OnePlus Pad Review: Finally, a Great Android Tablet

Let’s be honest, Android tablets have long been a failure. It’s why the words tablet and iPad are almost synonymous these days. Every year, Apple made tweaks to its mobile operating system to optimize it for its tablets—going so far as to eventually separate it out as a standalone OS called iPadOS—while Google only periodically offered its attention to the Android tablet space.

I bought the Nexus 7, one of Google’s first tablets (made by Asus), back in 2013, and I used it to death. It was compact and easy to use, and I never felt a similar level of attachment with another Android tablet since—until now, with the new OnePlus Pad. OnePlus’ first tablet is a slick machine with powerful hardware and the right software that encourages you to use it for more than just entertainment. With this slate, Android tablets are starting to finally feel like a viable alternative to the iPad and a computer you can reliably use for work and play.

Clean Slate

Some of the success of the OnePlus Pad has to do with the operating system itself. It runs Android 13, which, as promised by Google last year, has several tablet-friendly optimizations that make interacting and multitasking with a larger screen a little easier. That includes more first-party apps designed to make use of the larger screen real estate.

That’s not to say OnePlus hasn’t added any of its own perks. I’m writing this review, for instance, on the Pad with split-screen mode turned on. I have one Chrome tab on the left of the screen, and another on the right with reference material. You can induce this split-screen mode pretty easily in any app with just a two-finger swipe down on the screen.

Photograph: OnePlus

Apps can also float, not unlike Slide View on an iPad. There’s a little tray of (customizable) apps you can pull out from the right side of the screen. Tap on one, and the app will open as a floating window you can partially resize. When I’m in split-screen mode, I open up Slack or Gmail in floating view as a third app to quickly check a notification without having to completely leave the apps I’m working in. Multitasking feels pretty darn fluid on this machine, and this is important. Before, working for long stretches on an Android tablet was a pain in the rear. Now, I actually don’t mind spending a workday on the OnePlus Pad.

It helps that both cameras are positioned in the center too. Neither the 8-MP selfie camera nor the 13-MP rear camera are anything to write home about (video quality is adequate), but the former is in a good spot for video meetings and the camera can follow your face if you’re shifting around in your seat, like Center Stage on the iPad. This works in Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. I took a meeting on the Pad with Microsoft Teams and the camera stayed close to my face, and I used the floating window mode for Google Docs to take notes at the same time. It was effortless.

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