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5 things we want to see from OnePlus in 2023
It’s fair to say that OnePlus had a mixed 2022 from a critical point of view. The OnePlus 10 Pro was a regression in some ways compared to its predecessor, the OnePlus 10T was a throwback to the OnePlus One in both good and bad ways, and the company expanded to Xiaomi-like ecosystem offerings. The manufacturer also announced that it would match Samsung’s hefty update commitment for an unspecified number of phones.
The firm had a somewhat disappointing year in some other areas, though. OnePlus surrendered its number one spot in the Rs 30,000+ (~$363 and higher) market to Apple and Samsung in India. The company also continues to be lumped in the “other” section when it comes to North American market share, while Google has powered on to earn a top-five spot.
Needless to say, we have some ideas on how OnePlus can improve in 2023. Here’s what we want to see from the Chinese brand in the new year.
No-compromise photography for flagships
The OnePlus 10 Pro represents a step back for the company’s photography efforts. The early 2022 flagship delivered a downgraded ultrawide camera compared to the OnePlus 9 Pro while also offering the same aging 8MP 3x telephoto camera with ho-hum zoom capabilities. Our review criticized the low-light snaps in general too.
The OnePlus 10 Pro was a big step in the wrong for photography, after the well-received OnePlus 9 Pro.
So we hope OnePlus makes some effort to deliver a no-compromise camera experience both in terms of hardware and software. We’d be keen to see a one-inch main camera, a more capable ultrawide shooter, a solid periscope lens, and top-notch night shots aboard the OnePlus 11. Will we actually see this wishlist come true with the upcoming OnePlus 11? Probably not, but we still want better software processing and improved secondary cameras, at the very least.
Things were much worse for the OnePlus 10T, as it was effectively a mid-ranger in terms of its imaging experience. Needless to say, we’d love for OPPO to pool resources for a truly great OnePlus camera experience in 2023 instead of just taking the Hasselblad branding for its own phones.
Stop with the water resistance chicanery
The OnePlus 10 Pro offers a welcome IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, but there’s one catch. This rating is restricted to the T-Mobile version of the handset. This comes after the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 9 took the same approach, only offering an IP68 rating for the carrier models.
This needlessly convoluted approach to water resistance ratings also extended to the OnePlus 10T, which only received an IP54 splash resistance rating in the US. Customers living elsewhere didn’t get this rating.
It’s especially irksome to see OnePlus nickel-and-dime unlocked OnePlus 10 Pro buyers when the phone retailed for $900 at launch. If cheaper devices like the Pixel 6 series, Pixel 7 duo, Pixel 6a, and Samsung Galaxy A53 can offer IP67 ratings at the minimum across variants, why can’t OnePlus do the same for its top flagship and the T series?
A streamlined Nord portfolio globally
OnePlus continued its march of Nord phones in 2022, with the Nord CE 2, CE 2 Lite, N20, 2T, N20 SE, and N300 all launching this year. It’s a bit of a challenge to tell the difference between the devices, but another major issue is that OnePlus has effectively split its Nord line into US phones and global handsets.
Unfortunately, the US tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to Nord releases. While the US saw the Nord N20, N20 SE, N200, and N300 over the last couple of years, it missed out on some competitive devices like the original Nord, Nord 2, Nord CE 2 series, and more.
OnePlus needs one simple portfolio of Nord phones to rule them all.
We really hope OnePlus decides to offer a set Nord product line around the world, as it’s clear that the US is often getting scrappy seconds. A more streamlined, global product line would also help each device stand out and should translate into more resources behind each device for longer-term software support.
Bring extended updates to Nord devices
OnePlus offers the standard two OS updates and three years of security patches for mid-range Nord devices. We’d like to see the company do a little better on this front, such as offering four years of security patches, if not three OS as well. But this current policy is still better than the update pledge for low-end Nord devices frequently found in the US.
The cheapest Nord handsets see just one OS update and two years of security patches. That’s frankly terrible and below Google’s recommendations of two OS updates and two years of security patches. This is particularly disappointing when phones like the Nord N20 and N10 shipped with outdated software to begin with.
We, therefore, implore OnePlus to offer two or more OS updates for its cheapest handsets, along with three or four years of security patches. This is particularly necessary in light of customers holding on to phones for three or more years today.
A more polished, consistent Oxygen OS
Back in February, OnePlus announced that it would abandon an effort to unify Oxygen OS and OPPO’s Color OS skin. This plan would’ve seen the two skins sharing the Color OS codebase. However, OnePlus subsequently decided that the two skins would “remain separate from each other with their own distinct properties.” That said, the two still retain some shared development resources.
As such, we thought Oxygen OS on the OnePlus 10 Pro felt like a rough mishmash of Color OS and Oxygen OS in our review. There’s nothing wrong with Color OS; it’s one of the better skins around. However, we found discrepancies in font size between the gallery app and the rest of the skin, bugs that resulted in missing notifications, and a general loss of identity. The latter complaint was echoed in our second-opinion review as well.
The Color OS trappings are painfully obvious when using Oxygen OS on recent OnePlus phones.
We hope to see a more consistent Oxygen OS from a visual and style perspective, as it’s pretty much just a Color OS skin right now. In fact, Oxygen OS 13 looks very much like Color OS 13, down to the same “Aquamorphic Design” language. So we don’t have much hope for a more visually distinctive OnePlus skin in 2023. But at the very least, OnePlus needs to iron out the functional kinks to deliver a more reliable experience.
That’s all we want to see from OnePlus in 2023. What do you want to see from the company next year? Let us know in the comments section below!