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Smartphones

Fastest charging phone: Oppo R17 Pro with dual battery Super VOOC tech stakes its claim

  • Taking just 10 minutes to charge 40 per cent, the Oppo R17 Pro is lightning quick, though its charger looks more like a laptop charger
  • Oppo is clearly no longer content just copying Apple
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2018, 8:46am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 November, 2018, 7:53pm

Just six months after the release of the Oppo R15 that we reviewed in May, the Chinese phone maker is back with the release of its R17 and R17 Pro models.

We review the higher-end R17 Pro to see what has changed.

Design and hardware

The most outstanding aspect of the R17 Pro is undoubtedly its large 6.4-inch screen. The notch is tiny – certainly compared to the elongated bar on top of the iPhone X screen – and is inspired by the shape of a water droplet, according to Oppo.

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This small notch holds the front camera; the speaker for regular phone calls has been cleverly repositioned as an almost invisible slit between the screen and the aluminium frame. The bezel is also at its slimmest yet, giving the R17 Pro an incredible 91.5 per cent screen ratio.

Achieving this screen ratio took some work. For a start, an infrared sensor at the bottom of the screen is used in tandem with the touch screen to replace a proximity sensor (which turns the screen off when you put it to your ear). The light sensor is housed under the screen on the right, relying on light tubes to channel light from the notch area. An in-screen fingerprint reader completes the ensemble.

To save space, Oppo opted for a dual SIM card holder that positions SIM cards back-to-back instead of side-by-side, and also dropped the physical earphone jack.

Software and features

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 powers the device, supported by 8GB of RAM. The phone offers 128GB of storage, though this can’t be upgraded. Aside from 802.11ac Wi-fi, it also comes with Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC.

The R17 Pro comes with ColorOS 5.2, an operating system based on Android 8.1 Oreo. You get Oreo’s speed and stability, with features such as Oppo’s picture-in-picture mode and the traditional battery efficiency of ColorOS. While I question the need for 8GB of RAM, the experience was undoubtedly smooth, and even loading scores of apps doesn’t faze the device.

You can enable facial recognition with the front-facing camera for faster authentication. Enrolling my face was a straightforward process, and facial recognition was generally so quick and seamless that I had to disable it to properly test the in-screen fingerprint reader. To be clear, the former can potentially be spoofed by someone with a similar appearance or a photograph. Still, it is a handy feature for users who prefer convenience over security.

But how effective was the in-screen fingerprint reader? I think it is good. For a start, its position about 1.5cm (0.6 inches) up from the bottom of the screen works well. Picking up the phone causes a graphical image highlighting the position of the fingerprint reader to appear, ensuring that you place your thumb on the correct spot. Recognition was fast, generally taking a second or less. Don’t expect miracles with wet or moist fingers though, and a firm press works best.

The R17 Pro packs in three rear cameras, although the third is a Time of Flight (TOF) sensor that relies on the known speed of light for 3D imaging and distance measurements. Unfortunately, the software for it isn’t ready. Oppo says features will be released soon with an augmented reality (AR) ruler capability expected to be available in early December.

Performance and battery life

Let’s begin with the charging, which is a highlight of this phone. While Oppo has not made a welcome switch to USB-C, the R17 Pro features the new “Super VOOC” charging technology and uses two internal batteries rated at 1,850mAh each. While this sounds complicated, the result is truly astounding. Oppo says that Super VOOC can bring a depleted battery to 40 per cent in just 10 minutes, and tests I ran shows that they are not exaggerating.

From a 15 per cent charge on our R17 Pro review unit, it took just 10 minutes to reach 55 per cent, 20 minutes to reach 85 per cent, and 30 minutes to fully charge.

The phone did warm up slightly, but less than other flagships that I’ve tested recently. Of course, the Oppo charger does look more like a laptop charger than a smartphone charger, but this is hardly surprising considering that its 50 watts rating is beefier than some laptop chargers.

You have the familiar dual-camera set-up for normal 2D photography, buoyed by three-axis optical image stabilisation. A smart aperture automatically switches between a smaller F2.4 aperture under bright lighting conditions and a larger F1.5 aperture in dim environments for idiot-proof photography.

A special “ultra night” mode uses longer exposures for better night shots. This works as advertised: if you follow the instructions to hold still for a few seconds. I found it capable of capturing greater detail in the dark than could be seen with the naked eye.

While the R17 Pro’s speaker is as loud as other phones, some compromise had to be made due to its design. Music playback on the external speaker is only available in mono from the sole speaker at the bottom of the device. The slit at the top is simply too small to support a second speaker like those in the latest Google and Samsung flagships.

Conclusion 

Oppo has successfully incorporated a slew of cutting-edge technology into the R17 Pro, making it much more than an evolutionary upgrade. It is obvious that the company is no longer seeking to ape Apple; it has grown into its own with an evolved design and tangible technical strengths that can only help it stand out in today’s crowded smartphone market.

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Dimensions: 157.6mm x 74.6mm x 7.9mm

Weight: 183 grams

Display: 6.4 inches

Battery: 2 x 1,850mAh

OS version reviewed: ColorOS 5.2 (based on Android 8.1)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 (Adreno 616)

Cameras: Back: 12MP + 20MP (f1.5/f2.4 + f2.6); front: 25MP (f2.0)

Memory: 128GB storage, 8GB RAM

Colours: Green, “Radiant Mist” (a blend of deep blue and purple)

Price: SG$999 (US$728)