Surprising value: Oppo’s $449 R7 iPhone clone reviewed

Slim phones shouldn’t cost a fortune, and Oppo appears keen to give consumers what they want, packing the best of both worlds into one neato sub-$500 package. Is this a great deal?

Features

Oppo’s latest take on the smartphone is the R7, a metal wrapped smartphone aiming to compete against the big boys and flagships on weight and design.

We’ve already mentioned that it’s metal, but if you can believe it, this $449 handset also manages to offer something even the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 cannot, with a thickness of 6.3mm, a difference of 6.9 and 7mm respectively.

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Inside this thickness, you’ll find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 eight-core processor, comprising of two sections clocked at 1.5GHz and 1GHz, and paired with 3GB RAM and 16GB storage, though the latter of these can be upgraded with a microSD slot provided you’re not using a nanoSIM (more on this in a moment).

Google’s Android operating system runs on the Oppo R7, but not in a way you may be familiar with, as Oppo runs its own variation known as Color OS on this smartphone. Despite this version being a little different from regular Android, it is still totally compatible with the millions of apps and games available for the platform.

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Two cameras can be found inside the body, one on the rear and the other on the front, and for this phone, you’ll find a 13 megapixel camera on the back with an LED flash, while an 8 megapixel camera sits up front, both of which are capable of capturing 1080p Full HD video.

Connections for the R7 are relatively standard, with 802.11b/g/n WiFi here alongside Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and 4G LTE, with wired technology handled through the only two ports found on the smartphone, a microUSB port at the bottom and a 3.5mm headset jack up top.

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All of this sits underneath a 5 inch display, running the Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 and protected by Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3.

Only two physical buttons can be found on the R7, comprising of a power button on the left edge with a volume rocker on the right edge. Three soft buttons can be found at the very bottom of the handset, just under the screen, with an older style menu button, home button, and a back button.

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And then there’s the slots for the phone, and you’ll find two of these here, available on a pin ejectable tray with room for either one microSIM and one microSD, or one microSIM and one nanoSIM.

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You can opt to only have one of these taken, such as one nanoSIM and no microSIM, but if you go this route, the nanoSIM takes up the slot of the microSD due to it being in the second slot. Furthermore, the use of the nanoSIM slot removes the ability to add storage via the microSD slot since they are both in the same section.

The battery on the Oppo R7 is built into the handset and is rated at 2320mAh.

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Performance

Oppo hasn’t been in the phone game for very long, though it is a brand that knows electronics. We’ve seen some very impressive electronics from the company before, and we’re seeing some interesting concepts in the first few phones it has been pushing out over the past couple of years, arriving in Australia officially last year.

Since that arrival, we’ve seen some creative cameras that rotate for you, high resolution screens, and super-slim bodies that even put the major manufacturers to shame, at least when it comes to building them as thin as humanly possible.

But as good as the Oppo phones have been, they were primarily built for one feature in mind. On the N3, it was a great camera that could be controlled using the touchscreen, with a pivot function that could be guided by a finger swipe. On the R5, it was all about keeping the phone thin, and ditching the headset jack to make that possible.

And in the R7, it’s about finding a middle ground for both of those things, getting rid of the rotating camera but keeping the quality up there, all in a body that is slim enough to keep with you and not stress the pocket, and Oppo is doing it for a little under $500.

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Design-wise, it’s not hard to see the phone Oppo is borrowing a style from, because if you take the iPhone 5, and then flatten and stretch it, you’ll see a similar look and feel here.

That’s not bad, though it’s certainly not original, but if you don’t care and wish Apple would make that style in a thinner design, this is what you’ll be looking for.

Pick it up, and the build quality is evident, with a solid metal construction and a slightly curved glass at the front.

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The metal body is a nice change for a mid-range handset, and while we’re not too fond of the pronounced edges, the 147 gram weight is spread out nicely so that your hand and pockets won’t feel any issues.

There’s even a little physical dot on the back of the phone to help you know which side is the bottom of the phone when you drag it out of your pocket, sort of like the bump on “F” key that told you where to put your fingers if you learned to type that way.

The bump is handy here, and sort of helps to deal with the realisation that yes, you’re basically using a generic block of metal and glass.

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Oppo even includes a transparent plastic case in the box so you don’t have to go buy another, though it does make it hard to use that little bump.

At least it won’t hurt too much if you decide to accidentally drop the thing.

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