OPPO A94 5G

OPPO A94 5G – Get it from Telstra (review)

7

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 A94 5G Model CPH2211 Single SIM 8/128GB

Websitehere
Price:$599 outright or 12/24months for $49.91/24.95 per month plus a Telstra Upfront (pre-paid) mobile plan. Free Australian delivery
ColoursFluid Black
From:Telstra (note: must activate 5G on Telstra)
Warranty:Two-years ACL
Country of Manufacture:China
CompanyOPPO is now #2 in Australia for Android smartphone market share. It has achieved that by excellent product and after-sales service.
MoreYou 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.

Test:

  • 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.

Battey Tests

  • GFX Bench T-Rex: 473.5 minutes (7.89 hours) 3283 frames
  • 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.

Volume

  • 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.

 Camera Primary 48MP
bins to 12MP
Ultra-Wide 8MPMono
2MP
Depth
2MP
Selfie
16MP
Sensor*OmniVision OV48B or Samsung S5KGM1Hynix HI846GC02K or
OV02A
OV02BSamsung S5K3P9 or Sony IMX471
Lens6P5P3P3P5P
FocusAFAFFFFFAF
Aperture f-stop1.7 2.4samesame
Pixel size um.8
binned to 1.6
1.121.751.751
FOV° and cropped79 (64.8)119 (107)898978 (67)
StabilisationEIS for video    
FlashSingle   Screen
Zoom10X digital    
Video Max[email protected]   [email protected]
FeaturesAI camera recognises 22 types of scenes and intelligently applies scene enhancement algorithms for instantly optimised photos    

Daylight, outdoors

OPPO A94 5G
1x and colours are natural. The detail is good, but the cloud top left is blown out
The ultra-wide lens loses detail, but overall it is a pretty good shot
OPPO A94 5G
2x – good detail and actually bringing the cloud blow-out under control via AI
OPPO A94 5G
4x – starting to get noisy but pretty good
OPPO A94 5G
10x is surprisingly good for digital zoom

Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)

Low light (room with less than 100 lumens)

Low light is very good with decent dynamic range
Night mode adds the brightness at the expense of dynamic range

Video

Video [email protected] is poor. Electronic Image Stabilisation is patchy at best, and the is a lot of noise. However, [email protected] or 60fps is superb with good colours and reasonable low light capability.

GadgetGuy’s take

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.

Rating explanation

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.
Features
6
Value for money
6
Performance
7
Ease of use
10
Design
6
Positives
Good solid OPPO allrounder
30W VOOC fast charge
Decent camera setup
Negatives
Only a single sim from Telstra with a pre-paid plan
There are many competitors, including two from OPPO
7