Tech review: Oppo R9s – mid-range smartphone is enjoyable to use with a very long battery life

The latest smartphone from Chinese tech company Oppo is sleek and fast with great cameras and a quick charger for the long-lasting battery

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 December, 2016, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 December, 2016, 12:31pm

The R9s is the latest smartphone from Oppo that blends performance and usability in a lightweight and slim package. While some may say the Oppo R9s lacks the “wow” factor, the device is highly refined and comes with a number of touches that makes it surprisingly enjoyable to use.

Design and hardware Like previous models from Oppo, the new R9s is another comfortable clone of that popular fruit themed smartphone. There is a lot that is familiar here, including an all-metal unibody chassis, well-rounded sides, the chamfered edge where the rounded “2.5D” Gorilla Glass meets the metal, and even the location of its speaker grill and buttons.

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Similarities aside, the Android-powered device is thinner at 6.58mm. And despite the large 5.5-inch AMOLED screen, it’s smaller and lighter than the iPhone 7 Plus at 153mm by 74.3mm and 147 grams.

Oppo has swapped the thick antenna bands that traverse the backs of most smartphones with a series of fine antenna lines a mere 0.3mm thick. The smartphone maker calls them “six-string” antenna lines, and compares them to stringed instruments.

Elsewhere, Oppo has stuck to a more conservative design, retaining the tried-and-tested micro-USB for charging and the 3.5mm earphone plug.

The R9s has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and dual nano-SIM support for mobile connectivity. Similar to other dual-SIM smartphones, users are given the option of sacrificing the second SIM card slot for a micro-SD card for additional storage of up to 256GB.

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Features The Oppo R9s comes loaded with ColorOS 3.0, which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. That means no split-screen, quick reply, or some of the other nifty features found in Android 7.0. However, the heavily customised Android system does offer an advantage in terms of battery life and performance.

The R9s incorporates a new solid-state home button with very fast fingerprint detection (0.2 seconds according to Oppo). While we were unable to measure if it was indeed that fast, fingerprint recognition definitely takes place in less than a second, and even detection of wet fingers was no problem thanks to the hydrophobic coating on the home button.

The R9s uses a new Sony IMX398 sensor with 16 megapixels for its front and rear cameras. In our tests, the camera produced strikingly clear photos in a variety of situations, and really shines when taking photos at night or in low light. While photos from a dual-lens camera did appear brighter, the colours on the R9s looked more natural and vivid.

Trying to snap a quick photo without blurring should also be easier now, thanks to the new dual phase detection autofocus technology built into the R9s. In our experience, the camera fared well in environments with glare or bright sunlight.

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Performance and battery life It is worth noting that the Oppo R9s is positioned as a premium mid-range device, which explains the choice of the mass-market Snapdragon 625 chip. The octa-core processor offers fairly solid performance with excellent battery life.

Day-to-day usage was smooth and never felt slow, courtesy of ColorOS, which comes with significant built-in optimisations for speed and power efficiency. The latter includes aggressive management of background apps.

This is most evident when the smartphone is on standby, with the battery level dropping less than 10 per cent over seven hours. Even on the longest work day it ended with at least one-third of its charge left.

When you do need a power socket, watching the R9s recharge on its proprietary VOCC flash charger is an almost eerie sight with the battery gauge rising about 11 per cent every five minutes. In our test, it recharged from 10 per cent to 33 per cent in 10 minutes, to 77 per cent in 30 minutes, and 90 per cent in 40 minutes. There was no perceptible temperature increase in the R9s during the charging process.

Conclusion Users looking for cutting edge features such as the fastest processor or dual-lens camera are unlikely to find the Oppo R9s enough. Similarly, those looking for a waterproof device or a sexy curved display will have to look elsewhere. Yet with its excellent build quality, surprising camera, and top-notch battery life, there is no question that the R9s is a solid and fun smartphone that will grow on you.

Price: 2,799 yuan (HK$3,140)

Specs Dimensions: 153mm x 74.3mm x 6.58mm

Weight: 147g

Screen size: 5.5-inch (AMOLED)

Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080 FHD

Battery: 3,010 mAh (non-removable)

OS: Android 6.0 (Color OS v3.0)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 (Octa-core 2.0GHz)

Cameras: 16MP F2.0 (front); 16MP autofocus F1.7 (back)

Memory: (expandable storage): 64GB internal up to 256GB microSD (takes up second SIM slot)

Colours: black, gold, rose gold