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OnePlus 11 Concept hands-on review: Liquid cool

The OnePlus 11 Concept uses a one-of-a-kind liquid cooling system, but will it ever see the light of day?

Cooling is a hot topic in the smartphone world, especially when it comes to mobile gaming, and at MWC 2023 OnePlus has shown off something rather unusual. The OnePlus 11 Concept is a smartphone that might not ever be officially released, but the early technology inside could pave the way for future releases.

At the core of the OnePlus 11 Concept is a brand-new liquid cooling system, with OnePlus giving it the appropriate sci-fi name: ‘Active CryoFlux’. The question, however, is whether this new smartphone cooling tech has any tangible benefits with regard to both performance and thermal efficiency, and whether other manufacturers might choose to follow suit in the years to come.

OnePlus 11 Concept review: Design, key features and first impressions

The OnePlus 11 Concept looks quite different from the regular OnePlus it shares part of its name with. Incorporating a curved rear and a clear-backed peek at the blue liquid cooling system inside, this is the sort of phone that looks like it might sit nicely in a futuristic sci-fi movie or TV show – possibly one featuring psychotic killer robots and egregious amounts of lens flare.

According to OnePlus, this back cover also incorporates a “magnetron-spluttering coating”, which not only sounds rather cool, but is quite unique in its manufacturing process. OnePlus says that metals and alloys are essentially deposited in small amounts using some sort of an electrical field, and it really looks the part, too.

A blue light (which looks the same as the liquid cooler) also flows around the circular rear camera housing, which itself incorporates something called Guilloché etching – a technique usually found in luxury watches.

Let’s talk about this new liquid cooling system. OnePlus says that in its own lab tests, it managed to reduce the phone’s core temperature during gameplay by up to 2.1 degrees, with an improved frame rate of 3-4 frames. That might not sound like much, but if you’re a highly competitive mobile gamer, this could be the difference between successfully pulling off a headshot or your enemy firing the first bullet and wiping you out.

OnePlus also mentioned that the Active CryoFlux cooling system dropped internal temperatures while charging by 1.6 degrees, and in doing so reduced the overall charging time by 30-40 seconds. Again, this isn’t a huge benefit, but it’s still pretty cool and is a good indication that, if adopted, could drastically reduce charging times even further as this tech is improved upon.

As far as we know, everything else about the OnePlus 11 Concept is the same as before. The only other change might be the battery size, with rumours suggesting that the capacity has been decreased to necessitate that liquid cooling system.

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OnePlus 11 Concept review: Early verdict

The OnePlus 11 Concept is exactly the sort of device to get pundits talking at MWC, and while it’s possibly a bit silly when viewed from a pessimistic lens, there’s no denying that there’s some fun tech on display here, with plenty of potential for future use.

Will the OnePlus 11 Concept ever release, though? If it does, I imagine it will launch in a very limited capacity for a subset of hardcore enthusiasts, and it certainly won’t be cheap, either. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing whether this cooling tech makes its way into future phones.

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