OnePlus 11 review: Settling doesn’t have to be a bad thing

OnePlus 11

Never settle. It’s the tagline that OnePlus has used since its inception, and also the line that has become a bit of a mockery as the brand has changed over the years. But compromises are a part of any good phone, and with its latest OnePlus 11, I’ve got to admit, I’m actually a lot happier with the balance OnePlus has struck than I thought I would have been.

Starting with the hardware, the OnePlus 11 has that same usual OnePlus look and feel. It’s a slab phone with gentle curves, an excellent screen, and this time around, a honking circular camera module that I’ve actually come to like over time.

The green color is quite nice as well, though, I wish OnePlus would have tried something new instead of jumping on the same trend as everyone else – am I the only one getting bored of green phones? Going around the hardware, I enjoyed the flat top and bottom edges, and it’s nice to see the Alert Slider back in place after a brief hiatus (though, honestly, I never used it). There are still some durability concerns with the hardware, but on the whole, I’m happy with the choices made here.

Of course, there are some changes within that are a bit more controversial. On the one hand, wired charging in the US hits 80W, and that rocks (100W in other countries). Rarely did I charge this phone overnight, because I could just toss it onto the charger for the first few minutes of my work day. But on the other hand, I really miss wireless charging. OnePlus’s argument that it isn’t needed isn’t untrue, but it’s a lame excuse for removing a feature that was already in place on previous models, and expected for flagship phones sold in 2023 – or really in the past three years at least.

That said, battery life is excellent. I’ve been able to easily pull a full day with 30% or more left in the tank, even on heavier days. I’d struggle to call this a two-day phone, but the healthy battery size and the efficiency of Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 lead to a long-lasting phone.

Speaking of, performance is also quite excellent. Speed has always been a priority for OnePlus, and you feel that here. This is a very fast device through and through, and you’ll notice that from the first boot. The OnePlus 11 boots incredibly quickly, almost feeling instant. Much of the speed comes down to the chip, but also the new UFS 4.0 storage, which is considerably faster than 3.1. And this is only further boosted by the display, which is a 6.7-inch AMOLED panel that runs at 120Hz. It’s very much in the same ballpark as every other flagship smartphone on the market today, and OnePlus’s experience does feel smoother than many others. Though I wish OnePlus would finally move to a centered hole-punch cutout for its selfie camera, instead of the left side position it has had in place for the past few years.

Out of the box you’ll experience that speed on Android 13 with OxygenOS 13. It’s not the OnePlus software skin of old, with a whole lot more of Oppo’s ColorOS clearly coming through, but it’s not a bad experience. Things feel cohesive and fluid, though I think OnePlus would benefit from a second run at organizing the Settings menu. But at the same time, I really like Oppo/OnePlus’s take on Material You’s wallpaper-based color accents, which gives the user much more control over the look.

There’s one thing that still bugs me about OnePlus’s software at this point in time. It’s not the Oppo-fication of the experience, but rather the inconsistent communication and action from OnePlus.

The brand keeps touting better software support, faster updates, the whole lot. And to its credit, there have been benefits! The OnePlus 11 is promised four years of Android updates and five years of security updates. That’s great! But, it’s undercut by the brand’s bimonthly patches and VERY slow major Android rollouts in year two. Heck, some OnePlus 10 Pro buyers are still waiting on Android 13, over six months after release.

I don’t fully trust OnePlus on the software front. The brand’s modern history shows time and time again that, perhaps more than any other memorable Android device, you should buy the OnePlus 11 with what you see today as all you’ll ever get, ignoring any promises for the future.

And then there’s the camera. It’s fine, and there’s not a whole lot more to say about it. The 50MP primary camera is capable of taking some very good shots, but it’s not very consistent and sometimes feels a bit oversaturated. It’s capable of some truly stunning shots, but those aren’t the usual.

But here’s the thing about the OnePlus 11. Despite its flaws and quirks, it’s a phone I keep picking back up. I keep wanting to use this device more often, and keep finding areas in my day-to-day where it actually makes sense to carry it. That’s something I haven’t been able to say about a OnePlus phone in years.

The OnePlus 11 is available today for $699 – a totally fair price for what you’re getting. In fact, our Max Weinbach, who has also been using the OnePlus 11 for the past couple of months, argues that this is “the best value phone” he’s used. I’d personally argue that the Pixel 7 is slightly better on that front, but it’s really a question of your preferences as a buyer.

Related: OnePlus 11 vs. Pixel 7: Best budget flagship battle [Video]

OnePlus is currently offering an extended 100-day return period. You won’t find this phone at any carriers, with it being sold unlocked only.

Buy OnePlus 11

Max Weinbach contributed to this review.

Author: Ben Schoon
Source: 9TO5Google

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