OnePlus 12 review: A no-nonsense flagship for a great price


It might be weird to see a new device call back to a time less than a decade ago. But tech moves fast and with the OnePlus 12, it feels like someone made a phone for the pre-AI era. Instead of magic editors and a bunch of machine learning, OnePlus’ latest flagship is incredibly simple. It has a nice screen, a solid build, reliable cameras, great performance and even better battery life. So while it won’t help you summarize a meeting or remaster a photo, the OP12 covers all the basics with aplomb. And with a starting price of $800 ($200 less than a similarly equipped S24+), it’s a great deal too.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The OnePlus 12 offers the same speedy performance and better battery life than the Galaxy S24+ along with solid cameras and a great screen for $200 less.

Pros

  • Top-notch battery life
  • Good price
  • Strong performance
  • Bright 120Hz screen
  • IR blaster
  • Power adapter included
Cons

  • Water resistance could be better
  • Proprietary charging protocol
  • Ugly camera module

$800 at Amazon

Design and display: A old-school silhouette with modern specs

The shape of the OnePlus 12 seems to be inspired by older phones like the Galaxy S10+, featuring tapered edges and rounded corners. This makes the phone very comfortable to hold, the downside is that there is some distortion around the screen where it curves. Thankfully, OnePlus’ 6.8-inch 3,168 x 1440 panel looks so good you may not notice. It features a nominal peak brightness of 1,600 nits that can go all the way up to 4,500 nits in certain situations (like direct sunlight), so it never looks dull or washed out. The screen also supports a 120Hz variable refresh alongside a new 2,610Hz PWM (pulse width modulation) technique to help prevent the screen from flickering when set to very low brightness (under 70 nits).

Around back there’s a huge and somewhat ungainly camera module surrounded by a sheet of Gorilla Glass Victus 2 with a lovely matte finish. It’s more textured than your typical frosted glass but not as scratchy as the company’s old-school sandstone backs and it feels so good I would have a hard time covering it with a case. The OP12 also sports an IP65 rating for dust and water resistance, which isn’t quite as good as what you get from rival Samsung and Google phones. However, this is the highest rating ever on a OnePlus and it’s still more than enough to handle things like rain and splashes. And unlike most handsets these days, OnePlus included an IR blaster so you can easily adjust settings on your TV or soundbar without needing a dedicated remote.

Performance: Super speedy

The OnePlus 12 features a 6.8-inch screen with a 120Hz variable refresh rate.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

While the OP12 may have a nostalgic design, its performance is as good as it gets for Android handsets. It features a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip along with either 12GB or 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage. Despite some underwhelming benchmarks (which other outlets have also encountered), the phone feels incredibly fluid. Flipping between apps is super smooth while games load and play without a hint of stuttering. To help ensure frequently used apps are always at the ready, OnePlus has a memory optimization feature that can keep up to six apps suspended in the background for up to 72 hours, so you don’t need to reload your favorite game unnecessarily.

Cameras: Hasselblad’s bulky module delivers

The OP12’s triple-lens setup holds up well against the Galaxy S24 family with a 50-MP main cam, a 48-MP ultra-wide and a 64-MP telephoto camera. During the daytime, photos were bright and lively and I appreciate OnePlus’ more neutral white balance compared to Samsung’s warmer tones. At night, while images were just a touch softer and darker than comparison shots I took using the S24 Ultra, they weren’t far behind. Finally, using the 3x telephoto camera I managed to capture a very sharp picture of a squirrel despite its best efforts to dart away. Just make sure you disable the option to add a Hasselblad watermark to your photos the first time you launch the camera app.

Battery life and charging: The best yet

The OnePlus 12 features a proprietary charging protocol that's twice as fast as what you get from a lot of other flagship phones.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

One of the best things about the OnePlus 12 is its battery life and charging speeds. On our local video rundown test, the phone’s 5,400 mAh cell lasted 26 hours and 40 minutes, which is the longest time we’ve seen on any handset. That’s more than two hours longer than the S24 Ultra (24:29) and a more than six hour improvement on last year’s OP11 (19:45).

OnePlus proprietary charging tech also delivers breakneck wired and wireless charging speeds. When using its included power brick and cable, the phone went from 10 to 55 percent battery in just 10 minutes. Alternatively, when placed on the company’s wireless pad (which is available separately for $50), the OP12 went from 10 to 37 percent battery in 10 minutes. To put that into context, when I performed the same test with the S24U, it only managed to go from 10 to 30 percent battery in 10 minutes using a Samsung charger and a compatible cable. Unfortunately, you’ll only get those speeds with OnePlus’ first-party accessories, so if you use standard USB-PD or Qi chargers, things are slower.

Wrap-up

In the right light, the emerald version of the OnePlus 12 is absolutely dazzling.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Compared to other big-name phones that are turning to AI to improve their capabilities, the OnePlus 12 is an uncomplicated device that combines good hardware with a solid build. It has a large, punchy display with great performance and unparalleled battery life. And while OnePlus does plan on adding AI features via future software updates, the 12 doesn’t need them to offer a compelling package. And with a starting price of $800, it’s $200 cheaper than an equivalent Galaxy S24+ and that’s before you consider OnePlus’ offer that knocks off another $100 with the trade-in of any phone, regardless of age or condition. In a world where smartphones are becoming increasingly complex, the OnePlus 12 is a straightforward alternative that handles all the most important things with ease.



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