OnePlus kicked off 2023 by launching a number of devices during its Cloud event recently. The company showcased the OnePlus 11R, the OnePlus Pad, and the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 but the star of the show was its flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 11 5G. Paired with the most powerful smartphone processor by Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the OnePlus 11 came with a price tag that surprised many, as it was below that of its 2022 flagship, the OnePlus 10 Pro 5G. With a starting price of Rs. 56,999, the OnePlus 11 sets the bar quite high when it comes to the flagship specs and price equation. Here’s what we thought of the new offering:
A camera unit that sticks out
In today’s smartphone design world, a camera unit is one of the few things that can either help you stand out from the crowd or make you blend in. The big, round camera island on the back of the OnePlus 11 helps its design cause and makes it distinct. It does protrude a fair bit, making it wobble a bit when put on a flat surface, but in our opinion that is a small price to pay for not looking like every other smartphone in the market. The camera unit is encapsulated by a metallic finish which extends to the left side and meets a metallic frame. The camera module also has a very noticeable Hasselblad branding right in the middle, marking the alliance between OnePlus and the iconic camera brand.
There are two colour options available in the OnePlus 11 — Titan Black and Eternal Green. Looking at the pictures we think the green one looks better but the black one we received is no ugly duckling either. OnePlus has paired the metallic bling on the camera unit with a matte back with a slightly coarse texture with the OnePus logo in the middle, taking us back to those iconic sandstone finish feels. Many believe that this is the era of flat sides but it seems like OnePlus begs to differ and has stuck to curved, smooth sides. Some might feel like the curved sides compromise the grip a bit but they also make the OnePlus 11 sit really well in hand.
A design that’s more smart than spectacular
The front of the phone brings a tall, 6.7-inch curved display. Curved displays might not seem to serve too much of a viewing purpose and can be prone to damage more than flat ones (screen guards find them a challenge) but they do exude premiumness, which gives the OnePlus 11 a design edge. The display comes with minimal bezels and a punch-hole notch sits on the top left side housing the front camera. The front is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus, while the back has the older Gorilla Glass 5. That said, it does not look fragile
The smooth chrome aluminium frame of the device is home to the many buttons and ports. OnePlus has brought the famous notification slider back and has placed it with the power/ display lock button on the right side of the phone, whereas the volume rocker sits on the left (a very OnePlus thing). The base of the phone carries the USB Type C port, the speaker grille and the dual SIM card slot.
Overall, the design of the OnePlus 11, apart from the camera unit is pretty subtle and is very smart. At 8.5 mm the phone feels slim which aids the premium hand-feel that the phone offers. But at 205 grams, the phone does feel heavy and because it comes with such a huge camera unit, the weight does not feel very evenly distributed either. and neither does it come with any sort of dust and water resistance that we know of. Now, this might not have been a problem had this been one of the Nords but with a proper flagship, we expected a bit more.
Acing the hardware
The OnePlus 11 does quite well in the specs department as well. While all of the numbers in the OnePlus 11 spec sheet stand out, the highlight has to be its processor. The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s most powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. OnePlus may not be the first to get it to the market in India, but it is definitely the most affordable device to feature it at its starting price of Rs. 56,999. This is paired with 8 GB/ 16 GB LPDDR5X RAM which is more than sufficient to handle multi-tasks of all heft and order plus there is 128 GB/ 256 GB UFS 4.0 storage on board to take care of storage needs. This is a device designed for a lot of speedy, power-packed usage.
That tall, 6.7-inch display is a Super Fluid AMOLED QHD+ display with LTPO 3, the first phone to come with that feature. It comes with Dolby Vision support and is home to an in-display fingerprint scanner. It has a dynamic 120 Hz refresh rate which means the refresh rate adapts to the content being played on the display, which is better for battery life.
Hasselblading the cameras
The triple camera setup on the back comes with Hasselblad integration, as the prominent branding on the camera unit reminds us. On the back are a 50-megapixel Sony IMX890 main sensor with f/1.8 aperture along with OIS and EIS, a 48-megapixel ultrawide Sony IMX581 sensor with f/2.2 aperture and 115-degree field-of-view, and a 32-megapixel portrait telephoto Sony IMX709 with f/2.0 aperture. and this is the one that is being hyped, for although it has only a modest 2x optical zoom, it is believed to take portrait shots similar to those one gets on a Hasselblad camera.
On the selfie front, OnePlus has rather oddly gone back to 16 megapixels, instead of a 32-megapixel on the OnePlus 10 Pro. While the camera hardware is impressive, it is going to be interesting to see how Hasselblad has influenced the camera performance. There are a number of shooting modes including Pro Mode, Nightscape, Raw mode, the famous Hasselblad Xpan mode and even three special filters from Hasselblad.
A big battery that charges fast, but…not as fast as before (and needs wires!)
All this is kept running by a 5,000mAh battery with support for 100W SUPERVOOC fast charging. The phone comes with a 100W adapter in the box, which OnePlus claims can charge the battery fully in under half an hour. This is impressive indeed but is a bit of a comedown from the 150W charging we had seen on the OnePlus 10T and even the OnePlus 10R last year. The phone does not come with wireless charging which is a bit of a surprise considering the popularity of the feature and OnePlus’ obsession with all things charging. On the software front, the OnePlus 11 has Android 13 with OxygenOS 13 on top of it, with assured Android updates for the future. Contrary to the fears from some quarters, OxygenOS still seems to be clutter-free and clean, in the best OnePlus tradition. You also get 5G which worked smoothly right out of the box on our Airtel SIM in Delhi.
The OnePlus 11’s price tag of Rs 56,999 is well below the launch price of the OnePlus 10 Pro last year, which started at Rs 66,999.
The OnePlus 11 has no “Pro” tag in its name and seems to have cut a few corners like wireless charging, a lower megapixel selfie camera and a slightly slower charging speed, but it still packs enough to be considered a threat to premium flagships – it is in fact the most affordable device with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip at the time of writing. It is still a premium device, but from what we have seen so far, the OnePlus 11 could signal a return to the brand’s flagship killing days. Competing brands have their jobs cut out trying to match it.