OnePlus 12 — 5 big questions we have before the launch

OnePlus 12 renders
(Image credit: OnePlus)

We're just a few days away from finding out all about the OnePlus 12, as OnePlus plans to show off its new flagship phone in China on December 5 ahead of a global launch in 2024. But based on the rate OnePlus has been spilling the beans about the OnePlus 12, you may wonder if there will be any surprises to talk about when the new phone makes its debut.

After all, in just the past few days OnePlus has shared benchmarks for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset that's going to power the OnePlus 12. We've also been told that the phone will have a maximum brightness of 4,500 nits, and that its rear camera array will feature a 50MP main camera alongside 48MP ultrawide and 64MP telephoto lenses. We even know that the phone will support wireless charging, something the OnePlus 11 didn't offer.

So what's left to say about the OnePlus 12? Quite a few things, actually, not the least of which is when the phone will launch outside of China. OnePlus has said it will disclose that tidbit on December 15, so that leaves us with the other lingering questions about the OnePlus 12.

What kind of AI features will the OnePlus 12 have?

Snapdragon 8 gen 3

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

We have a pretty good idea that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is going to be a fast chip. Besides the CPU and GPU performance gains Qualcomm promised when it introduced its new silicon, we also have the Antutu benchmarks that OnePlus shared, which show the new phone out-muscling an iPhone 15. (We should caveat those numbers with the fact that cross-platform Antutu comparisons are not that illustrative.)

But performance is just one of the features Qualcomm has touted for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. Qualcomm also invested heavily in AI with this version of its chipset, as the chip's AI Engine supports large language models (LLM), language vision models (LVM) and transformer network-based automatic speech recognition (ASR). That should speed everything from the responses of the on-board digital assistant to the ability to quickly generate images based on user input.

AI-powered features have been central to rival devices like Google's Pixel phones, and now the Galaxy S24 is looking to add more on-board smarts as well. We're interested to see if the OnePlus 12 taps into that aspect of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 to keep pace with its rivals.

What about camera capabilities?

OnePlus 12 cameras

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Along that same token, we may know the particulars about the camera lenses OnePlus is including on the new phone. What we don't know is what features will augment those lenses, as OnePlus looks to keep improving its reputation for making improved camera phones.

The camera hardware announcement includes one possible clue. We've been told the Sony LYT-T808 being used for the main camera features a  1/1.43-inch optical format, which should capture more light for brighter photos. That could be a sign that OnePlus is looking to bolster the OnePlus 12's performance in low light, possibly with supporting software features to aid in that goal.

We also know that the OnePlus 12 will mark another collaboration between OnePlus and lens specialist Hasselblad. That partnership has delivered improvements to color as well as brighter, sharper images in recent versions of the OnePlus phone.

Will the OnePlus 12 charge at a different speed in the U.S.?

OnePlus 12

(Image credit: Steve Hemmerstoffer / OnLeaks)

While there's no official word on how fast wired charging will be on the OnePlus 12, chances are it's going to be awfully speed. The rumor we've heard is 100W charging, which would match the capability of the OnePlus 11.

Or at least, it would match the current flagship depending on what part of the world you're in. As you may recall, U.S. OnePlus 11 owners can only charge at 80W, owing to voltage limitations in this country. Make no mistake — that's still plenty speedy, as we saw a drained OnePlus 11 get to a 97% charge after half-an-hour. But in other countries, the OnePlus 11 can get to a full charge even faster.

When the OnePlus 12 launches in China, OnePlus will likely only talk about charging speeds in that country. If you're a U.S. shopper considering the OnePlus 12, it's important to understand that there may be very different charging speeds given when the phone launches globally next year.

What kind of water resistance rating will the OnePlus 12 offer?

OnePlus 12 renders

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Older OnePlus flagships didn't always come with an IP rating for water and dust resistance, thanks to the phone maker's desire to keep costs down. That's changed in recent years, as phone carriers are reluctant to offer devices that don't have an IP rating of some sort. And in the U.S., the primary way people buy their phones is through wireless carriers, so that's a requirement OnePlus needs to meet if it wants its flagship to enjoy wider availability.

The OnePlus 11 features an IP64 rating which means it can survive a splash of water, but not much else. It's well short of the IP68 rating you'll find on phones like the iPhone 15 and Galaxy S23, as you can submerge those devices in water and still be able to use them. Will the OnePlus 12 improve upon its predecessor in this area? That's something we're waiting to hear about.

How much will the OnePlus 12 cost?

There have been very few rumors about the OnePlus 12's price, leaving us to guess as to whether it will feature the same $699 starting cost as the OnePlus 11. ideally, it will, as that phone is $100 cheaper than the least expensive flagships from Apple and Samsung. 

At the same time, though, the cost of smartphone components is one the rise. And the OnePlus 12 improvements we already know about — the brighter screen, the longer zoom length don't come cheaply.

The OnePlus 12 launch in China is likely to only focus on the phone's price in that country. That will give us some idea of what it might cost elsewhere, but a straight currency conversion won't give you an accurate picture, as phone makers generally adjust pricing to specific markets. This may be one area where the answers to our burning questions will have to wait.

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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.