OPPO A53 and A53s – the difference (Review)

OPPO A53 and A53s
SBA
10
Fabulous!

The OPPO A53 and A53s are its latest A-series mass-market phones that give Joe and Jane Average everything they need in a lower cost device. How do they rate? Brilliantly.

First, apologies to readers (and OPPO), as we have had the OPPO A53 and A53s for a couple of months. Why an apology? We were swamped by reporting the all-digital CES. And we did not quite realise that these are quite amazing phones for the price.

Speaking of price, how does $299 sound for the A53 and $349 for the A53s? Six months ago, you could have added $200 to each, and they would still be a bargain.

Functionally these are twin brothers. Same size, weight, processor, ram, microSD, screen, battery, dual-sim, Wi-Fi AC, BT 5.0, camera look and feel. And they even have some go-fast bits too – a 90Hz screen and UFS 2.1 storage.

The difference – the A53 has 64GB and comes in Mint Cream or Electric Black, and the A53s has 128GB and comes in fancy Blue or Electric Black. Confusion over.

Details: OPPO A53 and A53s (Models CPH-2127 and CPH2135)

Given the back-to-school rush, let’s just say this is what most Android loving kids and thrifty parents will want in their lunchbox. Although I have to say that being practical I would give the little blighters the less destructible Telstra Tough Max 3 or the Cat42  – kids can be brutal.


Upfront spoiler alert: Everything passes or exceeds our compressive 70-point test. There are no downsides usually associated with a $299 device.

  • Australian website for A53 (select A53s tab for that) here
  • Price: A53 4/64GB $299 and A53S 4/128GB $349
  • From: JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman (now an OPPO stockist), Woolworths, Bing Lee (see the warning on grey market later)
  • Elevator pitch: Everything anyone needs for a very low price
  • Warranty: 2-years ACL
  • Country of Manufacture: China
  • Company: OPPO (Est 2001) is a privately-owned Chinese consumer electronics and mobile communications company headquartered in Dongguan, Guangdong. It is a subsidiary of BBK Electronics Corporation (Est 1995) along with OnePlus, Vivo, and Realme (and other brands including VSun, XTC, and IMOO). Its executives and long-term staff own many of the shares. BBK is currently the second-largest global smartphone maker (Source CounterPoint February 2020). It is most definitely not part of the Huawei/ZTE/China spying debate.
  • Other OPPO reviews here

First impression – nice glass slab

You don’t expect such niceties as a very bright 90Hz screen or the Gorilla Glass 3 coating at the value end. Yes, it has a plastic frame and wraparound back, but it is sturdy and well built. Kids – you will need a case (boring clear TPU supplied), and glass protector.A quick Google search reveals hundreds of options. If you buy from an Australian company, you will have Australian Consumer Law coverage.


Screen – bright and fast

Size6.5” 90Hz, 1600×720, 20:9, 269ppi LCD with left O-hole camera
Colour400-480nits max
Contrast 1200:1 to 1500:1 max
Approx 95% sRGB
WideVineDRM L1.1 and HDCP 2.3 means it will stream video in HD/SDR

This is a very bright screen, so much so that we left it on Auto and it was still a little bright. Good for daylight use as well. 90Hz refresh is a good compromise and does not affect the battery too much. You will like the great haptic feedback and the Gorilla Glass 3 coating is fairly scratch resistant.

Processor – best in class

SoCQualcomm SD460 (SM4250) 11nm, quad-core
GPUAdreno 610
Game useAny modern browser-based game
Game Space app
 PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile on medium graphics
RAM4GB LPDDRX
Storage64GB or 128GB A53s
Androbench 509.84/192.21 Mbps sequential read/write – fast
micro-SDMaximum 256GB
Geek
Bench 5
Single/Multi 234/975
It is way about the SD430 and close to the SD632. You will find it in the Nokia 4.3 and vivo Y20s
ThrottleMax: 128.512GIPS, Average: 120,030 – 13 % loss over 15 minutes

Overall an excellent CPU that out-performs any non-Qualcomm brands in this bracket.

Comms – PASS

Wi-FiWi-Fi 5 AC 1×1 MIMO
Signal Strength 5Ghz – distance from ASUS AX1100 router
2m:  -35dBm/433Mbps
BluetoothBT 5.1
GPSDual for accuracy and supports India GPS
NFCYes
USB-C2.0 480Mbps
SensorsAccelerometer
Magnetometer
e-Compass

We love that OPPO has resisted using a combo sensor and has great screen auto-rotation. NFC, Wi-Fi AC and BT 5.1 are almost unheard of at this price.


LTE (note: this test is in a 3-bar 4G area)

SIMDual sim (one active at a time) plus dedicated micro-SD
Ring toneSingle
SupportVoLTE – dual yes
Wi-Fi calling – Yes
DL/ULTest: 31.1/4.7 Mbps (excellent)
LTE Band1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/20/26/28/38/39/40/41/66
Test-87dBm/20fW in a 3-bar reception area (very good)
Found next tower at -64/40fW – superb antenna design

This test uses a 4GX Band 28 tower approx. 1km from the test site but Blackwall Mountain stands in the way so it often is only 3G. All previous tests have been with this tower.

Since Xmas 2020 Telstra has upgraded a second tower approx. 1.7km from the test site at Ettalong (almost line-of-sight). This phone can connect to it at -58 to -64dBm hence the second tower figures are better. It has great antenna design and suitable for city and regional use.

Battery – good for two days

Battery5000mAh
Charger5V/2A or 9V/2A
0-100% in just over two hours
Tests
Most at 60hz screen
Video Loop test: 60Hz 1080p/50%/aeroplane mode – 20 hrs
Video Loop test 90Hz as above – 19 hrs
Typical use 4G, Wi-Fi Test – 15 hrs
MP3 music test: 50% volume played from storage – 24+
100% load Battery drain – 12 hrs
T-Rex – 60Hz 723.7min (12 hrs) 2054 frames
T-Rex – 90Hz 645.3min (10.7 6hrs) 2030 frames
Drain screen off: 250 mA (about  30 days)

It is nice to see the 90Hz screen not substantially impacting battery life. We occasionally got three full days of normal use during the two weeks of use. It was nice having the A53 and A53s as we could set different screen rates and accelerate battery testing.


Sound – stereo

SpeakersIt has an earpiece and down-firing speaker offering stereo sound
AMPIt has a combo AMP and DAC – Qualcomm Aqstic WCD9370 with 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz and low THD.
Enhancement is Dirac 2.0
BT codecsCodecs are SBC (standard), LDAC (Sony), aptX/Adaptive/HD (Qualcomm), FLAC, ACC etc.
MicSingle
3.5mmYes, plus supports USB-C cabled headsets as well (FSB4480)
Tests dB
Anything over 80dB is excellent
Media – 64
Ring – 79
Alarm – 77
Earpiece – N/A
Handsfree – adequate but only one mic means you need to hold it close
Sound
Stage
Quite wide but we suspect because the top speaker projects upwards and outwards
BT HeadphonesDrove our reference Sony WH-1000xM4 in SBC, AAC and LDAC (OPUS) modes and provided good clear sound and plenty of volume.  

Sound quality – pleasant

Deep Bass: 20-40HzNil
Middle Bass: 40-100HzNil
High Bass: 100 to 200HzFlat
Low-mid: 200-400HzFlat
Mid: 400-1000HzFlat
High-mid: 1-2kHzFlat
Low-treble: 2-4kHzFlat
Treble:4-6kHzSlight peak
High Treble: 6-10kHzDip to remove harshness
Dog whistle: 10-20kHzGone from 12khz

While it is quite pleasant listening, it tends towards bright vocal (bass recessed, mids/treble boosted). The EQ pre-sets do very little to change that. There is a slight volume difference between the earpiece and the bottom speaker (slightly louder).

Build – well made

Size/Weight163.9 x 75.1 x 8.4mm x 186g
ColoursA53 has 64GB and comes in Mint Cream or Electric Black
A53s has 128GB and comes in fancy Blue or Electric Black
BuildGorilla Glass 3 front, plastic frame and back with OPPO vacuum paint deposition – nice
IPNo
In the boxTPU Bumper cover
18W charger
USB-A to USB-C cable
3.5mm buds

Unusually well made for the price bracket.


Android 10 – will we see Android 11?

AndroidGoogle Android 10
Security patch date 5/11/20
UIColourOS 7.2
GoogleAll standard apps, Google Lens and Assistant. Dedicated Google Assistant key.
BloatwareMostly OPPO productivity and utilities. You can uninstall Facebook
Update PolicyAssume no OS update. Security patches quarterly for two to three years
SecurityFingerprint – 10/10 reliability
FaceID – 7/10 reliability

Colour OS sits beside Android 10 and adds significant value to its usability.

Missing

IP ratingNot a deal-breaker

Camera – Basic but serviceable

 Camera Primary
13MP
Macro
2MP
Depth
2MP
Selfie
8MP
SensorOV13BGC02K0GC02M1BLikely GC8034 or GC 8054
Lens5P3P3p5P
FocusPDAFFFsamesame
Aperture f-stop2.22.42.42.0
Pixel size um1.121.751.751.12
FOV° and cropped(67.9)n/an/a(67.2)
StabilisationNo   
Flash1 LED  Screen fill
Zoom5X digital   
Video Max[email protected]  1080p
Features    

This is a good, serviceable camera for outdoors and office light. It is not strong at low light and does not have Night processing.

Daylight, outdoors

Low light (room with <40 lumen)

Selfie

Fixed focus and reasonably tight FOV. But it does have screen fill flash and beautification.

Bokeh – Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)

While it has a portrait setting, we found it amped the colours too much and was too blurred in the background. There is a slider, and backing off to 40% produces adequate results.


Video

Its pure [email protected] with no EIS or OIS. Good results if you use a tripod.

GadgetGuy’s take

If I were to say it was an ordinary every day, a damned good budget phone I would be right. But it exceeds all I could expect from a $299/349 device. A great CPU, excellent battery, above-average camera and a terrific screen.

OPPO A53 and A53s – rating explanation

In theory, passing all our tests means at least 8/10. Then we add or subtract for exceed or fail. It is a 10/10!

Grey market – no Australian warranty

We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model with Australian firmware. It works on all Australian Telco carrier LTE bands, especially Band 28, has dual VoLTE and can make a 000-emergency call (not 911) without a SIM. These also have Google Pay that works with Australian PayWave readers. We have noticed a few A53 models with different SoCs and cameras too – these are not the models we get here.

We have named and shamed the major grey marketers here.

OPPO A53 and A53s, OPPO A53 and A53s

What more can you ask of a $299 phone?
Features
10
Value for money
10
Performance
10
Ease of use
10
Design
10
Positives
Battery life – good for two days
Camera – basic but above social media quality
Display – 90Hz is smooth and responsive
Display – 90Hz is smooth and responsive Dedicated slots for dual sim and microSD
Negatives
None really – what more do you want from a $299 phone?
10
Fabulous!