OnePlus 10 Pro has a major scrolling issue and that makes the phone’s border useless.
To put it simply, the phone exhibits massive strains and delays when scrolling in certain apps. My understanding is that this is caused by the way OnePlus has configured the dynamic refresh rate system on the screen.
Before we move on, here’s a demonstration of how this works. Let me first try scrolling through an average Instagram timeline that over time has been filled with more videos than photos. The significance of this will be explained later.
Now scroll down here in Flamingo, a third-party Twitter app. Although Flamingo is no longer sold in the Play Store, it continues to be updated.
The scrolling in the two apps is different, but remarkable in both ways. The important thing to note, however, is the small refresh rate counter in the upper left corner of the phone screen.
To understand what is happening, you need to know how the monitor is configured to work. The maximum 120Hz refresh rate is not permanent and the screen can be clocked down to several other values depending on what is happening on the screen. Some of the values I noticed include 90Hz, 60Hz, 30Hz, 10Hz, 5Hz and even 1Hz. The reason for turning down 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 reducing its refresh rate. Unfortunately, it also tends to do this, even when it is not meant 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 do not interact manually with the monitor, so it never goes up to the full 120Hz refresh rate. But because the phone ramps down to an aggressive 30Hz, the text’s automatic scrolling looks noticeably choppy. The phone seems somewhat aware of the movement on the screen and can go up to 60Hz when the text scrolls up, but it does not every time, and even though it does, 60Hz still looks significantly worse than 120Hz.
But the worse offenders are 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 slow down the refresh rate when it detects an on-screen video to either 30Hz or 60Hz depending on the video (OnePlus is not aware of 24 / 48fps and 25 / 50fps video, but that’s a discussion for another day) .
Every time you scroll through your timeline and a video appears, the display instantly drops to 60Hz or even 30Hz in a kneeling position. This happens while you are still actively interacting with the device, making the whole scrolling experience comically bad.
The 60fps video above should give you an idea of it, but it can not quite capture what it feels like to be whipped between 120Hz, 60Hz and even 30Hz back and forth within a single roll of your finger. And it is the shift that is causing the biggest problem; while 60Hz in itself is not ideal, a consistent 60Hz is perfectly usable. But being made to ping pong between 60Hz and 120Hz while scrolling feels really awful and is just not usable.
The example of Flamingo is particularly ugly. There are no video elements playing on the screen. However, the phone demonstrates a strange elastic effect when scrolling, where it just snaps back and forth with a delayed response that is difficult to explain. It’s so bad you can even see it in a 30fps video. The screen is so busy dropping down to 1Hz that it forgets that the user is still scrolling and also does not seem to ramp up fast enough again.
While Instagram and Flamingo are two of the worst offenders I’ve come across, the scrolling is very poor, even in other apps. The screen will just randomly keep itself in 60Hz mode for a long time while scrolling through apps, only to adjust itself after a little more scrolling. Often it is difficult to say what caused the screen to reduce its refresh rate in mid-use, and it seems to have its own mind.
I will not elaborate on the point further as the two videos above are all you need to watch. The problem is that the phone has had this issue since we first got it before its launch and the issue has persisted through two subsequent software updates (the phone is currently on A.13). The second update actually made it worse, especially in Flamingo, which was mostly usable before. As is often the case, we had brought the issue up with OnePlus earlier, not to mention included it in our day 1 review.
This is an expensive phone and we expect much better. A problem like this would not be acceptable even on a budget unit, so there is no reason why we should continue to ignore it on a flagship unit.
At this point, all we can do is issue a PSA and recommend not buying the phone until this issue is resolved. The purpose of this is to ensure that the company notices it and works on a fix. We provide an update when that happens. Until then, warning emptor.