Like every year, OnePlus has launched its first batch of smartphones for this year, the OnePlus 9 series. But wait, this time, it is different. We have three smartphones as part of the series in a row, which reflects the company’s changing launch cycle (yet again). Also Read - OnePlus 9R OxygenOS 188.8.131.52 update brings improved haptics for gaming: Check details
So, we have the OnePlus 9/9Pro as the company’s another step in the premium segment and the OnePlus 9R, which is the newbie with OnePlus traditions that is relatively affordable. All three smartphones feel like a perfect family where two phones aim to cater to the high-end needs and the other one to keep up with the OnePlus feels. Also Read - OnePlus Watch review: Good yet expensive fitness watch
But, how well does the OnePlus 9R fit in? Is it the fair maiden of the OnePlus land? Probably, yes. Also Read - OnePlus 9R sale begins for everyone in India today: Where to buy, top features, and launch offers
OnePlus 9R aims to keep OnePlus rooted
Let’s go back in time. The time when OnePlus launched awe-worthy phones and was safely categorised as the one who made ground-breaking phones at a much affordable price tag. Yea, that was a good time! Now, let’s fast forward to 2020, just a year back: when the OnePlus 8 series took a leap into the high-end segment. This drastically increased the prices of the company’s phones and shattered all our sentiments.
This is also when the company realised it has disappointed the OnePlus fans, wanted to stick to its roots and launched the Nord in the mid-range arena, and even the OnePlus 8T (for a lower price than the 8/8 Pro) to pacify us in a way. But, the Nord didn’t prove to be the perfect mid-ranger and the OnePlus 8T felt like an unwanted, confused child.
Now, in 2021, OnePlus still aims for that; it wants to stay true to its starting point and exactly the reason why we have the OnePlus 9R. Not to forget, it’s also a strategy heavily taken from Apple and Samsung, both of which have started releasing comparatively inexpensive phones (the iPhone 11, the Galaxy S20 FE are examples). On papers, the smartphone feels like the perfect middle child (as opposed to the OnePlus 8T). It gets a tweaked (slightly better) Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 SoC.
Although, the other specs remain the same as the OnePlus 8T and it is safely a rebadged version of it. But, it starts at Rs 39,999, which brings the company close to where it started off in the first place and we probably can settle for this. Also, there is a slight difference in the design, which matches that of the 9/9 Pro.
This probably is also the start of a new OnePlus strategy: an obvious focus on the expensive phones, mid-rangers/budget phones, and the upper mid-range segment for the OnePlus fans to maybe stay content.
Yes, the goodness of high-end specs at a lower price tag is still missing, but, it feels like this is the only extent OnePlus can go to right now to make its existing fans happy while creating new ones. In my opinion, OnePlus would never be able to go back to the space it came from initially; the company aims big and maybe that’s what the focus is now.
Although, I loved the OnePlus phones (until the OnePlus 7T) that proved to be ‘too good to be true’ and provided for an experience that made the iPhone lover in me fall in love with Android. Yes, that was the power and impact of OnePlus. I so wish I could see that again!
That said, maybe it’s time for us to move on too and settle for the OnePlus offerings we are getting now: either by paying more and getting the latest or by paying slightly less and getting slightly less. If we accept this, the OnePlus 9R is really the fair maiden of the OnePlus land that can also prove to be the cash cow for the company.
This brings me to the future of the OnePlus 8T. My best guess is that the smartphone has high chances of getting discontinued soon; but before that, it will be up for frequent discounts. Although, its existence is yet again in question as I am not sure if it is even the right choice right now!
But, what about the software?
This is where the OnePlus 9R could fumble a little. The phone might be helping OnePlus stay down to earth, but it is still, after all, the lesser of the other OnePlus 9 and future OnePlus phones. Hence, there are chances that the company might stay low-key with the 9R.
This might become similar to the Nord who got to taste the Android 11 flavour (topped with the latest OxygenOS) just now, that too, after frequent delays. While the 9R has got Android 11 running well out-of-the-box, the inclusion of the upcoming Android 12 might be something the phone has to run after, all sweaty for a while.
If you are one of those who are suckers for the timely latest software updates, this could prove to be a disappointment. But, if all you require is the stable running of a smartphone without caring an ounce about the software update version, it shan’t be a point of concern for you.
Having said that, there isn’t any official confirmation on this. There are chances that OnePlus might dedicate an equal amount of attention and care to the OnePlus 9R, like the 9 and the 9 Pro, making timely and latest updates available for it.
If at all that’s the case, maybe, maybe, the OnePlus 9R can help OnePlus retain the goodwill it seems to be losing due to its ambitions. Maybe, we have ourselves the option to get a decently-priced OnePlus device that fulfils a lot of our needs whilst keeping up with trends!