We had OnePlus 9R for a few days for trial and testing and the first thing that we and almost all of the reviewers would say is that it resembles the OnePlus 8T in many ways. I did have a deja vu moment when I first held an OnePlus 9R but for those who want something as a foreshadow, it is essentially an OnePlus 8T with a slightly newer chipset, new colour options, and slight cosmetic changes and that wraps it all. The phone is an India exclusive and available at a price tag slightly lower than its identical OnePlus 8T. Perhaps the phone will go on sale on April 14 so I got the opportunity to test it beforehand.
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Here’s everything you need to know about the OnePlus 9R in a hands-on review.
Prices in India, Variants, Availability
OnePlus 9R does bring a few changes on-board to pair up with its other OnePlus 9-series siblings. It starts at just Rs 39,999/- in India for its 128GB+8GB variant while the higher 256GB+12GB variant is available at just Rs 43,999/-. For the uninitiated, these price tags are lower than that of the OnePlus 8T.
Also, OnePlus 9R is available in two major colour variants i.e. Carbon Black and Lake Blue. I had an Aquamarine Green unit to try and trust me, OnePlus doesn’t fail to impress the masses with its frosted colour options. It is going on sale from April 14 in India.
OnePlus usually follows a standard red packaging for its units. The retail box of the OnePlus 9R includes the phone itself, a TPU case, a SIM ejector tool, a USB cable, and a 65T Warp Charge charging brick without USB PD capabilities. Of course, you get a tonne of documentation with the device in case you want to read it.
Specs at a glance
Before you can dive into the actual review I did after using the OnePlus 9R for a good 4 days, here are all the specifications at a glance.
- Display: 6.55-inches (16.637 centimetres) 120 Hz Fluid AMOLED Flat Display
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G, Adreno 660
- Storage: 8GB/128GB, 12GB/256GB
- Software: OxygenOS based on Android 11
- Rear cameras: 48MP (Primary) + 16MP (Ultra-wide) + 5MP (Macro) + 2MP (Mono)
- Selfie camera: 16MP
- Battery: 4500 mAh, WARP Charge 65T
- Weight: 189g
- Dimensions: 161 x 74.1 x 8.4 mm
Design and Build - Nothing Fancy Here
OnePlus 9R follows the design aesthetics of the OnePlus 9 series although there’s no Hasselblad camera branding at the back. Hold the phone in your hand and the first thing you’ll notice that it is almost identical to last year’s OnePlus 8T with a few key differences that perhaps aren’t that astronomical.
OnePlus 9R enjoys a flat display just like the OnePlus 9 and of course, the OnePlus 8T. The bezels around the display have been streamlined. The major difference when it comes to the design is around the back. Instead of putting all the lenses behind a rectangular camera bump, the OnePlus 9R enjoys a rather different design for the rear camera setup. In order to look identical to its other siblings, two of the four lenses are huge with plastic shrouding.
It does look premium, almost the camera bump looks a bit busy for that matter. It is raised just a bit above the back panel so don’t hassle if the phone wobbles side to side.
Moving further, it’s great to see that the OnePlus 9R uses a sandwich design with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top and back with a metal frame that fuses beautifully in the middle. Holding the phone was not a problem for me which is something I crave when holding such a mammoth device. Apart from the camera setup, there are a few changes at the back. There’s no OnePlus branding at the bottom and the OnePlus logo has been realigned at the centre of the back panel that looks pretty dope as well.
The mechanical slider is on the left along with the power button, the volume rockers on the left side while the USB-C port, a Dual SIM card slot, and a bottom-firing loudspeaker are at the bottom. Albeit being identical to the OnePlus 8T, the OnePlus 9R doesn’t shy of flaunting its OnePlus 9-series DNA.
Display - Not Different But Wonderful
If you have used OnePlus 8T (I did), the OnePlus 9R is no different. It has the same display and the numbers match up too so you won’t see any difference here. The display is sharp, shows punchy and vibrant colours, and uses the capabilities of an AMOLED display to show blacker blacks and whiter whites which is phenomenal but capped at 1080×2400 pixels whereas the OnePlus 9 Pro has a QHD+ display. Anywho, it shares its display with the OnePlus 9 as well.
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The display is HDR10+ compliant so watching HDR10+ content is not a problem on the OnePlus 9R. Plus, it reaches a maximum brightness of 1100 nits which makes the display visible no matter the lighting conditions and has 8192 levels of automatic brightness adjustments. It just goes around to show how far OnePlus has come with the OnePlus 9R compared to a few years old OnePlus 6 which had a 400-450 nits brightness. It gets sufficiently dim at night and for those who use their phones at night the most, the OnePlus 9R is going the right way.
OnePlus 9R has a 120Hz display so if you are coming from a 60Hz phone which is a standard, you will see a phenomenal change in the transitions, animations, and response timing. Unfortunately, the display doesn’t have an adaptive refresh rate so you will have to manually switch between 60Hz and 120Hz as and when required. Having an adaptive refresh rate (ARR) relieves users from this minuscule-looking task. Also, an ARR puts a lot less strain on the battery.
Overall, OnePlus 9R is an amalgamation of both the OnePlus 8T and the OnePlus 9 in many ways that you can imagine. Plus, it is Rs 10,000/- lower than the standard OnePlus 9 which adds USP to it.
Performance - Overclocked for the Price
It’s not the first time I am using a OnePlus smartphone so I do know that these flagship-grade devices have top-notch performance. The Snapdragon 870 chipset mounted on the OnePlus 9R has been overclocked at 400MHz more on CPU and 80MHz more on GPU that gives us an added performance. But hey, its performance is almost comparable to the OnePlus 8T with just 3 to 5 per cent of the variance. If you are upgrading from it, I don’t see any point where you will see an increase in performance.
I wouldn’t spend 40,000/- and not expect the phone to perform absolutely like a beast. Apparently, the OnePlus 9R doesn’t disappoint you. Of course, you can’t expect it to perform as much as Snapdragon 888 SoC but it is still a worthy competitor. Also, OnePlus smartphones are well to do even after years of usage. Although you would see a slight drop in performance at times, the system keeps functioning at its optimum capacity for a long time.
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Gaming is its strong suit thanks to the overclocked processor although you will have to play games at max 60fps. There are just a few games like PUBG Mobile, Pokemon Go, and Fortnite among a few others that support a higher refresh rate. There’s a stereo speaker setup with Dolby Atmos so that’s a great addition to the OnePlus 9R even though OnePlus isn’t marketing it as a gaming device.
But at the end of the day, it’s not just the SoC but the software is fully optimized so it complements the performance of the chipset as well.
Software - Pretty Smooth
OnePlus 9R arrives with Android 11-bundled OxygenOS 11.2 out-of-the-box. OnePlus has an upper hand when it comes to the software part giving you the best software experience. I have been using OxygenOS since its Android 9.0 Pie iteration and had never had problems with the UI except for slight hiccups which are usual for custom UIs. The OxygenOS 11 has been built upon the recent Android 11 which is lightweight and allows one-handed usage and free from clutter.
OnePlus devices have a tonne of features including scrollable screenshots, Focus Mode, Work-Life Balance mode, Zen Mode 2.0, Game Space, and so on. Plus, OxygenOS is ever-evolving so features are added daily in and day out which is something OnePlus is well-known for.
Cameras - Where's The Change?
So you get the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro with the hyped Hasselblad branded cameras. Although the OnePlus 9R picks up the same camera bump aesthetically, it lacks Hasselblad branding so you are missing on that. Apparently, the OnePlus 9/9 Pro Hasselblad camera is more of a marketing gimmick so I was relieved that the OnePlus 9R doesn’t possess it and rather depends on a non-gimmicky raw camera setup.
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Coming back to the camera setup mounted on the OnePlus 9R, it is a quad-camera setup with a 48MP primary Sony IMX586 snapper with OIS, a 16MP wide-angle shooter along a 5MP macro and a 2MP depth/monochrome snapper. For those who might not catch the similarity here, it is the same setup as that of the OnePlus 8T and thus, the performance will be identical as well.
OnePlus 8T got a software update that refined its camera performance and fortunately, the update arrived out-of-the-box on the OnePlus 9R as well. Talking about daylight photos, no doubt all photos and videos have retained most details while the colours are punchy and the shots have a greater dynamic range. You can shoot videos at up to 4K resolution at 30/60fps where the 4K@60fps is mind-boggling. Though this also means you will have greater file sizes, for instance, I made a 5 minutes video using 4K@60fps resolution and it was about 4.19GB in size.
Perhaps the OIS mounted on the primary camera will save you from the hassle of shaky videos which is a strong point. Plus, OIS is not available on OnePlus 9 so OnePlus did a good job including OIS if not other must-have features on-board.
OnePlus 9R has autofocus so that’s another relief. You can still focus on objects manually. The ultrawide snapper is capable of shooting with a 123-degrees field-of-view. I was able to include more people, more background using the ultrawide snapper compared to the primary sensor. There’s a macro sensor that works okay as well and the depth sensor is simply included depth data fed with other sensors to create portrait shots.
Personally, I love how OnePlus devices snap photos in daylight and good lighting conditions. I am a fan although I would give it away that the nighttime photography on most of the OnePlus smartphones is a hit and miss and the OnePlus 9R isn’t an exception. The Nightscape on the OnePlus 9R does tend to add more light and capture more details and pretty much minimizes noise as well.
But the thing is, if your hands shake even a bit, you will see a lot of blurred images in the course of using OnePlus 9R. Perhaps using OIS will do the job for you but still, nighttime photography is not that up to the mark.
Finally, the front camera setup has a 16MP snapper and it can click shots that look pretty natural. I am talking about daytime photography and here, nighttime photography takes a hit but you do get a usable shot. The blur effect or portrait shots are great as well. You can even shoot videos at up to 1080p@30fps with gyro-EIS on-board.
OnePlus 9R comes with a wholesome 4,500 mAh battery under the hood which itself is self-explanatory that it will last for more than a day on mixed usage. You can easily fetch 5 to 7 hours of screen-on-time which looks great for a phone from OnePlus.
Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging so you have to make things work with a speedy 65T Warp Charge that delivers juice to a massive 4,500 mAh battery from 0 to 100 per cent in just 39 minutes. Got just five minutes before you head out? Plug it and I don’t see any reason why you won’t get more than an hour of backup on mixed usage. For the comparison, we tried the OnePlus 9 Pro as well as surprisingly, OnePlus 9R impressed me more than the Pro variant.
Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
Talking about the speaker setup, the one mounted on the OnePlus 9R is a stereo speaker setup. There are a front-firing and a bottom-firing speaker with Dolby Atmos that creates exceptionally loud audio performance. It isn’t better than Xiaomi Mi 10T but it is loud and well-balanced so your listening experience will be sweet. I am a big fan of both gaming and watching Netflix and other OTT platforms so having a stereo speaker setup does make a great difference.
You get a myriad of connectivity features on the OnePlus 9R such as it supports Wi-Fi 6 which is faster than previous generations. It has DLNA, dual-band Wi-Fi support as well. You get a Bluetooth v5.1 with aptX HD, LE, and A2DP support for seamless integration with Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Navigation on the OnePlus 9R is aided by a chunk of GPS systems including Galileo, BDS, Glonass, and A-GPS. You also get NFC with OnePlus 9R and USB Type-C 3.1 for faster data transfer and charging. Plus, the phone is 5G-ready so that’s good for those who want to try 5G in the near future.
OnePlus 9R has a speedy facial recognition system just like its predecessors. It is quick no doubt wherein simply double tap on the screen or press the power button, place the phone in front of your face, and bingo. I prefer facial recognition but the under-the-display fingerprint snapper is snappy as well. It is reliable, takes just a fraction of a second to unlock, and there you have it.
Additionally, the UD FPS on OnePlus 9R is placed at just the right place on the bottom of the display which is now convenient to interact with and makes a huge difference in our day-to-day life.
Pros & Cons
- Outstanding Snapdragon 870 SoC
- 4,500 mAh battery with 65T Warp Charge
- OxygenOS 11 with 3 years major Android OS support
- Stereo Speakers Setup
- 65T Warp Charger has no USB PD capabilities
- Looks almost identical to OnePlus 8T
- There’s no headphone jack
OnePlus 9R was released about six months after the OnePlus 8T and it is almost the same device except for the swapped camera rig, a new processor, and a few other changes. It does have a lot of competitors even at a lower price tag such as Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, Xiaomi Mi 10T, Samsung Galaxy A72, Realme X7 Pro 5G to name a few each with their best-in-class specifications.
OnePlus 9R comes with an upper hand in terms of clean software that receives 3 years of major Android updates and security patches which makes it get an edge over its competitions. OnePlus 9R is still a complete package with a bumped-up processor i.e. Snapdragon 870 SoC when compared to last year’s Snapdragon 865 SoC. It does bring a lot of beef on-board including Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.1, NFC, there’s no headphone jack though.
You do have to find your way through the promotional content it shows on the OnePlus 9R although it is better since there are no ads unlike Xiaomi, Realme, and even Samsung. To put forth my final words, if you have upgraded to the OnePlus 8T yet, it is better to get the OnePlus 9R than OnePlus 9 because the latter is costly.