Tuesday, March 14, 2017

OPPO R9s review

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OPPO may not have the same level of brand recognition in the West as Huawei or ZTE, but they’ve long dominated the Chinese market. That should come as no surprise too, given their track record of launching impressive smartphones like the R7, N3, and Find 7.

It’s quite evident that OPPO is hoping to continue their successful trend with the comfortably mid-range OPPO R9s, a follow-up to last year’s R9. The question is, should you consider the OPPO R9s over similarly priced options like the ZTE Axon 7, the Honor 8, or the OnePlus 3T? Now is the time to take a closer look with our OPPO R9s review!


It that really an Android? It looks a lot like an iPhone!

During my time with the R9s, I was frequently asked questions along the lines of “It that really an Android? It looks a lot like an iPhone!” Perhaps I shouldn’t criticize the phone identification skills (or lack thereof) of others in this case. The R9s does look a lot like the iPhone, from its identically-shaped body to its unmistakably similar speaker grill.

There’s also an iPhone-esque silver ring around the home button, and, yes, to truly take inspiration from Apple means to also include the notorious rear camera bump. Don’t fret too much, though, as that bump is only mildly annoying when tapping the top left part of the display on hard flat surfaces.

Oddly enough, the antenna lines on this model are a notable departure from the preceding R9’s solid lines. OPPO’s intention here may have been to distance themselves from Apple. In any case, OPPO isn’t fooling anyone with their design tactics.

In any case, OPPO isn’t fooling anyone with their design tactics

Joking aside, the R9s’ design is indeed quite nice despite its derivative nature. It’s remarkably thin and light at 6.6mm and 145g, both of which measures undercut comparable iPhone models.

The R9s’ build quality is where this design truly shines. The all-metal body is well tried-and-tested to say the least, as it offers both a premium look and premium in-hand feel. This is becoming increasingly important for mid-range devices like the OPPO R9s, as consumers demand even more for their money.

Thankfully, the small touches appear to have received the same high level of attention. The sides buttons are nice and tactile. The chamfers are clean. The home button doesn’t wiggle. Small details like these are sometimes overlooked but are perhaps just as important, so OPPO’s level of focus here is great to see.

Since the R9s’ capacitive home button includes an embedded fingerprint reader, you can simply touch the button to unlock the phone or authorize certain apps or purchases. It seems that the R9s is using the same reader as the OnePlus 3T, given that both OPPO and OnePlus are owned by parent company BBK Electronics.

OnePlus 3T review

January 31, 2017

The R9s’ fingerprint reader is really fast

Regardless, the R9s’ fingerprint reader is really fast while maintaining a high level of accuracy. This is one of the best experiences available to date, which is especially impressive when considering the R9s’ price.

To the sides of the home button are two illuminated keys: multitask and back, respectively. The illumination could be a tad brighter, but certainly does the job in most situations. Although the layout is the opposite of the back-home-multitask standard layout, some prefer having the back button on the right side, including myself.


Thankfully, excellent displays have become the norm for anything priced more than about $300. And, for the most part, the OPPO R9s’ display lives up to my expectations. This model’s screen is sized at 5.5-inches, although if you’re looking for something slightly larger, the 6.0-inch OPPO R9s Plus might be worth considering.

The display size translates to an average handling experience, helped marginally by the remarkably small side bezels. Those bezels are quite stylish too, although it’s worth mentioning that the black border around the display does detract some of that beauty.

Colors appear very punchy and oversaturated

Since it is an AMOLED panel, colors appear very punchy and oversaturated. Many people prefer this look, however, as it makes everything look quite vibrant. There’s also a bundled “eye protection mode” accessible from either the quick toggles or the settings, which adjusts the color temperature to be warmer or more yellow.

This thereby reduces the amount of blue light, which is said to be bad before bedtime. While I’m unaware of substantial research that concludes that this actually improves sleep, it certainly seems that it couldn’t hurt.

The display’s brightness level range is about what I expected. It’s low enough for darker environments, and high enough for some outdoor environments. If it’s blue skies and sunny though, you might have some trouble reading the display. For reference, it’s brighter than the Axon 7’s display, but falls short of the OnePlus 3T’s display.

Also read: ZTE Axon 7 review

OPPO has implemented Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which provides protection against both scratches and drops. Sadly, I found the display to scratch surprisingly easily.

Corning Gorilla Glass labs tour: Shattering glass for perfection

February 1, 2017

The display coating is dangerously close to being a deal-breaker

I also noticed a very strange display coating on both of my review units, which makes the glass an absolute fingerprint magnet. This is the worst display for fingerprints that I’ve used in recent memory, as smudges linger even after cleaning. While this will surely annoy people to varying degrees, I personally find this to be dangerously close to being a deal-breaker.


With the R9s, OPPO has made a switch from the Mediatek Helio P10 to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. Although I never had the chance to use the R9 specifically, I have used several smartphones with the Helio P10. Based on my experiences with both chips, I think this is a small but certainly welcomed upgrade. There’s also 4GB of RAM, so you should have no trouble with moderate to heavy multitasking.

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