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Tuesday, 13 November 2018 18:04

Why I opted for an OPPO F9 instead of an iPhone XR Featured


Last week I walked into my local Vodafone store set to sign up for a plan with a new iPhone XR. A half hour later, I walked out of the store with an excellent SIM-only plan, but no new phone.

The only smartphones I have ever owned were iPhones and they were excellent phones. However, I’m afraid that as far as phones go Apple has probably seen the last of me.

When Apple announced its new iPhone XS and XR series I was interested because after four years of solid use I was finally at the point where I felt it was time to upgrade my trusty old iPhone 6.

After recently buying a new iPad — a decision I almost instantly regretted — I realised that what I should have done was to get a plus sized phone instead. The iPad has turned out to be a useless piece of junk for me. I hardly ever use it, despite weeks of trying to figure out why I might need it. Other than watching movies on a plane, I find that my extremely powerful, but still highly portable, MacBook Air renders my iPad redundant.

But I digress. After checking out the new iPhone series, I honed in on the plus sized models with displays larger than six inches.

Here in Australia, the iPhone XS Max, which has a very nice 6.5-inch super high res display, starts at A$1799 for the base 64GB model and goes up to A$2369 for the 512GB version. Sorry Apple, but I’m not made of money. I’ll spend that sort of money on a MacBook computer, but not on a phone no matter how smart it is.

Thus, I was left with the “budget” iPhone XR, which starts at A$1229 for the 64GB model and has a 128GB version for not too much more at A$1299. It has a 6.1 inches display – not as big as the XS Max but big enough for me.

So why is the XR cheaper than its XS siblings?

The answer is simple. Apple has compromised on the configuration. In a number of areas, the XR has inferior and older generation technology. This isn’t supposed to be a review so I won’t list them all. I’ll just mention the display as a glaring example.

The excellent XS Max features a super high-res OLED display with a resolution of 2688x1242 and 458 pixels per inch. Meanwhile, poor cousin XR has a pathetic old-tech LCD display with a resolution of 1792x828 and 326 ppi. Apple tries to make the XR display sound sexy by calling it “liquid retina”, but it can’t even display 1080i.

 All right, some of you iPhone diehards might say, the XR is not the high-end XS flagship but the budget model. That was my initial reaction too. Then my brain kicked into gear. “Are you kidding me – $1229 for a BUDGET phone?” my grey matter asked rhetorically.

Yes, that’s right, Apple is trying to pull a fast one on its unbelievably loyal fan base. After putting an incredibly outrageous price tag on its high-end XS range, it is trying to pass off the vastly inferior XR product for a comparatively cheaper, but still outrageous price.

In short, the XR is a reasonable mid-range phone with a high-end flagship price tag. The XS should have a price point somewhere around what Apple is charging for the XR, while the XR should be much cheaper.

One Apple fanboy writer in a tech magazine contends that the XR may be the most important iPhone yet. He believes that XR will fill the gap between the budget mid-range and the high-end flagship markets. Nonsense!

There are plenty of good phones in the Android space that have comparable or superior specs to the iPhone XR at a much cheaper price point. One such phone is the OPPO F9, which starts at A$465 for the 64GB version.

Compared to the iPhone XR, the vastly cheaper priced OPPO F9 beats it in a number of areas.

The F9 has a bigger 6.3 inches, high-res LCD display of 2340x1080 and 409 pixels per inch, and a superior screen to body ratio of 90.8%, which more than matches that of the XS, and is streets ahead when compared to 79% for the XR.

The F9 has two rear cameras of 16MP and 2MP depth sensor and an incredibly impressive 25MP front selfie camera, compared to one 12MP rear camera and a 7MP front camera on the XR.

Aside from dual nano-SIM slots, the OPPO F9 has a dedicated microSD slot that can expand the storage up to 256GB. When you buy an XR, you’re stuck with the storage you’ve got.

For security, the F9 has a rear fingerprint scanner and built-in face recognition, that from a number of accounts is incredibly accurate. Its screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 6.

Another very important feature is the battery life. The OPPO F9 has a hefty 3500 mAh battery and comes with a fast charger in the box, while the iPhone XR has a smaller 2942 mAh battery and you have to pay anywhere up to an additional A$100 if you want a fast charger.

It is true that the iPhone XR has a faster processor. Having watched a number of side by side tests, the XR boots up and launches apps a bit quicker, but only marginally so, rather than being a deal breaker.

I have played with both phones side-by-side and, quite honestly, to my untrained eye and touch they both seem equally well put together. That said, I have no doubt that given Apple’s reputation for products that last, the iPhone XR has a higher build quality. In that case, even though the XR is more lowly configured specs-wise, but made with higher quality components, we could forgive it for costing a little more than the F9 – to be generous say 50% more. That would put it at around the A$700 mark rather than its current outrageously frothy price tag.

No doubt there will be no shortage of rusted-on iPhone enthusiasts who will say that all of the above is a load of rubbish. To them, all I can say is if you wish to pay through the nose for a second rate iPhone model by all means go ahead. However, a number of reports are starting to surface of sluggish iPhone XR sales, the product that Apple was hoping to give its already slowing current generation iPhone sales a boost.

Despite all of the above, it really does not give me any pleasure to be switching to an Android phone. It would really be so much easier to spend the money and simply upgrade my iPhone to a newer model. However, in a market where there  is so much competition customer loyalty is one thing that any vendor — even Apple — cannot afford to abuse.

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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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