After reviewing the OPPO R15 and R15 Pro just a few months ago, I am getting a little tired of reviewing yet another OPPO smartphone. But I had to contribute articles to NXT Singapore magazine publication, so I took the R17 Pro for a review. And I was somewhat surprised at the improvements in the overall usability.
OPPO is not afraid to re-design their phones. With every new model, from R11 to R15 to now R17 series, their smartphone designs have seen radical changes that are completely different from the previous model, in a good way. While the R17 Pro applies a popular colour-shifting coating on the glass rear, the frosted silky feel is blingy and somewhat mesmerizing. The R17 Pro has a deeply alluring colour that you are either going to love it at first sight or be repelled by the boldness.
Triple Camera with Variable Aperture
Another new feature introduced for the first time in OPPO smartphone is the triple camera setup, consisting a 12 MP f/1.5-2.4 dual-aperture (just like Samsung Galaxy S9), a 20 MP telephoto lens, and a depth-sensing lens. Just like Huawei P20 Pro, the night mode long exposure can be captured handheld without blur. The following shot is taken in a dim cafe, yet the photo appears otherwise.
The front-facing camera is a whopping 25 MP, delivering astounding portraits and brightness even in dim room lighting, thanks to large f/2.0 aperture.
Indeed, the overall camera quality feels less over-processed compared to Huawei, and captures images promptly, somewhat using Huawei as their benchmark. But the camera app UI is still not as well-designed, retaining the iOS way of switching modes.
There are hints of over-sharpening, but only to put to good effects. At least I don’t need to post-edit the photos prior to sharing.
Smaller Notch, In-display Fingerprint Sensor
With more calls for a smaller notch, the OPPO R17 Pro heeded to this new trend and reduced to a waterdrop shape, and filled up the entire front display edge-to-edge without a fingerprint sensor in sight, because the R17 Pro now has an in-display sensor that works even under the pre-applied screen protector. And despite lab-tested improvements in recognition speed, these in-display sensors still work less efficiently than a dedicated sensor. Firstly, you don’t know where on the screen to scan the fingerprint until the screen lights up with the icon. Second, you need to place the fingerprint perfectly to get it right the first time, else you need to try again, and the retry cycle is longer than a standard fingerprint sensor.
Good thing about the OPPO R17 Pro is that it also supports facial unlock, and I find myself unlocking the phone faster than using fingerprint. The R17 Pro has the option to detect when you are picking up the phone, which then activates face unlock sequence promptly, so the phone unlocks without having to tap the power button. The drawback is that sometimes the phone gets unlocked even when I am just holding the phone without the intention to unlock.
Running on Snapdragon 710, the overall phone runs smoothly, and I don’t feel it runs inferior to Snapdragon 845 for daily use. OPPO’s ColorOS might not be everyone’s liking, but the overall experience is gradually aligning with the standard Android features, plus a few of their own touches, like the new smart sidebar that users can personalise with shortcut apps, similar to Samsung edge apps. I am finding it a little more easier to use, reducing another barrier of using an OPPO phone.
The OPPO R17 Pro introduces several new features from OPPO – frosted glass display with colour-shift coating, in-display fingerprint sensor, triple camera, variable-aperture lens, dual batteries. No other smartphone adds that many new features in the next generation smartphone in a span of months. Clearly, OPPO is trying to pull up to close the gap with the competitors in terms of mobile innovation. Priced at S$999, the R17 Pro is a smartphone that I am quite willing to use.