Oppo R15 Pro review: A compelling mid-tier option with lots of value and few compromises
Full, in-depth review
- Phenomenal hardware
- Much-improved software experience
- No wireless charging
- Camera capabilities lag behind flagship competition
The R15 Pro sees Oppo bring more of that flagship experience to the sub-$800 smartphone space than ever before to generous effect.
As someone who found the last two entries in Oppo’s R-series a little stale, the Oppo R15 feels like a breath of fresh air. Sure, the R7, R9 and R11 have all been solid devices that have emulated some of the strengths of Apple's iOS products without the caveat of having to buy into the company’s constrictive ecosystem.
However, when your niche is 'As close to Apple as you can get on Android', it doesn't take long before you more-or-less catch up to your aspirations. With Apple's products beginning to feel a little too by-the-numbers and predictable - so were Oppo's.
Display size: 6.3-inches
Display type: Full HD+ (2280x1080)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
Dimensions: 156.5 x 75.2 x 8 mm
Operating System: Android 8.1, "Oreo" with Color OS 5.0
Fingerprint Sensor: Yes
Ports: Micro USB, 3.5mm headphone jack
SIM: Dual SIM
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
Rear Camera: 16-megapixel (f/1.7) + 20-megapixel (f/1.7)
Front-Facing Camera: 20-megapixel (f/2.0)
Colors: Ruby Red, Cosmic Purple
Availability: JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Officeworks and Woolworths Mobile.
In terms of the overall look, Oppo's R15 and R15 Pro hold up easily one of the most visually-arresting efforts from the brand in some time. Yes, it's a little derivative of the iPhone X - but that doesn't mean it's a bad look.
In Australia, the R15 is available in Nebula Purple and Frost White. Meanwhile, the R15 Pro is only available in Ruby Red and Cosmic Purple - each with a subtle, P20 Pro-esque gradient which looks slick at first glance and fails to look any less so over time.
The R15 Pro isn't quite edgeless but the bezels are super-thin. On the whole, it just looks like a really slick piece of tech. The newly-notched display might not win over everyone, it does feel like the small gains in screen-size do pay off in some capacity here. Unfortunately, there’s no way to hide the notch if you don’t like it - which you can do with several other notched Android devices.
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While the lack of any wireless charging does feel a little conspicuous absence, the R15 Pro does still manage to hit most - if not all - the usual bases for the brand. It's got Oppo's VOOC fast-charging. It's got a headphone jack. It's even got a slightly-improved take on the face unlock feature found in the R11s. Like that device, this lets you unlock your phone by simply looking at it.
Oppo say that this version of the feature does rely on a greater number of points-of-detail than the R11s did but it still isn't quite as secure as the 3D face-scanning found in the iPhone X or the upcoming Oppo Find X.
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Oppo’s ColorOS Android also picks up several new tricks in the R15 Pro. First and foremost, the way that you navigate the OS has shifted from Android's trademark shortcut keys to iPhone X-inspired swipes. These work well and, while there is definitely a small-adjustment period, it doesn't take long before using them felt intuitive and fast. If you don’t like them, you can always opt for the normal Android buttons. As someone who is currently itching to mess with the analogous gesture controls coming in Android P, I was a big fan.
ColorOS also now features some almost-Bixby-inspired smart assistant features built into the software platform itself. You can swipe right and it'll give you a feed-style interface that'll automatically incorporate things like appointments, daily steps and deliveries. It’s nothing revolutionary but, for what it is, it’s actually executed rather well.
In terms of the performance, the Oppo R15 Pro does indeed live up to the pitch of Oppo’s most impressive device yet. That said, sans a Snapdragon 800-series processor like that found in the newly-announced Find X, it does sit a significant step below the flagship-tier competition.
In addition, if you’re one of those people who just can’t stand Oppo’s one-foot-in-iOS-one-foot-in-Android ColorOS skin, the R15 and R15 Pro aren’t going to radically change your perspective on it. This latest device sees the R15 become more mature, but it hasn’t really changed all that much.
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Still, when it came to benchmarks, the the R15 Pro acquitted itself well.
Courtesy of the device’s hefty 6GB of RAM, it put up quite a fight against the rest of the mid-tier crowd but lagged behind flagships like the Galaxy S9+ and LG G7 ThinQ. Notably, the R15 Pro uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor found in the R11s - so there’s not a huge difference in performance between the two.
If you want the Oppo device with the best performance, it’s still probably going to be worth waiting for the Find X. However, for most users in the market for sub-$800 smartphone, the experience offered by the R15 Pro is probably going to be more than adequate.
There’s a similar story to be told about the R15 Pro’s camera.
Much as you’d expect, R15 Pro offers a up solid selfie-cam that most everyday users will probably end up pretty happy with while images taken with the R15 Pro’s dual-lens rear camera look crisp, colorful and rarely come up short.
In almost every situation we threw at it, the R15 Pro delivered - with the one exception being low-light, which does remains a relative-weakness for most smartphones playing in this price-range.
Like Huawei, LG, Google, Xiaomi and others, there's also a new AI component in the mix here. The R15 Pro comes capable of detecting 120 different kinds of 'scenes' and - depending on what it sees in those scenes - it'll automatically toggle itself between one of 16 camera modes designed specifically for that subject.
All up, this isn’t massively different to what some of the competition are doing but it is an appreciated inclusion that helps keep the mid-tier R15 Pro competitive.
Still, I can’t shake the feeling that, despite the addition of some sensor-integrated HDR tech, it does feel like Oppo are losing their touch on this particular front.
Compared to the groundbreaking advances that Huawei, Samsung and Google have been making in the smartphone photography space, the R15 doesn't really seem to bring anything hugely new to the table. It’s good - and even great in certain situations - but only really within the expectations afforded to it as a mid-tier smartphone.
In terms of every-day battery-life, we’d easily make it through the usual 9-5 work day and often well into the evening as well. We’d still have to charge our device back to full overnight - but if we accidentally forgot to do, we’d usually still have a little bit to go on until we found a power source.
We’re talking eleven or twelve hours of average use here, though - as always - your mileage may vary. Particularly, if you watch or film a lot of video content.
There’s no wireless charging here but the R15 Pro does support Oppo’s proprietary VOOC ultra-fast charging via Micro USB, which allows you to charge up two hours of usage from just five minutes of charging.
The Bottom Line
The R15 Pro really does feel like the major step forward for Oppo that the brand has needed for a while. It feels significant and compelling ways that R11 and R11s didn't.
The R15 Pro sees Oppo bring more of that flagship experience to the sub-$800 smartphone space than ever before to generous effect. It won’t placate tech-savvy users looking for “the best” Android smartphone out there but if you’re looking for a good Android smartphone, it’s an easy sell over a lot of the other options.
There are few compromises and caveats here, plenty of clean consolidation and lots of value.
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