With the Galaxy S23 Unpacked event on February 1 and the OnePlus 11 launch on February 7, the second month of 2023 is set to be quite busy for phones. While Samsung will certainly rule the roost, many look forward to OnePlus' latest flagship (which is already available in China).
It's been no secret that OnePlus has chased Samsung for several years at this point. I look back to at least the OnePlus 8 series where prices really started to rise, but so did the quality of the phone's build and cameras. And yet, the mainline OnePlus phones have still come up short against Samsung in many ways.
The OnePlus 10 Pro last year put up an admirable fight, as that phone offered a lot for $899. At the end of the day, however, the $799 Galaxy S22 proved a better buy in most respects — OnePlus won our recommendation based on the 10 Pro's excellent battery life.
OnePlus has another competitor in Google with the Pixel line growing in popularity with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series. Google also has taken OnePlus' old spot as the value king, offering its Pixel 7 for $599 and Pixel 7 Pro for $899. (And let's not forget about the fantastic Pixel 6a for $449, which runs laps around the OnePlus Nord phones.)
Based on rumors so far, OnePlus has a serious uphill battle to climb this year in a theoretical Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. OnePlus 11 face-off. The Galaxy S23 looks to be quite an impressive device, equivalent to the OnePlus 11 in many, if not all, ways. (We'll need to wait to see how the battery life is on both devices.) With the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, a triple camera setup with a telephoto lens, and Samsung's display acumen, I fear the Galaxy S23 will overshadow the OnePlus 11, no matter how good the latter is.
That is, unless OnePlus gets the price right.
The OnePlus 11 comes with a 6.7-inch QHD+ AMOLED display, which is larger than the Galaxy S23's purported 6.1-inch screen size. Plus, the resolution is higher, but at these measurements, the extra pixels aren't worth a whole lot. I expect the biggest difference to be the refresh rate.
The OnePlus 11 sports a 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate, which will outdo the Galaxy S23 unless Samsung changes things up. With the Galaxy S22, you only got a 48-120Hz range, which partially helped explain the disparity in battery life — something that remained true with the Galaxy S22 Plus (which had a battery capacity more akin to the OnePlus 10 Pro). If that stays the same this year, then OnePlus will have a key advantage for power efficiency and smoothness.
And better yet if the OnePlus 11 undercuts the Galaxy S23 on price. We expect the latter to cost $799, just like last year, based on recent leaks. We don't know what OnePlus plans to charge for the 11, but even just $100 less would be huge.
If OnePlus gets the pricing right, it could beat out Samsung in terms of how we rank the new devices in our lists of the best phones and best Android phones. Even if nothing changed from the OnePlus 10 Pro, which which we know isn't true, a $699 OnePlus 11 would be a killer deal.
Of course, there's nothing to do but wait until February 7 to see what OnePlus has up its sleeve. And February 1 isn't far off at all, where we'll find out what Samsung has cooked up. Keep an eye here for both events with our reviews to follow in the days after.