The OnePlus brand traditionally made some of the best-value flagship phones on the market, offering top-notch performance at a reasonable price. Naturally, this always made for a potent combination for gamers.
While it would be an exaggeration to say that the brand has lost its way in recent years – it has always made very good phones – it has undoubtedly lost its distinctive flavour of late. Hiked prices, confusing roster tweaks, increased competition, and full-on assimilation by parent brand Oppo have all eroded the OnePlus outsider appeal.
Now the OnePlus 11 is here with a tempting £729 starting price and some highly competitive specifications. Is the brand back on track as a top contender, especially for gamers?
It’s particularly fetching in my top model’s Eternal Green, with the entry model coming in a more muted Titan Black. This is a phone that’s reasonably comfortable to hold in landscape, though that glass rear can get a little greasy during extended gaming sessions.
The phone weighs in a little heavier than previous OnePlus flagships at 205g too, which isn’t ideal, but it’s still way lighter than a dedicated gaming phone like the ASUS ROG Phone 6. It’s a shame to see the IP rating rolled back to IP64 rather than the 10 Pro’s IP68, though, meaning it’s not quite as waterproof.
The key external spec here for gamers is the OnePlus 11’s 6.7-inch AMOLED display, which features a QHD+ resolution and a 120Hz max refresh rate. It’s much the same spec as the last several top-end OnePlus phones if we’re truthful, but it’s still a great panel for gaming on.
One downside is those curved edges, which are less preferable than a dead-flat panel for image clarity and false touch-free interaction. It’s also worth pointing out that dedicated gaming phones have hit refresh rates of up to 165Hz, though, in reality, precious few games make the most of this.
OnePlus has improved its camera offering this time around, with a larger 50MP main sensor, a 48MP ultra-wide, and a sharper 32MP telephoto.
I took the phone on holiday to Iceland and found that it coped pretty well with a range of challenging environments, from sunlit icy vistas (with sharp and well-balanced with punchy colours) to blizzard-and-fairy light-strewn cityscapes (crisp and clean with capable autofocus). It isn’t the absolute best in very low light, but overall it’s a strong camera provision.
OnePlus has given its phone a capacious 5,000mAh battery, which will comfortably last a day of fairly heavy usage. It’s also bumped up the wired charging provision to 100W, which can get you from nigh-on empty to full in 25 minutes.
The biggest downer here is the omission of wireless charging, which isn’t what you’d expect from a flagship phone. It’s especially confusing when the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 earphones, which OnePlus sent through with my OnePlus 11, do support wireless charging.
Unsurprisingly, this spec translates to excellent gaming performance. The benchmarks are generally competitive with other phones using the same hardware (that is: faster than everything except an iPhone 14 Pro), but let’s dive down into some practical gaming applications.
I maxed out the graphical settings (Max FPS, Extreme screen scaling, 4x MSAA etc.) on the physics-heavy console racer Wreckfest with supremely playable results. The frame rate hovered around 60fps, even when in the middle of a rambunctious pack, and the furthest it dropped was a momentary dip to 55fps.
Pretty much the exact same is true of Genshin Impact, with maxed-out graphical settings resulting in a frame rate that hovers around the 60fps mark.
OnePlus reckons that Bluetooth 5.3 LE Audio connectivity enables latency as low as 54ms, which is within the region of dedicated gaming earphones like the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro. Playing a few rounds of COD Mobile will always show up a laggy headphones connection, but the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 performed impeccably.
More generally speaking, these are seriously classy earphones in the AirPods Pro 2 mould. They sound great, courtesy of a dual-driver system that includes an 11mm woofer and a 6mm tweeter. They also feature the first proper spatial audio system for Android, which makes watching video content impressively immersive (think a proper surround sound effect, with the sound profile adjusting when you move your head in relation to your phone).
All in all, the Buds Pro 2 are a little pricey at £179, but their cutting-edge specs and low latency make them a great pick for mobile gamers (there’s an app for both Android and iOS), while they hook up especially quickly and seamlessly to the OnePlus 11.
Performance is unimpeachable, the display is sharp and punchy, and the battery life is strong. Meanwhile, rapid wired charging will get you back up and playing in no time. If you invest in the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 headphones you’ll be able to enjoy appreciably lag-free gaming audio, too.