Review: Oppo R9s smart phone
4.5Overall Score
Price (RRP): $598 Manufacturer: Oppo

Once again Oppo has released a phone that defies its pricing in design and performance. The Oppo R9s is the current premium model from the brand in Australia. And you know, if you keep a finger over the Oppo logo on the rear a lot of people are going to think that you have an iPhone 6 Plus. (What, not a 7 Plus? The single camera is the giveaway there.)

Features

So what do you get for your $598? Before embarking on that, for a sense of proportion let me note that this is 47 per cent of the price of a 32GB iPhone Plus.

You get a phone with a beaut full high definition 5.5 inch AMOLED screen, in a slim (6.58mm) case, with a hot processor with 4GB of working memory, and 64GB of built in storage, powered by a 3010mAh Lithium Polymer battery. Unlike an iPhone, you can expand storage by slipping in a microSD card of up to 256GB, or alternatively use the same space for a second Nano SIM so you can use two different phone networks.

The hot processor is an eight core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor running nominally at 2.02GHz (also known as an MSM8953). A Mali-T860 graphics processor handles the picture processing.

The screen gets the latest in the form of Corning Gorilla Glass 5. In fact, the phone comes with a screen protector already fitted. The case is metal, with a soft gold hue to the back and sides giving it a classy appearance. Apparently there’s a black model as well. The six thin horizontal lines, three at the top and three at the bottom of the case, add to the style, and Oppo says that they are the antennae for 4G and WiFi.

The phone also comes with a slim silicone or plastic case. It’s transparent and covers the sides and back with a cut-out for the camera (the rear camera bump is about a millimetre). It’s not heavily ribbed at the corners or sides, but would certainly take some of the force of an impact on the edges. That is a nice touch because phones from the less well-known brands aren’t as well served by third party accessory makers.

Power is provided by means of a Micro-B USB socket. I yearn for the day when everyone has switched to USB Type-C. Oppo has long had a fast charge technology called VOOC and that’s provided with this phone, allowing it to fill up quickly. It also has a 3.5mm earphone/microphone port at the bottom.

It comes with Android version 6.01 and Oppo’s ColorOS 3.0 interface. The phone supports fingerprint recognition and the sensor has a new “hydrophobic” (that is, water rejecting) surface so that this works even when the finger is wet. This is on the home “button” at bottom front. Like the current iPhone models, this isn’t really a button but more a sensitive area, so while it’s marked, it doesn’t move. There’s a brief vibration providing feedback, but it feels different to that on the iPhone which attempts, somewhat successfully, to emulate the feel of a button clicking.

Both the front and rear cameras pack 16 megapixels. The front one has an f/2.0 aperture and supports a “beauty” mode to make selfies look prettier. The screen can flash to provide plenty of light. Oppo is particularly proud of the rear one which features a new sensor co-developed with Sony. This camera has an f/1.7 aperture and features dual phase detection auto focus. Video at 720p, 1080p and 2160p (ie. 4K) resolutions is supported.

Bluetooth 4.1 is provided but not Near Field Communications – NFC – for easy pairing and for potentially performing financial transactions. WiFi is dual band and supports standards up to 802.11ac, which is right up to date. There are a wide range of LTE/4G data bands – being a kind of International phone, it’s fairly versatile on that front. And of course the Dual SIM functionality is useful for travellers.

Performance

I set up the phone the lazy man’s way: namely, to have it clone itself as much as possible from my regular Samsung phone. The Android “Setup Nearby Device” option was offered during the setup wizard, the phones found each other and the R9s gained appropriate access to my stuff. But it didn’t really do much more. It didn’t download and install my apps (as the Google notification suggested it would). All it offered was updates to the apps which were already on the phone.

I didn’t mind too much because it kind of forced a discipline on me to pick and choose what I wanted to install, instead of simply piling in the stuff that I’ve accumulated over too long a time. But it did mean I had to do things like manually change my wallpaper and so on. But, hey, this is going to be a one-off for most people.

Can do nice closeups (if the insects don’t object) in good light — photo cropped, not scaled