We’re used to OnePlus phones ending in T or Pro suffixes. But, this new suffix doesn’t change anything about the phone. The OnePlus 9R is essentially the OnePlus 8T (Review), with a faster SoC, and a fresh paint job. Where does the OnePlus 9R fit in? Did it really need to be there? Is it worthwhile to buy? This in-depth review answers all of these questions.

OnePlus 9R Design: Nothing revolutionary, except for a more attractive colour

The OnePlus 9R looks exactly the same as the OnePlus 8T in terms of size and design. Although the 9R feels bulky and heavy, it is built with solid quality thanks to its metal frame. The segment’s smallest chin is the 9R. The Lake Blue version we were sent for review is more elegant than the Aquamarine green 8T. Its glass back is almost impenetrable to fingerprints and smudges, but the screen is not. Corning Gorilla glass protects the display and back of the phone from scratches.

The back has a 2×3 rectangular array to the top left that includes four cameras as well as dual flashes. Only difference to the 8T here is that the Lake Blue shade extends onto the camera module instead of the black finish on the 8T. There are no complaints. The in-display fingerprint scanner is included. It’s placed a bit higher than normal, just like the OnePlus 8T. This makes it easier to find. It works flawlessly and is very responsive. The punch-hole selfie camera remains in the upper left corner of your screen.

The SIM tray can be found along the bottom edge and can hold up to two nano SIMs. The OnePlus 9R supports 5G, however you can still use two 4G SIMs until 5G is available in India. The SIM tray is next to the USB-C port. The volume rocker can be found along the left edge. The power button and popular alert slider are located on the right edge. Although the power button is easy to reach, hitting the volume up button can cause strain. A centimetre lower would be a better location.

OnePlus 9R key specifications

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 SoC: 1 x 3.2 GHz Kryo 585 core + 3 x 2.42 GHz Kryo 585 cores + 4 x 1.8 GHz Kryo 585 cores
  • Adreno 650 GPU
  • You have the choice of 8GB RAM or 12GB RAM
  • Internal storage: 128 GB internal storage, 256 GB UFS-3.1 internal storage
  • 6.55-inch Full HD+ (2400×1080) Fluid AMOLED display featuring 120 Hz refresh rate, Corning Gorilla Glass and Full HD+ (6.55 inches).
  • Cameras: 48MP with PDAF/OIS (main), + 16MP (ultra-wide), + 5MP (macro), + 2 MP(Monochrome); 16MP (wide) selfie camera
  • 4,500 mAh battery with 65 W fast charger
  • Android 11 with OxygenOS 11.
  • 5G compliant; Bluetooth 5.1; Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac/ax

India Price of OnePlus 9R

  • For Rs 39,999, 8 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage
  • For Rs 43,999, get 12 GB RAM and 256 GB internal storage

OnePlus 9R Display: Don’t fix what’s broken.

The OnePlus 9R uses the same 6.55-inch FluidAMOLED display as the 8T. It has a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels and a 120 Hz refresh speed. (Review). It was a standout feature of the 8T and it was not necessary to change. It’s vibrant and smooth when scrolling in compatible applications. To save battery, you can change the refresh rate from 120 to 60Hz. However, it is best to leave it at 120Hz as it will automatically switch to 60Hz in those apps that don’t support it. This screen is HDR10+ compatible, so compatible HDR content from most OTT services looks vibrant on it.

Excellent black levels and contrast, as well as excellent colour reproduction. They feel a little too bright in Vivid mode, but some people prefer it that way. You can switch to Natural mode for the rest. The colours will look duller but more accurate, and may not be as vibrant. If you are interested, the phone offers manual calibration options. You can tap on the screen to see the ambient display. It displays basic information such as the date, time and battery status. Notifications are also available.

OnePlus 9R Performance – Second fastest, but still powerful enough

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon870 SoC powers the OnePlus 9R. This is essentially a Snapdragon 865 with a faster core. The company chose not to use a Snapdragon 888 here, unlike other phones in the OnePlus 9 Series. It is powerful enough to handle almost any task one might want on a smartphone. The test unit came with 12 GB RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 internal storage. This smartphone performs flawlessly. The smartphone performed flawlessly in all apps and when switching between them.

This phone is marketed by OnePlus as a gaming phone. It lives up to its moniker thanks to the incredible power it possesses. The gaming experience is smooth and enjoyable, even though there aren’t many extras as in the case with Asus ROG phones. Even after 30 minutes of gaming, the phone did not heat up. Dual stereo speakers (earpiece, bottom) produce excellent audio quality with decent stereo effects. For better Bluetooth 5.1 throughput, the phone supports AptX HD, AptX HD, and LDAC codecs. There are no issues with the call quality.

It scored remarkably well in performance benchmarks. It actually scored the maximum in benchmarks like 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan. We had to choose an upgraded set to test the hardware of the phone. These scores cannot be directly compared to older devices, so I’ll list them here. Geekbench 5 scores can however be compared. The Single-core score for the 9R was 974, compared to the 893 for the 8T. This is expected given the Snapdragon 870’s faster primary core. The Multicore score was 3,101, which is two percent less than the 3,169 achieved by the 8T. However, the difference will not be apparent in real-world use.

It scored 11,266 after moving from PC Mark Work 2.0 version to 3.0. It is impossible to compare it with version 2.0 scores but it will be a useful reference point for future smartphone reviews. We also replaced the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme-Vulkan benchmark with Wild Life Extreme and Wild Life Extreme. In these two tests, the Adreno 650 GPU scored 4,245 and 1,223 respectively with 25.4 and 7.3 average FPS. Although the Wild Life Extreme benchmark can drag it to its knees with its 25.4 and 7.3 average FPS, it is a synthetic benchmark. Real-world gaming with popular games showed no performance drop.

OnePlus 9R battery performance – Excellent battery life, superfast charger

The battery capacity and life of the 9R is almost identical to the 8T. The phone’s 4,500 mAh battery can power it for more than 30 hours of normal usage. This includes browsing social media and messaging apps, making calls, clicking photos and watching videos. These numbers are acceptable.

The battery life can be extended, which will make charging times even shorter. It comes with a 65 W Warp Charger that can charge up to 10V/6.5A. However, it is slightly different than the one included with the 8T. The charger charges the phone in 45 minutes, which is a bit longer than the 39 minutes it takes for the 8T. However, it does a good job. After a full charge, neither the charger nor phone warmed up.

OnePlus 9R camera performance is marginally better than the 8T but no Hasselblad

This camera configuration is identical to the 8T. This 48MP primary camera is based on the Sony IMX586 sensor and optical image stabilisation. It’s a cheaper alternative to the more expensive OnePlus 9. It also includes a 16MP ultra-wide camera with Sony IMX481 sensor, 123 degrees FOV and a monochrome 2 MP camera and a macro 5 MP camera. You can switch between zoom, regular and ultra-wide modes with the camera app.

The primary camera takes crisp photos in bright to moderate lighting and has a good dynamic range. The colours look saturated, as is typical with OnePlus phones. However, they are slightly more saturated than the colours captured using the 8T. After a few updates since launch, it’s likely to be similar on the 8T. It isn’t equipped with Hasselblad’s colour-tuning like the more expensive 9 series phones. The OnePlus 9’s captured colours felt a lot more natural than the OnePlus 9.

The pictures are sharp with good detail and a lot of vibrance. Although the ultrawide camera is quite good, it is not as good as the OnePlus 9’s. Although the output is quite good in well-lit situations, images feel slightly softer than images taken with the main camera. However, images have a comparable dynamic range. There are also a few new filters available in the camera app.

This mode is great for portraits with good background and foreground separation. Images with humans or other objects come out great. The 5MP fixed focus macro camera is best used for basic purposes. If you don’t want blurred images, it is important to use steady hands. The output is somewhat soft and the colours appear washed out. It’s a good idea to take the image from further away with the main camera, and then crop it. You will often get better results with the macro camera’s basic fixed focus.

The cropping technique is still being used by the company. The 2X zoom images are sharper than digitally zoomed ones, despite the lack of a telephoto lens. The camera app captures the image in 48 MP mode. It then cropped a section of the image and resized it to produce 2X zoom. This is a clever way to make up for the absence of a dedicated Telephoto camera.

Low-light photography is comparable to that of the OnePlus 8T. However, it’s best to stick with the main camera when the light drops. Even when Nightscape mode is not used, it tends to gain well. Images are brighter. The noise is controlled and the captured shots are well-detailed. Nightscape mode is a great option if you have low light but it takes longer to process your shot. Nightscape shots can sometimes feel too exposed. Try it with or without it in low lighting. Although 2X zoom is fine in low lighting, don’t expect miracles. The captured images will be very poor quality so avoid using the ultra-wide camera under low light conditions.

In well-lit situations, the 16MP front camera with the Sony IMX471 sensors is very competent. Sharp selfies look natural and skin tones are natural. Portrait shots are also possible, though they can be difficult to capture. A speck or light appears around the camera when the front camera is turned on. It then settles into a small green dot near it. This makes it easier for people to find the camera within the dark edges of the camera app.

The OnePlus 9R’s rear cameras can record video in 1080p or 4K resolution at 30 and 60% frames per second, slow motion 1080p videos at 240 fps and 720p videos respectively at 480 fps. You can also record timelapse videos at 30 frames per second in Full HD and 4K resolution. EIS (electronic imaging stabilisation) makes 4K footage look crisp and stable. The 1080p video shot with the main camera looks sharp and has good colour.

OS and user interface: Android 11 (and OxygenOS 11) are still a great group

This is the same department as before, with the exception of a few security patches and evolutionary updates. OxygenOS 11 is based on Android 11 right out of the box. OxygenOS 11 is still the best Android UI. It’s clean, fast, stable, free of ads, and has very little bloatware. It provides a few useful enhancements, but does not alter the stock Android UI. OnePlus again chose to use the Google contacts, dialler and messaging apps over its own. It all started with the Nord and it seems that this trend will continue.

OxygenOS 11 has one thing that I really appreciate. It strives to make single-handed operation easy by applying common-sense principles. From the settings menu to compatible applications, the content begins in the middle of your screen. It’s much easier to reach with the thumb than the top. It uses the remaining screen space as it scrolls. To tap on any item, you don’t need to reach the top of your screen with your thumb. You can drag it down to make it more accessible. It’s simple and easy!

Last words: Is this phone still needed in its current form?

India’s OnePlus 9R is available at Rs 39999 for the 8 GB RAM/ 128 GB storage variant, and Rs 43999 for the 12 GB RAM variant with 256 GB of storage. Is it worth the money? This is a renamed OnePlus 8T, with a slightly faster SoC. We have established that it is worth buying. The 9R’s pricing was about Rs 10,000 less than the OnePlus 9 and 8T’s launch price. This alone shows that it is an excellent all-round device and offers great value for money, despite its lack of novelty.

In the absence of the 8T, it would have been logical to have a device similar to that. The OnePlus 8T is still on sale, and to make matters worse, OnePlus has reduced its price to less than the 9R’s, and cannibalized it. The OnePlus 8T will continue to be available at a lower cost, so it is not a good idea to purchase the 9R unless you are a fan of Lake Blue or require a little more power. It would be nice if the company could clear the 8T stock and give the 9R some breathing room. OnePlus should have emphasized the 9R’s unique features rather than trying to make it appear like a marketing ploy for OnePlus 8T hardware.

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