Oppo R9 Gives Even Smart­phone Gi­ants A Run For Their Money

SmartHouse - - REVIEW | OPPO - Writ­ten by Fer­gus Hal­l­i­day

Oppo made a hell of an Aus­tralian de­but last Septem­ber. They ar­rived with a solid lineup of both flag­ship and mid-tier de­vices and their em­pha­sis on speed and bat­tery-tech made them stand out from their competitors in real way. It was all re­ally im­pres­sive stuff, even if a lot of this ground has some­what-slipped away from the com­pany af­ter their part­ner­ship with Dick Smith went side­ways.

Now the Chi­nese up­starts of the smart­phone land­scape are back. This time they’ve part­nered with JB Hi-Fi to bring out the more high-end R9 and R9 Plus.

Given JB’s own promi­nence, it looks like a match made in heaven for the two com­pa­nies. One of them is get­ting ac­cess to more Aus­tralian cus­tomers than ever be­fore and the other is ex­clu­sively car­ry­ing one of the most com­pet­i­tive An­droid brands avail­able.

I came away from Oppo’s pre­vi­ous F1 a very happy cus­tomer. How­ever, af­ter spend­ing a week with the R9, the dif­fer­ences (and sig­nif­i­cant improvements) the de­vice of­fers be­came re­mark­ably ev­i­dent. The R9 is prob­a­bly Oppo’s slick­est flag­ship ef­fort yet.

Slim and stylish, the R9 ar­rives in the same hum­ble but pol­ished pack­ag­ing as Oppo’s pre­cious of­fer­ings. It comes bun­dled with all the usual ac­com­pa­ni­ments: a light­ning charger kit, a set of head­phones and a plas­tic sleeve case. None of it feels cheap and it feels like it adds sig­nif­i­cant value to the pack­age.

As with the com­pany’s pre­vi­ous of­fer­ings, the R9 boots fast. In fact, on the whole, it feels like one of the fastest An­droid ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve come across – and the specs here re­flect that. The R9 is pow­ered by 4GB of RAM and an eight-core pro­ces­sor.

The R9’s dis­play is a 5.5-inch AMOLED dis­play that boasts 1080p res­o­lu­tion. It’s sharp, both when static and in mo­tion.

The R9 Plus’AMOLED screen is a lit­tle big­ger at 6-inches. It’s also pack­ing a larger pro­ces­sor: Qual­comm’s Snap­dragon 652. If you pre­fer the size, shape and feel of a ph­ablet – the R9 Plus is the way to go.

In terms of size, the R9 is a lit­tle big­ger than the F1 but typ­ing on it still feels punchy and re­spon­sive. Un­for­tu­nately, one of the few prob­lems I had with the de­vice man­i­fested it­self here, with the menu and back but­tons feel a lit­tle too finicky and in­con­sis­tent at times. Some­times tap­ping them failed to elicit a re­ac­tion from the de­vice for no per­cep­ti­ble rea­son.

This wasn’t ex­actly a deal-breaker for the phone but I re­call hav­ing sim­i­lar is­sues with the Oppo F1, so it’s markedly dis­ap­point­ing to see it per­sist here.

There’s also a row of mini-speak­ers that dot the bot­tom edge of the R9 sound de­cent enough, even if the acous­tics can re­quire some mi­nor ad­just­ments to get right.

Both the R9 and R9 Plus also sup­port fin­ger­print se­cu­rity, with the R9 Plus claim­ing it can be un­locked that way in ap­prox­i­mately a fifth of a sec­ond.

The R9 sup­ports dual-sims and up to 256GB of ex­ter­nal mem­ory via Mi­croSD – should the de­vice’s 64GBs of on-board stor­age not be enough. For data-hogs, the R9 Plus ups this to 128GB.

Aside from that, the big­gest improvements the R9 Plus brings to the ta­ble come in bat­tery size and rear-cam­era qual­ity. The former gets a nice bump up to 4120mAh while the lat­ter gets up­graded to the same 16-megapixel qual­ity as the front lens.

Oppo seem to take a quiet and po­lite sense of pride in their sim­ple and clean de­signs – and that sim­plic­ity of­ten ex­tends into the soft­ware side of things. This feels un­doubt­edly the case with the R9 and R9 Plus. Both in­side and out, the com­pany’s de­vices are con­stantly steal­ing Ap­ple’s thun­der when it comes to slim, fash­ion­able de­vices that are both ver­sa­tile, pow­er­ful and ac­ces­si­ble.

While this en­deav­our by Oppo to el­e­vate the R9 to the same level of util­ity and ease-of-use pretty as some­thing like an iPhone is an achieve­ment in its own right, it’s worth not­ing that it does come with a few caveats. The R9 and R9 Plus run on a fil­tered ver­sion of An­droid called ColorOS 3.0.

Nav­i­gat­ing your phone is fast and in­tu­itive but the process it­self can some­times be­come flus­tered by the glossy sim­plic­ity of it. Ba­sic func­tions aren’t al­ways where you ex­pect them to be and you oc­ca­sion­ally run into an other­wise sim­ple func­tion made un­nec­es­sar­ily dif­fi­cult.

That said, this un­con­ven­tional ap­proach does bring a few cool fea­tures to bear.

There’s an eye-pro­tec­tion mode that can be tog­gled on. Ex­clu­sive to ColorOS de­vices, the fea­ture fil­ters short wave blue light out of the dis­play – which re­search has shown can be harm­ful to eyes af­ter pro­longed ex­po­sure. You can fur­ther cus­tomise this be­tween low, medium or high lev­els of pro­tec­tion.

The R9 can also cat­e­go­rize high-qual­ity wall­pa­per and lockscreen im­ages into ‘mag­a­zines’ based on sub­ject mat­ter, ro­tat­ing be­tween them over time. The pho­tog­ra­phy and art on of­fer here is ac­tu­ally pretty de­cent, with the vol­canic ‘Low Poly’ be­ing my pick of the lit­ter.

With the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion of ma­jor in­ter­est to Oppo, the R9 has been de­signed specif­i­cally for their needs. The de­vice packs a pow­er­ful 16MP front­fac­ing cam­era ideal that’s backed up by a 13MP rear one.

Oppo are promis­ing “In­cred­i­ble Self­ies, Ef­fort­lessly,” with ISOCELL tech­nol­ogy be­ing de­ployed to re­duce the in­ter­fer­ence be­tween pix­els. What you’re left with is a pair of cam­eras that de­liver con­sis­tent and im­pec­ca­bly sharp im­ages.

Im­ages taken with the R9 and R9 Plus look sharp and, tak­ing the pric­ing of the de­vices into con­sid­er­a­tion, of­fer up a lot of value on that front.

The front-fac­ing cam­era touts a higher megapix­el­count and brings sev­eral fil­ters de­signed for self­ies to bear. There’s also sup­port for panoramic and dou­ble-ex­po­sure shots.

When it comes to Oppo’s usual strength – bat­tery life – the R9 holds its own pretty well. It’s pow­ered by a 2850mAh bat­tery and the com­pany’s pro­pri­etary VOOC Flash Charge tech. Oppo claim that the de­vice can charge to 70% ca­pac­ity in thirty min­utes and that’s pretty con­sis­tent with my ex­pe­ri­ences us­ing the phone. Reg­u­lar use found a full charge with the hand­set lasted be­tween 12 and 15 hours, depend­ing on the usual fac­tors.

If there’s any im­me­di­ate or ma­jor draw­back to this as­pect of the de­vice, it’s that it does not quite feel like a ma­jor im­prove­ment over the man­u­fac­turer’s pre­vi­ous ef­forts. Still, it’s a pretty im­pres­sive feat and well worth con­sid­er­ing if you’re frus­trated by your cur­rent phone’s bat­tery dy­ing on you. Bat­tery life is ar­guably the sig­na­ture fea­ture of Oppo’s brand and you’d be a fool to ig­nore it.

It says some­thing good about the de­vice that, even as some­one sat­is­fied with Oppo’s mid-range F1, I came away as im­pressed as I am with the R9. Both in de­sign and tech­ni­cal re­spects, Oppo are cul­ti­vat­ing both ex­cel­lent and el­e­gance. Oppo aren’t just giv­ing the smart­phone gi­ants a run for their money here – they’re mak­ing it look easy.

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