- Stunning Display, you can't take your eyes off
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a saving Grace, and handles thermals better
- UFS 4.0 is pretty fast and a decent storage
- Very Practical Camera Setup that works well
- The Alert Slider is back for good and here to stay
- Decent Battery Life even on QHD+ with 120Hz when charged via a Normal adapter
- USB 2.0 Type C port really doesn't scream Flagship
- The Lack of IP (Ingress Protection) makes it less adventurous
- The odd post-SuperVooc-charging Battery Drain is Mysterious
As shocking as it sounds, this is literally the first time we are reviewing a OnePlus device. The reason why we highlight, it’s because it does matter. The experience from OnePlus users until last year has been on the fence with so many users having issues and poor experiences altogether. And then the whole “Carl-Pei-Selling-to-BBK-to-start-Nothing” happened. Now under the OPPO sub-brand, OnePlus is reviving its image for the better I like what I see and experience, and now you will know why in this OnePlus 11 5G review or OnePlus 11 Review, however, you want to call it.
OnePlus 11 5G Review | OnePlus 11 Review
Design and Build Quality
From time to time, OnePlus’s design has been interesting and at times, too generic. But that isn’t the case with this OnePlus 11 5G. The off-centred camera layout does make a return but this time with a significantly thicker bump that does make the phone rock on a table. But the glass on the back does give this illusion as if it seamlessly connects to the bump, which is pretty nice to look at.
Both the front and back of the display have curved glass, and a metal rail in between that feels polished. The fact that I can feel the weight of the phone is so good.
In our care package, we were supposed to get a Casing that goes along with the phone. We have no idea how it looks but a bit of advice, get one – this is one slippery smartphone. It really did feel like holding my heart in my hand. So, doesn’t matter if you can get the official case or not, get the casing – any kind to keep it safe.
OnePlus isn’t making the phone feel cheap in the build quality. On the front, you get a Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. However, they are using a few generations older Corning Gorilla Glass, 5th generation to be specific on the back, which in all honesty – doesn’t bother me. Just make sure to get a screen protector – which does come pre-installed, with a hydrogel.
Another lovely thing about the OnePlus 11 5G is the colour: Eternal Green is by far, one of the best subtle colours we have seen on a smartphone. It does come in a “Titan Black” colour, which has this shimmery, glittery effect to it – but it is more reminiscent of the Sandstone Black, OnePlus was famously known for.
Viewing experience on a display makes up for most of the experience on a smartphone – and the OnePlus 11 5G has a stunning 6.7”-inch QHD AMOLED Display with LTPO 3.0 – so, it has the ability to scale up and down the refresh rate according to the display. It does come with a 120Hz Dynamic Refresh rate.
I genuinely loved the display’s buttery smooth refresh rate, colours and viewing experience. It truly is the best in its class – and lives up to the “Flagship” experience. As much as I rely on watching a bunch of shows on my Tablet or laptop – it’s very rare for me to use a phone for content consumption, with 2 smartphones as exceptions. I am happy to report that this phone is the 3rd exception on my list. I enjoyed watching Netflix and Prime Video on this display.
With the Dolby Vision, you can see there is a bit more life to the colours as compared to this oversaturated viewing experience which a lot of display tends to offer – ruining how a show was intended to be watched. There are other options like Image Sharpener, Video Colour Enhancer and Bright HDR video Mode – it does work but it is subjective at the same time. I prefer the au natural look. But at times, when you need that enhancement, it’s there.
The under-display fingerprint sensor works, and it doesn’t feel any different from a similar kind of setup. We prefer the normal fingerprint sensor – which is getting harder to come across.
Specification and Performance
The OnePlus 11 5G comes in two different variants – 8GB with 128GB UFS 3.1 and 16GB with 256GB UFS 4.0. We got the latter for this review and I still stand by the statement that 8GB RAM is more than enough for current day-to-day tasks. 16GB is a lot but it’s inevitable really – given that many manufacturers are doing the same.
Other than that, you get the all-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Processor for 2023. Back in 2022, when we reviewed the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, it was riddled with so many huge problems – starting from thermal throttling issues, overheating, inconsistent drop in performance and so much more. So, much so – I literally switched to a mid-tier phone as my daily driver because I couldn’t stand the inconsistency.
That “fever dream” of a ride has most definitely come to an end with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 because this processor takes performance and thermals a lot more seriously. While it isn’t the most efficient processor out there (that credit goes to Mediatek), the 8 Gen 2 is as efficient as it can get.
For one, thermals while used normally or when the phone is idle, it doesn’t stay warm. Whether it’s using the camera heavily or playing Undecember on mobile – their Cryo-velocity VC Cooling System seems to be doing its job. Essentially, it’s a crystalline-graphene material that improves up to 92% with heat dissipation. The performance seems to be a lot more consistent. When we did play Undecember, OnePlus has this Hyperboost Mode that monitors the temperature and battery life.
The temperature usually is at 32-36 degrees and the frame rate is capped at 31 fps. But in games where it does support higher refresh rates like Batman: TEW, which it did at 60 fps and Temple Run 2 which ran at 120 fps. So, worry not – as long as the game you play supports higher fps – this phone can handle it. It doesn’t “fake” the 120Hz. Otherwise, for your usual tasks – expect the phone to work well.
There is one performance feature we didn’t talk about – RAM-vita, which we will talk about in another content.
One of the biggest encapsulating aspects of the phone is the cameras. OnePlus took the right direction from its questionable implementation of the 10T. So, now you get an Ultrawide, Normal and Telephoto Sensor – all of them using Sony Sensor. The primary 50MP uses Sony IMX890 with OIS at an aperture of f/1.8. The Ultrawide sensor is a 48MP Sony IMX581 sensor with a 115-degree field of view and finally, the telephoto uses a 32MP Sony IMX709 with an aperture of f/2.0.
We are going to dive a little deeper into this camera aspect of this review – starting with the Zoom test. Now, unlike a specific smartphone that is just downright, a peeping tom camera – this isn’t one. The optical zoom caps are at 5x and the digital zoom limits are at 20x. As long as you are at an acceptable distance, your 20x Digital Zoom image should come out okay with decent details.
However, in a dim or in-doors, the result doesn’t translate well and this is normal – as the 20X will lose crucial details. Anything beyond 5x, just make sure that it isn’t that usable like the café test we did below.
Now the colour science that comes out of this camera is exactly how I like it – it has a close-to-neutral tone with the right amount of saturation, just how your eyes perceive it. The exposure tends to be a little brighter at times, so you will have to like tap and focus to bring it down so that it doesn’t look as if it was blown out of proportion.
But for the most part, what you see is what you get. I was genuinely impressed with the colours, for instance, the colours of the lousang or yee sang were very well retained and that image was taken in an environment where the lighting was more in the warmer range. How it manages to keep the colour intact is pretty simple.
There is extra hardware which helps in keeping the colour, right so to speak. It’s a 13-channel multi-spectral sensor for light-colour identification. Yep, that’s a mouthful. The idea for this sensor is to remove the colour bias because of the surrounding light. So, it captures the right colour instead of something that’s too cold or too warm.
It’s safe to say that it does work. Sometimes, it works too well to the point the colours seem out of place. The low light images of the burger stall show that the camera colour hue is calibrated more towards cold tone – and it can be annoying trying to correct the colour post. Try to shoot with and without HDR and then go from there.
The HDR processing can be a tad, extra so to speak. I do like shooting most of my pictures without HDR on but with the OnePlus 11 5G, it’s hard to say which image is particularly the best, as the non-HDR image seems to be processed as well. But overall, the camera is not shabby at all. There are some hits and misses with the focus but for the most part, these can be fixed with the help of a software update. So, I do hope that OnePlus patches the fixes via an update very soon.
The Hasselblad Element
The 11 5G does not shy away from displaying the Hasselblad text like the 10 series, as it is located right in the middle of the camera module. OnePlus’ multi-million-dollar collaboration with Hasselblad allows them to take a page out of the Swedish imaging company. For instance, the telephoto lens emulates the same “portrait effect” as an XCD with 30mm and 65mm lenses. Secondly, the camera uses a natural colour science co-developed with Hasselblad to make it happen.
There is some quirky inclusion like XPAN which takes a 21:9 image in colour or black and white, not to forget, the shutter click mimics one of the Hasselblad XR cameras – which I think is pretty cute.
Battery Life and Charging
Under the hood, this phone features a dual-2500mAh battery, which totals up to give a 5000mAh battery. While this phone doesn’t support Qi Wireless, which is a bummer and may seem like it’s not a deal breaker for many, it does support SuperVOOC 100W. Yes, this is lower than the 125W we saw on the OnePlus 10T. There are some interesting outcomes we came across with this smartphone – where we used two different chargers: a 65W GaN Charger and the included 100W SuperVOOC.
Charging with our 65W GaN Charger, the phone did take little more than an hour to get from 10% to 100%. I heavily relied on my phone as it is my daily driver for social media, music, navigation and some game tracking – we got a good 5 hours 56 minutes SoT since it was unplugged from the charger (1d 1h 12 minutes). This is pretty good by my books – as the phone does have some demanding hardware to power up.
Now using the 100W SuperVOOC charger, on the other hand, was interesting. Sure, it was super fast to charge – where it took a whopping 29 minutes to charge from 10% to 100%. The battery drain on the other hand was fast too. We got 4 hours 46 minutes SoT since it was unplugged which was 22 hours 20 minutes ago.
Initially, we thought this was some anomaly in our testing but after repeated tests, the results were pretty much the same. In the past, we have addressed the fact that Fast chargers do ruin battery health over time. But when you do need to use it, it is a good way to get it to a decent percentage.
So, that you don’t have to worry about taking it out with very little battery left or depending on a power bank. But in this case, we’d say it’s safe to bring a battery bank if you do use the SuperVOOC to charge. We will dive deeper into this, and why it happens – but for now, all we can say is – the faster it charges, the faster the battery drain is.
Other Things worth Addressing about the OnePlus 11 5G
Surprisingly Good Sounding Speaker
Something I really underestimated with this phone is the speakers. OnePlus calls it the “Dual Reality Speakers”. I know it does have this marketing name to it, otherwise, the earpiece has a speaker and so does the bottom of the phone. Both speakers combined give this stereo experience. Honestly, the sound that comes out of it – has a resemblance to the Oppo Find X5 Pro we reviewed last year. Great sound, loud as it can get and has good clarity.
The Dolby Atmos is a finicky feature that doesn’t give a “theatrical” experience, but it does boost depending on the content you watch. So, from that front – it works the way it should.
Alert Slider is Back
The key element to the OnePlus, or should I say the feature that makes a OnePlus, a “OnePlus smartphone” – is back. The 10T felt bland and it felt like an anomaly. The 11 brings back the Alert Slider – so now you can toggle the mode with just a switch without going into the settings. Thank goodness, it’s back.
Oxygen OS in its Name, ColorOS it its Feel
From setting up the phone out of the box, all the way to its home screen – every little thing about the OS felt familiar, like we have used it before. In fact, we have. Now sure, even if the whole ColorOS and OxygenOS merger fell apart, the codebase for both OS remains the same. Having experience using the Find X5 Pro, I can say the experience with OxygenOS is more or less the same. It does have some unique elements like Shelf – which is this “widget” page you can access when you swipe down.
If you ask me, this software feels refined and nice to use. OnePlus is promising about 4 years of major Android updates and 5 years of security updates. Right outside the box, it runs Android 13. So technically you should get support up to 16 or 17.
Faster Storage but Slower USB-C 2.0
This is a weird combination. Now natively, the UFS 4.0, if you get the highest variant, is a good storage and it is fast for your day-to-day task. But if you happen to rely on OTG drives a lot, get ready to face the crippling speeds of USB 2.0 via the USB-C port. OnePlus should really stop cheap-ing out on this port. Honestly, I’d rather have older Corning Gorilla Glass on the front and back and have a faster port.
It takes a good 2 minutes to transfer a folder which is about 180MB from our external portable SSD to the phone. This doesn’t scream flagship.
The OnePlus 10T’s identity crisis – which I am sure you must have seen from other reviews, was not a promising sight as to where the brand is headed to. It even looks like they “Settled” in their flagship endeavour. But after looking at the OnePlus 11 5G, it does look like the brand learned from its mistakes and brought back things which were missing on the 10T. The 11 5G feels like a proper OnePlus smartphone so to speak.
After a good few weeks, the OnePlus 11 5G has so many good things going on and no phone is perfect, it sure does have some setbacks in areas where you least expect it. For us, it’s the USB-C port and perhaps the lack of Ingress Protection. IP68 would be amazing.
Otherwise, the OnePlus 11 5G brings a new hope for the future. If they were to stick to this track, make the necessary upgrades and cut corners in areas where that doesn’t impact the longevity of the device – we will most likely see the “Flagship Killer” after all. I am hoping we do. But for now, I am going to continue using the OnePlus 11 5G as my daily driver, because I really am enjoying having it in my pocket.
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