ZDNET’s key takeaways
- OnePlus 12 is on sale now Starting price is $799. For a limited time, OnePlus will offer double storage (from 256GB to 512G) with a free 50W wireless charging dock.
- It’s the company’s most complete handset to date, with the fastest charging speed on the market (both wired and wireless), a flagship camera system, premium build quality and reliable performance.
- The lack of generative AI features is felt, but may not be an issue for many.
OnePlus is launching its first smartphone in 2024, riding on last year’s exceptional momentum OnePlus Open Foldable but the timing is a bit awkward; Not because the OnePlus 12 was already unveiled in China in December, but because it was presented to the US audience just a week after the debut of Samsung’s Galaxy S24 series.
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Samsung Unpacked was undoubtedly all about AI — it’s the mobile trend of the year, and we’re seeing it front and center in every possible phone, tablet, and laptop release going forward. The OnePlus 12 That’s something, too. But it’s unmistakably a phone first, AI companion second kind of device. And I like it that way.
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The latest OnePlus phone has a 4,500-nit display, an advanced camera system, and features that fans have longed for.
My fondness for the OnePlus 12 is part of a larger story. The device is the most complete handset from a company notorious for settling into small but precious areas — whether that’s excluding wireless charging, a good low-light camera, or an official IP rating. The OnePlus 12 has all three of these features, however, and at a very competitive price in today’s market: $799, to start.
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While that price is a $100 jump from last year’s OnePlus 11, the user experience is the difference very Notably, from the feel and polish of the marble-like FlowyEmerald finish to the way the device optimizes its RAM, of which it’s plenty (up to 16GB). I have the OnePlus 12, Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus, and Google Pixel 8 Pro on my desk right now — among other phones I can’t talk about yet — and the OnePlus looks the best to me. The edges of the device are curved in such a way that it sits smoothly in my hand and I’m not struggling to press any buttons.
Correction: I’m not struggling to press any buttons except As for the alert slider, which is now moved to the top left of the phone. For something that requires a toggle rather than a press, physically switching from “ring” to “vibrate” to “silent” feels more cumbersome than it should. Otherwise, I’m a fan of OnePlus’ industrial design, which feels a bit more distinctive now that both Samsung and Google have officially ditched the curved glass form factor.
Internally, the OnePlus 12 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which improves day-to-day performance and brings better efficiency to on-device AI applications. I had no problem speeding up the phone while playing demanding games, editing videos in Premiere Rush Fortnite And The genshin effect, or multitasking by playing a PiP (picture-in-picture) video. While the marketed peak brightness of 4,500 nits puts even the Galaxy S24’s 2,600 value to shame, I only found it a bit bright when outdoors.
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Aside from Google’s stock AI features like Magic Compose and Photomoji, there aren’t really any killer generative AI services with this model, as I mentioned in the introduction. That’s not a bad thing, especially if generative AI doesn’t factor into your lifestyle. After cycling between OnePlus and Samsung’s AI-heavy Galaxy S24 series, I haven’t found myself missing so many helpful features.
When asked about its position on AI, OnePlus told me that it has “committed significant R&D resources to the development of both on-device AI and cloud AI features” and “(will) introduce more innovative AI features in Q1 2024, with Includes “self-developed AIGC-related features.”
Where I wish OnePlus would flex its machine-learning muscles more is the camera — specifically, the telephoto lens. While the Sony LYT-808-backed, 50MP main camera does a great (and reliable) job of reproducing light and color in very natural tones, the telephoto lens falls short for me in two ways: distance and edge detection. Because the telephoto lens is capped at 3x optical zoom, shooting subjects that are farther away tends to produce images that are more washed out and lack detail. You can see some of mine Camera samples are here.
For images captured via the Hasselblad portrait mode, the phone is blurry and can struggle to apply a bokeh effect behind people with springy hairstyles. In either case, a visual engine that can help expand or identify things better would be of great help.
Ultimately, one of the most compelling reasons to buy a OnePlus phone is its battery life and charging speed. For the former, OnePlus offers a 5,400mAh battery, the largest in a mainstream smartphone. I comfortably used the device for a good day and half before charging.
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As for the latter, the OnePlus 12 is the fastest in its class, both wired and wireless. The 80W charger included in the box blew me away, and the 50W wireless charging support — which only works with OnePlus First-party docsTo be clear – beyond wired Charging rates of competing flagship phones.
ZDNET’s buying advice
At a starting price of $799, OnePlus 12 It might be the best phone you can buy at its price point, with its best feature set, 5G support for every major carrier (Verizon), fastest charging on the market, and an industrial design that screams premium. It’s also a great phone for users who haven’t quite bought into the AI craze.
The trade-offs are more unclear at this point, but from my few weeks of use, I’d still list the lack of generative AI features, the subpar telephoto lens, and the IP65 rating — which only It misses the mark on industry standards for water and dust resistance — as the most notable reason to think twice about the device. But if you can compromise, which is more subtle than ever, then I have no problem recommending the latest phone from OnePlus.