OnePlus 11R review: The fan edition OnePlus phone you’d been waiting for?

The OnePlus 11R has all the ingredients and can-do attitude that made OnePlus a cult and favourite among enthusiasts once.

OnePlus 11R 5G review
The OnePlus 11R starts at Rs 39,999. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

OnePlus phones were all about value for money once. That is not to say the new OnePlus doesn’t cut it anymore, but surely, its towering ambitions have given way to a much more diverse portfolio— now— spanning multiple price points and while each new device tries to deliver the best bang for your buck at its price point, a classic do-it-all OnePlus phone has been missing from the picture for some time. Enter, the OnePlus 11R.

Technically, the OnePlus 11R is a follow-up to last year’s OnePlus 10R. But keep the two phones side by side and you’ll be hard-pressed to tell that they –even—belong to the same series. At a time when incremental updates have found a whole new meaning in the smartphone industry, the OnePlus 11R strives to break from that stereotype, in that it is a complete makeover in almost every sense of the word. It’s not just change for the sake of change, either. We can go on and on, but the gist is, OnePlus might just have pulled an ace.

OnePlus 11 Fan Edition

You can think of the OnePlus 11R as OnePlus’s take on Samsung’s fan edition phones. Every nook, every cranny of this phone has been filtered and put together in a way so as to replicate a flagship experience, while cutting down on all excesses to keep the price relatively low. To that effect, the OnePlus 11R is to OnePlus 11 what the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE was to the S21.

Also Read | OnePlus 10R 150W review: Fast performance, incredibly fast charging

The OnePlus 10R was bit of a loose cannon. But the OnePlus 11R is more predictable. It has a design scheme heavily inspired from the OnePlus 11’s, though there are some subtle differences such as the missing Hasselblad branding and use of glossy plastic frame instead of metal. The 11R in general is a flatter phone, though not as sharp and pointy as the 10R.

The OnePlus 11R borrows much of its design from the OnePlus 11. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The rounded camera module merging into the side frame is as striking to look at here, as it is on the OnePlus 11. We are happy to report that the alert slider, too, is making a triumphant return in this generation (it was sorely missed in the 10R and 10T). The black version we have for review has a course “sandstone” appearance reminiscent of earlier OnePlus phones, though the actual glass – this is Corning Gorilla Glass 5— is quite smooth to the touch and also a bit slippery. Alternatively, you can get the 11R in silver, which is more mirror-like in comparison. Either way, the phone keeps smudge and fingerprints at bay, even on extended use. There is no official IP rating.

The 11R has a bit of heft to it (204g) but that was mostly expected considering the build materials and the fact that it’s a 6.74-inch phone. Given those parametres, OnePlus has done well with the overall weight distribution. The grip and handling are very, very nice.

Also Read | OnePlus 11R 5G: Top 11 things to know about the most exciting OnePlus phone in years

The screen, itself, is top-shelf for the asking price. It’s not LTPO like the OnePlus 11, but LTPS and using smart algorithms, OnePlus allows on-the-fly switching between 40Hz, 45Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz depending on content. This works mostly as advertised. The resolution is 1.5K. The panel can theoretically peak 1,450nits and supports HDR10+ playback. High-refresh rate gaming is not an option, though, which is a bummer because the OnePlus 11R seems like a clear draw for cash-strapped gamers otherwise.

You get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 in this phone. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The phone is rocking the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, same as the OnePlus 10T, and a big step-up over the OnePlus 10R’s MediaTek Dimensity 8100-Max. This is paired with up to 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and up to 256GB of UFS3.1 storage. Aside from the factory-set ceiling on high refresh rate (>60Hz) gaming, the OnePlus 11R mostly lives up to its hardware credentials delivering fast and smooth performance no matter how you push it. More importantly, it can do all this consistently without any perceivable throttling and without breaking any sweat, which is to say that it runs “surprisingly” cool even during strenuous activity. OnePlus has done well with cooling on this phone.

OnePlus 11OnePlus 11ROnePlus 10R
PC Mark123921651312530
Geekbench 6 (CPU)1939/50861687/42711239/3915
Geekbench 6 (GPU)872551173879

The same level of efficiency is seen in the phone’s longevity figures. The OnePlus 11R’s 5,000mAh battery will get you through the day and then some, easily, with moderate use. While it may not have the time-warping 150W fast charging theatrics of its predecessor, the 11R’s 100W charging is no slouch by any means. The bundled charger can top the phone from 0-100 percent in roughly about 25 minutes. There is no wireless charging.  

Step in the right direction

Even as OnePlus got bigger, some of its past strengths were either forgotten or improved upon. Or at least that is what the general impression was, looking at some of its devices in the last year or so. We should cut OnePlus some slack, though. Transitions are almost always difficult. There are a lot of learnings, lot of back and forth. But what really matters is how quickly you can land on your feet. Looking at some of its recent launches, OnePlus 11R included, it’s abundantly clear that OnePlus didn’t take –too— long to make a comeback.

Look, there are some areas that may not be the same again— ever— like the current state of OxygenOS and we don’t know how OnePlus plans to pacify its most devoted user-base (and bring them back to its devices), a silver lining to all this is its renewed focus and commitment to building more solid/stable software (using existing ColorOS codebase) and providing long-term support to end-users.

The screen gets nice and bright. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The OnePlus 11R is not eligible for its extended software support policy like the OnePlus 11, but OnePlus is –still— guaranteeing 3 major OS and 4 years of security updates and here’s hoping it will— also – deliver on this promise. For what it’s worth, we’ve had absolutely no complaints testing the OnePlus 11R, which runs the latest OxygenOS 13 version based on Android 13, whether it be in all-round performance or feature set. The interface is, still, relatively cleaner and slicker than a comparable Oppo phone even though they look— and also feel— mostly identical.

Where the OnePlus-Oppo integration has been the most beneficial, it’s on the photography side, no two ways about that. The OnePlus 11R does not carry the OnePlus 11’s Hasselblad tuning and colour science but even without them, its camera system can stand on its own, pretty confidently. You get a 50MP Sony IMX890 primary sensor in this phone behind an optically stabilised f/1.8 lens mated to an 8MP ultrawide and another 2MP macro.

The triple camera setup is competitive. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The main camera performs surprisingly well especially when you give it lots of light to play around with. Details come out nice and crisp, colours mostly true-to-source. Dynamic range could be a bit better though. The ultrawide has slightly better dynamic range and more natural colours. The macro camera is average at best, a spec filler if you will. The primary and ultrawide do well in low light, most of the time. 

The OnePlus 11R can record at up to 4K@60fps, but practically speaking, 1080p@30fps is the sweet spot. You get electronic image stabilisation at this resolution and videos come out nice and fairly stable, something that should suffice for social media posts.  

Also Read | OnePlus 11 5G is great, but here are 5 alternatives that can give you more value | Buyer’s guide

You get a 16MP selfie camera in this phone which takes good selfies with mostly natural colour tones in good light. Low-light selfies could be tad better. It can do 1080p@30fps with videos coming out nice and clean, especially in good lighting, with decent amount of stabilisation as well. Software-induced bokeh or portraits are decent.

Return of the value champion

The OnePlus 11R is easily one of the most exciting OnePlus phones to launch in recent memory. The OnePlus 11 may have stolen all the limelight, as it should most definitely, but the OnePlus 11R is the phone that OnePlus fans had been waiting for, all this time. It’s got all the ingredients and can-do attitude that made OnePlus a cult and favourite among enthusiasts, at a price point that makes you sit up and say, shut up and take my money OnePlus!

The 11R costs Rs 39,999 for 8GB/128GB and Rs 44,999 for 16GB/256GB and it’s a no-brainer for anyone looking for a no-frills flagship experience at not-so-flagship prices.  

Premium design No IP rating
Good display No high-refresh rate gaming support
Great performance Haptics could be better
Capable primary camera Auxillary cameras could be better
Good battery life with quick charging

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First published on: 22-02-2023 at 10:40 IST
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