Best budget flagship battle [Video]

Best budget flagship battle [Video]

The first wave of early-2023 flagship Android phones has arrived, and although not competing at the top end of the price spectrum, the OnePlus 11 offers a lot of premium features. At $699, how does the OnePlus 11 stack up against the $599 Pixel 7 though? Here’s everything you need to know.

Why are we comparing the OnePlus 11 to the baseline Pixel 7? Well, if you’re in the United States, the OnePlus 11 makes a compelling case for your consideration courtesy of the $699 start price. To put it bluntly, that is excellent for the package on offer. However, Google’s base model is similarly solid. It also has some functions and hardware that are sorely missing from the OnePlus 11, and it’s within distance when it comes to the price point.

Both of these handsets undercut the Galaxy S23. This means that you are looking at two substantial smartphone packages for the price. This poses a question, if you want a new phone but are unwilling to pay exorbitant price tags, which is the best of these somewhat budget-friendly flagship phones?

Video — OnePlus 11 vs. Pixel 7

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There isn’t much similarity between the Pixel 7 and the OnePlus 11 when it comes to look, feel, or external and internal hardware. One is a big and bold flagship. The other is a smaller, compact entry-level option in a wider flagship line.

You can see just how different the OnePlus 11 and Pixel 7 are when side by side. Google opted for a 6.4-inch flat FHD+ AMOLED screen, while OnePlus has stuck with a 6.7-inch curved QHD+ AMOLED panel.

The latter competes more directly with the Pixel 7 Pro, because it’s super sharp and has a 120Hz refresh rate. Even so, because the Pixel 7 has a flat screen, it’s arguably easier to use. The screens are both solid in their own way. However, the OnePlus 11 screen has the ability to dip as low as 1Hz. There is a certain slick feel that even a 90Hz can’t replicate on the Pixel 7.

Google Pixel 7 OnePlus 11
Size 6.3 inches 6.7 inches
Display 90Hz / AMOLED / FHD+ / Gorilla Glass Victus / 2,400 x 1,080 pixels / 416ppi Curved QHD+ / LTPO 3.0 / 120Hz / 525ppi / 20:9 aspect ratio
Chipset Google Tensor G2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Storage 128 / 256GB UFS 3.1 128GB UFS 3.1 /256GB UFS 4.0
Battery 4,355mAh 5,000mAh
Rear camera 50MP wide / 12MP ultra-wide 50MP wide / 48MP ultra-wide / 32MP tele
Front-facing camera 11.1MP 16MP
Biometrics In-display fingerprint scanner / Face Unlock In-display optical fingerprint scanner
Colors Obsidian / Snow / Lemongrass Titan Black / Eternal Green

Comparing the internals of this duo is almost unfair on the Pixel 7. The OnePlus 11 will go toe-to-toe with the biggest and best flagships of 2023. At the heart of the system is the brand-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. This is paired with improved UFS 4.0 flash storage and a base 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM or 16GB LPDDR5X RAM if you want a little more headroom.

With a much slower Tensor G2 processor, solitary 8GB RAM option, and slower UFS 3.1 storage, raw power is not as readily available on Google’s base flagship model for late-2022 and early-2023. The argument in favor of the G2 is that the Pixel 7 excels in AI processing areas like language detection and image tuning. Much of this is negated by the simple fact that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has the processing power to burn. There’s certainly an added snappiness that the Pixel cannot replicate with software tuning alone.

In-screen biometrics are effectively the same on both handsets, but we’d give the OnePlus 11 a slight edge for speed and consistency – still, it’s close either way. Face Unlock is available as a backup on the Pixel 7 if you prefer using that over the in-screen optical reader.

One less quantifiable benefit to both devices is the simply exceptional haptics and vibration-based feedback. The O-haptics feature that lets you tweak the haptics on the OnePlus 11 is a major bonus. You can tune just how you want to experience each tap and touch. Although there is the ability to adjust the strength of haptic feedback on Pixel 7, the crisp OnePlus 11 haptics are a step up and among the best on Android.

Sadly, the OnePlus 11 only has an IP64 rating in North American markets. This should mean it can withstand a very short dip in water but pales in comparison to the IP68 rating you’ll get with every Pixel 7 series model.


If you have been living under a rock for a long time, then we’re sorry to break it to you but the light and clean OxygenOS that was the signature of OnePlus phones is long dead. Although the OnePlus 11 is running ColorOS in all but name, the device does ship with Android 13. The Pixel 7 also comes with Android 13 pre-installed.

Material You is at the very heart of the Google build, while OxygenOS 13 looks and feel very different despite using the same core operating system. Dynamic Color tuning is present, but there are more out-of-the-box options for customization plus a little extra bloat due to the inclusion of some OnePlus-specific apps. Zen Mode, Gallery, OnePlus Community, plus more are bundled in. That’s not all as a few third-party apps come pre-installed such as Netflix and Amazon. Luckily, these can be deleted if you wish, but some duplicates such as the default Gallery application and Files app cannot be removed.

Pixel 7 OnePlus 11
Software Shipped with Android 13 Ships with Android 13 and OxygenOS 13
Updates 3 OS / 5 years of patches 4 OS upgrades / 5 years security patches
Features In-display fingerprint scanner
Face Unlock
Photo Unblur
Cinematic Blur
Google One VPN
Cough and snore detection
HyperBoost Gaming Engine
Pro Gaming Mode
Zen Mode 2.0
Dark mode w/ dedicated toggle
Hasselblad camera system

In terms of features, Google’s approach is to offer smart functionality the leverages Tensor. You’ll get access to features like Photo Unblur for images, on-device real-time translation, a dedicated VPN service, plus much more. OnePlus doesn’t offer many smart functions but does provide options like Zen Mode, which is a neat extension that goes beyond the basic Digital Wellbeing suite.

Where things are interesting is in the update schedule for the Pixel 7 and OnePlus 11. Google promises five years of updates that consist of three operating system upgrades and a further two years of regular monthly patches. The OnePlus 11 is actually set to be better supported. It too offers five years of updates but includes four full operating system upgrades and one further year of regular bimonthly patches.

At the end-of-life phase, this would mean that the Pixel 7 running Android 16, while the OnePlus 11 would be running Android 17. Where this gets murky is in the update cadence for the duo. Google offers day-one updates, so while it won’t be supported for quite as long, consistency could be preferred by some prospective owners.


oneplus 11 and pixel 7 battery levels

There’s a lot to unpack when we talk about the battery of the Pixel 7 and the OnePlus 11. Given that the Pixel is quite a bit smaller, it, naturally, has a reduced capacity internal cell. OnePlus offers a larger 5,000mAh battery, which mimics the Pixel 7 Pro.

In usage, both phones will last a day without stress or issues, but the OnePlus 11 has an edge thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. Qualcomm’s new processor has excellent power efficiency ratings and so long as you’re not playing 3D games all day or Google Maps and GPS navigation it can even withstand a couple of days.

Pixel 7 OnePlus 11
Battery size 4,355mAh 5,000mAh
Charging speed 30W wired (21W peak)
21W Qi wireless w/ Pixel Stand 2
5W reverse wireless
100W wired / 80W in NA

Sure, the Pixel 7 cannot quite match the lifespan of the OnePlus 11, but it has much more flexibility when it comes to charging. Yes, OnePlus has ditched wireless charging which robs us of two features as reverse wireless charging is missing here too. 100W wired charging is available in global regions, while 80W wired charging is available in the US. This is exceptionally fast and puts the limited 30W charging on Pixel 7 to shame.

Wireless charging tops out at 21W on the Pixel 7, but that requires the second-generation Pixel Stand. You also need to stump up an extra $25 to get 30W charging as Google ditched the in-the-box power brick. OnePlus does at least keep the in-the-box SuperVOOC – yes, SuperVOOC – power brick even if you have fewer charging options available.


Another area where the OnePlus 11 surpasses the Pixel 7 on paper is the various smartphone camera lenses available. It’s not as straightforward as just having the best sensor system as Google has proven year after year.

The 50-megapixel main sensors are tuned very differently. OnePlus enlisted Hasselblad for a three-year partnership, and while it has helped improve the camera quality, this certainly feels like the best OnePlus camera phone to date. Images are sharp and consistency is found across the entire system.

Just by having a triple-lens camera setup, you can do more with the OnePlus 11. A dedicated 3x telephoto surpasses the 2x digital crop that can be achieved when using the Pixel 7. The Hasselblad color engine helps to produce great-looking photos that are sharp throughout the frame.

The post-processing of the Pixel 7 does offer some enhancements and better HDR stacking, which is most obvious when shooting in tough lighting conditions or, most importantly, when in low-light scenarios.

Google Pixel 7 OnePlus 11
Main sensor Samsung GN1
f/1.9 aperture
Sony IMX890
f1.8 aperture
Secondary sensor Sony IMX 386
12MP ultra-wide-angle
f/2.2 aperture
114˚ FOV
Sony IMX581
48MP ultra-wide-angle
f2.2 aperture
115˚ FOV
Tertiary sensor Sony IMX709
32MP 2x telephoto
f2.0 aperture
Front-facing sensor Sony IMX 663
Samsung IMX471
f2.45 aperture
Camera hardware features OIS
Camera software features 8x zoom
Guided Frame
4K UHD 60fps (all lenses)
10-bit HDR10 Video
Real Tone 2.0
Cinematic Blur
Hasselblad Pro Mode
Hasselblad UI tweaks
Hasselblad Masters Mode
Tilt-shift mode
Long exposure
Dual-view video
Film mode
XPan mode
8K 24fps video

Camera modes are plentiful on the OnePlus 11. In fact, it puts the Pixel 7 to shame in this area. From a dedicated Pro Mode to Hasselblad-specific options, OnePlus has stuffed this 2023 flagship with features for the mobile photographer.

Google offers a barebones selection of camera features by comparison but excels at being a point-and-shoot smartphone. You can access some long exposure modes and 10-bit HDR10 video is included. This is matched by the 11, but 8K 24fps is also available here too alongside some film presets to add a little extra flavor.

Pixel 7 vs. OnePlus 11: Should you switch?

oneplus 11 and pixel 7 boxes

About upgrading: 9to5Google often gives specific product recommendations. Sometimes, we may suggest not upgrading, due to various reasons including, but not limited to: increased device cost, negligible performance gains, or environmental impact. Whether to upgrade is always your call, but our aim is to help you make as informed a decision as possible.

Despite the attempted positioning of the OnePlus 11 among the elite Android flagship phones, it has a lot in common with the base model Pixel 7 as the former handset lacks a few “premium” hardware choices. In a similar manner, Google simply omitted things like a QHD+ display and telephoto camera lens to help keep the price low.

The OnePlus 11 offers an incredibly compelling package given it’s just $100 more expensive than the Pixel 7. There is a mountain of under-the-hood power, a sizable camera system upgrade, and excellent battery life, plus it’ll get support for longer. Conversely, the Pixel 7 is Android as it’s intended. It doesn’t quite stack up against the OnePlus 11, but it’s an exceptional phone in its own right.

Kudos to OnePlus, as the OnePlus 11 has managed to force its way into the position of best budget Android flagship phone by virtue of the old-school pricing model. Being $200 less than the Pixel 7 Pro really does highlight how well OnePlus has priced the 2023 flagship.

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