With a mouthful (and probably confusing) title I want to document my OnePlus 11 long-term review. And as the title reveals, I was an ardent OnePlus fan. My foray into the enthusiast Android brand of yesteryear was with the OnePlus 7T. A smartphone that many smartphone experts, even today, consider the peak OnePlus device. The entire OnePlus 7 series was a great showcase of the team’s dedication and love for the smartphone as a medium of self-expression. Except for the base OnePlus 7, which was mid and deep inside your heart, you know it. But the OnePlus 7 Pro, the OnePlus 7T, and the OnePlus 7T Pro are devices that will still turn heads in 2023.
I happily cruised along with my OnePlus 7T since November 2019 and faced no major issues with it. It was only after the dreaded screen refresh rate issue brought on by the Oxygen OS 12 which began annoying me in 2021. But I was so satisfied with the Oxygen OS UI that I turned a blind eye to that issue. And while I waited patiently for OnePlus to launch another exciting product with a fresh new design, the brand did everything but that. As its marketing prowess grew and its portfolio expanded, the OnePlus I knew started to become a thing of the past.
Fast forward to November 2022, and although my OnePlus 7T was working fine, barring the screen refresh rate issue, its feature set was just not enough for the time. Thankfully, at the same time, someone from my local gym wanted to get rid of his iPhone 11 Pro (256GB) variant. And after using it for one whole day I agreed to pay Rs 30,000 to the gentleman and claim the iPhone 11 Pro as my next daily driver. I replaced its battery, for Rs 6,500, and both its speakers, for Rs 4,000, and it was as good as new.
When I switched my job, I changed from my iPhone 11 Pro to the iPhone 14 Plus, just for more battery life. But apart from that and some camera upgrades, the experience of using the iPhone 14 was similar to the iPhone 11 Pro. This is a really good thing about iOS but also a very lousy thing when you consider how little the iPhone has changed between these generations. Regardless, the iPhone 14 Plus worked phenomenally but it didn’t quite scratch that itch. That itch of having a back button, a better notification centre, the ease of file sharing, custom ringtones, a better split-screen experience, a high refresh rate display and you know what else I am talking about.
Lo and behold, a week later, the OnePlus 11 Marble Odyssey edition came into the office. I have to clarify that at this point I knew about how OnePlus has seemingly made a comeback with its latest series. I hadn’t used either the OnePlus 11 or the OnePlus 11R yet but everyone had assured me that they were pretty good. So back to the Marble Odyssey edition. Before I made a plan to review it, I began using the OnePlus 11R. And in short, I liked the improvements it had on offer but a plastic build quality, a colour-inaccurate display and a passable camera didn’t quite sell me on the story that OnePlus is now one of the “good guys.”
So without high expectations, I began using the OnePlus 11. Oh! Who am I kidding? Of course! I was hoping for it to be good. But. Was it good? I used the smartphone for over a month and here’s my OnePlus 11 long-term review.
OnePlus 11 Long Term Review: Design And Build Quality
The OnePlus 11 gives off a very premium feel compared to its more affordable brother the OnePlus 11R. You can immediately feel the cold metal frame between your fingertips when holding the OnePlus 11 as opposed to the ropey plastic on the OnePlus 11R. Apart from the in-hand feel, both the OnePlus 11 and the 11R feel similar in weight. As there is but a mere 1g weight difference between them. And with a weight of 204g, one might label both these smartphones as pretty heavy. But despite that, OnePlus has made several design changes to make its flagship easy to hold. Including, but not limited to, a curved display.
Such a display does two main things. Firstly, it gives the smartphone a very premium look. A fact many other OEMs are also aware of. Evident by the recent flood of smartphone launches with curved displays. And secondly, a curved screen makes the smartphone easier to hold. Because your hands can easily grip a curved surface compared to a flat one. Moreover, it also makes the display appear narrow and taller. Prior to the OnePlus 11, I daily drove an iPhone 14 Plus and although its screen has less height compared to the former and a tad more width, it feels massive in terms of in-hand-feel. An effect probably heightened by the fairly thick flat edges.
The OnePlus 11’s camera housing also looks more integrated into the back panel compared to the previous generation. The big squarish camera panel of the previous generation just didn’t fit well. It felt bulgy, awkward and, for the lack of a better word, ugly. But, the circular camera housing suits the curvaceous body of the OnePlus 11. The Hasselblad branding engraved within the camera housing looks luxurious and so does the chrome finish all around the metal casing.
Since I used the OnePlus 11 Marble Odyssey Edition it came with a marble-like glass back. The new material does a very good job of mimicking the look of a real marble without adding any extra weight such an element might add. And for the life of me, I just cannot put anything other than a transparent cover over the OnePlus 11 Marble Odyssey Edition. Because it just looks that good. I want to wrap up the design part by letting you know that on the left side are the volume buttons and on the right side is the power button along with the famous alert slider. In a baffling decision, OnePlus had brazenly gone ahead and removed the alert slider last year. But in a display of redemption, they brought it back this year. Thank god.
OnePlus 11 Long-Term Review: Camera
The OnePlus 11 sports a triple camera setup and a Dual-LED flash in its camera housing. Moreover, a 50MP wide, a 32MP telephoto and a 48MP ultrawide camera comprise the triple camera setup. As usual, the 50MP captures good details in outdoor lighting conditions with a good HDR range. The colours in images have that signature OnePlus look featuring a vivid tone and punchy highlights. Personally, I had a jolly good time when clicking pictures of busy streets. As the high-resolution camera left no important detail out including the colourful street shops to the amazing delicacies they produced.
The Hasselblad branding does its job but its effect, at least for me, is mostly visible while capturing skin tones. Compared to the iPhone 14 Plus, the OnePlus 11 captured slightly boosted colours but the overall hue of the images remained the same. Compared to the OnePlus 11R however, it is a world of difference. You can see how much calibration OnePlus has done for its camera to make images look as natural as possible without abandoning the colour improvements from the Hasselblad. The result is a punchy yet almost natural look, something I can totally get behind.
Another area where I absolutely loved the OnePlus 11 is in terms of Macro shots. Getting close up to take pictures of foods and items is pure fun. As much fun as taking portrait shots, which the OnePlus 11 also nails very well. It does not miss out on hair details or even any fuzzy piece of clothing, as long as you give the camera enough light. However, I think that the Ultrawide lens is really lagging behind on this setup. Even in heavy sunlight conditions, it refuses to capture important details and produces a relatively blurry image. But, the ultrawide on the OnePlus 11 is still better compared to that on the iPhone 14 Plus.
In terms of video, the iPhone 14 Plus remains at the top due to its ability to capture stable footage without any frame drops when the lighting changes in any particular scene. Also, the cinematic mode in the iPhone 14 Plus is literally the best one out there. And for all the improvements the OnePlus 11 camera has, it does not feature a portrait video mode, i.e. a cinematic mode.
OnePlus 11 Long-Term Review: Performance And Battery Life
Performance is one area where the OnePlus 11 and the Apple iPhone 14 Plus are almost similar. Both the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and the Bionic A15 chip come in striking distance from each other in terms of overall performance. Be it opening and closing apps, running demanding games like Genshin Impact and Call of Duty: Mobile or playing high-definition videos and more. Both smartphones handle heat very well and it is something that has really improved in recent years.
My OnePlus 7T, powered by the Snapdragon 855+, used to heat very much just within 10 minutes of playing Genshin Impact. But the OnePlus 11 and the Apple iPhone 14 Plus stay aloof from this ancient problem. It is only in terms of battery life that I see a noticeable difference between these phones. The OnePlus 11 easily lasts a day’s worth of heavy use including streaming videos, browsing social media, uploading and downloading files and playing games. Meanwhile the Apple iPhone 14 Plus lasts precisely two days, which is phenomenal.
Nonetheless, I had no trouble using the OnePlus 11 on a daily basis. It never ran out of battery for me even when I had a night out. Plus the battery saving feature further extends the battery life to almost two days.
OnePlus 11 Long-Term Review: Display Performance
The OnePlus 11 boasts a 6.7-inch LTPO3 AMOLED panel with specs like 1440 x 3216px resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and Dolby Atmos HDR. It enhances energy efficiency and smartly adjusts the refresh rate based on content, reducing it for e-books and amplifying for games. The phone’s peak brightness reaches 767 nits, adequate for sunlight, but its HDR linkage to auto brightness sometimes diminishes HDR video quality. Its standout feature is colour accuracy, with the Natural preset showcasing an average dE2000 of just 1.0.
However, the adaptive refresh rate has glitches; it struggles to decide between 30Hz and 120Hz with mixed content, causing hiccups in apps like Instagram and Chrome. Moreover, the YouTube app occasionally faces responsiveness issues. What further grinds my gears is the fact that despite setting the refresh rate at 120Hz some apps just refuse to run in the same refresh rate. For instance, YouTube is one such notorious app that remains stuck at 60Hz. Even my Realme GT Neo 3T has the option to force 120Hz refresh rate across all apps but the OnePlus 11, which costs twice as much, doesn’t. It’s a travesty to be honest.
OnePlus 11 Long-Term Review: Verdict
Having journeyed from the beloved OnePlus 7T to iPhones and now back to the OnePlus camp, I can firmly say that the OnePlus 11 marks a significant leap for the brand. The design language, especially the Marble Odyssey edition, screams premium, with a weighty feel, curved display, and elegant camera housing that accentuates its overall aesthetics. The return of the alert slider was a welcome touch, reminiscent of the OnePlus I loved. The camera system, with its Hasselblad touch, produces strikingly detailed and vibrant photos, especially in macro and portrait modes, though the ultrawide lens could benefit from improvements.
As for performance, the OnePlus 11 is a beast, matching the prowess of the iPhone 14 Plus, with exceptional heat management, a departure from its predecessors. Its battery life, while not surpassing the 2-day marathon of the iPhone 14 Plus, still stands strong, easily pulling through an entire day of intensive use. However, despite its accomplishments, the lack of cinematic mode in its video recording capabilities and a few other minor gripes remind us that perfection is a journey. Yet, for its price and the package it offers, OnePlus 11 emerges as a commendable contender in today’s saturated smartphone market.