The name of the entry-level version of the OnePlus 9 might have been revealed by OnePlus' own website.
Evidence of the OnePlus 9R, as it's apparently called, was found and published by leaker Evan Blass of Voice. There's been a number of possible names suggested for this phone, including the OnePlus 9E and OnePlus 9 Lite. This leak may have just settled the matter.
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The reason Blass claims it's the 9R rather than 9E, 9 Lite or anything else is a snippet of HTML code from the guides section of OnePlus' website. OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9R all have stub pages, whereas other names result in 404 errors, Blass mentioned in a follow-up tweet.
A OnePlus 8 Lite was rumored to launch alongside the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro last year. That never came to fruition, although a cheaper OnePlus line did emerge in the form of the OnePlus Nord, OnePlus Nord N10 5G and OnePlus Nord N100. This year, the rumors of a cheaper flagship from OnePlus seem to be much stronger, and have remained so as the predicted launch window draws nearer.
OnePlus was founded with a focus on well-priced but powerful phones, but that's changed over the past couple of years as it's concentrated more on premium "Pro" hardware. Now that Apple and Samsung are trying to offer cheaper flagship models, such as the iPhone 12 and the Galaxy S21, a cheaper OnePlus 9, like this rumored 9R, will be important for OnePlus to continue competing properly.
Blass might be wrong, however. According to fellow leaker Max Jambor, he's not willing to endorse this new name for the cheaper OnePlus 9. It makes sense since Jambor has himself been claiming the phone is named the OnePlus 9E.
As Twitter users replying to Jambor point out, 9R it could easily be a typo for 9E, a name that's been rumored for some time. It's also possible that OnePlus will use different names for the basic OnePlus 9 internally and when marketing the phone, hence the confusion.
We are anticipating a release date for the OnePlus 9 series around March or April, based on launch dates from the last few years. When the phones finally launch, we will be eager to find out if both will be capable of beating the Samsung Galaxy S21 series and taking a spot among the best Android phones we've tried this year.