Technology

OnePlus 12 Review: Alternative to Premium iPhone and Galaxy Lines

Key Takeaways

  • OnePlus 12 offers premium specs at a more affordable price than competitors, starting at $799 for 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
  • The phone has a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, a stunning 2k 120Hz Super Fluid Display, and a 4th Gen Hasselblad Camera System.
  • Though it lacks AI features, the OnePlus 12 delivers great performance, feel, and camera quality, making it a solid value for Android users.


OnePlus has long tried to have its cake and eat it too, and the OnePlus 12 is no different. It tries to match other premium-speced phones while remaining more affordable than competitors. Affordable is relative here, but the $799 entry model is equipped with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, making it a great choice for mobile enthusiasts looking for a deal.

OnePlus 12 Silky Black

OnePlus 12

The OnePlus 12 is powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. The OnePlus 12 has a stunning 2k 120Hz Super Fluid Display. Explore the new 4th Gen Hasselblad Camera System for Mobile, packed with computational photography software and improved sensors. The OnePlus 12 boasts a 50MP primary camera, a 64MP 3x Periscope Lens, and a 48MP Ultra-Wide Camera, all packed together with industry-leading Hasselblad color science.

SoC
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

Display
3,168 x 1,440 (QHD+), 510ppi

RAM
12GB or 16GB

Storage
256GB or 512GB

Battery
5,400mAh

Ports
USB-C

Operating System
Oxygen 14 (Android 14)

Front camera
32MP

Display type
120Hz ProXDR Display

Weight
220g

Main Camera
50MP

Wide-Angle Camera
48MP

Telephoto
64MP

Telephoto Camera
3x optical, 6x in-sensor zoom

Pros

  • Big, bright screen looks nice
  • Takes great photos with decent focal reach
  • Super-fast charging is helpful
  • Premium build
Cons

  • High-speed charger uses USB-A
  • Doesn’t run stock Android (though should be fine for most)

OnePlus 12 Overview: Mostly Premium Specs

OnePlus 12 Charging Port and SIM slot on the bottom
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The OnePlus 12 starts at $799 and gets you the aforementioned 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. For $100 more, you can get 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. This is the unit I tested, which is still a comparative value.

At a surface level, the OnePlus 12 compares favorably to the latest Samsung Galaxy S24+, which has the same RAM, storage, processor, a similar display, and a comparable camera system. The noticeable difference is the S24+’s $200 more retail price—starting at $999.

What you won’t get with the OnePlus 12 are the artificial intelligence software features that have appeared on other Android phones over the last six months. If you see a Google Pixel or new Samsung phone advertised on TV, they’re heavily touting AI as the reason to buy their phones. The Pixel 8 is all about its magic abilities.

Right now, I don’t think the lack of AI features on the OnePlus 12 is a big deal. In the future, it might be more of a concern as AI features become native and really baked into a phone’s core experience. But for now, you can download Microsoft Co-Pilot, ChatGPT, or another AI app to get a lot of the same artificial generation on any device.

It’s worth nothing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is powering the 12. It’s one of the early devices with this new processor, but it’s by no means unique, and it will be commonplace in no time. But that processing power and the RAM have kept the phone running speedy and feeling peppy in my usage. As much as I want to dig in here and give a more opinionated take about the processor, there’s just not much that concerns most people or even general enthusiasts. That’s a good thing, by the way.

Feel and Look of a Premium Phone in 2024

OnePlus Camera on the back with 4 lenses
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

To state the obvious, the OnePlus 12 has a similar design to other recent OnePlus devices. I prefer phones to have some noticeable year-over-year appearance changes. So, even though there’s nothing wrong with the look of the 12, I was disappointed by its stale familiarity.

Even the feel of the marble green color is still like past OnePlus phones—despite looking like it might feel like touching stone. That said, this new phone, with its familiar textured plastic backing, still felt good to hold in my hand. Its 6.8-inch display with 120Hz refresh rate is vibrant. (2,600 nits of peak brightness can be stunning.)

I wasn’t shocked or blown away by any aspect of the hardware (or phone in general), but everything felt polished like a high-end device. For example, if I were buying this phone, I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out on much better specs going with this handset over any other one at the moment. On the software side, the phone runs OxygenOS 14. Its system tweaks have been toned down over the years, and it generally feels pretty stock. Most people shouldn’t run into any issues with it.

Is the OnePlus 12 Camera as Good as It Seems?

Cameras on mobile phones are complicated. There’s a lot that goes into them. The OnePlus 12 includes the 4th Gen Hasselblad camera system with a 50MP primary camera, 64MP periscope (telephoto) camera, and a 48MP ultra-wide camera. In the camera app itself, photo distances are represented to the user as 0.6x, 1x, 2x, 3x, and 6x—five focal length choices. The pictures of the tree above show focal distances 1x, 2x, 3x, and 6x, in that order. The ones below, of the sunset, start with the ultra-wide 0.6x and go in the same order.

My very first observation was that the photos looked like hot garbage in the camera app while taking pictures. They were dull and less lifelike in the viewfinder. The processed results that showed up in the photos app, however, were colorful and looked fantastic. I loved nearly all the photos the OnePlus 12 took, using all the default settings. There was depth and great color accuracy. The one exception to the default settings was that on first launch, the camera app wanted to apply a “Hasselblad” watermark to each photo for “a touch of class.” No, thank you.

In the OnePlus Photos app, you can perform object selection, just like in iOS 17, by holding down on an object to identify it. It will then remove the subject and save it as a new photo. Otherwise, most people will probably prefer using the Google Photos app.

If you’re buying the OnePlus 12 primarily for its camera system, you shouldn’t be disappointed. In my testing, it proved to be versatile, and the pictures were compelling. It has a good reach and can capture short and long distances without a lot of effort. As much as someone can get in and fiddle with the settings, the camera system also proved to be capable of handling people just pointing and shooting.

None of the sample images in these galleries have been edited. They have been provided to give a glimpse at camera results for different scenes at different times of the day in their default settings.

Charging and Battery Life Are Great

OnePlus folder on the OnePlus 12
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

I’ve been thoroughly impressed with OnePlus’ ultra-fast charging speeds since I tried the various methods on the OnePlus 10 Pro two years ago. The OnePlus 12 has edged up slightly since then and can now handle charging via a cable at 80W or 50W for wireless charging.

The significant caveat here for wireless is that the proprietary OnePlus 50W AIRVOOC charger is needed—something that’s much bulkier than standard Qi2 chargers. You can achieve fast wired charging speeds with any 100W+ power adapter. You get a fast power adapter in the box, but unfortunately, it has a USB-A port instead of a USB-C. In 2024, that feels a little gross.

Because the 80W wired charging is so speedy, I would probably skip the ultra-fast wireless accessory and plug the phone into a high-capacity power adapter for a few minutes between prolonged uses.

But actually, I didn’t have to reach for a charging cable very often. In modest use, I found the phone’s 5400mAh battery to be plenty sufficient. I did have trouble running the battery down on one occasion so I could test its charging. Ultimately, the battery and charging story here is a positive one.

Price and Availability

The OnePlus 12 goes on sale on February 6th, 2024. The 256GB model retails for $799, and the 512GB retails for $899. There are two colors available: green marble and black.

If you like the idea of the OnePlus 12 but it’s still out of your price range, the company also has the OnePlus 12R, which starts at $499. For that price, the 12R has 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and gets a 120Hz refresh rate display along with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor.

Should You Buy the OnePlus 12?

OnePlus12 Box and Accessories on a table
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

How many people are looking for a well-speced Android phone who also don’t want a Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy device? If you find yourself in that small but indeterminate number, the OnePlus 12 is almost certainly the phone you’re looking for—I’m only confirming what you suspected. It’s solid!

This phone isn’t the pinnacle of mobile phones, but it’s speedy, capable, and takes great pictures. Best of all, the OnePlus 12 is a fantastic value. It lacks generative AI features, but that’s probably a good thing until there are more proven use cases for those types of features. The OnePlus 12 is a good phone and an escape from AI.

OnePlus 12 Silky Black

OnePlus 12

The OnePlus 12 is powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. The OnePlus 12 has a stunning 2k 120Hz Super Fluid Display. Explore the new 4th Gen Hasselblad Camera System for Mobile, packed with computational photography software and improved sensors. The OnePlus 12 boasts a 50MP primary camera, a 64MP 3x Periscope Lens, and a 48MP Ultra-Wide Camera, all packed together with industry-leading Hasselblad color science.

SoC
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

Display
3,168 x 1,440 (QHD+), 510ppi

RAM
12GB or 16GB

Storage
256GB or 512GB

Battery
5,400mAh

Ports
USB-C

Operating System
Oxygen 14 (Android 14)

Front camera
32MP

Display type
120Hz ProXDR Display

Weight
220g

Main Camera
50MP

Wide-Angle Camera
48MP

Telephoto
64MP

Telephoto Camera
3x optical, 6x in-sensor zoom

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