OnePlus built its brand picture around “flagship killers”, guaranteeing nearly all the features plus capabilities of flagship-class phones at half the price or less. These days, flagships are usually routinely launched at prices north of Rs. 1, 00, 000, and OnePlus has kept pace. The newest OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro were just released with starting prices of Rs. 49, 999 plus Rs. 64, 999 correspondingly, putting them well and truly to the premium tier. Unfortunately, for many individuals, purchasing power has not risen quite as much. The kind of purchaser who felt like they were getting a great deal when, say, the OnePlus 5 launched with Rs. 32, 999 in mid-2017, is unlikely in order to feel the same way about the current generation when it’s time to improve.

And so, the organization that guaranteed us we’d “never settle” is now requesting some of its most faithful fans to do exactly that. The OnePlus 9R is a response to increasing prices plus an attempt to cater to folks who want something fresh and do not mind a few cut sides, relative to the OnePlus 9   ( Review ) and OnePlus 9 Pro   ( Evaluation ). Interestingly, while it looks like its siblings, the OnePlus 9R is strikingly similar to the previous-generation OnePlus 8T   ( Review ) on the inside.

So is the OnePlus 9R a good phone at the starting price of Rs. 39, 999 , or do you have to deal with a lot of compromises? More interestingly, what does this mean for the more costly OnePlus 9? Let’s find out.

OnePlus 9R design

From a distance, the OnePlus 9R looks just like its siblings, the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. The distinguishing design touch of this era is the shape and layout of the camera module, which is something that is common across all three models. The only thing missing here is a Hasselblad logo – the 9R doesn’t take advantage of the high-profile brand name association . You might also notice that the 9R has four cameras, just like the 9 Professional, whereas the OnePlus 9 has only three – more on this later.

Another decision that provides the OnePlus 9R a benefit over its more expensive brother is that the body is made of metal, rather than polycarbonate. This certainly makes the 9R feel a lot more premium, and also illustrates just how reusing the design of the OnePlus 8T can be both a good and a bad thing. Front side and back are both made from Corning Gorilla Glass. My unit had an adhesive display protector pre-applied.

You have two colour options: Lake Blue, which has an even, glossy finish, and Carbon Black, which is more of the frosted, matte texture. The Lake Blue review unit was thankfully not as well slippery, though it was a bit tough to keep the rear -panel free of smudges. The plastic case you get in the box regrettably has a large “Never Settle” brand slogan across this.

oneplus 9r rearangle ndtv oneplus 9r

The particular OnePlus 9R is almost identical to the OnePlus 8T, aside from the camera module style

The cup rear panel is curved at the sides, and the camera module doesn’t stick out too much. The large screen has fairly narrow borders and the front camera is embedded within the upper left corner. The particular 9R is actually pretty easy to use even with one hand. It weighs in at 189g and is 8. 4mm thick.

On the right, you’ll find a small yet well-positioned power button and the trademark OnePlus alert slider which lets you quickly silence the phone or disable oscillation. The volume buttons are on the particular left. The top is empty, and the bottom has one speaker, an USB Type-C port, and the dual-Nano-SIM holder.

Cosmetic touches aside, the OnePlus 9R is virtually identical towards the OnePlus 8T, down to the layout of the four lenses on the camera module. It offers exactly the same dimensions but any gram heavier. There’s no IP rating Overall, this is a clever, modern-looking phone and would-be will like that it doesn’t feel as if a “Lite” model.

oneplus 9r sim ndtv oneplus 9r

There’s a dual-sided Nano-SIM tray, USB Type-C port, and speaker around the bottom

OnePlus 9R specifications

The biggest difference between the OnePlus 9R and the 8T would be that the newer model has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 SoC rather than the previous-gen flagship Snapdragon 865+. Close inspection of their specification sheets shows that the 870 is a minor update that will runs a tiny bit faster but also curiously drops Wi fi 6E compatibility. This SoC is positioned right below this particular year’s flagship, the Snapdragon 888, and will likely show up in multiple other “value flagship” phones soon. OnePlus says it has used a more sophisticated cooling system with multiple heat range sensors to ensure user convenience.

You also obtain a 6. 5-inch full-HD+ Liquid AMOLED screen with a 120Hz maximum refresh rate plus HDR10+, which is the same group of specifications as the panels for the OnePlus 8T and OnePlus 9. It has an embedded fingerprint sensor and is made of Gorilla Glass. OnePlus specifies sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamut support, but isn’t going to explicitly claim 100 percent protection. There’s an always-on screen mode, but this doesn’t stay on all the time unless you allow this, which will consume some power.

OnePlus went with the same RAM plus storage combinations across numerous recent models. You can select from 8GB of RAM along with 128GB of storage, and 12GB of RAM with 256GB of storage. This is actually the same fast UFS three or more. 1 storage standard used for the higher-end models. You also get Wi-Fi 6, Wireless bluetooth 5. 1 with aptX HD and LDAC codec support, NFC, and multiple positioning systems (though NavIC isn’t listed). You get all of the sensors that you might be anticipating, except for a barometer.

The battery capacity is 4500mAh, which is regarding standard for this segment. The OnePlus 9R does support 65W fast charging, however the charger that you get in the box is for some reason a good old-style brick with a Type-A port, not the Type-C version that ships with the rest of the OnePlus 9 as well as even the 8T. There’s no wifi charging.

Some other little touches include stereo system speakers, Dolby Atmos fine-tuning, a haptic vibration engine, and a 240Hz touch sampling rate.

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The included charger includes an USB Type-A connector

OnePlus 9R software

We’ve praised OnePlus’s OxygenOS software during the past, and it’s still feature-rich whilst maintaining a low-key seem. This is version 11. 1 which runs on Android 11, but I was amazed to see no security plot update beyond February 2021 at the time of review. Samsung’s OneUI has clearly inspired some design elements here, like the positioning of elements to create one-handed use easier upon large screens.

There are lots of customisations under the surface area, but nothing too garish. The best part, relative to current trends, is that there’s no advertising on the secure screen and no barrage of spammy notification ads. The only preloaded third-party app is definitely Netflix, which surprisingly can not be uninstalled. The My Video games app has a built-in launcher for “instant games” which don’t need to be installed but are generally not great quality, and there’s an unnecessary give food to of somewhat clickbait-y gaming-related articles. You might also see several prompts to try various OnePlus features such as its cloud service and customer commitment programme.

You obtain a choice between standard on-screen buttons and gestures meant for UI navigation. While the actions are non-standard and take some getting used to, earning one-handed use easier. At the downside, they might override a few apps’ own gestures. Swiping down on the homescreen displays an iOS-style panel along with cards for various apps and tools. You can enable or disable the app drawer, and customise the look of the UI in various ways.

A Hidden Space feature lets you password-protect particular apps. Work Life Balance mode lets you define various notification behaviour based on the time of day, GPS location, and/or nearby Wi-Fi access point names. You can also run two cases of certain apps, launch apps from the lockscreen by moving on the fingerprint sensor, personalize the always-on display, plus tweak many more things.

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The alert slider is an unique trademark OnePlus feature

OnePlus 9R performance

It shouldn’t be any surprise that the OnePlus 9R sensed snappy in everyday use. The combination of high-end SoC and 120Hz refresh rate makes for a very fluid and responsive user experience. Apps load quickly, transitions are usually crisp, and the OnePlus 9R does feel like a high end phone.

The particular screen is of course bright and sharp. The camera hole is a bit larger than I would have liked, but is not too distracting because of its position plus design. Videos look good, along with strong contrast and heavy blacks. There are a few screen calibration profile options in the settings, and you can choose whether you would like saturated vivid colours or more neutral, accurate reproduction. Sound from the bottom speaker plus earpiece isn’t perfectly balanced but you still get a good stereo experience, and the OnePlus 9R can get quite loud without distorting.

Benchmark tests show that the performance of the OnePlus 9R is definitely in flagship territory. It scofred 6, seventy two, 556 points in AnTuTu 9, as well as 965 plus 3, 075 respectively within Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core tests. 3DMark’s Wild Living test managed 4, 198 points, and Sling Chance Extreme was maxed away. GFXBench’s T-Rex and Manhattan scenes were capped at 60fps while the Car Chase scene ran at 49fps.

Games perform run smoothly and I experienced no performance or visuals quality issues with Asphalt 9: Legends and Call associated with Duty Mobile. However I did find that these games had been also capped at 60fps with the screen not using its full 120Hz refresh rate capability. I also felt the rear panel as well as the top of the metallic frame getting a bit warm after about 10 minutes. The telephone didn’t become uncomfortable, but it was noticeable.

The OnePlus 9R went for 15 hours, 49 minutes in our HD video loop test. It managed to last through a full day of usage with the refresh rate set to 120Hz (which often drops to 60Hz when idle to save power). You should be abl to play games or stream movies for a few hours each day without worrying about battery life.

OnePlus claims that you could get up to a 58 % charge in 15 minutes and fill the battery totally in only 39 minutes. In my own experience this turned out to be inaccurate – it got 30 minutes to reach 64 % and needed around fifty minutes to reach 100 percent, utilizing the bundled charger and without turning the phone on. This is nevertheless quite good but not near to what’s promised.

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There’s nothing new about the cameras on the OnePlus 9R

OnePlus 9R cameras

In contrast to the OnePlus 9 plus 9 Pro, there’s no Hasselblad branding here, so you don’t get the much-hyped colour science improvements. That said, the OnePlus 8T managed to capture reasonably good photos and videos so I’m expecting much the same here. The main camera has a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor with an f/1. 7 aperture and optical stabilisation. You also get a 16-megapixel wide-angle sensor, a 5-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel monochrome filter camera, which is of limited use. In this way, having four cameras isn’t just better than the three on the OnePlus 9.

The particular OxygenOS camera app is easy enough to get used to and most controls are within reach. Generally there aren’t any exotic digital camera modes to play with outside of Pro, Panorama and Nightscape but there are two Cyberpunk 2077-branded filters, as an extension of OnePlus’ association using the game.

OnePlus 9R daytime camera samples: main camera (top); ultra-wide-angle (bottom) (Tap to see full size)

As for photo quality, you won’t be disappointed taking into consideration the price of this phone. Day time shots were crisp plus detailed, with good direct exposure metering for the most part. Colours are a little on the dull side yet this is better than oversaturated and unnatural colour reproduction. The device is quick to locking mechanism focus and you can get some dramatic background blurring in close-ups. Objects at a distance tended to get noticeably weaker detail though. The wide-angle camera records a very wide field associated with view but there’s severe perspective distortion so this needs to be used sparingly.

Portrait mode manages excellent results, and on-screen requests help you with framing and range. The macro camera can also be surprisingly decent when it comes to fine detail and definition, producing quite usable shots.

OnePlus 9R daytime portrait camera sample (Tap to see full size)

OnePlus 9R daytime macro camera trial (Tap to see full size)

At night, a lot depends on how much light there is certainly around you. With a little artificial light, you can get some very good results and also Nightscape mode can make a spectacular difference. The wide-angle digital camera is not of much use at all in the dark, and even though you can use Nightscape mode, it won’t help a lot. The primary camera can catch good shots and noise is under control, though you lose quality if you magnify them much, and might occasionally end up with motion blur should you do not stand still.

OnePlus 9R low-light camera samples: main digital camera (top); Nightscape (middle); wide-angle (bottom) (Tap to see full size)

Daytime selfies turned out okay, with decent skin tone reproduction. Portraits did have decent edge detection but the background obnubilate was not very natural-looking. The 16-megapixel front camera did struggle a bit at night and shots were full of sound.

Video functionality was also good in the daytime. You can shoot at as much as 4K 60fps and oddly enough, 4K wide-angle video can also be possible. You can switch between your primary and wide-angle digital camera in the middle of recordings. At 4K, colours were slightly overblown and footage did have a warmer tone. Stabilisation is decent at 1080p, but you should expect some jerky movements when using the wide-angle digital camera. Colours and the level of details are decent overall. At night, stabilisation does cause a juddery effect in video in 1080p as well as 4K. The particular wide-angle camera is again not as useful, but could work if there’s some ambient light.

OnePlus 9R selfie camera samples: daytime (top), low-light (bottom) (Tap to see full size)

Verdict

The OnePlus 9R is a very somewhat warmed-over OnePlus 8T, and a bigger price reduction would have made it a lot more interesting compared to it is. It looks advanced and modern, and it’s easy enough to handle. Performance is great whether you’re gaming or simply getting your daily tasks carried out. OxygenOS continues to work easily and the overall usage experience is very good. The digital cameras are what you’d anticipate for this price level, battery-life is good, and charging can be quick.

It’s unfortunate that buyers don’t get anything new or interesting though. OnePlus should be pressing the envelope and delivering newer, better products at each price level, but actually what you get for your money can be quite much the same as before. There might be still no IP ranking or wireless charging, the additional cameras aren’t adding much value, and frankly, a lot of people would probably find a sub-Rs. 30, 000 phone such as the OnePlus Nord just as satisfactory.

This launch demonstrates OnePlus knows that the 9 and 9 Pro are too expensive for many Indian enthusiasts, but it also calls into question whether anyone should buy the OnePlus 9, which doesn’t offer a tonne more when it comes to capabilities or user experience. Samsung has just launched the particular Galaxy S20 FE 5G , Vivo’s X60 collection looks competing, and Xiaomi’s Mi 11 series is coming up as well.

If you’re an OnePlus fan and need an upgrade at this price level, the 9R is really a safe bet. If you can wait a little while, I think it might be really worth checking out how it stacks up against the competition.

OnePlus 9R Review: A Minor Refresh With a New Coat of Color
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