OnePlus 12R Smartphone review – Hot on the heels of flagships

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REVIEW – The OnePlus 12R Smartphone has just been released in North America and Europe. It has specs dangerously close to its more expensive sibling, the OnePlus 12, recently reviewed by Julie, but is less expensive and has a bigger battery. Were any serious corners cut to make this an econo-phone or would a normal user even notice? I’ll show you how it looked, felt and performed.

What is it?

The OnePlus 12R is a new smartphone from OnePlus.

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What’s in the box?

  • OnePlus 12R smartphone
  • Charging cable – USB-A to USB-C
  • Pre-installed screen protector
  • SUPERVOOC 80W charger
  • Paperwork and brand sticker
  • SIM tray pin
  • USB-A to USB-C adapter plug
  • OnePlus Buds 3 earbuds (sold separately and for a separate review soon)

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Hardware specs

    • Display: 120Hz AMOLED Pro XDR LTPO 4.0
    • Resolution: 1264 x 2780 pixels
    • Screen: 6.78” Gorilla Glass Victus 2
    • Brightness: 4500 peak nits
    • Processor: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
    • Dual Cryo-velocity VC improved cooling system
    • Positioning: GPS, GALILEO, GLONASS, BDS, QZSS
    • Infrared port
    • Storage: 256 GB
    • RAM: 16 GB
    • Battery: 5500mAh lithium ion
    • Main camera: 50 MP, f/1.8, 24mm (wide), 1/1.56″, 1.0µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS, 8 MP, f/2.2, 16mm, 112˚ (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm, 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
    • Main camera video: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, gyro-EIS, OIS
    • Selfie camera: 16 MP, f/2.4, 26mm (wide), 1/3″, 1.0µm
    • Charging: 80W wired
    • Comms: NFC. Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6/7, dual-band. Bluetooth 5.3, A2DP, LE, aptX HD
    • Dimensions: 6.43 x 2.96 x 0.35 inches
    • Weight: 7.3 ounces
    • Colors: Iron Gray, Cool Blue
    • 14 day refund policy
    • One year warranty

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Design and features

Let’s get this out of the way first. News reports from the week of February 12 indicated OnePlus admitted an error in their early advertising about the storage speed of the 12R phone with 256GB storage. OnePlus originally listed that 12R phone as having ‘UFS 4.0 storage’ (universal flash storage), but the company has now said this was an error, and the 256GB version of the phone (the one I’m reviewing) has UFS 3.1 storage.

If anyone claims to have bought the OnePlus 12R 256GB phone on the basis of the advertised UFS 4.0 storage speed they can speak with OnePlus support about a refund for the device, if they want to give it up. UFS 3.1 storage has been lightning fast to this user so, shall we proceed?

The second newsworthy item is that the 12R did not initially work on Verizon’s network thanks to Verizon. The phone is properly equipped. Those issues have been ironed out and Verizon now accepts the 12R on its network.

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What’s a LTPO display? I found this quote about LTPO displays: “LTPO or low-temperature polycrystalline oxide is a type of backplane tech used in OLED displays that allows your screen to operate at variable refresh rates, while using less battery than a standard OLED display. However, this technology is currently limited to flagship devices, and it’s likely to be a while before we see this technology trickle down to more affordable devices.” Check that last sentence. I think it can now be corrected.

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The OnePlus 12R has a super-fast charging system, comes with an 80W charger, and it has an internal cooling system. Any charger coming with a phone is now a rarity.

I usually charge at normal rates in hopes of extending the battery life of my phones, but for the several times I used the 80W charger, the 12R didn’t get that warm. And that 80W charger really does charge quickly. By using the supplied red charging cable and charger, the advertised fast charging specs will be experienced.

Other high quality, high power capacity cables may work for fast charging too. One of my cables that came with a 100W charger did not invoke fast charging on the 12R. One or two of my ‘plain jane’ cables did carry the fast charge to the phone. Charging can be a dark art, but there’s no disappointment from using the OnePlus charger and cable.

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OnePlus really put their stamp on how to change the ring, vibrate, or silent status of the 12R. The only way to change to another notification mode is with the three position ‘Alert slider’ switch on the left side of the phone. Every other Android phone I’ve had could change to ring, vibrate, or silent mode via an on-screen method, either by tapping the volume rocker and changing modes, or via System Settings. Not the 12R. You will use the Alert slider.

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The smooth, thin body of the OnePlus 12R phone with its curved side edges is a screen fracture waiting to happen. I would not carry this phone ‘nekkid’. (I’m referring to the phone.) My under $10 Foluu clear case got recommended by Android Police a few days after I bought it. (My purchase had no influence.) The Foluu case makes the phone a lot more secure in the hand and should protect the phone corners in case of a low level drop.

I have been unable to locate cases for the 12R that would protect the screen from a ‘screen-down’ fall. None of the cases I’ve seen have raised corner edges to guard the screen. And they all seem obligated to leave the curved sides of the screen exposed, which looks pretty, but leaves the screen at risk of fall damage. Hopefully other cases will be released that are better than just grip security.


Setup went smoothly. I cabled my Pixel 6a to the 12R and the transfer process moved along smoothly and with no surprises. Unfortunately, after five days, I had to do a factory reset to the 12R because a volume control app I’ve used for years bonked the 12R’s ability to vibrate. The factory reset resolved the issue and the phone now vibrates whenever I set it to do so. That bad app is deleted for good.

My time consuming issue with phone setup is having to go through all my apps to log in, get 2 factor authorization codes entered, make app settings and preferences, etc., but I’ve gotten to where I can get the process done in 90 minutes.

There are some OnePlus apps included on the 12R but some can be deleted. Others don’t really get in the way.


Is the OnePlus 12R a flagship killer? A $500-$600 phone probably won’t be a ‘killer’ of any $1200+ flagship phone. These arguments start to sound like ‘my dad can beat up your dad’ so I’m not engaging you here. But I can vouch for the build and operational quality that OnePlus engineered into the 12R phone. This is not your drugstore burner smartphone. It’s closer to more costly Pixels and Samsungs.

The 12R’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor is said to be ‘last year’s model’ whereas the OnePlus 12 has a newer Gen 3 processor. While I’m not designing spaceships on my phone I do move quickly between and among multiple apps, and the 12R never lagged. For example, I go quickly from editing a Google Sheets spreadsheet, to making a Google Keep note, to looking up Contacts, to setting a MS To Do reminder, to making a Phone call, to texting, to Whatsapp messaging, to taking a photo, to editing photos and back to the spreadsheet – No lags happened with the 12R.

You can guess where a manufacturer cuts corners to make a $500-600 phone. You’d figure the camera is more ‘mid-level’ than professional, and there’s usually no wireless charging. These points are true about the 12R but to me are not deal-breaker trade-offs given the features and performance of the 12R.

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The 12R camera output is excellent for my needs, the phone charges from empty to full in half an hour, and it comes with an 80 watt charger in the box plus has NFC.

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The 12R camera has received a few complaints from some purist reviewers but the cameras in the 12R are nearly as good as my Pixel 6a. The Macro camera gets criticized in most every review but I don’t often take super close close-ups. Of course with the Pixel I get the advantage of Google’s computational photography processing which is second to none. I love photography, but am no pro. If I were, I’d use a dedicated SLR camera. The 12R takes great pictures to these eyes. My low light indoor pictures even looked good.

I did no photo editing other than cropping for any photos in this review.

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This photo of grandkid art was taken with a LED pocket flashlight set at low-medium brightness, sitting on a desk aiming at the ceiling. It would be easy to brighten it up in Google Photos.

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This Poquito photo was taken in the late afternoon, in low level daylight as the sun is on the opposite side of our house.

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There is a bit of color enhancement that happens with some 12R photos. The reds here are a bit embellished by the 12R. Anyone would prefer exact color rendering but I can fix that with the adjustment options in Google Photos so I’ll take the edge-to-edge sharpness, no aberrations in the corners of photos and the fast camera operation at this price range and be a happy camper.

The 12R captured these colors accurately. In the gray of winter, one goes indoors for color.

I watched the supplied 80W charger take the 12R from 50% battery to 100% in 15 minutes. No more heat is felt from the phone than when fast charging any phone I’ve owned, and it may be cooler than some I’ve had. The 12R 80W charge time is the fastest I’ve seen.

Why do some manufacturers, any manufacturers, have to scramble Android and create their own version of the OS? It isn’t better, it’s just more complicated. I’m talking to Samsung too, not just OnePlus. Please, all Android phone makers, just leave Android alone as it comes from Google? I have gotten so used to where everything is located in Pixel phone settings that I can usually help other Android users find what they need to adjust. There was a good bit of a learning curve for me to find some settings in the 12R. Thank goodness for the Search function in Settings. It’s not terrible, it’s just OnePlus-ed.

I got an OS update near the end of my review. It went much faster than updates for all my previous Android phones. The process was completed in about 5 minutes. I think the December 5 security update was already on the phone so this update may have been just updates and bug fixes.

The OnePlus 12R has excellent signal reception and transmission. I gauge that on experiences I’ve had with my Pixel phone vs. the 12R. With our Pixel phones we’ve had dropped calls and dead zones in our house that were surprising. I have a dead spot on my desk at which the Pixel won’t ring when someone calls. The 12R has 3 bars in that spot and makes / takes calls just fine right there. I experienced no dropped calls or data outages at home or as I moved around my city and its environs.

The 12R has an excellent in-screen fingerprint reader. While my Pixel is 50/50 on reading my prints through its in-screen print reader, the 12R was better than 99%. I recall only one or two occasions when I had to enter my PIN because the fingerprints weren’t recognized, and it was either due to very cold or very damp fingers. If I warmed my thumb like infants do, (and dried it off) the reader recognized my thumb.

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I can’t skip the speaker discussion. Most of us use earbuds or earphones to carefully listen to music and podcasts but the 12R speakers are clear and crisp. Podcasts and music is played through the earpiece speaker and bottom speaker simultaneously. Stereo, voila.

Oh, and phone calls. There was perfect clarity of listening via the earpiece speaker. The microphone was clear and accurate when I spoke on calls, as I asked family members how I sounded over the 12R.

Google Play Protect certified?

We comment now for all Android devices on their status with Google Play Protect Certification. The OnePlus 12R smartphone is Play Protect Certified.

What I like

      • There was zero lag during any 12R operations
      • Large battery with great between-charge duration, without a heavy phone feel
      • Excellent screen resolution, sharpness and color
      • Clear and full speaker sound
      • In-screen fingerprint reader rivals the best on the market
      • Great signal capture for calls and data

What I’d change

      • Plain vanilla Android is preferable to proprietary OS skins, and easier to navigate
      • Vibrate mode should be invokable by an on-screen method and not just the physical switch
      • Protective cases are needed pronto, but that’s no fault of OnePlus

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Final thoughts

$500-$600 is a lot of money to this guy so it’s hard to call this a budget phone. To me those are $200 or less. But the OnePlus 12R is an excellent phone at reasonable price points given its contents, quality and performance, especially compared to the four digit cost of many flagships. All OnePlus phones come unlocked and can work on any U.S. carrier. I don’t think you’d be disappointed by any part of its performance. I can recommend the OnePlus 12R with both thumbs up and I’d use more if I had ‘em.

Price: $599.99 for 16 GB RAM, 256 GB storage
$499.99 for 8 GB RAM, 128 GB storage
Where to buy: Amazon and OnePlus
Source: The sample of this product was provided by OnePlus.

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