Oppo Re­fine Oz Of­fer­ing With R9S

Oppo’s 2016 line-up (the R9 and R9+) proved the brand could make a solid con­tri­bu­tion to the mid-tier smart­phone arena. Now, launch­ing their first hand­set this side of the new year, the Chi­nese com­pany are of­fer­ing more of a re­fine­ment than a rev­o­lu­tion.

SmartHouse - - REVIEW - Writ­ten by Fer­gus Hal­l­i­day

Like the R9, the R9S comes with 4GBs of RAM, a 5.5-inch AMOLED dis­play that boasts 1080p res­o­lu­tion and, like pricier of­fer­ings, also sup­ports HDR video con­tent. Coated in Go­rilla Glass 5 and in­cor­po­rat­ing the same ‘Eye Pro­tec­tion’ mode as its pre­de­ces­sor, it’s a bright and colour­ful dis­play that works well in most con­di­tions and doesn’t weigh too heav­ily on the bat­tery life side of things.

The im­prove­ments here are inar­guably it­er­a­tive. Com­pared to the R9, it’s pack­ing a marginally meatier octa-core pro­ces­sor that prom­ises faster per­for­mance. There’s a slightly-sharper cam­era that brings Oppo’s flag­ship in line with the de­vices of its ri­vals, at least in a tech­ni­cal sense.

The R9S boasts two 16-megapixel shoot­ers, with the rear cam­era rounded out by a Sony-built IMX398 (sen­sor de­vel­oped ex­clu­sively for Oppo). A wider f/1.7 aper­ture de­liv­ers tan­gi­ble en­rich­ment when it comes to low-light pho­tog­ra­phy. The R9s is even pack­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity to shoot video con­tent in 4K, if that’s your thing.

When it comes to Oppo’s sig­na­ture fea­ture – bat­tery per­for­mance – the R9S de­liv­ers yet more mi­nor im­prove­ments. The hand­set’s 3010mAh bat­tery that can charge roughly two hours worth of talk time in five min­utes and a full charge of­ten kept the party go­ing well into a sec­ond day of reg­u­lar use. It’s great stuff – even if it’s more or less what you might ex­pect from Oppo at this point.

Fi­nally, there are some mi­nor soft­ware im­prove­ments that come with the new ver­sion Oppo’s ColorOS, based on An­droid 6.0. It’s not Nougat but it’s cer­tainly still com­pelling for users who want to marry the us­abil­ity of iOS with the cus­tomiz­abil­ity of An­droid.

It’s a lit­tle length­ier in form-fac­tor than its pre­de­ces­sor but makes up for it with gains when it comes to thick­ness and, con­se­quently, weight. In line with Oppo’s pre­vi­ous ef­forts, it’s a slim blend of metal and glass that takes more than a few cues from the Ap­ple school of smart­phone de­sign – even if the faintly-coloured metal back­side of the de­vice stands as a clear sep­a­ra­tor.

In some ways, the only real di­vid­ing lines be­tween what Oppo are of­fer­ing here and ma­jor smart­phone play­ers comes down to (a lack of) wa­ter­proof­ing and (a smaller) price-tag.

The only real de­sign quirk here apart from the mi­nor re­siz­ing of the hand­set’s di­men­sions is its unique “six-string” an­tenna lines. These white lines wrap­ping around the re­verse of the R9S en­able the phone to read­ily han­dle up to six fre­quency ranges and hop be­tween them at will.

Even af­ter a short pe­riod of use, it be­came clear that the ex­te­rior val­ues of the Oppo R9S re­flect both a de­sire to sell it both cus­tomers who see their smart­phone as much as a fash­ion ac­ces­sory as they do a use­ful de­vice driven by tech­ni­cal merit. You’re mileage may vary. How­ever, we came away pretty happy with it.

Con­clu­sion

The ‘af­ford­able flag­ship’ niche has grown more and more crowded over the last twelve months. While the con­text of that in­creased com­pe­ti­tion makes it hard to praise the Chi­nese com­pany for what is es­sen­tially a very mi­nor up­grade on last year’s R9, the price and fea­tures of the R9S help it hold up as a fan­tas­tic value-driven pack­age.

4/5

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