OPPO A54

OPPO A54 and A74 set a 5G trend (review)

OPPO A54 and A74
The OPPO A54 and A74 5G redefine 5G entry-level price and features.
Features
10
Value for money
10
Performance
9
Ease of use
10
Design
10
Positives
Too many to list - but punches well over its price bracket
Negatives
None really - truely!
9.8

The OPPO A54 and A74 are two of the most significant and, dare I say, desirable phones in 2021. Why? Because they set new feature and price standards for affordable 5G phones at $399 and $449. What’s the catch? Nothing!

So, why are the OPPO A54 and A74 so significant? Let’s just say that until now, I have not seen a 6.5″ FHD+ 90Hz screen, Qualcomm SD480 processor, plenty of ram/storage/dedicated microSD, 5000mAh battery, Wi-Fi AC, BT 5.1 and NFC. Not to forget the quad 48MP camera setup. To borrow the immortal words of Darryl Kerrigan in the Castle, “Tell ’em they’re NOT dreaming”.

What OPPO has done, before any other company, is to democratise 5G for all.

Undoubtedly more brands will follow. OPPO siblings realme and vivo have models in the works. Samsung has already slashed its A42 5G from $599 to $499. Motorola has it’s Moto G 5G Plus (Telstra locked) at $499.

A54 and A74 5G – same but different

So, what is the difference between OPPO A54 and A74 5G? A: Nothing really! There is a complete analysis in our announcement here, but these are twins from the same mother and father! The A74 has more ram and storage and an 18W fast charger at $49 more. Everything else is identical. As such, we will combine the review and note if there are any significant performance differences.

Please note that while we run more than 70 tests, this is a mini-review that points out the salient points and things to be aware of. All comments relate to the price bracket.

Details: OPPO A54 and A74 5G

WebsiteA54 here and A74 here
Price$399 and $449
Store*From: OPPO Online and major CE retailers like JB Hi-FI, Harvey Norman, Good Guys, Officeworks, and Catch.com.au
Warranty2-years
ManufactureMade in China
CompanyOPPO is now #2 for Australian Android smartphone market share. It has achieved that by excellent product and after-sales service.
NotesOther GadgetGuy OPPO news and reviews here
* Grey market – no Australian warranty

We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model with Australian firmware. Why? Because 5G IMEI numbers are registered with the Telcos and must be activated here. It can also make a 000-emergency call (not 911) without a SIM. Look for the Australian and NZ regulatory mark under Settings, About Phone, Regulatory. We have named and shamed the prominent grey marketers here. Get a genuine ‘Made for Australia’ model. Note that this model uses the Qualcomm SD780 5G – there are similarly named models with MediaTek SoC.

First impressions

OPPO has nailed the OPPO look with fabulous, patterned vacuum-deposited paint over polycarbonate. Fantastic Purple is an aurora of night lights that shimmer, Fluid Black goes from titanium to black, and Space Silver is quietly elegant. I like the O-hole selfie at the top left, and the oversized power button/fingerprint reader recessed into the frame. It is good design.

As a reviewer who covered 76% of all sub-$1000 phones in 2020, it is hard to surprise me. I have to continually remind myself that these are $399/449 phones!

Screen – exceptional

  • 6.5: 2400 X 1080, 405ppi, 90Hz LTPS LCD
  • Brightness 450 nits (typical), Contrast 1500:1 and 100% DCI-P3
  • Panda Glass MN228

Bright, colourful with Vivid Gamut (100% DCI-P3) and Gentle (100%+sRGB) are unheard of at this price. The screen has a 90Hz setting which gives it a 180Hz touch sensitivity. While it can play games, the processor is not up to medium or high frame rates.

Processor – just right

The Qualcomm SD480 5G 8nm is a new system-on-a-chip (SoC). It has an X51 3/4/5G modem (sub-6Ghz), an Adreno 619 GPU. The SoC includes Wi-Fi 5 AC MIMO, BT 5.1, GPS, Aqstic amp, aptX adaptive codec, True Wireless and enough AI power to provide computational photography.

Geekbench 5 puts it above the MediaTek Helio G80 and on a par with the Helio P90 and Dimensity 720 at single/multi-cire of 522/1725. Open CL (1089) and Vulcan (923) are excellent for the price. OPPO tends to follow Qualcomm reference designs – which is good. Think of it as a three-cylinder turbo car with tonnes of power for most city use.

Ram/Storage/microSD

  • A54 4GB LPDDR4X and 64GHB UFS 2.1 (40GB free) and microSD top 256GB
  • A74 6GB LPDD4X and 128GB UFS 3.1 (105 GB free) microSD to 256GB

Androbench (USB-C 2.0 speeds maximum 480Mbps or 60MBps half-duplex)

  • Internal sequential read/write 507/245MBps (not constrained by USB-C 2.0) – excellent.
  • Remember to turn OTG connection on for external storage. USB-C 2.0 supports a maximum of 480Mbps or about 60MBps half-duplex. Maximum external storage sequential read/write rate is about 30/30MBps

Throttling

Max 158,245GIPS, Average 154,736GIPS – no throttling. This is an exceptional result and shows OPPO has good cooling tech.

Comms – Wi-Fi 5 AC 1×1 MIMO

Signal Strength 5Ghz – distance from Netgear RAX200 AX1100 router

  • 2m:  -18dBm/433Mbps
  • 5m: -30dBm/433
  • 10m: -47dBm/433
  • 15M: -52dBm/433

Test speeds show excellent antenna design, and it keeps data throughput stable.

  • BT 5.1
  • GPS
  • NFC – Google Pay compatible and not usual at this price
  • Combo Accelerometer and Gyroscope, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Optical, Gravity, fingerprint (and 2D face unlock)

4/5G – very strong antenna strength

  • Dual sim plus dedicated microSD, single ring tone
  • LTE: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/26/28/38/39/40/41/66 – world phone
  • 5G: n77/78/38/40/41/1/3/5/7/8/20/28 (not all enabled – Australia uses n78 3500Ghz)
  • Test – speed 22.4/6Mbps/41ms (typical 4G speed in a 3-bar zone)
  • Finds nearest tower at -103dBm/100fW, second tower at -108dBm/63.1fW and third tower at -114dBm/50fW – excellent. Occasionally finds a fourth tower at -121dBm (unusable).

Sound – it is mono but has a 3.5mm port

  • It has an earpiece and down-firing speaker for mono sound. It has one mic.
  • BT 5.1 codex include SBC, AAC, APTX Adaptive and LDAC 
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Volume is a maximum of 80dB, and the sound signature focuses on clear voice. BT and cabled headphones are loud and clear.

Battery

  • 5000mAh
  • A54: USB-C 2.0 5V/2A/10W
    A74: USB-C 9V/2A/18W fast charge PD

In testing, we found that the A54 does support a 9V/2A/18W charger, so if you plug in any UCB-C PD charger, you get a fast charge.

We did not run the full suite of tests because it was clear that they have a massive battery for at least two days of use

  • PC Mark 2.0 battery test: approx. 24 hours
  • GFX Bench: T-Rex 485.5min (8hrs) and 3323 frames
  • GFX Bench: Manhattan 436.6min (7.28 hours) and 1591 frames
  • Charge time 5V/2A/10W 2 hours and 9V/2A 1 hour

Build – OPPO’s usual excellent quality

  • 162.9 x 74.7 x 8.4mm x 190g
  • Front: Panda Glass
  • Frame: Polycarbonate
  • Back: Vacuum deposited paint on polycarbonate
  • IP: IPx4
  • In box: Charger, 3.5mm Earphones, USB data cable, Protective case

Android 11 and ColourOS 11.1

We have commented many times on the excellent ColorOS 11 overlay to Android. Security patches are issued regularly – the last  14/4/2021. It comes with Facebook and TikTok – rubbishware that can easily be uninstalled.

OPPO apps are primarily replacements for Google apps where Google is prohibited. For example, there is File Manager (OPPO and excellent) and Files by Google that wants you to use cloud storage.

One handy app is Phone Clone that is now preinstalled. It allows you to easily copy information from Android, iOS and other OPPO devices. We tested copying from an old OPPO R9 and an LG G6 and copied data, settings, contacts, SMS, Whatsapp, Messages, photos and apps via Wi-Fi. You only need to enter login and passwords. It is similar to Samsung Smart Switch.

OPPO A54 and A74 5G Camera

OPPO A54 and A74

OPPO has quite a camera prowess. To be able to offer a quad 48MP camera at this price is exceptional. In part, that is due to the use of an Omnivision 48MP sensor. It appears to be a suitable sensor from a new supplier, but it lowers the cost compared to a Sony or Samsung sensor. The images taken are amazing for this price bracket. It shoots well above its weight.

Wait one moment – different sensors indicated!

Our test software shows different sensors apart from the 48MP Omnivision OV48B. The 8MP Ultra-wide appears to be a Samsung S5K4HG7 8MP, 1.12um, contrast AF, not the Hi-846. The two x 2MP appear to be 5MP, S5K5e9 (colour) 1um Contrast AF and 5MP S5K5F1 (mono) 1um contrast AF. The selfie appears to be IMX476, 20MP, 1um, and FF scaled back to 16MP. Or it may be an S5K3P9 16MP, 1um PDAF – we hope for the latter as it has superior PDAF.

Now, this is not a big issue and probably relates to the shortage of camera sensors. But the two 5MP sensors are superior to the 2 x 2MP, and macro and bokeh photos may have more definition.

Specs

CameraPrimary
48MP
Bins to 12MP
Ultra-Wide
8MP

Macro
2MP

Mono
Depth
2MP

Selfie
16MP

Sensor AdvertisedOmnivision
OV48B
Hi-846GC02M1BOV02B10Sony IMX471
Exmor RS
FocusAFFFsamesameFF
Aperture f-stop1.72.22.4same2.0
Pixel size um.8 bins to 1.61.121.75same1.0
FOV° and cropped(68.4)11988.888.879.3° (68.1)
StabilisationNo    
FlashSingle LED   Screen fill
Zoom6X Digital    
Video Max[email protected]   [email protected]

Features Rear: Photo, Video, Night, Expert, Panorama, Portrait, Time-lapse, Slow-motion, Text scanner, Google Lens

Features Front: Photo, Video, Panorama, Portrait, Night, Time-lapse, Sticker

OPPO A54 and A74
1X – this is a perfect image reflecting good detail and colours under cloudy conditions
OPPO A54 and A74
The Ultra-wide shot is not very detailed or colour matched to primary camera.
OPPO A54 and A74
4X digital zoom – excellent detail and colour accurate
I have seen better but it was an overcast day so this is pretty good
This is a terrific low light shot – no AI enhancements showing the prowess of the 48MP sensor
This uses Night mode that amps up brightness without loss of too much detail

Selfie:

It’s a straight 16MP (no binning) that captures lots of detail and accurate skin tone colours. It has OPPO AI to post-process the image. It has a limited depth of field, so if you are shooting a group selfie, make sure you are close.

GadgetGuy’s take

The OPPO A54 and A74 5G redefine 5G entry-level price and features. There is no catch – just fantastic value, exceptional OPPO build and two-years warranty. We used the A74 for nearly two weeks (it could just have easily been the A54) and were never left wanting. That is quite an admission from someone that uses a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G at nearly five times the price.

At the beginning of this review, I had to keep reminding myself that these were $399 and $449 phones – exceptional features and value for the price. It is now the end, and nothing has changed and receive our coveted and unreserved buy recommendation.

Rating

We are rating in the $399-499 bracket. OPPO exceeds all current phones in every category. A pass mark is 8/10, and we add

  • Camera quality – class leading
  • 5000mAh and fast charge – better than waiting hours to charge
  • 5G connectivity – couldn’t test
  • Great build
  • Terrific screen
  • Very high antenna signal strength – the femtoWatts signal strength is well above the class
  • NFC and more

Both are 10/10. Buy the A74, if only for the extra RAM, storage and fast charger. Or save $50 and spend it on a few months of low-cost mobile 4G data.

5G or not? Do not go to Telstra, Optus or Vodaphone and buy expensive 5G data packages. Coverage and speeds are still a sham. We predict that within the next 12 months, MVNOs like Boost, Woolies and Aldi, will come down to their $20 packages.

  1. I’m tempted to say that your review also made me decide to buy an Oppo, but only an A54 I believe .. But I can’t really make such a purchase until some kind techo answers some of my pig-ignorant phone questions. {Hint hint ..)
    (Hitherto I’ve had a phone for calls and texts and a laptop for all Internet usage; and I want to use my phone for the Web, too.)
    I shall be 78 next month. Thus am I allowed to admit that I use the Web for crochet blogs and YouTube patterns, as well as for reading online news (ABC and The Guardian, with occasional reference to MSNBC). Oh ! – also for ABC iView, but no other TV. AND for my blog, as well as a few other people’s.
    My mobile connection supplier suggested I replace my ancient Sony phone with an Oppo, but the range is bewildering ! So would you agree with an A54 would serve me best, please ?

    1. Hi Margaret
      As you are used to Sony Android you can rest assured that Android-based phone will do what you want so it is a matter of how much you want to pay. OPPO is one of the better ones with a 2-year warranty and great local support. At $349 the A54 5G is superb. If its any help its what I would give my mum!

  2. Storage speed appears to be UFS2.1 on oppo’s website specs so you may want to correct the article. Currently says UFS3.1. Cheers.

  3. Hi Ray, wondering what you think of this compared to the new Samsung A52 4G? If I’m not fussed about having AMOLED screen, are the other features worth the extra money ($599): The camera, UI software, IP67 rating, stereo speakers, 25W charger and 3yrs of updates for samsung A52 enough to rate this higher? I’m thinking the processors from both give fairly similar performance. I don’t particularly care for 5G but the oppo 74 5G is better than the oppo 74 4G specs. The samsung A52 4G has good enough specs not to need to go to the 5G version. So would do you think Oppo 74 5G vs Samsung A52 4G?

    1. I have the Samsung A52 5G here for review so I can’t yet comment – give me a week. But remember that it is $749 (you must buy genuine if you want to use Australian 5G) and the OPPO is $399/449 so they are not a fair comparison (although amazing build and quality). Samsung uses SD750 5G chip and OPPO uses SD480 5G – its not an Apples for Apples comparison. The OPPO Find X3 Lite is a better comparison and may suit your needs.

      1. Hi Ray, some people don’t care for 5G, but like the better specs of the oppo A74 5G version over the 4G version. So I’m interested in comparing this oppo A74 5G to the samsung A52 4G. Some differences I see are screen, LCD/AMOLED, processor has similar benchmarks, samsung camera with OIS and 4k video, samsung has IP67 and stereo speakers. But samsung is $200 more. Oppo 74 5G can be bought for $399 everywhere now so it seams like a steal. So I’m wondering if anything jumps out and says samsung is worth the extra $200?
        Also the new Nokia X20 is interesting. Similar specs to this Oppo 74 5G. Do you have an opinion on this one? Samsung and Nokia providing 3yrs of android and security updates is great. I can’t find anything anywhere about what Oppo provide. Do you know how long Oppo support updates for? Thanks for your help. Great article on Oppo too.

  4. Thanks for the review, your site is great.

    I picked up an A74 yesterday based on your comments, the battery, camera and reception ability key points.

    I figure the battery will improve with a number of charges maybe? (it’s better than my old Xiaomi A2 Lite but not by much yet). The camera for stills seems quite good.

    The video however seems lacking for a new release and at this price point, did you test it much yourself?
    1080p on the main back camera seems to stutter on playback. More disappointing is the wide angle lens isn’t available for video. No mention in the specs of this limitation, but one would assume given (based on YouTube samples) if the older lower spec A53 does why not the A74 5g. Even half price competitor’s such as the Moto G10 offer this.

    Sadly it is a feature I required too.

    Oppo so far have been unhelpful, only directing me to the product site that is super vague in specs vs say Motorola or others.

    A suggestion maybe comment or check video a little in future reviews, outside of that yours are awesome and better than most, great for us Aussies.

    1. I admit that my video tests are not comprehensive and I will endeavour to do more in future. I will pass this comment to OPPO and see if we can’t get more information.

    2. OPPO responded very quickly.

      1. Wide-angle lens for video – this can be achieved on the A74 5G. The user just needs to go to [Camera] > tap Settings button in the top right corner > [Video resolution] > Set to 720P/30 fps. This will enable wide-angle video recording.

      2. Stutter on playback – both customer service and ourselves have tested on the A74 and found that the playback worked fine. We believe it might just be an issue with the user’s device specifically, in which case we recommend him to get in touch with the OPPO Customer Service Centre for further investigation: https://www.oppo.com/au/contact/

      3. Battery – we can confirm that it won’t improve from charging. But check the background tasks and disable those that you are not using.

      1. Thanks for the response Ray.

        Playing around I actually found this ability which good. I had been in contact with Oppo support and they told me it simply was available. After finding it I suggested they make it selectable even in 1080p mode (just flash up ultra wide 720p when one clicks it) to improve the user experience vs diving in and out of settings. It seems your Oppo response was more knowledgeable than mine.

        With more testing think the stutter only occurs when the limited attempt at stabilisation is working hard. I’m possibly to spoilt but later Go-Pro stabilisation performance (That’s what a phone company should be aiming at, not that I’d strap a phone to my dog to get smooth footage, lol)

        The battery is still good, I’m perhaps again spoilt from my past too Xiaomi phones with 4000mah units despite being old models. The 5000mah maybe only makes up for the bigger screen and a little more.

  5. Hi GG,
    I have only used Moto, pixel and sony from Android phones came out to Australia.
    How is the OS compared to other near stock experience?

    1. It is not stock Android that I have used on Pixel and Nokia. Moto is no longer stock Android either with its My UX. Let’s just say that it is Android 11 and there is a minimal learning curve. I actually prefer ColorOS to stock Android.

      1. Thanks Ray, I guess I will wait for Pixel 6 then.

        Hope you have seen the latest Samsung G21 Tradein+Bonus+signup Bonus deals floating around internet, OZB world :), worth an article I guess.

      2. Hi Ray

        Does ColorOS have any bloatware annoying features like Samsung’s Bixby that cannot be fully disabled ?
        Are there any difference in the camera app features between the current Samsung and Oppo phones ?

        Thanks
        P.S. I think you should invest in a cable management tray.

        1. Last point first – yes cable management under the desk is being addressed.

          At OPPOs request (more a challenge) I am using the Find X3 Pro exclusively for a month to see the difference between ColorOS and One UI. Color OS has a suite of Google alternative apps for the Chinese market as well as all Google apps. You decide which you want and uninstall the ones you don’t need. They are not bloatware. I recall it had Facebook but I won’t sully myself using that rubbish so it was uninstalled. In using PhoneClone (OPPO program) to bring over my apps from the s21 Ultra I was surprised how many only work on Galaxy and needed to be uninstalled.
          ColorOS supports Google Assistant – none of this Bixby that is really only useful for South Koreans.
          Camera – it is too early to comment as I have only taken a few shots that have been superb. One thing I could not find was a QR reader but that is part of Google Lens and that is better than the hit and miss with the Samsung QR reader. It is early days but I k=have found the camera interface easy and comprehensive.

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Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of use
Design
Final Score