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OnePlus 9R Review: Goodness Of Premium OnePlus Smartphones At Slightly Affordable Price
OnePlus now offers at least one smartphone in every price bracket, except the budget category as it has been handed over to Oppo, Vivo, and Realme by the parent company- BBK Electronics. Notably, OnePlus has considerably increased the selling cost of its top-tier flagships in the last two years making them as premium as some Samsung and Apple handsets. While this is very ambitious for a brand that started selling phones as 'Flagship Killers', the high price of top-of-the-line OnePlus handsets is quite disappointing to many loyal OP fans.
- Vivid 120Hz AMOLED Display
- Premium Looks & Good Ergonomics
- Swift Performance
- Best-in-class Software Experience
- Best-in-class 65W Fast-Charging
- Good Sounding Speakers
- Lacks IP Rating
- No Pro Video Mode, Dated Native Photo/Video Editing App
- Average Camera Performance
- Supports Just One 5G Band- N78
This year OnePlus has launched three smartphones in the OnePlus 9-series portfolio- OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus 9, and the OnePlus 9R. The first two devices are priced heftily and are mostly out of reach of consumers who were eying a value flagship handset.
Hence the OnePlus 9R, priced at Rs. 39,999, the 5G-enabled OnePlus 9R skips some fancy premium features seen on the OnePlus 9 Pro/OnePlus 9 but makes no compromises on the basics and raw performance. Since I have tested both OnePlus 9 Pro and the OnePlus 9, I am sharing my thoughts on the OnePlus 9R's performance as a value flagship device.
Design- Premium Metal Build With Distinctive Shades
The OnePlus 9R can be easily mistaken for the OnePlus 9 from a distance. The handset has similar body proportions and a curved back; however, look closer and you will find that there's an additional camera sensor and the module has no Hasselblad branding. This means that the association with the premium camera brand hasn't extended to the OnePlus 9R. Does it affect the camera performance? We will discuss this later in the review.
The OnePlus 9R comes in two color shades and both look pretty appealing. I am using the Lake Blue color variant and the pastel shade looks beautiful. I wish this particular variant had the matte frosted finish of the Carbon Black variant. Nevertheless, both the shades look good and give the OnePlus 9R a very distinctive and premium feel.
Metal Build But No IP Rating
Moving on, it's good to see OnePlus giving the handset a metal build because the OnePlus 9 came with a polycarbonate frame. Sadly, the 9R also lacks the IP rating for protection against water and dust. Is it too much to ask for at this price? Thankfully, both front and back panel features a Corning Gorilla Glass protection.
As far as ergonomics are concerned, the OnePlus 9R is very comfortable and fun to use. It weighs 189g and does not feel bulky in day-to-day use. The handset features a Type-C charging port, dual nano-SIM card slot and also comes equipped with a set of dual-stereo speakers.
OnePlus 9R Display- 6.55-inch Full HD+ 120Hz AMOLED Display
The OnePlus 9R offers the OnePlus 9's 120Hz AMOLED display at a considerably lower price point. At Rs. 10,000 less, you are getting the same FHD+ HDR10+ certified panel which is bright, fluid, and produces vivid colors and deep blacks.
It's an excellent screen for media consumption. The colors look vivid, viewing angles are good and the 6.55-inch screen size is big enough to offer immersive video playback and gameplay. You can use the handset under bright light without any visibility issues as the good peak brightness levels (1100 nits) make it adequately bright for outdoor use.
Overall, the OnePlus 9R offers one of the best screens at the sub-40K price-point. However, it gets stiff competition from the Oppo Reno6 Pro, which flaunts a 90Hz curved AMOLED screen. The curved nature of the Reno6 Pro's display offers a slightly more premium screen user-experience.
OnePlus 9R Camera Specifications & Features
The OnePlus 9R has a typical OnePlus camera that makes you work hard to capture some good pictures. The modest camera does not benefit from the headline-making Hasselblad partnership and uses the last year's OnePlus 8T's hardware comprising of a 48MP Sony IMX586 primary sensor, 16MP Sony IMX481 ultra-wide sensor (123-degree field of view), 5MP macro sensor, and a 2MP monochrome camera. There's OIS on the main camera, which comes in handy during low-light photography and video recording.
On the software side, the OnePlus 9R's camera app features all needed modes and functions including a dedicated night mode-Nightscape, Macro mode, 48MP mode, Pro mode with RAW support, Smart Scene Recognition, Portrait mode, Panorama, Filters, UltraShot HDR, Super Stable video recording, Video portrait, Nightscape video, Focus Tracking, Timelapse, Hyperlapse and Ultra-wide lens correction.
OnePlus 9 Camera Performance
We got mixed results with the OnePlus 9R's camera in good lighting. While some images come out crisp and well-exposed with an impressive dynamic range, some lacked sharpness and looked pretty dull in terms of dynamic range, fine textures and exposure. The HDR performance could have been slightly better at this price. Moving on, I liked how the cameras on the 9R capture a bit contrasty images, and despite no assistance from Hasselblad, the cameras get the color science fairly right. Also, there's no artificial color saturation or skin smoothening visible and noise is very well controlled.
Good Portrait Results
The portrait mode delivers pictures with pleasing bokeh and natural skin tones; however, as it goes with OnePlus' algorithm, portraits lack sharpness and appear slightly soft. I am glad that the subject isolation works effectively even with non-human subjects. With good framing knowledge and the right distance, you can capture some impressive portrait shots on the OnePlus 9R.
Excellent Monochrome Results
If you like clicking black & white pictures, the 2MP monochrome sensor will come in handy. It can be enabled from the filter section while clicking pictures in the standard photo mode. The monochrome shots have excellent contrast and details. The sensor creates a pleasing bokeh with close-distance subjects.
Decent Macros & Wide-Angle Shots
The 5MP macro shooter captures images with good sharpness but the low-resolution is a problem. A good amount of light helps to some extent but the overall results are mostly underwhelming. As far as the wide-angle results are concerned, the images come out decent in daylight. There's noticeable distortion around the corners despite enabling the wide-angle lens correction from the settings menu. Try shooting in full-screen aspect ratio to avoid the annoying distortion.
Lastly, the OnePlus 9R fails to impress in low light. Pictures look dull and can be easily categorized as below average. The dedicated night mode helps to some extent in brightening up details and improving colors but excessive noise control makes images appear soft.
Overall, the OnePlus 9R brings no significant camera improvements. There are better camera smartphones available in the sub-40K price bracket. For instance, the Vivo X60 offers better overall camera performance at the same price. Even the newly launched Reno6 Pro has a better set of camera sensors.
Hardware And Software Performance
The OnePlus 9R performs as consistently as any premium flagship. It might not have the top-of-the-line SD888 SoC; however, the SD 870 is no slouch and with the well-optimized Oxygen OS and adequate RAM-ROM support, the phone feels blazing fast and serves all tasks without any performance issues.
We tested the top-most variant with 12GB + 256GB configuration and experienced no lags whatsoever even while running the most graphics demanding games and heavy apps. The Oxygen OS runs smoothly on the OnePlus 9R. The software is responsive, feature-rich, and very well-optimized, something expected from a OnePlus smartphone.
Smooth Gaming Performance With Immersive Audio Delivery
The OnePlus 9R does not disappoint with gaming either, thanks to the powerful SoC/GPU and the big Full HD+ panel with a smooth 240Hz touch sampling rate. The smartphone ensures lag-free gaming with the most demanding games in the Play store.
The effective heat dissipation keeps the device's temperature in check and allows for a smooth gameplay experience even under heavy load. Since there's no 3.5mm audio jack, you have to adjust with some latency with wireless earphones while playing games. Or you can simply plug in the OnePlus Bullet Type-C earphones.
The built-in stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support have an impressive sound delivery. The sound signature is loud and crisp making the OnePlus 9R one of the best sounding devices in its respective price segment. For instance, the Reno6 Pro lacks a stereo speaker setup at the same price point.
Moving on, OnePlus has maintained consistency with the in-screen fingerprint scanner across the price ranges. Similar to the premium OnePlus 9 and the 9 Pro, the in-screen biometric scanner on the 9R is also very snappy and accurate.
Battery Life & Charging Speeds
I wasn't kidding when I said OnePlus hasn't made any compromises on basics with the OnePlus 9R. The phone is powered by the same 4,500 mAh battery that performed pretty well on the OnePlus 9. Similar to its premium sibling, the OnePlus 9R also offers 6-7 hours of screen-on time, which can get you a day's battery life with moderate to heavy usage.
There's no wireless charging but you do get the industry-leading 65W fast-charging, which can refuel the 9R's battery cell from flat to 100% in about 30 minutes. You get the same 65W fast-charging tech with the Reno6 Pro, which is also worth considering if you have a budget of Rs. 40,000.
OnePlus 9R Connectivity Features
The OnePlus 9R is 5G-enabled; however, the limited band support is a concern. The handset supports just one 5G band- N78 in India and sadly, there won't be any upgrades in the list. OnePlus has confirmed that no future software updates can increase the support for more 5G bands to the handset due to the hardware limitation. While this isn't big of a concern for now but could disappoint consumers if the telecom operators plan to go with 5G bands other than the N78. In contrast, the OnePlus 9's X60 5G modem supports two 5G bands in India- N41, N78 (SA and NSA).
Moving on, the phone has a dual-SIM card tray, Type-C Port, Bluetooth 5.1 (aptX, aptX HD, LDAC & AAC), NFC, and Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G). We did not face any call-related connectivity issues on the Airtel 4G network in the Delhi-NCR region.
The OnePlus 9R isn't an all-rounder but gets the basics right. At Rs. 39,990, you get a premium-looking handset with a best-in-class display, clean and well-optimized software, and a powerful processor to smoothly run day-to-day tasks. The adequate battery life and the industry-leading fast charging are a bonus. A better camera performance and wider 5G-bands support would have made the OnePlus 9R our top recommendation in the sub-40K price-point. zSome alternatives that are worth considering in the sub-40K price point are- the Vivo X60, Reno6 Pro, iQOO 7 and the Mi 11X.