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OnePlus 10R plays the powerful Android phone part well, till you get to the cameras

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 26-05-2022 Vishal Mathur

Over the years, there have been smartphones distinguished on the basis of screen size, storage options, memory, colours and of course, differentiated specs. But this is perhaps the first time we’ve had to choose a phone based on a combination of the battery size and the charger bundle, as the primary differentiating point for different variants. That’s a first for the OnePlus 10R, the newest phone in what is now OnePlus’s ever widening smartphone line-up in India.

Here is how it all stacks up.

The OnePlus 10R is available in three variants – the entry spec with 128GB storage, an 8GB RAM, 5000mAh battery with 80-watt charger (priced at 38,999), the mid spec with 256GB storage, 12GB RAM, 5000mAh battery with 80-watt charger (priced at 42,999) and the top spec option that has 256GB storage, 12GB RAM, 4500mAh battery with a 150-watt charger (this costs 43,999). It is the most expensive variant here that catches our attention, and perhaps rightly so, because of the 150-watt SuperVOOC (that’s OnePlus’ identification of the charging tech) charger.

Till now, the fastest charging systems for smartphones included Xiaomi’s 120-watt charger. That worked very well. OnePlus is now bundling the 150-watt charger, and this is the first phone it has come to. This is just a logical step forward, and extremely convenient if you don’t have time to charge the battery during a rushed morning ahead of work. You would have noticed already how the fastest charging OnePlus 10R has a slightly smaller battery pack than the variants with the comparatively slower charging speeds. That opens up a bit more space for the additional complex circuitry that the 150-watt charger needs.

The battery itself relies heavily on algorithms that will keep track of and monitor the charging current delivered to the battery. This will protect the battery from wearing out, overheating and rapid degradation, something that is very much a risk with batteries that are charged at very quick speeds. Phone makers have done a fair job of negating this possibility, something seen with Xiaomi’s efforts as well.

For OnePlus, the AI algorithms keep an eye on a lot of metrics, such as battery temperature, how the phone may be heating up - there will be a marked difference doing this in an AC room vs a non-AC room - and the quality of current. Much of the credit for this goes to MediaTek’s new AI processing unit. Getting from 0% to 30% battery in less than 4 minutes and around 19 minutes to 100% is no joke. It is incredibly convenient.

Beyond the juicing up capabilities, the OnePlus 10R is carrying on the “R” series legacy, which is a bit complicated in its own sense. But you can understand what OnePlus is trying to achieve. This is a more youthful take on a powerful Android phone, perhaps half a step below the flagship-esque criteria. There was the OnePlus 9R from early last year, the 9RT around six months later and now the OnePlus 10R. Therefore, there is no compromise on the specs (including the finer details that can otherwise easily be cost-cut) that will define the overall experience.

We quite like the direction OnePlus has taken with the 10R, with the MediaTek Dimensity 8100 chip (this is a 5-nanometre chip), the most powerful from Qualcomm’s direct rival. That does two things — first, OnePlus 10R is well differentiated from the OnePlus 10 series (that runs the latest Snapdragon chips, and we expect the OnePlus 10 to join the OnePlus 10 Pro soon) and secondly, helps the phone stay away from well-documented heating issues that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip (this is 4-nanometre) has exhibited in multiple phones. Alongside, the UFS 3.1 storage standard, storage space options and RAM are on par with the best ones.

No doubt, the OnePlus 10R is a pretty looking phone. The flat slab sides, the boxy design and the very acceptable colour tones, don’t offer any alienating choices. It doesn’t have the slider key for the ring, silent and vibrate modes, which can be counted as a surprising miss (that’s perhaps more acceptable on a Nord phone, but not here). There’s Gorilla Glass 5 at the front, and while we hear the rumblings of discontent already, the plastic back and sides feel good to hold and the fit as well as finish don’t give us a reason to complain. Plastic on a phone’s body doesn’t make it inferior in any way to metal.

Gaming has always been an important part of the positioning of OnePlus’ “R” series phones, and continues to be so. It has HyperBoost Gaming, the larger suite of tools for gamers, includes something called the GPA Frame Stabilizer. This also uses AI to understand system performance and how it may be changing (heating, background apps and battery drain) to prevent a sudden slowdown of gameplay. The performance will be tempered down gradually to protect the phone and the components, rather than an abrupt introduction of stuttering.

It is a curious choice of the triple cameras OnePlus has gone with — a 50-megapixel wide camera, an 8-megapixel ultra wide camera and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. For most photos (or should we say all?), you would want to stick with the primary wide camera. That is, for the most detailing. But we do notice the somewhat warm reproduction of colours in each photo in daytime or good light, with a certain dialling up of illumination in the shadow areas. This seems to a fallout of trying to make the camera better at getting details in low-light photos, but spoils the dynamic range otherwise. We recommend avoiding the ultra-wide and macro cameras — the former struggles with focus and crispness, while the latter returns washed-out colours at most times.

Would you buy the OnePlus 10R or perhaps wait for the expected OnePlus 10 or bite the bullet with a now-a-generation older OnePlus 9 series? For us, a part of that answer totally depends on how important the camera is for you. The OnePlus 10R has one weak spot (and it is a major weak spot, at least till software updates make things somewhat better — the hardware limitations can never be eliminated), and that’s the camera. Beyond the realms of the camera, this is a phone that’s doing well on performance, experience and design elements. OnePlus, despite the changes to OxygenOS, remains one of the better Android skins around. That in itself may be important to many users, who may struggle with complicated interfaces that some rivals throw at them.

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