After spending two weeks with the OnePlus 12, I'm impressed by its excellent performance, long battery life, and abundance of flagship features. While it doesn't boast all the AI camera tricks of Samsung and Google, it delivers a polished experience for hundreds less than other flagships.
Specs for the OnePlus 12:
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
- RAM: Up to 16GB LPDDR5X
- Storage: Up to 512GB UFS 4.0
- Display: 6.7″ 2K 120Hz ProXDR AMOLED, 1300 nits peak brightness
- 50MP f/1.6 main
- 64MP f/2.0 3x telephoto with OIS
- 48MP f/2.4 ultrawide
- Battery: 5400mAh
- Charging: 80W wired, 50W wireless
- Software: OxygenOS based on Android 14
- Other features: Alert slider, IR blaster, dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos
Some additional details:
- New dual VC cooling system for heat dissipation during intensive tasks
- LTPO display with a 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate
- Hasselblad tuned cameras with upgraded portrait mode
- HyperTouch boosts the touch sampling rate for gaming
- AquaTouch helps avoid mistouches from water
Powerful Performance That Stands the Test of Time
The OnePlus 12 is one of the first phones powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, and OnePlus worked closely with Qualcomm to optimize it. After two weeks of heavy usage, I can confirm the performance is superb. Apps open swiftly, multitasking is a breeze, and graphically demanding games run smoothly.
In my experience, flagship phones often start to stutter and lag after a year or so. But OnePlus claims optimizations like CPU Vitalization will ensure consistent performance even after prolonged use. Only time will tell, but so far I'm impressed with the speed and fluidity. The phone also stays relatively cool, with only minor warm spots after long gaming sessions.
Battery Life that Keeps Up with Busy Days
The large 5,400mAh battery pack provides enough juice for even my busiest days. With heavy use – web browsing, streaming, gaming, photos, and more – I never drained it completely in a single day. More moderate use easily got me through 1.5-2 days before needing to recharge.
When you do need to top up, OnePlus' 65W wired charging is crazy fast. It can take the phone from 0 to 100% in around 30 minutes. The company also finally added wireless charging, though speeds max out at 50W so it takes almost an hour.
Premium Design with Subtle Curved Display
The OnePlus 12 comes in Silky Black and stunning Emerald Green. I tested the green, which has a gorgeous marble-like finish. The colour really pops, especially in sunlight. The phone feels properly premium with its metal frame and frosted glass back.
Those edges look sleek, but can inadvertently register touch inputs when holding the phone. Flat displays like on the Pixel 8 Pro are more practical. Still, the 6.7-inch AMOLED panel is beautiful, with sharp images, a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, and strong max brightness.
Capable Camera System for Most Situations
The triple camera array includes a 50MP main, 64MP 3x telephoto, and 48MP ultrawide. In optimal lighting, it can capture highly detailed shots with accurate colours and exposures. The 3x optical zoom also gets you closer to the action.
The camera lens, in reality, proves to be a stellar companion for photography enthusiasts. Under optimal lighting conditions, it captures images with a remarkable sharpness reminiscent of a dedicated camera, preserving a delightful touch of softness while retaining an abundance of intricate details.
Thanks to OnePlus' ongoing collaboration with Hasselblad, the camera gains an advantage in reproducing colours, infusing a distinctive character into the images. While it's not flawless, there are instances where captivating orange hues add a defining allure to the photos.
In environments with artificial lighting, the OnePlus tends to apply a subtle oversharpening effect, yet the overall result remains visually appealing. When faced with low-light scenarios, all lenses on the phone exhibit commendable performance, surprising me with their resilience as long as the device is held steady.
However, introducing movement prompts the phone to employ additional processing to enhance the image, resulting in peculiarly smoothed-out visuals that occasionally take on an uncanny, AI-like appearance. Furthermore, the phone's processing occasionally unusually emphasizes people and pets, risking the authenticity of the shot by veering into the territory of artificial brightness.
This recurrent pattern in smartphone photography raises hopes for refinement in the coming years. The pursuit of perfection in every shot has led computational photography algorithms to exert more influence on the final image. In well-lit photos, this manipulation is seldom apparent as the algorithm operates effortlessly.
Yet, in dimly lit scenes, the added smoothing effect on faces or artificial brightness becomes noticeable. It is anticipated that photo algorithms will strike a more nuanced balance soon, ensuring that dark photos maintain a natural and authentic appearance.
Intuitive Software with Helpful Features
OxygenOS provides a clean, near-stock Android 14 experience. But it manages to enhance things in helpful ways. For example, you can quickly launch apps by drawing designated symbols on the always-on display. Useful toggles like DC dimming and reading mode are easily accessible. Gaming mode blocks notifications and optimizes performance.
The alert slider makes it easy to toggle between ring, vibrate, and silent modes. And the IR blaster lets you control TVs and other appliances. These are both handy features that many other phones now omit.
Respectable Updates, But Rivals Offer More
OnePlus promises 4 major Android version updates and 5 years of security patches for the OnePlus 12. This is good, but Samsung and Google now provide updates for up to 7 years. So if you plan on keeping this phone for over 3 years, the software support may be lacking compared to a Galaxy or Pixel.
An Excellent Value Flagship
With powerful performance, excellent battery life, fast charging, and a sleek design, the OnePlus 12 delivers a true flagship experience for CAD 1,070 (US $800). It doesn't have every bell and whistle but provides a polished software and hardware package that's hard to beat at this price. Unless you need the most advanced camera or the longest updates, the OnePlus 12 is a terrific high-end phone that won't break the bank.
Final thoughts on my 2-weeks Hands-on
After using the OnePlus 12 for two weeks, I'm very pleased with its fast performance, long battery life, smooth software, and sleek design. The cameras are capable in most situations and it has many high-end features like an alert slider and IR blaster. My only gripes are the curved display edges and shorter software support compared to Samsung and Google. But for the CAD 1,070 price (US $800), the OnePlus 12 is easily one of the best flagship values this year.
The OnePlus 12 impresses with its fast Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 performance, excellent 5,400mAh battery life, and abundance of useful features like an alert slider and IR blaster. Its capable triple camera system takes pleasing photos in most conditions. While the software support isn't as long as Samsung and Google flagships, the OnePlus 12 still offers a polished flagship experience for an affordable CAD 1,070 (US $800). Unless you need the most advanced camera or updates, it's one of the best Android values this year.