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It’s probably time to start paying attention to OnePlus if you haven’t been.The Chinese tech giant has been steadily manufacturing very good and affordable Android smartphones for years, with the OnePlus 11 landing earlier this year. Now, it’s coming for the suddenly-about-to-be-packed Android tablet market with the new OnePlus Pad. This is a slick, powerful machine that, at $480, is competitively priced with Apple’s 10th generation iPad.And what’s more, it might be better than the iPad in a bunch of ways. While it might behoove you to wait to hear more about the Google Pixel Tablet before making a purchasing decision, this is a very good Android tablet on its own merits. 

Green in more ways than one

images-1.fill_.size_2000x1125.v1682695758 While acknowledging that Google is about to do the same thing, it feels like it’s been forever since a serious new competitor in the tablet space showed up. And though the OnePlus Pad is both physically and metaphorically green in that respect, it feels like a seasoned vet.For starters, its specs are excellent for a tablet that costs less than $500:

Dimensity 9000 chipset

8GB RAM

128GB storage

9510mAh battery (promising 12.4 hours of video playback)

11.6-inch display with 2800×2000 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate

13MP rear camera

8MP selfie camera

Admittedly,128GB is not a great deal of storage, but everything else on that list is pretty slick compared to certain competition. By that, of course, I mean the $450 10th gen iPad, which only comes with 64GB of storage with a smaller 10.9-inch display. Oh, and Apple’s tablet has a smaller 2360×1640 resolution with a substantially worse 60Hz refresh rate cap.images-2.fill_.size_2000x1125.v1682695758 At about 1.2 pounds, the OnePlus Pad is maybe a tiny bit heavier than I’d like while holding it with no support. That said, the other physical dimensions are on point. It’s only 6.5mm thick with a 6.7mm bezel that gives you plenty of screen space to work with. There’s a volume rocker on the right side and a power button on top (when holding in portrait mode), as well as a USB-C charging port. A big camera lens on the top center portion of the tablet’s back also gives it a distinctive look.The only other thing is a small magnetic strip for the optional stylus accessory, which we’ll get to in a minute.Aside from the weight (which you can get used to over time), my only complaint about the OnePlus Pad’s body is that it’s too easy to cover up the speakers with your hands while holding the tablet in landscape mode. That’s annoying.

Fluid as can be

images-3.fill_.size_2000x1125.v1682695758 On the performance end, there’s little to complain about with the OnePlus Pad. The super smooth refresh rate is a huge step up from Apple’s entry-level iPad, giving the tablet a premium feel when doing even simple things like scrolling through an article. It doesn’t hurt that performance is generally great, with nary a hitch in sight in my testing with it. Apps load quickly and the Android-based OxygenOS that it runs on is easy to understand if you’ve ever used Android before. In my time with the OnePlus Pad, it was generally excellent for streaming videos, looking at social media, and reading. You know, things you do with a tablet. I will say that social media apps are a little awkward with such a big touchscreen, but maybe that’s just me being too addicted to my phone. There aren’t many native unique software features to speak of, but one worth noting is the splitscreen functionality. Swipe two fingers down from the top of the display with an app open and you can select another app to open alongside it. I mostly used this to look at Twitter while checking sports stats on the ESPN app. Your mileage, of course, may vary.The only bummer about the splitscreen feature is that you can only use it in landscape mode. As someone who prefers portrait mode for things like reading, this was a disappointment. Oh, and I’d like to shout out the onboard speakers, which are better than tablet speakers have any right to be. You won’t mistake these for a surround sound setup or even a soundbar, but they provide deep, booming sound from a very small body. It’s one of the more immediately impressive aspects of the device.The same goes for battery life, which is rated for 12.4 hours of video playback. In practical terms, you’ll get roughly a whole day out of a full charge. What more could you ask for?

OnePlus + OnePlus

images-4.fill_.size_2000x1125.v1682695759 The big catch with the OnePlus Pad is that it really only makes sense to get if you also have a OnePlus phone. You can get by just fine without a phone (I didn’t have one on hand), but the experience seems greatly improved by the presence of one.Specifically, you can pair your phone with the tablet and as long as the two devices are within five meters of each other, the phone’s cell signal will extend to the tablet. That means you don’t need to get a new SIM card just for the OnePlus Pad. That certainly seems like a very nifty and useful feature to have.Other odds and ends you get from pairing a OnePlus phone to the Pad include shared notifications and the ability to copy text on one device and paste it on the other. These features are great, but again, if you have a non-OnePlus phone, you won’t get anything out of them.Another problem with wanting to get the most out of the OnePlus Pad is that, of course, there are accessories and, of course, they are sold separately. There’s a $99 stylus that works exactly as you’d expect a stylus to work, which is great for digital illustrators or folks who just prefer to use a stylus. There’s also a $30 magnetic folio case with an attached keyboard that purports to turn the tablet into a laptop. This is useful for propping the Pad up to watch videos, but the keyboard itself is fairly cramped and the touchpad is small. Beyond that, the OnePlus Pad just doesn’t work great as a laptop. The mouse cursor is an ugly little circle and apps don’t always respond to clicks like they should, i.e. YouTube videos not pausing when you click on them. You can make it work if you’re willing to put up with stuff like that, but if you want to get serious work done, an actual laptop is probably a better bet.

An iPad beater?

images-5.fill_.size_2000x1125.v1682695759 In several important ways, the OnePlus Pad is better than the 10th gen iPad. Its screen is bigger and higher resolution, its refresh rate is leagues faster, and it comes with more storage than the base version of Apple’s tablet. Broadly speaking, it’s fun to use thanks to quality performance and a neat (if limiting) splitscreen feature.Unfortunately, folks with iPhones or non-OnePlus Android phones won’t get the most out of the OnePlus Pad. If you have a OnePlus phone, this is a no-brainer. Cell connectivity, notifications, and a shared clipboard are really handy features to have. But if you have an iPhone, you’ll probably want an iPad. If you have a Pixel, you’ll probably want to at least wait and see what’s popping with the Pixel Tablet. That’s sadly the way of things in tech these days. You don’t just buy one product; you buy an entire ecosystem.Still, if you’re in this particular ecosystem, you could do a whole lot worse than OnePlus Pad.

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