OPPO A9 2020 – $399 with 48MP snapper and a massive 5000mAh battery

OPPO A9 2020
SBA

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 year.

Australian Website here

Price: $399

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 this price.

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 2017.

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 speed, dual-channel

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 cards.

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 907Mbps.
  • 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 pickup motion
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Magnetometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Proximity

Note it is unusual to have this complement of sensors on a lower-cost phone.


LTE

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.

X12 Modem Cat 12/13, 600/150Mbps DL/UL, 2×2 Antenna

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 fine.

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 speaker use.

3.5mm audio jack and a good DAC.

FM radio – uses the buds cable as the antenna.

BT Codecs: SBC, aptX/adaptive/HD, LDAC (Opus), Dolby Atmos and True Wireless stereo earbud support.


PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz – good for Hi-Res music

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 means good)
  • 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 strong
OPPO A9 2020

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.

Headphone test

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.

Tests

  • 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 A9 2020 camers

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.

Camera Primary

  • 48MP, 0.8um (binned 12MP 4000×3000 1.6um)
  • Sensor: Samsung S5KGM1
  • 6P glass lens construction
  • f/1.8
  • PDAF
  • 68.7 FOV
  • ISO 100-1600
  • Flash: Dual Tone – single LED
  • Auto HDR
  • Gyro EIS
  • Video: 8.3MP 3840 x 2160 [email protected]

Camera 2 – ultra-wide

  • 8MP, f/2.3, 13mm (119° ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm, AF
  • Hynix/hi846

Camera 3 – mono

  • 2MP, f/2.4, 1/5.0″, 1.75µm, mono
  • OV02A1B or GalaxyCore GC02MO56

Camera 4 – depth sensor (bokeh)

  • 2 MP, f/2.4, 1/5.0″, 1.75µm
  • OV02A1B or GalaxyCore GC02MO56

Front Selfie

  • 16MP 1.0um (binned to 4MP 2.0um 2320 x 1744)
  • Samsung S5K3P8
  • f/2.0
  • 67.5° FOV
  • ISO 100-1600
  • HDR
  • Flash: No
  • 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.


Ultrawide

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.

Video

[email protected] – good detail, accurate colours, low noise, and good dynamic range but no EIS means use a tripod.

[email protected] or 60fps – as above but with EIS. You get the option to choose between the H.264 and H.265 codecs.

Bokeh

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.

Selfie

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.

Gyro EIS

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

AI beautification automatically identifies ages and smooths different skin tones depending on gender and adjusts pictures based on current beauty trends.

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.


AI scenes

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

OPPO A9 2020
Accurate colours and good detail from the standard lens
OPPO A9 2020
2X zoom keeps colours and adds details

Indoors office light 400 lumens

OPPO A9 2020
Reds are a little pinkish but otherwise great detail

Low light <100 lumens

OPPO A9 2020
Low light – reasonable colours
OPPO A9 2020
Ultra-night mode brings up brightness at the expense of real colours – pretty good with little added noise.

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 well.

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.

  • vivo Y12 ($249), Y17 ($369), and S1 ($449)
  • Realme (online) C2 ($199), 5 ($299), 5Pro ($399) and XT ($499)
  • OPPO A series ($299/399), Reno Z ($499/599) and R-series (from $499 but typically $699+)
  • Motorola e6 Plus ($199), One Macro ($199) and One Vision ($399) and new G8 series (from $499)
  • Nokia 2.2 ($199), 4.2 ($249), 6.2 ($399), and 7.2 ($549) (Note .3 series is being released soon)
  • Samsung A20 ($279) and A30 ($379), A50 ($499), and A70 ($649)
  • Mintt Duo 3 ($179), A3 ($199), S2 ($235), X3 ($265) and Y3 ($399)
  • Alcatel 1S ($199) and 3 ($279)
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Reader Rating45 Votes
Killer 5000mAh battery life
Quad Camera is one of the best at this price
OPPO quality and very low failure rates
No IP rating
4.8