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The OnePlus Open is great, but it has a silly problem

It's a head-scratcher, that's for sure.
By

Published onNovember 19, 2023

The OnePlus Open is probably my favorite foldable phone right now. It gets so many things right thanks, in part, to OPPO’s head start with the Find N series — but it’s not perfect. In fact, it has one flaw that’s so silly it stands out like a sore thumb against the rest of the well-polished package. Let’s talk about stylus support on the OnePlus Open or, rather, the lack thereof.

OnePlus Styl – Oh no

oneplus open multitasking in hand
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Get ready for this one because it’s enough to make your head spin. The OnePlus Open supports a stylus. In fact, it supports a stylus on both its internal and external displays. OnePlus also happens to make a stylus — the OnePlus Stylo, which it introduced alongside the OnePlus Pad in early 2023. However, the OnePlus Open doesn’t support the OnePlus Stylo. There’s simply no way to actually pair the two.

The reason that they won’t pair is that the Stylo relies on a magnetic connection to pair and charge with the OnePlus Pad. Once OnePlus decided to skip wireless charging altogether on its first foldable phone — something we’re unfortunately used to at this point — it left the Stylo high and dry as a Pad-only accessory. In fact, OnePlus originally told us that the Open wouldn’t support stylus input of any kind, even though we found a section in the settings menu for stylus preferences within minutes of receiving the device for review.

OnePlus makes a foldable, that foldable supports a stylus, OnePlus makes a stylus, but its foldable doesn't support its stylus. Go figure.

As it turns out, no stylus support was probably just a way for OnePlus to brush off the lack of first-party stylus support. Instead, you have to track down an OPPO Pen — a stylus introduced alongside the Find N2 — to pair it with your OnePlus Open. We haven’t picked up an OPPO Pen just yet, but it packs an internal battery and pairs via Bluetooth, which sounds like the dream setup for the OnePlus Open. If you do manage to grab an OPPO Pen, it will add extra features to your foldable, too, like serving as a remote camera shutter and delivering haptic feedback whenever you tap or draw on the display. Right now, picking up an OPPO Pen in the US is easier said than done, as you’ll have to find it in stock and import it from a retailer like AliExpress or Giztop.

It ultimately sounds like a pretty good workaround for the OnePlus Open, but OPPO’s Pen isn’t an excuse for an otherwise confusing decision. The stylus confusion isn’t the first time we’ve seen OnePlus stumble over something that should be simple and straightforward, either. It ranks up there with dropping wireless charging from the OnePlus 10T and OnePlus 11 after offering it on the OnePlus 10 Pro and swapping USB-C chargers for USB-A alternatives while offering a flimsy excuse.

Not launching a first-party stylus holds the OnePlus Open back in other ways, too. It would be the ideal way to navigate Open Canvas, the Open’s multitasking setup, and using a stylus as a remote camera shutter would push the already-great cameras just a little bit further.

Another bite at the apple

oneplus pad writing with stylo 1
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

No matter what excuse OnePlus offers, the Open’s unusual stylus setup feels like a case of the left hand not knowing what the right one is doing. In this case, however, we have two sets of hands in play. We have the dynamic of OnePlus and OPPO, but also the challenge of OnePlus and itself. For OnePlus and OPPO, it would have been reasonably simple to rebrand the OPPO Pen for OnePlus — that’s what they did for the rest of the phone, after all. As for OnePlus and itself, well, there’s not much excuse for launching a pricey Apple Pencil lookalike only to have it not work with your even more expensive foldable phone.

That said, there’s another solution to this problem, and it requires looking at another stylus-related stumble. Apple is guilty of a similar misstep with the iPad (10th generation). It rolled out an updated design to match the iPad Mini and Air but skipped over updating its stylus support. Instead of pairing with the much-improved Apple Pencil 2, the 10th-generation iPad is only compatible with the original Apple Pencil that you connect and charge via USB-C.

When in doubt, learn from Apple's mistakes.

Whereas the iPad Air and Mini have magnetic windows around their landscape-oriented selfie cameras for the Apple Pencil to attach to, the basic iPad (10th generation) does not. Without that window, there’s no way to connect the second-generation Apple Pencil — sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s likely a budget-based decision in Apple’s case, though, and we expect more from a premium foldable phone.

For once, there’s nothing wrong with learning from Apple’s mistakes — especially if you don’t want to search for an OPPO Pen in stock. OnePlus could learn from the Apple Pencil mix-up, taking some inspiration from having more than one type of stylus to draw from. It could just copy and paste the page from Apple’s book and create a USB-C version of its existing Stylo. Even if it feels like an Apple Pencil clone, simply having the option of a first-party stylus would go a long way in fleshing out OnePlus’ fledgling foldable ecosystem.

See price at Amazon
OnePlus Open
Solid cameras • Refined hardware • Alert slider
MSRP: $1,699.99
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See review

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