Oppo A74 review: A smartphone that redefines 'entry level'

A 5G handset for under $500

Credit: Oppo

Should you buy the Oppo A74?

If a premium smartphone is beyond your price range, then the Oppo A74 is a good entry-level option with features you’d expect to see in a higher-end model. The phone’s large 6.5-inch Full High Definition Plus LCD display (2400x1080) maximises the visual real estate, while a 90hz refresh rate delivers a smooth viewing experience. A large 5000mAh battery keeps the phone powering on for days.

The A74 also puts 5G functionality in your hands for a fraction of the price of a high-end model. Our benchmarks show the Oppo A74’s processors chug a little with heavy tasks. But its 48-megapixel main Quad camera is a standout feature that produces images in vibrant colour and with good depth of field.

Specs

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon M480
  • Display: 6.5-Inch FHD+ (2400x1080p) LTPS-LCD 
  • Operating System: Android 11/ColorOS 11
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Headphone Jack: Yes
  • Fingerprint sensor: Yes (side mounted)
  • SIM: Single
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS
  • Rear Camera: 48MP Quad
  • Front-Facing Camera: 16MP (f/2.0)
  • Dimensions: 162.9 x 74.7 x 8.4mm
  • Weight: 190g

Price

The Oppo A74 costs $449. It is available now in Space (Silver) and Fluid (Black). Buy it from Amazon, or JB Hi-Fi, or Officeworks.

Look, feel and features

Having been a relative unknown quantity in the Aussie smartphone market just a few years ago, Oppo has made a bigger splash in Australia in recent years, proving itself to be a real contender in all smartphone categories.

This new offering from Oppo, the Oppo A74, sits at the top end of the company’s entry-level A Series, the same series that introduced us to the Oppo A73. And, while the Oppo A73 brought us a whole lot of high-end functionality at a very low price, so too does the A74, with a few updates.

Right out of the box we noticed the A74’s robust look and feel. At 6.5-inches, it’s only slightly bigger than the A73’s 6.43-inch screen, but it’s noticeably thicker and heavier. The A74's extra weight and thickness make it more cumbersome to carry. It also lacks the sophisticated look of some handsets, so it's not one to wow friends with. Still, we liked the large screen size—we didn't need to squint too much to see details in videos. 

The Oppo A74 in Space SilverCredit: Oppo
The Oppo A74 in Space Silver

While we would have liked to have seen an AMOLED display like in the similarly priced Xiaomi Pocco F3, the A74's display still looked attractive and played video with excellent visual clarity and smoothness, without any signs of struggling.

Cameras

As far as cameras, the A74's main camera offers a significant megapixel improvement over the A73's 16-megapixel camera.  

The lens configuration is slightly different, too. While the A73 and A74 both feature an 8-megapixel Ultra-wide angle lens (f/2.2), the A73's 2-megapixel Portrait lens (f/2.4) has been replaced by a 2-megapixel Macro lens  (f/2.4) and 2-megapixel Mono lens (f/2.4) for capturing images within a greater focal range.

The A74 includes a range of modes for different shooting conditions including, Photo, Night, Expert, Panorama, Portrait, Time-lapse and Google Lens, but also adds Text Scanner, not present in the A73.  

We tested the A74's main camera in Photo mode against the Oppo Find X3 Pro’s 50-megapixel Quad camera in daylight, and were pleasantly surprised with the results.

Taken with the Oppo A74Credit: Dominic Bayley
Taken with the Oppo A74
The Oppo Find X3 Pro's camera produced images with more detailCredit: Dominic Bayley
The Oppo Find X3 Pro's camera produced images with more detail

While the Oppo Find X3 Pro's images won the day, showing more detail, better contrast, and better depth of field, the A74's images were crisp with no visible camera blur. They also appeared vibrant with a high colour saturation.  

The Oppo A74's 48MP camera produced images with vibrant colour saturation and depth of fieldCredit: Dominic Bayley
The Oppo A74's 48MP camera produced images with vibrant colour saturation and depth of field
Shot with the Oppo Find X3 ProCredit: Dominic Bayley
Shot with the Oppo Find X3 Pro

Software

The Oppo A74 comes loaded with ColorOS 11, which is Oppo’s UI based on Android 11. It has a full quota of Google apps available to all phones released in Australia. 

Although we were a bit hesitant about using ColorOS 11, we were impressed by the level of personalisation it allows. In fact, the UI has a dedicated "Personalisation" menu accessible from "Settings" that allowed us to change features like our wallpaper, ring tone, as well as the fonts and icons. We also liked the Game Space app: It allows you to to set preferences to block notifications and reject calls while playing games. 

Our A74 was relatively free of bloatware with the exception of the TikTok and Facebook apps that we would have probably downloaded anyway. We did occasionally get annoying ad pop ups in the stock ColorOS 11 start up, which may annoy some. 

Benchmarks

The A74 runs off a punchy, but not superfast, Qualcomm Snapdragon 4805G platform. If you’re used to the superfast responsiveness of a high-end model, it may seem a little slow, but not annoyingly so. In a touch comparison to the X3 Pro, we noticed only mildly slower responsiveness. This is thanks to the A74’s 180Hz touch sampling rate that keeps touch responsiveness quite good in the A74.

When putting Geekbench benchmark comparisons head to head with the Oppo X3 Pro, there were noticeably big differences in CPU speeds. The Oppo Find X3 outclasses the A74 significantly in all categories. And while that was to be expected, it’s likely power users will find playing games with high CPU usage a bit challenging on the A74.

A benchmark comparison with the Oppo Find X3 Pro reveled a big difference between the two model's processing power.Credit: Dominic Bayley
A benchmark comparison with the Oppo Find X3 Pro reveled a big difference between the two model's processing power.

Battery Life

The Oppo X74 excelled in our battery testing, lasting several days without any trouble after moderate app usage during the day. We set up our phone on a lazy Sunday afternoon at 13:00 and it only ran out of juice at 12:00am the following Tuesday, two days later.

This long-lasting battery life comes courtesy of the A74’s large 5000mAh battery. While it may be the reason the phone is slightly heavier than the A73, we think the convenience of a longer battery life is worth the extra grams. Unfortunately, this model does not come with wireless charging.

Bottom Line

Oppo’s latest A Series offering, the Oppo A74, is another entry-level phone that punches well above its weight, giving phone users a taste of the high life without breaking the budget. Power users may prefer the likes of the Oppo Find X3 Pro, but the Oppo A74 has more than enough get up and go for enjoying FHD+ video. It also takes great photos for your social media accounts.

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Tags 5GOppo A74. smartphonesentry level smartphones48MP

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Dominic Bayley

Dominic Bayley

PC World
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