Oppo A73 review: The budget smartphone that sets the bar for 2018
- Good value for money
- 18:9 display
- Very lightweight feel
- No fast charging
- ColorOS isn't for everyone
- Facial recognition lags behind competition
Behind the 18:9 display and facial ID login, the A73 is driven by the same core pitch found in its predecessors - albeit one that lands at a significantly lower price-point.
With Oppo’s flagship R-series aimed at offering a better deal than Apple and Samsung’s high-end devices, the company’s A-series has tended towards setting their sights on the customers that fall outside of that mainstream. In other words: customers who want the best phone they can get for the least amount of money upfront.
Although they have history of excelling in it, these days, Oppo are far from the only brand operating in this niche. With every passing year, the budget phone space becomes even more crowded and competitive. Following on from last year’s A57 and A77, the A73 might look a little different at a glance. However, behind the 18:9 display and facial ID login, it’s fundamentally driven by the same core pitch found in its predecessors - albeit this time at a significantly lower price-point.
The Oppo A73 boasts a 6-inch TFT FHD+ display and comes powered by a MediaTek MT6763T processor. Under the hood, it pairs up 3GB or RAM and 32GB of on-board storage (which can be further expanded via MicroSD). These technical specs are rounded out nicely by a 3200mAh battery, which charges via the MicroUSB port at the bottom of the device.
In terms of the software involved, the A73 runs on Android 7.1 overlaid with Oppo’s friendly neighborhood ColorOS (V3.2) skin. Then, in terms of connectivity, the A73 comes with Wi-Fi (802.11), 4G and Bluetooth (4.2). No NFC here, though there is Dual SIM support.
Finally, the A73 closes out the deal with a 16-megapixel front-facing camera (with f/2.2 aperture) and a rear shooter boasting a 13-megapixel sensor (and a f/2.0 aperture).
In terms of pack-ins, the phone comes with a set of headphones, a charger, MicroUSB cable and Oppo's usual transparent plastic case.
As far as the aesthetics of A73 go, there isn’t a whole lot here that strays outside of Oppo’s usual MO.
“I can’t believe it’s not Apple” is still the name of the game here. However, the smooth metal unibody means that it’s much more in line with the iPhone 6 or 7 than the ‘glass sandwich’ design of the more-recent iPhone 8 or iPhone X.
That said, there is still a headphone jack to be found here - which may or may not matter, depending on where you sit on wireless headphones.
Regardless, the A73 is - to its credit - surprisingly lightweight to hold. The build quality and feel-factor isn’t quite premium but that's not to say it isn't nice. For the greater part of my time with it, it rarely felt like a cheap knock-off. To its credit, it felt like most Oppo phones, which is to say it felt good. Nevertheless, the size of the display involved means it’s definitely going to be more for those who appreciate a larger sized phone.
Oppo are calling-out this display as a pro for those enjoy watching lots of video content on their phone. However, your mileage may vary here. The 18:9 display isn’t the crispest out there - but it is easily the cheapest (knocking last year’s Huawei Nova 2i off its perch). Still, the TFT FHD+ display can be a little dim at times and doesn’t quite carry the spark or luster you can find elsewhere. I wouldn’t say it’s 'bad' but it’s definitely a weak-link that holds the A73 back.
Regardless, this upgrade has seen the fingerprint sensor booted from the foot of the display to the backside of the device. As is the norm for Oppo - this feature works blisteringly fast and it generally a pretty reliable method of unlocking your phone. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the facial recognition in the A73.
As will likely be an ongoing trend throughout the rest of this year, the A73 supports a form of facial recognition-based login. This works as described - but it’s not as secure, reliable or fast as Apple’s FaceID. Having spent a bit of time using the face-unlock capabilities of both the Galaxy Note 8 and OnePlus 5, I found that Oppo’s version of the feature just felt like it wasn't as fast or reliable. There’s potential that the company could improve this aspect of the device in the future via software updates. However, at the moment, that potential remains untapped.
Digging below the surface, it’s worth noting that the version of ColorOS here is still based on Android Nougat rather than the more-recent Oreo. Given that the important improvements made in Oreo are the kinds of internal ones you could easily blink and miss, this is pretty forgivable - but it still left me wanting. Much like the R11s, the lack of split-screen multitasking does work to counteract some of the extra space afforded by the 18:9 display.
Next Page: Performance, Camera, Battery Life, The Bottom Line
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