The OnePlus 10 and OnePlus 10 Pro may not have the mainstream interest of the next phone from Apple or Samsung, but phone enthusiasts are eagerly anticipating this launch.
There are a couple of factors that make this a particularly intriguing launch for OnePlus. From a hardware standpoint, the biggest question concerns the OnePlus 10 cameras. After a year of working with Hasselblad, last year’s software enhancements impressed, but will Hasselblad have a hardware-level impact on the OnePlus 10. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the spark for the other burning question about the OnePlus 10, which is the pricing. Google shocked everyone with its flagship Pixel pricing and OnePlus may have trouble keeping up.
While we now have some of the official specs and details on the phone due to its impending release in China, we are still digging for some information ahead of its anticipated global launch later this year.
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OnePlus 10 release date
OnePlus has slowly pushed up the release date for its flagship phones over the last few years, so it’s a tougher prediction now than in the past. Last year, the OnePlus 9 arrived on March 23, while the year before the OnePlus 8 didn’t make its appearance until April 14.
Prolific leaker Max Jambor was the first to say that OnePlus may make the announcement on January 5 at CES 2022. This ultimately proved at least somewhat correct as this was where OnePlus released many of the specs and additional images of the phone ahead of a January 11 release in China.
However, the company has yet to offer up any more details regarding the global launch for the phone, so for now, we are still left to speculate.
OnePlus 10 price
While the OnePlus 10 Pro is available for pre-order already in China, pricing remains a bit murky.
The specs make it clear that this is once again going to be a flagship-class phone, so don't expect anything that would appear among our best budget phones, but some of the leaks suggest it could be slightly discounted from last year.
The site JD.com briefly posted OnePlus 10 Pro pricing ahead of the January 11th launch date and it showed a price of RMB 3,999 (~$627) for the base 8GB with 128GB of storage model, with the 8GB/256GB model stepping up to RMB 4,599 (~$721) and the flagship 12GB/256GB for RMB 4,999 (~$783). Before you get too excited the direct exchange rate never aligns perfectly with the U.S. pricing, however, these prices are RMB 1,000 below last year.
The OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro launched at $729 and $969 respectively, so a drop to perhaps $649 and $899 for the base and flagship models seems at least plausible based on these leaks. Given the price pressure from Google and Samsung with its FE line, this is the kind of drop that we were expecting to see from OnePlus in order to remain competitive.
OnePlus 10 specs
|OnePlus 10 Pro|
|CPU||Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|Display||120Hz AMOLED adaptive display|
|Rear cameras||48MP wide-angle; 50MP ultra-wide; 8MP telephoto|
|Charging||Wired: 80W; Wireless: 50W|
|Size||6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches|
OnePlus 10 design
It turns out the previous leaked renders and dummy units did accurately reflect the OnePlus 10 Pro design, which has now been officially unveiled by OnePlus in a teaser. As expected this isn't a full redesign with the rear camera array as the one standout change from last year.
As with the renders, OnePlus itself has only shown off the OnePlus 10 Pro so far, so it's unclear whether the standard model will follow suit. For the Pro model the front of the phone shows a waterfall display with a hole-punch camera in the upper-left corner. The OnePlus 10 would presumably swap that for a flat display.
The rear camera array takes a page from the Galaxy S21’s Contour Cut camera housing playbook, wrapping directly from the back to the edge of the phone.
There are a few notable differences in that it is roughly square and only connects at the side, rather than at the top and side.
The official images and specs now confirm that there are three cameras present on the back of the phone with the flash as the fourth circular projection on the camera array.
It would be nice to see OnePlus find a unique design identity, but it’s an improvement over the old design, even if it is a bit derivative of Samsung.
OnePlus 10 cameras
While we have the absolute basics regarding the cameras on the OnePlus 10 Pro, namely that there are three of them and they are 48MP, 50MP and 8MP, that leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The camera hardware should now be at least partially informed by the company’s partnership with Hasselblad or at a minimum, the tuning for the hardware should be much more refined.
A since-deleted Weibo post indicated that the Pro model will make the leap to a 5x zoom, up from 3.3x on the OnePlus 9 Pro. That’s still a far cry from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 10x optical zoom, but it does outclass the iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro at 3x and 4x respectively.
Given the considerable investment in the multi-year Hasselblad partnership, the expectations are high for the OnePlus 10 cameras. We were thoroughly impressed by what was achieved in a relatively short time with the OnePlus 9, so there’s plenty of reason for hope that the OnePlus cameras may take a significant leap this year.
OnePlus 10 performance
No surprises here, the OnePlus 10 and OnePlus 10 Pro should both be running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. While Qualcomm has made considerable bold pronouncements about this new SoC, we’ll have to wait and see how it performs in both our lab and real-world tests.
Like Apple’s Bionic/M1 and Google’s Tensor chips, one of the big talking points for Qualcomm is the improved AI performance of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 4x faster than its predecessor. Other highlights include the somewhat controversial “always-on AI, always-on camera.” The new ISP will allow for more camera data as well, opening devices up to 8K HDR video capture, better low-light and night photos and video bokeh similar to Cinematic mode on the iPhone 13.
From a raw CPU perspective, Qualcomm is promising 60% faster Vulkan performance, with a 30% boost to the GPU and 25% better battery savings.
Again, we need to see it for ourselves. But while Apple retains an otherworldly lead in the SoC department, the truth is that Qualcomm’s latest and greatest has had more than enough power for any smartphone tasks as well. Battery life and some of the AI enhancements will be the more interesting features to watch for me.
OnePlus 10 outlook
OnePlus is in an odd position this year with the merger with Oppo somewhat clouding the future for the company and its handsets. It’s certainly possible that everything will go as they outlined with the shared resources of the two companies helping to deliver superior hardware and speedier updates.
The new commitment to three years of major OS updates and four years of security updates was incredibly encouraging. Previously, the company’s lackluster upgrades had been holding me back from wholeheartedly recommending OnePlus hardware in recent years.
While those behind-the-scenes issues are swirling, the biggest problem facing the OnePlus 10 and OnePlus 10 Pro from a consumer standpoint is whether they can find a way to stand out against the incredibly formidable lineup of flagship phones available right now. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have gone for the budget flagship jugular, while Samsung and Apple have a stranglehold on the $1,000 plus flagship market. Even when it had a clear price advantage, it was difficult for OnePlus to make inroads and the narrow window for it in the market has closed down even further.
We’re still eager to see what the OnePlus 10 and OnePlus 10 Pro have to offer, but there’s no question the company needs to have some incredible tricks up its sleeve this year.