(Pocket-lint) - Oppo has officially launched in the UK, another Chinese manufacturer looking to challenge the established order. Oppo joins the likes of Xiaomi - entering the UK in 2018 - in challenging one of China's favourite upstarts, OnePlus.
OnePlus and Oppo actually come from the same parent company, but these sibling devices have some surprising differences.
Read on as we guide you through the range of flagship alternatives - the Oppo RX17 Pro, the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro and the OnePlus 6T.
How much do they cost?
- Oppo RX17 Pro: £549 on Carphone Warehouse
- Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro: £499 on Amazon UK
- OnePlus 6T: £499 on OnePlus
The Oppo RX17 Pro will cost £549 SIM free in the UK according to Carphone Warehouse, so it's facing an uphill challenge in justifying that price, while the Xiaomi and OnePlus square up at £499.
There are more expensive versions of the OnePlus 6T available, up to the McLaren Edition at £649. If you don't want to jump up to the Mi 8 Pro spec, there's the cheaper Mi 8, which is basically the same phone, but with a regular back and 6GB RAM and a fingerprint scanner rather than in-display fingerprint reader.
Design: Oppo and OnePlus share DNA
- Oppo: 157.6 x 74.6 x 7.9mm, 183g
- Xiaomi: 154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6mm, 177g
- OnePlus: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm, 185g
The physical similarities in design between Oppo and OnePlus show that shared lineage. Sizing is similar, both have similar water drop notches and they have a similar feel, down to the glass back with nicely curved edges.
The big difference is really in colours. OnePlus is stoically black or black, while Oppo seems to be pushing colours first with Radiant Mist and Emerald Green. Perhaps this suggests a more youthful leaning - although OnePlus does have flashes of Orange on the McLaren Edition as well as a Thunder Purple.
The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro is a little shorter and lighter than its O rivals, with a wider notch on the display. It's a little lighter in the hand, although the width is pretty much the same. It has slightly larger bezels, but you'll probably spend most of your time looking at the transparent back. The Mi 8 Pro is a pretty phone, but Oppo is probably the most eye-catching.
None offer an official IP rating, but all offer an in-display fingerprint scanner.
Displays with minimal difference
- Oppo: AMOLED, 6.4-inch, 2340 x 1080 pixels, 402ppi
- Xiaomi: AMOLED, 6.21-inch, 2248 x 1080 pixels, 402ppi
- OnePlus: AMOLED, 6.41-inch, 2340 x 1080 pixels, 402ppi
Look over the display stats and you won't see much of a difference. All these phones offer an AMOLED display and they all offer the same pixel density, so technically all are just as capable at showing fine detail.
The experience is very similar too, although the smaller notch on the OnePlus and Oppo devices gives them a small advantage over Xiaomi, with that wider notch. That might not come into play very often, but it's an aesthetic point to consider.
The other point that will make a difference is colour tuning. While all the displays are technically similar, the colour profile they display comes down to the manufacturer and we feel that Oppo and OnePlus have a little more punch than Xiaomi.
All can struggle with app scaling on the taller display, however and in some cases you might find that some corner elements might be cut or you'll find the notch invading the app, but it's not a huge problem.
A big hardware difference
- Oppo: Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, 6 RAM, 128GB, 3700mAh, Super VOOC
- Xiaomi: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 8GB RAM, 128GB, 3000mAh, Quick Charge 4+
- OnePlus: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 6/8/10GB RAM, 128/256GB, 3700mAh, Fast Charging/Warp Charge
Starting at the top, there's a core difference in the hardware, with the Oppo RX17 Pro sitting on Qualcomm Snapdragon 710. This is a lower-tier platform to the Snapdragon 845, seeing those two devices a little more potent in the hardware department.
The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro comes in one configuration and it's generous - with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, whereas OnePlus offers a range of options - each more expensive than the last. The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition offers that top configuration with the highest price and the question is whether the boosted RAM actually makes a huge difference - probably not in daily use.
Considering all that, it's fair to say that the Oppo RX17 Pro performs well too - it might not have the SD845, but it's still pretty powerful.
When it comes to battery life and charging, Oppo has the advantage with Super VOOC charging. It's a good bit faster than its rivals, but none of these phones is a slouch. Be warned though - only the top spec McLaren Edition 6T gets the new Warp Charge.
On balance, if you're a power user, the OnePlus 6T looks the most favourable in terms of power and battery life.
Those cameras though
- Oppo: 12MP dual aperture f/1.5 & f/2.6 main, 20MP secondary, 3D ToF tertiary, 25MP front
- Xiaomi: 12MP f/1.8 main, 12MP f/2.4 zoom, 20MP front
- OnePlus: 16MP f/1.7 main, 20MP secondary, 16MP front
When it comes to the cameras, all three devices have a different configuration. Well, almost. Both the Oppo and the OnePlus have a main camera supported by a 20-megapixel secondary lens. That's purportedly there for "depth" information, but as we've seen from the likes of the Google Pixel - you can do all that through one lens anyway, so it's sort of pointless.
The Oppo comes with a third camera, which is a 3D time of flight camera, although it's disabled, so it doesn't do anything. Effectively then, the Oppo camera setup is a lot of spec and not much else - although it takes decent photos in most conditions.
The OnePlus again has that second lens that doesn’t offer much in terms of functions, but you do get decent pictures from it.
The Xiaomi does offer something different in hardware, with that second lens offering zoom. The Xiaomi camera is also pretty good, so on core functionality alone at time of launch - we'd take the Mi 8 Pro. However, there's the potential that the Oppo will do more in the future - if 3D scanning is your thing.
The big decision: Software
- Oppo: Color OS, Android 8.1
- Xiaomi: MIUI, Android 9
- OnePlus: Oxygen OS, Android 9
All these phones run on Android and they all share something in common: they all skin it. Of the three devices, the best experience comes from OnePlus. Oxygen OS is the lightest touch and the most "Androidy" of the collection and we'd happily recommend it over the alternatives - it's just a better long-term experience.
Xiaomi's take is called MIUI and this changes just about every facet of Android. There are additional apps installed from Xiaomi which you can't delete, as well as some pre-installs which you can (like Facebook). MIUI is a little intrusive, making changes that seem unnecessary when you're used to a Google-based Android experience.
Color OS is very much the same and shares a lot with MIUI, having you jump through a number of hoops and unpicking things to get back to some sort of usable state. It's an Android version behind the others (and MIUI improved a good deal moving to version 10 with Android Pie) although Color OS is slowly getting better.
Still, in terms of UI, OnePlus is the easy winner.
While the Xiaomi and OnePlus handsets go head to head in terms of price and in many ways spec, the RX17 Pro has a hard task warranting the £549 price it asks for in the UK.
In terms of software, the OnePlus is the most attractive phones and it also has the advantage of offering a powerful setup for the money. Xiaomi offers that optical zoom which the others don't have, so there's a mite more appeal for photography, while the clear back certainly has geek appeal against OnePlus' solid design.
Competition is fierce in this £500 region, with phones like the Mi 8 Pro and OnePlus easily challenging flagship devices that can cost up to £300 more. There are downsides - lack of waterproofing, cameras that aren't best in class, but which ever phone you choose, you're getting a lot for your money.