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OnePlus 12 review: smartphone left behind by top rivals

by Elijah
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OnePlus 12 review: smartphone left behind by top rivals

OnePlus’ latest high-end phone can’t shake the feeling of being left behind by its rivals.

Even with sleek looks, fast software, and longer battery life, the OnePlus 12 lacks the much-hyped AI tools built into handsets from Samsung, Google, and others. It feels more like a phone from 2020 than the new era of artificial intelligence.

This might appeal to anyone looking for a smaller, relatively clutter-free experience – as does the £849 (€969/$799) cost, which is less than its £1,000 rivals with all the bells and whistles . But by modern standards this seems insufficient.

The curved glass and aluminum sides make the phone narrower than its competitors, but the OnePlus 12 is still a very big phone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The design is very similar to last year’s OnePlus 11 (which cost £120 less at launch): a smooth metal and glass sandwich that feels as smooth as it looks. The huge 6.82-inch OLED display is ultra sharp, smooth and extremely bright. The large circular camera bump on the back is a standout design element, alongside the fan-favorite alert slider on the side.

Inside the OnePlus is Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, which is 30% faster and 20% more power efficient than its predecessors. This is an extremely powerful chip that is only available in a handful of new phones.

The OnePlus certainly feels fast and smooth in normal operation, but to get maximum performance out of it – running it at full throttle – you need to enable the “high performance” mode buried in the settings or use it in gaming mode. is therefore designed for energy efficiency rather than raw performance, which provides very long battery life.

It lasts between 52 and 55 hours between charges, with over nine hours of active screen use at default settings. That’s significantly longer than last year’s model and among the best in the industry. The OnePlus also charges very quickly, reaching 100% in less than 30 minutes with the included 100W charger.

The corners of the aluminum frame are curved but the top and ends of the phone are flattened. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian


  • Screen: 6.82-inch QHD+ 120Hz OLED display (510 ppi)

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

  • RAM: 12 or 16 GB

  • Storage: 256 or 512 GB

  • Operating system: OxygenOS 14 (Android 14)

  • Camera: 50M + 48MP ultra-wide + 64MP 3x; Self-portrait 32 MP

  • Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, wifi 7, NFC, Bluetooth 5.4 and GNSS

  • Water resistance: IP65 (spray resistant)

  • Dimensions: 164.3 x 75.8 x 9.2mm

  • Weight: 220g


The battery is designed to retain at least 80% of its original capacity for 1,600 full charge cycles.

The phone does not contain significant amounts of recycled materials but is usually repairable by OnePlus, with screen replacements costing £174 and batteries £21 plus around £50 for labor. The company participates in Eco rating systemwhich assesses environmental impact, and is included in the program of parent company Oppo. annual sustainability reports.

OxygenOS 14

OxygenOS is generally smooth to use with a reasonable amount of customization, but a distinct lack of advanced smart features. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The phone runs OxygenOS 14, which is a modified version of the latest Android 14 software. It is generally quite sleek and has plenty of customization options covering everything from gestures to the look and feel of the software and various multitasking tools. But it lacks all the AI ​​tools and intelligent systems that have become the mainstay of competitors in the Android and iPhone camps.

There’s no advanced photo editing, no AI wallpaper generator, no AI summarization or transcription tools, not even Google’s. excellent Circle to search functionality. Of course, not all of competitors’ AI tools are hits, but many of them have become useful additions that you can expect in a high-end phone.

The other big problem is short software support. OnePlus will only provide four years of Android updates and five years of security patches, which is at least two years less than the benchmark set by Apple, Google and Samsung, not to mention Fairphone’s 10 years. OnePlus is part of the smartphone giant Oppo, so it can and must do better.


The camera app is well designed and simple to use. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The OnePlus 12 has a camera that’s a slight improvement over last year’s model. On the back is a 50-megapixel main camera capable of producing nice images in a reasonably wide lighting range, although it becomes a little inconsistent in dark or nighttime scenes. The 64MP 3x telephoto lens is just as strong and can zoom in-sensor to 6x magnification with additional digital zoom on top. In good lighting, the 6x zoom is very good, but it quickly becomes blurry in less bright conditions. The same can be said of the ultra-wide.

Overall, the camera system is solid, but it struggles more than its competitors indoors, in low light, or in high-contrast scenes. OnePlus still has work to do to compete with Google, Samsung or Apple.


The OnePlus 12 costs from £849 (€969/$799).

For comparison, the Google Pixel 8 Pro costs £999the Samsung Galaxy S24+ costs £999 and the costs of the iPhone 15 Plus £899.


The OnePlus 12 is a solid phone caught in no man’s land. It has the performance but lacks the features needed to compete with its premium rivals. The complete lack of AI tools is almost retro at this point and makes it a bit boring. Its software support lifespan is well below the bar set by Google, Samsung or Apple of this world, causing it to lose one star.

At the same time, it’s also too expensive to be considered a mid-range phone, typically costing between £350 and £650.

This leaves OnePlus in a tricky situation: it offers optimal performance but fundamentally offers less than its competitors.

Benefits: Sleek and nice design, long battery life and longevity, 30 minutes full charge, top chip, great screen.

The inconvenients: Too short software support, no significant AI features, camera lags behind competitors, only spray-resistant, price increase compared to predecessors, artificially limited performance outside of “high performance” mode.

The optical fingerprint scanner under the display is solid. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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