of 2ms. The input lag is unnoticeable and the pressure sensitivity makes it a handy tool for artists. Just like Apple Pencil, the OnePlus Stylo is round with a straight-cut line that makes sure the stylus doesn’t roll endlessly to fall off your desk.
Moving on, this tablet features a 9,510 mAh battery, which coupled with the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chipset offers a brilliant backup. Hours of reading and browsing the internet barely reduce the charge percentage. I watched an entire 12-episode-long anime on the tablet in one setting without requiring to put it on charging, followed by some writing work. But this was done to test the battery backup. If you are using a tablet like regular folks for entertainment or work on the go, OnePlus Pad will easily last you 4-5 days. The brand claims this tablet has a standby time of 30 days, but I think it can easily last 12-15 days while connected to the WiFi since the battery in this state is reduced somewhere between 7 to 10 per cent every 24 hours.
This tablet supports 67 W fast charging and OnePlus packs a 100 W fast charger in the box with multiple output charge values. OnePlus claims that the device can be fully charged with this adapter in just 60 minutes, but during my test, it needed around 80 minutes to get from zero to 100. This is still impressive, considering the big battery inside the tablet. If you are using the tablet as a desk companion at home or for entertainment purposes, the battery backup is good enough to not warrant super high-speed charging. You can just plug in a regular charger to let it recharge overnight.
The 8 MP selfie camera on the OnePlus Pad can be used for face unlock. It is capable of taking decent selfies and offers a nice wide-angle view for video calls and office meetings. It also comes with a setting to keep yourself in the frame like the iPad. I would have preferred if the camera quality was a bit better.
There is a 13 MP rear camera on the back, but it doesn’t perform as well as it looks. Also, you don’t need a brilliant rear camera on a tablet, because who even uses a tablet to click pictures? It should be good enough to take pictures of documents to read later on, and the OnePlus Pad’s rear camera sensor is enough to do that.
Verdict: Is it good enough?
Short answer– yes. Long answer– yaaaaaaassssss. Just kidding…here you go:
The OnePlus Pad is decent for entertainment purposes with a great display and a nice set of speakers. The design and build quality are top-notch, and the performance is more than enough to handle heavy workloads and is much better than what you would expect in this price range.
The software is clean and doesn’t warrant a fight with bloatware, but the lack of tablet-specific features and optimisations limits the tablet’s capability to be your full-time work buddy. Still, it can be moulded for work purposes with some third-party applications, such as the Chromium-based Kiwi Browser that can use all the Chrome extensions and also open every website in Desktop Mode by default. The selfie camera is good but could have been better. Since a tablet doesn’t typically find a use for its rear camera, OnePlus made a wise decision to cut costs here.
OnePlus Pad is great for those who want a stacked Android tablet but don’t want to pay the premium that Samsung asks for. The OnePlus Stylo is capable enough to help artists draw digital portraits, but it needs to be bought separately for Rs 4,999. The OnePlus Magnetic Keyboard is a great accessory for this tablet and you must have it if you are planning to buy the Pad. It costs Rs 7,999. However, I think the availability of these accessories is a tricky matter because while the keyboard keeps jumping in and out of stock, I could never spot the stylus on sale.
OnePlus Pad is being compared to the iPad a lot, probably because it came out as a powerful Android tablet. However, I don’t think it can replace the iPad. I don’t think any person using the Apple ecosystem would want to switch to an Android tablet, especially when the Google software is in need of some tablet-specific fresh ideas and features. OnePlus Pad has great hardware but the brand needs to stop relying on Google and build its own set of features if it seriously wants to dominate the space.
For everyone else, OnePlus Pad is the best machine to experience an Android tablet because it comes with everything you would need, minus the heavy price.
Price: Rs 37,999 (8/128 GB) | Rs 39,999 (12/256 GB)