When OnePlus emerged in the market a few years ago, no one quite knew what to expect from this small Chinese outfit. It has since risen to a position of dominance in India's premium smartphone segment, beating the likes of Apple and Samsung in the process. What's the next step for this rapidly growing company? Televisions, of course.
Although OnePlus' smartphones are no longer as affordable as they used to be, they do still usually have distinct price and specification advantages over the competition, which helps their sales. OnePlus now wants to do the same thing with televisions, following brands such as Xiaomi and Motorola in launching TVs in India. The OnePlus TV has been discussed and dissected in leaks and teasers for weeks now, but today we have the final product on review: the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro.
Priced at Rs. 99,900 the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro is the more expensive of the two TV models being launched by OnePlus, the other being the Rs. 69,900 OnePlus TV Q1. The Pro version has a lot going for it, including a 55-inch 4K-resolution QLED screen, smart connectivity, and a unique motorised soundbar built into the TV itself. We review the new OnePlus TV Q1 Pro to see if it can compete with offerings from Samsung and Sony in the premium space in India.
Similar to the OnePlus phones, a lot of attention seems to have gone into the design of the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro, making this a considerably more striking TV than most options in the mid-range and premium price segments. The 55-inch 4K panel has slim borders all around, and a small, discreet OnePlus logo in the middle of the bottom bezel.
The back of the OnePlus TV has a carbon fibre finish, which is nice to have if you use the table stand and place this TV where the rear might be visible.
Although we had our OnePlus TV review unit wall-mounted, users have the option to use the included table stand, which is unlike most others we've seen. The ‘spine' of the stand is a long bar that attaches to the TV at two points — one in the middle, and another at the top. The size of these attachment points doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in their durability, but there's obviously no way to say how they will turn out to be one way or the other.
The stand itself looks good, and is a different approach to typical TV design. However, we did feel that it was somewhat distracting us from the screen, which is of course the most important part of any TV. Since there is some space between the spine and the TV, you will need a deep enough table to place the TV on securely, though the base doesn't have a huge footprint. .
The TV is quite slim, and has just one module for the ports, which faces sideways to the right of the TV. This module has a magnetic cover with a small opening for the power cord, and maybe one cable (such as an HDMI cable) to fit through, but depending on how many cables and devices you have connected to this TV, this cover might have to stay off, as was the case for us. There are four HDMI ports, two USB ports, an Ethernet port, a Toslink port for digital optical audio, and a single AV-in socket that can be used with an included adapter for connectivity with older non-HDMI devices.
One thing about the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro definitely stands out and sets it apart from most options in its price category — the motorised soundbar. This is also the sole difference between the OnePlus TV Q1 and Q1 Pro. The soundbar features eight front-firing speakers — two woofers, four full-range drivers, and two tweeters — producing a total sound output of 50W. When the TV is off or in standby mode, the soundbar remains within its fabric-wrapped shell at the back of the TV. When turned on, the soundbar rolls forward and extends outwards below the screen.
The entire movement is silent and quite impressive to look at, with lights in the soundbar drawing your attention to the motorised movement. This adds a bit of flair and style that we quite liked about the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro. If you don't want that or are worried about wearing the motor out, you can choose to let the soundbar stay extended permanently, through the OnePlus TV's settings. The light settings can't be adjusted, and it's worth pointing out that the soundbar causes the TV to stick out just a bit more than usual when wall-mounted.
The OnePlus TV has a 55-inch QLED screen with a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels. This panel features local dimming for better black levels, but the number of dimming zones hasn't been specified — it does appear to be a decent number, though. The TV supports HDR up to the Dolby Vision format, as well as 4K resolution, on all four HDMI ports.
Some TV manufacturers have already been adventurous with the idea of the remote, but OnePlus takes things a touch further. Minimalism seems to be the theme here, and the remote is admittedly attention-grabbing in its design and form, making it a lot like the remote of the Apple TV streaming device. The metal unit is slick, compact, and very good looking, and it feels great as well. It's powered by a built-in battery, and can be recharged through its USB Type-C port. While we weren't able to test the remote's battery life, we do expect it to run for a few weeks between charges, if not longer.
The remote itself has just a few buttons, doing away with a lot of options that you'd think were necessary. Just like the Apple TV remote, there's no dedicated power button — the OnePlus button serves multiple functions, including controlling power. There is a D-pad for navigation, home and back buttons, a Google Assistant button for voice commands and general queries, an options button, and an Amazon Prime Video hotkey. The volume controls are in the form of a rocker on the right side of the remote, and although it felt a bit strange at first, we did get used to it soon enough.
When the TV is off, the OnePlus button turns it on with a short press, and when on, a long press brings up the power menu. You can let the OnePlus TV run down the 15-second timer and put the TV to sleep (the same as standby on most televisions), power it down completely, or restart it like with a smartphone. We definitely missed having a dedicated button to switch between source devices (the TV starts off by default on the Android TV home screen) and a mute button to quickly silence audio.
All of this gives us the impression that OnePlus wants to bring existing smartphone design and software philosophies to the TV. Interactions with the OnePlus TV are indeed smartphone-like. It's an interesting implementation, but is perhaps too minimalist and will require a lot of relearning. This will include button placement, using software to control things that should have been possible through the remote, and maybe even depending heavily on Google Assistant to get around.
The OnePlus TV has a built-in Chromecast like most other Android TVs, and uses what the company calls a Gamma Colour Magic processor for picture processing. Interestingly, the top of the television has a pop-out cover that exposes a USB Type-C port. The purpose of this port isn't specified, but it could be used for a webcam or some other attachable accessories in the future.
The TV also supports HDMI CEC, letting the OnePlus remote be used to control HDMI devices such as Blu-Ray players and streaming dongles such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, and the functionality worked fine with a Fire TV Stick during our review.
Some early rumours suggested that the OnePlus TV would have its own custom firmware built on top of Android TV, but the end product isn't quite what we were expecting. The OnePlus TV runs on Android TV, but does have minor software customisations, includingOxygenPlay (a content curation service by OnePlus), and enhanced smartphone integration through the OnePlus Connect app.
What we end up with isn't quite the same as the stock version of Android TV that we recently experienced on the Sony A9G, although it is quite close to that and the core experience is familiar. The differences are small, and are mostly seen on the home screen and in the Google Play Store. Most popular apps are available, including streaming services, social media apps, and games.
Apps that are supported, including YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar, are the typical versions that are available for smart TVs, and all of them support content streaming at up to 4K resolution along with HDR and Dolby Vision (if available). Notably, Netflix isn't supported yet, but OnePlus has clarified that this is in the works, and the Netflix app will be coming to the OnePlus TV in the coming months. Various Indian streaming services have dedicated apps available, with some, including Zee5 and Hotstar, coming preinstalled.
OxygenPlay is the biggest addition to the interface. This puts a host of curated content from multiple streaming services on the home screen, and gives you easy access through the remote. The service currently has various movies and TV shows from Hungama Play, Zee5, and Eros Now.
We found that while we needed active Zee5 and Eros Now subscriptions, and had to be logged into their respective apps for their content to work, Hungama Play worked directly through OxygenPlay. This came in handy, giving the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro a ready library of streaming content without any need for a subscription. The available content was decent as well, with a good collection of movies and shows across genres.
When not in use for some time, the OnePlus TV activates its screensaver, which is by default a collection of ‘Shot on OnePlus' photos, along with screens that show the time and weather. This screensaver can be customised, and we liked having pleasant images pop up when the TV was idle.
We did find the software to be a bit buggy at times, and it definitely did not live up to the hype and expectations that OnePlus has created. One example of this is the inability to remember the previously used picture mode when the TV is set to Dolby Vision, which uses its own special picture settings. Switching back would often change the picture mode to one we didn't want, adding unnecessary steps to the process of restoring the previous settings.
OnePlus has touted its smartphone-TV integration in the buildup to the launch of the OnePlus TV, and one of these features is the OnePlus Connect app. We were given the app in the form of an APK file for the review, prior to its official release, and we installed it on an Android smartphone. The app has a bunch of features that can be used with the television, but requires both the smartphone and television to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
The app lets you use your smartphone as a touch remote for the OnePlus TV, quickly switching between apps, and also browsing through content on OxygenPlay. We also liked the local casting feature, which was able to quickly and efficiently cast video files on our smartphone. It worked well for short clips, but we encountered connectivity issues when trying to stream longer clips.
Another feature touted by OnePlus is TypeSync, which lets you input text on the TV through a connected smartphone through the app. We were, however, unable to use the TypeSync feature at all, and had to use the remote to input text on the TV during our review. Some of these issues may be due to the fact that we were using an unreleased version of the app for our review; and the consumer release could have these kinks ironed out.
While we personally prefer OLED screens for the superior black levels they can achieve, QLED screens have their own advantages. QLED, or Quantum-Dot LED, is a screen technology developed and promoted primarily by Samsung. We weren't disappointed with this choice for the OnePlus TV, and quite liked the overall package, from specifications and features to picture and sound quality.
We tested the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro with a variety of content including streaming video across popular resolutions and HDR formats, as well as our own test files. We used the smart interface of the TV as well as an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to stream content from Netflix in Dolby Vision HDR. When we first turned on the TV, we found its colour and picture tuning to be way off, but we were able to fix this with some careful adjustment of the settings, though we are not sure if most people will be able to do this.
As we always do with a new top-end TV, we started with Our Planet on Netflix, streaming in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision. The first thing we noticed is that some of the TV's picture settings are locked when Dolby Vision content is playing, but this isn't a bad thing at all since the tuning is geared around colour accuracy and sharpness. The show looked absolutely brilliant, with natural colours, high peak brightness, good contrast, and excellent detail thanks to the use of a QLED panel. In the most intensely lit scenes, the TV was searingly bright, but enjoyable to watch nonetheless.
Dolby Vision content is, of course, geared to bring out the best in any TV, but we were impressed with the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro's performance nonetheless. Performance was similar with HDR10 content, including shows on Amazon Prime Video such as Hanna and The Grand Tour. We did however notice that colours were sometimes overexposed with HDR10 content in some scenes. OnePlus says that this is a bug in its early software, and a fix is already in the works.
Regular 4K content, including Sacred Games and many of our test files, looked decent as well. Colours looked good here, but seemed somewhat amped up and a bit too punchy as compared to Dolby Vision and even HDR10. Nonetheless, we liked the picture performance of the OnePlus TV in terms of colours and sharpness, especially when compared to more affordable 4K LED models.
Black levels, while not quite the same as on a good OLED TV such as the Sony A9G, were pretty decent. The local dimming feature — which is on by default — makes a significant difference here, improving black levels without very noticeable blooming (an effect where glow from the backlight is visible in certain parts of the display). The high number of local dimming zones means that blooming and colour issues are kept to a minimum, which helps in its performance.
We watched the popular San Junipero episode of Black Mirror, and were able to notice a bit of blooming. However, it wasn't as distracting as on the LG SM9000 TV, and was easy enough to brush off. Turning local dimming off did ever so slightly improve the levels at the cost of the picture being a bit less bright overall. We felt that keeping local dimming at the ‘Low' level achieved the best balance of good black levels and minimal distraction.
We did notice issues during scenes with fast motion, which didn't seem to go away even with all post-processing settings switched off. Specifically, we noticed a fair number of artefacts due to motion interpolation in scenes with rapid motion; action scenes or fast camera pans exposed this issue in the TV.
Artefacts aside, the motion itself was very smooth, which can often be a good thing, but there was no way to reduce smoothening or allow for a bit of motion blur in case you prefer it that way. Naturally, content such as movies and some TV shows that need to factor in motion blur did suffer a bit in terms of picture quality due to the previously mentioned issues with artefacts showing.
Sharpness was good across formats, but fast motion once again brought out similar issues. With slower motion, we liked how the TV sharpened the picture, with a pleasing, easy sharpness similar to the Sony A9G and Sony X95G TVs that we recently reviewed.
We then switched to full-HD and HD content, watching shows such as Parks and Recreation and Workin' Moms, as well as various videos on YouTube. We were impressed with the picture quality with full-HD content, with the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro doing a decent job with upscaling to provide picture performance that was nearly on par with native 4K content.
Standard definition content fell a bit short on quality, with a lot of visible pixelation and blurry edges. OnePlus does of course like to market itself towards tech-savvy users who are not very likely to watch a lot of standard-definition content, but the occasional old video on YouTube or even TV channels in SD resolution weren't quite as pleasant on the OnePlus TV as we'd have liked.
Thanks to the soundbar, the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro is among the best sounding TVs we've used in a while. The front-firing design, the multiple drivers, and the loudness make this a good audio solution, with the Q1 Pro largely negating any need for a dedicated soundbar or speaker system. We felt a decent amount of kick to the bass and sharpness in the highs, and were very impressed with how clean and well-tuned the sound was.
We tried Dolby Atmos on the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro, using one of our demo clips — a Dolby Atmos sampler file created by Dolby Laboratories itself. Sound quality was impressive, and we were able to detect proper directional tuning in the sound, along with a sense of realism and naturalism that we haven't heard from any other TV. There isn't a lot of Dolby Atmos content available, and we largely relied on the standard Dolby 5.1-channel tuning that's commonly used by major streaming services. This sounded pretty decent as well.
The OnePlus TV Q1 Pro is, in our opinion, an adventurous first attempt that gets many things right. We liked the picture quality, loved the sound quality, and found enough in the software to make this TV stand out. It's a bold product that attempts to change how TVs work in small but significant ways. There are some issues here — including a remote that's too minimalist, buggy software, and picture quality that requires a lot of tuning to start with and still isn't perfect — but for the most part this is a product that works well.
Perhaps the biggest issue with this TV is its pricing. OnePlus may be well known in the smartphone space, and customers might be convinced to spend large amounts on its phones, but we're not sure whether OnePlus can carry that goodwill over to the TV space. Buyers looking to spend this much on a TV would probably be inclined to go with more established brands such as Sony, Samsung, and LG, rather than taking a chance on a first-generation product from a much smaller company. It's a good TV for the price, but convincing the buyer of this might be difficult.
Evaluating the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro objectively, we like what's on offer. The overall package might include a lot of theatrics and hype about a TV that works like a smartphone (which isn't always a good thing), but the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro is a television we enjoyed living with, and so could you if you're looking at a decent, mid-premium option.
Price: Rs. 99,900
Is OnePlus TV Q1 Pro the 'Flagship Killer' of TVs? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.