OnePlus 12 review: The affordable flagship phone

The OnePlus 12, a far more complete flagship than previous versions

OnePlus 12 camera closeup.
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

This is one of the biggest upgrades to OnePlus' flagship phone in years, with the OnePlus 12 propelling the phone maker into a more serious contender against the likes of Apple and Samsung. The OnePlus 12 features a larger display, triple cameras with an upgraded 3x periscope camera, Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, and speedy 80W wired charging. It even manages to throw in wireless charging and an IR blaster, while basically costing the same as before.


  • +

    Wireless charging returns

  • +

    Sharper 3x periscope camera

  • +

    Bright, high-contrast display

  • +

    Responsive performance

  • +

    Price is basically the same


  • -

    No AI features at launch

  • -

    Underexposed low light photos

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OnePlus is riding a wave that could propel it over the hump that’s prevented its phones from reaching the upper echelon of the food chain. The OnePlus Open prevailed last fall in surprising myself (and my colleagues) in becoming the best foldable phone around. Now there’s a chance for the OnePlus 12 to propel the series reputation to the next level.

In my years of reviewing OnePlus phones, they’ve almost come up short in achieving that premier status bestowed upon the best phones. Usually the camera performance of OnePlus' flagship phones lags against its main rivals, but the OnePlus 12 aims to remedy this in a big way with an upgraded Hasselblad Camera for Mobile system, newer image processing, and larger sensor.

But beyond the camera, the OnePlus 12 also sees the return of wireless charging — which adds to this phone's overall value. And if that’s not enough to convince you of the phone maker's "never settle" philosophy, the OnePlus 12 will still cost you no more than last year’s model. All of this makes for a compelling argument for the OnePlus 12, so I’ll dive into all the details on how it shapes up in my review.

OnePlus 12 review: Price and availability

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

Technically speaking, the OnePlus 12’s starting price increases to $799. That’s a $100 increase over the OnePlus 11. It’s not what anyone wants to see, but it’s not entirely surprising either given how Apple and Google upped the prices of their respective top-of-the-line flagships by the same amount.

Through an exclusive trade-in offer available only through the OnePlus’ website, you can get an additional $100 off the price of the phone by trading in any phone in any condition — effectively bringing the cost of the OnePlus 12 down to the same $699 cost as last year’s model. Once again, the company is undercutting its rivals in this area, and quite frankly, it’s proof that the OnePlus 12 is one of the best affordable flagships around.

While the base model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB storage starts out at $799, there’s also a 16GB RAM model offering 512GB of storage for $899. It will go on sale starting February 6 at OnePlus directly and select retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon.

OnePlus 12 review: Specifications

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Display6.82-inch 2K OLED
Refresh rate1-120Hz adaptive
Rear cameras50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 64MP 3x telephoto
Front camera32MP selfie
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 3
Battery5,400 mAh
Charging80W wired, 50W wireless
Colors Flowy Emerald, Silky Black

OnePlus 12 review: Design

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

There’s a lot to say about the OnePlus 12’s design. It’s underrated and deserves a lot more attention because quite frankly, it’s stunning to behold. 

There’s just something about the circular camera hump on the back of the phone, combined with its metal trim sides and textured casing, it always looks good out of my pockets. Smudges rarely stay on because of its textured casing, while the narrower size of the OnePlus 12 makes it much easier to grasp with one hand over the Galaxy S24 Ultra or iPhone 15 Pro Max.

There are some minor changes to the OnePlus 12 design, like the repositioning of the silent switch to the left side, but the overall design language and aesthetic remains the same. Although, OnePlus is generous enough to fashion an IR blaster on the top edge of the phone — allowing it to double as the ultimate universal remote to control all of my favorite gadgets at home.

My only concern about the OnePlus 12 design is that it feels more top heavy than its predecessor, which is a result of the phone's increased weight. (It's half-an-ounce heavier than the OnePlus 11.) I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker, but I’m more careful about handling the phone because it won’t end nicely if it were to drop accidentally.

OnePlus 12 review: Display

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

For the price, the OnePlus 12’s 6.82-inch 2K ProXDR display has its share of delights, including OnePlus' claim that the screen can reach an unheard of 4,500 nits peak brightness. From what I can gather during my time using the phone, the ProXDR on the OnePlus 12 dishes up strong brightness in direct sunlight — allowing me to see everything with crystal clarity results.

I’m still skeptical about the phone reaching that 4,500 nit peak, but I’ll be content if it can eclipse the 1,300 nits of brightness that the OnePlus 11 produced with its display. Paired with a 120Hz display refresh rate, I find the OnePlus 12 suitable for intensive gaming where there’s a lot of action happening on screen. Everything flows smoothly, making the most demanding games look fluid.

One interesting tidbit about the display is Aqua Touch, which is new technology that ensures accuracy if the phone’s screen is wet. If you’re like me and sometimes bring your phone into the shower to scroll through your feeds or play a few tunes, then you can appreciate Aqua Touch’s increased sensitivity.

OnePlus 12 review: Camera

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus phones have always come up short in the camera department against their rivals, but the new triple camera arrangement of the OnePlus 12 intends to prove that this phone can finally break that stigma. The 4th Gen Hasselblad Camera for Mobile system of the OnePLus 12 consists of a main 50MP camera, 48MP ultrawide, and a 64MP periscope camera with 3x optical zoom.

The telephoto camera is an iterative improvement over the OnePlus 11’s 32MP 2x telephoto zoom, but I’m happy to report that just about every performance metric around the cameras is better than before.

Starting with the 50MP main camera, it produces excellent results accompanied by sharp details, realistic colors, and good dynamic range. However, I don’t see a tremendous difference against the OnePlus 11’s main camera when the lighting conditions are good.

The 48MP ultrawide camera on the OnePlus 12 also holds up well, especially in high contrast scenes that have strong sources of light. The above photos from the OnePlus 12 and 11 show they’re evenly matched at balancing the overall exposure of the scene.

There’s very little separating their portrait mode performances too, as the OnePlus 12 casts the same amount of blur to the background — while maintaining the details of my jacket and hoodie in the photos above.

Switching over to the OnePlus 12's front-facing camera for selfies, I like the realistic skin tones it captures. My face in particular has a more realistic, true-to-life tone than the lighter shade I see with the OnePlus 11.

The biggest improvement in my opinion centers around the new 64MP periscope camera that bumps optical zoom capabilities to 3x, compared to 2x on the OnePlus 11. And with the help of OnePlus 12's high-resolution sensor, images can be enlarged with a 6x in-sensor zoom — and without any degradation to the details. You can see how the wooden textures are more defined in the photos above with the OnePlus 12.

There’s just no comparison because the 3x zoom photos I captured with the OnePlus 12 are sharper, more detailed than the 2x zoom camera of the OnePlus 11. When I crop into the photos, I can still make out the higher fidelity look of the 12’s photos.

Low-light performance is a toss up because I notice that the OnePlus 12 has a tendency to underexpose scenes and cast a warmer color temperature compared to the OnePlus 11.You can see it in the photo of my detached garage above. On the flip side, when I punch into the shots to inspect the details, I can visually tell there’s less noise in the OnePlus 12’s photos and more detail is captured.

Video recording on the OnePlus 12 tops out at 8K, which comes in handy for cropping in post when I export video in 4K resolution. Aside from that, the OnePlus 12's 4K 30fps capture is usually my preferred shooting option.

In the video I captured of the ice rink at Bryant Park, the OnePlus 12 manages to produce crisp details with its main camera, but I wish it offered preset zoom options instead of the zoom slider. Aside from that, its video quality has a lot of good points including its strong details capture, moderate exposure adjustment, and the zoom camera gets to a max 18x zoom level. 

OnePlus certainly caters to enthusiasts because there are plenty of shooting modes and controls to access. In addition to a dedicated Pro mode that lets me adjust the shutter speed, focus, and ISO level, you also get a dedicated movie mode with a flat color profile option. I like having this on hand because it gives me the leeway to better color grade the footage later on to my liking.

Overall, the OnePlus 12 makes considerable gains everywhere around the camera to undoubtedly prove it’s better than last year's model. That’s a win in my book, but there’s more to camera phnes now than just producing the best photos. In an era where AI-assisted photo and video editing is being deployed on more phones, the OnePlus 12 misses its opportunity to get on board in this area. You won't find an AI photo features like the ones on, say, the Galaxy S24.

OnePlus 12 review: Performance

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

Even though it’s not the first phone to offer Qualcomm’s latest top-of-the-line mobile chipset, the OnePlus 12 still flexes some muscle thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. Basic operations such as scrolling through the interface and running apps are all accompanied with tight responses. It also helps that the OnePlus 12's 120Hz refresh rate smooths out all animations to make them look more fluid.

After running all the usual synthetic benchmark tests, we can confirm that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is no slouch in the graphics processing department — averaging a wicked fast 117 frames per second with the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited test. Its score of 19,572 is also better than what the iPhone 15 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra can produce.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
OnePlus 12 benchmark scores
Row 0 - Cell 0 OnePlus 12iPhone 15 ProGalaxy S23 Ultra
Geekbench2,188 / 6,5252,890 / 7,1941,396 / 4,882
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited117.2 fps / 19,57294.3 fps / 15,74787 fps / 14,611
Adobe Premiere Rush video transcoding (Mins:Secs)0:590:25.50:40

Impressively, the OnePlus pulls out amazing figure with GeekBench, with its single and multi-core scores of 2,188 and 6,525 respectively. Although, it took 59 seconds for the OnePlus 12 to render a video in Adobe Rush Premiere — that also trails the faster render times of the iPhone 15 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra.

I’m not one to always lean on the scores of synthetic benchmark tests, so I’m happy to report that the OnePlus 12 runs graphically intensive titles like Diablo Immortal almost flawlessly. I’m not hung up on the GeekBench scores as much knowing that the phone has yet to do anything that would indicate it’s sluggish in every day useage.

OnePlus 12 review: Battery life and charging

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

I’m ecstatic to see that OnePlus listens to its fans and critics because it brought back wireless charging to the OnePlus 12. It’s a satisfying return because the OnePlus charges at the ridiculous wireless rate of 50W — besting everything else out there in the market. 

Battery life has been a specialty of the series for a long time now and the OnePlus 12 is no exception. Packaged with a 5,400 mAh battery, it’s able to confidently get me through an entire working day without the need to recharge. On average, I find it at about 25% capacity on most working days. It’s undeniably better than what I get with other phones, but it will truly prove its endurance after being put through proper benchmark testing.

My real world usage is further substantiated in Tom's Guide's battery benchmark test, resulting in an absolute monster time of 17 hours and 41 minutes. By comparison, it crushes the OnePlus 11's mark of 13 hours and 10 minutes — proving in the process that it's the best phone battery life in a flagship model to date. Much of this is attributed to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3's improved power efficiency,  also indicated by our Galaxy S24 Ultra battery tests.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 OnePlus 12OnePlus 11
Battery size5,400 mAh5,000 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)17:4113:10
Charging80W (U.S.) / 100W (international)80W (U.S.) / 100W (international)
Recharge percentage (15 mins)60 (80W)57 (80W)
Recharge percentage (30 mins)100 (80W)97 (80W)

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 12 also makes an improvement with its recharge times. I love how topping up can get you a higher charge, evident in how it gets to 60% capacity in 15 minutes. And unlike its predecessor, which topped at 97% after 30 minutes, the OnePlus 12 gets to 100% in the same amount of time.

These are all mind-boggling results and proves OnePlus' mastery in this particular area. And now that wireless charging is back, it simply gives the OnePlus 12 a more complete package than ever before.

OnePlus 12 review: Software

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

Another area where OnePlus could’ve gained ground pertains to its OxygenOS interface — especially since it doesn’t offer anything worthwhile. OnePlus still delivers a clean, modern-looking interface with its own set of special features, like the smart sidebar that lets me choose apps for quick access to them. But what OxygeneOS lacks are AI features that make the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24 more compelling.

Clearly AI features require resources to develop and perfect, which is why OnePlus is tapping Google to introduce some AI features to the OnePlus 12. One item in particular coming to the OnePlus 12 is Magic Compose, a feature developed by Google, which will leverage generative AI to provide users with personalized messages. It’s similar to the Galaxy AI’s Chat assist feature with the Galaxy S24, which will take what you write and give other options to sound professional, casual, or for social media.

Adding to that, OnePLus plans to introduce a feature called “Emojify” that will use generative AI to create emojis by analyzing a user’s profile picture or snapshots of their pets. I don’t know how useful or practical this feature may be to the average person, so I’ll find out when OnePlus releases them by the end of Q1 2024.

Outside of this, OxygenOS 14 looks and functions very much like its last iteration on the OnePlus 11. I’m actually surprised by this because OnePlus introduced several handy features with the Open foldable phone, like its unique multi-tasking with Open Canvas — so I was expecting the same level of attention to enhance the experience more with the OnePlus 12.

OnePlus 12 hands-on: Verdict

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

If there’s one thing I can’t get out of my mind about the OnePlus 12, it’s how this flagship phone feels more competitive than ever before. With the reintroduction of wireless charging plus extending its telephoto range even more, it’s hard to deny its value over all other flagship phones.

I’m very picky about what I spend my money on. When I do, I want to ensure there’s tremendous value in what I’m getting — and the OnePlus 12 proves it’s the affordable flagship to beat yet again. While I’m bummed that it’s slacked in the AI-front, its considerably lower price point paired with everything I mentioned above allows anyone on a tight budget to experience a top-notch flagship at the not so typical overpriced cost.

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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.