OnePlus has long been renowned for delivering phenomenal performance at a fraction of the price, so much so that the original device was the self proclaimed ‘flagship killer’.
Ten years on from the launch of the original OnePlus One, the OnePlus 12 promises to be a stunning device that can compete with the best in the market.
With an AMOLED display packing a 120Hz refresh rate, the latest Snapdragon processor, a beefy battery and incredible triple-camera set-up, let’s see if the OnePlus 12 has what it takes to reclaim the smartphone crown in our review!
The OnePlus 12 is the latest flagship from the Chinese brand, and it arrives boasting some stellar headline specifications, including the brand-new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, a minimum 256GB of storage, and a refreshed, record-breaking AMOLED display.
The OnePlus 12 has a sleek and premium design, elegantly crafted with a continued eye towards luxury craftsmanship, but this time being inspired by the unique beauty of nature…
Lofty aspirations, but when seen in the flesh (or rather, metallic frame and glassy rear), you can definitely see an exquisite attention to both detail and aesthetics, placing it firmly in premium smartphone circles.
The OnePlus 12 is available in two colours: Silky Black (reviewed) and the evocative Flowy Emerald, and the latter is where the influence of nature comes to life, with beautiful striations etched across its body said to echo the flowing water of the Dart River in New Zealand.
The black model isn’t any slouch either, with the dusky back creating a shimmering effect as it catches the light - both uniquely appealing in different ways.
The phone is quite similar to stablemates when it comes to size, measuring 163.3 x 75.8 x 9.2 mm and weighing 220g. For a frame of reference, that’s a shade heavier than Apple’s heftiest effort - the 15 Pro Max - which is 221g, and quite a bit lighter than Samsung’s latest, as the Galaxy S24 Ultra tips the scales at 232g.
The important thing is that despite the OnePlus 12’s off-centre cameras and huge battery (more on that later), it feels perfectly weighted and well-balanced in the hand - essential for both daily use and snapping photos.
A stealthy under-display fingerprint scanner under the display delivers rapid responses in the security stakes, whilst the iconic Alert Slider is well and truly back (as it has been since the 11), but has switched sides to now be nestled high up on the left side of the device.
Whilst we hold out hope for Alert Slider customisation, it remains essential when looking to swiftly silence a phone during a meeting or a tense standoff when trying to get the kids to sleep - a reassuring haptic buzz remains as you navigate between the three states of notification, and it remains an amazing USP we’re surprised more manufacturers don’t emulate.
When it comes to protection, despite an amazing addition in the form of Aqua Touch (more later), the OnePlus 12 has an official IP65 rating, which means it can withstand some water and dust, but stops short of being able to handle full submergence for any period of time.
Accentuating the positive, the rating actually marks an improvement over last year’s model (the OnePlus 11 was an IP64 rating, where the higher the better), but does stop short of our expectations.
With a phone so deeply inspired by nature, it’s a shame that the OnePlus 12 still runs the risk of being at the mercy of the elements when compared to other flagships.
The OnePlus 12 has a stunning display that offers a smooth and immersive viewing experience.
The 6.82-inch OLED screen has a QHD+ resolution of 3168 x 1440 pixels, which translates to a pixel density of 510 ppi. The screen supports a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate, naturally making everything fluid and responsive.
The screen also supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, as well as HDRVivid and comes draped in glory from independent screen review kings DisplayMate, who have given it an A+ rating and a ridiculous number of either matching or world-beating wins in everything from colour accuracy to visible screen resolution.
Tough to overstate that this is literally as good as it gets when it comes to looking at a smartphone - truly impressive stuff here!
One of the impressive features is an industry-leading peak brightness of 4500 nits, but a regular high brightness of 1600 nits - more than enough for great legibility in bright conditions.
The screen has a hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera, and retains a slight curve on the edges - a trend fast falling out of smartphone fashion in favour of super-flat displays, but welcome here.
The screen is bright, sharp, and colourful, with a wide colour gamut and excellent contrast.
The screen also has a low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) technology, which allows the screen to dynamically adjust the refresh rate based on the content, saving battery life.
One of the most fantastic display features - and one we’ll find tough to do without given the British weather - is Aqua Touch. A unique proprietary offering from OnePlus, this amalgam of hardware and software smarts enables the device to work perfectly even when wet.
Anyone familiar with the usual experience of trying to tap on a screen with water droplets will know about the ‘phantom swipes’ and presses as the phone tries to figure out what’s going on - incredibly annoying.
The OnePlus 12 manages to make this a thing of the past, dynamically adjusting rates of responsiveness and sensitivity to enable those showers whilst browsing to continue without issue.
This was a feature that everyone at OnePlus was quietly proud of, and when putting it through its paces on both a rainy day and with wet fingers, it’s truly a godsend - we just hope to see it roll out on more devices in the future!
The OnePlus 12 stands on the shoulders of its forebears when it comes to audio, improving on the 11’s audio options with ‘ultra linear dual stereo speakers’ which are plenty loud, yet maintain clarity and warmth at the high end.
With support for both Dolby Atmos and 24-bit/192kHz Hi-Res audio for wired and wireless audio it makes for an impressive array, which more than makes up for the lack of a 3.5mm wired headphone jack - an increasingly endangered species.
Important to remember that USB-C does exist as an option for wired listening in 2024, so that’s very much present and correct at the bottom of the device if a requirement.
The OnePlus 12 runs on Android 14 with OxygenOS 14, which is OnePlus’s custom skin. In conjunction with their ‘Trinity Engine’, this evolution to their operating system offers flexibility, customisation and a gorgeous user interface which prioritises speed and efficiency in equal measure.
It also enables incredible enhancements where it counts, including an ability to leverage its awesome display to deliver 120Hz gaming with some visual wizardry and frame interpolation.
A bit of algorithms here, some dedicated effort from their Pixelworks X7 Visual Processor there, long story short it's hardware and software in concert to drive an impressive mobile experience.
In terms of support, OnePlus promises four years of software updates - less than rivals, but admittedly a realistic duration given the lifespan of modern devices in terms of hardware grunt.
Recent updates in the run-up to release have improved features further, tightening up elements like responsiveness to the fingerprint sensor, due to be one of our pieces of review feedback!
The requisite selection of font, layout and colour balance changes are here, making for a phone that can definitely be tailored to what matters most.
The phone also has a Game Mode feature, which optimises the performance and blocks notifications while gaming. The phone also supports gesture navigation, dark mode, and a Screen colour mode feature, which lets you choose from a number of distinct profiles for the screen.
The camera is a standout category for the OnePlus 12, where a powerful triple camera system, co-engineered with Hasselblad, has been brought to bear fantastic photography results.
The main camera is a brand new co-developed 50 MP Sony sensor with an f/1.6 aperture, optical image stabilisation (OIS), and phase detection autofocus (PDAF).
The main camera takes detailed and natural-looking photos, with accurate colours and good dynamic range. Shutter speed was rapid and even the most active shots of pets and children came out crisp and vivid.
The main camera also supports 8K video recording at 24fps, and 4K video recording at 30/60fps - there was a little warming of the phone when taking videos, but nothing more than usual and we certainly didn’t get forced to stop recording due to overheating, unlike some rivals…
Next up is the ultra-wide lens - a 48MP sensor (another Sony effort) with an f/2.2 aperture and naturally a 114-degree field of view.
The ultra-wide camera takes wide and stunning photos, with good colours (thanks to that spectral sensor, the fourth aperture on the OnePlus 12’s rear) and maintained detail, despite the greater expanse of images captured. The ultra-wide camera also supports 4K video recording at 30fps, and 1080p video recording at 60fps.
The telephoto camera rounds out the group, and is a 64MP OmniVision sensor with an f/2.6 aperture, its own image stablisation, and clever phase detection autofocus - using light rays to guage the exact location of a subject.
The telephoto camera offers 3x optical zoom and (a genuinely usable) 120x digital zoom, and it takes sharp and clear photos, with minimal noise and distortion. The telephoto camera also supports 4K video recording at 30fps, and 1080p video recording at 120fps.
The performance of its zoom lens is incredibly reliable when it comes to maintaining clarity and crispness of faraway objects, with only low light conditions narrowing its ability to capture detail when it mattered.
Hasselblad’s credentials have even been tuned further in recent updates during our review period, with a Master mode to give further fine-tuning to colour and richness in a late January update - which bodes well for a raft of improvements over time.
If these sound similar to the specs of the recently launched foldable - the OnePlus Open - it’s because they are! Save for a slightly lower 48MP main camera and stopping short of 8K video recording (at a still impressive 4K/30fps), the two devices share a lot when it comes to camera credentials, all the more impressive when you note that the foldable is close to £1,600.
The OnePlus 12 has a single front camera on the front, boasting a 32MP (you guessed it, Sony) sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. Thanks to its 90 degree field of view and decent focal length, the 12’s selfie camera takes decent and smooth images, with great colour accuracy and exposure, as well as capably powering the device’s face unlock features.
The selfie camera also supports up to 4K video recording at 30fps, perfect for those vlogging moments on the go.
Add to that the ‘ProXDR’ support on its impressive display - where photos are dynamically brightened when viewed on the device - and the OnePlus 12 becomes as great a home to view images on as it is to take them with.
The OnePlus 12 tips the scales with a healthy amount of RAM and storage for its price, opening at 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and topping out at 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage - no expandable memory here though.
The phone runs on the latest and greatest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, Qualcomm’s flagship processor which has been specifically tuned to meet that all-important intersection of power and longevity.
The chipset also has an Adreno 750 GPU, which handles graphics-intensive tasks. The OnePlus 12 delivers a fast and smooth performance, with minimal lag or stutter, and forcing games to run in 120Hz was impressive, with none of the smearing or judder one might expect from the device natively adding frames to speed up gameplay.
The phone can handle multitasking, gaming, and browsing with ease, and it does not overheat or throttle.
The phone also supports 5G connectivity, which offers faster and more reliable internet speeds, and has also seen welcome bumps in reliability on the path to prime time.
Big category here, and the OnePlus 12 is certainly firing shots at the competition with a massive 5400mAh battery, which can last for a full day of moderate use, or up to 12 hours of screen-on time.
The battery also supports 100W SuperVOOC charging, which can charge the phone from 0% to 100% in a frankly astonishing 26 minutes.
Not content with that, OnePlus has also catered to clamouring fans by bringing back wireless charging - a key feature absent from the OnePlus 11 - with 50W ‘AIRVOOC’ support seeing the phone leap from 0% to 100% in a hair under an hour (55 minutes). Given that’s faster than the wired efforts of a number of competing devices, it’s another impressive plus point against the OnePlus 12.
Add in support for reverse wireless charging for other folks’ phones, and you’ve got a pretty amazing set of smarts when it comes to boosting your battery.
The OnePlus 12 is available to pre-order in the UK from the official website, at a cost of £849 for the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage model and £999 for the 16GB RAM and 512GB storage model.
It’s a shade more expensive than our friends on the other side of the Atlantic are paying, but thankfully there’s a host of incentives to sweeten the price further before the official 6th February shipping date.
There’s currently a £100 discount on the 512GB variant (bringing it down to just £899), whilst you can also claim a free pair of Buds Pro 2 earphones, as well as other accessory bundles at discounted rates.
All in, it certainly pits the OnePlus 12 cheaper than similarly specced rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S24 and the Google Pixel 8 Pro which are £859 (with just 8GB of RAM) and £999 (for just 128GB of storage) respectively.
So the OnePlus 12 certainly delivers where it counts in the value for money section, but is still very much pitched in the premium category of devices - this is a flagship killer at affordable prices, but the gap has certainly narrowed in the past decade.
The OnePlus 12 is a powerhouse flagship, both inside and out.
It offers a fantastic, modern design, a groundbreaking smooth display, powerful and fast performance thanks to premium innards, rounded out with one of the most versatile and capable camera systems in the market.
Add to that a long-lasting and fast-charging battery and long-standing fan favourites like the Alert Slider - as well as a potential new one in Aqua Touch - and the OnePlus 12 has everything to make it one of the best smartphones for 2024.
It is also important to note the slightly disappointing IP65 rating, but when you factor in the price, it’s a continuation of OnePlus’ current hot streak when it comes to appealing, affordable hardware with true innovation at its heart.