The OnePlus Pad isn’t an iPad ‘killer’ – but it’s still a tempting Android tablet
OPINION: OnePlus has had a big presence at MWC 2023, unveiling a concept phone that’ll never go on sale along with a tease of its forthcoming foldable phone.
It has also used the event to show off its OnePlus Pad for the first time, after revealing the tablet alongside the OnePlus 11 earlier in the month. This is OnePlus’ first attempt at an Android tablet and after spending an hour or so with a unit here in Barcelona, it is shaping up to be a very tempting offering.
Yet, I have seen and heard many label this as an iPad ‘killer’ – and that simply won’t be the case.
Android tablets have had a rocky few years. While Apple’s iPad has reached the point (especially in hardware but in some instances software too) where it’s hard to see where it could go next, Android slates have struggled to really make an obvious use case for their existence.
Samsung is seemingly alone in the high-end, while cheap versions are often slow or full of Amazon’s Prime-riddled interface. There have been some outliers, but I’ve struggled to really recommend an Android tablet for some time. This could change when the Pixel Tablet from Google arrives, but so far I have yet to properly spend any time with that.
The OnePlus Pad, from a hardware level, at least seems a lot more promising than many other Android tablets that have come across my desk. The 7:5 aspect ratio screen, for instance, harks back to the iPad and it’s so much more practical than a wider display for productive tasks. You can see more of a webpage without scrolling, read more of a document and so on.
The screen is also 144hz and 11.61 inches, making it both super smooth and large. That squarer aspect ratio makes it feel smaller though, which is another benefit. There’s a powerful MediaTek Dimnesity 9000 chip inside, good speakers and really well-made accessories, including a pen that attaches to the top of the tablet just like an Apple Pencil paired with an iPad.
This is all great and while the price is still unknown, the reason that the iPad will still reign is down to software and apps – two things that OnePlus has minimal control over. Of course, OnePlus has tweaked the Android interface to make it a little more tablet-friendly, adding a neat gesture that’ll quickly get you into the multitasking options. Yet, it still very much feels like a bigger piece of phone software.
OnePlus can’t do anything about the app situation on Android when it comes to tablet apps though and compared to the swathes of excellently optimised iPadOS apps available, the selection on Google Play simply can’t compete. Many remain scaled-up phone apps that look wonky on big screens (and I assume will look even wonkier on this aspect ratio) and many of the more pro-focussed applications don’t exist outside of the iPad ecosystem.
As good as the hardware on the OnePlus Pad, it’s the Android experience on tablets that’ll continue to hold it back from being a true iPad rival.