The OPPO R15 Pro In-Depth Review – The One That Got Away
OPPO is that China brand that everyone nearly misses because of Huawei. Well, it is true. When people start talking about China made smartphones, people start thinking about Huawei first. Why? They did spend a considerable part of their budget to put their brand into the consumer’s minds. You also have to give them kudos to targeting the current top dog, Samsung. This write-up is not about that China brand though; it is about the other China brand – OPPO.
Weirdly the brand name is one of the most popular globally. It is also, as they claim Malaysia’s third largest smartphone manufacturer by market share and hardware sales. Of course their reasonable, budget friendly pricing could be a major factor that contributes to its success in the region. But OPPO devices are beyond just cheap pricing and sub par hardware though.
OPPO devices currently are known to have some of the most premium build qualities in its class. The OPPO R9s for example, looks very much like a competing brand that comes from Cupertino. The build quality reflects it too. We thought that the previous OPPO R9s had a solid build with performance to match its looks. It was a great device for its price.
The new flagship then, has plenty to live up to. It has to be even better than before while keeping its affordability factor. It has to perform like a proper flagship as well; it is OPPO’s flagship after all. That is the job that is cut out for the new OPPO R15 Pro that we have here. So is it any good?
First impressions matter, they say. In the case of smartphones these days, it could be true. A smartphone’s design language, as limited as they are can be quite complex as well. You may think that every smartphone is just a glass slab with aluminium frames slapped on to hold the glass pieces.
The OPPO R15 Pro, in a glance, looks exactly just like that. It is two slabs of glass, with a curved one to serve as the back of the device, slapped together held by an aluminium frame to make a smartphone. But it is more than just a slab of glass and aluminium.
The unit we have here in the Cosmic Purple one. If we were to describe the colour in one word it would be ‘beautiful’. The Cosmic Purple is subtle under that black silhouette though so you have to take a closer look to see its beautiful royal purple. The purple colour continues to the frames too, but it is so subtle that you thought it was black. It is dramatic, and subtle, and mysterious all at the same time. We love it.
The shape, well it does look like it harks back to that famous Cupertino design save for the curved edges. But it does look good. It’s colour complements the shape and makes it unique.
The curves on the edges has their functions too. It makes it more at home at your palm. It makes the large device feels smaller than it actually is. The curved edge design is not unique to OPPO though, it is a similar concept to the flagships from a certain South Korean manufacturer. It is a welcome familiarity though.
The sum of that is a pretty looking device that looks quite unique to OPPO actually. It looks good, quite pretty in some angles. Sure, the design language may not be entirely original. It still looks and feels like a proper flagship though and that is the whole point.
Quad-Core @ 2.2GHz
Quad-Core @ 1.8GHz
Expandable with MicroSD (Up to 256GB)
|Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)||Adreno 512|
6.28-inch (~401 ppi)
1080p Quad HD+, 19:9 ratio (1,080 x 2,280 pixels)
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
|Operating System||Android 8.1.0 Oreo with Color OS 5.0|
|Battery||Non-Removable 3,430mAh Li-Ion
Fast Charging (VOOC)
Wi-Fi IEEE802.11 b/g/n
Phase Detection Autofocus
Face Detection AI
2x Optical zoom
4K Video recording (30fps)
Full HD video recording (30fps)
Face Detection AI
Fingerprint (rear mounted)
|Miscellaneous||3.5mm Headphone Jack
User Interface (Color OS 5.0)
There is a new page when you swipe to the right though. This is where OPPO’s Smart Assistant sits. The Smart Assistant done by OPPO is technically a replacement version of Google Now.
The Smart Assistant gives you quick access to information like the weather report, or the amount of steps you take, or your calendar, and your frequent apps. You can set the amount of frequent apps on the page itself to customise it to your needs and desires. You can even add favourite contacts to the smart assistant page as well if you want.
Personally though I still prefer to use a combination of Google now and home screens to do all these. This being an Android device too you can still add widgets to the home screens.
Unlocking your device using your fingerprint is technology as old as time (not really, we checked, we are just exaggerating). It is a feature that has been made popular two years ago and the feature can be found in nearly every smartphone you see today, even the really cheap ones. Obviously the OPPO R15 Pro has a fingerprint sensor.
What for, I hear you ask? It already has a face detection unlock, so it only needs another pin type lock right? well, they say there can never be too much security as reflected here. If the face detection for whatever reason fails to recognise you; at least you do not have to fumble around trying to get the pin or pattern right. All you need to do is touch the fingerprint sensor at the back of the device and voila, your device is unlocked.
OPPO has touted on their previous flagship, the R9s an unlock time of 0.2s via fingerprint sensor. If you have read our review of the R9s here. We did say that in theory that 0.1s difference does not sound or look like much. In practicality terms though the 0.1s difference makes it seems like you unlocked your device in an instant. It is mindbogglingly quick.
Call Quality and Connectivity
We tested the OPPO R15 Pro on Celcom’s XPAX network. Within our test period we have no issues with connecting to the internet nor even making calls. Celcom has one of the largest coverage in Malaysia so making calls everywhere should not be an issue in the first place. Data is not an issue in most places too. There are a few known deadzones in Kuala Lumpur for Celcom’s data connection though so there is not much the antennas can do either when you get there.
Making calls on this device is just like any other device (what did you expect?). Call quality is crisp and clear as expected from a modern smartphone. There is that standard noise cancelling mics on the top of the device too so it should cancel out any noise from the surroundings. According to the other person on the line at least, calls are always clear and easy enough to hear. Even within a crowded environment with some noise the other end of the call never complained about the noise levels or that the call was unclear. We have not missed any calls yet when we set the phone to ring so that should be a good enough testament to their speakers.
Another thing is taking and making calls via the speakerphone. I personally do plenty of that because, why not? In that front, the speakers are loud enough to fill a small meeting room. But if you do stand at the corner of the room and have the phone at the other corner, you might not hear much (neither can the person on the other end, for that matter). But if you are going to use it to make a conference call in a meeting room, you would want to have a Bluetooth speaker connected.
A hallmark for a certain South Korean brand. Unfortunately this device is from China so any sort of actual multitasking is pretty much non-existent right? Not really. Since the introduction of Android 8.0, multitasking has become a thing. Android 8.0 Oreo now supports App Split Screen, which also means that the OPPO R15 Pro does too. For you to get it working you you’d have to dig into the menu to find the setting and enable it. I just did a search for “split screen”in the settings.
To get it working after that, you would have to be in one app and then swipe up using three fingers simultaneously. The split screen mode is then activated and you can choose whatever app you want to run simultaneously below the current app you run. The large 6.28-inch display does help with the multitasking though. We do have to say that we are quite impressed with how smooth and how well the split screen works. You can run a YouTube video while looking through and replying your emails with no issues.
Other than that the 6GB of RAM can keep up with whatever apps you decide to keep open at the same time. Lags from multitasking are very rare and the device feels smooth all the time despite the mid-range processor.
Playing games like Hearthstone, or PUBG Mobile on this device sounds like a far-fetched idea at first I do admit. The device has a mid-range processor and a mid-range GPU. Gaming on this device should be no where like the high-end devices at all. With the lack of power the device should be slower than the high-end flagships you can think of these days.
Of course there is no comparison graphics wise when it comes to games like PUBG Mobile running on this, and a higher specced device. PUBG Mobile automatically optimises your game on mid-level performance to get the most out of the device. It still runs smoothly and properly disappointed only by your skill, or rather the lack of.
Games like Hearthstone still can run on the device with minimal issues, albeit with lower graphics performance. It is still mighty playable even when you go up against your friends online. Even games like Arena of Valor can run smoothly on the device which is a testament to the device’s gaming prowess.
This is not the party piece of the OPPO R15 Pro, but it does pack a large 3,430mAh battery that, in theory, should last you a whole day without needing a quick charge somewhere. Even when you go home at midnight the 3,400 mAh battery should give you enough juice, again in theory. We did not do a battery stress test with never ending videos and what not. Instead we use the device like we would everyday. I personally do not text much but these days I make more phone calls than I can care about. Obviously there will be the occasional texts via Whatsapp, Telegram, or even Facebook messenger. Then of course there is the social media postings and scrolling on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Not to forget we used it on some occasions for navigation via Google Maps and Waze, and some occasional Google Chrome web browsing.
We must say that we are highly impressed with its battery life after two days of use. The device lasted me nearly one and half days of use the first time out after the first set up. The next few days proved that the device can last you up to two days if you left it on standby with occasional checks on messages, time, and reply one or two emails. Of course the moment you start watching things like Netflix, or iflix, or even YouTube the battery consumption goes up. The apps increase the battery use up to twice the usual rate but that still means you get a whole day of battery life if you watch one or two episodes of your favourite shows.
When the battery do go down to critical levels though the device charges via a MicroUSB cable. With the provided cable and adapter the VOOC activates and charges the device within two hours. The only downside here is that the fast charging only works with VOOC or nothing else though.
The Full HD+ display though is in a class of its own. The display is a regular AMOLED display that is stretched to fit the front of the device. The vivid colours are the very signatures of AMOLED displays, which translates on the OPPO R15 Pro. The display looks better than plenty of the displays on plenty of other more expensive flagships. The vivid colours are easy on the eyes.
Viewing any movies, or YouTube videos, or Netflix, or iflix is a pleasure on the OPPO R15 Pro. The blacks are deep and the colours richer than Richard Branson. The large display does not hurt too when it comes to immersive experiences. Of course you do not get the experience level of watching a TV on your couch. But it is way more than good enough while commuting to work.
The only thing that is slightly weird, as with any other flagships these days, is the 19:9 screen ratio. Netflix will optimise and basically squeeze their entire footage into that space which makes for an awkward notch as you are watching videos. Of course you can size it down again and watch on a normal 16:9 or 18:9 format. But it is quite annoying.
Overall though, the display is one of the nicest looking displays in the market currently. Its only downfall is its speaker, which can sound a little tiny.
Then we come to the party piece, its camera, or rather; its cameras. The OPPO R15 Pro fits a 24-megapixel and a 16-megapixel sensor and lenses out the back of the device to make a dual-camera set up that was made popular by another certain China manufacturer two years ago. That impressive line-up is complemented by a front camera that comes in at 24-megapixel.
So how does it fare?
The OPPO R15 Pro takes photos at 4,608 by 3,456 pixels making 16-megapixel shots (technically). The dual camera set-up though creates great looking shallow depth-of-field shots that has come associated with dual camera set ups. Since one of the two cameras are a telephoto lens the device can even take photos at two times optical zoom, which is handy when you are at an unfavourable distance from your subject.
Then there is the AI camera that is unique to OPPO. They featured their first AI camera in their mid-range champion, the F7. The AI camera that is fitted to the front-facing camera detects your face and analyses it. It then transforms your face to make you look as good as you can be even without make up and you take a photo of that.
On the OPPO R15 Pro has the AI camera on both the front camera and at the main rear shooters as well. On the back camera that AI also acts as a beauty filter for you and your friends. So if you do take portraits the device really flatters. Because of the dual camera set up as well you get the “bokeh” effect as well when you take portraits of your friends. The shallow depth-of-field effect looks very natural thanks to the AI algorithms.
It does not mean that the OPPO flagship does not take good photos when it comes to non-human subjects though. The AI is now developed to detect the sort of subject you are taking and sets itself up for the best setting for the subject. The photos that comes out from the dual camera are highly detailed. We do find that the reds and yellows from the photos of the device a little muted so your browns could turn really brown making them look dull. Nothing that a quick Photoshop or Lightroom cannot fix though. The photos come out quite cold in most conditions so there is a slight blue tinge on the photos. Despite those shortcomings the photos still look great. Greens look very natural with the device so any landscape shots look great.
It does videos at 4K resolution too unlike plenty of devices at this price range. As usual 4K videos at 30fps always look great. The colours do tend to follow the camera’s profile though so footages do come out a little cold and certain colours can look a little dull. But the colour profiles are nothing that a quick colour correction cannot fix.
Do check out the photo gallery for the curated photos. There has been no editing done to the photos.
So, I Need a New Phone – Is The OPPO R15 Pro for me?
Also published on Medium.