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

Feb 7, 2024

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

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

OnePlus 12R price in India

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

As for color options, the OnePlus 12R is available in Iron Gray and Cool Blue. The first one has a matte finish back glass, while the second one can be used as a mirror as it is very reflective.OnePlus 12R Review Box OnePlus-12R-Box-Contents

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 Members Club membership, and the usual set of paperwork. The charge is huge, bigger than my laptop charger.

OnePlus 12R review: Design

The OnePlus 12R looks similar to the more powerful and more expensive OnePlus 12. However, it has a regular glass back instead of a marble glass back. It has a nice 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 placed on the top left of the back panel. We're reviewing the Cool Blue variant of the phone, which features a sleek, glossy back panel. The edges and display are curved, making the phone non-slippery yet comfortable to hold. However, the matte finish panel on the Iron Gray variant should provide more grip. The weight of the phone is also very good, as the frame is metal and both the front and back panels are glass. The phone weighs 207 grams and feels premium.OnePlus 12R Review Design OnePlus-12R-Review-Design

With OnePlus 12R, the company has changed the alert slider location. It is now placed on the left side of the phone. This was the original location of the iconic alert slider when OnePlus first introduced it on the OnePlus 2. There are volume and power buttons on the right side of the phone. A speaker, USB Type-C port, microphone, and a SIM tray tool are available on the bottom, while the top has a second mic, speaker, and an IR blaster.

The OnePlus 12R has a curved display on the front, with relatively thin bezels around it. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2, and while OnePlus has included a screen guard on the phone, it's of poor quality, and I would recommend getting a tempered glass guard. The phone gets IP64 rating for dust and water resistance, which is offered even in cheap phones these days.

OnePlus 12R review: Specifications and software

Okay, let's get to the interior. The OnePlus 12R is almost like a flagship, and that's because it has last year's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. OnePlus offers up to 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 4.0 onboard storage in the phone. However, the base variant offers 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage, which is slow.

OnePlus 12R Review Software OnePlus-12R-Review-Software

OnePlus 12R will get three years of Android OS updates

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

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

Moving on to the software, the phone runs Android 14-based OxygenOS 14 out-of-the-box. During the review period, 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, there are plenty of them here. You get a lot of OxygenOS features, or should I say ColorOS, that help you customize the OnePlus 12R to your liking. OxygenOS 14 also has many new features, 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 customizable information on the status bar. There's also something called Smart Suggestions, which gives you real-time updates from apps like Zomato, Swiggy and others. You'll be able to see these updates on the lock screen, status bar, or notification drawer. It also works with AOD (Always-On Display) feature. The OnePlus 12R and even the OnePlus 12 lack AI features, which are strangely available on phones sold in China. It is expected that OnePlus will bring some AI features to the phone through software updates.

OnePlus 12R review: Display

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

oneplus 12r review performance oneplus-12r-review-performance

You can play almost any game on OnePlus 12R

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

Gaming on the OnePlus 12R was also a joy, thanks to the stunning 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 1000Hz and other features like 10-bit color and HDR10+ support. The phone also gets a feature called AquaTouch which uses the CPU to detect when the screen is wet and enhances the touch response to avoid mistakes. It's a hit or miss, because there were still a lot of glitches when I tried to use the phone under the shower, but it did work sometimes.

OnePlus 12R Review Display OnePlus-12R-Review-Display

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

The phone's display offers a high brightness mode of 1,600 nits, which means everything is viewable, even in direct sunlight. This is a great display that performs great both indoors and outdoors. The colors are good too, and you get a few modes you can choose from in the Settings app. I recommend using Cinematic Color mode under Pro Mode in Display Settings for the most accurate color reproduction.

OnePlus has also provided a good pair of speakers in the phone. You get good sound separation, good bass, Dolby Atmos support, and they're pretty loud too. Streaming content on the OnePlus 12R is a joy.

Battery performance on the OnePlus 12R is quite good, and can be even better if you reduce 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 usage, watching YouTube and Netflix, and other daily tasks. The 5,500mAh battery can easily last for two days even with heavy usage. The 100W charger was able to charge the phone from 10 to 100 percent in 30 minutes. That's a little more than the advertised 1 to 100 percent take in 26 minutes, but 30 minutes is still pretty impressive.

OnePlus 12R review: Cameras

Now, let's finally get to the part most of you have been waiting for. The OnePlus 12R sports a triple rear camera setup that includes a 50-megapixel Sony IMX890 primary sensor with f/1.8 aperture, PDAF, and OIS. This is the same primary camera as 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. There is a 16 megapixel selfie camera in the front.

OnePlus 12R Review Cameras OnePlus 12R Review Cameras

OnePlus 12R has a 16-megapixel selfie camera

The camera app has a lot of features but is easy to use. There are several modes hidden in the More menu, including options like Hi-Res Mode, Macro Mode, Night Mode, Pano, Time-Lapse, Long Exposure, and Slow Motion.

Before I talk about the camera performance, let me just say that this is the only non-flagship feature of the smartphone. The primary camera can capture good photos with a lot of detail, sharpness and good color accuracy. You get 1x, 2x and 5x options in the standard photo mode. They are all crops taken from the main sensor. In good lighting and outdoors, 2x isn't bad, but there isn't a lot of detail in the 5x crop. When the sun sets, the main camera can take good photos, but there is an obvious loss in detail.

Top: 0.6x using the ultrawide, 1x and 2x from the main camera: Bottom: low-light samples

Speaking of the 8-megapixel ultrawide, I noticed something strange when taking landscape photos. Even in good lighting, there was always some blurriness in the images. When the subject is close, the ultra-wide produces good images without any blur. However, the ultrawide performs poorly in low light. There is a lot of noise in the photos and they are not really usable.

Macro mode uses a 2-megapixel sensor

OnePlus could have removed the 2-megapixel macro camera, but if you like taking close-up photos of objects, you can do that. The macro camera takes pretty good photos. The selfie camera takes good photos with enough detail for social media. However, it can sometimes struggle in low light. Luckily, you get a screen fill light feature that helps. Edge detection is good in portrait shots, but there are no 1x or 2x options.

Video performance on the OnePlus 12R is good but not great. You can shoot videos in up to 4K resolution and 60fps; However, Ultra Steady mode is only available in 1080p and 60fps. Video quality is quite good in daylight and stabilization is also good. In low light, you will notice some distortion and noise. The color and dynamic range from the primary rear camera is good. The ultra-wide performs fine during the day, and videos shot with the camera in low light tend to have a lot of noise. The selfie camera can shoot 1080p 30fps videos and performs well during the day.

OnePlus 12R review: Verdict

OnePlus 12R is a great smartphone with a good camera. Some other similarly priced phones in this segment may offer better cameras, but as an overall package, you can't go wrong with this phone. It has a great display, excellent performance, good speakers, fast wired charging, and long-lasting battery; It doesn't get too hot while gaming and the primary camera performs well in daylight.

So yes, the OnePlus 12R bridges the gap between affordable and flagship. I would totally recommend it to anyone who wants 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 is a blind buy.

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