OnePlus 11 Review: The least OnePlus OnePlus, is the best one?

OnePlus has had a bit of a tough time keeping the OnePlus 11 5G under lock and key, but as always, a look at the renders and a leaked spec sheet do not show you the whole picture, because whilst the OnePlus 10 Pro was a bit underwhelming (to say nothing of the useless 10T), and the specs of the 11 are remarkably similar, the OnePlus 11 is, in my opinion, the best OnePlus they’ve made, and it just so happens to be the least OnePlus-y.

OnePlus 11 5G
+ FOR
  • Stunning screen
  • Amazing performance
  • Top notch Battery life and Charging
  • Cheaper than last year
- AGAINST
  • Heavy
  • Design is polarizing
  • USB 2.0 speeds
  • Softer glass

Buy from OnePlus UK

Disclaimer

OnePlus PR provided me (Dom) with this OnePlus 11 5G unit for the purpose of review. No money has changed hands and no one at OnePlus is looking at this before it goes live, nor can they request edits. The OnePlus 11 5G was used on the Three UK network in the Southeast of the UK on software build CPH2449_11_A.06.

OnePlus 11 5G Review

 

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Overview

To say I wasn’t particularly happy with the OnePlus 10 Pro would be a bit of an understatement, and when I saw how similar the 11 is to the 10 Pro, I will admit, my heart sank a bit, but when I got the 11 in hand, I’m glad I was wrong because everything here is so much more refined. The curves feel more elegant and intentional, the seams fit together better, and whilst I might not be the biggest fan of the design of the camera bump it just works better with the rest of the phone.OnePlus 11 5G Review

Up front we have the 6.7” Super Fluid AMOLED display, it’s rocking LTPO3.0 tech this time round, meaning the refresh rate switching is even faster, down to 1hz from 120hz, and the power it uses is reduced when switching states. Not only is the display QHD+ (3216×1440) and HDR10+ certified like the 10 Pro, the 11 turns it up a notch by having Dolby Vision certification, as well as Dolby Atmos for the speakers, meaning that compatible apps are not only going to look next level but sound it too. This 6.7” screen has the 32MP selfie hole punch in the top left of the screen and the earpiece grille in a tiny slit between the screen and the frame, all of this is covered in Gorilla Glass Victus, and this is one of my niggles with the phone that I have confirmed with other reviewers is an issue, the Gorilla Glass Victus on the OnePlus 11 5G seems quite soft. I am unsure if it is the glass itself or if there is a coating that OnePlus has placed over the top, but there are noticeable fine scratches in the top and bottom right corner of my 11 5G, this matches up with where the phone enters and leaves my pocket. I’ve noticed that this hasn’t happened to my Galaxt Z Flip 4 which has Gorilla Glass Victus on it is outer glass, but given that I’ve spoken to other reviewers who have noted the softer glass, I would be remiss not to mention it.

Taking a hardware tour over the chassis, the right-hand rail house the power button and the alert slider, which, after a baffling exclusion from the 10T is back here, however, the alert slider here seems to require less force than normal to operate myOnePlus Nord 2 which I have been consistently using, the OnePlus 11 5G  routinely changes states when going into my pocket, which is very annoying. On the left-hand side is just the solitary volume rocker, which like the power button has no rattled or wobble and has the perfect actuation force for me. On the top, we have the secondary microphone and one of the stereo speakers, and flipping to the bottom shows us the USB-C port for charging and data transfer, the main microphone, the main speaker grilles and lastly the NanoSIM tray.OnePlus 11 5G Review

Last in the hardware tour is the rear panel, and I’ll be upfront, OnePlus sent me the black one again, and I really disliked the texture of the black one last year and it is not much better for me this year. However, I am neurodivergent (autistic) and certain textures can aggravate me and this just happens to be one of them. I showed this to a friend and he said he liked how the back was textured but almost felt silken. So it very much is a per-person thing, however, I wish I would have gotten the smooth green one. In the centre of the rear is the OnePlus Logo, this has not been acid etched so it is glossy and you can feel the texture difference between the two. Then we have the camera island. It is large, and it is visually very busy, but it also ties into the frame in a way that Samsung successfully did a few generations ago. The island is raised, but the lip around the island is also raised, whilst I like this aesthetically, I feel like this could get filled with dirt and debris pretty quickly and would be a pain in the ass to clean.

Spec Sheet

  • 6.7” Super Fluid AMOLED
    • 3216×1440
    • 1Hz-120Hz
    • LTPO 3.0
    • 10Bit colour depth
    • HDR10+
    • Dolby Vision
  • 163.1x 74.1x 8.53mm (height, width, thickness)
  • 205g
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2
    • 1x Cortex X3 @3.32Ghz
    • 2x Cortex A715 @2.8Ghz
    • 2x Cortex A710 @2.8Ghz
    • 3x Cortex A510 @2.0Ghz 
    • Adreno 740 GPU
    • Snapdragon X70 modem
  • 8GB/16GB LPDDR5X RAM
  • 128GB UFS3.1
  • 256GB UFS4.0
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 100w SuperVOOC
  • Main Camera 50MP
    • Sony IMX890
    • 1/1.56” sensor size
    • OIS
    • F1.8 aperture
  • Ultrawide camera 48MP
    • Sony IMX581
    • 1/2” sensor size
    • EIS
    • F2.2 aperture
    • 115 degree field of view
  • Portrait/tele camera 32MP
    • Sony IMX709
    • 1/ 2.74” sensor size
    • EIS
    • F2.0 aperture
  • Front camera 16MP
    • Sony IMX471
    • 1/ 3” sensor size
    • F2.45 aperture
    • Fixed focus
  • USB-C port
    • USB2.0 speed
  • Android 13
  • OxygenOS 13.0

For a more in-depth look at the specifications, check out the OnePlus 11 5G on GSMArena here

Performance & Use

Now we get on to some of the fun things, the performance and how the device actually is to use. As I’ve said in my last few reviews, performance isn’t just the application processor’s geekbench score. How does the processor perform yes, but how does the battery perform, what is its thermal performance? What about radio strength etc? I’ll give you the benchmark numbers first off, because I know that’s what nerds want to know, and guess what, it tops the charts for everything that’s not an Apple chip, surprising I know (sarcasm).

What is actually important however is how it feels to use, and much like the 8 Gen1 and the 8+ Gen1, the 8 Gen2 is rapid, I don’t think I had it locked up outside of when I was downloading all my apps on Day 1, which, is far I was restoring 200 apps. Thermally, however, the snapdragon 8 Gen2 absolutely spanks the furnace that was the 8 Gen1 and the toaster that was the 8+ Gen1. Outside of said example where I managed to slow it down (and heat up) I haven’t had the 8 Gen2 in the OnePlus 11 get much more than body temp when I was using Android Auto, wirelessly mirrored to my car display, and GPS’ing to London, for a 3 hours drive whilst also streaming music from YouTube Music. If that’s not going to set it off, I really don’t think much will. Even when charging the battery I had no issues with thermals. I don’t know how much of this is fab related, as the 8+ Gen1 moved to TSMC from Samsung for thermal issues, and the 8+ Gen1 was still really hot in my experience, so maybe it has something to do with being designed for TSMC from scratch and not a port of an existing design? I am unsure, but whatever the case is, I’m happy that the phone stayed cool in my hand and in my pocket.OnePlus 11 5G Review

Radio performance is also significantly better this time around. The Snapdragon X70 modem is an absolute beast, as one would expect seeing as Qualcomm is on a lot of the standards bodies that create things like WiFi, Bluetooth and 4G/5G stuff, if they’re on the team that designs it, you’d really hope their stuff works well with it. But my 5G signal was strong, when it dropped down to a stronger LTE signal than a weaker 5G one it did it without fuss and I didn’t need to toggle it. WiFi was also impressive, with built-in WiFi 6E the OnePlus 11 5G should be as up-to-date as you would need, sadly my network doesn’t have WiFi 6E, so I couldn’t test that for you, however, it did a pretty good job of saturating my 300mbps download with ease.

Using the OnePlus 11 5G, even if I take out my personal preferences (the screen is too big for me, 205g is heavier than I’d like) the 11 5G has been an absolute pleasure. A Phone that will just do what I ask of it with no hassle, has enough battery to last, and can charge up in less time than it takes me to make coffee (yes I’m one of those coffee weirdos who weighs it all out). It has a camera that I can trust to point and shoot, and when I want to wind down and watch YouTube, TikTok or play a game it all comes together on that gorgeous display, that is what makes this so enjoyable.

Camera & Samples

Last year was when OnePlus started to get serious about the cameras, it started to work with Hasselblad for one, it put top-tier optics in and more. Sadly, you can’t turn a ship around in a few months, but a year later, it looks like the OnePlus/Hasselblad partnership is bearing fruit. With the OnePlus 11, I can confidently give the camera an A-/A ranking, it sure as hell isn’t perfect, but this is a neutral but not flat camera, that doesn’t require a master’s degree to use (looking at you Sony) it also doesn’t look overprocessed (Looking at you iPhone 14 Pro Max). It still has some software wonkiness, and I’m sure some of that is because I’m using pre-release software, and the IMX890 is also very new, OnePlus and its parent company Oppo just haven’t had a large amount of time to tune everything to their liking.OnePlus 11 5G Review

Starting off with the main camera, the IMX890 from Sony, this isn’t the largest sensor out there at 1/1.56”, but compared to a lot of other sensors, especially in this resolution range, this is pretty big. Why is that important? Because the bigger the sensor, the more light it can collect, and that’s what photosensors are, they capture light to create images, so the more sensitive to light it is and the more light it can absorb, with the right software you can create great images. The main 50MP sensor by default bins images down to 12.5mp, sampling data from 4 neighbouring pixels to interpolate one larger pixel which, you guessed it, captures more light, this works really well and we’ve been doing this for years now, but OnePlus has always been a bit on the sidelines, but with the 11 and this second-gen Hasselblad tuning, I feel comfortable taking the phone out with me and knowing that, more often than not if I need to take an image, not only will I get one, I’ll get a usable one that I’ll want to use, which really couldn’t be said for the past set of snappers. Applications that don’t fully take advantage of Android’s Camera2 API will still struggle a little bit (think Instagram or Snapchat) so always take photos out of the app when you can for the best quality, the one standout here I found is TikTok, which I’ll speak more about later on.

Moving on to the Ultrawide camera, this is not mindblowing;y great but it is reliable and consistent, and, in what is seemingly a first for most companies not called apple, they have started to align the colours between the two lenses and even attempted to merge the viewports! It is still a bit snappy jumping from wide to normal, but it is much smoother than before, and whilst I can still tell the differences between the colours, we are getting very close to a “just zoom out and take the shot” kind of mentality, wherein I don’t need to worry about correcting it later on, which is very nice to see.OnePlus 11 5G Review

Lastly on the rear is the 32MP Portrait lens, which also doubles as a 2x telephoto zoom which, in all honesty, I was not super excited about. I don’t take a lot of portrait shots, and when I do, most phones have gotten quite good at cutting someone out with software, but I used the feature a couple of times and it is good, it is subtle in all the right ways, it doesn’t feel overdone as many these days do, but as I said, I’m not sure who takes that many portrait shots that a dedicated lens is needed, and if you say “well Dom, it’s also a 2x zoom” no, stop it, a 2X zoom is almost useless, and with a 50MP sensor you can do a 2x crop that is practically lossless. This is better than OnePlus adding a 2MP macro camera or a VGA depth camera on their phones, but I would have preferred an actually useful zoom lens, in the 3-5x range.

The front camera is, I think the most improved here, despite being the same 16MP as last year, the OnePlus 11 5Gs front camera is… good? Clear? Usable in other applications? This might seem facetious, but honestly, former OnePlus cameras have been passable, but this one actually feels decent. It’s annoyingly fixed focus, which is a bummer, but at this point that would just be icing on the cake, the cake is still super tasty without it, if that makes any sense.

Moving on to video, and this was impressive to me, whether it be 1080p60, 4k60 or 8k24, this was neat, very fast focus pulling, incredibly smooth exposure changes, the stabilisation, even in the standard mode was pretty impressive, and whilst not the best I’ve seen, the wind noise reduction was adequate. something I’ve found quite interesting is that for the first time, I can remember, the OnePlus 11 can upload videos to TikTok and Instagram and they don’t look terrible. I’m not saying they’re flawless and lossless uploads, they’re clearly compressed, but compared to what we got a few months ago with the 10T and a year ago with the 10 Pro, this is night and day. The only issue, which isn’t technically a problem with the camera is the file sizes. 4K and 8K footage takes up a lot of space, and the OnePlus 11 5G only has a USB 2.0 USB-C port, which is a maximum of 480mbps transfer speeds, or half a megabyte per second, the 4K60 video sample embedded below? that 1-minute video is almost 500 MB, and that is with being encoded in HEVC/H.265. to transfer that single video is over 15 minutes, and when it’s quicker to transfer over WiFi than a cable, you done messed up.

Software

This is where the OnePlus 11 is the least OnePlus OnePlus, the software, OxygenOS13 is practically ColorOS with the system name changed, and you know what? I really like it. This is the smoothest, most polished OnePlus device I’ve ever experienced and it is been happening steadily every year since they started to share a codebase and merge with colorOS. I know many reviewers aren’t a fan of ColorOS, especially those stateside, but I really enjoy how the new “aquamorphic design” of OxygenOS 13 works.OnePlus 11 5G Review

From the beginning, none of this feels very OnePlus-y, even the quintessential for the last few years white, black and red colour scheme doesn’t really go past the setup guide. The notification shade and quick settings are bathed in a mildly blue shade of white, likely influenced by the background as part of Material You, The toggles themselves move and animate when you pull the shade fully open and just feel like they’re sitting on top of the glass itself, part of this is obviously the 120hz screen as well as the Snapdragon 8 Gen2, but the design language is, for lack of a better word, natural.

I don’t mean natural in the way Samsung tried to be all those years ago, this isn’t photorealistic skeuomorphism here, but it really is just easy to understand and use. The camera app for instance is practically stock Oppo/ColorOS, except it has the orange shutter button for Hasselblad, and that’s neat, but using the camera, this is nice, the app itself is snappy, even when showing you a live preview of that monster camera. You can enable a level to show up on the screen to help you take a level photo, and when you snap into level, you get a little vibratory nudge in your hands to tell you to stay still, it is the small things, but it really makes the user experience, of a user interface, better.

OnePlus is also guaranteeing 4 years of Android platform updates, as well as a fifth year of Android security updates, and given this actually launched with the most current version of Android, we’re starting out on the right foot. However, I hope the quality control of the updates improves, as we’ve seen time and time again with OnePlus, they’ll release an update that’s riddled with bugs, or even soft brick the phone, just to say they released the update, a phone with the newest version of Android that can’t open the camera because it crashes the phone is not a useful update after all.

Battery

OnePlus devices, bar the 10 Pro, have usually had pretty good batteries, and this is still the case here, the monster 5000mAh battery, which is two 2500mAh cells in parallel and can be charged at a whopping 100w with the new SuperVOOC charger, once again, with OnePlus not even bothering to rebrand SuperVOOC to dash charge, this really is the least OnePlus OnePlus so far. The 5000mAh battery easily gets me through a day and a half, very close to two days unless I’m using it very heavily. The GPS and Android auto days I can kill it in a day, but that would also kill most phones, but doing normal things, you know, a bit of Twitter here, some Instagram there, a couple of youtube videos and maybe a few hours on TikTok (don’t judge me) the OnePlus 11 5G beats me for stamina more often than not.OnePlus 11 5G Review

What gets very cool though is when you need to recharge the phone. The 100w SuperVOOC charger is, for lack of a better word, insane. OnePlus states 1-70% in 15 minutes and an extra 5 minutes to top it up to 100%. Given my phone is rarely ever below 15%, this is a 15-minute refill for me, as I said earlier, that’s less time than it takes me to make coffee in the morning, so if I haven’t charged it overnight or used it more than I thought I did that morning, plugging it in whilst I get dressed, brush my teeth or make coffee is truly more than enough to last me the rest of the day and most of the next. In my testing, I was only able to get 18w from a USB-PD charger, despite that charger being 65w. I’m not asking OnePlus to stop using SuperVOOC, or o throttle them to the same speed, but even 45w USB-PD would make a big difference, as when I travel I usually only bring USB-PD chargers, and with the OnePlus 11 5G, if I want insane recharges, I need to bring their brick and their cable, a bit of a pain.

Final Thoughts

I think it’s pretty clear that I really like the OnePlus 11 5G, and I hope I’ve given you some reasons as to why I think it is the least OnePlus OnePlus phone, as the company merges ever closer with Oppo, the software gets more matured, smoother and less buggy, far from the OnePlus of old. At £729 for the base model, and just £799 for the top model, OnePlus is also undercutting many of its competitors, maybe they learned that they didn’t have what it takes to earn at the £1000+ price point, but I’m glad they’re bringing some sanity back to flagship pricing.

Even though It doesn’t fill every need or want for me, this is truly a stellar phone and Samsung should take note of this, as should everyone making a high-end Android phone because OnePlus isn’t playing games any more. So I’m fine with them losing a bit of the OnePlus identity, but don’t they dare lose the alert slider.

About Domenico Lamberti

Technology has been a big part of my life for years, whether it be ripping the family computer apart to see how it worked, playing with the new phones that Dad brought home from work. Senior Reviewer for MTT.

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