Two of the more noteworthy things about the $599 OPPO A94 5G smartphone is its nice, bright, daylight readable 6.43″ FHD HDR AMOLED screen and its 30W VOOC Flash Charge battery. Yes, it is a given that it has OPPO’s renowned camera prowess, its 360° 4/5G antenna system and all the usual OPPO goodies.
It is only available from Telstra. You can buy it outright for $599 or on 12/24months for $49.91/24.95 per month. The Catch 22 is that Telstra’s lowest cost 5G plan is $65/80GB, and Telstra’s 5G coverage is patchy at best, so please check if you can get 5G before you commit.
Overall it is a good phone available on a plan. If you don’t need 5G or want to buy outright, we will look at alternatives later. Note there is no dual sim retail version of this phone – if you see any, they are grey market.
OPPO is now #2 in Australia for Android smartphone market share. It has achieved that by excellent product and after-sales service.
You can read more GadgetGuy OPPO news and reviews here.
First impression – Colourful screen
It is a tall/slim, 20:9 screen. Otherwise, it is a black slab, albeit that Fluid Black is closer to a gunmetal grey, and it and the front glass are fingerprint magnets.
Of note are a 30W VOOC charger, a set of 3.5mm buds and a clear TPU bumper case in the box. The rear quad camera (48+8+2+2MP) and the front (16MP) are standard OPPO fare for a smartphone at this price.
Screen – colourful and clear
The 6.43″, 2400 x 1080, 409ppi, 16.7M colour, 60Hz (fixed), AMOLED is also standard fare for OPPO. Being AMOLED, it supports an Always-on-Display.
Being AMOLED, it has good brightness and contrast. OPPO ‘claim’ – 430nits (Normal); 600nits (HBM); 800nits (Peak value). Ignore the theoretical HBM and Peak readings – the screen has enough brightness for good sunlight readability. It tests to 99.9% sRGB at a Delta E 2.7, and typical brightness claims are within 20% of the test results.
It supports Widevine L1 and HDCP 2.3, so it will play Netflix SDR content. It will decode up to HDR10 and HLG content to its SDR screen.
Gamers will like it – a 4ms GTG is pretty fast, but a fixed 60Hz refresh is outclassed by many competitors.
It has a pre-fitted plastic screen protector over a tempered glass (not Gorilla Glass).
Processor – MediaTek Dimensity 800U
This 8-core, 7nm is a new breed of MediaTek SoCs that features in nearly 40 brands/models from the OPPO family – Reno 6 Z, A95, F19, Realme 7/30 Pro/V15/Q2/X7, vivo U3/21 and Motorola Edge 20 Fusion and many more. Why? It is a cost-effective, reasonable performance, mid-range chip with an integrated 5G modem and AI accelerator.
It has 8GB LPDDR4X and 128GB UFS 2.1 (100GB free) and micro-SD to 256GB.
GeekBench single/multi-core is 597/1778 on par with a four-year-old Qualcomm SD845 – pretty good
Open CL video: 2061 – OK for medium-to-high frame rates for most modern games.
Vulcan video: 2045
CPU Throttling: Max: 177,777GIPS, Average: 169599– 9% loss over 15 minutes CPU temp reached 50°. This is typical of OPPOs excellent thermal management expertise
Sequential read/write 531/318MBps
Comms – all there
Wi-Fi 5 AC 1×1 meaning a maximum of 433Mbps/-30dBm (good) at 2 metres from our Netgear AX11000 reference router. It holds the 5Ghz signal quite well out to about 10 metres.
BT is 5.1 and supports multi-point connections (to a PC and the phone)
NFC – Google Pay chip reader
GPS – Single-band 10m accuracy
Sensors include combo Accelerometer and Gyroscope (this usually results in very sensitive auto-rotate), eCompass, Proximity, and Ambient light. The under-glass Goodix fingerprint sensor was 100% accurate and fast. Its Face ID is not nearly as fast or accurate.
USB-C 2.0 maximum 480Mbps (60MBps) half-duplex. Our excellent Orico 1TB IV300 external SSD reaches 41/25MBps – reflecting the USB 2.0 bottleneck.
LTE and 5G – for Australia
This is a single sim model for Telstra (it has dedicated microSD as well). It has eight antennae for 360° coverage, which means the signal does not drop like a typical two-antenna device if you hold it wrong!
It supports 4G bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 28, 66 – pretty well a world phone covering all Australian telco brands. It supports VoLTE (voice calls over 4G), and VoWi-Fi (Wi-Fi calling) is limited to Telstra pre-plans and Boost Mobile (that we use to test smartphones).
Test: Telstra has screwed with our local tower refarming 3G to 5G and apparently turning off Band 28 as well – the result is terrible reception. So we now test at a line-of-site position approx. 1km from the tower. So, it is not a fair comparison to previous reviews.
Signal strength: -89dBm (good) and signal strength of 700fW to 1.3pW – superb
It does not pick up adjoining towers like other OPPO competitors (it could be a new location issue).
Data: It averages 16.4/18Mbps/37ms DL/UL/Ping – average.
5G bands are sub-6GHz and low-band n5, 8, 20, 40, 41, 66, 77 and 78. This phone is initially Telstra-locked and must be activated on its network before use anywhere else. We can’t test 5G speed but expect a between 200-400/30Mbps DL/UL with a good signal. Some reports say that 5G sucks the battery giving about three hours of screen-time.
Summary: It is a good city and suburban phone but not for regional use.
Battery – 30W VOOC is excellent
It has a 4300mAh battery and VOOC charger (5V/2A/10W and 5V/6A/30W). It can also use any USB-C PD or QC charger.
GFX Bench Manhattan: 483.2 minutes (7.3 hours) and 1911 frames
Video loop 50% screen/volume/on-device: 15 hours
Video loop Netflix, Wi-Fi, 50% screen/volume: 12 hours
MP3 play 50% volume/on-device: 24+ hours
100% battery drain screen auto: 8.5 hours
0-100% charge <60 minutes
There is a super low power mode for night using <2% in eight hours.
Depending on your use, it should last at least two days on 4G and 1.5 on 5G.
Sound – Mono
We don’t do frequency response tests on mono down-firing speakers as they are all optimised for clear voice. That means no bass, increasing to high mid and low treble (mid-centric).
Bluetooth 5.1 has SBC and AAC. The website claims Qualcomm aptX, aptX HD and LDAC, but the MediaTek chip does not support these and we could not enable them. It provides loud and clear BT headphone connections.
Handsfree is adequate. It is a little quiet, although the dual top/bottom mics do a reasonable job.
Media – 70dB
Ring – 75dB
Earpiece – 50dB
Handsfree – 70dB
Build – OPPO quality
At 160.1 x 73.4 x 7.8mm x 173g, it is tall and slim – nice and pocketable. The back is vacuum deposit polycarbonate, the frame is polycarbonate, and the front is toughened glass. It has no IP rating.
Android 11 and ColorOS 11.1 – PASS+
It has all Google standard apps, and the security patch is 5 August 2021. The A-series gets quarterly security patch updates but no promise of OS updates.
Overall, ColourOS 11.1 is a clean and fast Android 11.
Missing – not much
IP rating: Not expected at this price
Stereo speakers: Others have better stereo speakers
Qualcomm codecs: Not a big issue unless you know the difference
Variable refresh rate screen – not a gamers phone
Gorilla Glass: Not a big issue at this price
Dual sim: This can be an issue for some
Wireless charge – no issue at this price
Telstra locked – issue for non-Telstra users
Camera – Standrd OPPO fare
This setup is across OPPO, vivo and realme mid-range. It is very hard to take a bad photo. We have also seen what the MediaTek Dimensity 800U can do with computational photography – it is pretty good. Gorilla Glass 5 covers the whole camera bump.
DXOMark rates it 108, which is where most similar 48MP Quad camera phones sit. That is an average rating – strong for still images, but it lost points for ineffective EIS video stabilisation and its digital zoom.
Primary 48MP bins to 12MP
OmniVision OV48B or Samsung S5KGM1
GC02K or OV02A
Samsung S5K3P9 or Sony IMX471
Pixel size um
.8 binned to 1.6
FOV° and cropped
EIS for video
AI camera recognises 22 types of scenes and intelligently applies scene enhancement algorithms for instantly optimised photos
Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)
Low light (room with less than 100 lumens)
Video 4K@30fps is poor. Electronic Image Stabilisation is patchy at best, and the is a lot of noise. However, 1080p@30 or 60fps is superb with good colours and reasonable low light capability.
As much as it is an OPPO and all that goes with that, it is not outstanding in any particular way. And it is only from Telstra, which means a single sim and a more costly monthly pre-paid plan, especially if you can get and pay for 5G.
So for all that are part of Telstra’s empire, it is a fine phone.
Would I buy it? I recommend you bypass this for the unlocked dual sim OPPO Find X3 Lite ($599 128GB review here 9/10) or even the OPPO A74 5G ($499 128GB review here 9.8/10). The Find x3 Lite is a bargain as it has at least two years of OS upgrades; a Qualcomm 765G processor; 6.4″ variable refresh 90Hz AMOLED; 64MP quad-camera; and an impressive 65W SuperVOOC 0-100% in <40 minutes fast charge! Or save $100 for the A74 – it is very similar to the A94.
Since September 2021, we have adjusted our ratings to give us more ‘headroom’ to recognise exceptional features and performance. Until now, 8/10 was considered a ‘pass’. It is now 6/10, so if you compare it with older reviews, reduce them by two points.
As it does everything we expect from a $599 mid-range smartphone, it gets the pass mark. Add OPPO’s build quality, a better than average camera, 30W fast charge, and it creeps up to 7/10.
OPPO A94 5G
The OPPO A94 is a single sim phone exclusive to Telstra. As long as you don't mind that it is a fine phone.
Value for money
Ease of use
Good solid OPPO allrounder
30W VOOC fast charge
Decent camera setup
Only a single sim from Telstra with a pre-paid plan
There are many competitors, including two from OPPO