OnePlus 12 review: Textbook flagship

OnePlus 12 review: Textbook flagship

The OnePlus 12 comes as the third Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered flagship to land in India. The smartphone competes directly with the iQOO 12, which has been one of the most powerful smartphones that have come to India in this latest generation of flagship Android smartphones. The OnePlus 12 aims to challenge exactly that as this, like the iQOO 12, is also a smartphone preferred mostly by the enthusiasts.

The OnePlus 12, however, seems to be a more premium offering, catering to a larger audience that wants a larger flagship experience, including all your premium features like wireless charging or a proper IP rating. So in this review, that is exactly what I will focus on – how the OnePlus 12 performs and how good the smartphone is in offering us a full-fledged flagship experience.

OnePlus 12 review: Design

Starting as usual with the design, the OnePlus 12 carries forward the brand’s new design language that we saw with the OnePlus 11 last year. We get a similar rounded camera module with the curved glass on both the front and the back. This year, there are minor differences as compared to last year’s OnePlus 11. For example, the camera module also has a frame this time around, which bleeds out of the whole smartphone’s frame. Looks kind of cool, like the camera module’s frame has been folded out of the bigger frame to fit on the cameras.

We also get a familiar finish on the back panel. This year’s back panel has the same texture as last year’s OnePlus 11 Marble Odyssey Edition, which gives users a marble-like feel with the glass back panel. The OnePlus 12 also has the same marble finish on the back panel. As compared to the OnePlus 11, the OnePlus 12 is also a bigger smartphone and the camera module on this is also visibly larger.

Up front, however, things are similar. We get the same curved display with the hole punch camera. On the OnePlus 12, however, the display is slightly wider as compared to the OnePlus 11. So overall, this is clearly a OnePlus design and carries forward OnePlus’ new design language with the round camera module. I personally really like the marble-like finish on the back panel, but it looked better with the cream colour on the OnePlus 11, as compared to the green on the OnePlus 12.

OnePlus 12 review: Display

This is the brightest display we have ever seen on a smartphone, at least in terms of the claims that the brand is making. The OnePlus 12 is said to have a peak brightness of 4,500 nits. Now, this is the brightest part of the display in HDR and isn’t the case with SDR content. So basically, while using the phone, you are not seeing things in 4,500 nits. But how much are we seeing actually? Well, in a brightly lit environment like a bright sun outdoors, the smartphone puts out 1876 nits of peak brightness.

Coming to colour accuracy, the OnePlus 12 here also showcases very good results. The smartphone represents colours very accurately, as compared to what we see with naked eyes. Even the greyscale balance on this display is very good. The smartphone also comes equipped with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ so you can stream ultra high resolution content on this smartphone. I watched a few movies and TV shows on the OnePlus 12 and in my opinion, watching content on this curved display is quite an immersive experience.

Further, the 120Hz refresh rate paired with LTPO also makes your daily basic usage smooth and responsive. So yes, overall, this is a brilliant smartphone display. All in terms of sunlight visibility, in terms of colours, and in terms of how responsive it is. I would in fact go as far as saying that this is the best display on any OnePlus smartphone that I have tested so far (I did not test the OnePlus Open).

OnePlus 12 review: Performance

Coming to performance, the OnePlus 12 is the second smartphone that I am testing with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset. And in terms of performance, the OnePlus 12 is right up there with the competition. The smartphone is as speedy as it gets, but still comes right behind the iQOO 12 in terms of pure numbers.

In synthetic benchmarks, the OnePlus 12 was not able to match up to its fiercest rival in the enthusiast-level smartphones, the iQOO 12. Even when compared to the MediaTek Dimensity 9300-powered Vivo X100 Pro, the OnePlus 12 comes behind in terms of the numbers in benchmark scores.

However, that doesn’t mean that the experience is not as good. The OnePlus 12, despite the rather slim benchmark numbers, is an absolute beast when it comes to performance. Be it playing games, be it watching content, or be it using the camera or other features, the smartphone just doesn’t know how to slow down.

I also played a lot of games on the OnePlus 12 and not only does the smartphone consistently maintain frames and shows no signs of lag or anything, but it also doesn’t heat up. OnePlus has used a Dual Cryo-velocity vapour chamber which seems to have worked with the OnePlus 12. The company claims that this is the largest vapour cooling chamber with over 3 times the heat dissipation and since we are not able to teardown the smartphone and check the size for ourselves, the OnePlus 12 doesn’t heat up easily.

Now, while the heating is minimal, the OnePlus 12 throttles quite a bit. I ran the CPU throttling test twice and both times, the smartphone throttled to about 64 or 65 percent of its max performance, which isn’t the best in the flagship Android segment.

Battery is also good. While playing games, the OnePlus 12 optimises battery very well and the smartphone only lost about 4 percent of the battery while playing Call of Duty Mobile for 15 minutes. A YouTube video stream of 30 minutes on 2160p HDR resolution drained only 5 percent of the battery, and in the video loop test the smartphone ran for about xx minutes.

The best part this time around is that OnePlus has brought back wireless charging with the OnePlus 12 and as someone who mostly uses wireless charging at home, I absolutely love when flagships like this enthusiast-level device come with wireless charging since it takes away the need for keeping the charger handy at all times.

OnePlus 12 review: Camera

Now, coming to the camera, this is the first time a OnePlus flagship’s camera has stood tall amid the tough competition from the Samsung’s and Vivo’s of this year. The camera is capable since there is brilliant hardware, but the software optimisation on the OnePlus 12 is something that isn’t the best.

The hardware has not been tuned too well and the point and shoot from the OnePlus 12 with the primary shooter is just average. While the camera is good and if you know your way around, you can click some absolutely stunning photos from the OnePlus 12. However, with just point and shoot, the results aren’t very true to life.

But well, that is not a problem anymore. Because by the time I finished my testing of the OnePlus 12 and started writing this very review, the OnePlus 12 had received an update with the Master Mode. This new feature takes away all the processing done by the OnePlus algorithm and puts the output control in the user’s hand, giving them more freedom to not only adjust the exposure, but also the saturation, contrast, sharpening, vignette, and even bring few “Pro mode” options to the default camera.

This basically lets users click photos in the styles that they may edit their pictures in. Super cool and super useful for a camera that has all the potential, but is limited by the lack of tuning or algorithms.

Further, this is also the first time we are getting a periscope telephoto lens on a OnePlus smartphone so you can click many perspectives with the 1x, 2x, 3x, and 6x zoom levels, and the telephoto also enables a 120x digital zoom, which is not good in terms of the quality of the 120x images, but it is there so you can zoom into distant objects and at least make out what is what.

OnePlus 12 review: Verdict

So the OnePlus 12 is a proper OnePlus device. The smartphone’s looks, to its display, to the performance, to even the battery and charging – everything reeks of OnePlus. On top, this year we get some added goodies like the periscope telephoto lens or the wireless charging, or for those who are into it, the marble finish won’t require you to wait for a limited edition OnePlus device.

But there are shortcomings of course. For example, the camera isn’t tuned to its full potential and most of the time after the latest update, I found myself using the Master Mode to take pictures. This also isn’t the best performing phone of the year already, and the size may be a bit too big for many users, since we are seeing a bit of bulking as compared to last year’s OnePlus 11. But overall, this is as flagship as a smartphone gets and the OnePlus 12 makes for a superb all-rounder device for its price.

OnePlus 12 Key Specs, Price and Launch Date

Release Date: 23 Jan, 2024
Market Status: Launched

Key Specifications

  • Specs

    Storage

    256 GB

  • Specs

    Battery capacity (mAh)

    5400

  • Specs

    Rear Camera Megapixel

    50 + 64 + 48

  • Specs

    Screen size (in inches)

    6.82

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