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Smartphones

Oppo R11 has among best battery life of any smartphone, and display is superb

With a great screen, good cameras and the prospect of two days of juice with light usage, Chinese handset maker’s new model has a lot going for it – assuming you’re OK with a very Apple-like interface

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 9:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 July, 2017, 10:23am

The R11 from Oppo makes no attempt to reinvent the wheel or adopt bleeding-edge technologies, but instead focuses on melding the tried-and-tested with a host of subtle refinements and beefed-up specifications.

The Chinese electronics firm also stays true to its reputation for easy, good-enough photography capabilities with its dual camera implementation – Oppo’s first – paired with a top-notch 20-megapixel front-facing camera. At 2,999 yuan (HK$3,470), it’s certainly worth a look.

Oppo lifts the curtain on its latest Apple, Samsung killer – its R11 smartphone series

Design and hardware

The R11 has a gorgeous 5.5-inch AMOLED display that delivers such vivid hues and deep blacks that you might feel compelled to search for vibrant wallpapers to show it off. It supports dual SIM cards (like the R9 and R9s before it), with the ability use a microSD storage card for an additional 256GB in place of a second SIM card.

Except for the dual camera bump on its back, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the R11 as the R9 from a couple of paces away. The dimensions are practically identical, while the design, placement of buttons, front fingerprint reader, speaker grille and even location of screws are precisely the same.

Various improvements are apparent when you look more closely, however. For instance, two slim, almost invisible antenna lines – at least on our black review unit – trace sinuously along the curved top and bottom back of the phone, down from the previous three.

The metal back is stylishly contoured, giving the R11 a premium feel and making the already slim 6.8mm device feel even thinner. Note that the R11 isn’t one of those new bezel-less models, though the slim 1.66mm between the screen and the outer shell looks great.

On the flip side, the decision to use micro USB instead of the reversible USB Type-C makes the device feel a little dated. Moreover, the aggressively curved sides and contours along the back mean that the device may be prone to slipping out of your hands by accident – I almost dropped it a few times until I started using the bundled transparent soft case.

Software and features

All phones from Oppo run ColorOS, the phone maker’s variant of Android that is heavily optimised for efficiency and battery life. The R11 runs ColorOS 3.1, which is based on Android 7.1 Nougat and updated with a more attractive interface and a host of security features.

Those new to ColorOS should know that its user interface heavily mimics Apple’s iOS. This means swiping down and up will bring up the notification panel and quick settings panel respectively, and the task switcher looks like the iPhone’s. You can switch to a launcher of your choice, though these key behaviours can’t be changed.

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It is also worth noting that the R11 does not come with NFC hardware, which means it won’t work with Android Pay and wireless security dongles such as NFC-based YubiKeys.

Mobile photography aficionados will probably appreciate the R11’s 20MP + 16MP rear dual cameras and what Oppo touts as the world’s first 20MP front-facing camera for selfies. Overall, the pictures are good, though not exceptional. The main cameras work together to take better photos at 2x optical zoom, or you can switch to a “Portrait” mode to take photos with an automatic bokeh (blurred background) effect.

Performance and battery life

Though it doesn’t incorporate the fastest processor, the performance of the R11 was nothing to sneer at. Its front-mounted fingerprint sensor was also the fastest I have seen, unlocking the phone practically instantly. When compared side-by-side with Huawei’s flagship Mate 9 from last year, the rate at which the R11 authenticates and powers on the display makes the former seem slow in comparison.

The R11 also stands head and shoulders over other mainstream phones when it comes to battery life, with exceptional stamina evident when you leave it off the charging stand overnight. Moderate use over a full 24 hours saw the battery bar at one-third, with only a 10 per cent dip over the seven hours when we turned in for the night. This comes courtesy of the power optimisation found in ColorOS, and leaves the tantalising prospect of two full days’ use with light usage.

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Oppo’s proprietary VOOC flash charging system should further obviate the concerns of even the most battery-anxious. In my tests, just 30 minutes of charging brought the phone from 15 per cent to 80 per cent – among the fastest I’ve seen. Of course, you will need to use the official VOOC charger or the company’s VOOC power bank for this to happen.

Conclusion

The Oppo R11 is a solid, highly usable smartphone clearly designed to straddle the divide between offering good solid features and the bleeding edge in terms of features – and price. If you don’t mind the Apple-like ColorOS interface, then the R11 may be just for you.

Specifications

Dimensions: 154.5mm x 74.8mm x 6.8mm

Weight: 150g

Display: 5.5in

Battery: 3,000mAh

OS version reviewed: ColorOS 3.1 over Android 7.1

Processor: Snapdragon 660, Octa-core

Back camera: 20MP (f/2.6) + 16MP (f/1.7)

Front camera: 20MP (f/2.0)

Memory: 64GB ROM (Up to 256GB with microSD card) and 4GB RAM

Colours: Black, gold

Price: 2,999 yuan (HK$3,470)