Forget Galaxy S24 — this underrated OnePlus 12 feature beats Samsung

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.
(Image credit: Future)

When the OnePlus 12 arrived at my door, the first thing I ogled over was the phone's stunning design. For a device we expect to undercut its rivals on price, the OnePlus 12 is a surprisingly well built, stylish phone, complete with premium materials and a penchant for detail. Upon closer inspection, however, I discovered an oddity that I wasn’t expecting.

While I’m stoked about the return of wireless charging to OnePlus' flagship phone, I’m equally as excited that OnePlus has included an infrared blaster as well. I didn’t expect to find one and it’s not a feature you often see in some of the best phones today, but nonetheless, it's an Easter egg I’m happy to discover. Toward the top edge of the phone embedded into its metal trim, is a tiny circular cutout that presumably tucks away an infrared blaster.

It’s a safe assumption because I only need to look at the OnePlus Open, which also has the cutout in the same area. OnePlus hasn’t disclosed what it is or what it could be used for with the OnePlus 12, but I can imagine it works similarly to the one in the OnePlus Open for controlling my favorite smart devices.

Even now as the Galaxy S24 continues to build momentum in advance of the next Galaxy Unpacked event, the OnePlus 12 makes a good argument for being one of the best phones this year with this underrated feature. Here’s why.

A TV remote that’s always on me

OnePlus 12 and OnePlus Open IR blasters shown next to each other.

(Image credit: Future)

The last thing I need to happen coming home from a long day of commuting is to plop down on my couch and realize the TV remote is missing. Sure, I could simply tell Alexa to turn on the TV with a simple voice command, but it won’t do a thing to turn on the cable box fastened to it. That’s where the IR blaster comes to the rescue — it saves me the frustration of savagely pulling up couch cushions and inspecting every crevice to find the TV remote.

I suspect the OnePlus 12's stealth feature will function similarly to the OnePlus Open’s infrared blaster, letting me operate my TV through a native app. Really, it’s like the modern day version of the universal remote because it could work for every brand out there — even on those oddball ones you get at a deep discount during holiday sales events.

For my situation, the OnePlus 12 could serve double duty as a controller for the many cable boxes in my home. If I do somehow misplace the OnePlus 12 in my home, I could always turn t Android’s Find My Device feature to give it a buzz to track it down.

And the best part? I practically never have to replace batteries like I would on a conventional remote.

Controlling my favorite smart (and dumb) devices

OnePlus Open showing native IR Remote app.

OnePlus Open showing its native IR Remote app. (Image credit: Future)

Beyond controlling my TVs, I think that the IR blaster in the OnePlus 12 would also let me control other electronics gadgets around my home. Take. for instance, the Honeywell fan in my bedroom, where I’ve been forced to use the built-in controls after losing its remote during my move. I suspect that I can select Honeywell from the list of brands supported by the app, and if it’s exactly like the process with the OnePlus Open, the app will cycle through several programs to ensure the controls are correct.

This is convenience I crave because whether it’s my Dyson air purifier I’m trying to turn on, or my LG smart air conditioner, I no longer am held hostage to their respective remote controls. Now I could care less if I misplace them because the OnePlus 12 is literally the universal remote to control nearly everything in my home.

As much as I love apps like Amazon Alexa or Google Home populating all of my smart home gadgets in one place, sometimes I just need a quick way of controlling them. That’s why this IR blaster on the OnePlus 12 could be helpful.

Emphasizes the 'value' in value flagship

Taking a photo using the OnePlus 12.

(Image credit: Future)

There’s no denying how stoked I am about the OnePlus 12. It’s seemingly a satisfying upgrade, complete with an upgraded triple camera system, powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, and the return of wireless charging to supplement its speedy 80W SUPERVOOC wired charging. The addition of an IR blaster cements how it beats upcoming flagships like the Galaxy S24 when it comes to value.

You might not use the IR blaser right away, but believe me when I say how it could come in handy when you’re five minutes into your frustrating search and rescue excursion for that TV remote. OnePlus hasn’t disclosed the price of its upcoming flagship, but all the rumors paint a picture that it'll still be less than Samsung’s upcoming flagship. We won’t have to wait long because the OnePlus Smooth Beyond Belief Launch Event should yield that detail come January 23.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.