Most of the time, my focus lies on the best Android phones, usually foldables like the OnePlus Open or Galaxy Z Fold 5. Every once in a while, a more affordable device catches my attention, much like the Nothing Phone 2. Fittingly, the OnePlus 12R managed to do just that, making me believe that OnePlus has entered a renaissance stage.

At first, I assumed that the OnePlus 12R would just be a mid-range phone that was slightly over-priced for what it offers. But, looking through the spec sheet it’s become obvious to me that there might still be a bit of Carl Pei’s mindset left at OnePlus.

The Nothing Phone (2)'s colorways with glyph lights on

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

One of the reasons why the Nothing Phone 2 was so intriguing came down to the decision to use the “older” Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. It didn’t have the glitz and glamor of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, but it’s nothing to snub your nose at. Throw in the unique transparent design and the near-Pixel-like software experience, and you have an instant winner.

Now, it seems that OnePlus is doing practically the same thing with the 12R while including a few upgrades that the Nothing Phone 2 didn’t (or couldn’t) deliver. These include things like the eye-searing AMOLED display, reaching 4500 nits of peak brightness. Of course, this display wasn’t available yet, so we don’t really fault Nothing for not using it.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in OnePlus 12R render

(Image credit: OnePlus)

The 12R also sports an IP65 rating, comes with up to 16GB of RAM, and has an impressive 5,500mAh battery. Speaking of which, it’s equipped with 80W wired charging, while the Nothing Phone 2 caps out at 45W wired charging. Still, the Phone 2 has 15W wireless and 5W reverse wireless charging, something that OnePlus decided against bringing to the 12R.

I’m not going to sit here and act like the 12R’s camera system is anywhere near the same level as something like the Pixel 8. The 50MP main camera is probably sufficient for most, and I’m disappointed in the 8MP ultrawide. To me, the more egregious inclusion is the dreaded 2MP macro lens. It’s just included so that OnePlus can claim that it has a triple camera setup, and it’s not something that you’ll actually use.

Person holding the OnePlus 12R in one hand

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Even if you were to ignore the cameras, the OnePlus 12R is arguably a more complete package, from top-to-bottom. But none of this is the main reason why I’m excited about what OnePlus is doing. All you need to do is look at the $499 or $599 price tag. That undercuts both the Nothing Phone 2 AND the Pixel 8, all while offering (arguably) better specs.

This was something that the OnePlus of old was great at and why the company earned the “Flagship Killer” moniker for so many years. As OnePlus grew, so did the OPPO-fication of the company, resulting in a few years of stale and boring releases, not to mention the disastrous integration of ColorOS into OxygenOS. It’s still not great, but OxygenOS has gotten quite a bit better than when the transition first began.

OnePlus 7 Pro with Never Settle logo on box

(Image credit: Android Central)

I don’t want to put the cart before the horse and claim that the “old” OnePlus is back or anything like that. For one, I haven’t used the 12 or the 12R personally just yet. But this is a huge step in the right direction. It also comes on the heels of the OnePlus Open managing to make the Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold look more outdated than they already do.

After a couple of years where it seemed that OnePlus was going to end up disappearing into the abyss, the company has come screaming back in a big way. Now, we just have to hope that this trend continues in the years to come.