Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Oppo R7 review: More than some iPhone knock off
A premium build, great screen and proficient cameras makes the R7 a worthy buy
- Great AMOLED screen
- Slender, metal unibody
- 8 megapixel front camera
- Fast charging
- Dual-SIM capable
- Heavy Android overlay
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
Many trophies line the mantle at Oppo’s offices. One reads “first smartphone with a 1440p screen”. Another reads “first smartphone compatible with fast charging”. Engraved on a third is “world’s thinnest smartphone at 4.85mm”. These proverbial trophies lend credence to the fact Oppo is an up-and-coming brand from China trying to forge its name through serious innovation.
The company’s latest smartphone, the R7, has no ‘World’s first’ titles. It aims to make Oppo’s technology available in a comfortable form factor and at a price that undercuts rivalling flagships.
Perhaps its most radical feature is its microSD slot, which doubles as a secondary SIM slot, making this a dual-SIM smartphone. It’s a clever trick too few smartphones pull off in Australia.
The rest of the phone focusses on doing all of the basic things really well.
Take the large, 5-inch display, for instance. It’ll appeal to heavy multimedia users, not only because it has a Full HD resolution, or a 445 pixel-per-inch density, but because it uses an AMOLED panel. Bright colours contrast against wholesome blacks as the backlighting of individual pixels can be switched off. Putting this technology into a smartphone improves the presentation of games, videos and photos, as well as the texture of the operating system. It is a feature lost in the numbers on a spec sheet, but it is one that enriches the overall experience.
Running on the R7 is Android 5.0 Lollipop, only the vibrant Google operating system has been coated with a heavy overlay. No new functionality is added; its only role is to make an Oppo phone different to every other Android smartphone. We neither loved it nor loathed it over our one week review period.
Powering the smartphone is an octa-core processor from Qualcomm, composed of a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU and another 1GHz quad-core CPU. Graphics are handled by an Adreno 405 GPU, while 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage account for the smartphone’s memory.
More storage can be added with support for microSD memory cards up to 128GB in size. Making use of the expandable memory slot means the Oppo R7 will work as a run-of-the-mill single SIM smartphone.
The hardware and the software work together well to deliver a spiffy user experience. ColorOS is laden with animations, and the hardware is enough to make sure they are presented with eloquence, but it cannot compete with better equipped flagships. Its 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited score of 7775 places it in contention against Kogan’s Agora 4G Pro (7523) and ZTE’s Blade S6 (8680), and it is well behind the Samsung Galaxy S6 (22,083).
Integrated into the body is a battery that supports Oppo’s VOOC fast-charger. It is powerful enough to replenish most of the charge during a brief pit stop at home. Plug in a flat R7 and it will reach 68 per cent of charge in 28 minutes.
The battery in the slender R5 left us underwhelmed. The flagship R7 has a larger 2320 milliamp-hour battery and it represents a significant improvement. We kitted it with one SIM card and used the R7 as our primary smartphone over a week review period.
It was used for phone calls, texting and emailing; to surf the Internet and to browse social networks; to take photos, stream music and play videos; and for some GPS navigation. Good Gear Guide’s lowest recorded result was 22 hours and 13 minutes, while our longest was 26 hours and 46 minutes, with it lasting for a day on average.
This smartphone is equipped with two proficient cameras. A 13 megapixel camera sits almost flush on the rear and works with a single LED flash. Photos taken with this camera position it as a capable mid-range camera phone. Most of them are good enough to be viewed on a large screen monitor, but there are a few that are let down by a limited dynamic range, and some image noise when they are viewed at their native resolution.
There’s a lot to like about the Oppo R7. It’s well built with 92 per cent of its body being forged from a magnesium and aluminium alloy. It has a screen versed in bright colours and dark colours. Both of its cameras are good enough to rely on when sacred moments are fleeting. The battery will last almost a day on average. And the rest of its hardware is competent. These constitute its long list of pros.
The opposing list of cons is a short one: some might not like Oppo’s custom overlay. The operative word being ‘some’.
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