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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: not an easy choice

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12.

OnePlus and Arsene Lupin/X

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and OnePlus 11 occupied two of the top three spots in our list of the best Android phones of 2023. As we approach 2024, both brands have already geared up to succeed in these stellar devices with the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the OnePlus 12. While the OnePlus 12 banks on top-notch hardware, superfast charging, and an unrealistically bright display, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is expected to further improve upon a promising set of cameras on any smartphone and come with a heavy dose of AI features.

The OnePlus 12 has already been revealed in China as part of the company’s tenth-anniversary celebrations. OnePlus has also confirmed a global launch for January 23. Besides the OnePlus 12, it is expected to reveal a more affordable and value-for-money “flagship killer,” the OnePlus 12R, alongside the new OnePlus Buds 3.

Meanwhile, Samsung is set to reveal the Galaxy S24 lineup in January — earlier than last year. The company has confirmed its next Galaxy Unpacked event is happening on January 17, and that’s almost certainly where the Galaxy S24 series will be unveiled.

Be the First to Know When the Galaxy S24 Launches:

The OnePlus 12 and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra will dominate choices in their respective price segments. While they’ll likely lie far apart on the price scale, similar features make them each others’ worthy competitors. If you look forward to buying one of these phones, here is what you should expect them to offer.

Note: all of the information about the Galaxy S24 Ultra is based on rumors and is subject to change.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: specs

Samsung Galaxy S24 UltraOnePlus 12
Size162.3 × 79 × 8.6mm (6.43 x 3.11 x 0.33)164.3 x 75.8 x 9.2mm (6.46 x 2.98 x 0.36)
Weight233 grams (8.21 ounces)220 grams (7.76 ounces)
Screen
  • 6.8 inches LTPO OLED, Quad HD+
  • 120Hz
  • HDR10+
  • 2,500 nits peak brightness
  • 6.82 inches LTPO OLED, 1440 x 3168 pixels
  • 120Hz
  • HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • 1,600 nits brightness, 4,500 nits peak brightness
  • Gorilla Glass Victus 2
Operating systemOne UI 6 based on Android 14 (expected)OxygenOS 14 based on Android 14 (expected)
RAM & Storage
  • 12GB + 256GB (UFS version unknown)
  • 12GB + 512GB
  • 12GB + 1TB
  • 12GB + 256GB (UFS 4.0)
  • 16GB + 512GB
  • 16GB + 1TB
  • 24GB + 1TB
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Camera
  • Triple rear cameras:
    • 200MP primary
    • 12MP ultrawide
    • 10MP portrait telephoto with 3x optical zoom
    • 50MP periscope telephoto, 5x optical zoom
  • 12MP selfie camera
  • Triple rear cameras:
    • 50MP primary, f/1.6 aperture, 1/1.4-inch sensor size, OIS, Hasselblad color science
    • 48MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 114° field of view
    • 64MP periscope telephoto, f/2.6, 3x optical zoom
  • 32MP selfie camera, f/2.4, fixed focus
Video
  • Rear: Up to 8K@24fps, 4K@60fps, or 1080p@240fps
  • Front: Up to 4K@60fps
  • Rear: Up to 8K@24fps, 4K@60fps, or 1080p@240fps
  • Front: Up to 4K@30fps or 1080p@30fps
Connectivity
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • 5G
  • Wi-Fi 7, dual-band
  • UWB
  • Bluetooth 5.4
  • 5G
  • Wi-Fi 7, dual-band
PortsUSB-CUSB-C Gen 3.2
Water resistanceIP68IP65
Battery & charging5,000mAh with 45W wired fast charging and 15W wireless charging5,400mAh with 100W SuperVOOC wired fast charging and 50W wireless charging
ColorsBlack, Gray, Violet, YellowBlack, Silver, Green
PriceStarting at ~$1,600Starting at 4,299 Chinese yuan ($605)

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: design

A Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra render in a violet color.
Arsene Lupin / X

Instead of reinventing the respective designs, both Samsung and OnePlus are sticking with the same designs from last year with minimal changes. The biggest design change on the Galaxy S24 Ultra comes in the form of a titanium alloy frame — unapologetically inspired by the iPhone 15 Pro — surrounding the phone from all four edges. Notably, the titanium frame is exclusive to the Ultra, while the other two Galaxy S24 devices will continue to feature the aluminum alloy frame from the previous generation. This new material shouldn’t impact the weight of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, likely making it only a gram lighter than the S23 Ultra.

The buttons, ports, and camera module stay where they were previously. From the images shared by Leaker Ice Universe, the buttons on the Galaxy S24 Ultra will be slightly thicker. The S Pen will be carried over for yet another generation and will have a flatter head, while a simpler bar-shaped opening will replace the speaker grille. Moreover, the titanium alloy can be expected to render a smoother texture than the aluminum alloy used in the 2023 model.

Like Samsung, OnePlus is sticking to the previously tried and tested design seen on the OnePlus 11 and the OnePlus 11R — and only slightly modified over the OnePlus 10. To mark the differences, the OnePlus 12 gets a textured finish under the back glass, identical to the Marble Odyssey edition of the OnePlus 11. Based on the China release, the texture will be limited to a new green color variant, while two other colors — white and black with matching chrome-finish frames — will have plain backs.

OnePlus 12 in green, silver, and black colors.
OnePlus

Despite the same design, the OnePlus 12 weighs significantly more — 220 grams (7.76 ounces) — than the OnePlus 11’s 205g (7.23 ounces) and is thicker. These changes have seemingly been made to make room for a larger battery on the OnePlus 12.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra offers ultimate (among smartphones) dust and water resistance with an IP68 rating. This means it can be doused under freshwater for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5 meters (roughly 5 feet). In comparison, the OnePlus 12 only comes with an IP65 rating. While that is technically an upgrade over the OnePlus 11’s IP64 rating, the OnePlus 12 can only withstand light showers and drizzles and is not recommended to be submerged underwater.

Notably, irrespective of their individual resistance against water, neither company claims full protection and will not cover water-related damages under warranty. You can, however, purchase Samsung Care+ for unlimited coverage in case of accidental damages.

In terms of the durability of the glass, the OnePlus 12 features an older Gorilla Glass 5 on the back, while the S24 Ultra is expected to feature a stronger Gorilla Glass Victus 2 (or more recent variants). This should give the Galaxy S24 Ultra a better tolerance against drops.

In conjunction with the titanium frame — which is likely more durable than the existing aluminum alloy, the stronger glass makes it superior in terms of design.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: display

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra render based on rumors about fat dispay.
Ice Universe / X

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is rumored to feature a 6.8-inch display — the same size as the S23 Ultra. As per one old leak, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s display will have a resolution of 1,440 x 3,120 pixels, making it marginally taller than the Galaxy S23 Ultra. While the changes in resolution are meager, Samsung is expected to renounce curved edges and move to a fully flat display — confirmed by a second leak (via The Verge). This is a significant design change for the Ultra lineup in years, but the exact reason is unclear — at least for now.

Besides flat edges, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s display is also expected to be brighter than the S23 Ultra. Leaks suggest the peak brightness is pushed to 2,500 nits (compared to the last generation’s 1,750 nits). Notably, peak brightness only signifies the highest level of illumination per pixel (instead of the screen as a whole) and is usually measured when viewing HDR content. The actual brightness of the screen may be lower than the mentioned value.

As per another early-stage rumor (in Korean), the S24 Ultra’s display will be based on a newer process that makes it thinner and more power-efficient besides being noticeably brighter.

The upgraded display also supports up to 120Hz refresh rate, powered by LTPO technology that allows it to automatically switch to a lower refresh rate based on the frame rate of the screen’s content. On the exterior, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is also rumored to get a more robust version of Gorilla Glass under the new “Armor” series, making it stronger than the earlier Victus 2.

With the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s display set for a significant upgrade, the OnePlus 12 isn’t lagging behind. It gets a tad bigger 6.82-inch AMOLED panel with 1440 x 3168 pixel resolution. It also supports refresh rate intervals ranging between 1 and 120Hz, using LTPO technology.

OnePlus 12 LTPO AMOLED 2K display.
Weibo/Digital Chat Station

OnePlus’ claims about the display’s brightness surpass Samsung’s by a large margin. The new display gets a massive bump in brightness, now supporting up to 4,500 nits peak brightness with 1,600 nits using the High Brightness Mode. As with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, it’s essential to emphasize the role of HDR content in measuring the peak brightness.

The OnePlus 12 also incorporates features such as a high pulse-width modulation (PWM) frequency of 2,160Hz to reduce eye strain that may be otherwise caused by using the phone under dim light. Meanwhile, the company’s new “Rain Water Touch” tech is designed to let you use the phone even when you have wet hands.

Unlike the flat panel on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, OnePlus sticks to a curved panel on the latest flagship. On the durability front, it still uses the Gorilla Glass Victus 2 from last year — which may not be ineffective, just not as durable as the new Gorilla Glass Armor that Samsung is supposedly using.

Both phones should have excellent displays, and while OnePlus takes a win for its higher brightness, Samsung’s display will likely feel more sturdy. We’re calling this a tie, but we will revisit this after testing both phones.

Winner: Tie

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: performance

Leaked render of Galaxy S24 Ultra.
OnLeaks / SmartPrix

For several past generations of flagships, Samsung has had a dual-chip strategy, where the models in the majority of the markets, including the U.S., receive the latest and most powerful chipset in the Qualcomm Snapdragon range, while some markets get Samsung’s own Exynos-branded silicon. Samsung discontinued the policy in 2023, releasing all models with a supercharged variant of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 “For Galaxy” due to the late-stage cancellation of the Exynos 2300.

In 2024, Samsung is expected to return to the two-chip strategy, arming some of the Galaxy S24 series phones with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (without the special “For Galaxy” treatment) while others are expected to be powered by the already-previewed Exynos 2400 chipset. The exact division remains unclear, with different rumors speculating different outcomes.

However, a recent FCC listing confirms that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 powers the Galaxy S24 series, including the Galaxy S24 Ultra, in the U.S. at least. Additional rumors hint that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will run on the Snapdragon chipset globally, while the Exynos will be limited to the vanilla and the Plus variants.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is expected to offer up to 1TB of storage with 12GB of RAM as standard across all storage sizes.

The OnePlus 12 is similarly powered, being one of the earliest devices equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. However, with Samsung launching the Galaxy S24 series on January 17, Samsung will beat OnePlus in becoming the first brand to launch a globally available phone with the flagship Qualcomm chipset.

OnePlus also offers up to 24GB of RAM and 1TB of storage with the fastest UFS 4.0 technology. We wait to see whether the 24GB variant makes its way to global markets or is limited to China only.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and Samsung AI hype

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is expected to bring a 30% more powerful CPU thanks to a new tri-cluster design and 25% better GPU performance than the 8 Gen 2.

Qualcomm is also raising the bar with AI-related capabilities, claiming a 98% hike in neural processing tasks and support for on-device AI models. Inspired by the tremendous boost in ChatGPT‘s popularity, Qualcomm has optimized the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for generative AI applications that produce text, images, and speech-based answers with the help of Meta’s Llama 2 AI model.

Despite the capabilities, OnePlus 12 buyers will have to wait until the company incorporates those features in OxygenOS (or wait for Google to make them core Android features). In contrast, Samsung is reported to be extensively working on its suite of AI features, which span beyond the usual improvements to image processing. As per SamMobile, Samsung is working to add image, text, and speech processing features on par with ChatGPT and Google Bard into the software. We have yet to learn whether this happens through the infamous Bixby smart assistant or a new venture.

According to yet another rumor, Samsung’s suite of AI applications will include applications identical to the Google Pixel 8 Pro. Some of the speculated use cases are:

  • Improved clarity in photos and videos
  • On-device chatbot
  • Expanding image borders with Photoshop-like Context Aware fill
  • Suggested actions based on the communication during calls
  • Live translation during calls
  • AI-generated wallpapers
  • Organization of notes
  • Lock screen visual effects based on the weather
  • Optimized charging

With these AI capabilities and comparable performance, the Galaxy S24 Ultra appears more tempting. While many of these might not be immediately available at launch, the idea of using these features gives the Galaxy S24 Ultra an edge.

Winner: Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: battery and charging

OnePlus 12 5400mAh battery with 100 watts fast charging.
OnePlus

The Galaxy S24 Ultra retains the same 5,000mAh battery as the last two generations. However, rumors hint at a faster 45-watt wired charging. Instead of using a proprietary standard, the 45W charging is likely powered by the Programmable Power Supply (or PPS) feature under USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) specifications.

While launching the Galaxy Note 20 in 2020, Samsung reduced the charging rates from 45W to 25W as it upgraded to the more advanced PPS specification. Despite the lower value, the 25W PPS charging, which Samsung labels as “Super Fast Charging 2.0,” is on par with the older 45W charging. It remains to be seen if the new 45W charging improves real-world speeds.

In any case, be prepared to buy a Samsung-branded charging brick separately — although we recommend using one of our recommended multi-port GaN chargers instead.

Samsung also offers fast wireless charging on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, but we can’t confirm support for the new Qi2 wireless charging standards as on the iPhone 15.

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 12 is furnished with a larger 5,400mAh battery. The Chinese model supports faster charging at up to 100 watts through its proprietary SuperVOOC technology for wired charging, which can charge the phone entirely in under half an hour. As with the OnePlus 11, however, we may see the charging speeds limited to 80W in the U.S. due to the 120-volt alternating current (AC) power supply here compared to 240V in other parts of the world.

Besides fast wired charging, the OnePlus 12 also comes with 50W wireless charging — after being dropped from the OnePlus 11. This faster wireless charging runs on OnePlus’ proprietary technology but should also support slower wireless charging through the more common Qi protocol.

For its faster wired and wireless charging — and the inclusion of a power brick within the box, the OnePlus 12 takes a win here.

Winner: OnePlus 12 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: cameras

Leaked hands-on image of the Samsung Galaxy S24 series.
David Ma / X

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra led the race with other top-notch mobile cameras last year, and it is natural to expect the same once again. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is slated to use a 200MP sensor for the primary camera once again, with a lens setup similar to last year’s. However, the sensor itself may have some improvements in its ability to retain more colors and light.

While improved hardware is probable, Samsung has already teased improvements to the camera processing, thanks to the onboard AI application.

Besides the improved 200MP primary camera, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is rumored to receive a 50MP ultrawide-angle camera, a 10MP portrait telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, and a periscope camera. While the optical zoom on the periscope is likely reduced from 10x to 5x, leaks claim that AI will make up for the lost details. The smaller zoom may also be expected to make the camera module marginally thinner.

In comparison, the OnePlus 12 has only three rear cameras. While the hardware appears the same as the OnePlus 11, there is a considerable upgrade under the hood, especially because the new 48MP primary camera features Sony’s latest LYT-808 sensor over the previous IMX range. The same is also seen on the OnePlus Open, which supports better light absorption while being much smaller. Samsung’s flagship 200MP sensor uses the same technology under the name “D-TVG.” Alongside the new sensor, the OnePlus 12 also gets Hasselblad’s color tuning for a distinctive look.

A photo of someone holding the white/silver OnePlus 12.
OnePlus

Besides the primary camera, the OnePlus 12 has 48MP ultrawide and 64MP telephoto cameras.

On the front, the Galaxy S24 Ultra likely gets a 12MP selfie camera with autofocus, while the OnePlus 12 will feature a 32MP camera with fixed focus.

In terms of videos, both phones can record up to 8K using the rear camera. Both phones also support HDR video recording, but the OnePlus 12 can record with Dolby Vision and RAW footage with LOG.

Based on previous trends, the Galaxy S24 Ultra has the upper hand in photography, although both phones have comparable videography skills. We will revisit this section once we have the phones with us to compare.

Winner: Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: software and updates

Samsung One UI 6 Quick Settings on Galaxy A34 held in hand.
Samsung One UI 6 Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Samsung has already started rolling out its latest One UI 6 update based on Android 14 with significant design changes to a host of Galaxy S and A series devices. Therefore, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra can be expected to launch with Android 14 running One UI 6 (or One UI 6.1) from the beginning.

Samsung already offers one of the longest software support to its devices. But with Google upping the ante and announcing seven years of firmware updates to the Pixel 8 series, we can expect Samsung to follow suit and make comparable claims.

Like Samsung, OnePlus has also begun rolling out the OxygenOS 14 update based on Android 14 for several devices, and the OnePlus 12 can be expected to come with OxygenOS 14 right out of the box. OnePlus also claims four years of software support.

Despite a different name, OnePlus shares its interface with Oppo’s ColorOS, and the UI lacks any distinctive features. It can be more confusing (or overwhelming) than Samsung’s One UI, which is why we feel Samsung is better equipped in this case.

Winner: Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: price and availability

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is set to launch on January 17, with availability likely starting in February. As per the Dutch blog GalaxyClub, the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus will be cheaper than last year’s variants. However, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is likely to be more expensive, with the base 256GB storage variant priced at 1,449 euros — or nearly $1,600.

Even if they are true, these prices may not directly translate to the U.S. pricing. Despite the leaks, prices may change even at the last moment. So, it’s best to wait until the actual launch date.

OnePlus 12 in green, silver, and black colors.
OnePlus

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 12’s China launch gives us some hint about the global pricing. In China, the OnePlus 12 is available for a starting price of 4,299 yuan (about $605) for the 12GB+256GB variant, while the 24GB RAM variant is priced at 5,799 yuan (roughly $815). We can expect the global prices to be much higher than the direct currency conversions.

Based on the OnePlus 11’s starting price of $699 for the 8GB+128GB model, we can estimate a price bump for the lowest storage and RAM options.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12: verdict

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs OnePlus 12.
OnePlus and Arsene Lupin/X

As we mentioned previously, both the OnePlus 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra are phones that belong to different segments, especially with the former priced at nearly only half. Despite Samsung’s pedigree with superior cameras and a credible history of long software support, OnePlus offers fierce competition with the same (or even more) vigor and unbeatable charging.

Besides the hardware, Samsung’s rumored venture into AI application makes it a more desirable phone, but only if you can willingly shell out a high price. You also get an overall better construction, but the OnePlus 12 fights back with a stunningly bright display.

So, despite our reservations about the Galaxy S24 Ultra being a more expensive phone, we cannot instantly dismiss the OnePlus 12 for being less impressive. Both phones appeal to seemingly different audiences but with a noticeable intersection.

We hope our points helped prime your anticipation for the launch of the two phones early in 2024. Be sure to check again after the launch for more updates and experiential information from our hands-on with the devices.

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