As I wrote in a recent story, OnePlus really seems to be back on track after a few years of experimenting with its product lineup.
First with the excellent OnePlus 11, which is one of the best value flagships of 2023; then with the awesome OnePlus Nord 3, which is one of the best mid-range phones of the year; and most recently with the show stopping OnePlus Open, which is now considered the best folding phone on the global market by many.
OnePlus has shown great consistency in three perfectly different price segments ($400, $700, $1,700), and it’s almost time to spin the wheel again, starting over with the successor to the OnePlus 11, the OnePlus 12.
However, while the 11 marked a long-awaited return to the “flagship-killer” formula OnePlus became famous for, the 12 is shaping up as a proper Galaxy S24 Ultra and Pixel 8 Pro challenger. December 19 marks OnePlus’ 10th anniversary as a phone-maker, which might be why the company is aiming to make something more ambitious.
With that in mind, I’ll tell you why the OnePlus 12 could turn out to be the dark horse of the 2024 race for best Android flagship, but also, the one thing that could get in the way of OnePlus’s success.
OnePlus 12 might make the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Pixel 8 Pro look bad: The OG flagship-killer company is going all in
Starting with arguably the most important part of any phone, the OnePlus 12 is expected to bring a record-breaking display, which the company has already shown at a recent event held in China.
According to sources familiar with the matter, “the OnePlus 12 will probably have the best display in the world in 2024”. The BEO-made panel is said to become a “major blow for Samsung” in two key ways.
For one, the South Korean company, which has been known for making the best displays in the business for many years, might begin giving up its leadership position to BEO (many other phone-makers are now expected to switch to BEO panels). And, of course, this would mean the Galaxy S24 Ultra might be properly challenged in the one department that Samsung used to have “in the bag” since forever.
OnePlus and BEO promise a display with better color accuracy, higher level of eye protection, better viewing angles, longer life span, lower power consumption, and noticeably higher brightness in the 3000-4000 nits range, which sounds pretty crazy.
Of course, we’ll have to see the OnePlus 12 to believe all of this, but if those claims prove to be true, this might be one of the biggest upgrades in display tech in a while (excluding folding panel), and if you follow the industry, you’ll know that this doesn’t happen often.
OnePlus is cooking a special camera system for the OnePlus 12, which could (technically) make it the best camera phone on the market
The OnePlus 12 looks super sleek and badass in black. The shiny camera island has been growing on me since the launch of the OnePlus 11.
To be clear, the whole “best camera phone” debate is largely subjective, and doesn’t exactly have a clear answer. For example, right now, I find the iPhone 15 Pro Max to be the best camera phone out there thanks to Apple’s big upgrades to image processing and the iPhone’s everlasting dominance in videography (for normal users and professionals).
But the brand new OnePlus Open (yes, the folding phone) has just proven that OnePlus is very much part of the big camera race. It takes some of the most natural photos on the market (via the Hasselblad color mode), class-leading ultra-wide photos, and even incredible 10x zoom shots with only a 3x zoom camera, rivalling the 10x shooter of the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
The OnePlus 12 is expected to have a very similar camera setup to that of the Open but don’t let this fool you. It’s not that the OnePlus 12 will have a subpar camera system that’s coming from a folding phone – it’s the other way around. The real takeaway here is that OnePlus has managed to fit this flagship-grade camera setup into a foldable.
Below are the leaked/rumored specs according to usually reliable tipster Yogesh Brar. I’ve already said this before, but the 3x zoom camera and ultra-wide shooters in the Open are some of the absolute best ones on the market, while the unique “stacked” primary cam promises to deliver the same light intake as a 1-inch sensor thanks to its ability to gather nearly twice as much light compared to a conventional 1/1.4-inch sensor.
What could turn these class-leading camera sensors into one of the best camera systems in 2024 is the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. Remember, despite using an identical camera system, the OnePlus Open’s image processing relies on the year-old Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. And as it’s been proven many times before, a new chip with upgraded processing can result in a massive difference in photo and video quality.
3x zoom – OnePlus Open (left), Galaxy S23 Ultra (right). OnePlus’ photo has better exposure, more details, and a more DSLR-like look thanks to the larger sensor and aperture.
10x zoom – OnePlus Open (left), Galaxy S23 Ultra (right). OnePlus’ photo has better exposure and just as much detail as the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s shot.
OnePlus 12 camera specs according to leaks/rumors:
OnePlus 12 primary camera
- 48MP Sony IMX966 (1/1.4-inch sensor)
- OIS, f/1.7, 84° (FoV), 23mm
OnePlus 12 telephoto camera
- 64MP OmniVision OV64B (1/2-inch sensor), 3X optical zoom (70mm), 6x lossless zoom, 120x digital zoom
- OIS, f/2.5, 33° (FoV)
OnePlus 12 ultra-wide camera
- 48MP Sony IMX581 (1/2-inch sensor)
- f/2.2, 114° (FoV), 14mm, Auto-Focus with Macro-mode
OnePlus 12 could be the best-value flagship phone of 2024 (if OnePlus manages to keep the price in check)
The OnePlus 12 is expected to have an Incredible battery/charging experience granted by OnePlus’ commitment to super-fast charging and super-large 5,400 mAh battery. Wireless charging is also coming back. With this, and the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 with up to 24GB of RAM (as per rumors), the OnePlus 12 should be one of the most powerful, longest lasting phones in the world.
But, but, but… The million dollar question, and “the one thing that could get in the way of OnePlus’ success” I mentioned in the intro is whether or not OnePlus will manage to keep the price of the OnePlus 12 in check. But what does that even mean?
The OnePlus 11 launched at $699, which proved to be an excellent price for what the flagship-killer offered. However, with meaningful improvements, and class-leading hardware across the board, the OnePlus 12 is shaping up to be a “proper flagship”, which lacks nothing but an official IP rating for water-resistance (at least according to the rumors).
All in all, with all the rumored upgrades, I think a price increase of $100 wouldn’t be shocking and should be expected. Especially considering how expensive Samsung, Apple, and even Google’s top tier flagships are, starting at $900 and going up to $1,200.
Sure, if OnePlus managed to deliver the rumored upgrades at the old price of $700, I’d tell you to place your pre-order immediately when the phone is announced. But even at a price of $800 (which I think is a far more realistic estimate), the OnePlus 12 will be undercutting all major premium flagships out there – even Google’s $1,000 Pixel 8 Pro.
Seems like we’re in for OnePlus’ first “premium flagship-killer”. And this is an important distinction to make, because “premium” is written all over the rumored spec sheet of this Android beast.
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