Saturday, 13 February 2016 15:33

OPPO R7s – a 5.5” smartphone with style (review)

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OPPO has been making a significant impression in the Australian smartphone market with the ‘R series’ that offer incredible value, features and performance for a very reasonable price.

The R ‘series’ – an 5” R7 ($449), an 5.5” R7s ($529) and a 6” R7 Plus ($599) – are designed as premium phones without the A$1000 price tag.

No I am not ‘pulling your leg’ – these offer a full feature set and build quality of phones twice the price.

iTWire has reviewed the R7 and R7 Plus and both have received the mid-high market recommendation in 2015.

So what’s different about the R7s? For starters this was released about six months after the R7 and it is able to use some later technology.

In most respects – ‘Applesque’ design cues, metal body, camera, and performance - it’s the same as the rest of the R7 series so what you read below about the R7s may give you a sense of déjà vu.

The major changes include:

  • The 5.5” screen is an AMOLED, 1920 x 1080 covered in Gorilla Glass 4
  • The RAM has been boosted to 4GB
  • Internal storage to 32GB
  • Android Lollipop 5.1.1 and ColourOS 2.1 (the R7 and Plus can update to these)
  • Wi-Fi AC Dual band
  • 3070mAh battery

Out of the Box

The phone is well-built, and oozes quality with a matt gold (also comes in silver), magnesium-aluminium alloy back and sides, and a white, almost bezel-less front. This mid-market device looks like it costs much more.

The box contains the phone, a clear bumper sleeve, a VOOC USB fast charger (5V x 4A) and a micro-USB to full USB VOOC cable with green connectors to denote it is a VOOC compatible (it will also charge from any USB source). It also has quality buds and a microphone.

You can insert one or two sims or a single micro-sim and up to a 128GB microSD card. Both sims support LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 28, 38, 39, 40 and 41 – heaps for Australia and operate essentially as two phones in one. It supports Cat 4 LTE – 150/50 Mbps speeds.

After turning it on for the first time it runs through set up screens, it is optional to sign in to Google services, and after a few minutes, you are ready to go.

It uses the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. OPPO is committed to providing 5.x and I understand 6.x updates are a distinct possibility.

Colour OS 2.1 provides many OPPO tuned and custom developed apps – including mail, contacts, messages, calendar, camera and more. I will not comment on the relative merits of pure Android – OPPO’s Colour OS does fine thanks. Android users will however notice the lack of the ‘recent apps’ soft button – it is used for other functions.

The screen and audio

The screen itself is 1920 x 1080, HD, 401 pixels per inch and covered in Gorilla Glass 4. Being AMOLED, it does a great job over IPS and TFT and stands up well when compared to the other higher res QHD AMOLED screens – for example, the exquisite Samsung S6, and my current everyday use – 5.7” Lumia 950XL. AMOLED is the way to go – the IPS HD screen used on the iPhone 6s Plus simply does not look as good.

It is capable - as is characteristic of good AMOLED screens - of perfect blacks (0.00 cds/m2) and high whites. It is easily sunlight readable.

Playing audio was a delight with the phone living up to OPPO’s audio heritage – low THD, good flat frequency response, loud volume (for calls too), and using a pair of top draw Bluetooth headphones (Parrot Zik) the audio playback was superb.

The camera

The R7s (like the R7) uses a 13MP Samsung ISOCELL and single flash. The camera on the Plus is superior using a 13MP Sony IMX278 Exmor RS image sensor, f/2.2 lens, Schneider optics, and adds laser auto-focus. I would buy the 6” Plus for that reason alone.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the R7s and the Plus is moving the camera back to the left top edge like the R7 (and the iPhone) and going back to a single LED flash. This means you can easily put your finger over the lens when shooting – not so great – and low light shots with the single LED flash and f/2.2 lens can be variable.

Using my typical reference shots - and everything on automatic - it gave good all round shots. But it is not an outstanding camera - colours are a little warmish, dynamic range is a little noisy, and focus, while fast, is not always accurate.

Having said that its half the price of an iPhone 6s Plus and yet produces reference shots as good as that. It is not as good as the 16MP Samsung Galaxy S6 series or the 20MP Lumia 950XL that has regained the crown as the world’s best smartphone camera.

The camera software is intuitive, easy to use and the expert mode offers excessive choices – set it on auto thanks. It will output in RAW and something called UltraHD mode – allegedly 24 or 50MP shots.

Video is 1080 x 30 fps. It has optical and digital image stabilisation. Results looked fine – again commensurate with what you are paying.

The front camera is 8MP with an f/2.4 aperture. Great for selfie shots and reasonably wide angle for small groups.

Overall this camera is more than a match for other 13MP camera in this price bracket. The selfie camera is fine – even has a beautification mode!

Battery

The 3070mAh battery has an endurance rating of 73 hours that translates into two days of use. Web browsing tends to sap the battery faster but overall it’s a class leader.

OPPO’s VOOC fast charge is interesting. Instead of the Qualcomm 2.0 standard it simply uses two batteries in series that both charge at once – smart idea and you are not pouring higher voltages/amperages into the battery that can shorten its life. A 5-minute charge will give 2 hours talk time. It will also charge from a standard USB or car charger. There are no wireless charging options.

User Interface – Colour OS

Late last year Michael Tran, OPPO’s Australian MD asked me if he should push for pure Android for phones sold in Australia and my answer was emphatically yes. Yet there is nothing wrong with ColourOS 2.1 except that it replaces many standard Android apps, icons and settings with its own and I really don’t know what value that adds.

Michael’s comment was that the ColourOS suited Asian needs but he would relay my sentiments.

So there is nothing wrong with ColourOS except that Android users will need to explore a little to get used to it. Enhancements for major apps are generally useful – it is actually quite good and adds things like extra screen gestures and shortcuts.

Conclusion

Yes, it’s a member of the highly successful R7 family and deserves every accolade we have used for them. Great value, amazing screen, average camera (better on the Plus), terrific build quality, premium looks, good performance, and now 4GB RAM.

Personally I would rate it 8 out of 10 and go for the 6” R7 Plus with fingerprint reader, laser autofocus, better camera, and better battery life, all for a $70 more but you need slightly deeper pockets – literally.

Distribution

OPPO fought hard to get into the Australian market and Dick Smith took on retail sales, Optus has some models and but most are sold on-line at OPPO Australia.

With Dick Smiths uncertain future, we suggest that you go direct or via Optus – the phone will work on any network.

The hard stats

ITWire has developed an Australian paradigm for smartphone reviews to ensure that the phone is compared fairly within one of the following categories.

Flagship phones – Apple iPhone 6s series, Samsung Galaxy S6 series, LG’s G4, Sony Xperia Z5, HTC One M9, Lenovo Moto X, and Microsoft Lumia 950 series. Huawei, OPPO, Xiaomi, ZTE and others have entrants in this category.

Mid-high market – Huawei P8/Max, OPPO R7 series, Xiaomi, ZTE, Samsung A, LG L&F series, Moto E/G, Lumia 6XX. This may include Note/Phablets with Pen support

Mass market – Huawei Ascend Y/G series, OPPO F series, ZTE

El-cheapo <A$100

At $A529 this is at the lower end of the mid-market price category Note the greyed out mid-market column represents typical specifications for that category and it is judged against that. If it exceeds typical specifications, it gets a + and vice versa.

Mid-market

OPPO R7s

Rating

Screen

5”+

Phablet 6”+

5.5”

5+

Screen type and quality

IPS

AMOLED

5

Pixel per Inch

475+ on a 5”

401

5+

Glass (equiv)

Gorilla 3

Gorilla 4

5+

Res

HD 1080p

HP 1980 x 1080p

5

CPU

64-bit, 4 core+, Big/ little e.g.

Qualcomm 6XX or similar

Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615

Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A53

Adreno 405

5

Memory RAM

2GB

4GB

5++

Storage

16GB

32GB

5++

MicroSD

Up to 32GB

Up to 128GB (uses sim slot 2)

USB Host for external USB drive

5+

LTE

Sufficient for local market and some global bands

Bands 1/3/5/7/8/20/40

5

Dual SIMM

It available provides 1 x 4G and 1 x 3G slot

Micro and Nano. Both provide 4G. The nano sim slot can be used for microSD.

5

Telstra Blue tick rural

No

Not tested

N/A

Wi-Fi

N dual antenna

Wi-Fi AC dual band, WiDi, hotspot

5+

NFC

Yes

No

N/A

GPS

at least GPS, GLONASS

A-GPS and GLONASS

5

Mapping

Google Maps

Google if not in China. HERE as well.

5

Bluetooth

3.0+

4.0 LTE

5

Sensors

G-shock

Gyroscope

Ambient light

Compass

Proximity

Accelerator

All major sensors

Distance sensor
Light sensor
G-sensor
E-compass

Accelerometer

5+

Battery

(Assumes Micro USB or Lightning)

>2000mAh

At least a day

Removable

3070mAH Li-Po

Up to two days – amazing

Endurance rating 73 hours

5++

Fast charge and/or Qi

Option

VOOC fast charge – five minutes for two hours’ use

5++

Camera Rear

13MP+ >f2.2

Single flash

BSI sensor, HD record

13-megapixel, f2.2, single LED flash.

The Pure Image 2.0+ engine supports: HDR, geo-tagging, Ultra HD, Beautify, Various Filters, Panorama, HDR, GIF, Slow Shutter, Audio Photo, Double Exposure, Super Macro, Expert Mode, RAW, Time-lapse.

Video: 1080p 30fps

5

Camera Front

3MP+ HD

8MP, f/2.4, Selfie fill flash, wide angle, beautification mode

5

Screen to body ratio (higher better as it affects dimensions)

65%+

72.9%

151.8 x 75.4 mm

5+

Thinness

8-9mm

7mm

5+

Looks – highly subjective

Quality build and finishes

Extremely well built and finished – flagship standard. Magnesium and aluminium alloy uni-body construction

5++

Weight

>175g (or 35g per inch of screen size)

155g (well below typical screen size to weight ratio)

5+

Operating system

Latest version with upgrades for at least one year e.g. all 5.x updates

Support for all 5.x updates and possibly 6.x Marshmallow

5+

User Interface (UI) Bloatware

Does the UI add value, ability to customise

Colour OS 2.1 for Android 5.1.1 is comprehensive and not intrusive. Everything works and many apps e.g. camera, are better than stock Android

5

Video, Audio codecs

Most

Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
- MP4/H.264 player
- MP3/WAV/eAAC+/FLAC player
- Document viewer
- Photo/video editor

5+

Options

Bids and mic

Buds and mic

5

Innovations

Standard slab

VOOC charging – 30 minutes for 75%

5+

IP or ruggedized

Option

N/A but undergoes rigorous torture testing

5

Warranty

1 year

1 year

5

Service in Australia

Yes

Yes

5

Price

$500-799+

A$529

5++

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw [email protected]  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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