In a market that makes up for more than 300 million smartphones users, Oppo has claimed the crown of being the number one smartphone company in Asia. It is currently the fourth largest smartphone company in the world and the largest in China, which carries the biggest smartphone market. The company has also done considerably well in India in the last few years.
Although their phones offer premium features at affordable prices, the success really comes off their selfie-centric attitude which has gone a long way with smartphone users, especially the younger generation. Oppo promises to keep on working towards it and the F5 is a good example of it. The new flagship phone comes with an impressive 20MP front camera backed by AI technology, to click stunning selfies. It sounds pretty impressive for a phone that’s just priced around Rs. 19,990*. There are plenty of other features to look forward to as well. However, does Oppo’s new flagship live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
Design and display
The F5 is up-to-date with other flagship phones in the design category. It carries 6-inch bezel-less screen, a monolithic metal body and a fingerprint sensor that is placed rightly at the back. Surprisingly, the phone also feels lighter than most of the other bezel-less smartphones out there.
The design also has a few premium touches here and there. There is a thin metallic strip that runs along the edges of the screen and also at the top and bottom of the metal chassis. The latter are designed to look like antenna strips. The volume rocker keys and the standby button also feel pretty solid and plush.
The phone is available in three colour choices, black, gold and red. However, there is a catch here. The red variant is available only in higher variant, which comes with 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage. It’s priced at Rs. 25,000* though, which means that people who fancy red have to shell out Rs. 5,000 more. Besides just the colour, it seems like a lot to pay, considering there is only a slight bump in RAM and also the fact that the phone can support a 256GB microSD On the flipside, there is also a trimmed down version of the phone called Oppo F5 Youth, which comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage but is priced way lower at Rs. 16,000*.
Like other bezel-less smartphones, the Oppo F5’s screen carries an aspect ratio of 18:9, with a full HD+ resolution of 1080 x 2160p. What’s different about it though is that Oppo has used a TFT screen; the advantages and disadvantages of which show very clearly. Brightness levels are a little low. What bothers us more is that the screen looks softer and lacks sharpness compared to similar smartphones.
The screen triumphs with viewing angles though. Being TFT means that it is also less vulnerable to reflections, so the picture looks pretty solid even in brightly lit rooms. The colours look a bit saturated, but they don’t hamper the media experience, unless you’re nit-picking. Watching videos on the phone and YouTube is still an enjoyable experience.
The option to use apps in fullscreen mode is available in the display settings. However, most of the Google apps don’t run too well. The third-party apps we tried though, looked good on the screen. It was only games played in portrait mode that looked a little warped. The big screen is also good for using apps in split-screen. However, it’s a little odd to find out that some of Oppo’s propriety apps do not support this feature and that includes the Settings app as well.
AI selfie camera
The highlight of the phone is the AI-powered 20 MP front camera and we’re happy to say that it delivers. Selfies look absolutely stunning on the Oppo F5. It’s easily comparable to some of the more expensive flagships we’ve tested here. The 1/2.8-inch sensor manages to capture impressive amount of detail, while the machine learning improves photos on multiple layers.
To give you an idea of how it works, the AI is backed by a database of faces across skin tones, genders and distinguishing facial features. Not just that, Oppo also claims that the camera can recognise about 200 facial spots and workout its algorithm to present a better symmetry between facial elements. This kind of database combined with machine learning allows it to click better selfies.
As a result, focusing happens quick, right from the get go, making the experience that much snappier. Selfies look clean and clear. Skin tones carry a single tone and come out looking a bit fairer than their natural colour. You’ll still see blemishes but they are made to look subtle. Other modes included only enhance the experience. The Bokeh mode works exceptionally well in every scenario. Even with backlighting, the images we clicked were well focused. The camera didn’t allow glare to take over the shot at all. Beauty mode worked well most of the time we used it. In a few rare cases though, we noticed them to slightly change the face structure or over-enhance a few features, making some of the selfies look a bit goofy.
The 16MP rear camera is equally good. In fact, the output is on the same lines as the front camera. Images carry the same kind of subtlety and detail. There’s also the mix of good contrast and vivid colours. There is no Bokeh mode available for the rear camera but you don’t really need it. The rear camera is more versatile. Its ability to blur out backgrounds, makes it exceptionally great for macro photography. The 2x digital zoom also helps get better macro shots without losing much quality.
Both cameras can record full HD videos. There is no optical image stabilisation though, so videos look jittery in shaky situations. Beauty mode is also available for video recording, but it doesn’t manage to keep up well with moving faces and that’s easily noticeable. The app is easy to use. It’s clutter free for the most part and offers a good number of useful features. This includes HDR mode that helps click better images outdoors. You also get a manual mode that gives you access to features like ISO and aperture. If you’re feeling creative, there are also a few filters to play around with.
The Oppo F5 comes with Android (7.1) Nougat heavily layered with their Colour OS launcher. We don’t particularly like the launcher mainly because it’s heavy to have an impact on the performance. The phone feels pretty sluggish. Even simple tasks like scrolling down the notification drawer or the app drawer look glitchy.
Things work a little differently than other Android smartphones. The notification drawer is rightly placed at the top, but the control centre takes its place at the bottom. Besides shortcuts to connectivity features, the control centre carries a long list of tools present on the smartphone. We’re not big fans of the way it looks though. Icons used for the control centre and even for some apps look a bit tacky.
There is a good amount of bloatware included besides just the usual Google applications. The list includes both video and audio players, a photo gallery and a file manager. There’s even an Oppo app store. However, it features the same third-party apps that can all be downloaded from the Play Store. We don’t really see much use for it.
There are some interesting features included. For starters, there is Oppo Share which allows you to share files with other Oppo phones using Wi-Fi direct. It’s basically like ShareIt, but only for Oppo phones. A gaming feature allows you to avoid calls and other notifications to keep the gaming experience uninterrupted. The launcher even allows to clone supported applications. It’s pretty handy because you can run two accounts for WhatsApp, making good use of the dual SIM support.
There a good amount of security features included as well. Like many other phones, Oppo has also included a Face unlock features. It’s easy to setup and worked better than our expectations. It unlocks the phone and you don’t have to place the phone awkwardly close to your face either.
Performance and screen
The Oppo F5 comes with Mediatek’s Octa-core MT6763Tprocessor and 4GB of RAM. We’re not extremely happy with the performance. The phone can run simple to heavy applications, but the performance just seems sluggish all around, starting right from the interface. It’s noticeable the very first time you use the phone. Opening apps can take some time. Even switching from portrait to landscape mode results in some stutter. The touch also feels a little unresponsive from time to time. We often had to perform the same task twice for the phone to respond.
A further drop in performance is noticeable once you add more apps in the background. Just by running Chrome, YouTube, Facebook, we managed to get the phone to hang up for a few seconds. There were the occasional crash too. Apps like Facebook or Instagram look nice, but don’t run as seamlessly as we’d want them to.
With heavy games like Asphalt: Airborne 8, the performance was decent with mild stutter present throughout. Simple games like Monument Valley run fine. The interface comes with a Phone manager to help clear cache and improve the performance while gaming. A shortcut for the Boost button is also included in the Control Centre, but we didn’t notice any substantial change by using it.
The audio performance is not that great either. The mono speaker at the bottom sounds hollow and distorted at high volumes. It’s decently loud for podcasts and vlogs but we recommend using headphones to get more depth.
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