OnePlus 12 Review: A No-Frills Flagship for 2024

Does the lack of any generative AI software features in 2024 put the spec-heavy OnePlus 12 in a soup?

OnePlus 12 Review: A No-Frills Flagship for 2024

The OnePlus 12 is priced from Rs. 64,999 in India

Highlights
  • The OnePlus 12 has an official IP65 rating
  • It is one of the few flagships with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC
  • Telephoto camera performance is quite impressive
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The OnePlus 12 is the brand's regular flagship, which for several years has been following one straight line, attempting to nail the basics. It's the flagship that many OnePlus fans will reach out for (versus the pricier Open), but unlike previous models, there seems to be no visible compromise. You get a very capable camera system from the OnePlus Open, an IP rating and even wireless charging. But one area OnePlus has stayed silent about is AI. Unlike Google's Pixel 8 series and Samsung's Galaxy S24 series, the 12 has no user-facing and fun generative AI software features. Apple, too, is expected to announce several generative AI features with iOS 18 this year.

So, is the lack of AI-enabled features a big deal in a smartphone segment that has stagnated over time? Or has OnePlus done enough to make one forget about the absence of AI features? Let's find out.

OnePlus 12 Review: Price in India

Unlike the OnePlus Open, the OnePlus 12 is available in two variants. The visible bump in its price tag (from Rs. 56,999) seems justifiable given that the base variant now offers 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which is priced at Rs. 64,999. The second variant, with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, retails at Rs. 69,999, which seems quite competitive, keeping the hardware on offer.

The OnePlus 12 is available in Flowy Emerald and Silky Black. We received the Flowy Emerald finish of the 512GB variant for review.

In the box, OnePlus offers a soft TPU case, a Type-A to Type-C charging cable and a 100W charger. This seems like quite a handful, given that Samsung's Galaxy S24 only provides a charging cable in the box.

OnePlus 12 Review: Design

The OnePlus 12 sticks to its roots when it comes to design and choice of material. Unlike the OnePlus Open, which was a step in a different direction altogether, the OnePlus 12 builds on the bigger changes. These were brought about by the OnePlus 10 Pro, which introduced the odd-looking, gas stove-like layout. With time, this layout, which started off with four camera cutouts (one of which was for the dual-LED flash) set into a square with rounded corners, evolved into a circular module, which appeared to be pressed into the raised glass rear panel on the OnePlus 11.

OnePlus 12 5G front design ndtv OnePlus125G  OnePlus

The OnePlus 12's curved glass screen has curved edges at the top and bottom as well

 

For the new OnePlus 12, OnePlus goes with a flat glass rear panel and a similar-looking circular camera module, with the same wraparound design on the left side of the frame. To make it appear different, the company went with a flat holder for the circular camera module, which has flat glass fitted into the circular holder that resembles a premium timepiece and looks very classy. But for some reason, this one isn't finished to the typical OnePlus standards.

The part where the camera module wraps around the edge of the frame is quite sharp at both corners, and the plastic filler that connects both the camera module and mid-frame together seems a bit misaligned as well, resulting in a noticeable ridge, which breaks the seamlessness of the curved flap. I've inspected some other OnePlus 12 units, and the sharp corners, along with the misaligned filler, indeed seem to be a design and quality oversight. These tolerances indeed seem to be similar to the ones initially reported by some users in China at the launch.

OnePlus 12 5G back design ndtv OnePlus125G  OnePlus

The wrap-around camera module has some really sharp edges near the mid-frame with some misaligned plastic fillers

 

Thankfully, these misalignments and fitting issues don't appear to affect the IP rating of the device. The IP65 rating also surprisingly aligns with the above, so there's no reason for a user to immerse the phone in water as it is only designed to handle splashes of it. This is a bit limiting as several smartphones in and below this segment offer an IP67 or IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

As for the finish, I like the polished metal frame, which adds a level of grip, given the beautifully textured glass of the Flowy Emerald finish. Fans will be happy to see the return of the iconic Alert Slider, but for reasons best known to OnePlus, it's now located on the left side instead of the right. The power and volume buttons are now on the right. This is a layout similar to the OnePlus Open in an unfolded state.

OnePlus 12 Review: Specifications and software

As always, this flagship has the latest and best core hardware available. This would include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC, there's a maximum of 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and up to 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage but no room for storage expansion. The fingerprint reader is embedded into the display, is of the optical variety, and worked reliably during the course of this review.

Communication standards include Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4, NFC and support for several global satellite positioning systems. There's also support for plenty of 5G bands and space for two physical nano SIM slots and dual-5G standby.

OnePlus 12 5G back specs ndtv OnePlus125G  OnePlus

The phone looks and feels quite premium and also has an official IP65 rating this year

 

The phone has a 5,400mAh (dual-cell) battery, and OnePlus includes a 100W charger in the box. However, charging speeds are capped at 80W. The phone also offers 50W wireless charging using the company's proprietary wireless charging dock, which is sold separately at Rs. 5,499.

The phone runs OxygenOS 14.0, which is based on Android 14. OnePlus promises four years of OS updates and five years of security updates, which seems good enough. As for the OxygenOS 14, it pretty much appears the same as the previous version of the ColorOS-derived software.

Among the minor visual updates is something new called Fluid Cloud functions like iOS's Live Activities. The feature adds a Dynamic Island-inspired capsule on the extreme left in the status bar that provides relevant data (like a countdown timer for a delivery service) for native and third-party apps. Like iOS, you can tap and hold the capsule to expand it to a bigger card with additional buttons (to pause or stop the activity) or tap once to open the app itself. The same data also appears on the lock screen as well. The feature is also available on the Android 14 versions of Oppo's ColorOS and Realme UI 5.0 (called Flash Capsule).

OnePlus 12 5G front software open ndtv OnePlus125G  OnePlus

OxygenOS 14's Fluid Cloud works well but is limited to a few apps.

 

Also new is Smart Suggestions, which works with Fluid Cloud on the home screen and on the lock screen but also shows relevant updates from Zomato and Swiggy (for now) on the Always-on Display (AOD). It's a nifty new feature that takes advantage of the phone's AOD feature, reducing the need to pick up your phone, unlock it, and check notifications for updates.

While the overall software experience is pretty polished, the phone does not offer any generative AI software features, which is the current party trick for premium devices this year. There are a few AI-enabled features if you look for them, like Smart Touch, which basically extracts text from a screenshot. Smart Imaging Matting, according to Oppo, also uses AI to cut out people and objects from photos, but this is something we have already seen on Samsung devices or even on iPhones in the past year, so it's nothing new.

This is not just the case with OnePlus but also with all brands under the BBK Electronics umbrella, as was the case with Vivo X100 Pro, which is priced at Rs. 89,999. While Google and Samsung seem to have made a fun and handy use-case for their respective generative AI capabilities, it has indeed yet to come to the point where a consumer will start to expect or demand such features from every flagship smartphone.

With Samsung and Google joining hands to push for more generative AI features on their respective smartphones, the BBK brands will soon start to miss out and risk losing customers if they don't cook up something interesting in coming updates. This is more so because Apple, which has for long steering cleared of “AI” is also expected to go big on it with its iOS 18 software update.

OnePlus 12 Review: Performance

With the latest hardware inside, my expectations, whether it was the user experience with software or raw performance in synthetic benchmarks, were sky-high. Software performance is buttery smooth, but benchmarks even with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC come up short when compared to the iQoo 12 (also Snapdragon 8 Gen 3) and were noticeably less when compared to the Vivo X100 Pro (MediaTek Dimensity 9300), especially in AnTuTu and Geekbench. The OnePlus 12 scored 1,629,220 points on AnTuTu, while Vivo's X100 Pro managed 2,020,631 points on the same test.

As for raw performance, the phone performs well while playing Call of Duty: Mobile. It easily manages 120fps when set to ‘medium' graphics and ‘ultra' frame rate. Setting the graphics and frame rate to Very High also seems to not stress out this phone. More importantly, the large vapour chamber cooling system does its job of keeping the phone cool both when playing high-end 3D games and even when using the camera app to shoot 4K videos back to back.

OnePlus 12 5G back design open ndtv OnePlus125G  OnePlus

The OnePlus 12 (right) appears very different from its foldable cousin, the Open (left)

 

More importantly, the 120Hz display keeps up, with the touch sampling rate being on point and very accurate, making this a very reliable mobile gaming machine. The display shows mostly accurate colours when viewed in the Pro Screen colour mode. Pictures and text appear tack sharp at 510 ppi. The OnePlus 12 still remains one of the only smartphones to offer such a high-resolution QHD+ display at this price point, and I had this set to its full resolution during the review.

With 4,500 nits of peak brightness, outdoor usage is not a problem either. But this also works well in its favour when watching HDR10+ or Dolby Vision content on supported streaming apps. The ProXDR display also comes into use when viewing photos in their full dynamic range, and the same applies to Dolby Vision 4K 30fps video recordings, which the phone is capable of. The audio quality is pretty good as well, and it sounded very immersive while playing games. It was also sufficient when it came to watching the video. Aqua Touch also works quite well when there's water on the display and can be a lifesaver on rainy days, given that the phone finally supports an IP65 rating.

OnePlus 12 5G front display ndtv OnePlus125G  OnePlus

The phone's QHD+ display is very sharp and gets really bright at 4,500 nits of peak brightness

 

Battery life is also equally impressive. The phone managed a solid 28 hours and 6 minutes in our standard video loop battery test, which was well above expectations for a smartphone both at this price point and above. With daily usage, I easily managed around 9 hours of screen-on time or about a day and a half of heavy usage (connected to both data and W-Fi), which also included camera usage, an hour of gaming and about 3 hours of video streaming.

And when the battery did eventually die out, charging it was pretty fast, with the 80W capped wired charging managing 99 percent in 30 minutes and completing the charge in 37 minutes. Wireless charging is also available, but OnePlus did not provide us with their AirVOOC charger, so we could not test it.

OnePlus 12 Review: Cameras

The OnePlus 12 packs an impressive camera setup, which has been largely borrowed from the OnePlus Open, the company's book-style foldable. Its primary camera's Sony LYT-808 50-megapixel sensor is slightly different from the Sony LYT-T808 camera used on the OnePlus Open, but the results are very similar. The main differences I noticed when comparing the two were down to focusing speed and reliability along with slightly superior image processing, which is probably down to the slightly advanced ISP in the new SoC as the OnePlus Open has a slightly older Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC.

OnePlus 12 5G back cameras ndtv OnePlus125G  OnePlus

This year's camera module has been inspired by wristwatches

 

The primary camera captures detailed images with excellent contrast and colour, showing plenty of details in shadows and not going overboard in the brighter areas of the scene. Sharpness is on point, and details are excellent, whether it's textured surfaces or even foliage. Low light performance also comes quite close but drops a bit in terms of detail and dynamic range.

IMG20240124081844 OnePlus125G  OnePlus

OnePlus 12 camera samples. Top to bottom: Ultra-wide, primary and telephoto (3X) (tap expand images)

 

Like the OnePlus Open, the 64-megapixel 3X telephoto camera is the showstopper and manages jaw-droppingly impressive photos in all kinds of lighting conditions. Pictures of objects and subjects come out quite sharp, even under artificial light, with a natural bokeh. It's excellent for portrait photos of pets and people alike, and I enjoyed using this one to snap photos of my 4-year-old. However, this camera prioritises exposure over shutter speed and cannot handle moving subjects well. So, despite packing OIS, there are chances that your subject may appear a bit blurry if they move during capture. In terms of zoom, the phone manages good photos up to 6X (lossless in-sensor zoom), beyond which image quality begins to deteriorate.

The primary camera (top) captures good photos in low light, but the telephoto camera (bottom) performs even better (tap image to expand)

 

One detail that OnePlus has, for some reason, still not managed to fix (even on the Open after updates) is the white balance of its telephoto camera. Images captured with it appear quite warm and saturated compared to the primary camera, which is closer to accurate. This results in photos that appear yellowish, especially when shooting something largely white.

Given how well the primary and the telephoto perform, I did expect the ultra-wide to perform equally well (hoping that the new SoC would make a difference), but it handles imaging in the same way the Open did. While they look alright on the phone, they lack sharpness and detail and somehow seem a bit soft, not just in low light but in daylight as well. Indeed, these are far from what Google's Pixel 8 Pro manages, but it is priced a lot higher.

The OnePlus 12 shoots detailed selfies in daylight (top) but does not perform well in low light (bottom) (tap images to expand)

 

Macro photos pack in a lot of detail, and the telephoto camera also lets me shoot close-ups that appear quite sharp. Selfies come out well with good dynamic range, accurate skin tones and edge detection in daylight, but low-light shots are quite average and leave a lot to be desired.

Video quality has notable improvements over the OnePlus 11, footage captured at 4K appears very stable and shows slightly vibrant colour as well. Dynamic range is excellent, and so is the bitrate. Quality takes a slight hit in low light, but noise is kept to a minimum. Colours are in check, and stabilisation is also handled well. I also tried out the 8K video, which still feels a bit gimmicky, given that the phone cannot handle a steady framerate while shooting.

OnePlus 12 Review: Verdict

The OnePlus 12 performs well on all fronts and easily outdoes the smartphone it replaces. And so, it's easy to recommend as an upgrade even for those who own the previous model.

OnePlus has followed its usual formula and delivered a smartphone that fits in perfectly between the sub-Rs. 50,000 premium devices and the high-end sub-Rs 90,000 segment, which includes devices like Google's Pixel 8 (Review) (starts from Rs. 75,999) and Samsung's Galaxy S24 (starts from Rs. 79,999). However, both of these contenders do pack some cool AI tricks which the OnePlus 12 properly avoids.

If you are the type that wants to try out something new and hop aboard the AI bandwagon, then the latter two are a better choice. But if you don't care about AI, it's really hard to ignore the OnePlus 12 as it offers excellent value for money, getting you a bigger (and better display), better performance, flexible cameras and excellent battery life (with wireless charging) for less.


Is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 the best foldable phone you can buy in India right now? We discuss the company's new clamshell-style foldable handset on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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  • REVIEW
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • IP65 rated
  • Vibrant 120Hz QHD+ display
  • Excellent battery life
  • Fast wired and wireless charging
  • Smooth and bloatware-free software
  • Quality primary and telephoto cameras
  • Good for gaming
  • Bad
  • Minor quality issues
  • Ultra-wide angle camera could be better
  • Low light selfies are below average
Display 6.82-inch
Processor Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Front Camera 32-megapixel
Rear Camera 50-megapixel + 64-megapixel + 48-megapixel
RAM 12GB, 16GB
Storage 256GB, 512GB
Battery Capacity 5400mAh
OS Android 14
Resolution 1440x3168 pixels
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For details of the latest launches and news from Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, OnePlus, Oppo and other companies at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, visit our MWC 2024 hub.

Sheldon Pinto
Sheldon Pinto is based in Mumbai, and has several years of experience in reviewing smartphones and gadgets. As a Senior Reviewer at Gadgets 360, you will always find him deeply immersed in his reviews, switching from one phone to another. When the battery dies out, Sheldon is always browsing the web for a good sci-fi movie or reading up on cars and bikes. He also loves creating lists of interesting places to eat and travel. Sheldon is available on Twitter at @shellshocd, and you can mail him at ...More
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