Over the past few years, OnePlus has sort of lost its way. It started out as an enthusiast phone. With the best specs available, a pretty stock Android experience, and a pretty cheap price. But these days, there’s not a lot that sets it apart from other flagship smartphones. However, that might change with the OnePlus 11.
Let’s find out if the OnePlus 11 is back to being an enthusiast phone this year, in our full review.
OnePlus 11 Review: Design
The design on the OnePlus 11 is fairly similar to the OnePlus 10 and 10T from last year. The biggest difference you’ll find is on the camera module. It’s now a circle instead of a square, which gives it a rather unique look. If you see someone on the street with this phone, you’ll definitely know it’s the OnePlus 11 right away.
OnePlus did keep the textured back, which isn’t quite sandstone, but feels more like a vinyl backing. It looks good, and adds texture. Making it easy to hold onto. Which I do definitely appreciate. Especially in the world of all of these very slippery glass phones.
Unlike the OnePlus 10T, the 11 does bring back the Alert Slider. Which we had expected to see. After OnePlus said that it was not gone forever. That’s a fan favorite feature, and really the only Android phone with a slider like that. The iPhone has it, and iOS users absolutely love it.
On the front, there’s still the huge 6.7-inch QHD+ AMOLED LTPO display, which is also curved. I’m not a big fan of curved displays, especially without a case. It can make it hard to hold onto the phone in landscape, without accidentally touching the screen. The sides often get covered in scratches, and can look pretty ugly after six months. But it does give you a cool waterfall effect when watching videos.
It’s a pretty good looking smartphone from OnePlus, it feels good in the hand, and doesn’t absolutely need a case. But I would rather have one on it, than not.
OnePlus 11 Review: Performance
With the OnePlus 11, this is the first time that we’ve gotten to check out the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Sure the Galaxy S23 launched first, but we had the OnePlus 11 well before that launch. So the big question is whether Qualcomm could follow up on the success of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. Which was a phenomenal chip, with some pretty insane battery gains. And the short answer is yes.
We’ll talk about battery life in the next section. So as far as performance goes, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 lives up to the hype. The OnePlus 11 did not slow down, no matter what we were doing. It also held quite a few apps in memory without having to redraw them. Though that is more of a testament to the 16GB of RAM that’s included in this phone. But still really great to see.
When it comes to gaming, the OnePlus 11 didn’t disappoint. I played a few games for over an hour on the highest settings, and the battery nor processor did not get hot. Now it did get somewhat warm, but I barely even noticed it, to be quite honest. Which is rather surprising. While it’s not a dedicated gaming phone, it can definitely be used as one.
OnePlus 11 Review: Battery and charging
After reviewing the OnePlus 10T last year, and looking back at that review recently to see that I hit 10 hours of screen on time with that phone. I wondered if the OnePlus 11 could match it, or even exceed it. Well, it exceeded it.
Editor’s Note: OnePlus did not provide a SIM card, and the OnePlus 11 is not yet certified on Verizon, so I was not able to use this on a 4G or 5G network. So the battery results are going to be a bit skewed here.
I was able to hit 10 hours of screen on time a few times on the OnePlus 11. And that included some gameplay, as well as lots of video watching on TikTok and YouTube. That is quite impressive. And that is also with the default settings. So that’s FHD+ resolution and 120Hz – of course, this is LTPO so it does vary from 1 to 120Hz.
So far, the OnePlus 11 is the battery champ of 2023. However, this is also the first flagship phone we’ve reviewed this year. So we’ll have to wait and see how the others fair.
Now onto charging. Recently, OnePlus has been absolutely killing it, in terms of charging speeds. But this is a bit of a let down this year. While the OnePlus 10T had 125W charging in the US (150W in Europe), the OnePlus 11 only does 80W in the US. This is likely because they are using USB-A this time, versus USB-C on the 10T last year. That’s still not to shabby, but a big drop from the 10T, around a 40% drop. It takes about 27 minutes for the OnePlus 11 to do a full recharge. And in our testing, it was closer to about 35 minutes for 10% to 100% charge. There’s many variables at play there that can cause the phone to not charge as quickly. But still, 35 minutes for a full charge is quite nice.
And let’s not forget that OnePlus does include an 80W charger in the box.
OnePlus 11 Review: Software experience
OxygenOS 13 is basically what you would expect from OnePlus, it is a pretty familiar experience for a lot of people that have used a OnePlus phone over the years. And they continue to add in some features that make the experience even better.
With this new LTPO display that OnePlus is using on the 11, you are going to get 1Hz always-on-display. This is going to mean that the AOD is going to take up even less battery than it previously did. Since AOD usually runs at 30Hz, still lower than your smartphone typically runs at when it’s in use. But 1Hz will make a fairly large difference, since it is consuming about 30% less power.
OnePlus also has the HyperBoost Gaming Engine on the 11 this year. Which uses a machine learning GPA frame rate stabilization technology that can actively learn and adapt to the user’s game. For instance, you might want more frames when playing Genshin Impact, but you don’t really need as much when playing Candy Crush. It can also consistently achieve high frame rate during graphic-intensive action scenes, without destroying the battery.
The software experience on the OnePlus 11 is a treat. It runs buttery smooth on this new processor and 16GB of RAM. Which, should not come as a surprise. That’s a whole lot of power and RAM, and OxygenOS 13.0 runs really well here. One of my favorite features of OxygenOS is that it allows you to remove individual icons from the status bar. Something I wish more companies would allow its users to do.
OnePlus 11 Review: Camera performance
This year, OnePlus is using a new sensor on the 11. It’s the Sony IMX890, which is a 50-megapixel camera with OIS included. It’s a pretty large sensor measuring in at 1/1.56″, and a f/1.8 aperture. That’s going to allow the sensor to take in more light. And we can really see that it does make a big difference. Images taken on the mains sensor is actually really good, and a big improvement from the OnePlus 10 and 10T. The shutter is nice and quick too, so you won’t end up with blurry photos. Colors are pretty accurate, and not oversaturated like some other smartphones.
The Ultrawide sensor is a 115-degree field-of-view sensor, and its 48-megapixels. This camera is pretty good at taking ultrawide shots. Now this is also the sensor being used for macro this time around. Which, at 48-megapixels, the macro photos I’ve taken with the OnePlus 11 look pretty good. Now, I still prefer the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s macro shots, because Samsung uses the telephoto lens for macro. Allowing you to be further away, and not block light, on a macro shot.
For the telephoto, OnePlus is using the IMX709, which also uses Hasselblad’s Portrait Mode. It does pretty well too, but the main sensor still appears to be the best of the bunch. You can check out camera samples from the three cameras in the gallery below.
OnePlus 11 Review: Wrap Up
The OnePlus 11 is a great smartphone, and a great way to kick off the year for the company. Though it is facing stiff competition already, from the Galaxy S23 series that was announced last week. But OnePlus is typically cheaper than Samsung’s smartphones, so it’s still a good option. Especially given the battery life here. Now to answer the question about OnePlus returning to being an enthusiast brand. We’re not quite there, but OnePlus seems to have gotten pretty close to offering an enthusiast phone that you can also recommend to your Mom or Grandma. And that’s where OnePlus needs to be.
You should buy the OnePlus 11 if:
- You want great battery life.
- You want the Hasselblad camera magic.
- You want a powerful smartphone that doesn’t cost a fortune.
You shouldn’t buy the OnePlus 11 if:
- You bought the OnePlus 10 or 10T (it’s not a big upgrade over either of those).
- You want the best camera experience.