At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsOutstanding displayTrue two-day battery lifeStrong sustained performance100W fast chargingConsNo wireless chargingStill not completely waterproofMediocre secondary camerasOur Verdict
It might look and feel familiar, but the OnePlus 12R offers a superb screen and epic battery life for a less-than-flagship price. There are a couple of unfortunate omissions, but this is a smart repurposing job at a keen price.
OnePlus hasn’t offered a pair of global flagship phone options since the OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9 in 2021. Also in that year, the OnePlus R-series made its debut, supplying a stripped back and more affordable flagship experience to selected Asian markets.
These two historical occurrences converge in the OnePlus 12R, which is the first time that the brand’s keenly priced R-series has been offered globally. While the OnePlus 12 gives you a virtually compromise-free experience, the 12R will get you most of the way there for £200 less.
An initial glance would suggest that this is a return to the Pro/non-Pro double act in all but name. In practice, the OnePlus 12R offers a similar package to last year’s OnePlus 11, with a few upgrades that nod to the passage of time and a couple of downgrades that enable a cheaper price point.
Design & Build
Slightly thicker than OnePlus 11
Alert slider as welcome as always
Bumped up to IP65
The OnePlus 12R looks and feels an awful lot like the OnePlus 11. It’s another larger phone that feels deceptively slender, thanks to the choice to curve the longer edges on both the front and the back of the phone. Flat screens are generally more practical, but the curvaceous approach certainly looks good.
It’s actually a fraction thicker than last year’s model at 8.8mm, and also a couple of grams heavier at 207g. But it still feels nice and sleek, certainly compared to all those blocky flat-edged phones out there seeking to emulate Apple’s iPhone design.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
We also get the return of the OnePlus 11’s distinctive camera module design, though it doesn’t quite melt into the side frame so seamlessly here. There’s a clear seam, though your eye will likely be drawn away from this by the striking ridged circular ring that encompasses the three camera sensors and flash.
…the OnePlus 12R offers a similar package to last year’s OnePlus 11
My test unit is the Iron Gray model, which adopts a charcoal tone with a brushed, slightly grainy-looking metallic finish. It looks stylish and is pleasing to the touch, but it’s not the grippiest material in the world. The other colour on offer is Cool Blue, which looks to be far shinier and probably no less smooth.
OnePlus has actually upgraded certain elements of the OnePlus 12R’s design compared to last year’s pricier model. The display is covered in tougher Gorilla Glass Victus 2 – an improvement from Victus – while the body is IP65 rated rather than IP64. It’s still not the IP68 that we’ve come to expect from our flagship phones, but it’s more resistant to water than the OnePlus 11 at any rate, and it feels more acceptable here than in the $799/£849 OnePlus 12.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
The left edge of the phone packs the brand’s signature alert slider, which can manually flick you between silent, vibrate, and loud modes. It’s as welcome here as always, though still has the annoying quirk of opening the ‘Find in page’ search field when you use it when browsing the web in Chrome.
One other noteworthy external addition from the OnePlus 11 is an IR blaster on the top edge. Using the pre-installed IR Remote app, I was able to use the OnePlus 12R to control my ancient Denon stereo. Having broken the original remote control about a decade ago, this proved genuinely useful, though I suspect that mine is a fairly niche case in these days of smart and multi-room speakers.
Screen & Speakers
1-120Hz dynamic refresh rate
Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
The OnePlus 12R’s display is an impressive piece of kit. At 6.78-inch, it’s a little bigger than the OnePlus 11 equivalent, and it utilises upgraded LTPO 4.0 panel technology to flit between 1 and 120Hz more efficiently.
OnePlus has scaled back the resolution a little from the OnePlus 12 and OnePlus 11, both of which pack 2K screens. However, it hasn’t regressed all the way back to 1080p. Rather, we get a resolution that some manufacturers have taken to calling ‘1.5K’.
This resolution of 2780 x 1264 falls between FHD+ and QHD+, and seems to me to be an excellent compromise. You still get a nice sharp image with a crisp pixel density of 450 ppi, but with less of the resource hogging ways of a full 2K display.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
Colour accuracy is truly excellent, and I found it to be especially pleasing once I flipped it from Vivid to Natural mode. It gets nice and bright, too, with OnePlus quoting a peak brightness of 4500 nits in HDR scenarios and 1600 nits in outdoors conditions. With autobrightness turned off, I recorded a maximum brightness of 787 nits, which is extremely impressive.
One interesting addition ties in neatly with that improved IP65 rating. Aqua Touch boosts screen responsiveness in the rain, though without full IP68 protection I still found myself hesitant to put this to the test.
You get the usual OnePlus provision of dual stereo speakers in the earpiece and on the bottom edge of the phone, which remain loud and clear even at top volume. They do lack the depth and space of a truly top-end performer like the iPhone 15 Pro, though. Dolby Atmos support is also provided.
Specs & Performance
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
8/16GB of RAM
While the OnePlus 12 gets the cutting edge Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, the OnePlus 12R has to make do with last year’s flagship chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. This means that it essentially performs the same as the OnePlus 11, especially with the generous 16GB of RAM on board on the review unit I tested.
We described the OnePlus 11 as an “incredibly quick phone” in our review, and a year has done little to dull those same components. For all the performance advances brought about by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, the OnePlus 12R is still capable of running the most demanding 3D games (like Genshin Impact and Wreckfest) at silky smooth frame rates on top settings.
Indeed, while it’s no gaming phone, OnePlus has given the OnePlus 12R some gaming-focused attention. There’s a large vapour chamber keeping things cool, which means that you’ll get strong sustained performance. In the 3DMark Solar Bay Stress Test, which simulates high-end gaming performance over a sustained 20 minute period, the OnePlus 12R maintained its level as well as a dedicated gaming phone like the Red Magic 9 Pro.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
Away from raw performance, the OnePlus 12R is a well-equipped phone. The sole model available in the UK comes with 256GB of UFS 4.0 memory (some other regions get a 128GB model using slower UFS 3.1 memory). Elsewhere there’s support for Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.3.
OnePlus 12R Benchmarks
Our regular suite of benchmark results suggests a slight edge for the OnePlus 12R over the OnePlus 11, but that can likely be put down to the display being less pixel-packed.
That might also explain why the 12R falls behind a phone like the Galaxy S23 on such ‘on screen’ tests, as the latter pairs the same chip with a less demanding FHD+ display. All in all, I think the OnePlus 12R strikes a nice balance.
Same strong main sensor as OnePlus 11
Decent results in all lighting
No Hasselblad enhancements
OnePlus has brought the same main 50Mp Sony IMX890 sensor across from the OnePlus 11. This is a decent-sized 1/1.56-inch sensor that has become an occasional pick for flagship phones that want to get flagship-approximating photographic results when the budget is stretched, or when the manufacturer’s priorities lie elsewhere like with the Asus ROG Phone 8.
Backed by OIS, the OnePlus 12R is able to capture good shots in decent lighting, and perfectly adequate shots even in lesser lighting conditions. The daylight shots that I captured were reasonably natural, packing an acceptable amount of detail and colour depth.
Despite the shared components, however, it’s not quite the match for the OnePlus 11’s main camera. There’s none of camera partner Hasselblad’s enhancements on board here, meaning you don’t get the company’s punchy colour science, its pleasing camera UI, or its custom shooting modes.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
More consequential than this is a downgrade in the rest of the camera set-up. There is no telephoto camera this time around, meaning any zoomed-in shots will be crops from that capable main sensor. To this end, I found that 2x shots looked pretty good, but that the noise really started to encroach at 5x.
Out too goes the OnePlus 11’s 48Mp ultra-wide camera, in favour of a more humble 8Mp unit. It broadly captures the tone of the main sensor (though it is perhaps a tad cooler), but obviously suffers by comparison when it comes to detail and dynamic range.
There’s also a 2MP macro camera here, but it’s not worthy of anything more than an obligatory mention. It’s a bit disappointing to see OnePlus resort to this space-filling, box-ticking component, to be honest.
There’s a 16MP front camera that captures adequate selfies, though I found my skin tones to be a little smudgey and lacking in texture, even without any of the usual freaky skin tone-enhancing modes active.
If you want more impressive camera technology, then I suggest opting for the more expensive OnePlus 12.
…it’s not quite the match for the OnePlus 11’s main camera
Battery Life & Charging
5500mAh battery for two-day power
100W fast charging
No wireless charging
Right up there alongside its gorgeous display, by far the OnePlus 12R’s standout feature is its stellar battery life.
With a larger-than-usual 5500mAh cell and some strong optimisation work from OnePlus (and maybe also Oppo, which supplies the base software), I found that I was routinely able to get through two full days of moderate usage on a single charge.
If you want some numbers to go with that, I was able to take the phone off charge at just after 8am, run through two full working days with a combined 8 hours of screen on time, and still be left with 20% in the tank at gone midnight at the end of the second day.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
To be clear, this was with both the resolution and refresh rate set to High. If both were set to normal, you would be able to expect even more life out of a single charge.
Talking of charging, OnePlus has bundled in a 100W wired charger, just like with the OnePlus 11. In my experience, this was sufficient to get the phone from empty to full in just 27 minutes.
Sadly, OnePlus has also brought the OnePlus 11’s wireless charging provision across. That is to say, there isn’t any such thing. You’ll need to splash out for the OnePlus 12 if this is a particularly important feature for you. There’s always the Pixel 8 if you don’t want to spend the extra money on a completely wireless phone.
…the OnePlus 12R’s standout feature is its stellar battery life
Software & Apps
Four years of Android updates
The OnePlus 12R supplies Android 14 straight out of the box, but the days of the brand’s sleek ‘stock-on-steroids’ custom UI have sadly passed. What you’re getting now is essentially a tweaked version of parent company Oppo’s ColorOS.
Disappointment aside, OxygenOS 14.0 isn’t a bad experience by any means. It’s functional, fast enough, and customisable. It just isn’t as sharp or slick as Google’s stock software, nor those custom UIs that stick closer to it (see Motorola, Asus, and Sony for details).
Jon Mundy / Foundry
The modern OnePlus/Oppo approach involves big, colourful icons and toggles, with a slightly charmless (but again perfectly functional) drag-down notification pane.
On the positive side, the Settings menu isn’t quite the labyrinth of rival efforts from Samsung and Xiaomi, and Oppo’s promise of four years of software updates is decent. Or at least, it would have been in previous years.
Google and Samsung has somewhat spoiled things for other manufacturers with their seven-year promises. Still, most people probably won’t have their phones for longer than a few years, whether through regular wear and tear or because they’re on an inclusive contract.
Price & Availability
The OnePlus 12R will go on sale on February 13, 2024, which is a week later than the OnePlus 12. Pre-orders are available on the OnePlus website at the time of writing.
Here’s the prices for the phone:
8GB/128GB – $499 (not available in the UK and Europe)
16GB/256GB – $599/£649/€699
Those in the US can get a real steal with the OnePlus 12R, with the phone starting from just $499. That’s a whopping $300 cheaper than the OnePlus 12, and $200 cheaper than the Pixel 8, which supplies a superior camera and software experience, as well as wireless charging and IP68 certification, but an inferior display and battery life.
In the UK, the only version you can buy is the 16GB version. That’s £80 cheaper than the similarly specced OnePlus 11 was laster year, and £200 cheaper than the OnePlus 12 is this year. It’s also £50 cheaper than the Pixel 8.
The OnePlus 11 has also come down in price since it first launched, making this another alternative – though it’s still more expensive than the 12R. You can check out more options in our chart of the best smartphones as well as best mid-range phones.
Should you buy the OnePlus 12R?
If the OnePlus 12R feels at all familiar, that’s because it closely resembles the OnePlus 11. It’s got a very familiar design, the exact same processor, and the very same main camera.
However, the 12R’s display – while technically a slight step back in sharpness – offers a fabulously bright and colour-accurate picture. The new phone’s battery life, meanwhile, is straight out of the top drawer.
There’s still no room for wireless charging or true waterproofing, which is a shame, and the camera system isn’t the most flexible on the market. If those things matter to you, there’s a OnePlus 12 out there with all of the necessary bells and whistles, albeit at a higher price.
While it’s easy to feel underwhelmed with the OnePlus 12R and its mixture of reheated and made-to-order elements, there’s no denying it offers a compelling flagship-ish experience that undercuts many rivals – especially in the US.
Android 14 with OxygenOS 14
6.68in, 1.5K, OLED, 120Hz, curved display
In-display fingerprint sensor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
16GB LPDDR5X RAM
256GB UFS 4.0 storage
50Mp, f/1.8 main camera
8Mp ultra-wide camera
2Mp macro camera
Up to 4K @ 60fps rear video
16Mp front-facing camera
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax/be
163.3 x 75.3 x 8.8 mm
Launch colours: Iron Gray, Cool Blue