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Oppo’s Unique Take on Premium Smartphones

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We’ve gotten plenty of enquiries about the Oppo range of mobile phones. The question, inevitably was, are they any good?

Most are attracted, no doubt, by the styling. It’s not difficult to see why. The Oppo R9s and R9s Plus are dead ringers for the Apple iPhones and cost about half the price. Even the user interface has its roots in Apple’s design. Most smartphones on the market are derivative in one way or another, so it’s not a big deal. If you consider that many smartphone makers are designing their phones based on rumours of what Apple is doing, then you’d have an idea of how aggressive the game is these days.

For one thing, their treatment of the antenna lines on their phones are much more refined; with thin lines adding accents as opposed to the thick, contrasty lines that iPhones have. The other cosmetic difference is the addition of a chamfer. The home button doubles up as the fingerprint sensor and is of the new-fangled, non-mechanical variety like the iPhone 7, although it does not have the same force touch qualities (pressure sensitivity).

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Unlike the iPhone, the two Oppo phones use AMOLED panels for their display, which can reproduce a wider range of colours compared to the more prevalent IPS screens. In our case, the R9s comes across as a little richer while the R9s Plus is a little brighter; regardless, you can tell that they’re cut from the same cloth. The extra 0.5 inches on the R9s Plus is effectively a choice between having a larger canvas or otherwise because they share the same screen resolution (1920 x 1080), and in real world terms, they are equally as sharp. However, it does make the R9s Plus a handful to hold.

Both use Snapdragon 6-series processors (Snapdragon 653 on the R9s Plus, Snapdragon 625 on the R9s), which are competent and energy efficient and have been earning plaudits for balancing performance with long battery life. The 653 is slightly more powerful, but the 625 goes a long way with its stellar battery life – easily over a day with moderate use. Additionally, the VOOC Fast Charging feature charges quickly and within 20 minutes or so you’re more than ready for the day ahead. That being said, the R9s Plus is no slouch and can make its way past a day as well; it’s just that the bigger screen and bigger ‘engine’ drains faster when it’s pushed (intensive apps like games, video editing, etc.).

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Performance-wise the 625 is usually more than sufficient, but if you’re the sort who will want to minimise any form of lag and the sort, the 653 is cheap insurance, short of buying flagship-class phones with Snapdragon 8-series hardware. To sweeten the deal, the R9s Plus comes with 6GB of RAM as opposed to 4GB on the R9s.

As a mid-range device, there are some compromises, when you pit them against the top end phones, of which no NFC and no waterproofing is top of the list. So cashless payments are not supported, and there is no insurance against dropping your phone into water.

You do have a decent camera though (check out our previous piece comparing various smartphone cameras), and the fact is, that while many competing phones are using the same camera components, the images are all processed differently by each manufacturer. Oppo’s treatment is very likeable and easy on the eye. The front facing camera is of a higher quality than many phones in its category and takes great group photos or ‘selfies’. It’s a bit slow when the lighting isn’t as good but once you get the hang of it and know how much is enough the results are good. Images display strong and well-defined colour although the dark objects tend to lose detail as the colour tends to be a bit dark. The R9s Plus has the added advantage of having an optical image stabiliser built-in to reduce shakiness.

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Oppo’s Color OS 3.0 is more Apple-clone-ish than most, but the simplicity is appreciated. Not everyone has very specific requirements from their phones, and the Color OS layout and system works very well if you like to keep things simple.

All things considered, the Oppo R9s (S$679) and R9s Plus (S$779) were designed for the fuss-free users who like a simple, stylish device that doesn’t have to do everything, but is still able to execute its tasks competently. Granted, there are many Android phones that can do the same for less, but the Oppo phones acquit themselves well, performing well enough in all departments. The price is a fair bit higher, but it is a premium-quality device after all.

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