The OPPO A9 2020 is a mass-market phone that at $399 is midway of the segment. But in doing so, it has redefined the features this cost-conscious group can expect.
For example, the OPPO A9 2020 has
Qualcomm SD665 with Game Boost 2.0 and
4/128GB/microSD to 256GB
6.5” Waterdrop HD+ IPS screen
48MP Quad camera, gyro EIS, Ultra-wide lens and
Ultra Night mode 2.0
5000mAh battery with reverse charging
Stereo speakers and Dolby Atmos
We wrote about the OPPO A5 and OPPO A9 2020 series in October 2019 commenting that we had not seen reverse charging, dual sim and dedicated micro-SD slots, a Qualcomm SD SoC and OPPO’s legendary camera expertise in this price bracket. And if you want to save $100, the A5 2020 is almost the same but sold by Telstra. You can read the comparison here.
OPPO A9 2020 Model CPH1941
Note: This is not the A9 model released in some markets last
Australian warning: To get the genuine Australian model (grey or parallel imports lack certification for Australian networks) we recommend JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, The Good Guys, Bing Lee and Woolworths Mobile. Avoid online merchants like the plague!
First impression – EXCEED
OPPO has nailed the retail market with a great out of the
box experience, beautiful, stylish colours (Marine Green and Vanilla Mint), a
clear bumper case, factory fitted screen protector, buds that are a cut above
average, and white USB-C OPPO 5V/2A charger.
In case you did not know OPPO is a member of the BBK group with realme, vivo and OnePlus – it is the second-largest phone maker in the world. It has long ago perfected quality assurance and return rates in Australia are a fraction of the norm.
You would not know this was a $399 phone but as experts we
see the charger is a non-PD, USB-C 5V/2A; the screen is 1600 x 720, and ram is
4GB – all very acceptable cost compromises.
Screen – PASS on resolution and EXCEED on brightness and full-screen size
It is a 6.52-inch, 1600×720, 270ppi, 20:9, 89% STBR IPS covered
in Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
OPPO claims 480nits and 1500:1 contrast. We tested to
480nits with good even brightness. Out of the box, the default setting is a
little cold and the screen can be warmed via a Display slider to achieve about
80% sRGB and Delta E of 6 (below 4 is good). There are no other gamma settings
Auto brightness is a little aggressive, and I tend to switch
it off – although it is handy for improved daylight viewing. The 720p does not
show pixelation and is perfect for streaming.
But you don’t expect such a large screen, a waterdrop notch
screen, Netflix streaming certification and reasonable colours/brightness for
Processor – EXCEED
Qualcomm SD665, 4×1.8Ghz Kyro A53 and 4×2.02GHz Kyro A73
This is an 11nm chip meaning better energy efficiency and
lower heat. It also incorporates a lot of the Qualcomm 3rd generation
AI, Hexagon 686 DSP, and the Spectra 165 Image Signal processor. These enable
‘on-device’ Object Detection, Portrait and Low Light Night Mode photography.
In the grand scheme, it sits just below the SD670/675 that
support QC 4.0 and a faster Adreno 612/615 GPUs. It beats a MediaTek Helio P65.
The 670 is in 12 models including Google Pixel 3a/XL, OPPO
R17 and Vivo X23. The 675 is in 43 models including Motorola One, Samsung
Galaxy A60/70, TCL Plex, vivo U3/U20/V17 and more.
This one, the 665 is found in 50 models including the realme
5, vivo U3/Y9/U10, OPPO A5/9/11, Motorola G8 Plus and more.
Geekbench 5 gives it single/multi-core ratings of 287/1249
which puts it in a similar power category as a Samsung Galaxy S8 released April
CPU Throttling test 1 – PASS
It is capable of over 143,000GIPs and for the first four
minutes of a 15-minute 100% stress test does so. As the processor cores reach
the magic 97° throttling begins. Two of the A73 2.0GHz drop down and the
remaining six cores are rock solid delivering approx. 124,000GIPS (81%) for the
rest of the test. This is not bad for a low-cost phone.
CPU Throttling test 2 – EXCEED
We found a setting under battery maintenance that allows for
maximum performance. With this switched on the system maintained full speed for
four minutes, then the drop was less pronounced.
GPU – PASSable
Adreno 610 GPU decodes VP8/9, HEVC, H.263/4, MP2/3/4. It
supports OpenCL 2.0 Full, Vulkan 1.1, OpenGL ES 3.2, DX12
OPPO has a Game Space app and Game Boost 2.0 for Adreno, and
it intelligently recognises the game and matches GPU capabilities to deliver
fast touch response, frame boost and smooth images. It also turns off most
background tasks that can interfere with games performance. Subjectively it
adds about 20% to frame rates but the catch 22 is that serious game players
will be looking for more SoC grunt and RAM. It should play most modern mobile
games at reasonable frame rates.
RAM/Storage – PASS
4GB LPDDRX4-1866 dual-channel RAM 3.643GB free – this is a high
128GB UFS2.1 102.68GB free – this is high-speed UFS 2.1, not
the cheaper eMMC flash.
Dedicated micro-SDXC slot to 256GB – this takes higher speed
Comms – EXCEED
Wi-Fi 5 AC, dual-band 1 x 1 MIMO – having one
antenna means a maximum speed of 433Mbps and a signal strength of -47dBm at 2
meters from our NETGEAR AAX12 router. By comparison, the Note10+ had -49 and
BT 5.0 LE (see sound codecs later)
NFC – Yes (international models do not support
NFC) and supports Google Pay.
GPS includes new features for Low Power
Geofencing and Tracking, Sensor-assisted Navigation
Accelerometer includes game rotation vector and
Ambient light sensor
Note it is unusual to have this complement of sensors on a
Dual Sim- VoLTE, Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) with LTE call
continuity, HD and Ultra HD Voice (EVS), 3CA. Both are active – when one is
busy, the other turns off.
Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 18, 19, 20, 26, 28, 38, 39, 40,
41 (CPH1941 Australian model only – any other variants like the A11/x, CHP1937
and CPH 1939 not for this market)
We were a little concerned at the signal strength at -101dBm
(in a three-bar area) but to be fair; it found the two neighbouring towers at
-101 and 107. It may not get Telstra Blue-Tick, but urban reception should be
Security – PASS
Fingerprint Sensor – Goodix – 99% reliable and fast
2D Face recognition – can be slow and not always reliable in
lower light – otherwise fine in day/office light.
Sound – PASS but BT and Hi-Res – EXCEED
Stereo matched (top earpiece and bottom-firing). Maximum
volume 75.9dB music and 81.2db ringer. This is a little low for good handsfree
The Dolby Atmos equaliser only works with wires or BT headphones.
You can select Smart, Movie, Gaming and Music. Smart adapts to what you’re
doing, movie is for that surround, gaming increases the treble for footsteps
and Music allows you to choose between 4 equaliser pre-sets, the V-shaped
balanced equaliser, the warm equaliser (self-explanatory), detailed which gives
you more mid and high and off in which the equaliser is flat.
The single mic lacks ANC – you need to speak clearly.
Sound signature stereo speakers – not always applicable to a low-cost device
Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – none
Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – none
High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – building (that
Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat
Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat
Treble:4-6kHz – flat
High Treble: 6-10kHz – a slight decline (to
remove treble harshness)
Dog whistle: 10-20 – there to 12kHz but not
It is a mid-centric sound signature. Almost no bass but well-controlled mid and treble. You can read more about sound signatures and why they are so important here.
We tested with the Sony WH-1000Xm3 as it can use SBC,
aptX/HD, AAC, LDAC (Opus version) codecs.
It was able to use all codecs successfully – something most lower-cost
phones cannot. Hi-Res audio enthusiasts will appreciate this.
Battery – 5000mAh – EXCEED
Over a typical 24-hour day, we had over 50% left and over
seven days had to recharge four times – that means it will go two or more days.
The supplied 5V/2A charger will fill from 0-100% in four
hours. It also supports QC 3.0 and with an appropriate charger reduces charge time
to under 3 hours. It is not OPPO VOOC Flash charge compatible.
Discharge is approx — 237mA at idle meaning a standby of
over 21 days.
100% load – 13 hours
720p video loop 50% screen, BT and aeroplane
mode – 21 hours
Typical use – still going at over three days
Reverse charging is via the OTG function of the USB-C cable
(not supplied) – not Wireless. USB-C 3.1 gen 1 OTG support to 2TB
Build – EXCEED
163.6 x 75.6 x 9.1mm x 195g
It has a polycarbonate frame, plastic back with vacuum
deposit paint and Gorilla Glass 3 front with a factory-fitted screen protector.
There is no flex and it should withstand knocks although we recommend you use
the clear bumper case.
Android – EXCEED as it is likely Android 10 is coming
Android 9 under ColorOS 6.1. We won’t go into ColorOS here.
OPPO has refined Android, and the skin has a minimal learning curve. It has a
full set of Google Apps including Google Lens and Assistant. It also offers all
its alternatives to Google Services.
OPPO A9 2020 Camera – EXCEED
A quad camera at this price is almost unheard of. But don’t be fooled by four lenses – the Primary 48MP will be for 99% of images and the 8MP ultra-wide for those ‘Grand Canyon’ tourist vistas. The other two lenses are more sensors – a 2MP mono and a 2MP depth sensor. These add additional portrait and bokeh capabilities – AI controls the use so you won’t know when you are using them.
OPPO has mastered smartphone cameras and use things like 6-piece
glass lenses (most cheaper phones have 3 piece and often plastic lenses) and
have bought its Gyro EIS (gyro assisted electronic image stabilisation) down to
this level of phone. This makes video images clearer and less jumpy.
48MP, 0.8um (binned 12MP 4000×3000 1.6um)
Sensor: Samsung S5KGM1
6P glass lens construction
Flash: Dual Tone – single LED
Video: 8.3MP 3840 x 2160 4K@30fps
Camera 2 – ultra-wide
8MP, f/2.3, 13mm (119° ultrawide), 1/4.0″,
Camera 3 – mono
2MP, f/2.4, 1/5.0″, 1.75µm, mono
OV02A1B or GalaxyCore
Camera 4 – depth sensor (bokeh)
2 MP, f/2.4, 1/5.0″, 1.75µm
OV02A1B or GalaxyCore
16MP 1.0um (binned to 4MP 2.0um 2320 x 1744)
Video 2304 x 1728 (practically 1920 x 1080)
Some OPPO Camera tech
A note on binning
48MP may sound large, but in reality, it is a 12MP finished
shot. Binning is what Google Pixel uses and means instantaneously shooting a
bracket of shots and letting AI select the best pixels. OPPO has nailed this
producing some of the best binned and RAW 48MP shots as well.
It is better at taking in tourist vistas in good light – although
it can use Ultra-night mode as well, it simply does not have the aperture or
pixel size to make a difference.
4K@30fps – good detail, accurate colours, low noise, and
good dynamic range but no EIS means use a tripod.
1080@30 or 60fps – as above but with EIS. You get the option
to choose between the H.264 and H.265 codecs.
OPPO has one of the best Bokeh algorithms and lenses to
produce bokeh as it should be. A blurred background that still shows some structure.
Remember it bins 16MP to 4MP so the 1.0um pixels are 2.0um
and you get a damned good shot. With Fixed Focus, you need to huddle. There is
no screen fill light.
By combining EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) with
intelligent technology and an internal gyroscope, the A9 provides shake-free video
even if you are walking, running or riding in a vehicle.
AI beautification automatically identifies ages and smooths
different skin tones depending on gender and adjusts pictures based on current
Ultra-Night Mode 2.0
Uses HDR plus multi-frame shots and works on primary and wide-angle lenses. It is post-processed to increase brightness, keep primary colours reasonably accurate and reduce flare. It really works well.
Dog, portrait, baby, fireworks
beach, landscape, documents, cat, dancing light, multiple portraits, macro,
against light, moire pattern, pure colour, green plant, flower.
Outdoors – fine day
Indoors office light 400 lumens
Low light <100 lumens
GadgetGuy’s take – OPPO A9 2020 is stellar value at $399
As hard as we tried to find fault (commensurate with a $399
phone), there is nothing really to complain about. On the plus side is great
looks, is the Qualcomm SD665, great camera, good screen, dual sim and dedicated
micro-SD, Wi-Fi AC, NFC and the huge 5000mAh battery acts as a power bank as
We could be picky and say that it is a fingerprint magnet
(use the clear bumper case), 720p instead of a 1080 screen, 4GB, no IP rating
and slightly thicker bezels that we are used to – but that is how you bring it
in at this value.
It is for those that have $399 and want maximum value. OPPO sibling realme has the same quad-camera 5 Pro ($399 online only so can offer a little more value) with smaller 4000mAh battery.
Another OPPO sibling vivo has the Y12 and Y17, which we dubbed the worker’s phones. These have 5000mAh batteries (same as OPPO A9 2020)
In fact, I am now confusing myself – and perhaps that is what BBK wants.
It has three brands and dozens of models to win your business – watch out Nokia, Motorola, Mintt and Samsung.