OnePlus, the popular smartphone brand, dives into the tablet market with the launch of the all-new beautifully designed OnePlus Pad. The move comes at a time when Google is making significant changes to Android to improve the tablet experience for users (and laptops and foldables too!).
With the introduction of the OnePlus Pad, OnePlus is poised to capitalize on these changes while also feeding into its own broader ecosystem of devices and services. At the same time, the launch coincides with slowing growth in the tablet market, making it a risky move for the company — but one that could well pay off.
With Google’s recent changes to Android 12, 13 and 14, the big-screen tablet experience is set to improve dramatically. Notably, Android 13 added cross-device functionality that mimics Apple’s, making it easier for other Android phone and tablet makers to put together a cohesive hardware ecosystem. Google has been setting the course for this since 2021.
It introduced Android 12L and launched it in March 2022 with a more thoughtful, better-designed user interface that took advantage of larger form factors. With Android 13, it has taken this work further and also rebuilt the vast majority of its Android apps to reflect the large screen surface. Alongside this, the company encouraged the development of tablets by adding cross-device functions. Your iPad and iPhone work well together? The same goes for your Android phone and Android tablet, regardless of the brand. Well, potentially anyway.
These are examples of how Google envisions apps that make the most of big screens. Google
With Android 14 ready to launch, Google has also doubled down on cross-functionality. In other words, although tablets were once viewed as a risky investment and side hustle, Google has helped lower the barrier to entry for all market participants. It’s worth noting that Google is getting back into the tablet game, and the rise of Chromebooks means that convincing developers to build their apps for larger displays has become a top priority for the company. It also means that smaller, resource-constrained companies like OnePlus don’t have to build a tablet-optimized version of Android entirely with their own apps. Google did all the work. It’s the promise of Android, but finally reimagined for tablets.
Maurice Klaehne, Senior Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, told Digital Trends via email: “OnePlus is taking small but steady steps towards diversifying its portfolio, which is a good step if it can keep its messaging and product experience consistent. It recognizes that some of the markets it wants to penetrate require a broader approach to capture attention and market share, which is why it chooses this 1+4+X approach outlined at the Cloud 11 event . We’ve seen other Android OEMs already have the interconnectivity piece, and OnePlus now entering this arena is tabletop play.
OnePlus is making small but steady steps to diversify its portfolio.
According to IDC’s Jitesh Ubrani, “The OnePlus Pad comes at a time when growth in the tablet market is slowing. Google’s work on improving Android for larger screens, coupled with efforts to ensure a cohesive experience across all device types, goes a long way toward improving the tablet experience for every user and helps brands leverage their diverse connecting products to each other. It also helps parent company Oppo create a broader ecosystem of devices and services while reducing software development costs, as some of Oppo’s can leverage Google’s work instead of developing their own solutions. However, the OnePlus Pad will not be the only beneficiary as every other tablet maker will reap the same benefits.”
At the same time, it is questionable whether this could really be a resurgence of Android tablets. Big-name Android tablet maker Samsung balked at unveiling the Galaxy Tab S9 series of tablets alongside the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra. The S22 saw the debut of the Tab S8 for comparison. Some reports say this is due to economic reasons (and the Tab S7’s delay was linked to the COVID lockdown and related supply chain crises), but if someone as big as Samsung couldn’t come up with compelling tablets, then it is it might be a losing battle. Of course, tablets don’t have fixed boot cycles like phones. Even Apple’s tablets launch on a schedule that’s best described as “when they’re ready.”
“In terms of the tablet launch cycle, Samsung recently went through an 18-month cycle for its Galaxy Tab S. The Galaxy Tab S7 was launched in August 2020, while the Galaxy Tab S8 range was launched in February 2022,” says Techsponential’s Avi Greengart. “If the pattern continues, we should launch a Galaxy Tab this summer/fall S9 see, probably alongside a new foldable.”
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends
Kleahne added, “The current technology market is sluggish, making it difficult to bring new devices to market. Many OEMs are expecting H2 to stimulate demand, especially as many tech products launch ahead of the holiday season. The tablet market declined in 2022 due to supply chain issues and macroeconomic pressures and we are still seeing the impact now in the first quarter of 2023. Mainly due to external circumstances.
The OnePlus Pad couldn’t have come at a better time.
Overall, the launch of the OnePlus Pad couldn’t have come at a better time. Android hasn’t been tablet-ready in the past — despite manufacturers’ best efforts, and cobblering together an Apple-style integration operation was something that was costly and of little benefit.
Google has done a lot of software work behind the scenes to mitigate both of these flaws, and it’s clear tablet makers have been paying attention. The OnePlus Pad could be the first of many if it succeeds. Of course, as with other software initiatives from Google, tracking is key. With Google working on its own tablet and foldable, there’s no need to worry in the short term.