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OnePlus 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: What’s the difference?

Just over a month after its China-only reveal, OnePlus has revealed the OnePlus 12 to the rest of the world. The question is, how does it compare to one of the best smartphones of 2023, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra?

While the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra remains a tempting option in the smartphone market even with the release of the newer Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, the OnePlus 12 offers a slew of improvements including processing power and screen tech that could make it a very tempting option for prospective customers.

Having used both flagships in a lot of depth, here are five key differences between the OnePlus 12 and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. 

The OnePlus 12 is more powerful than the Galaxy S23 Ultra

One of the key upgrades on offer from the OnePlus 12 is the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset found within. It boasts significant upgrades over its predecessor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, with OnePlus claiming a 30% boost to CPU performance and a 25% boost to GPU performance to boot. 

That’s coupled with up to a whopping 24GB of LPDDR5X RAM and up to 1TB of UFS 4.0 storage

There’s also the fact that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 supports GenAI with impressive AI processing power, but OnePlus hasn’t taken advantage of this with the OnePlus 12.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset in hand
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, on the other hand, does have an overclocked version of 2023’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, dubbed the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, along with a healthy 8- or 12GB of RAM and up to a whopping 1TB of storage. In real-world use, the differences between the two will be minimal.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has more cameras

Some regard the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra as the ultimate smartphone camera companion, and with a smattering of rear cameras, it’s not hard to see why. 

More specifically, the S23 Ultra has a main 200MP sensor coupled with a 12MP ultrawide, a 10MP 3x telephoto lens and a 10MP 10x periscope lens that delivers up to 100x zoom. 

Camera module on the Galaxy S23 Ultra
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The OnePlus 12, on the other hand, has a trio of lenses comprised of a 50MP main sensor, 48MP ultrawide and a new 64MP periscope with 3x optical zoom, 6x lossless zoom and a maximum of 120x digital zoom. 

However, the lack of a dedicated 10x optical lens, like the S23 Ultra, means that Samsung’s option keeps its edge over the OnePlus 12 when it comes to quality zoom shots.

The OnePlus 12 has a much brighter screen

The OnePlus 11 had a particularly impressive screen for the price point, and that looks to continue with the OnePlus 12. While the core specs are incredibly similar – a slightly larger 6.82-inch Super Fluid AMOLED display with an LTPO-enabled 120Hz refresh rate and a QHD+ resolution – the OnePlus 12 excels when it comes to brightness. 

In regular use, it can hit up to 1600nits, but that can be cranked to an incredible 4500nits when watching compatible HDR content. That’s a pretty stunning jump compared to the OnePlus 11’s 1300nits peak brightness, and gives the S23 Ultra a run for its money.

That’s because, even though much of the S23 Ultra’s display tech matches or exceeds that of the OnePlus 11 with its 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen with 120Hz refresh rate, it can’t quite compete in terms of sheer brightness, capping out at a (comparatively dim, but still exceptionally bright) 1750 nits. 

OnePlus 12 colours

It may be a bit of a niche feature depending on how much HDR content you watch on your smartphone, but it’s certainly an impressive feature that is a real win for the OnePlus 12’s display.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has an S Pen

While the OnePlus 12 might have the edge in terms of sheer display spec, one area where it can’t compete with the Galaxy S23 Ultra is in the stylus department. 

That’s because the Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of vanishingly few smartphones that ship with a dedicated stylus – more specifically, the S Pen. The accessory allows for easy doodling, note-taking and document editing with excellent handwriting-to-text conversion, and the S Pen can also double up as a remote camera shutter for group selfies. 

When it’s not in use, it’s stored in a dedicated slot within the phone’s chassis, meaning it’s readily available whenever you need it. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra S-Pen
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

For comparison, the OnePlus 12, like most flagship phones, doesn’t support any high-end stylus. 

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is much more expensive

The OnePlus 12 has seen a year-on-year price hike of £130/$100 that brings it to a cool £849/$799, but that’s still quite a ways off the £1,249/$1,299 RRP of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – although you can find the latter at a discount now that the newer S24 Ultra has been announced.

If you are tempted by the OnePlus 12, it’s up for pre-order now and will be available to buy from 6 February 2024.

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