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The Huge Comeback of the Flagship-Killer: OnePlus Open and OnePlus 12 Will Leave Samsung and Google Frustrated

OnePlus: The Return of the Flagship-Killer

As someone who’s criticized OnePlus for being all over the place, and struggling to find its place in the smartphone world in the past 3-4 years, I almost feel a responsibility to acknowledge the company’s successes. In fact, I’ve already done so via several stories that talk about the awesome value of phones like the OnePlus 11 and OnePlus Nord 3.

But it’s time for a slightly more holistic take on “the state of OnePlus” in 2023-2024, and compared to what this story would’ve looked like a couple of years ago, the fan-favorite Chinese phone-maker has turned things around in full 180 style. And as a tech fan, I couldn’t be more glad to see that.

Like the good old days: The latest phones from OnePlus prove the Chinese brand is taking a big swing at Samsung, Google, Xiaomi and Apple (again)

The OnePlus 11 (left) and OnePlus Nord 3 (right) are some of the best-value smartphones of the year. The former is a proper flagship, while the latter looks better than many flagship phones even though it’s half the price.

The excellent OnePlus 11 got OnePlus back on the “flagship-killer” track

Luckily, OnePlus seems to be tracking back on some of its prior decisions, and the phone to start it all was the OnePlus 11. I already wrote about the excellent value offered by this phone in this story, looking at the OnePlus 11 “six months later”.

In a nutshell, the OnePlus 11 did more than enough to justify its $700 starting price in a world of $800-$1,200 Samsung, Google and Apple flagships. It has excellent battery life and super-fast charging; an excellent camera system, which outright outperforms the likes of the Galaxy S23, iPhone 14, and Pixel 7 in several areas; a brilliant display; and incredible performance aided by OnePlus’ clean take on Android.

The OnePlus 11 put OnePlus back on the map when it comes to “flagship-killer” offerings, especially considering Google’s aggressively priced Pixel flagships, aiming to become the new alternative to the big dogs (read: Samsung, Apple). However, when compared to the Pixel 7 and even Pixel 8 series, the OnePlus 11 holds up incredibly well in all regards.

The OnePlus Nord 3 is a mid-range flagship-killer in its own right

Another 2023 OnePlus phone that brings amazing value is the OnePlus Nord 3, which I also wrote about a while back. A serious candidate for mid-range smartphone of the year, the OnePlus Nord 3 brings a flagship-grade MediaTek SoC, the same primary camera as the OnePlus 11; and a large battery with fast charging.

However, what makes the OnePlus Nord 3 truly stand out amongst other mid-range Android phones is the jaw-dropping design of the phone, with accent on the display, which comes with insanely thin borders, which make it look just as expensive as the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which costs 3x as much!

OnePlus Open – the company’s foldable flagship-killer has finally arrived (and the wait was worth it)

Of course, we can’t talk about the renaissance at OnePlus without mentioning the just-announced OnePlus Open – the company’s very first folding phone. While I’ll leave the verdict for our full OnePlus Open review, since this is an editorial story, I’ll go ahead and say that the Open might be my favorite folding phone design (maybe) ever. In many ways, the OnePlus Open is what the Galaxy Z Fold 5 should’ve been.

From the bold, badass camera ring, to the super-premium faux leather on the back of the phone, the OnePlus Open looks like a million dollars – although it’s “only” $1,700 (really, $1,500 after discounts).

But the cherry on top might be the displays and camera system – the OnePlus Open now officially has the brightest displays we’ve ever seen on any phone (not just a foldable), while the triple camera with large, high-res sensors and up to 6x optical quality zoom is totally capable of leaving the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold in the dust.

While the $1,700 starting price of the OnePlus Open leaves is (firmly) outside the flagship-killer category, OnePlus is currently running a sweet campaign, which lets you trade in any old phone you have laying around to get $200 off, which makes for a slightly easier to swallow $1,500 price tag. This seems more than fair, considering we’re talking about what’s (arguably) the most premium folding phone on the market right now.

Watch out, iPhone 15 and Galaxy S24! The OnePlus 12 might be the dark horse in the race for best flagship phone of 2024

The OnePlus 12 might be the dark horse in the race for best flagship phone of 2024. Especially if it costs less than $800. While discussing existing phones is certainly easier, I’ll admit that talking about devices that aren’t out yet is my guilty pleasure as far as tech is concerned. And one phone that I find low-key intriguing is the OnePlus 12.

We’ve already seen several design renders of the OnePlus 12, and while it doesn’t look all that different from the OnePlus 11, the rumored specs of the OnePlus 12 are painting a picture of a very high-end flagship. By the looks of it, the successor to the OnePlus 11 is going to be another flagship-killer, but this time proving that premium flagships aren’t reserved for OnePlus’ sister company Oppo anymore.

From the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 with up to 24GB of RAM (not a typo), to the ridiculous charging speeds, and all-new triple camera system with large, high-end Sony sensors, the OnePlus 12 might challenge not only Samsung and Google’s $800 flagship phones but even the Pro and Ultra models, which cost much more.

According to leaks, the OnePlus 12 will introduce a brand new Sony IMX 966 sensor with 50MP resolution, which is yet to go official. What makes the IMX 966 special is that it’s supposed to be a “double-stacked” sensor. Those are mostly used in pro cameras, with the first phone to feature such a sensor being the Sony Xperia 1 V. Impressively, despite rumored to be a 1/1.4-inch sensor, the IMX 966 should be able to gather just as much light as the 1-inch IMX 989 – all thanks to the double-stacked design, which helps with light-gathering.

with light-gathering.

Hot take: I’d say… pretty good! Of course, the important question is whether the OnePlus 12 will be able to maintain the same $700 starting price as the OnePlus 11, considering the major upgrades to the camera OnePlus is reportedly planning.

Welcome back to the flagship-killer stage OnePlus: Let’s make Samsung and Google work even harder, and Never Settle (ever again)

With the OnePlus 11 and OnePlus Nord 3 marking a comeback to the flagship-killer game for the company, the OnePlus Open and OnePlus 12 are about to take things to a new, more premium level. A couple of years ago, I pretty much wrote OnePlus off, and I wasn’t necessarily wrong to do so.

OnePlus was lacking a cohesive product strategy; Xiaomi started making more impressive flagship and mid-range phones, and Google was ready to steal OnePlus’ spot as Android’s “flagship-killer”, and frankly, did, thanks to the Pixel 7 series (in case you forgot, the Pixel 6 series was a bit too buggy to make a positive impression). But now… things have changed. Big time.

The OnePlus 11 is arguably one of the best-value Android flagships of the year; the OnePlus Nord 3 looks like a $1,000 phone but costs only $400; and the OnePlus Open is an absolutely stunning first folding phone that rivals even the most expensive foldable phones on the market.

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