OnePlus 12R Review: A flagship killer that punches above its weight

The OnePlus 12R is a compelling option for those seeking a premium smartphone experience without the premium price tag

OnePlus 12R
Beats Solo 4 review
Bottom Line
With its flagship-grade performance, stunning display, and impressive battery life, the OnePlus 12R is a true "flagship killer" that sets a new standard for midrange smartphones.
Pros
Excellent performance
Bright, vivid display
Long battery life
Affordable
Super fast charging
Cons
Lacks wireless charging
Mediocre camera
4

When the OnePlus 12R launched, I was intrigued to see how this midrange offering from the “flagship killer” brand would stack up against the competition in 2024. After spending a few months with the device, I can confidently say that the 12R is a true gem in the crowded mid-range smartphone landscape.

At the heart of the 12R is the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the same processor found in the flagship Samsung Galaxy S23 series. This flagship-grade silicon provides lightning-fast performance, whether you’re gaming, multitasking, or simply browsing the web. Paired with up to 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, the 12R delivers a snappy and responsive user experience that feels every bit as premium as its more expensive counterparts.

OnePlus 12R display
The OnePlus 12R sports a 6.78-inch AMOLED display

One of the standout features of the 12R is its stunning 6.78-inch AMOLED display. With a resolution of 2780 x 1264 pixels and a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz, the screen delivers a truly vivid and immersive visual experience. What’s more, the display’s peak brightness of 4,500 nits ensures that the content remains easily visible even in direct sunlight. As someone who loves binge-watching my favorite shows on the go, I was thoroughly impressed by the 12R’s display quality.

Battery life is another area where the 12R shines. Equipped with a massive 5,500mAh battery, the phone is capable of delivering up to 9 hours and 30 minutes of screen-on time, easily outpacing the competition. And when it’s time to recharge, the included SuperVOOC charger can replenish the battery from 0 to 100% in about 30 minutes – a feature that I found incredibly convenient.

The OnePlus 12R’s camera system delivers pretty solid performance. Its 50MP primary lens captures good-looking shots with satisfying contrast, colors, and detail, especially in good lighting conditions. The 8MP ultrawide lens is decent, but there is a noticeable color shift between the main and ultrawide cameras, along with softer details towards the edges of the frame.

While the 12R lacks a dedicated telephoto lens, its 2x digital zoom offers solid results. However, the 5x zoom setting results in very fuzzy images. Also, the ultrawide and macro lenses are weaker points of the system. 

Overall, while the camera system on the 12R may not be the absolute best in its class, it’s more than capable of capturing decent shots for most casual photography needs. That said, the Pixel 7a is still the better camera phone in this price range.

One area where the 12R makes some compromises is in its water and dust resistance, with an IP64 rating that protects against low-pressure water jets but not full submersion. Additionally, the 12R lacks wireless charging, a feature found on many premium smartphones which OnePlus continues to regularly omit on their devices. These omissions may be dealbreakers for some, but for me, they were acceptable trade-offs given the 12R’s great performance and value proposition.

In terms of software, the 12R runs OnePlus’ OxygenOS 14, which is based on Android 14. The user interface is clean and intuitive, with a host of customization options and useful features like the iconic alert slider and gaming mode. OnePlus has also included its “Trinity Engine” technology, which helps maintain the phone’s performance over time by optimizing CPU, RAM, and storage management.

When it comes to the competition, the 12R faces stiff competition from the likes of the Google Pixel 7a. While the Pixel 7a may have a better camera and more robust water resistance, the 12R offers superior performance, a more impressive display, and longer battery life. Ultimately, the choice between the two will come down to personal preferences and priorities.

Final thoughts

While it may not be the absolute best in every category, the 12R’s well-rounded capabilities and value proposition make it a highly compelling option for those seeking a premium smartphone experience without the premium price tag.

Overall, the OnePlus 12R is a remarkable smartphone that delivers an exceptional user experience at a surprisingly affordable price point. With its flagship-grade performance, stunning display, and impressive battery life, the 12R is a true “flagship killer” that sets a new standard for midrange smartphones.

The OnePlus 12R retails for $499.

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