At first glance, the new OnePlus Pad looks like solid competition for iPad, with a beautiful 11.6-inch screen and a $479 price tag.
But a closer look shows the computer suffers from the same crippling flaw as every other Android tablet.
OnePlus Pad hardware is solid
Apple made almost half the tablets sold in the world during the December 2022 quarter. No Android-maker so far can sell even half as many, but the hardware for the OnePlus Pad seems like it ought to be able to change that.
The 11.6-inch display boasts an impressive 144Hz max refresh rate, and a 2,800-by-2,000-pixel resolution. Reviewer comments about the screen sound quite positive.
Plus, the new OnePlus tablet comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and runs a modified version of Android called OxygenOS 13.1 on a MediaTek Dimensity 9000 processor. That’s a bit slow — a PCMag review says the tablet scored 2,123 on the Geekbench 6 multi-core variant. Compare that to the 3,685 earned by the low-end iPad 9.
OnePlus also put in some nice touches. The 8MP front-facing camera is located on the long edge of tablet, something iPad desperately needs. And the screen bezels are slim.
It can be turned into a laptop with a clip-on keyboard stand and stylus, both sold separately. That matches iPad.
MKBHD had plenty of nice things to say about the OnePlus Pad hardware.
OnePlus honestly made a better value version of the iPad. But will it pull people from iPad land? pic.twitter.com/hqhchx7LvM
— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) April 28, 2023
Software is the problem
While that all sounds pretty good, the reason Android tablets like the OnePlus Pad can’t compete with iPad isn’t hardware, it’s software. But not the Android OS — the selection of third-party apps for tablets is, well, pathetic compared to what’s available for iPadOS.
“There just aren’t enough Android apps designed to take advantage of a bigger screen,” says the Engadget review of the OnePlus Pad. “There are also numerous apps, like Reddit and Instagram, that simply don’t run in landscape orientation at all.”
PCMag said, “The iPad has a far better app selection (particularly for work).”
And The Verge said, “The perennial complaint with Android tablets is that there are so few apps that take advantage of a tablet’s larger screen, which makes them a hard sell compared to the iPad. That doesn’t change with the OnePlus Pad.”
This limitation leaves users of these tablets depending almost entirely on the Google software that’s bundled with Android OS. Or apps coded for smartphones, clumsily blown up onto a large display. These frequently work only in portrait mode.
As noted by the reviews cited here, third-party software is not a problem for iPad at all. There are many thousands of applications that take full advantage of the large screens built into iPadOS devices. And that’s one key reason why iPad is so very popular.
If you’re nevertheless intrigued by the OnePlus Pad, it can be preordered starting Friday with deliveries beginning May 15.
Correction: An earlier version of this story used an incorrect product name for the OnePlus Pad.