Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12: Which flagship phone will win?

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs OnePlus 12
(Image credit: David Marin on X / OnePlus)

A Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12 face-off figures to be the first big smartphone battle of 2024. While the OnePlus 12 is already available in China, everyone else will need to wait until January 23, 2024 for the OnePlus 12's global launch event.

The OnePlus 12 will get a top-performing chipset, upgraded cameras and a brighter display to turn some heads. And though we don't know the price yet, OnePlus' phone also figures to be much cheaper than the Galaxy S24 Ultra, giving smartphone buyers a lower-cost flagship option among the best Android phones.

As for the S24 Ultra, it heads up the new phone lineup from Samsung that we're likely to see as soon as January 17. When it does arrive, the Galaxy S24 Ultra figures to bring camera improvements of its own, as well as lots of AI-powered features. Here's how the Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12 battle is shaping up. 

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12: Rumored Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (rumored)OnePlus 12 (rumored)
Display6.8 inches6.8 inches
Refresh rate144Hz adaptive120Hz adaptive
Rear cameras200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 50M telephoto (5x), 10MP telephoto (3x)50MP main, 50MP ultrawide, 64MP 3x telephoto
Front camera12MP32MP selfie
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 3Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB/256GB/1TB
Battery5,000 mAh5,400 mAh
Charging45W wired, 15W wireless100W wired, 50W wireless

Galaxy S24 vs OnePlus 12: Price

The only official pricing we have is the OnePlus 12's cost in China — 4299 yuan — which comes out to around $601. We would be impressed if that's what ends up being the cost for the global version, but we suspect it'd be more in line to the OnePlus 11's starting cost of $699, which makes it $100 less than Samsung' entry-level Galaxy S23. (You can get the Galaxy S23 FE for less, but that phone is running on an older chipset and makes other compromises for its discounted price.)

Meanwhile, as Samsung's premium phone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,199. In other words, we're looking at a $500 difference between the two phones. That gap could also lessen given how we expect discounts on Galaxy S23 Ultra when the Galaxy S24 launches. But even if a new phone brings a new starting price, we imagine the OnePlus 12 will cost hundreds of dollars less than the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12: Design and display

OnePlus 12 renders

(Image credit: OnePlus)

If you've seen the current OnePlus 11 and Galaxy S23 Ultra models, you have a pretty good idea of what the new versions of those phones will look like. OnePlus has already revealed the OnePlus 12 design, and it looks a lot like its predecessor save for the return of the Alert Slider that's been missing from the last couple models. Samsung's design is still unofficial, but leaked renders show essentially the same look as last year with a less curved display.

Whether a design works or not generally comes down to personal taste. Some people will prefer the prominent circular camera array on the back of the OnePlus 12, while others will gravitate toward the more understated look of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, where the camera lenses are stacked vertically and are incorporated to the back panel of the phone.

Galaxy s24 ULtra concept

(Image credit: Technizo Concept/YouTube)

We would expect the Galaxy S24 Ultra to follow the lead of its predecessor and offer IP68 water resistance, which means that the phone can survive a dunk in water. We're still waiting to see what kind of water resistance the OnePlus 12 offers. For the OnePlus 11, it was IP64, which protects the phone from splashes but little else.

As for the display, it seems that the OnePlus 12 is getting a slight size increase to 6.8 inches. That would make its panel the same size at the Galaxy S24 Ultra's. OnePlus is also promising a very bright display — 4,500 nits. That would definitely outshine the Galaxy S24 Ultra, where rumors suggest that it's going to max out at 2,500 nits of brightness.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12: Cameras

Reported Galaxy S24 Ultra photos

(Image credit: @DavidMa05368498/X)

Cameras figure to be a big battleground for any OnePlus 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, especially considering that the Galaxy S23 Ultra is our current pick for the best camera phone overall. Samsung reportedly will look to improve upon that benchmark with upgrades to the main camera sensor as well as the telphoto lens.

Specifically, one rumor suggests that Samsung will use a 1-inch sensor for the S24 Ultra's main camera, a move that would help capture more light for brighter images overall. As for the telephoto lens, it sounds as if one of the 10MP telephoto lenses on the Galaxy S23 Ultra will be replaced by a 50MP lens with a 5x optical zoom. While that isn't as long as 10x zoom supported by the current phone, the higher resolution could lead to sharper shots. 

We already know the OnePlus 12's camera specs, as they've been confirmed by OnePlus. The new phone will feature a 50MP main camera joined by a 50MP ultrawide shooter and 64MP telephoto lens with a 3x optical zoom. OnePlus' partnership with lens specialist Hasselblad will continue with the OnePlus 12 so we could see other improvements to color calibration and image brightness.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12: Performance

Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Don't expect too many differences in terms of speed and processing muscle between the OnePlus 12 and Samsung Galaxy S24. OnePlus has confirmed its new flagship is going to feature the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 system-on-chip introduced by Qualcomm in October, and all signs point to the Galaxy S24 Ultra following suit. (Other Galaxy S24 models may feature an Exynos 2400 chipset instead depending on what part of the world they're released in, but Samsung's expected to use Qualcomm silicon exclusively on the Ultra.)

Both the OnePlus 11 and Galaxy S23 Ultra featured the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset — though Samsung's version was optimized for better performance — and benchmark results were largely the same. That would seemingly give the edge to OnePlus should history repeat itself with the OnePlus 12. Not only are you getting the same performance for less money, you may also enjoy a phone with up to 24GB of RAM. (Meanwhile, a rumored jump to 16GB of RAM for the Galaxy S24 Ultra has been rubbished by a prominent leaker.)

Samsung could find other ways to make its performance stand out. The company has already announced plans to make artificial intelligence a focal point on its phones, and the S24 lineup figures to be the first beneficiary of that move. Some of the potential features Samsung has floated for its Galaxy AI initiative include on-device translations, generative text assistance that can help you write emails and summarize web pages, and image generation tools.

OnePlus 12 rumors haven't had a lot to say about AI-powered features for that phone. So Samsung could find itself on the right side of a sizable feature gap between the Galaxy s24 Ultra and OnePlus 12.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12: Battery life and charging

OnePlus 12 renders

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Both the OnePlus 11 and Galaxy S23 Ultra are standouts in terms of battery life, with the two phones landing places on our best phone battery life list. You have to last 12 hours or more on our battery test to do that, and it's a feat the OnePlus 11 (13 hours and 10 minutes) and Galaxy S23 Ultra (12 hours and 22 minutes) tackled with ease.

We would expect similar results from the OnePlus 12 and Galaxy S24 Ultra based solely on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3's improved power management. There's also talk of battery improvements for both phones — a larger capacity battery in the case of the OnePlus 12 and a new stacked battery for the Galaxy S24 Ultra that's denser to pack in more power in the same amount of space.

A thing to keep an eye on will be charging speeds. The OnePlus 11's 80W wired charging nearly doubles the 45W charging speed of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. (It's even faster outside the U.S. where different voltage standards allow the OnePlus 11 to offer 100W charging.) Rumors suggest the OnePlus 12 will offer the same wired charging speeds, while an earlier rumor suggesting that the S24 Ultra would get 65W charging speeds has been shot down.

OnePlus has confirmed that the OnePlus 12 will offer wireless charging, too, a feature missing from the OnePlus 11. Rumors suggest that OnePlus will also offer fast wireless charging speeds. For context, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can charge wirelessly at 15W.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12: Outlook

Even with all we know about the OnePlus 12 and the detailed rumors about the Galaxy S24 Ultra, it's too early to say which phone will finish on top in a head-to-head comparison. The definitive OnePlus 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra verdict can only come once both phones have been released, tested and reviewed, which should be in early 2024.

Still, some patterns have emerged based on what we know so far. The OnePlus 12 looks like it's trying to deliver some premium features in a lower-cost device while Samsung once again will push the boundaries with its cameras and AI features. Whether shoppers will prefer OnePlus' less expensive device or opt for the more feature-rich S24 Ultra will depend on how will each phone maker executes on what they're promising.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.