Tuesday, 18 April 2017 14:28

OPPO uppos the R9s to Plus size (review)


OPPO has stretched its mid-market, class-leading 5.5” R9s to a 6” Plus size and added optical image stabilisation, a 4000mAh battery, Gorilla Glass 5, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 653 processor, 6GB RAM and 64GB storage.

These are the main changes, but in doing so it has made one of the best mid-range handsets even better (iTWire R9s review here) while only adding $100 to the price at $698. And don’t forget the R9s series has an AMOLED display usually reserved for handsets costing much more.

The 6” R9s Plus follows OPPO design cues – the characteristic Applesque Gold/White but it has really beefed up the camera, RAM, processor, and battery.

OPPO Australia executive director Michael Tran said at the launch, “The R9s Plus builds on the strengths which already make it such a solid performer, like its advanced optics and elegant design, and takes them to the next level. Whether users are streaming the latest blockbusters on the go or capturing the memories that matter most to them, the R9s Plus has them covered with ease.”

Before we get into the review let’s position both OPPO and this phone. OPPO set up offices, warehouse, and support in Australia late in 2014. It has evolved since its beginnings in 2004 from a manufacturer of MP3 players, portable media players and upscaling DVD/Blu-ray players. The last-named are still considered class leading.

It is based in Dongguan, Guangdong, China and is part of the BBK Group that also includes Vivo (a brand mainly sold in China) and One Plus (an experimental brand). Together these bands exceed Apple’s market share, albeit with lower-cost devices. OPPO designs, develops, manufactures, markets and sells its products with full control over the entire supply chain.

The R9s Plus is technically a mid-range phone coming in at under $700, and for that you don’t normally expect leading-edge processors, electronics, AMOLED/Gorilla Glass 5 screens, 6GB RAM, 64GB storage, great rear and selfie cameras, and fast charging. This, like the 5.5” R9s and its budget F1s, offers far more value yet has a build quality second to none.

Out of the box

OPPO has mastered the art of retail packaging. The box includes:

  • The handset – initial impressions are that it is a phablet but with a 75.1% screen to body ratio and 163.6 x 80.8 x 7.4 mm it is not a “huge” phone. However compared to the new 18:9 format of the LG G6 and Samsung S8 the 16:9 screen format is wider.
  • A VOOC fast charger and special VOOC USB-A to micro-USB cable (it will charge with a standard charger and cable).
  • A premium set of buds/mic and replacement silicon tips.
  • Transparent and very useful buffer cover.
  • Pre-applied screen protector.

Set-up is easy. It will offer Google apps and services but these are easily avoided, and you are greeted with its Colour OS 3.0 over Android 6.x and a beautiful 6”, HD, AMOLED screen.

I like that the backlit, capacitive App Switcher and back “buttons” are part of the lower bezel, giving maximum screen usage.

Base specifications

  • Screen: 6” AMOLED, 1920 x 1080, 367ppi, 75.1% screen to body ratio, Gorilla Glass 5, pre-applied screen protector.
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon eight-core, 653, 4 x 1.95GHz and 4 x 1.44GHz.
  • RAM/Storage: 6GB RAM, 64GB storage, MicroSD 256GB support (uses one dual sim slot).
  • Camera rear: 16MP. f/1.7, 1.12µm pixel, auto HDR, OIS, Dual PDAF (phase detection auto-focus like the Samsung GS7), oversized 1/2.8” Sony IMX389 “dual pixel” sensor, 4K @30 fps video with EIS, Ultra HD mode (combines 4 shots to 50MP image), dual LED flash.
  • Camera front: 16MP, 78.2°, f/2.0, 1µm pixel, auto HDR, Beautify 4.0, oversized 1/3” sensor, HD recording, screen flash, panorama mode for 120° stitched photo, voice-activated shutter.
  • Battery: 4000mAh with OPPO VOOC 5V, 4A ultra-fast charge.
  • Fingerprint: new solid state reader with “slight touch” technology under a hydrophobic water-resistant membrane. Up to five different fingerprints to launch different apps.
  • Six-string antenna (2 x 3 fine antennae strings operates on six frequency ranges).
  • Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 and ColourOS 3.0 lightweight user interface overlay.
  • Other: Wi-Fi AC, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, Micro-USB with OTG, audio 3.5mm jack.
  • LTE: Cat 6. Bands 1/3/5/7/8/20/28/38/39/40/41, VoLTE.
  • Size: 163.6 x 80.8 x 7.35 mm x 185g (The 5.5” iPhone 7 Plus is 158.2 X 77.9 X 7.3 mm and 188g).
  • Colours: Gold/white and Black/black.
  • Price: $698
  • What’s missing: IP rating, wireless charging, NFC, FM radio, (but these are more flagship class features)

The screen

AMOLED, AMOLED, AMOLED – when will manufacturers learn that AMOLED, even at HD resolution outperforms and outclasses IPS/TFT/LED/LCD screens at least 10 times over? Beautiful colours, deep blacks, good daylight and night time readability etc.

This screen is a Samsung supplied Diamond Pentile (it has two smaller green pixels to each red and blue pixel), 1920 x 1080, 367ppi covered in Gorilla Glass 5 to withstand drops from 1.6m – shoulder height.

The colours are good but not over saturated – white whites and black blacks with a slight colder colour temperature especially when viewed off angle. There is no adjustment for colour temperature. It peaks out at 411 nits and has an amazing 13,000:1 contrast ratio. By comparison, the IPS-based Apple iPhone 7 Plus has a contrast ratio of 1362:1.

And it is HD, not 2K or 4K to maximise battery life.


The 4000mAh battery will easily give a full 24-hour day — or even two — and the VOOC charge will go from zero to 100% in less than 60 minutes. It has a 74-hour endurance rating.

Unlike other fast charging systems, OPPO simply split the battery into two (parallel) and delivers 2A to each (it uses a 4A, 20W charger). It is safe, does not overheat and is quick. It also can use a standard USB charger.


It uses a specially designed Sony IMX398 Exmor RS 16MP sensor, with dual pixel, Phase Detection Auto Focus (PADF fast focus) and a f/1.7 aperture. It also features optical image stabilisation, with a 40% larger anti-shake area. It also has Qualcomm 653 dual HEVC H.265 image signal processors.

OPPO took to heart comments that the R9s lacked optical image stabilisation (OIS) so this has OIS+ that appears to be 4-axis stabilisation plus a front to back lateral stabilisation. In tests, even while taking shots while walking images were clear and crisp.

The f/1.7 lens is good all-around capturing around 50% more light than a f/2.0 lens but its use of standard sized 1.12µm pixels means that it is a competent, not a great low light camera. It picks up the details well but there is some induced noise.

As with many cameras, you can either have HDR or flash – not both. In most cases, you will use HDR, but flash is better for indoor low light shots where there is subject movement.

All tests were with settings to auto – idiot-proof, and it produced some of the best, clear, sharp images under typical lighting conditions.

Daylight, HDR. The 16MP sensor and f/1.7 lens are amazing capturing great details and auto-HDR really fills in the shadows and eliminates glare spots. It is as good as, if not better than any flagship camera with lesser MP.

Daylight, low light dusk, HDR. The 16MP sensor and f/1.7 lens captures every bit of luminance and works well with auto-HDR to give great shots. OIS works well here to allow HDR time to hunt out details.

Indoors, good light, HDR. The 16MP sensor and f/1.7 lens work well and produce some of the best indoor shots I have seen.

Indoors, low light, flash. The camera captures all available light and the dual LED flash fills out nicely to a range of about 3 metres. Opt for flash over HDR if you have moving subjects and don’t have a tripod.

Panorama. 270° x 2500 pixel tall, very detailed, very high res, and great stitching – take it to the Grand Canyon for the vista.

Ultra-HD mode. It will shoot four images and overlay them to produce, in theory, a 50MP image.

Video: it will shoot 4K @30fps but with a very narrow field of view. It shines in 1080p @30fps creating files about 30% of the former size.

Selfie. The 16MP, f/2.0 with fill flash, autofocus, OIS, panorama mode, and Beautify 4.0 means very good selfie shots.


While it could not be described as a light overlay, it really suits OPPO users who don’t care if Android is version 6.x or 7.x etc.

ColourOS is fast (OPPO claim load speeds of over 30% faster than Android), manages battery life well, has a comprehensive clean-up utility, fast on-device search, machine learning to clean up apps, has security features baked in, privacy folders, virus scanning, and provides all the OPPO apps to completely replace Google apps.


Fast — due to the 6GB of RAM and the updated Snapdragon 653 Pro — an extremely efficient SoC with eight cores delivering just the power needed. But it also has a companion, totally separate CPU core to handle less intensive, always-on, tasks. This core generally runs at a lower clock speed and consumes less power making the SoC more energy efficient. The CPU knows how to balance tasks between the two cores depending on how intensive they are.

It has an X9 LTE Cat 13/7 modem that will support downloads/uploads of 300/150, 2 x 20MHz carrier aggregation and VoLTE. It supports 4K recording and playback. It has dual band, wave 2, 1x 1 MU-MIMO. I tested it in the Sydney CBD and got over 233/75 Mbps – the carrier networks just cannot keep up.

In all, one of the best mid-range processors.


Great for hands-free use, but the single bottom-firing speaker (and the earpiece speaker) are only average for music playback.

Audio output to an AV AMP and Bluetooth was near perfect, showing extremely low distortion and full range. It has Qualcomm audio (192kHz/24bit) and an audio jack.

Home key/Fingerprint reader

You can enrol up to five fingerprints (different fingers and different actions) or family members. The new home/fingerprint button is solid state – that is no moving parts. The button is more for show and provides a little haptic feedback to indicate you pressed it.

It is very fast, almost 100% accurate, and can also be used to encrypt files.



  • I like the OPPO design – some call it bland but its Applesque cues are a source of admiration to many.
  • AMOLED, AMOLED, AMOLED – all 6” of it.
  • Great battery – 4000 mAh and VOOC fast charge.
  • Qualcomm 653 – power to spare.
  • Full metal jacket – a solid, strong and attractive case.
  • Amazing value – $698.
  • Really fast fingerprint recognition on the front home key.
  • Camera addresses any shortcomings of the R9s with OIS, fast dual pixels phase detection (PADF) and dual LED flash.


  • No IP rating.
  • No NFC.
  • No wireless charging.

If you remember the price first — $698 — and what you get, you will be very pleased. As a mid-range phone it’s a definite 10 out of 10 and as a flagship at least 8 out of 10.


JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, Woolworths Mobile, Optus, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone.

 OPPO R9s Plus header


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!



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