OnePlus is in a period of upheaval.
The Chinese company lost its co-founder, Carl Pei, in 2020, and it has been undergoing a turbulent merger with Oppo over the past year. No one outside the company knows what the future of OnePlus will look like, but its latest smartphone, the OnePlus 10 Pro, seems to be hinting at whatever this new OnePlus era will be.
OnePlus is part of a big conglomerate of smartphone companies under the BBK umbrella. Similar to how General Motors runs a bunch of car companies, all the BBK brands pick from the same parts bin and make similar products, but they target different markets. OnePlus’ BBK sister companies Oppo, Vivo, and Realme are Chinese-focused, and iQOO is focused on India. OnePlus has been the Western-oriented wing of BBK. The launch countries for the OnePlus One were the US and Europe, which made a lot of sense. The three biggest smartphone markets are—in order—China, India, and the US.
Now that the Oppo merger is happening, it’s hard to say that OnePlus is still focused on the West. The OnePlus 10 Pro debuted three months ago in China and is only now coming to US shores. Even after this delay, the device won’t release in the US with every feature intact.
The primary way OnePlus differentiates itself from its competition is with “Warp Charge,” the company’s proprietary quick-charging technology. The OnePlus 10 Pro improves on that tech by bringing 80 W Warp Charging. But OnePlus didn’t make a new 80 W Warp Charger for the US market, so US customers have to settle for last year’s charger, which is only 65 W. There isn’t anything stopping OnePlus from making an 80 W charger that works with the 120 V US power system; the company simply didn’t do it.
|SPECS AT A GLANCE: OnePlus 10 Pro|
|SCREEN||6.7-inch, 3216×1440 OLED, 120 Hz|
|OS||Android 12 with Oxygen OS Skin|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|NETWORKING||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, NFC,|
|REAR CAMERA||48 MP Main
8 MP 3.3x Telephoto
50 MP Wide Angle
|FRONT CAMERA||32 MP|
|SIZE||163 x 73.9 x 8.6 mm|
|OTHER PERKS||65 W quick charging, wireless charging, optical in-display fingerprint sensor|
BBK already has three other Chinese-focused brands, so OnePlus’ prioritization of China could signal a bit of a retreat from the US market. The Oppo merger also feels like a refutation of the original OnePlus strategy. OnePlus was once important enough to be an independent company under BBK, and now it isn’t.
The merger of OnePlus and Oppo makes for an awkward and unclear future for OnePlus’ software, too. OnePlus and Oppo each have their own Android skins. OnePlus traditionally sticks close to stock Android’s design and adds extra features (though the company has moved away from this strategy over time). Oppo’s Color OS, like many Chinese Android skins, is all about Apple envy and looks like a counterfeit version of iOS.
In July 2021, OnePlus and Oppo announced that they would merge their polar-opposite Android skins, saying the move would help the companies produce faster updates. In December 2021, we got the first look at this unified direction with the Android 12 update for the OnePlus 9, and it was kind of a disaster. Just last month, Oppo and OnePlus announced that the software merger was canceled.
So no, OnePlus did not make the 10 Pro’s software in one month; it was mostly created under the old plan. No one knows what the Android 13 update plan for this phone will look like, but you will get three years of major software updates. Blowing up your software division and then trying to reconstruct it a month before a device’s launch is disruptive, and I can’t say I’m expecting major updates to go smoothly while OnePlus figures out what it wants its software to be.
It’s in this context that we bring you our OnePlus 10 Pro review. The yearly smartphone update cycle stops for no one, even if your company is in the middle of a full reboot.