Monday, 25 June 2018 23:07

VIDEOS: Oppo brings the R15 and R15 Pro to Australia with iPhone X-style notch

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The iPhone X was criticised for its notch, but many major Android flagships now offer one, and while Oppo did launch its notchless Find X model last week, the R15 and Pro have landed in Australia first.

Oppo launched its R15 and R15 Pro models a few months ago overseas, but they've finally arrived in Australia, complete with notch, despite Oppo also announcing its notchless Find X model last week

The Find X has no launch date or price in Australia as yet, so if that's the model you want, you'll have to wait, but in the meantime, the R15 and R15 Pro may well be enough to get you to upgrade.

The problem is, of course, that there's a wealth of super smartphones in the market at the moment, from HTC's impressive U12+, through to Samsung S9 and S9+, the LG G7, Sony's new models, Motorola's mid-range models, Google's Pixel 2 and 2 XL, through to the phones everyone wants to copy – Apple's iPhone X, the 8 and 8 Plus, which make the most profit and have the most loyal users.

There's also Apple's 2018 iPhones to come in September or October, so which phone will you buy? If you have a phone now that you're happy with, should you upgrade?

The answer will be different for every individual, and despite iPhone loyalties, there are all manner of Android loyalties too. Some people will be ready for a new phone, others will wait a year longer – what you decide to do is up to you, but it's clear this idea of "smartphone saturation" is a load of baloney, or no-one would never buy a new phone!

The flood of new models hasn't stopped the iPhone cloners from going all out to one-up Apple where they can, with the big difference being Apple having the perfect sweet spot of owning the hardware and software, something only Google can truly say it matches, but without Google having anywhere near the sales that iPhones enjoy.

That makes iPhones tough to beat — Apple is the world's most successful technology company for many good reasons, after all — but there's plenty of space to fight for who's next in the pecking order, and so we see fierce competition emerge for the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers.

So, what does Oppo say about its latest and greatest models to launch in Australia, despite the Find X effectively beating the R15 and R15 Pro?

Well, Oppo said its newest additions to its camera focused R-Series are the aforementioned R15 and R15 Pro, and they're billed as "once again pushing the boundaries of smartphone photography and design".

Oppo explained that its R Series "is known for testing the limit with smartphone camera technology and cutting edge features, all at an affordable price", with flagship features to boast of, such as "a 6.28 inch super full screen display, improved camera technology enhanced with AI and a new Sony sensor and upgraded facial recognition technology that can accurately collect 296 feature points of a human face, as well as the introduction of AR stickers".

Now, while the upcoming Find X model has a 25 megapixel front-facing camera, the R15 and R15 Pro models have "an improved 20MP front facing selfie camera", with "re-invented ‘Sensor-HDR’ technology [that] dramatically improves backlight Selfies and allows users to check high dynamic exposure live effects in real-time".

Then there's the AI word ever smartphone maker is sure to include among the specs, with this being "upgraded scenario recognition based on AI-enhanced technologies", ensuring that "the dual rear cameras (R15: 16MP+5MP; Pro: 16MP+20MP) continue to advance the limits of photography".

"If that wasn’t enough", said Oppo, "the R15 Series is the first smartphone to adopt Sony IMX519 sensor on the rear with 1.22μm single pixel size, bringing a larger photosensitive area and stronger performance."

It's here that Oppo's Australian executive director Michael Tran said: "The R-Series continues to deliver fantastic camera capabilities at an affordable price. We know smartphones are now our customer’s camera of choice. As such, we continue to invest in our camera technologies to provide them with an exceptional photography experience, which will have them taking shots like a pro,"

And clearly, this affordable price will presumably be a differentiator between these two new R Series models, and the ultra flagship Find X model, as well as the other obvious features of the Find X having no notch, an even better front facing camera and plenty more, as you can read about here.

Given the $1000+ price point of competing flagships, we can see the R15 has an RRP of A$659.00, while the R15 Pro has an RRP of A$779.00, which presumes the Find X will cost at least A$999, if not more.

Clearly, having models at different price points helps to capture more of the market, with the notched R Series models nevertheless offering a "Super Full Screen" experience, albeit with the notch in the way.

All of that said, I'm well used to the notch on my iPhone X, and while I do wish it wasn't there, it's in no way a deal-breaker, and given so many Android models have copied this feature, it was clearly the right decision for Apple to make at the time, and certainly differentiated Apple in yet another way that copiers have rushed to copy.

Oppo explained its new screen by stating it has "once again improved on its full screen display", although as noted more than once now, the Find X improves on this even further.

We're reminded, however, that these new R-Series models "boast a unique 6.28 inch bezel-less Super Full Screen" which "feature a resolution of 2280x1090 and an aspect ratio of 19:9".

That's even more than many of the 18:9 aspect ratios of other recent phones, with Oppo stating its "Super Full Screen notch display also has enhanced customised standby multi-tasking functions and deep system optimisations, based on its ColorOS 5.0".

ColorOS 5.0 is the OS that clones iOS extremely closely, although obviously not closely enough to stir Apple's lawyers into action, yet close enough to give iOS switchers a comfy feeling of familiarity – it's something Oppo has done for some time, and it obviously works as a strategy for the company. 

There are differences, as you'd expect – for example, we're told that "the narrow left and right frames can provide convenient notifications shortcuts to multiple functions and third-party apps. With gesture operations and full-screen multi-tasking, the OPPO R15 series offers an unparalleled screen experience".

Then there's the promise of "performance that won’t let you down".

Both devices promise "6GB RAM + 128GB ROM combination" with the R15 Pro using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 processor, and the R15 using a Helio P60 Octa-core 2.0GHz processor

That's not the 845 processor you'll find in the highest of flagship phones, but they're clearly powerful enough to get the job done for most users.

We also see a common mistake that Android makers make when describing their storage. It is great to see 128GB of storage, but why it is called ROM, which stands for Read Only Memory, is confusing – don't these people know what acronyms to use?

If you had 128GB ROM, you couldn't write anything to it, so I wish that Android makers would stop calling storage "read only" when they clearly do not mean that in the slightest. That said, Oppo says "storage" in its website links above, it is only the media release that says "ROM", but I've seen plenty of other Android makers say the same thing – copiers copying copiers, I guess, incorrectly. 

That weirdness of Android makers aside, the R15 has "a battery capacity of 3450 mAh, whilst the R15 Pro has a capacity of 3400 mAh".

Meanwhile, the R15 Pro can be expanded with up to 256GB MicroSD storage, while the R15 makes no mention of expandable storage.

There are differences in the cameras between both models too, as mentioned above – R15: 16MP+5MP; Pro: 16MP+20MP.

Both models come in a dual-SIM version, but we can see from the specs that Vodafone, Optus and Virgin Mobile models are single SIM only.

Other differences include the R15 Pro supporting NFC, but no NFC support on the R15.

Oppo's "VOOC Flash Charging technology ensures you can charge your phone in a flash, helping to keep you powered throughout the day", which means fast charging capability to give you "five minutes of charging time" supporting "up to two hours of talk time", and presumably very fast charging thereafter.

Tran added: “We’re excited to bring the latest devices in the R-Series to Aussie shores. With the prices of smartphones on the rise, it’s important for OPPO that we keep offering our customers flagship features at affordable price. We believe the new devices in the R-Series won’t disappoint.

“We expect these devices to continue to do well in Australia, following the success of the R11s, R11 and R9s. We’re sure it will quickly become a favourite among Aussie consumers.”

Oppo is also trying something different with the R15 Pro – a "Bali Bundle", where you pay $1579 to get the R15 Pro, "your selected flights" and "three nights accommodation at Oppo's Bali Pool Villa", along with "Free Entry to MRS SIPPY", a "GOLDUST 24K Gold Facial or Massage" and a "Day Pass to Karma Beach Club".

It's a fascinating marketing deal that I don't remember smartphone vendors trying before, marking it as a "limited release" and a "pre-purchase" opportunity. Who knows what deal Oppo will come up with next!

So, there you have it. More on the R15 can be seen here, with specs here and the R15 Pro here, with specs here

Will you spring for one of these models, or are you curious to see what the Find X costs first? Or is another Android - or an iPhone - more your style?

Here are the pricing and availability details:

  • JB Hi-Fi: 2 July pre-order and 9 July on sale.
  • The Good Guys, Officeworks, Woolworths Mobile: 9 July.

Plans

Woolworths Mobile – Available 9 July

  • R15 Pro available at RRP outright or on $30 per month plan + $21.63 handset repayment over 36 months ($51.63/mth)
  • R15 available at RRP Outright or on $30 per month plan + $18.31 handset repayment over 36 months ($48.30/mth)

Optus – Available 9 July

  • R15 Pro available on $45 per month plan + $10 handset repayment

Vodafone – Available 9 July

  • R15 Pro available on $40 Red Plan + $21.63 handset repayment over 36 months

Telstra – 14 August

  • R15 Pro available on $79 per month plan + $0 handset repayment

Here are three videos that Oppo has made available to the media, but doesn't seem to have uploaded to its YouTube page, so I uploaded them to mine:

 

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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