While OnePlus never made much of an effort to keep the specifications and designs of its first flagship phones of 2021
under wraps ahead of their March 23 announcement event
, a slightly humbler third handset widely expected to go official next week as well did manage to largely escape the limelight... until today.
Of course, the only reason why the mysterious OnePlus 9R is making headlines five days before its actual formal debut is that CEO Pete Lau chose to confirm that name and a number of other things in an on-the-record interview with News18 Tech over in India
Big goals, limited availability
Once again, the unconventional company is taking control of the media narrative, intentionally revealing the kind of info you'd normally expect to hear from professional leakers and rumormongers in order to build buzz and awareness around an unreleased product.
Previously rumored to carry 9 Lite or 9E monikers
, the OnePlus 9R essentially aims to take the success and legacy of last year's mid-range Nord
to the next level by combining the "latest technology" with a "class-leading industrial design" to deliver a "superior" overall user experience.
Before you get too excited about the premium, fast, smooth, and affordable 9R, you should note there seems to be a good reason why Lau offered these details to an Indian news outlet rather than a Western publication of some sort. You guessed it, the upcoming smartphone is "specially" built for India, which almost certainly means official US availability is out of the question.
In case you're wondering, the world's second most populous country is a very important market for OnePlus
, which dominated the local "premium" segment as recently as Q2 2020
, edging out both Samsung and Apple. India just so happens to be an extremely competitive region as well, especially in the price bracket we expect the 9R to crack soon enough.
Interestingly, Pete Lau spent a lot of time hyping up the OnePlus 9R's gaming chops in this otherwise general and generic interview, which might suggest the handset will pack a Snapdragon 865 or 870 processor after all instead of the middling 690 tipped around a month ago
Rumored OnePlus 9R 5G specs and a "global" surprise
Lau's multiple mentions of "smooth scrolling" and a "smooth experience" on the 9R all but guarantee the phone will come with 90Hz display refresh rate capabilities (at the very least), while 5G support is not explicitly confirmed but heavily implied.
The word "premium" comes up a lot in the OnePlus CEO's rather vague descriptions of the 9R's characteristics and goals, which most likely means this device will end up costing a little more than the aforementioned 5G-enabled Nord
, possibly with superior build quality in tow in addition to a faster SoC than Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765 mid-ranger and an improved 64MP primary rear-facing camera also rumored last month.
If previous gossip proves trustworthy, the 6.5-inch OnePlus 9R 5G could also pack a hefty 5,000mAh battery and at least 8 gigs of RAM paired with 128 gigs of internal storage space.
Although Lau avoided to discuss other upcoming devices at length in his latest interview, the highly anticipated and long overdue OnePlus Watch
was name-dropped (somewhat randomly) as the company's "first global wearable product."
If you feared the circular intelligent timepiece would follow the OnePlus Band
's example and go on sale exclusively in India (alongside the 9R 5G), this completely debunks that theory... while technically not confirming a US commercial release yet. But at least we can hope for that to happen soon.