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Photo by Saad Jameel on Unsplash

The OnePlus 11 is one of the first smartphones with the latest top chip from Qualcomm, which makes it faster and longer lasting but a revamped design of the device has polarised opinion.

The new phone costs from £729 ($699) and so is keenly priced versus big-screen rivals from Samsung, Google and Apple, if £100 more than OnePlus’s 10T from last year.

A metal and glass sandwich like most premium smartphones, the big 6.7in OLED screen on the front is bright, crisp and 120Hz smooth, making it one of the best. The glass curves to the metal band at the sides while the phone’s relatively narrow width makes it easier to hold than wider rivals from Google or Samsung.

The frosted glass back of the black version feels excellent in the hand but a big circular camera module at the top is its standout feature. The phone is well made but is only splash resistant and not rated to be capable of surviving submersion in water like most rivals, which feels a bit cheap.

The phone runs OxygenOS 13, a modified version of Android 13 with a few more customisation options. Generally it is inoffensive and runs well, behaving similarly to previous iterations. New for this year is a pledge of software support for five years of bimonthly security patches and four major Android version upgrades. That is a year longer than predecessors and is as long as Google and Samsung, which offer monthly security patches, but lags behind Fairphone’s six years and Apple’s up to seven, so there’s still room for improvement – particularly when the hardware will probably outlast the software.

Screen: 6.7in 120Hz QHD+ OLED 525ppi)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 2

RAM: 8 or 16GB

Storage: 128 or 256GB

Operating system: OxygenOS 13 (Android 13)

Camera: 50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 32MP 2x; 16MP selfie

Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, wifi 6/7, NFC, Bluetooth 5.3 and GNSS

Water resistance: IP64 (splash resistant)

Dimensions: 163.1 x 74.1 x 8.5mm

Weight: 205g

The 11 has Qualcomm’s brand new top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, which is due to be used by most high-end Android phones this year. The processor is up to 35% faster but is also 40% more power efficient than its predecessor for better battery life and cooler running during gaming sessions. The 11 certainly feels rapid in day-to-day operations.

Battery life is much improved. The 11 lasts about 46 to 48 hours between charges, with the screen actively used for five to six hours in that time and three hours spent on 5G, the rest on wifi. Increasing the screen resolution to its maximum QHD+ had little impact on the battery life.

When the battery finally runs out, it only takes 23 minutes for a full charge with the 100W power adaptor, which is slightly slower than the 10T but not by much. The battery is rated to last at least 1,600 full charge cycles, which is roughly double most rivals and should last for the life of the phone without needing replacement.

The phone does not contain recycled materials but is generally repairable by OnePlus, with screen replacements costing about £80 and batteries costing about £20 plus labour. The company operates a trade-in scheme and is included in parent-company Oppo’s yearly sustainability reports.

The 11 has a similar photography setup to last year’s 10 Pro, including camera technology from Hasselblad. It has a main 48MP, 50MP ultra-wide and 32MP 2x telephoto on the back, plus a decent 16MP selfie camera on the front

The main camera shoots some of the best photos on a OnePlus yet, with good detail and range, but it loses a little sharpness around the edges of the frame and can struggle with colour balance with warmer scenes occasionally looking a little orange.

The ultrawide camera is a little soft on detail and can produce slightly dark shots compared with the other cameras. The 2x telephoto is one of the better short zoom cameras available, good on detail and balance, but it doesn’t meaningfully close the distance to objects. Most rivals have at least 3x optical zoom, with the best reaching up to 10x.

All three cameras struggle a little in low-light scenarios compared with class leaders. The 16MP selfie cam shoots good-looking, detailed images with reasonable dynamic range, handling poor lighting well.

A macro photography mode uses the ultrawide camera when getting in close and can produce some excellent images. But you have to be precise to keep the image sharp, which is difficult to judge on screen while shooting. Various additional modes generally work well, including a decent portrait mode and novel Xpan panoramic shots.

Overall, the main camera is good for the price but won’t trouble the best in the business from Apple, Google or Samsung.

The OnePlus 11 costs £729 ($699) for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage or £799 ($799) with 16 and 256GB, shipping on 16 February.

For comparison, the Google Pixel 7 costs £599, the Pixel 7 Pro costs £849, the Samsung Galaxy S23+ costs £1,049 and the iPhone 14 Plus costs £949.

The OnePlus 11 is a solid phone offering a lot of performance, battery life and very fast charging for the money but otherwise struggles to stand out in the crowd.

It is well made, feels nice and is narrower than its rivals, so is a little easier to hold despite being a big phone. The screen is great, the fingerprint scanner is responsive and the camera is solid if not class leading. The large circular camera lump on the back is divisive, however.

OxygenOS is an inoffensive version of Android and is now supported for up to five years but that is just keeping up with the primary competition. The battery should last for the full five years, too, which can’t be said of most competitors.

It lacks wireless charging and only has splash water resistance but on the whole there is little to fault with the 11, making it a decent alternative to big-brand rivals. It is just a little uninspired and with some excellent mid-range phones offering almost as much for far less money, the OnePlus may not be flashy or cheap enough to win outright.

Pros: Slick performance, decent software with five years of updates, long battery life and longevity, 23-minute full charge, great screen, reasonable price.

Cons: camera not best-in-class, only 2x optical zoom, only splash resistant, divisive design, no wireless charging, only bi-monthly security updates not monthly.

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