Oppo R9s smartphone full review
Is this the best mid-range Android phone?
- Looks and feels great
- Ultra-fast fingerprint unlock
- Good value and well featured
- Bit sluggish running powerful apps
- Annoying camera shutter lag
- Mediocre battery life
There's much to like about the R9s: it does so many things and looks great. It's a bit sluggish in terms of performance and camera, though. But at this price it's still great value.
We’ve been seriously impressed with Oppo phones in the past. The Oppo F1s was one of the best-value phones of 2016. Now the R9S hits the market with a spec sheet that almost rivals a Samsung Galaxy S7 but much thinner, with a much lower sticker-price and arguably-better looks? Is it any good?
5.5in, 1080 x 1920, 401ppi AMOLED screen, 64,4GB RAM; 2GHz Octa-core A53 CPU, Adreno 506 GPU; 16/16MP cameras, Android 6 with Color OS 3, 3,010mAh battery, Fingerprint reader, microSD slot/dual-SIM card, 153 x 74 x 7mm, 145g. Full specs here.
Handling and Design
We’re very impressed with the design of the R9s. It’s very thin (under 7mm) and the matte black chassis looks incredibly classy with its silver Oppo-logo inlay. The Gorilla Glass 5 front extends from the top to the bottom of the device and there’s virtually no bezel. A touch-operated 'button' beneath the screen doubles as one of the fastest fingerprint readers we’ve seen (Oppo tells us that it's made from Zirconium and has a hydrophobic coating to work better when wet). So all good in the looks department.
The very-thin bezel at the side did cause some problems, though. While it’s not as annoying as Samsung’s silly curved bezel-less screens there were occasions where the side of our hand would register as screen touching and disrupt our usage. It’s not a deal breaker though.
The 5.5-inch AMOLED screen has a Full HD resolution and while colours didn’t pop quite as much as some competitors it’s still very sharp and vibrant. On the right is the power button and the volume rocker is on the left. At the base is a regular USB slot (not the more-recent USB-C) plus a proper headphones jack. The SIM card slot can take either a second SIM card or a Micro SD card.
It doesn't come with a silicon case (like the F1s did) but we'd recommend buying one - the diminutive dimensions mean that it shouldn't get too bulky after slipping it on.
Oppo has finally started using Android 6 with its heavily-modified Color OS 3 operating system. While this can throw you some annoying warnings we’re actually big fans of it. It runs regular performance tune-ups to flush the memory and keep things ticking along nicely. There's also a file-locking feature which usefully allows you to secure important work files, apps and nudie pics so that you can confidently pass your phone to friends/family/kids knowing that they won’t see things they shouldn’t.
There are multiple gestures that you can use to enhance phone calls, take screenshots and lock the screen with (if you choose – many are off by default). There are some useful tricks here if you care to put in the time and some, like enhanced screenshot which lets you scroll down a chat list or long web-page, are unique and potentially very useful. The built-in instruction manual is well-laid out and interesting to browse. O-Cloud lets you backup Contacts (meh) and SMS messages (potentially very useful). Night-mode (screen-colour warming to prevent eye strain in the dark) is a prominent feature but you have to enable/disable it manually.
Again, so far so good, but we’re not totally convinced by the phone’s performance. While it’s not a top-tier phone, some high-powered apps do feel a bit sluggish (as does the camera - see below). If you play games you may get a bit frustrated – Pokemon Go could lag a bit and would often lose the ability to locate itself without a restart. But for casual day-to-day use, we didn't have too many issues.
The 3,010mAh battery isn’t huge but is sizeable for a phone this thin. Having come from using a Google Pixel XL we’d say that performance is similar – you’ll struggle to get a full day out of it under moderate usage. A fast charger helps but we expected Color OS’s battery management to push performance further: the F1s managed three full days thanks to the same software and a similar-sized battery. It may be that the phone is still working out what our usage profile is before optimizing things, we’ll report back if things change.
We also think that turning off Mobile Data and WiFi, when in Low Power Mode, is misguided.
Next: Camera and conclusion
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