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I have the OnePlus 12. Here’s why you should be excited about it

OnePlus 12 in Flowy Emerald held in hand in sunlight.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

OnePlus launched the OnePlus 12 in China on December 5, 2023. On January 23, OnePlus will launch the OnePlus 12 and the lower-priced OnePlus 12R globally, including in the U.S. And it’s time to start getting excited about that.

OnePlus has established itself as one of the bigger names in the smartphone world, and 2023 was an especially promising year for the company. Last year’s OnePlus 11 was a solid choice, and the OnePlus Open —the brand’s first foldable — was one of the best folding phones I’ve ever tried.

I recently got my hands on the OnePlus 12, and while I can’t review the phone or show you the software quite yet, I can talk about the hardware. And that’s perfectly fine, because there’s a lot to talk about.

Solid and premium build

OnePlus 12 in Flowy Emerald laying flat.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The chassis of the OnePlus 12 is made with aluminum alloy and glass. Despite using aluminum, the OnePlus 12 feels quite hefty and has a solid, premium feel when combined with the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 that adds durability.

I was sent the Flowy Emerald color, which is a beautiful shade of green with a silver shimmer when light hits it. The back glass has a frosted, matte finish that doesn’t really attract too many fingerprints and smudges, which is lovely. The OnePlus logo is etched right into the center of the rear glass. In the Flowy Emerald color, there are darker green “marbling” lines that make it look reminiscent of natural stone or quartz. I love how the green looks, and it’s definitely a fun color compared to what most other competitors offer.

Though I love how the back glass looks on the Flowy Emerald unit, I must admit that it can feel a little slippery to hold, at least for me. It’s probably due to the frosty finish on the glass. If you’re paranoid about dropping it, I’d recommend getting a case, though the market for OnePlus cases is significantly smaller than it is for, say, iPhone cases.

The triple-lens camera array is in the same place as before on the OnePlus 11. However, it has better lenses, and the module is now color-matched to the rest of the body. Rather than having the full “Hasselblad” branding in the center of the module, it just shows Hasselblad’s “H” logo on the left side. Simple and clean.

I really love that OnePlus decided to make the camera module match the body color of the phone rather than go with black again, which stuck out like a sore thumb on the OnePlus 11. There’s also a fine little detail I love about the Flowy Emerald color in particular: there are shimmery silver specks in the camera array. It’s a subtle little detail that you’ll only notice in the right light and and at the proper angle, but it’s one I appreciate. Can more phones have shimmer in them, please?

The frame is aluminum, but it doesn’t look the part. Instead, it has a polished look that would make you think it was stainless steel. But this also means that the frame itself is prone to fingerprints and smudges, but they’re easy to wipe away. Most of the frame is curved and rounded, but there are flat edges on the top and bottom.

The display has curved edges that extend a bit into the frame. This leads to thinner bezels on the side edges, but the top and bottom bezels are slightly thicker since those don’t extend into the frame. Regardless, the curved edges of the display help provide a more immersive experience.

All hail the alert slider

One of the most unique things about OnePlus devices is the alert slider. This little toggle has a textured pattern on it for tactility and allows users to easily switch between ring, vibrate, and silent modes.

Though the OnePlus 10T lacked the alert slider, OnePlus brought it back on the OnePlus 11. However, to differentiate the OnePlus 12 from its predecessor, the alert slider is now on the left side of the phone instead of the right. This means the alert slider is now on the opposite side of the volume and sleep/wake buttons.

While not everyone may like the position change of the alert slider, I think it works well and brings a bit of balance to the available buttons and toggles. It would seem too one-sided if everything was on the right side, so having it on the left kind of balances it out. It also shouldn’t be that surprising, considering that’s how the alert slider and buttons are on the OnePlus Open when it’s fully open.

A solid start for 2024

OnePlus 12 in Flowy Emerald held in hand in sunlight showing shimmer.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The OnePlus 12 is going to be one of the first major Android phone releases for 2024, and it’s a good start. The hardware for the OnePlus 12 feels exceptionally premium, despite only being aluminum alloy and glass.

The OnePlus 12 in the Flowy Emerald color is definitely the one to get, as it is simply gorgeous to behold. In a sea of mostly boring smartphone colors, Flowy Emerald stands out, especially with that shimmer in the camera module. But if green isn’t your color, there is also a Silky Black color. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the white color that launched in China will be available in the U.S.

And that’s just the design! The OnePlus 12 also has a lot of promising specs — including a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, a 6.8-inch AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, and Android 14 available right out of the box. There’s also 80-watt wired charging, 50W wireless charging, and a triple camera system with a 50MP main sensor, 64MP telephoto camera with 3x zoom, and a 48MP ultrawide camera. You’ll need to wait for the full review to know how all of these things perform, but at least on paper, it sounds very promising.

What about the price? That’s also not something we can talk about, but considering past OnePlus devices, expect it to be quite a bit cheaper than competing phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and Google Pixel 8 Pro.

We’ll be putting the OnePlus 12 through more rigorous testing in the next few weeks ahead of a full review, so stay tuned for more coverage coming soon.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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