OnePlus has already confirmed that the 9 and 9 Pro are coming on March 23rd, as well as the company's first wearable, the OnePlus Watch. But today CEO Pete Lau spoke directly to an Indian news network about a hitherto unknown variant: the OnePlus 9R. This less expensive option is so far confirmed only for the Indian market, with a focus on a lower price and gaming performance.
We've heard about a "Lite" version of the OP9 before, but this is the first time we've seen it labelled as the 9R. The interview with News18 is mostly PR platitudes, but a few details are made concrete. The OnePlus 9R will be a "premium" offering, more high-end than the Nord series, but presumably below the standard OP9 and 9 Pro, somewhat akin to the base model of a Galaxy S release. Lau specifically mentioned a focus on mobile gaming several times, with "immersive gaming controls" on top of smooth scrolling and other display tweaks. Lau emphasized that this phone would be a member of the flagship series with "class-leading industrial design," powerful in terms of hardware but with a more accessible price point. It will have a 5G connection as well.
While specific details are scarce (the image above is a mock-up based on OP9 leaks), you can expect a dip in targeted specs to get the price down. Headline features like the Hasselblad camera and Warp Charge wireless charging might be shelved in order to keep a high-res, 90 or 120Hz screen on a less expensive phone. The very pricey Snapdragon 888 system-on-a-chip also seems incompatible with a cheaper model; OnePlus might go with the 865, or the as-yet-unconfirmed Snapdragon 775.
There's no date for the OnePlus 9R—it was not confirmed to be revealed at the March 23rd event. With OnePlus going directly to the Indian media for this announcement, it seems like an exclusive release in that crucial territory is likely, at least for the start of the phone's rollout.