OnePlus 12R Smartphone Review

At an affordable $800, the OnePlus 12 has managed to carve out a healthy spot in the market as an alternative to some of the best smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S24 and Google Pixel 8. But OnePlus’s newest flagship hasn’t stopped its mid-range sibling, the OnePlus 12R, from being equally impressive – lowering the price even further without sacrificing nearly as much as you might expect from phones that cost almost twice as much.

OnePlus 12R – Photos

OnePlus 12R – Design and Features

For smartphone enthusiasts, picking a OnePlus device out of a crowd isn’t likely to be a challenge. Much like how Samsung and iPhone devices are easily identified by their camera layouts, the OnePlus 12 and 12R both have the same circular camera module that has become a core part of the lineup’s identity.

Because of this shared design language, the OnePlus 12R manages to look about as premium as the OnePlus 12. I was happy it has a sturdy aluminum frame as opposed to the plastic frames I’ve seen on so many other mid-range devices. It’s also nice that it sports Gorilla Glass Victus 2, so I wasn’t anxious about going caseless for a few days.

Less appealing is OnePlus’s commitment to curved displays. This design choice has largely been abandoned in well-known brands over the past few years, with even Samsung thankfully ditching it for the S24 Ultra. This means that the OnePlus 12R continues to suffer from the same accidental presses and visual distortion mentioned in our original OnePlus 12 review, and it’s had an appreciable impact on my enjoyment of watching content or looking at photos.

Despite its disappointing curved edges, the OnePlus 12R’s vibrant 6.78″ display is everything most users could possibly need. It packs a respectable 2780 x 1264 pixels, promises a maximum brightness of 4,500 nits, and is utterly gorgeous whether you’re scrolling through your settings or watching media. Meanwhile, the LTPO panel allows for a variable refresh rate that can change from 120hz all the way to 1hz for some noticeable, though not life-altering, battery saving advantages.

As it’s technically a mid-range phone, you’re only getting IP64 water and dust resistance, meaning you can comfortably risk some water splashing on your phone, but it’s less likely to survive being submerged. On the other hand, you do get the same tech used in the OnePlus 12 that lets you better use the phone when the screen (or your fingers) are wet. It wasn’t perfect in my testing – I still ran into some occasional unresponsiveness – but it’s still an overall useful addition for specific circumstances.

Under the hood is where things get more interesting for the OnePlus 12R. It’s equipped with last year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which brought to life most of 2023’s best flagships, and it’s still a hell of a CPU that is more than capable of handling nearly anything you throw at it. You also get a choice between 8GB RAM with 128GB of storage or 16GB of RAM with 256GB of storage, and if you plan to use the phone for a few years, the extra $100 for the latter future-proofs you better all-around.

Regardless of which of the two OnePlus 12R versions you choose, though, you’ll be missing out on wireless charging with this budget-friendly phone. But its 5,500mAh battery helps make up for this with an exceptionally long-lasting charge that can serve up two days of medium use before giving out. And 80W charging is a welcome addition, which I’ve found can take the phone from around 5% to 100% in just around 30 minutes. Better yet: a power adapter is included in the box. What year is this?

OnePlus 12R – Software

The OnePlus 12R ships with OxygenOS 14, which is just about as close to stock Android as you can get without opting for a Google Pixel device. There are a few little tweaks here and there – some of which can be disabled for an even closer-to-stock experience – but this very light skin overall just feels like, well, Android. And that’s a good thing.

OnePlus promises four years of security updates but only three years of OS updates. Considering this is a mid-range buy, most folks will probably be ready to upgrade within a few years anyway, but with the industry standard recently skewing toward 4 to 7 years of upgrades, I would’ve loved to see OnePlus aim just a little bit higher.

OnePlus 12R – Gaming and Performance

Though it was last year’s flagship darling, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 hasn’t suddenly become a slouch in 2024, either. This is still a very capable processor, and while it isn’t going to give you the performance of a dedicated gaming phone, it makes the OnePlus 12R is a reasonably powerful gaming device for anyone on a budget.

I loaded up Call of Duty: Mobile and enjoyed about thirty minutes of cool and quiet matches with graphic quality set to Very High and framerate pushed to Max. But while Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis defaulted to Ultra settings as well, Fortnite struggled to hit 60fps on Medium – so again, it’s all about perspective. This is a $500 phone with specs that would’ve been considered pretty high-end less than two years ago, and from what I’ve experienced so far, that’s been quite good enough for most games. Just don’t expect it to be maxing out the most demanding brand-new games in a year or two.

Beyond gaming, the OnePlus 12R runs exceedingly cool, and performance is otherwise as snappy as you’d expect from the chip that defined 2023’s biggest and best phones. I was able to zip around OxygenOS 14 opening multiple apps in rapid succession without so much as a minor stutter. And as I touched on above, the battery life has also been incredible, with me ending days of heavy use at 40% or above. Honestly, this may be the best battery life I’ve gotten on a phone, and if it wasn’t for the curved display and mediocre water resistance, it’d probably be enough to sway me to using the OnePlus 12R as my main device this year.

OnePlus 12R – Camera

The OnePlus 12R’s 50MP main camera takes detailed photos with natural colors in daylight conditions, often making it difficult for me to spot any meaningful differences from the same shot on my Galaxy S24. And its low-light shots are punchy with exquisite dynamic range and an almost complete lack of noise. This is by far one of the best mid-range phones I’ve used for night photos, and I’d argue it even holds its own against plenty of top-shelf devices.

OnePlus 12R – Camera Samples

The 2x zoom can take some passable photos, too, but pushing for 5x zoom produces excessively soft images that are too muddy to be useful for much beyond just capturing a quick memory. And the 2MP macro camera can be fun if you’re looking to get up close and personal with something small, but it loses an awful lot of detail in the process. I still had a good time playing with it, but it’s not meant for any serious photography.

The ultrawide camera does precisely what’s expected of it when needed, but zooming in reveals the limitations of its measly 8 megapixels, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the slightly more washed-out colors. The same goes for the 16MP front-facing camera, which takes some perfectly adequate selfies with or without Portrait mode enabled, but won’t be winning any awards for detail or skin tone accuracy.

The OnePlus 12R can take up to 4K/60FPS video, and, it’s fine. You’re probably not buying a phone under $800 if you’re planning to regularly shoot important or professional videos with it, but this will get the job done for recording a birthday party or funny social media clip. But given the wonky stabilization here, I wouldn’t recommend bothering to shoot any video when you’re on the move.

This post was originally published on IGN

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