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Hands-On with the OnePlus 12: A Return to Form as a “Flagship Killer”

When it comes to exciting Android phones, OnePlus is usually one of the brands that make the short list.

Although it already has a selection of more affordable phones, the Oppo subsidiary has been mostly known for its top-end flagship for a decade now. True to its “Never Settle” motto, OnePlus still prides itself in aggressively priced flagships that give their rivals a run for the money.

Supposedly that will be the case with the fresh and new OnePlus 12. The flagship was unveiled earlier in China, but it is now finally coming to the global scene. And guess what? We are happy campers as we already have one on us!

OnePlus 12: Hands-on impressions

We had the pleasure of reviewing the Flowy Emerald version of the OnePlus 12. This one is a particularly interesting version of the phone, both due to the color and texture. Yes, it’s green when you look at it directly, with a very distinct dynamic fluid pattern. When you tilt the phone a bit, however, the color shifts towards light blue, making for an intriguing chameleon effect.

In terms of feel, the back of the OnePlus 12 feels like delicate satin and is a joy to touch and interact with. Although it looks like it, the visual pattern doesn’t have a specific texture. You’ll feel the uniform satin finish when you run your fingertips across the rear panel.

Overall, the OnePlus 12 still feels smaller than the dramatic 6.8-inch display size would suggest. It also somehow manages to cram in a giant 5,400mAh battery inside.

Technically, the OnePlus 12 is taller, wider, and thicker than the OnePlus 11, but you’ll be hard-pressed to notice a significant difference in real life. What you’ll feel, however, is the increased heft: the OnePlus 12 tips the scales at 220 grams, a starker departure from the OnePlus 11’s anemic 205g weight.

Even though the OnePlus 12 has grown in weight, the ergonomics haven’t deteriorated. In fact, the curved rear back leaves the impression of handling a much smaller phone, as no edges are carving into the skin of your palm. While curved displays are steadily going unfashionable, OnePlus has one last hurrah with the OnePlus 12.

A unique design element that surely caught me off-guard was the faint shimmering glitter scattered on the circular camera island. It’s a bold design statement that definitely stands out among the sea of rather utilitarian phones, but I reckon that some might not be fans of such ‘tacky’ flamboyance.

In terms of button placement, the OnePlus 12 is the total opposite of the OnePlus 11, and actually, most previous OnePlus flagships since the OnePlus 6. The new phone has its volume rocker on the right side, right above the power button, where it’s subjectively easier to interact with and makes for a more ergonomic user experience. The signature ring switch goes to the left-hand side of the phone, where it dwells alone. It’s a notable change that will require some getting used to from dedicated OnePlus fans.

Protecting the display is Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, a step-up over the Gorilla Glass 7 on OnePlus 11. As is tradition, however, OnePlus has also added a pre-applied basic screen protector to the OnePlus 12.

Finally, in line with its flagship status, the OnePlus 12 has also scored improved protection against the elements thanks to an official IP65 rating. This means the phone is fully dust-proof and protected against strong jets of water, a step up from the splash protection on the predecessor.

OnePlus 12 expectations

The OnePlus 12 looks and feels like a return to form for OnePlus, which had kind of lost its groove a while back. The OnePlus 11 started this gradual turn towards the roots of the company, delving into the same ground where gold was struck with OnePlus’ iconic devices through the years.

While it may appear that the OnePlus 12 is a rather safe release with little to no risks taken, it is shaping up to be an excellent Android flagship that’s simply a joy to interact with and use. Nothing wrong with taking the safer path, seeing how most of OnePlus’ rivals are certainly doing the same.

Stay tuned for our full review, which should be coming your way in the following weeks.

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