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Tom’s Guide
Tom’s Guide
Philip Michaels

OnePlus 12R hands-on: A promising midrange phone with some premium features

Oneplus 12r hands-on.

The OnePlus 12R fills in a gap in the phone maker's product line. Previously, your choice of a OnePlus device boiled down to one of the company's flagships or its budget-minded Nord series. You had no midrange option offering a smattering of premium features for a more affordable price.

That's where the OnePlus 12R comes in. When the 12R makes its debut later this month at the January 23 launch event for the OnePlus 12, it will be the first R series phone to show up outside of China or India. Assuming the device generates enough interest, it won't be the last.

And the OnePlus 12R could wind up generating that interest, based on the specs that have come out so far. We need to spend more time with the phone to find out just how well it performs — and we're still waiting for OnePlus to tell us how much the OnePlus 12R will cost — but there's enough similarities to the OnePlus 12 to earn a second look from smartphone shoppers on a budget.

We've had a chance to see the OnePlus 12R in person. And while more in-depth testing and observations will have to wait, we can share some initial impressions about this new device and how it figures to shake up the market for midrange Android phones.

OnePlus 12R hands-on: Specs

OnePlus 12R hands-on: Price and availability

Everyone benefits from a little mystery in their lives, and just how much the OnePlus 12R will cost is the mystery facing us at the moment. Presumably, OnePlus will reveal that information on January 23, when it holds a global launch event for both the OnePlus 12 and OnePlus 12R. We should find out about availability then, too.

The OnePlus 12R will cost less than the OnePlus 12. But that information that only helps us so much, as we're also waiting for the official word on OnePlus 12 pricing. If it helps, the OnePlus 11R cost 39,999 rupees in India (around $482) compared to the 59,999-rupee OnePlus 11. So we're talking a potential price difference of $250 or so, based on currency conversions. 

OnePlus 12R hands-on: Design

(Image credit: Future)

The OnePlus 12R may wind up as the less expensive of the two new phones OnePlus is about to release, but you wouldn't know it from looking at the device. It mimics the OnePlus 12's design, right down to the circular camera array on the back of the phone.

The OnePlus 12R doesn't feel cheap either. It's got an aluminum  framethat's solidly built. The alert slider, missing in action on the OnePlus 10T, is on the left side of the phone, with volume and power buttons on the opposite side.

I find the blue shade of the OnePlus 12R unit I got to handle to be rather striking. (There's also a gray color option.) The reflective, almost mirror-like surface of the OnePlus 12R's back looks pretty smart, too, though it does pick up fingerprints fairly easily.

OnePlus 12R hands-on: Display

(Image credit: Future)

The OnePlus 12R's screen is fractionally smaller than the 6.82-inch panel featured on the OnePlus 12. At 6.78-inches, the OnePlus 12R is closer in size to last year's OnePlus 11.

OnePlus has already confirmed that its using an LTPO panel for the 12R, a decision that enables the phone to adjust the refresh rate on its display for smoother scrolling. The OnePlus 12R's refresh rate will be able to reach 120Hz.

Bezels around the screen are minimal to the point where the display starts to curve around each side of the OnePlus 12R. In the past, such a design seems to encourage inadvertent touches, and it can be difficult interacting with elements toward the edge of the screen, so I'm interested to see if those issues manifest themselves once I get a chance to more fully use the OnePlus 12R.

When I do get the chance to fire up the phone, I shouldn't have any trouble seeing the display. The OnePlus 12R's screen boasts the same peak brightness of 4,500 nits as the OnePlus 12. HDR content can hit 1,600 nits. Obviously, these are eye-popping numbers, and if the OnePlus 12R reaches just the halfway mark of peak brightness, it will outshine any display we've tested.

OnePlus 12R hands-on: Cameras

(Image credit: Future)

You've got to make some compromises in order to bring the OnePlus 12R in for less than the OnePlus 12. One of those areas involves the OnePlus 12R's camera setup, which ditches the telephoto lens found in the regular OnePlus 12's setup. Instead, an ultrawide angle lens and macro sensor join the 50MP main camera. That 8MP ultrawide lens offers a 112-degree field of view.

There's something else missing from the OnePlus 12R camera setup — any mention of the Hasselblad branding that's appeared on OnePlus flagships in recent years. OnePlus' partnership with the lens specialist has spurred a decided improvement in photo quality for the company's premium phones. Whereas cameras used to be the weak spot for a OnePlus flagship, we've gotten to the point where recent releases can hold their own against the best camera phones.

It's impossible to say what the lack of Hasselblad's involvement will mean for the OnePlus 12R's camera performance, at least until we have a chance to go out and shoot with the phone. The OnePlus 12R will face some very formidable camera phones when it arrives, as the Pixel 7a sets the standard for less-expensive camera phones and the Galaxy A54 isn't too far behind. One of the things I'm most interested in find out is just how the OnePlus 12R cameras measure up.

OnePlus 12R hands-on: Performance

(Image credit: Future)

As a flagship phone, the OnePlus 12 gets to use the best silicon out there in the form of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. The OnePlus 12R takes a step back, though not a very big one — it's running the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that powered many of the best Android phones of 2023.

As a refresher, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 delivered the best performance of any Android phone chipset and even making inroads against Apple's best-in-class mobile silicon, particularly when it comes to games. You'd expect the OnePlus 12R to match that performance, which would be quite impressive for a phone with a price rumored to be as low as the OnePlus 12's is.

We don't have RAM or storage information about the OnePlus 12R yet, as that's supposed to vary by region. Rumors have suggested 256GB of storage in the base model, which would be quite impressive, considering there are flagship phones that are quite happy to feature just 128GB of storage.

OnePlus 12R hands-on: Battery

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus has previously confirmed a 5,500 mAh battery for the OnePlus 12R. That massive power pack coupled with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2's reputation for power efficiency promises good things for the battery life of this phone. The OnePlus 11, running on that same chipset with a 5,000 mAh battery, lasted more than 13 hours on our battery test, landing it a place on the best phone battery life list.

We'd imagine OnePlus' fast-charging technology will find its way to the OnePlus 12R. However, the wireless charging that the phone maker has added to the OnePlus 12 isn't likely to make the cut on this less expensive option.

OnePlus 12R hands-on: Outlook

With the prospect of multi-day battery life, a bright display and a still top-performing system-on-chip, there's a lot to like about the OnePlus 12R. How well those cameras perform will go a long way toward determining whether this phone is worth your consideration as a flagship alternative. And of course, the pricing that OnePlus settles on for the 12R looms over everything.

We'll reserve any judgments until we can fully test the phone and evaluate how much bang it delivers for its still-unknown buck. But the prospect of another OnePlus device bridging the gap between flagships and Nord handsets is enough reason to celebrate the OnePlus 12R's arrival.

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