Oppo A5X review: A winning blend of long battery, solid performance and low-price
After delivering on the potential of both the adept R15 Pro and the innovative Find X, Oppo find themselves at an interesting crossroads. They’ve never been more competitive on flagship features than they have right now.
However, it’d be a mistake to think the company have started to overlook the cheaper-end of the market. And if the new Oppo AX5 is any indication, it won’t take long for the achievements of the company’s recent higher-end products to trickle down to their cheapest. Providing cheap devices with minimal compromises is core to the Oppo brand - and that mantra applies just as much in the low-end of the market as it does the high.
Simply put: the Oppo AX5 is Oppo’s most accomplished budget-buy yet.
Display size: 6.2-inch
Display type: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, HD+
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 450
Operating System: Android 8.1 with ColorOS 5.1
Fingerprint Sensor: No
MicroSD slot: Yes
Ports: 3.5mm headphone jack + Micro USB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.2
Rear Camera: 13-megapixel (f/2.2) + 2-megapixel (f/2.4)
Front-Facing Camera: 8-megapixel (f/2.2)
Colors: Diamond Blue
Dimensions: 156.2 mm x 75.6 mm x 8.2mm
Availability: JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys (Blue only), TeleChoice (Blue only), Officeworks (Blue only), RetraVision, Woolworths, MobileCiti, Amazon
Design - Looks, Feel and Features
If you take it at face value, considering only the numbers on the page, the Oppo AX5 could be be dismissed as a chunkier, less-polished version of the R15. However, once you see it first hand, it becomes clear that Oppo have actually taken the time to add a bit of flourish and character to the design of the handset.
The Oppo AX5 features an all-glass back, but beneath that glass is an irregular grid of unique geometric shapes. I wouldn’t say it looks as jaw-dropping as the twilight sheen on the Huawei P20 Pro or the even more-subtle gradients found in the Find X and R15 Pro. Still, it feels like far more care, time, effort and craftsmanship has gone into the appearance of this device than most other budget handsets usually get.
Unfortunately, the display on the Oppo AX5 is only HD. It’s not as sharp or bright as it could be. There are more premium displays out there - even at this price-point.
The AX5’s speaker-grill, located at the base of the unit, is a less competent inclusion. Like countless handsets before it, the overall utility is offset by its placement. I often found myself accidentally muffling it by just holding the phone. Thankfully, the AX5 does feature a headphone jack - so I wasn’t forced to rely on the speaker too much of the time.
Then there’s the notch. Like most 2018 smartphones, Oppo have embraced a notch in order to maximize the display space on the AX5. The device boasts 88.8% screen-to-body ratio, courtesy of some padding around the sides and chin.
[Related Content: Smartphone Notches Explained]
If there is any particular irk to be found here, it’s in the subtle contrast between the plastic sides of the device and the glass faces on the front and back. It’s nothing major, mind you. But the seams are occasionally felt, giving away the cheapness of the make.
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The AX5 looks like a device much more expensive than it actually is, but it rarely feels the same way.
Camera - How Does It Compare To The Competition
The camera on the AX5 is competent but it’s rarely exceptional. Even in the golden hour, shots taken with the AX5 weren’t able to really capture the color spectrum in the way I’d like.
The camera on the AX5 does boast an AI-powered portrait mode but no scene optimizations like those found in the Huawei P20 or LG G7 ThinQ.
For daylight photography, the Oppo AX5 is good enough to get the job done. But, again, it feels like there’s definitely room for improvement here.
Much as you’d expect from a budget device like this low-light proved a particular weakness. The results offered by the AX5's camera would often be frustratingly blurry in these situations. Unless you can get the lighting just right, it’s basically unusable in nocturnal environments. If there’s any specific or key reason to opt for more expensive options, it’s this.
Performance - Specs, Software and Battery Life
My everyday experience of relying on the Oppo AX5 was a little bit of a mixed bag. Realistically, I think you could get by with it. Still, I wasn’t taken aback by the snappiness of the processor in the way I am with more expensive Oppo devices.
That said, as with all Oppo devices, the Oppo AX5 runs on the company’s ColorOS skin, now in version 5.1. The usual caveats apply.
Bulk managing notifications from the lock screen is still a bit of a pain. But for the most part, ColorOS still holds up a super-slick and cohesive interface that blends together the utility of Android with the intuitiveness of Apple’s iOS. I remain a fan of it.
With regards to benchmarks, the Oppo AX5 delivered the goods handily. Across the board, it managed to edge out a lot of competing budget devices out there such as the Moto E5 and and Nokia 3.1. That said, it’s also a little dearer - so whether those performance gains are going to be worth it is difficult to gauge.
When it came to battery-life, the Oppo A5X might not just be one of the best budget devices out there but one of the best smartphones we’ve looked at this year. Seriously. We’d easily make it through the usual 9-5 work day and often into a second day of active use as well. Even if we accidentally forgot to leave the device on charge overnight, we’d still plenty of juice left to work with.
We’re talking fourteen or more hours of average use here, though - as always - your mileage may vary. Particularly, if you watch or film a lot of video content or crank the brightness way up.
Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging here - nor support for Oppo’s VOOC fast-charging.
The Bottom Line
There are better and cheaper phones out there than the Oppo AX5. However, if you’re looking for that classic Oppo blend of long battery, snappy performance and low-price - the Oppo AX5 subscribes to that formula and yields strong results.
You can find the Oppo AX5 on Amazon here
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