OnePlus Pad is one feature away from perfect

So I have always mentioned the need for a 'middle form' styled device.  Not a phone, not a desktop/laptop, but something in between.  A tablet is that midground and for some it's meant as just something slightly bigger to consume media on, which is good for them, but for me, I am looking for that middle ground on something to do work on.

For me, a tablet can fill that but I need a few things.  For me, the OnePlus Pad fits that bill perfectly (with essentially just one exception).  There are tablets that do fill everything, but at more than double the price.  So, I'll just find a way to deal and I now carry this tablet with me daily since I've unboxed it.

Let's take a look at this device's specs and see how it stacks:

  • 11.61" @ 2800x2000 (1.4:1), 144Hz
  • Mediatek D9000 (3.05GHz x1, 2.85GHz x3, 1.8GHz x4)
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB storage
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 8MP selfie
  • 9510mAh

Now this is a $650CDN tablet, and really it's $550 as it's almost always been on sale for that when I've looked.  On top of that there always is a special deal.  Get a freebie of the Stylo ($140 value), and then you can buy another accessory for 1/2 off (another stylus for just $70, a keyboard case for just $105) or 11% off of the earbuds ($240).

So, if you're like me you NEED the keyboard.  So for $655 and you get a stylus.  The cheapest at Samsung for similar would be $800 with all their sales on too.  

Sure, the chipset is a mediatek, there are better chips out there (which they use in their phones), but it still has 8GB RAM and 128GB is a bit smaller than I would like, but it's still plenty.  The battery is HUGE, so lasts you a LOOONG time.  Let's dive in.

First up let's go over the device.  You'll notice it has a really distinct 'green' colour to it so it does stand out from the rest out there, which is nice.  Unique without being ostentatious.  Automatically I plop the case on - which it does via magnets just to the back of the device and it holds REALLY well.  

The case is also a nice green too.  Now, sitting in the landscape mode the tablet can just snap nicely into the keyboard pogo pin with more magnets and you're good to go.  

The power button is now on the left hand side with the volume buttons on the top left side.  Charging port is on the right side.  There are 4 speakers around the device so it has a good amount of volume.

The keyboard feels really good, low profile buttons so easy for you to track your fingers around without bumping into the others and a good response as you type.

My favourite about it is that it has a trackpad.  I've been using my older Tab S4 with a keyboard case and for its size a trackpad just doesn't fit.  With this being 11.6" size you have a little more space in the case to put in a trackpad - and it just works.  Perfect for me and my workflow.

Setting the device up was just like any other Android tablet.  Plunk in my Google credentials and walk through it.  Albeit, there was one hiccup.  Setting it up I set up a PIN (in addition to doing my face) and it gives you a nice notice, that 'hey, remember it'.  And I did.

And then it ... wouldn't accept it.  I had to enter the PIN twice, and I was deliberate.  It locked and then it wouldn't work. I had to factory reset it and do it again... twice.  Before it worked for me.  It was a little anxiety building that "do I have to send this back already?".  But, that just happened at the beginning and was fine ever since.

It can also unlock with your face, which I like, but it seems to be about 2 out of 3 times successful.  I can't pin down what it is about why it wouldn't; angle, lighting... sometimes it just doesn't want to work and you do several tries and then it will work, or you put in your PIN.  And then it'll be a couple days with no issues.

Once into the system, it's running Oxygen, which we've seen in the OnePlus 12R review.

One interesting thing I noticed in that screenshot above was the available RAM, it has a little > next to it, meaning you can click, and then you can adjust it by sacrificing some of your storage for more.

Interesting.  I've increased it, but I don't know if I've actually seen any difference in its performance.

It's a good system, as a quick rehash, I like being able to adjust my wallpapers and have some artsy style icons.  You have the 'side dock' and the 'expanded folder' features too.

Where you're really going to notice the difference here is the extra settings you get from a tablet.

In the settings we see the 'special features'.  One of the ones to look at here is the 'display size'.  And this is my big source of grief with the tablet.  

Here is where you're supposed to be able to adjust an app that likes portrait mode over landscape (because, let's face it, you'll be using this tablet in landscape... the keyboard kinda forces that).  Except, that ... somehow it only shows 2 here.  Facebook and Instagram (which both could work in landscape before).  But, what about Meta Business Manager?  It is absolutely painful to try to use it, if I accidentally click the app.  I just try not to use it if I don't "have to" have to use it.


Now, I blame Meta/Facebook here rather than the tablet (Google isn't in the clear here as YouTube Studio is also portrait locked).  But it would be nice to have some way to manually add an app to that 'style' so it can force it.  Why those 2 apps but not others?

I was hoping that similar to the Samsung devices, where I get around it is to have a 'desktop' environment (Samsung's DeX) where the apps open as windows.  With the floating windows on the OnePlus is one option, yet you have to get that app in portrait mode (rotate your device) and then swipe it up to a floating app.  Or, open it in split view.  And then I wish you could 'lock' some apps to act together as a split screen view.

Okay, let's get into the stylus, the 'Stylo'.  Now, in the video you see that I did originally (in the unboxing) put it up on 'top' of the tablet to be held by the magnet - except where it would 'stick' it wasn't the spot for it to pair and charge.  

note the 'notice' of the pen battery - that's how I was able to notice it wasn't charging because it wasn't in the right spot

You do have to find that 'right spot' and once you do you feel like a dolt for not doing it before.  It is held, in the proper spot, super strongly.  Enough that I can plop it on and throw it in my bag and the pen is still there when I take it out, no jostling knocks it off.

Using the Stylo is very similar to any other stylus these days, if you've used the S Pen, you can use this as well.  I do like being able to just 'scribble' in a textbox for it to start writing, or in a note you can do some editing (scratch out, etc...). 

I don't think I ever really use it as much as I'd like to for writing, but definitely I use it for scribbling notes or tapping away on apps and games.

I love having the pen, even if I don't use it so much - I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it (plus it's free with purchase).

Now, let's talk about the keyboard.  This is what I NEED in a tablet.  I want to work, and work means writing a lot, so I need a keyboard case and the keyboard needs to be good.  The one I bought for the Pixel Tablet is just horrible.

This is good.  The only thing I can ever pick on is that the 9/0 buttons are just slightly off where I am used to ... so every date was 2924 for a while there before I adjusted.

Then there's the keyboard shortcuts... 

...just slightly different than what you'd expect.  Like why a shortcut for go back to homescreen when you could also press Fn+1, or the Screenshot is also Fn+9.  So there's some redundancy there.

Where I both love the keyboard and kinda have some frustration with it is the trackpad.  

I love a trackpad, and had they not included it, I would have just dismissed this whole device.  So I love having it.  Yet, the gestures for it are not the typical you'd expect.

Sure, you have 2 fingers swiping up/down for scrolling.  Makes sense.  3 fingers swipe up for home, or left/right to swap between apps... all good.

I'm used to 2 fingers left/right to act as 'back'.  And that's not the case.  It's a 3 finger tap.  That's weird and something I'm having to learn.

Another weird thing is that when using the pad in scrolling around on the web, I'm used to 2 finger tapping for a 'right click' or 'long press', and that doesn't happen.  Even long pressing the pad itself (clicking it) doesn't bring up the right click options.  It will act as a long press elsewhere (i.e. long press an app icon to drag it around).  Just weird those intents don't carry into Chrome.

But I still love using it.

What was neat, but I didn't get much chance to use was the opportunity for the device to act as a screen mirror for your OnePlus phone.

Connect the 2 together with the MultiScreen Connect (look in Settings / Connection & sharing) and you can connect the 2 and then you can share the phone's screen into the tablets.  

Kinda neat if you're working away and you can just have your phone screen floating there.  A text comes in you can go and answer it.

No really, you can actually click around in the floating window for it to interact on the phone.  It's pretty neat.

Yeah, this tablet is pretty cool, which is why it has become THE device I carry with me just about everywhere lately.  

It's got a great screen, good size (I bring it to band to use as my music book), and a decent performance.  It's not a super powerhouse, but I don't notice.  I only really noticed when I used Genshin Impact that it was just slightly slower than my 12R.  Probably that Mediatek chipset vs. a Snapdragon.

The battery is very good.  I go a few days of use and putting down and it's still about 50%.  It comes with a VOOC charger, but I have PD chargers everywhere, so I haven't noticed much about whether that would be faster to charge or not.

There's just one thing that I wish it had.  I'm not going to dismiss it without it, but it's such a huge miss that I'm scratching my head on it.

Why is there no ability to have HDMI out.  I loved plugging in other devices into my HDMI dock I have at my desk and then have my tablet on my bigger screen.  Or, as I'm out at a board meeting, I can plug it into the projector and have our spreadsheets etc... up for all to see.

I'm really REALLY hoping it's a firmware update in the future, but after seeing this kinda thing from the Pixel lineups, I'm not holding my breath.  Just a shame.  I'll live, but ... gah...

Also - and again, now I'm just trying to nitpick - it is fingerprint prone... so keep a cloth nearby.  Not sure if that's a 'me thing' or the device.  I'll say both.

Overall, yeah, this is a great device, even if you're not a OnePlus environment / ecosystem user, it's a great experience.