A deep dive into the OnePlus 11 with its chief designer

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 and OnePlus 11 in green
(Image credit: OnePlus)

The OnePlus 11 may already be out in the company's homeland of China but for the rest of the world, we've got to wait until February 7 to get our hands on this latest flagship.

Despite that wait, we've at least had time to study and appreciate the updated hardware and design from afar, with the OnePlus 11's new look being of particular note, so much so that OnePlus' Chief Product Designer, Hope Liu, has shared some insights into the approach taken in creating the phone and how it moves things along from its predecessor, the OnePlus 10 Pro.

With Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 at its heart and a capable-looking Hasselblad-supported camera on the back, the OnePlus 11 already has the makings of a winning device, and will undoubtedly find its way onto our rundown of the best OnePlus phones, once it's run TechRadar's review gauntlet. Until then, here's what Liu had to say on the phone's design process.


OnePlus 10 Pro to OnePlus 11 camera design evolution

You can see the design progression between the camera module on the OnePlus 10 Pro (left) and the OnePlus 11 (right) (Image credit: OnePlus)

If you're familiar with the OnePlus 10 Pro's wraparound rear camera section, you can see the evolution of that form on the OnePlus 11, with its new circular element housing the phone's rear triple camera, in place of the rounded square from 2022's OnePlus flagship.

"There is a K-shape curve along the camera decor," Liu explains, apparently designed to accentuate the way light hits the phone with the intention of appealing to the company's "simple, elegant, and purposeful design philosophy."

To help it stand out on the shelf against other devices, what Liu calls the "Starlight Dial Design" – the notched reflective bezel of the camera surround – takes cues from Swiss watches and is meant to "showcase how luxury technology should be."

Luxury, seems to be a recurring theme in the OnePlus 11's design story; language that we haven't always really associated with the brand or its phone and a term that might signal a shift in how the company hopes to be perceived and who its devices might be aimed at.

Color and finish

OnePlus 11 Titan Black and Eternal Green press image on black background

(Image credit: OnePlus)

With no sign of a white Extreme edition at this stage – as with the 10 Pro – the OnePlus 11 arrives in two colorways at launch, with distinctly different finishes: Titan Black and Eternal Green.

In Liu's words, Titan Black is "the convergence of 'raw power' and 'modern elegance'. Inspired by the black hole [sic]," and although we don't necessarily see an event horizon running the edge of the 11's body (thankfully), the matte frosted glass does undeniably "deliver an irresistibly smooth, soft, but sturdy" hand feel, while also seemingly paying homage to the original OnePlus One's Sandstone Black finish.

We'd also vouch for Liu's claims that the use of "micro-beads also ensure high resistance to sweat and fingerprint stains." Although we'll hold off until the full review before we decide whether we can truly praise the finish's fingerprint-repelling abilities or not.

On the other side of the fence you have Eternal Green, which isn't just a color swap, but a finish swap too; dropping the micro-beaded frosted glass, for a highly reflective contrast.

Apparently inspired by "shades of the rainforest dusk," OnePlus achieved the finish by multi-layering uniquely treated glass that's intended to play with the light, while also reducing fingerprints.

As for the green hue itself, its decidedly more muted, and perhaps more sophisticated than even OnePlus flagships from a few years ago (the psychedelic 'Interstellar Glow' finish on the OnePlus 8 springs to mind) and serves as a subtle evolution of the green available on the OnePlus 10 series.

OnePlus 11 K-shape curve closeup on black background

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Build and ergonomics

According to Liu and their team, the OnePlus 11 is also the first phone out there "to adopt a stainless-steel camera decor while mitigating the negative influence on antenna signal... Our designers, structural engineers, and antenna engineers used all of their past experience to make this happen."

Beyond the practical challenge of signal strength, however, the engineering team were also keen to improve how the phone felt in the hand, paying particular attention to how the curvature along the phone's edges blended into the Gorilla Glass Victus protecting the display. Eliminating "bumps" was a key focus for the design team, Liu said.

"The OnePlus 11 5G was created with a 0.16 curve right around the edges of the phone's rear – left and right side (vertical) [sic], to allow for a more comfortable feel-in-hand. Basically, an ergonomic rest area for one’s fingers when held in a horizontal hold."

As a reminder, the OnePlus 11 will be launching internationally on February 7, along with the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 and the newly-confirmed OnePlus Pad; the company's first tablet.

Alex Walker-Todd
Senior Phones Editor

Alex joined as TechRadar's Senior Phones Editor in June 2022, but brings over a decade's worth of experience to the role, with an expertise in smartphones, tablets and wearables. He's covered keynotes hosted by the biggest brands and attended the launches for some of the most influential mobile products of the last few years. His experience was amassed at some of the most reputable consumer technology publications out there, including GSMArena, TechAdvisor and Trusted Reviews.