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OnePlus 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – which is better?

Can OnePlus give Samsung a run for its money?
Last Updated on January 24, 2024
In this comparison, we explore the differences between the OnePlus 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra as well as the S23 Ultra vs OnePlus 12.
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OnePlus has put its latest competitor onto the market, and the device looks to be setting some new benchmarks for high-end smartphones: we’re putting it up against an established rival and comparing the OnePlus 12 vs the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Will it be worth waiting for the international release of the OnePlus 12, or investing in an S23 Ultra that might see a price drop following the release of its successor, the S24 Ultra?

The OnePlus 12 has a wealth of attractive features that might pull the competition away from mainstream brands such as Samsung, including a next-gen processor, a huge battery, and an incredible peak brightness. However, the Galaxy branding is iconic for a reason, and the flagship S23 Ultra doesn’t disappoint when it comes to high-end traits. Naturally, there’s going to be a fair bit of debate over which of these two is the better smartphone. So, in this comparison article, we’re going to break down the key aspects of these devices, from performance to camera capabilities, to help you decide which device deserves the title of the best flagship phone.

OnePlus 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Specs

SpecsOnePlus 12Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Display6.8-inch LTPO AMOLED display6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display
Refresh rate120Hz120Hz
CameraTriple camera setup with 50 MP main / 64 MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom / 48 MP ultrawideQuad-camera setup with 200 MP main with OIS / 10 MP periscope telephoto with 10x zoom / 10 MP telephoto / 12 MP Ultrawide
ChipQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 or the Exynos 2200 (depending on the region)
CPU / GPUQualcomm Kryo CPU / Adreno 750Qualcomm Kryo CPU / Adreno 740
RAM12 GB / 16 GB8 GB / 12 GB
Storage256GB, 512GB256GB, 512GB, 1TB
SoftwareOxygenOSSamsung’s One UI
Battery5400 mAh5000 mAh
ColorsFlowy Emerald, Silky BlackPhantom Black, Green, Cream, Lavender, Graphite, Sky Blue, Lime
Water and dust resistanceIP65IP68
OnePlus 12 vs Galaxy S23 specs table

OnePlus 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Features

Now, let’s delve into their features.

Build and Design: Beauty and Elegance

Flagship phones are often admired for their design, and both the OnePlus 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra both shine in this regard. The OnePlus 12 features a sleek and minimalist design with attention to detail, retaining the aesthetic established by the OnePlus 11 with its circular camera module and curved display.

On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers a premium metal and Gorilla Glass Victus 2 construction with a sophisticated design, that once again relies on family resemblance to its Galaxy S siblings. Both phones are designed to impress, but the choice here ultimately comes down to personal taste and which design suits you best.

Display: Immersive Visual Experience

The screen is a crucial element in any flagship phone, and though both the OnePlus 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra excel when it comes to display, the OnePlus might have the upper hand here. The OnePlus 12 boasts a curved-edge LTPO AMOLED display with a 120Hz fps refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and a brightness of up to 4500 nits – this is more than double the peak brightness of the S23 Ultra. On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra still features a Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate, and HDR10+ support, but its peak brightness of 1750 nits seems dim compared to the OnePlus 12. 

Both phones offer stunning visuals, vibrant colors, and an immersive viewing experience. Whether you’re watching movies, playing games, or scrolling through social media, both displays will undoubtedly captivate your senses.

Camera Capabilities: Capture the World in Detail

Camera features often play a crucial role in the decision-making process for many users, and both the OnePlus 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra are well-prepared in this department. However, as expected from Samsung, the S23 Ultra is in a league of its own when it comes to photography, boasting Samsung’s best camera to date.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra takes the game a step ahead with a versatile quad-camera system, including a 108-megapixel main sensor, ultra wide angle, and telephoto lenses. If that’s not it, there’s also video recording of 8K videos at 30fps and 4K videos at 60fps.

This isn’t to say that the OnePlus 12 doesn’t hold its own, with its triple camera setup including a 50-megapixel main sensor, an ultra-wide-angle lens, and a depth sensor. While both phones are capable of capturing stunning 4K photos and videos, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s advanced camera system, with its periscope telephoto lens and powerful zoom capabilities, could give it an edge for smartphone photography enthusiasts.

Performance: Power and Speed

When it comes to performance, both the OnePlus 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra are equipped with the latest and greatest chipsets, but again the OnePlus 12 sneaks ahead. The OnePlus 12 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, the chip expected to feature across the S24 lineup, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 or the Exynos 2200, both a step behind the Gen 3 advancements. 

These powerful processors ensure exceptional speed and efficiency, allowing both phones to handle multiple tasks and demanding applications without any problems. Whether you’re a power user or a mobile gamer, you can expect top-notch performance from both devices but the superior CPU, GPU, and AI capabilities offered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 are one to watch.

Another significant difference between the phones crops up when it comes to performance, and that has to do with the battery size. The bigger 5,400 mAh battery of the OnePlus 12 is one of the biggest found in a flagship smartphone, and allows for faster wired and wireless charging speeds of 100W and 50W respectively. In comparison, the S23 Ultra’s 5,000 mAh battery is still decent, but its 45W wired and 15W wireless charging speeds fall short compared to the OnePlus.

Software Experience: Personalization and Simplicity

The OnePlus 12 runs on OxygenOS, known for its clean and near-stock Android experience with thoughtful enhancements. On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra runs on Samsung’s One UI, which offers a feature-rich user interface with extensive customization options.

OnePlus 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Price

Price is an important factor for many users, and it can be a key differentiator between these two flagship models. Now that we’ve seen the international release of the OnePlus 12 following its launch event in India, we can confirm that the 256GB model will cost $799, with the 512GB version coming in at $899. This enhances what the OnePlus brand is becoming known for: offering users high-end features for a mid-range price.

Alternatively, the price of the Galaxy S23 Ultra starts from $1,199.99 for the base variant, which is a huge investment. However, it’s worth noting that now that we’ve seen the launch of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, it’s likely that the S23 Ultra might get a price drop or be found in some nice deals to keep it competitive in relation to its successor.

Is the OnePlus 12 better than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra?

Ultimately, choosing the best flagship phone for you comes down to your specific needs and preferences. If you prioritize camera features, a feature-rich interface, and don’t mind its higher price point, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a fantastic option that’s likely to only be beaten by its successor, the Galaxy S24 Ultra. However, if you’re willing to take the gamble, the OnePlus 12 can provide you with a clean software experience, competitive pricing, and solid performance that goes way beyond its price point. While Samsung is an established high-end smartphone brand, OnePlus is quickly proving that alternative competitors can break into the mainstream.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.