OnePlus 11R Solar Red hands-on: One of the best OnePlus phones ever made

OnePlus 11R Solar Red review
(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

OnePlus used to make a habit of releasing delightful limited-edition phones — the OnePlus 5T Star Wars and OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition immediately come to mind — and while that level of close-knit collaboration with popular franchises is in the distant past, the Chinese manufacturer is reigniting some of the passion.

The OnePlus 11 Marble Odyssey was a terrific showcase, and the use of a marble texture wherein no two designs would be identical was quintessential OnePlus. But with the introduction of the OnePlus 11R Solar Red, the brand is taking things to a new level. The phone immediately grabs attention thanks to its vibrant red hue, and after so many years — the OnePlus 6 Lava Red was the last OnePlus phone I can think of — it's great to see a OnePlus device in red.

OnePlus 11R Solar Red review

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

I remember chatting with Pete Lau just after the launch of the Lava Red OnePlus 6, and he talked about how his team agonized over the choice of red hue, ultimately going with a variant that was costlier than other choices because it looked more vibrant. I see a similar attention to detail on the OnePlus 11R Solar Red, and the phone looks magnificent.

OnePlus 11R Solar Red review

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

This time, it's the texture that gives the phone its unique characteristics. OnePlus went with a vegan leather back with a textured pattern, and it feels wonderful to hold. It has a more gritty texture than some of the leather-backed phones I used, and OnePlus says that's by design; the Solar Red is meant to mimic the feel of Sandstone finishes from years past, and it definitely comes close.

OnePlus 11R Solar Red review

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Structurally, the OnePlus 11R Solar Red is identical to the standard model, and that means you get a polycarbonate mid-frame. That said, it doesn't feel like using a budget phone — far from it. And similar to the OnePlus 11, the camera housing merges seamlessly with the mid-frame, and the effect is just as cool here. The chrome accent on the sides and camera housing differentiates the design a little. And yes, the alert slider is intact.

The front is unchanged, and you get the same 6.74-inch AMOLED panel with 120Hz refresh. I didn't see any issues with the screen as such, and it is identical to the standard OnePlus 11R. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is also the same, and while it isn't the latest, it continues to be fluid in daily use, and it still has plenty of headroom for playing visually demanding games.

OnePlus 11R Solar Red review

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

What is different on the OnePlus 11R Solar Red is the storage and memory: the phone comes with 18GB of RAM and 512GB of storage as standard. That feels a little excessive considering 16GB of RAM by itself is overkill anyway, but it's clear that OnePlus wanted to differentiate the phone in this regard.

The charging tech is the same at 100W, and it takes just over 25 minutes to fully charge the 5000mAh battery. I easily got a day's worth of use without any issues whatsoever, and there's no battery anxiety. Connectivity is unchanged too, with the phone featuring Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, and AptX HD codecs.

OnePlus 11R Solar Red review

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

But what you'll like the most is the cameras. The OnePlus 11R uses the same 50MP Sony IMX890 camera as the regular OnePlus 11, and that means it takes fantastic photos in just about any situation. While there's no Hasselblad integration here, you don't really notice much in the way of difference in the resultant shots. That's why I noted in my OnePlus 11R review that the phone makes the OnePlus 11 obsolete, and that is the case with the Solar Red model as well.

OnePlus 11R Solar Red review

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Yes, the OnePlus 11 is technically better — it is faster, has better auxiliary cameras, and will get more software updates — but in real-world use, the OnePlus 11R manages to hold its own against its flagship sibling. It feels just as fluid, the AMOLED panel is just as vibrant, and while it's missing Hasselblad branding, the 50MP camera takes photos that are just as good. Sure, the wide-angle lens is strictly average and there's no optical zoom, but the main camera is on par with the OnePlus 11, and that should be more than adequate for most users.

OnePlus 11R Solar Red review

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The OnePlus 11R distils the essence of the OnePlus 11 into a much more affordable package. The OnePlus 11R Solar Red builds on that in a significant way, and the unique textured leather design combined with that gorgeous red hue (photos don't do it justice) and hardware upgrades make the phone a no-brainer if you're living in India.

The best part of the phone is that it costs just ₹45,999 ($552), just ₹1,000 ($12) more than the 16GB/256GB model of the OnePlus 11R — a terrific bargain. This is one of the best OnePlus phones you can get today.  

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.