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OnePlus 11 Review: Powerful but Not Perfect

The new phone puts a lot of effort into earning the designation of flagship and is effectively a “Pro” model without the name.

Posted By Kimbo Online Store

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

In 2023, OnePlus will release its first real flagship device, the $699 OnePlus 11, and there are many reasons to be enthusiastic about it. This phone is striving to be a flagship, from its sleek, updated look to its incredibly potent chipset and quick charging capabilities.

While still being good, the OnePlus 10 Pro from last year hasn’t undergone a significant upgrade. It has a similar design and received a big (maybe unnecessary) power bump. Even the new camera configuration, while excellent, isn’t a significant improvement.

You might be let down if you were expecting to witness a revolutionary new OnePlus phone. Recent OnePlus smartphone owners shouldn’t think about upgrading because there aren’t enough advantages to offset the cost.

Price definitely works in its favor. The $699 (£729 in the UK, or approximately AU$1,270) base variant of the OnePlus 11 has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Even the higher-end review model I used, with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, is only $799 (£799 in the UK), making it far less expensive than its competitors.

The excellent Google Pixel 7 Pro, which costs $899 and is only little more expensive than the phone, is the phone’s main rival. (Google charges $999 for the comparable 256GB model, but the increased storage doesn’t result in a power increase.)

When it was released in October 2022, the Pixel 7 Pro, one of our favorite smartphones of that year, won the coveted CNET Editors’ Choice award for its sleek interface, excellent cameras, and appealing design. It’s a fantastic phone, and using it is one of my favorite ways to use Android 13.

Here is where the OnePlus 11’s raw power shines: It provides lightning-fast speeds for intense multitasking and gaming. It also charges phones from Google more quickly. The Tensor G2 processor in the Pixel is capable of handling anything available in the Play Store despite not being designed for linear speed. The cameras on the Pixel generally perform better, especially with the addition of the 5x optical zoom lens, which the OnePlus lacks, and the software is pure Android 13 and is clutter-free.

The new Samsung Galaxy S23, which has a 6.1-inch display, triple cameras, 8GB of RAM, and the most recent Qualcomm 8 Gen 2 engine, is another option. It starts at $800. The processor is the same as the one in the OnePlus 11, however it has been modified for Samsung. We’ll have to wait to find out how the new Samsung and OnePlus phones compare once the S23 series goes on sale on February 17.

Get $500 off the OnePlus 11 with a trade-in

Is there a OnePlus 11 Pro?

Simply put, no. OnePlus has previously released two versions of its phones: a base model and a “Pro” model with greater features. However, the business abandoned that plan this year and decided to go all-in with just one multifunctional device. In essence, it is the OnePlus 11 Pro, minus the “Pro” label.

There is a OnePlus 11R with somewhat fewer features and a reduced cost. Since this is only available in India, those of you making purchases in the US, UK, or Australia only need to take the standard OnePlus 11 into account.

OnePlus 11: A refreshed design, now with added waterproofing

The square camera unit of the 10 Pro has been replaced with a circular one that is fringed with metal and gently curves to meet the edge of the phone in 2023’s OnePlus flagship. The green color of my review model is fashionable and sophisticated, and the curved glass on the front and rear makes it satisfying to hold.

OnePlus 11 Flaunts Its Curving Glass and Metal Body

I adore how the phone looks. It succeeds in distinguishing itself from its forerunners while maintaining a familiar enough appearance to feel like a member of the same family. Don’t worry too much about breaking the glass because it is Gorilla Glass with a hardened coating. The new phone outperforms the 10 Pro by having an IP64 classification for water resistance. We’ve grown to anticipate waterproofing on all flagships, so the fact that most variants of the 10 Pro didn’t have it was disappointing. So it’s encouraging to see greater formal protection in this area.

While competitors like the Pixel 7 Pro, iPhone 14 series, and Galaxy S23 series all have IP68 classifications that protect them against true submersion in water for at least 30 minutes, IP64 merely provides minimal protection against water splashes. However, IP64 is an improvement over nothing and will undoubtedly assist keep your phone secure while you answer calls in the rain.

The rounded camera unit is a nice touch.

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The display’s size of 6.7 inches makes it suitable for playing mobile games, and its maximum 3,216×1,440-pixel resolution renders everything sharply (you may choose a lesser resolution to extend battery life). SuperAMOLED technology, which is brilliant, bold, and capable of displaying appropriate HDR material, is supported by Dolby Vision HDR and HDR 10 Plus.

While it can dynamically dip to only 1Hz to conserve battery when doing less demanding tasks like web browsing or displaying the always-on display, its variable frame rate can rocket up to 120Hz to deliver a fluid experience for high-intensity tasks like gaming.

OnePlus 11: Potent power

The aforementioned Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which is supported by a sizable 16GB of RAM (on my review model), powers the phone. It has a strong chip that scored incredibly well on our battery of benchmark tests, easily placing it among the most powerful phones available.

Of course, benchmarks don’t imply everything, but you can trust that this phone can withstand whatever abuse you may give it. It performs very well in terms of graphics. Demanding video games with smooth gameplay include Genshin Impact, PUBG Mobile, and Asphalt 9: Legends (all at maximum resolution).

While it’s nice that OnePlus highlights the phone’s “optimized RAM allocation,” “hardware-accelerated ray tracing” in games, and “best in class” lighting and illumination effects, there aren’t any games on Android that support these features just yet. It’s comparable to having a car that can operate on MagLev tracks—amazing technology, yes, but not yet practical.

It’s a powerhouse of a phone.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

All that power makes the phone quick to use in the real world. The Android interface itself is quick, fluid, and devoid of any lag or stutters that could indicate faulty hardware. There isn’t much that can stop it from moving. Both video streaming and photo editing were effectively handled by it.

The phone’s Oxygen 13 OS software facilitates that quick experience. Oxygen OS is a thin Android overlay that is simple to use and is based on Android 13. Although you can change the system fonts and the always-on display to give it a more unique look, I liked it right out of the box.

The phone looks smart and stylish.

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OnePlus 11: Cameras that could do better

A 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera with close-focusing macro capabilities, a 32-megapixel portrait camera with a 2x optical zoom, and a 50-megapixel main camera with a f1.8 lens are the three primary cameras on the rear of the OnePlus 11. Although the triple camera system is reasonably foreseeable, I feel let down by the portrait camera.

This 2x zoom is significantly less than the 3.3x zoom found on the OnePlus 10 Pro and the 5x telephoto zoom found on the Pixel 7 Pro. Although having good zoom skills may not seem to be the most vital trait, having a strong zoom can be a very useful tool if you want to shoot excellent pictures in any situation.

The Hasselblad name is still found on the camera unit.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

A long zoom lens enables you to find more intriguing compositions within such situations by cropping out distracting road signs, cars, or groups of people rather than utilizing a wide lens and simply capturing everything in front of you in one photograph. Any professional photographer’s kit bag, including mine, usually has a telephoto lens, and I adore utilizing the zoom on the Pixel 7 Pro and the incredible 10x optical zoom on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. I have more area to work with even on the iPhone 14 Pro at 3x.

The OnePlus 11’s lack of a good telephoto lens makes me feel as though I must compromise my photography in ways that I wouldn’t with other phones. As a result, the photography package isn’t as comprehensive.

Once again, OnePlus is working with renowned camera manufacturer Hasselblad, who appears to have improved the camera’s color calibration. I’m not convinced it’s helping either company much, though, given the inconsistent outcomes. While some images have vibrant colors and attractive contrast that accurately reflect the world around us, others have oversaturated colors and heavy-handed HDR processing that lifts shadows and dulls highlights to an exaggerated extent.

OnePlus 11, main camera

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Taken with the main camera, this image above is beautifully exposed, with warm colors and plenty of detail. 

OnePlus 11, main camera

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

This shot above of a ruined cottage deep in the forest is vibrant and pin-sharp. It’s a great snap, all round. 

OnePlus 11, main camera

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The above close-up photo is incredibly detailed, and the colors look perfect. Well done, OnePlus.

OnePlus 11, main camera

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Bright blue sky, excellent architectural detail on the building to the left, and a lovely rainbow’s flare of color. This scene above has been nicely recorded by the phone.

OnePlus 11, main camera

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

iPhone 14 Pro, main camera

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The comparison image above, which was taken with the iPhone 14 Pro, is darker, but the deeper shadows against that brilliant blue sky are far more realistic, making this shot look much more genuine.

OnePlus 11, main camera

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

In the image above, the main camera of the OnePlus 11 has once more significantly lightened the shadows. The sky is more teal in color than it actually is, which is inaccurate.

Pixel 7 Pro, main camera

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The Pixel 7 Pro’s shot above has a deeper contrast and more natural color tones both on the buildings and in the sky. 

OnePlus 11, ultrawide lens

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The OnePlus 11’s heavy-handed auto HDR produced the shot above upon switching to the ultrawide camera, where the sky appears almost artificial against the buildings. The OnePlus 11’s primary camera and ultrawide have a distinct hue shift as well, which is a feature I also saw on the OnePlus 10 Pro.

Pixel 7 Pro, ultrawide lens

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The image above, taken with the Pixel 7 Pro, appears more realistic because the brightness in the sky wasn’t reduced to the same degree.

OnePlus 11, ultrawide lens, macro mode.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

iPhone 14 Pro, ultrawide lens, macro mode.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

In contrast, the macro setting on the iPhone 14 Pro generated the image above, where the green tones are noticeably washed out and yellowish. It’s not as appealing to me.

OnePlus 11, 2x portrait mode.

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Although the OnePlus 11 doesn’t have the same zoom capabilities as some of its rivals, its 2x lens still makes for passable portrait photos. There isn’t a lot of detail on my face, and the colors in the image above are a touch chilly. But it’s a great blur effect.

OnePlus 11, 2x zoom.

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Without a doubt, however, I would miss having a greater zoom. An image taken with the OnePlus 11’s 2x zoom lens is seen above.

Pixel 7 Pro, 5x optical zoom.

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The 5x optical zoom of the Pixel 7 Pro lets you get creative zoomed-in shots, like above, that are out of reach for the OnePlus. 

OnePlus 11 main camera, Hasselblad filter applied.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The phone includes a number of color presets established by Hasselblad “Master” photographers as part of the Hasselblad relationship. Have a look up there. I don’t really like them and would much rather just edit pictures the way I want to utilizing any of the excellent photo-editing applications available on the Google Play store.

OnePlus 11, night mode.

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However, the camera performs incredibly well at night. It produced brighter photographs (see above) than even the iPhone 14 Pro, though with less detail. This impressed me with the brightness it was able to reach.

OnePlus 11, night mode.

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It can capture video at high to 8K resolution, but most people won’t need more than the usual 4K footage, which also offers HDR imagery to assist moderate overly bright skies. Videos have vibrant colors, but while optical image stabilization smooths out shaking hands, it might make upright objects (like trees) in your footage appear unsteady as the sensor tries to correct the movement. See some clips made with the OnePlus 11 in the video below.

Overall, the camera can capture some stunning images. The OnePlus 11 will serve you well if photography isn’t your main emphasis and you just want clear, colorful pictures of your friends or kids at the beach — especially if you enjoy taking pictures at night. The Pixel 7 Pro is a good option if you want a more complete photographic experience.

OnePlus 11: Solid battery and fast charging

As long as you’re somewhat careful with how you use the phone, its 5,000mAh battery should last you for an entire day of use. After one hour of streaming a YouTube movie at the display’s highest settings of 3,216×1,440 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate, and maximum screen brightness, the battery had depleted to 92% of its capacity. It was just 85% left after the second hour, which wasn’t a terrific showing.

It didn’t even dip below 100% after an hour of YouTube streaming and only dropped to 95% after a second hour with the resolution down to 2,412×1,080 pixels and the refresh rate at a maximum of 60Hz — not terrible at all. However, playing Genshin Impact for 30 minutes with all settings at their maximum comfortably depleted 10% of the battery.

The phone’s battery can provide a day of use.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

You won’t have to worry as much about your phone dying in the middle of the afternoon if you choose more conservative settings, and you should have plenty of battery when you charge it at night. If you want to take in every little detail, demanding gamers can crank up the settings, but make sure your charger is close by.

Fortunately, recharging the battery is a quick procedure even if you do exhaust it while playing games or streaming YouTube. The phone’s battery can be fully charged from zero in just 25 minutes using 100-watt fast charging in the UK and 80 watts in the US, respectively. That is quicker than the anticipated one to two hours.

The OnePlus 11 is a solid all-round phone.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

OnePlus 11: Should you buy it?

The OnePlus 11 is a fantastic phone to take into consideration if you’re searching for a high-performance phone to handle gaming, video streaming, and all of life’s necessities. It looks fantastic, has the power to handle anything in the Google Play store, and supports fast charging, so battery life is not a concern. A good bonus is the five years of security support.

While the camera setup is not the best available, it is more than capable of capturing images of your children while they are on vacation that you will be proud to show to your extended family and friends.

But the pricing is what really sticks out in this case; it’s among the most affordable flagships available, undercutting both the Pixel 7 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S23. The OnePlus 11 is unquestionably worthwhile of your time if gaming on the go is your main concern but photography isn’t.

OnePlus 11 specs vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

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