The OnePlus 10 Pro has a huge scrolling issue and it makes the phone unusable.
In a nutshell, the phone exhibits massive stutters and lags when scrolling in certain apps. My understanding is that this is due to the way OnePlus has set up the dynamic refresh rate system on the display.
Before we continue, here is a demo of how this works. First, let me try to scroll through an average Instagram timeline, which over time has become populated with more videos than photos. The meaning of this will be explained later.
Now here’s scrolling in Flamingo, a third-party Twitter app. While Flamingo is no longer sold on the Play Store, it continues to update.
Scrolling in the two apps is different but noteworthy either way. However, the important thing to note is the little refresh rate counter in the top left corner of the phone’s screen.
To understand what’s going on, you need to know how the display is configured to work. The maximum refresh rate of 120Hz is not permanent and the display may clock down to various other values depending on what is happening on the screen. Some of the values I noted down include 90Hz, 60Hz, 30Hz, 10Hz, 5Hz, and even 1Hz. The reason for lowering the refresh rate is simply to save some power.
Compared to previous OnePlus phones, the OnePlus 10 Pro is extremely aggressive when it comes to lowering its refresh rate. Unfortunately, it also tends to do this even when it’s not supposed to.
One of the examples we gave in our review is when you have Apple Music open and the lyrics automatically scroll on the screen. You’re not manually interacting with the screen, so it never reaches the full 120Hz refresh rate. However, because the phone throttles down to an aggressive 30Hz, the auto-scrolling of letters looks noticeably choppy. The phone seems somewhat aware of movement on the screen and can go up to 60Hz as text scrolls up, but it doesn’t always do that and even if it does, 60Hz still looks noticeably worse than 120Hz.
However, the worst offenders are the apps you actively interact with. Instagram is perhaps the best example of this; the app has static images and video elements. The software is designed to reduce the refresh rate when it detects a video on the screen at 30Hz or 60Hz, depending on the video (OnePlus doesn’t know about 24/48fps and 25/50fps videos, but that’s a discussion for another). day).
Now, whenever you scroll through your timeline and a video comes up, the screen instantly drops to 60Hz or even 30Hz on a knee-jerk reaction. This happens while you’re still actively interacting with the device, making the entire scrolling experience comically bad.
The 60fps video above should give you an idea of that, but you can’t quite capture what it feels like to be slammed between 120Hz, 60Hz, and even 30Hz back and forth with a single swipe of your finger. And it is the change that causes the biggest problem; while 60Hz alone is not ideal, a consistent 60Hz is perfectly usable. But ping ponging between 60hz and 120hz as you scroll feels really terrible and just can’t be used.
The example with Flamingo is particularly unpleasant. Here, there are no video elements playing on the screen. However, the phone exhibits a strange rubber band effect when scrolling, where it simply moves from side to side with a delayed response that is hard to explain. This is so bad that you can see it even in 30fps video. The screen is in such a hurry to go down to 1Hz that it forgets the user is still scrolling and it doesn’t seem like it can get back up fast enough either.
While Instagram and Flamingo are two of the worst offenders I’ve come across, scrolling is pretty bad even in other apps. The screen will just randomly stay in 60Hz mode for long periods of time while scrolling through apps, only to correct itself after scrolling a bit more. It’s often hard to tell what caused the screen to drop its refresh rate mid-use and it seems to have a mind of its own.
I won’t go any further into the point, as the two videos above are all you need to see. The problem is that the phone has had this problem since we first got it before it was released, and the problem has persisted through two subsequent software updates (the phone is currently at A.13). The second update actually made it worse, especially on Flamingo, which was mostly usable before. As is often the case, we had mentioned the issue with OnePlus in the past, not mentioning including it in our Day 1 review.
This is an expensive phone and we expect much better. An issue like this would not be acceptable even on a budget device, so there is no reason why we should continue to ignore it on a flagship device.
At this point, all we can do is issue a PSA and recommend against purchasing the phone until this issue is fixed. The purpose of this is to ensure that the company takes it into account and works on a solution. We will provide an update when that happens. Until then, caveat emptor.