OnePlus 11 proves why you must not pay ₹1,24,999 for an ‘ultra’ flagship phone - Hindustan Times
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OnePlus 11 proves why you must not pay 1,24,999 for an ‘ultra’ flagship phone

Feb 08, 2023 09:29 AM IST

All things considered, the OnePlus 11 as well as Samsung Galaxy S23+ and Galaxy S23 Ultra stand on similar ground. Yet, the Samsung twins cost significantly more, which enhances the OnePlus 11’s value proposition

There is always a sense of suspense with OnePlus’ flagship Android phones. After many years of having a Pro and a non-Pro phone simultaneously (the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro, for example), last year saw a change. There was just the Pro, the OnePlus 10 Pro. This year (since 11 succeeds 10), there’s the expected OnePlus 11 phone. There is no Pro this time around. Simplification is understandable, because this will eventually be followed by the ‘T’ and the ‘R’ phones too.

The new OnePlus 11. (Vishal Mathur/ HT Photo)
The new OnePlus 11. (Vishal Mathur/ HT Photo)

Your choice of the OnePlus 11 is largely down to two spec combinations. That is 8GB RAM and 18GB RAM, with 128GB or 256GB storage. It isn’t difficult to pick a possible gap in this spec. Missing is a 512GB storage option, something a flagship should offer. Nevertheless, you’ll part with 56,999 for 8GB + 128GB, and 61,999 for 16GB + 256GB.

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A case for paying less than Samsung’s demands

Yet, whichever way you look at it, the OnePlus 11 looks better on the spec sheet (and potentially the experience) than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus (prices start 94,999). Also, many specs close to parity, the OnePlus 11 has a significant price advantage over the Galaxy S23 Ultra (prices start 1,24,999) too – unless you are adamant about the S-Pen stylus or the 200-megapixel camera (which you’ll inevitably mostly use in the pixel binning mode?).

First things first, the alert slider is going nowhere. This embodiment of convenience has not been sacrificed at the altar of slimness or a struggle for component space inside the phone. It is quite handy to have (long time OnePlus phone users will agree with me on this one) a slider to switch between ring, silent and vibrate only modes. No need for multiple taps on the screen to silence the phone as you step into a meeting or are about to start driving.

The OnePlus 11 isn’t at all complicating matters. This is as flagship as an Android flagship phone can get. And not have an eye-watering price tag, while at it. One of the first phones to get the goodness of Qualcomm’s latest generation Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. Attention to detail, OnePlus’ forte over time, is best defined by the upgrade to the faster UFS 4.0 local storage standard, faster than its rivals and predecessor (mind you, this is applicable only for the 256GB storage). A continuing theme with OnePlus 11, is specs only tell you half the tale.

For the top spec, OnePlus 11 gets you 16GB RAM, while the Galaxy S23+ tops out at 8GB RAM and the Galaxy S23 Ultra has 12GB RAM as standard across the board. More RAM, logic would dictate, be better for multi-tasking headroom and subjective longevity.

Also Read:OnePlus’ familiar smart TV recipe for 55 Y1S Pro, with polished results

This incredibly powerful phone will take a lot from you, to slow down even the slightest. Qualcomm, having learnt from the failings of the Snapdragon 8, did a successful course correction later in the year with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. This step is more akin to a leap forward. The use of a faster storage module may not be always apparent, but there are those moments which make the advantages rather clear – such as lining up and processing photo edits on Google Photos (the extra tools you get with the Google One subscription).

With all the power on tap, it is of little surprise the OnePlus 11 has an elaborate cooling system in place. It covers a larger area and new crystalline-graphene composition has been used for quicker heat dissipation. The back of the phone is barely tepid when the camera has been in use for a significant amount of time. And only lukewarm after navigating with Google Maps, for a 45-minute drive.

Carrying forward the theme of smartness, is the artificial intelligence (AI) that is now in use for allocating RAM for certain applications that may need speeding up, from time to time. One example is the camera app. You’ll notice the night mode photos take lesser time to process, which means you’re left standing frozen for lesser time, compared with some other phones. Just the small things that add up, slowly but certainly.

A big canvas, with lots of pixels

The 6.7-inch Super fluid AMOLED display dials up the pixel count compared with the predecessor (3216 x 1440 pixels now, compared with 2412 x 1080 pixels on the OnePlus 10T). In fact, this is more pixels and density than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which costs a lot more of your hard-earned money (and that’s lesser pixels on a slightly larger screen too). Make of the noise, what you will. This screen is also 10-bit for colour and the LTPO technology allows for the refresh rate to drop as low as 1Hz and as high as 120Hz, depending on the content on screen.

It is not just more pixels, but the denser composition makes everything a smidgen better to look at too. Not that the OnePlus 10T’s screen suffered in any aspect. But after seeing this, you know it’s a step forward. There are occasions when the display is at its lowest brightness setting (usually in a very dim environment), you’ll notice a more than expected reduction in contrast, which makes the screen look a bit washed out when reading an e-book or a webpage, for instance.

OnePlus really isn’t leaving any cards on the table. Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats are supported.

Three primary-esque cameras make a good team

For years, OnePlus flagship phone cameras have flattered to deceive. There has always been potential (megapixels and the expertise such as Hasselblad, for instance) and expectation, but they’ve somewhat consistently fallen short. The OnePlus 11 seems to be making up for lost time. This is a camera that goes toe to toe with arguably the most versatile camera in the Android smartphone space, the Google Pixel 7 Pro.

One of the reasons for that is the camera troika at play. Leading the way is the 50-megapixel wide camera, alongside a 48-megapixel ultrawide sensor and a 32-megapixel telephoto. All three, primary sensor specs, in their own right. And all three Sony sensors, albeit different models. Hasselblad has tuned the colours on the OnePlus 11, and that expertise adds to the overall photography experience.

The results we saw, and compared with the Google Pixel 7 Pro, are nothing short of a testament to the serious improvements OnePlus have worked up. Sharpness, detailing, dynamic range and the willingness to return very good quality cropped images – it all comes through with daytime and good light photos. For once, the skies look pristine blue (when the air quality allows for it, of course).

There is an interesting observation with regards to the Night mode. Quite often, you wouldn’t need it, since the sensors let in enough light anyway for a nicely lit up frame. And when you do, it is quicker than a lot of other flagship phone cameras. Which means you spend less time standing around, frozen. Also, it is less susceptible to blurring due to a sudden slight hand movement – the sharpening takes care of any anomalies.

Verdict: Is too much familiarity a good thing?

It is quite clear that OnePlus isn’t leaving anything to chance with the main flagship phone for 2023. The OnePlus 11 gets the very latest specs, while the familiarity of a OnePlus phone is not lost in the process. The little things, such as the alert slider, weight reduction (this is 205 grams; the Galaxy S23 Ultra weighs 234 grams) and Hasselblad tuning for the very competent triple camera setup, are simply giving this a solid foundation as a flagship phone.

The fast-charging battery (the bundled 100-watt charger does a full charge in 25 minutes) alongside software improvements add to the experience. That said, while Oxygen OS has evolved into something that is a stew of many things and is no longer that clean Android alternative it was once touted as, it still isn’t the complete Oppo inspiration that has scared many OnePlus loyalists enough to wake up in the middle of the night, sweating.

There are some misses. Lack of wireless charging on a flagship phone is, and there is no other word for it, perplexing. It is splash resistant, but following through is OnePlus’ seeming aversion to full-fledged water and dust resistance.

There is longevity too, if you do buy the OnePlus 11. It runs Android 13 with OxygenOS 13 now, with the promise of four major Android updates. That means, you can expect this to receive Android 17 too at some point in the future, a name we are assuming for most intents and purposes.

If you indeed are confused about the colour choice, we’d leave you with one last observation – Eternal Green, as the name suggests, has an everlasting presence, which Titan Black may lose out on after a point.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vishal Mathur is Technology Editor for Hindustan Times. When not making sense of technology, he often searches for an elusive analog space in a digital world.

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