Is the OnePlus 10 Pro 5G the best gaming smartphone out right now?
In a market filled with all sorts of contenders from tried-and-true favorites such as Apple’s iPhone to promising upstarts such as the Asus ROG Phone, it’s a pretty loaded question.
After spending nearly four months with the phone, however, the question might not even be whether the OnePlus 10 Pro is the best gaming smartphone in the market right now. It’s whether the OnePlus 10 Pro is the best Android smartphone out there.
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I say that as someone who has rocked all sorts of Android phones through the years from the original Samsung Galaxy S all the way to the newer Google Pixel line.
So how does the OnePlus Pro stack up against its rivals? To answer that question, let’s take a closer look at the smartphone.
Design and display: The OnePlus 10 Pro as a media device
At nearly 6-½ inches tall and nearly 3 inches wide, the OnePlus 10 Pro, like many of the flagship devices from its competitors, is a sizable phone. Fortunately, it’s also quite slim, allowing it to still fit nicely in my front jeans pocket even with a case.
All that extra real estate also means you have a nice, large display — something that is further maximized by its edge-to-edge design. The result is an impressive screen that covers the entirety of the phone, save for the small circle of the front-facing camera located on the top left of the display.
Add a 6.7-inch high-resolution Quad HD display and the result is a great onscreen experience. The AMOLED screen delivers nice colors with great black levels and contrast. Whether it be watching YouTube videos or playing games, the OnePlus 10 Pro delivers excellent visuals, especially when factoring in its 120-hertz refresh rate. The high refresh rate, which matches the top-end phones from Android rivals such as Google and Samsung, results in smooth movements and animations, which particularly pays off when playing games (more on that later). By the way, the screen-based fingerprint sensor is also much improved, especially after I installed a patch that was made available after release.
Sound quality is solid, although not among the best of the bunch when it comes to smartphones with top-notch audio performance such as Apple’s iPhone.
You can pick different Dolby Atmos sound profiles for watching movies, playing games, listening outdoors or traveling in a plane via the Sound and Vibration option under the Settings app. I recommend using an actual equalizer, however, to really get the audio profile nailed down to your own preference.
Pair it with a nice set of headphones or earphones with noise cancellation such as the OnePlus Buds Z2 and you can be trapped in your own little world, whether it be inside your room or a plane full of people flying across the Atlantic. One advantage when it comes to using the OnePlus 10 for consuming media is battery life. Battery life is excellent and can last a whole plane flight, regardless of what ocean you’re crossing, and all day for typical use.
Call quality is also good, at least on the T-Mobile network I tested it on.
Speaking of travel…
Is the OnePlus 10 Pro good for traveling and outdoors?
Back in the day when a 5-inch display was considered to be “big” for smartphones, I always got the biggest device I could have.
As smartphone sizes started to balloon to gigantic proportions, however, I started opting for phones such as the 5.5-inch Google Pixel 3 or even the 4.7-inch iPhone SE. It’s just easier to work with a reasonably sized phone once I’m out on the field covering news as a reporter or traveling across the country or overseas.
With a display that goes past the six-inch mark, the OnePlus 10 Pro would normally be a tad too big. Its slim profile, however, still makes it nicely portable, provided that you use a slim case. Taking it with me to places wasn’t an issue although it still isn’t as conducive to one-handed operation as the other phones I mentioned unless you have ginormous hands.
One of the best things about the OnePlus 10 Pro, particularly when you’re out and about, is the display’s performance under direct sunlight. While some phones’ screens become barely legible outdoors on a bright, sunny day, the OnePlus 10 Pro performed very well during such scenarios. This is great when you’re checking texts, maps, restaurants and other information when walking around a city or hiking on a trail.
For lovers of the outdoors, the OnePlus 10 Pro also has an IP68 rating based on the standards of the International Electrochemical Commission. This means that the device is dustproof and can also stand an underwater dunking up to a meter deep for 30 minutes.
The OnePlus 10 Pro also continues its relationship with Hasselblad for its camera system. The camera system improves on its predecessor overall in terms of performance, although the number of lenses has been reduced by one.
The OnePlus 10 Pro comes with various shooting modes, including staples such as Panorama and Slo-Mo as well as other modes like Time-Lapse, Long Exposure, Tilt-Shift, Dual-View Video and Xpan. It definitely has a lot of tools of photo or video enthusiasts.
Low light performance is good overall and the OnePlus 10 Pro will get you nice images at night. I used it to take a ton of photos in the evening streets of Rudesheim, Germany, and it was able to capture scenes that lesser phones won’t be able to. It does tend to crank up the exposure, however. It isn’t too bad for night settings but makes pictures taken during dusk or twilight look washed out, particularly the skies.
Photos are also not as saturated as the Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel lines, which is likely an influence of its partnership with Hasselblad. This can be good or bad, depending on your preference. As a photographer, I actually prefer a more neutral profile and natural colors. In addition to being more true to life, it also makes images more conducive to editing, which the OnePlus 10 Pro lets you do with its various editing options. Your everyday consumer, however, probably prefers images with more pop that can be posted on social media right away.
While color profiles are a more personal thing, image detail is not and this is where the OnePlus 10 Pro can lag a bit behind its rivals. The phone still performs well with standard shooting modes such as landscape and portrait. Zooming, however, is where it noticeably falls behind in terms of detail. The camera system is still solid but there are also areas for improvement.
Another big plus for travel is the OnePlus 10 Pro’s fast charging system, which can top off its juice in just 30 minutes. Even a 15-minute charge recovers enough battery power to get you going for a good amount of time.
While doing a one-week river cruise through Europe, for example, there were many times when I’d plug the phone in 15 minutes before a tour, get myself ready, then grab the phone and head out. This is helpful for work as well when I forget to charge my phone and have to head out in a few minutes to do an interview. It’s easily one of the best features of the OnePlus 10 Pro.
For folks who have concerns about the impact of fast charging on battery life, the OnePlus 10 Pro can also do a slower trickle charge, which is especially great when charging while you sleep at night.
The OnePlus 10 Pro as a gaming smartphone
Gaming is one area where the OnePlus 10 Pro especially shines.
Its excellent display combined with high-refresh rates and Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor means a zippy and buttery smooth gaming experience. The OnePlus 10 Pro was able to handle everything I threw at it without any slowdown or lag, making it an excellent gaming device. It also beats the Tensor core on the Pixel 6 as far as performance.
Then again, smartphones such as the latest flagship iPhone are no slouch and the Samsung Galaxy flagship has the same top-class Snapdragon processor as well. What separates the OnePlus 10 Pro from those two rivals is its added focus on the phone as a gaming platform via several added options specifically for gamers.
The phone has a lot of easily accessible gaming features such as letting you fast-launch games as well as a “Gaming Focus” mode that lets you play uninterrupted by blocking notifications and other distractions. The OnePlus 10 Pro also enables a bunch of other optimizations when gaming to improve latency and frame rates, and can even show stats. These gaming options are customizable, allowing users to fine-tune them to best suit their needs.
As someone who records gameplay and posts videos on YouTube, having a screen recorder on my phone is always nice and the OnePlus 10 Pro has that as well. In addition to accessing it with a swipe down of the quick menu like the Pixel and Galaxy flagship phones, the recorder is also built into the OnePlus 10 Pro gaming interface for even quicker access. Video quality from the recording is excellent as well.
About the only gripe I have is how the edge-to-edge display makes it easy to have unintended inputs from your palms when playing, even with the feature to prevent errant screen taps turned on. This would typically happen in the corners when the base of my thumb would ever so slightly brush up on the screen. This was an issue with the OnePlus 9 as well. To avoid this issue, you will basically need to have a case on the phone to provide added separation between the screen and your palms.
All in all, however, its gaming options are what truly sets the OnePlus 10 Pro apart from rival flagships. Only something like the Asus ROG Phone, which is another excellent gaming-focused smartphone, would be comparable. The OnePlus 10 Pro does have a key advantage against its Asus rival: price.
The ROG 5s, for example, starts at $999 but uses the less powerful Snapdragon 888 processor. Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line ROG 6 Pro with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor is expected to retail for $1,299. In contrast, the OnePlus 10 Pro costs $899, which also compares favorably against the flagship phones from Apple and Samsung.
The OnePlus 10 Pro also works better as an all-around phone outside of gaming than the ROG phones. It offers a better shooting experience, for example, as well as better durability and a higher IP rating.
OnePlus 10 Pro: The verdict
All of this now brings us to the original question posed, is the OnePlus 10 Pro the best smartphone out there right now?
The answer, as with many other things is, well, it depends.
If you’re locked into Apple’s iOS ecosystem, for example, then the iPhone will still be the best option for you. The answer gets trickier, however, when narrowing it down to Android phones. There are Android rivals that do a better job with certain things — the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra arguably has a better display while the Pixel 6 excels more for photography and has a lower price, for example. Some would also argue that the ROG phones are better when it comes to certain gaming features.
When it comes to a phone that does many of those things well overall, however, the OnePlus 10 Pro provides a pretty compelling and complete package. It is more powerful than a Pixel 6, for example, and is better at the everyday non-gaming stuff than the ROG options. It is also cheaper than the ROG phones and the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Add its lowered price compared to the previous model and it presents a good value proposition as well for a flagship device.
Its place among the Android pantheon can certainly be debated. One thing is for sure, however. The OnePlus 10 Pro is easily one of the best Android smartphones you can get right now.
Jason Hidalgo covers business and technology for the Reno Gazette Journal, and also reviews the latest video games. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Like this content? Support local journalism with an RGJ digital subscription.