Phone

OPPO R5 Review: A Beauty, But Not A Beast

On my birthday eve, I attended the OPPO R5 roadshow to try and smash some walnuts with the R5. Long story short, I won the R5!

A week later, I went to its flagship store to collect.

The location is so good, I don’t even need to tell you the exact address. Its entrance faces the Suntec City atrium located between Tower 3 and 4. The store front is huge and spacious, serving both retail and service centre. I was impressed by the wide range of smartphone models on display.

OPPO brand is also established in digital audio products.

Before the staff handed me the R5, they unwrapped the unit and asked me to fill up the carbon-copy warranty slip behind the instruction manual so that the unit is registered for warranty support.

 

Packaging

The OPPO R5 box is made of quality plastic (great for repurposing). Inside the package you will find the VOOC quick charger, VOOC USB cable, earphones, USB-to-audio adapter, the R5 phone unit, and an ultrathin plastic case. Overall, thoughtful packaging from a China company.

 

Design

Thanks to the unbreakable steel frame, the R5 feels stunningly solid on hand. If you were to scrutinise the edges, actually the frame is slightly angled such that the rear face is smaller than the front face. This subtle angle enhances the comfort while holding the R5. Such is the attention to details that I have to commend OPPO for.

The camera module protrudes out but the protrusion is surrounded by a metal frame to add durability – another thoughtful design detail. There is no 3.5mm jack due to the thinness, but the included USB-to-audio adapter will let you plug in your favourite wired headsets. The power and volume buttons are well placed within the reach of my fingers.

If you love a solid phone, the OPPO R5 will please you much.

Interface

OPPO calls its customised UI “ColorOS”. Currently in ColorOS 2.0, the UI reminds me of Xiaomi’s MIUI. ColorOS 2.0 supports theme and wallpaper downloads, Security app to offer granular app permission controls and data management, quick icons to easily close resident apps and flush RAM to optimise performance. While I find MIUI has more advanced features, the OPPO ColorOS 2.0 is more sleek and less overwhelming, satisfying the modern stylish consumer who abhors the loud-colour large-icon look.

Screen

The OPPO R5 has a 5.2-inch OLED screen. Colour is natural, almost neutral with a tinge of warmth without looking saturated. A screen protector is pre-applied from factory, and provides a less reflective glare when used in strong lighting. At 1080×1920, the screen is sharp and well-contrasted.

OPPO is founded in 2004 and has a line-up of great phones that has won fans all over the world. The N1 and the upcoming N3 have a unique swivel camera design, and the Find 7 is a top-spec smartphone that is cheaper than the big brands.

OPPO is relatively unknown in Singapore, but has made a name for itself in the smartphone tech community with its low price high spec approach. I am very excited that they are investing to make a huge presence, and comes up with beautiful smartphones like the R5. Here are 3 more things I like about the OPPO R5.

3. On-screen Gestures

I really like OPPO implementation of gestures. Here are my favourites:

  • Double tap to wake up screen.
  • Double tap home to turn off screen.
  • Slide screen with 2 fingers to adjust volume.
  • Slide screen up-down action with 3 fingers to do screen capture.
  • Pinch 4 fingers inwards to start camera
  • Swipe from lower corner to middle of screen to shrink display for one-hand use.

With these gestures, I don’t even have to touch the hardware buttons.

Then there is also this “misoperation prevention” feature where the phone will remain locked if the proximity sensor is blocked. This happens say if your phone is in your bag or in your pocket and you accidentally press the power button.

2. Fast Charging

Using the VOOC charger and cable that carries a high current of 5A over 5V, the OPPO R5’s 2000mAh battery can be charged from 10% to 100% in less than 50 minutes. The battery will charge to 75% in less than 30 minutes.

Fast charging is very convenient, as I no longer need to leave my phone charged overnight. With OPPO R5, I can charge it full before I go to sleep (instead of leaving the charger on overnight for 7+ hours). During the day, I can also do quick charges when I need to maintain the phone with optimal battery load. No longer do I need to leave the phone on charger all the time, just in case I needed full load but afraid I have no time to complete the charge.

1. Impressive Camera

I am surprised with the OPPO R5 13MP rear camera performance and image quality. Camera shooting response is very fast, there are many useful shooting modes.

  • Ultra HD: with this mode, the camera captures multiple shots of the same scene and saves in 50MP. When I zoom in, I can really see improved details compared to the native 13MP. It is great for shooting detailed scenes where you might want to do super-crop.
Cropping at the top right corner.
  • Super Macro: again not a gimmick, what the OPPO R5 does is that the macro view is zoomed in. So, instead of moving the lens really close to the subject, the macro mode lets you shoot from a distance yet the image fills up the frame. And the macro details are all there.
Below shots are taken at the same distance from object
  • Double exposure: lets me do creative photography without hassle.
  • RAW: you can capture in DNG format, a universal lossless digital format.
  • Expert Mode: allows you to adjust shutter speed (up to 32s), ISO, white balance, and focus length.

I like that the images are not over-processed. There are pleasant image noise but sufficient details to extract. For low-light images, there are fair amount of noise removal but the result is clean without looking blotchy. It’s not the best low-light camera. The rear flash LED is tuned towards the daylight tone, which is great. The front camera is 5MP, satisfying selfie lovers with high pixels and built-in beauty mode.

 

But, But and But

I really enjoy using the OPPO R5. Beautiful to hold, beautiful UI to use, fast camera to capture the moments I desire. There are 3 things that will prevent consumers from committing to this stunning machine.

1. Small battery

With a mere 2000mAh, any power user would inclined away from this smartphone. Then again, didn’t all iPhones have small battery capacity too? On normal days without intensive use, the R5 lasted 11 hours on average. On extreme days when I shot a lot of photos, image uploading to social websites and played with the phone more frequently, the phone lasted a mere 5-7 hours.

Fortunately for those who value form over function, you can get a portable VOOC Power Bank that could charge up the phone as fast as the VOOC AC charger.

2. No external memory slot

This is another bane that power users will dislike. Then again, don’t iPhones have the same situation? But that’s why iPhones have variants with larger storage space, whereas OPPO R5 doesn’t. That’s probably not that big concern for non-power users. Unless you do a lot video content, you are not likely to use up the storage space in a short time. Always backup your content online or download to your nearest computer, regardless of your phone storage size.

3. Processor and RAM

The OPPO R5 runs on Qualcomm dual quad-core processor (4x 1.7GHz, 4x 1.0GHz) with 2GB RAM. It could not match the mainstream quad-core 2.5GHz processors found in HTC One M8, but it runs relatively smooth (at least it feels snappier than the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge – serious!). Though at times, the launcher has to reload the home screen pages and widgets for seconds before I can access. Insufficient memory, perhaps, but no app crashes. So, unless you are comparing with the best of the Android smartphones, the R5 does not really feel too underwhelmed.

 

Conclusion

The OPPO R5 is an engineering feat, the thinnest smartphone in the world. To meet that goal, some sacrifices have to be made. Thin means less space for a battery, means not wise to fit a powerful processor to suck up the battery, means no space for additional microSD card slot. But thin means sleek, beauty, style, and the steel frame ensures durability and structural integrity. So strong, that you can knock a nail into the wood, or get run over by a car.

So is it worth a buy? If you are not a heavy user, does not comstantly use the phone all day or require expandable storage space, the OPPO R5 is one great phone. I would love to bring it to social events, slipping the svelte phone into my pocket, capturing the moments with the awesome camera.

The OPPO R5 is built for beauty, not for workhorse. Put that expectation aside, and you are going to love the OPPO R5 inside out.

Specs

  • OS: ColorOS 2.0, based on Android 4.4
  • Processor: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Octa-Core (MSM8939)
  • GPU: Adreno 405
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Storage: 16 GB
  • Battery: 2000 mAh Li-Polymer battery with Rapid Charge
  • Display: 5.2-inch AMOLED 16million colours
  • Weight: 155 g
  • Camera
    • Main sensor: 13-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor
    • Front sensor: 5-megapixel front-facing 83 degree wide angle lens
    • Aperture: f/2.0 for both cameras
    • Scene modes: Normal, Ultra-HD, Colorful Night, Slow Shutter, Expert Mode, Beautify, HDR, Panorama, Audio Photo, GIF, Double Exposure, Raw, Super Marco, After Focus
  • Other Features: 1080p video @ 30 fps, 720p slow motion video @120 fps
  • Network: GSM850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA850/900/1900/2100, FDD-LTE B1/3/7, TD-LTE B40
  • Hardware: Micro USB, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/a, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Display, GPS
  • SIM Card: Micro SIM
  • Color: Silver, Gold
  • Dimensions: 148.9 × 74.5 × 4.85 mm
  • Weight: 155 g
  • In the box: OPPO R5, In-ear type earphones, USB-to-3.5mm Audio Adaptor, Micro USB cable, VOOC mini Rapid Charger, SIM ejector tool

Reviewed by Chester Tan
Rating: 3.7 of 5

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