Category Archives: smartphone

Sneak Peak for the OnePlus 12R

OnePlus LogoWith the OnePlus 12R smartphone coming to Europe and North America, there’s been plenty of interest in what the new phone will look like. Fortunately, OnePlus have given us a clue with another invite to their Smooth Beyond Belief launch event on 23 January 2024.

Coming in Cool Blue and Iron Gray, the 12R looks very similar to the 12, and I think it looks good with a milled edge round the circular camera array. The Cool Blue edition is a glossy finish with a “light, fresh appearance”, while the Iron Gray model has a matte feel to give a “sophisticated and strong feeling”. In the picture, the Iron Gray is very reminiscent of the original sandstone finish. 

The traditional alert slider is now on the left side in order to accommodate a new antenna on the right, just like its big brother, which improves performance during online gaming. The R Series started back in 2021 with the 9R but until now has only been available in India and China. The OnePlus R series phones are flagship devices designed to give gamers the best possible online gaming experience and it’s now time to offer the phone globally.

Now celebrating 10 years, OnePlus will be launching both phones at the OnePlus Smooth Beyond Belief launch event on 23 January, 2024. Check invite for the relevant time-zone.

OnePlus 12 Series Drops 23 January for RoW

OnePlus LogoAfter the OnePlus 12’s initial reveal in China, the launch date for the rest of the world has been confirmed as 23 January 2024, which is something to look forward to in the darkness of winter after the post-Christmas buzz of CES. In a surprise move, OnePlus has confirmed that the 12R will be coming to Europe and USA. Normally the 12R remains within India, and in China, it’s known as the Ace series. Think of the R versions as high-end specs with mid-range prices. OnePlus will then have quite a range in their portfolio from the Nord series, the R and then the full 12.

I’m not going to spoil the full specs and save those for the launch event for the 12, but suffice to say that the handset is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 3, there’s a 4th gen Hasselblad-blessed camera array with a 3x periscope lens, and wireless charging returns (thank goodness, what were they thinking?) The design’s an evolution of the 11, but there’s an attractive pattern on the back called Flowy Emerald which is modelling after a river delta.

And this comes within the 10th anniversary celebrations for OnePlus. Long time readers of GNC will know that I’ve been a user of OnePlus devices right from the very beginning. I managed to blag an invite code for the original phone and bought it to replace a Google Nexus 4 (which had wireless charging!) Since then I’ve probably had a phone from each generation, though my most recent purchase remains the 10 Pro. I’ve always appreciate the value, design and performance of these flagship-killing phones. OnePlus has documented a large chunk of my children’s lives and while the cameras haven’t always been the best, pictures taken on the 10 Pro are outstanding. I wish OnePlus the very best for the next 10 years. There’s more on the birth of OnePlus here in a festive fireside chat with Pete Lau and Kinder Liu, and an inspirational 10 year celebration here.

The launch event, OnePlus Smooth Beyond Belief will start at 9am EST, 14:00 GMT, 15:00 CET and 19:30 IST on 23 January, 2024

OnePlus 12 Design Revealed

OnePlus LogoOnePlus has revealed the design of the upcoming OnePlus 12 smartphone and it’s definitely an evolution of the 11 rather than a radical redesign, retaining the large circular camera array on the rear. The alert slider remains, although it’s moved to the right-hand side to accommodate a new integrated antenna which will improving gaming latency. Although not mentioned in the current press release, wireless charging is expected to make a return: this is great news as this feature is missing from the OnePlus 11 and its absence puts many people off upgrading, including myself.

The picture is a little gloomy (expect a short film to be released soon), but if you zoom in, there’s an interesting pattern on the rear of the phone. “Flowy Emerald” is a representation of the Dart River in New Zealand based on a photo taken with the OnePlus 12 camera and than transformed into the design for the back of the device. It’s a novel change from the norm.

More info was revealed on Weibo and (translated to English) the OnePlus 12 will launch in China on 5th December with a worldwide launch expected in January. The phone will be powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and the partnership with Hasselblad continues, supporting the Sony Lytia sensor seen in the Open. As mentioned earlier, wireless charging makes a return as does an IR blaster. It seems like OnePlus is returning to its flagship-killing ways, but we’ll need to see the price to be sure.

OnePlus Open Joins The Folding Phone Club

OnePlus LogoAt a launch event coming from Mumbai, India, OnePlus unveiled the Open, a flagship smartphone that unfolds into a tablet. Unlike some of the popular phones that fold neatly in half, the Open has dual screens – a normal exterior 6.3″ display and an interior screen that unfolds to a 7.8″ picture with an almost square aspect ratio. Look at these pictures.

Let’s get some of the key specs out of the way before turning to the hinge and the Open’s other new features. When folded, the phone itself is 73 mm wide and 153 mm tall. It’s a smidge under 12 mm thick and weighs in at 245 g for the UK version. For comparison, the OnePlus 10 Pro is 74 x 163 x 8.6 mm and 201 g. It’s impressive how little the Open adds in size and weight. The Open is very pocketable.

There’s no doubt OnePlus is very proud of their new Flexion hinge. Co-developed with OPPO, it has only 69 parts, yet allows the phone to fold together perfectly with no gap. Made with titanium alloys it’s strong and lightweight and a carbon fibre lattice supports the screens on either side. The crease is almost imperceptible – OnePlus wants purchasers to have  confidence in the hinge and folding display: in tests, the Open was subjected to 1 000 000 test-folds by the TUV organisation. Even if you opened and closed your phone 100 times a day for three years, that would be 11% of the tested folds. There’s no doubt that this is an expensive phone and you’re going to want it to last. This is reassurance that it will.

Android’s not known for its good use of larger screens on tablets, though it is getting better. Fortunately, OnePlus have developed an extension to OxygenOS 13.2 called Open Canvas which brings productivity extensions to allow display of up to three apps simultaneously while avoiding any weird stretching of the windows .

A taskbar along the bottom let’s you keep track of the apps and commonly used configurations of apps can stored for quick launches into desired layouts. It’s pretty nifty and shows how much OnePlus have thought about how to use the Open as an effective tool rather than just something that’s nice to look.

The Open’s cameras are pretty obvious with a large circular camera array on the rear, not terribly dissimilar to the OnePlus 11. The partnership with Hasselblad continues and the main camera is powered by Sony’s new Lytia “Pixel Stacked” technology. The main camera is 48 MP sensor using the LYTIA-T808 with OIS. There’s a 64 MP telephoto camera with up to 120x zoom and a 48 MP ultra wide camera. For selfie fans, there’s a 20 MP camera inside, but thinking about the form factor, it’s more likely that camera will be used for video conferencing and selfies will use the rear camera but with phone open. See the picture below to see how usage might change.

Inside is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, with 16 GB LPDDR5X RAM and 512 GB of UFS 4 storage. The outer screen is a 6.31″ AMOLED display with 120 Hz refresh; 1116 x 2484 giving 431 ppi. The inner screen is 7.82″ when unfolded. It’s a Flexi-fluid AMOLED, also with 120 Hz refresh and 2268 x 2440 (426 ppi). Both those screens are going to be lovely and are protected from damage by Ceramic Guard.

The Open is powered by a pair of asymmetric batteries giving a total of 4800 mAh that are good for at least 1600 charging cycles. That means you could fully discharge and recharge every day for over four years. 67 W charging will take the battery from flat to full in 42 minutes. Sadly, there’s no wireless charging.

As revealed earlier, the Open’s OnePlus pedigree is revealed by the alert slider, which is now a little bit bigger.

Even before the launch, the Open was selling like hot cakes and the first batch is already sold out, according to OnePlus. Several pre-launch deals had offered incentives that reduced the price and these look to have been popular. In terms of price, here’s the bottom line…the OnePlus Open will sell for UK£1599, US$1699 and 1799€. There’s no doubt that’s the most expensive OnePlus phone ever but it’s competitively priced against the Google Pixel Fold and the Galaxy Z Fold 5, both of which are about £250 more expensive for similar devices.

I can’t wait to get my hands on one. Full launch event below:

OnePlus Joins the Fold with the Open

OnePlus LogoOnePlus has confirmed that their new folding smartphone is the long-rumoured OnePlus Open and it will be announced on Thursday 19th October with a launch event coming from Mumbai, India.

Co-developed by OnePlus and Oppo, the device looks to open out into a tablet-style device. Although it’s not shown, the expectation would be that there’s an additional outer screen in the way as the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Google Pixel Fold, but with OnePlus, who knows?

The classic alert slider is clearly shown (off) in the invite, so it’s definitely a OnePlus phone: the OPPO version will only be available in China. OPPO already has folding screen technology so both companies have brought experience to the table. There’s no sign of the rear cameras in these shots but some detail was revealed by an Indian movie star, showing a large disk, not terribly dissimilar to the OnePlus 11.

The OnePlus Open is the dream smartphone, set to break the compromise between display technology, imaging performance, and weight that has become the status quo for existing foldable devices,” said by Kinder Liu, President and COO of OnePlus. “Inheriting OnePlus’s signature fast and smooth experience, plus its elegant, lightweight, and slim design, alongside an imperceptible screen crease, unprecedented imaging performance, efficient software, and premium quality, the OnePlus Open will redefine the concept of foldable smartphones by delivering all-round flagship-level experiences that push the limits of current foldable smartphones and take the standard of foldables to the next level.

There are some pre-order benefits which vary by region. In the UK, it’s a £99 deposit to get £250 off OnePlus Open plus free OnePlus Buds Pro 2. The full list price hasn’t been announced but given the price of the competitors, it’s going to be the most expensive OnePlus phone ever.

Set your alarms for 10:00 EDT / 15:00 BST / 19:30 IST next Thursday. More info here.

OnePlus and OPPO Set to Launch Same Smartphone

OnePlus LogoOnePlus has been teasing a foldable smartphone since MWC back in February, and as Pete Lau holds senior roles at both OnePlus and OPPO, it’s not entirely unsurprising that OnePlus and Oppo are going to launch the same foldable smartphone. Both companies are part of the BBK empire and I think we can assume that the different brands will play to their strengths and sell in separate territories.

OPPO already has two foldable smartphones, the pocket-sized Find N2 Flip and the larger China-only Find N2, though OnePlus touts its lineage on the new device with the presence of the much-loved alert slider. I think it would be fair to see this as co-development rather than simply rebadging, as each company brings its strengths and experience to the new phone. OPPO with the hardware, OnePlus with the software?

An image has been released and you can see the slider on the side of the phone in the top right. It’s pretty hard to see much else in the photo – maybe volume and power on the other side?

Foldable devices are new and I think everyone worries about the hinge and screen, so OnePlus and OPPO have been at pains to explain all the work, technology and patents that have gone into perfecting the experience. It’s entirely gapless when the phone is closed and 35 patents arose from the development of the hinge mechanism, which built on the foundation of the Find N2’s hinge.

As to a name, the money’s on OnePlus Open and perhaps the OPPO Find N3. No details on price at this time but for comparison, the smaller N2 Flip sold for UK£849. I think we can look forward a folding flagship in the not-too-distant future.

Nord 3 Crosses the Channel

OnePlus LogoGNC readers may remember that when the OnePlus Nord 3 launched in early July, the mid-range smartphone wasn’t available in UK. No official explanation was given, but the good news is that the phone has now crossed the channel and is available for pre-order now at UK£499 for delivery on 18th August, if you pay for express delivery. To sweeten the deal, pre-orders come with a free pair of Nord Buds 2, which are worth £69.

As a quick reminder, the Nord 3 is OnePlus’ mid-range phone for Europe and India, sitting below the OnePlus 11 in the line-up. A MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chipset powers the phone and the UK variant comes with 16 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. On the screen front, the Nord 3 sports a 120 Hz Super Fluid AMOLED display measuring 6.74″ with a resolution of 2772 x 1240 pixels (450 ppi). All this is powered by a 5000 mAh battery, charged using 80 W SuperVOOC, which will restore the battery level from 0% to 60% in 15 mins.

The main camera is a 50 MP Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS (and that’s the same camera sensor as used in the 11). In addition, there’s a 112° ultra-wide camera and a 2 MP macro lens for close-up detail. On the front, the selfie cam is a 16 MP sensor.

Although two colours were announced in July – Tempest Gray and Misty Green – disappointingly it appears that only the Gray is currently available for pre-order. There’s no explanation why at the moment or if the Green will arrive at a later date. Let’s hope it does because the OnePlus greens always look great on the phone.

So, if you are in UK, and you’re looking for a mid-range phone, take a good look at the Nord 3. I haven’t had a chance to go hands-on with this one but I was impressed with the Nord 2 (which my wife currently uses as her daily phone).