For the most part, the Oppo handles itself for phone calls, surfing the web, writing and reading emails, social networking, and general use of the phone, and we’re even delighted to see Swype pre-installed as a keyboard, meaning you can get some gesture typing if need be, which we see as faster than the on-screen key-by-key typing we’re all used to using.
Occasionally, however, the system does slow to a crawl, and you’ll find yourself holding down the older Android menu button to pull up multi-tasking so you can swipe apps out of the memory as quickly as you can, which doesn’t always help.
We found the R5 could quickly recover from its performance troubles, but it wasn’t helped by ColorOS, Oppo’s take on what an Android overlay should be like.
This one reminds us of Huawei’s Emotion UI, both of which appear to be inspired by Apple’s iOS, available on iPhones and iPads.
Instead of operating like regular Android with widgetised home screens and an app menu, the two have been merged on ColorOS, and your app shortcuts can be found on every widgetised home screen, swiping left to right to see what is available to you, and adding widgets to the screen if necessary.
Converts from iOS might find this easier to get used to, but we find it a little clumsy, and it doesn’t clean itself up easily, meaning if you move icons and install something else, you may find holes in your layout very quickly.
Likewise, the lock screen is a little different, forcing you to download themes if you wish to change the layout. At least you’re given this option, but it’s not going to be ideal for all.
But hey, at least the camera is decent, and with the R5, we’re seeing another of Oppo’s excellent little shooters built into this phone.
It’s not the rotating camera found on either the N3 or the N1 Mini, but the rear 13 megapixel camera does remind us of the 13 megapixel camera on the N1 Mini, offering a little bit of expandability in the software for more options, and some decent light and balanced exposures when you take the shot, though they can get a little soft and noisy when you get up close to the images.
Daylight is obviously the best time to shoot with this camera, though we’re happy to see Oppo’s extended camera features still here, with a few downloadable modes supported by this little camera.
And that little camera does add a bump to the thickness of the Oppo R5, but it’s not what helps the phone achieve that remarkably small 4.85mm thickness. Rather, it’s the total omission of a 3.5mm jack that makes that happen, meaning you can’t just plug in a pair of headphones to listen to music.
You can always use wireless Bluetooth headphones, which is what this phone feels geared to, but if you have a pair of wired earphones or headphones that you love, they won’t plug in natively, a special cable that converts 3.5mm into microUSB, the one port found on the phone.
There is one catch, however, to make this accessory work: you have to have Android-friendly headphones.
“What’s that?” I hear you say to yourself, “Android-friendly headphones. Is there such a thing?”
If you can believe it, there is, and most headphones aren’t, or rather the cables aren’t.
Technically, all headphones are Android-friendly, with headphones generally being platform agnostic; they’re sound devices, so provided they plug in with a 3.5mm cable, they don’t actually care. They’ll play audio when sound is sent through the cable from a 3.5mm jack to another 3.5mm port.
But cables aren’t all the same, especially when you throw Apple’s “MFi” or “made for iPhone” cables in the mix. Cables with remotes are generally made for Apple devices, except where otherwise noted, and these usually do not let you use more than one button on the remote for devices that aren’t made by Apple.
And that’s where things get interesting with the Oppo R5.
You see, there is no 3.5mm jack on the R5, a fact we’ve already mentioned which helps to get the R5 down in thickness.
To help with this, you’re given a microUSB to 3.5mm cable, essentially providing you a port even if it hangs slightly off the side.
Unfortunately, the moment you plug in a pair of headphones with an MFi cable — which is a good 60% of headphones out there — you’ll find the phone skips the cord and plays audio through the phone’s speaker, essentially ignoring your headphones.