The OnePlus 12R is still one of 2024’s best smartphone deals

OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact Edition in hand.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

OnePlus is still quite new to me, as I was a lifelong iPhone user until I joined Digital Trends. However, OnePlus has a pretty solid reputation in the mobile world, and now I can see why, as the OnePlus 12 is one of my favorite smartphones that I’ve used so far this year.

But the OnePlus 12 isn’t the only phone that OnePlus launched in 2024. There is also the more affordable value option, the OnePlus 12R, which even comes in a cool Genshin Impact Edition.

While Joe Maring, Digital Trends’ Mobile editor, reviewed the OnePlus 12R, I’ve been using the phone for the past week primarily for the camera, but for other things as well. Is it as good as everyone says?

There’s so much to like about the 12R

OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact Edition home screen.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I’m a big fan of the OnePlus 12’s overall design, and the OnePlus 12R is pretty much identical to it — aside from some minor differences.

For one, the aluminum frame on the OnePlus 12R is matte rather than glossy, like on the OnePlus 12. The other difference is that the OnePlus 12R is a tiny bit smaller than the 12 at 6.78 inches compared to 6.82 inches. But other than that, they look very similar.

That said, I really enjoy the OnePlus 12R’s design, especially the Genshin Impact Edition that I have. OnePlus phones have always stood out to me among the competition because of their unique appearance, and the Genshin Impact Edition, in particular, is one of the most stunning phones I’ve used. It’s definitely a conversation starter.

Despite being the “budget-friendly” option, the OnePlus 12R really does feel like a flagship phone that you can get for a fraction of the cost. The display is on par with the OnePlus 12 — everything looks bright and vivid, the text is crisp and sharp, and the scrolling is incredibly smooth thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate.

I’m also a fan of how bright the OnePlus 12R can get — up to 4,500 nits — just like the OnePlus 12. When you need to use your phone outdoors in bright sunlight, that’s a big bonus.

OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact Edition.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Another strength of the OnePlus 12R is its performance. I’ve had bad experiences with some budget phones before, but the OnePlus 12R has been an absolute dream.

The 12R has the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 16GB RAM, and 256GB of storage. The Genshin Impact Edition also has some optimizations made specifically for better mobile gaming, though I haven’t had a chance to really test that out since I’m not a big mobile gamer.

Everything I do on the OnePlus 12R is fast and smooth. I have no trouble opening up apps, watching videos, multitasking, and more. The phone keeps up with me without breaking a sweat, and I don’t experience any bit of stutter or lag. In fact, it feels on par with the OnePlus 12 in terms of performance. Even though it’s using 2023’s flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, it’s still a beast.

OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact Edition.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

One of the absolute best things about the OnePlus 12R is the battery life. It has a massive 5,500mAh battery inside, which is even bigger than the OnePlus 12’s 5,400mAh battery. Combine that with the power efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and this is easily a two-day smartphone.

Once it is depleted, it does not take long at all to get it full again since it supports 80-watt wired charging in the U.S. Unfortunately, the OnePlus 12R does not have wireless charging, but when you can plug it in and charge up in around 30 minutes, I don’t think wireless charging really matters.

But it’s not perfect

OnePlus 12R Genshin Impact Edition camera module.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

There’s definitely a lot to love about the OnePlus 12R as a midrange phone. However, it’s not perfect.

One of the issues I have with the OnePlus 12R is the cameras. Coming from the OnePlus 12, the OnePlus 12R is a bit disappointing. Since the OnePlus 12R does not have the Hasselblad color calibration that the OnePlus 12 does, I found the photo colors to be a bit of a letdown.

I still get decent results, but when you compare an image to a similar one taken with a OnePlus 12, photos look a bit washed-out and dull with the OnePlus 12R. Turns out, Hasselblad does matter. Plus, while the OnePlus 12R has a 50MP main camera, the ultrawide lens is only 8MP, and it has a 2MP macro lens instead of any kind of telephoto camera. It’s also very sensitive to any kind of movement, so if the subject moves even the slightest bit, the photo will be blurry. It’s far from the best option out there if you actually care about your photographs.

As much as I love the display, I’m not in love with the curved edges of it, like with the OnePlus 12. I do like that it makes it feel a bit more “immersive” than a flat display, but I’ve noticed a lot more accidental touches on the screen than I’d like. It’s not a complete deal breaker, but does get annoying when it happens.

Still an incredible value

A black OnePlus 12R laying face down on a table.
OnePlus 12R Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Even with those complaints, the OnePlus 12R is an impressive piece of kit for just $500.

Like we originally said in our review, it has almost all of the makings of a 2023 flagship phone for just a few hundred bucks. The display is beautiful, the performance is fast, and there is plenty of power with up to 16GB RAM and 256GB storage.

I just wish that the cameras were a bit better. Even for a phone this affordable, OnePlus could have done a better job on the camera front. And though I can deal with minimum accidental touches caused by the curved display edges, I personally would like to see OnePlus go with flatter displays in the future for ease of use.

I honestly think the OnePlus 12 is worth the extra cash if you want great photos as a result of the Hasselblad partnership. But if you want a great phone without breaking the bank — and you don’t mind the shortcomings of the camera — then the OnePlus 12R remains one of the absolute best midrange phones you can get right now.

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