OnePlus 12R Review: Bridging the Gap Between Affordable and Flagship?

OnePlus 12R Review: Bridging the Gap Between Affordable and Flagship?

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OnePlus 12R was launched alongside its big brother, the OnePlus 12, in January at the Smooth Beyond Belief event. While the phone is smooth, it’s certainly not beyond belief. What’s beyond belief is its price tag. The phone is now available for purchase in India with a starting price tag of Rs. 39,999. And for that price, you get a lot of phones. However, there are still some areas that need some improvements.

So, does the OnePlus 12R bridge the gap between affordable and flagship performance? Let’s find out.

OnePlus 12R price in India

The OnePlus 12R is available in two variants in India. The base variant is priced at Rs. 39,999 and gets 8GB RAM with 128GB of storage. You also have the 16GB RAM and 256GB storage option, which is priced at Rs. 45,999. I think OnePlus should have offered at least 256GB of storage on the base variant, which would make it easier to recommend.

As for colour options, the OnePlus 12R is available in Iron Gray and Cool Blue. The former has a matte finish back glass, whereas the latter could be used as a mirror since it’s very reflective.

OnePlus provides a case, some stickers, a 100W fast charger, a USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable, a SIM ejector tool, a Red Member Club membership, and the usual set of paperwork. The charge is huge, even bigger than my laptop charger.

OnePlus 12R Review: Design

OnePlus 12R looks similar to the more powerful and more expensive OnePlus 12. However, it features a regular glass back instead of a marble glass back. It’s a good design and makes the phone stand out from other brands thanks to its camera module. The design is similar to last year’s OnePlus 11.

You get the familiar large circular camera module that’s placed on the top left of the back panel. We’re reviewing the Cool Blue variant of the phone, which has a smooth, glossy back panel. The sides and the display are curved, making the phone comfortable to hold while also being slippery. However, the matte finish panel on the Iron Grey variant should offer more grip. The phone also has an excellent weight to it, as the frame is metal and both front and back panels are glass. The phone weighs 207 grams and feels premium.oneplus 12r review design oneplus-12r-review-design

With the OnePlus 12R, the company has made a change to the Alert slider location. It is now placed on the left spine of the phone. This was the original placement of the iconic Alert slider when OnePlus first introduced it on the OnePlus 2. The right spine of the phone features the volume and power buttons. A speaker, USB Type-C port, microphone, and a SIM tray tool are available on the bottom, whereas the top houses a second mic, speaker, and an IR blaster.

The OnePlus 12R has a curved display on the front, getting relatively slim bezels all around. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2, and while OnePlus has included a screen guard on the phone, it is of poor quality, and I’d recommend installing a tempered glass guard. The phone gets an IP64 rating for dust and water resistance, which is something that’s offered in even cheaper phones these days.

OnePlus 12R Review: Specifications and software

Alright, let’s get to the internals. The OnePlus 12R is almost like a flagship, and this is because it houses the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC from last year. OnePlus offers up to 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM on the phone and up to 256GB of UFS 4.0 onboard storage. However, the base variant offers 128GB UFS 3.1 storage, which is slower.

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OnePlus 12R will get three years of Android OS updates

 

For connectivity, the OnePlus 12R gets dual-band Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, and the usual set of GPS satellite support. It also gets dual nano-SIM support with dual-5G standby, but there’s no eSIM here. The phone features an in-display fingerprint scanner positioned at the bottom of the screen. It worked well throughout the duration of the review.

The OnePlus 12R packs the largest battery ever included in a OnePlus phone. It features a 5,500mAh cell that supports 100W fast charging using the 100W brick included in the box.

Moving on to software, the phone runs Android 14-based OxygenOS 14 out-of-the-box. During the review, OnePlus released an update for the phone that brought some performance and camera improvements. The company promises three years of software and four years of security updates for the OnePlus 12R.

In terms of software features, well, there are plenty of them here. You get plenty of OxygenOS features, or should I say ColorOS, that help you customise the OnePlus 12R to your liking. There are also plenty of new features in OxygenOS 14, such as File Dock, Fluid Cloud, Smart Cutout, Smart Touch, and Multi-Screen Connect 2.0. While File Dock makes it easy to share content across apps and devices, Fluid Cloud shows you customisable information on the status bar. There’s also something called Smart Suggestions, which gives you real-time updates from apps such as Zomato, Swiggy, and others. You’ll be able to view these updates on the lock screen, status bar, or in the notification drawer. It also works with the AOD (always-on display) feature. The OnePlus 12R, and even the OnePlus 12, miss out on AI features, which are weirdly available on phones sold in China. Hopefully, OnePlus will bring some AI features to the phones via a software update.

OnePlus 12R Review: Performance

Performance is one of the strongest reasons to buy the OnePlus 12R, especially when you consider price-to-performance value. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC makes everything smooth on the phone. While benchmark results may not be the highest in the price segment, you will never feel like it’s not enough. On AnTuTu, the phone managed a score of 15,11,642 points in performance mode. With the mode disabled, the phone scored 12,82,842 points.

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You can play pretty much any game on the OnePlus 12R

 

The OnePlus 12R is also a great gaming phone. I know OnePlus doesn’t really advertise this as one, but the gaming experience on the phone is excellent. I tried COD, BGMI, and Genshin Impact, and everything ran smoothly on the highest settings and graphics available. The phone offered excellent frame rates and only got slightly warm after a 40-minute-long session of BGMI. Touch sensitivity is also great, and it helped me eat several chicken dinners.

Gaming on the OnePlus 12R was also a pleasure, thanks to the brilliant display. The phone features a 6.78-inch LTPO 4.0 AMOLED panel that offers 1.5K resolution and an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. The panel has a touch response rate of up to 1000 Hz and other features such as 10-bit colours and HDR10+ support. The phone also gets a feature called Aquatouch that uses the CPU to detect when the screen is wet and increases the touch response so as to avoid mistouches. This is a hit or miss, as when I tried to use the phone under the shower, there were still plenty of mistouches, but it did work at times.

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The OnePlus 12R offers 1,600 nits in high brightness mode (HBM)

 

The display on the phone offers a high brightness mode of 1,600 nits, which means that everything is eligible, even under direct sunlight. It’s a great display that performs very well both indoors and outdoors. The colours are good, too, and you get a couple of modes you can choose in the Settings app. I’d recommend using the Cinematic colour mode under Pro mode in Display Settings for the most accurate colour reproduction.

OnePlus has also packed in a good pair of speakers on the phone. You get good voice separation, decent bass, Dolby Atmos support, and they get very loud as well. Streaming content on the OnePlus 12R is joyful.

The battery performance on the OnePlus 12R is pretty good, and it can be even better if you turn down the refresh rate and screen resolution. During the review, I was able to achieve 7+ hours of screen-on-time with an hour of gaming, camera use, watching YouTube and Netflix, and other day-to-day tasks. The 5,500mAh battery can easily last two days, even with heavy usage. The 100W charger was able to top up the phone from 10 to 100 percent in 30 minutes. That’s slightly longer than the advertised 1 to 100 percent in 26 minutes, but 30 minutes is still very impressive.

OnePlus 12R Review: Cameras

Now, let’s finally get to the part that most of you’ve been waiting for. The OnePlus 12R features a triple rear camera setup that includes a 50-megapixel Sony IMX890 primary sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, PDAF, and OIS. This is the same primary camera from last year’s OnePlus 11. You also get an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor with a 112-degree field of view and a 2-megapixel macro camera. On the front, there’s a 16-megapixel selfie camera.

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The OnePlus 12R has a 16-megapixel selfie camera

 

The Camera app packs in a lot of features but is simple to use. Several modes are hidden in the More menu, which includes options such as Hi-Res mode, Macro mode, Night mode, Pano, Time-lapse, Long exposure, and Slow motion.

Before I talk about the camera performance, I’d like to just say that this is the only non-flagship feature on the smartphone. The primary camera can shoot good photos with plenty of detail, sharpness, and decent colour accuracy. You get 1x, 2x, and 5x options in the standard Photo mode. They’re all just crops from the main sensor. In good lighting and outdoors, the 2x is not bad, but there’s not a lot of detail in the 5x crop. When the sun sets, the main camera can take decent photos, but there’s an obvious loss of detail.

Top: 0.6x using the Ultrawide, 1x and 2x from main camera: Bottom: Lowlight samples

 

Coming to the 8-megapixel ultrawide, I noticed something strange when taking pictures of landscapes. Even in good lighting, there was always some blur in the images. When the subject is closer, the ultra-wide produces good images without any blur. However, the ultrawide performs poorly in low light. Photos have a lot of noise and aren’t really usable.

Macro mode uses the 2-megapixel sensor

 

OnePlus could’ve done away with the 2-megapixel Macro camera, but if you like to take close-up photos of objects, you can. The macro camera produces good enough images. The selfie camera shoots good pictures with enough details for social media. However, it can sometimes struggle in low light. Luckily, you get a screen fill light feature that helps. The Portrait shots have good edge detection, but there are no 1x or 2x options.

Video performance on the OnePlus 12R is good but not great. You can shoot videos at up to 4K resolution and 60fps; however, the Ultra steady mode is only available in 1080p and 60fps. The video quality is pretty good in daylight conditions, and the stabilisation is good as well. In low light, you will notice some glitching and noise. The colours and dynamic range are good from the primary rear camera. Ultra-wide performs okay during the day, and videos shot with the camera in lowlight scenarios have a lot of noise. The selfie camera can shoot 1080p 30fps videos and performs well during the day.

OnePlus 12R Review: Verdict

The OnePlus 12R is an excellent smartphone with a decent camera. A couple of other similarly priced phones in the segment may offer a better camera, but as an overall package, you cannot go wrong with this phone. It has a great display, excellent performance, good speakers, fast wired charging, and a long-lasting battery; it doesn’t heat up much when gaming and the primary camera performs well in daylight.

So yes, the OnePlus 12R does bridge the gap between affordable and flagship. I’d totally recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a taste of flagship performance and features but doesn’t want to spend flagship-like money. At a starting price of Rs. 39,999, it’s a blind buy.

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