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OnePlus 12R Review: Low in Price, Big in Power


The OnePlus 12 already impressed us with its powerful performance and epic battery life, but if its $800 starting price is too steep, you might want to consider the $500 (£649, roughly AU$1,250) OnePlus 12R. This cheaper alternative shares some of its pricier sibling’s visual cues, along with a decent battery and solid performance. It makes some key tradeoffs to achieve its more affordable starting price. 

The 12R runs on a slightly older Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor instead of the OnePlus 12’s brand new 8 Gen 3 chip, although it still packs a hell of a punch. The 12R also has a pared-back camera setup, which includes a 50-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultrawide camera and a 2-megapixel camera with a macro lens. It takes decent shots in mixed conditions, but those looking for a more fully-featured photography experience will want to opt for its flagship sibling.

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The OnePlus 12R

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The OnePlus 12R (black) and the OnePlus 12 (green)

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We tested the OnePlus 12 with a wet display and found it worked surprisingly well.

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OnePlus 12R, main camera

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OnePlus 12R, main camera

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OnePlus 12R, main camera

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OnePlus 12R, main camera

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OnePlus 12R, ultra-wide lens

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OnePlus 12R, ultra-wide lens

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OnePlus 12R, 2x digital zoom

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OnePlus 12R, 2x digital zoom

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OnePlus 12R, main lens, low light

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OnePlus 12R, main camera, night mode

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  • Affordable price
  • Solid overall performance
  • Good battery life

Don’t like

  • Relatively short software support period
  • No wireless charging

Watch this: OnePlus 12 Review: A Flagship Phone That’s Almost Perfect


Disappointing support periods

Both the camera and performance tradeoffs are to be expected for a more budget-focused phone, but what I find less excusable is the shorter software support period. OnePlus offers only three years of software updates and four years of security updates on the OnePlus 12R; a year less of each than the company offers on the standard OnePlus 12. Longer support means your phone will remain usable and continue to get new features for longer, which is better for you and the planet. 

Read more: Best Android Phone of 2024

Intentionally offering shorter support periods on its cheaper model is a disappointing stance for OnePlus to take, as it suggests sustainability is a premium offering only available to those willing to spend more on the top model. I already argued that OnePlus needs to offer longer support on the OnePlus 12, as both Samsung and Google offer at least seven years of support on their higher-end phones. Even Samsung’s more midrange $599 Galaxy S23 FE is getting four years of software updates and five years of security updates. At the very least, I’d want OnePlus to offer the same support periods on both phones. Ideally OnePlus should take that even further to remain competitive with its rivals. 

OnePlus 12R 5,124 3,634OnePlus 12 4,717 5,066Google Pixel 8 Pro 4,493 2,388

  • Geekbench 6 (multi-core)
  • 3DMark Wild Life Extreme
Note: Longer bars equal better performance

Image of oneplus phone in green Image of oneplus phone in green

We tested the OnePlus 12 with a wet display and found it worked surprisingly well.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Good enough cameras

The OnePlus 12R’s main 50-megapixel camera can take good-looking shots in a variety of conditions. I’ve been pleased with the overall richness of colors, level of detail and the solid exposure of many of my test shots. 

boat-normal-oneplus-12r boat-normal-oneplus-12r

OnePlus 12R, main camera

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

river-normal-oneplus-12r river-normal-oneplus-12r

OnePlus 12R, main camera

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Taken in good conditions, these images from the main camera look great, with satisfying contrast, colors and detail.

mill-wide-oneplus-12r mill-wide-oneplus-12r

OnePlus 12R, ultra-wide lens

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The 8-megapixel ultrawide lens is decent enough, but there’s a noticeable color shift between the two lenses, along with mushy details towards the edges of the frame. 

victoria-2x-oneplus-12r victoria-2x-oneplus-12r

OnePlus 12R, 2x digital zoom

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

There’s no telephoto optical zoom lens here, which isn’t shocking for a phone of this price. The camera interface includes toggles for 2x and 5x zoom levels, achieved by digitally cropping into the image from the main lens. The 2x zoom is actually not bad since the 50-megapixel resolution provides plenty of room for cropping, but images shot at 5x are very fuzzy.

img20240201215744 img20240201215744

OnePlus 12R, main camera, night mode

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

It takes decent shots in low-light situations too, with generally sharp details and low image noise. 

While the camera setup isn’t going to turn the heads of pro photographers, it’s reasonable for the low price of the phone. Those of you simply wanting to take snaps of your friends and family on vacation will be well served. 

Should you buy the OnePlus 12R?

The OnePlus 12R manages to be much cheaper than its flagship sibling while still providing plenty to be excited about. Its processor performance is good enough for most people, its battery life is solid, it charges impressively fast and its camera is perfectly fine for casual snappers. It’s frustrating that OnePlus doesn’t provide longer software support. Those of you looking for a decent all-round Android phone that won’t blow your budget will be served by the OnePlus 12R. 

The flagship OnePlus 12’s higher price brings with it better camera performance, even better battery life, wireless charging and longer software support. Whether that’s worth the additional $300 is a question you’ll need to decide for yourself.

How we test phones

Every phone tested by CNET’s reviews team is actually used in the real world. We test a phone’s features, play games and take photos. We examine the display to see if it’s bright, sharp and vibrant. We analyze the design and build to see how it is to hold and whether it has an IP rating for water resistance. We push the processor’s performance to the extremes, using standardized benchmark tools like GeekBench and 3DMark as well as our own anecdotal observations navigating the interface, recording high-resolution videos and playing graphically intense games at high refresh rates.

All the cameras are tested in a variety of conditions, from bright sunlight to dark indoor scenes. We try out special features like night mode and portrait mode and compare our findings against similarly priced competing phones. We also check out the battery life by using the phone daily as well as running a series of battery drain tests.

OnePlus 12 Vs 12R specs comparison chart

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