OnePlus 10R review: OnePlus goes out of its skin with a budget flagship

I have over the years tried out every single OnePlus flagship as well as the R and the T versions that seem to come shortly after every new edition of the smartphone. I used to think I understand that cycle to a large extent, but the speed with which the OnePlus 10R has come has surprised even me. OnePlus has a justification though: that it wants to offer a superior phone to young users who might not have as much to spend as those at whom the OnePlus 10 Pro is aimed at. So the OnePlus 10R is like a flagship lite and we can all just hope buyers get the idea.

OnePlus 10R specifications: 6.7-inch Fluid AMOLED 120 Hz HDR10+ display |  Dimensity 2100 Max chipset | 80W/150W Supervooc charging | 50MP main camera sensor ( f/1.8, 24mm) | 8MP ultrawide sensor (f/2.2, 15mm)| 2MP macro sensor (f/2.4) | 5,000 mAh battery (80W charging version) or 4,500 mAh battery (150W charging version)

OnePlus 10R price in India: The phone starts ar Rs 38,999 for the 8GB+128GB version (80W, 5,000mAh). The 12GB+256GB version costs Rs 42,999 for the 80W/ 5,000 mAh version and Rs 43,999 for the 150W / 4,500 mAh version.

Even the cheapest OnePlus phones stick to a design language that underlines its brand recognition in the market. The OnePlus 10R however looks different in many ways. For one, this does not have the notification slider which for me is a very unique OnePlus feature which a lot of buyers are looking forward to. Then the phone has very edgy sides which are unlike the smooth edges one is used to from the brand.

There is no notification slider on the side of the phone. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)

And to round it up, the Cyclops like camera module at the end is interesting but again very different from the brand promise. None of these is really a negative though and could be OnePlus just modifying its design language to fit with the larger Oppo narrative. But the company needs to be a bit cautious about how this will be perceived by potential buyers.

The camera array (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)

The rear panel of the phone has a distinct design with lines flowing down from below the camera module. On the other side is a matte finish with the brand logo shining through. I liked how lightweight the phone is to hold and it offers a very solid grip thanks to the same sharp edges.

The phone offers a solid grip. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)

The 6,7-inch Fluid AMOLED display is as good as you would expect from OnePlus. The 120Hz refresh rate means gamers have another reason to love this phone. The audio output is good and does not underwhelm given the quality of the screen.

Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo

OnePlus 10R review: What’s good?

Let me start with the USP of this phone — this phone has the 150W SUPERVOOC Endurance Edition charge for its 4500 mAh battery. Yes, you read that right: 150W. Now, this charger is in many ways larger, and certainly, heavier than the phone itself. While the convenience of a phone that can juice up to take on a day in about 15 minutes is hard to ignore, I’m not sure everyone would want a block this size in their bag.

So when I was travelling to Jaipur recently, I kept this charger at home and packed an earlier 65W OnePlus charger for the trip. But what the 150W charger can do is amazing and I watched in awe as the battery level went up by a percentage almost every other second. The phone ends up getting a full charge in 17 minutes flat. Magic.

Since this is a phone that goes out of its grain a bit, OnePlus has also partnered with MediaTek to power it with the new Dimensity 8100-Max. Having used the phone for close to two weeks, I can say there is literally nothing to prevent MediaTek from finding itself powering more flagships in the future. The phone is capable of handling all tasks and multi-tasks like a dream switching between apps as you want it to. The phone is also super cool, especially since I was using it to play games like Extreme Balancer 3 during a hot summer bus journey where the temperatures outside were pushing 45 degrees Celsius.

Then there is the 50MP camera which makes its presence felt every time you see the back of the phone. The 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP macro lenses almost dissolve into the background under the size of the 50MP camera. With so much space being used, I am a bit surprised this is not an ultra-wide lens, because OnePlus could have offered a special experience here.

However, the 50MP camera does a good job of offering sharp images under all conditions. I was walking around clicking pics at the Bishangarh fort one hot summer afternoon and some of the images were stunning.

 

The shot of the dry Rajasthan landscape shot from through the mesh windows of the fort came out well though it’s not an easy one to manage from a focus perspective. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)
The details in the glass filigree work were there despite the low light. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)
The wooden elephant in the room too stood out despite the relatively low light it was shot at. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)
Though this does not have a telephoto lens, I managed to capture a peacock lazing outside the fort with not so bad details. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)
Even in low light, the camera does some interesting stuff. The photo of the scale model of the East German Trabant was shot with very little light one early morning, but the results look like it got some extra light. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)
The arrowheads in my living room look stunningly lush and green in the photos. (Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)
OnePlus is also using AI to come up with very natural selfies as the one I took in the bus shows. All quite impressive. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan / Express Photo)

OnePlus 10R review: What’s not that good?

The OnePlus 10R comes preinstalled with Oxygen OS 12.1. But as I used the phone more, I kept getting the feeling there is something different about this Oxygen OS version. I am not sure I can pinpoint it, but right from the UI on the home screen to the notifications and settings, this does not feel very OnePlus.

The macro lens of the phone takes a bit of time to focus on subjects. OnePlus might have to push out an update to get this camera to find its bearings.

OnePlus 10R review: Should you buy?

If you are on a budget Android and would like to step up, then this a good phone to consider given that it has everything you need in a flagship, one feature that is really cutting edge — the 150W charger — and that too without burning a hole in your pocket. I am not sure I can recommend this to people who have used OnePlus flagships before as the is a phone that is a bit out of the OnePlus Skin. But after the initial getting used to it, I am sure they too will also settle.

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