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I tested the OnePlus 12 series to see how big of a difference $300 makes

Summary

OnePlus 12R boasts impressive battery life with a 5,500mAh cell and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, topping up faster than the OnePlus 12.
OnePlus 12 focuses on photography excellence with superior camera hardware compared to the more affordable OnePlus 12R.
The decision between OnePlus 12 and 12R comes down to the importance of camera flexibility and other premium features for an extra $300.

What happens when two phones are ostensibly nearly identical but priced $300 apart? How much difference does the “upgraded” version make, and is it worth $300 more? With the OnePlus 12 and OnePlus 12R, we have two devices with the same design philosophy but focus on specific areas. The OnePlus 12 is the company’s 2024 flagship, designed to excel in every category. The OnePlus 12R focuses on delivering excellent performance and battery life, with many of the features that make the OnePlus 12 a fantastic phone.

While it’s easy to compare specs sheets in a head-to-head contest, the real challenge comes down to how they hold up in daily use. How does each phone’s respective battery and camera perform in real life, and is the difference big enough to make the OnePlus 12 worth $300 more? Let’s find out.

A phone’s only as good as its battery life

How long can each OnePlus device carry on for?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how good the OnePlus 12R’s battery life is. Companies often cut back on battery capacity, charging speeds, and other essentials, but OnePlus kept everything necessary to deliver excellent battery life. Combining a massive 5,500mAh cell with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 just makes it that much more impressive.

Here’s how the two phones stack up in the charging department:

OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12R

Capacity

5,400 mAh

5,500 mAh

Wired speed

80W (US) 100W (International)

80W (US) 100W (International)

Wireless Speed

50W wireless

None

Time to full charge

31 minutes

33 minutes

mAh/min charge

174

167

The OnePlus 12 series’ charging speeds are rapid — seriously rapid. I love that OnePlus equipped the cheaper phone with the same specs as the OnePlus 12, with the only difference in speeds coming down to the larger battery. Even with these changes, the 12R actually came out on top when powering to a full charge. Yes, you do lose wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, but these are much more acceptable trade-offs for the lower price point than they were with the OnePlus 11 last year.

It’s also worth noting that I’ve tested hundreds of phones, and the OnePlus 12R is in the top 10 of all phones I’ve tested (in terms of my standardized mAh/min testing methodology). The other phones are from OnePlus’ sister companies as well as Realme, and aside from Realme, the rest of the phones are significantly more expensive.

What about the display differences and the rest of the package? Here’s how the two phones stack up to each other:

OnePlus 12OnePlus 12RSoCQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Display typeLTPO AMOLED, 1-120HzLTPO AMOLED, 120HzDisplay dimensions6.82″, 19.8:96.78″, 19.5:9Display resolution3168 x 14402780 × 1264RAM12GB or 16GB8GB or 16GB LPDDR5XStorage256GB or 512GB128GB or 256GBPortsUSB-CUSB-C 2.0ConnectivityIR blaster, NFCNFCDimensions164.3 x 75.8 x 9.2mm163.3 x 75.3 x 8.8mmWeight220g207gIP RatingIP65IP54PriceFrom $800From $500

There’s little to choose from between the two devices, but there is a small impact on the battery life. The OnePlus 12 has excellent battery life, but the OnePlus 12R is the new endurance champion, albeit only by a small margin.

OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12R

Capacity

5,400 mAh

5,500 mAh

Video Playback

18 hours 37 mins

19 hours 2 mins

Web Browsing

12 hours 42 mins

14 hours 6 mins

Gaming

6 hours 55 mins

7 hours 31 mins

The battery life of both devices is market-leading, and the OnePlus 12R is undoubtedly the best all-round package available for under $1,000 if battery life is important to you. This isn’t surprising: OnePlus has delivered excellent battery life on its other recent flagship — the OnePlus Open foldable — and it’s great to see the company truly living up to its Never Settle moniker.

The OnePlus 12R is an impressive device; if you all need excellent battery life, it delivers everything you need. However, if the camera is equally important to you, you might want to hold off on hitting the buy button just yet — there are some pretty significant differences coming your way.

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The biggest difference might be the camera

But my personal preference might shock you

The most noticeable difference between these two phones is the camera. While they both technically have a triple camera setup, the actual camera hardware is significantly different across all three cameras on both devices.

Here’s how the cameras match up on paper:

OnePlus 12OnePlus 12RFront camera32MP, f/2.416MPRear camera50MP, f/1.6, OIS main; 48MP, f/2.2 ultrawide; 64MP, f/2.6, OIS, 3x telephoto 50MP, f/1.8 main; 8MP, f/2.2 ultrawide; 2MP, f/2.4 macro

Yes, both phones feature three cameras, but the OnePlus 12R is designed to take acceptable photos, while the OnePlus 12 is designed to excel at photography. That doesn’t mean the OnePlus 12R camera is subpar, and as we know, there’s more to cameras than just the specs, so how do they fare in real-world testing?

All galleries in this article are ordered OnePlus 12 first, followed by the OnePlus 12R, and so on.

The variety of photos in this gallery shows little discernible difference between the two phones unless you look closely. There is more detail in the OnePlus 12 photos, but I actually prefer the color balance on the OnePlus 12R photos. The differences are minute, and either phone takes good enough photos to share on social media.

In lower light conditions, the OnePlus 12R struggles a little more than the OnePlus 12 but still proves to be a capable shooter. In fact, I prefer the lit-up building photo captured on the OnePlus 12R versus the regular OnePlus 12.

When comparing these photos, my biggest surprise was that I prefer the OnePlus 12R portrait photos. The 2MP depth camera seems to help the 12R capture better depth-of-field, and I’m impressed that it’s as capable as the OnePlus 12 in portrait mode.

The OnePlus 12 has three portrait mode zoom options – 1x, 2x, and 3x – while the OnePlus 12R only offers 1x. Both photos feature the same adjustable depth of field options to customize the photo, so it’s exactly how you want it.

This gallery shows the first zoom shots taken on the OnePlus 12 and the second set taken on the OnePlus 12R. Photos are at four zoom lengths: 1x, 2x, 5x, and 10x.

In testing the zoom, I was surprised at how close the OnePlus 12R comes at the lowest zoom lengths. Yes, at anything beyond 2x, the zoom isn’t great, and I wouldn’t rely on it, but it’s very capable at 2x zoom. Naturally, the OnePlus 12 excels in comparison here, but we’d expect that from a device with a dedicated telephoto lens. At 10x, however, the OnePlus 12 still leaves a lot to be desired, but as I’ve found in my other testing, it’s fantastic at everything up to and including its 6x hybrid zoom option.

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Is the OnePlus 12 worth $300 more than the OnePlus 12R?

That depends on your own personal taste

The OnePlus 12 in black next to the OnePlus 12R in blue.

This is the crux of the equation: how much are the camera improvements, better display, wireless charging, and improved processor worth? To some, the latest and greatest technology is absolutely worth the premium, especially when the OnePlus 12 is remarkably well-priced compared to the competition.

However, dig deeper, and the answer isn’t as obvious. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the OnePlus 12R is still very capable; wireless charging was missing from many of OnePlus’ most recent phones, and the OnePlus 12R offers all the right features.

Ultimately, this decision comes down to how important the telephoto camera is to you. If you need a telephoto camera, the OnePlus 12 is your phone. However, if the lack of that level of flexibility isn’t a dealbreaker, the OnePlus 12R is worth considering. I personally use telephoto lenses a lot, so the OnePlus 12 is still my phone of choice, but the OnePlus 12R is a very compelling package and one that I would happily recommend.

Nirave is a creator, evangelist, and founder of House of Tech, which focuses on covering the best health and technology products. Following a heart attack at the age of 33, he’s been focused on how we can use data to improve our health and ultimately live a long and more fruitful life. Follow him on Instagram, Threads, and YouTube for live updates on his Sleep and Health journeys. He can also be found at HoT.tech.

OnePlus 12 Flowy Emerald, back view

OnePlus 12

The OnePlus 12 is an exceptional flagship phone for $800, delivering a top-tier experience while undercutting the competition. With an excellent display, a surprisingly capable camera, and a unique design, it might be worth skipping the usual Galaxy refresh for this device.

oneplus 12r rear on a white background

OnePlus 12R

The OnePlus 12 might be a good deal, but the OnePlus 12R is an unbeatable bargain. For $500, you’re getting an experience above and beyond what you’ll find on similarly priced phones. From the fantastic display to the speedy performance, this is a budget phone that feels more premium than you might think.

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