(Pocket-lint) - If Oppo is a new brand name to you then perhaps you're unsure whether this brand makes decent phones. Fear not, though, for the manufacturer is well established in its native China and has spent a number of years building up to its release in Europe and beyond, with innovative products like the Reno 10X already making an impact.
The Oppo A5 doesn't purport to be such a flagship device by comparison, but it does deliver a very compelling specification at an affordable price point. So if you've been eyeing up a Motorola G8 Plus or a Moto One series phone, then the subtle savings provided by the A5, along with its sizeable battery, all make a solid case for its consideration...
Design & Display
- Dimensions: 163.6 x 75.4 x 9.1mm / Weight: 195g
- Finishes: Mirror Black, Dazzling White
- 6.5-inch LCD, 1600 x 720 resolution
- 3.5mm headphones jack
- Rear fingerprint scanner
There aren't any immediate signs that the Oppo A5 is a budget phone. Its semi-reflective rear, emblazoned with an Oppo logo transfer and the words "designed for A-series", has a nice sheen, while the cameras unit and rear fingerprint scanner are centrally aligned in a neat form. Problem is, the Mirror Black finish of this review model - which is more a grey, really - is a real fingerprint magnet, and we find that scanner a little high in its position, too close to the cameras.
The same can be said to the front: the 6.5-inch screen is large, without being unwieldy, held together with trim bezel to the top and side edges and only a little extra towards the 'chin' section. There's a dewdrop-style notch out of the screen up top, which is where the front-facing camera lives, but it's not distracting and hasn't been bothersome for any apps that we've been using. Above this is a small speaker grille, which sounds fine when making calls - something we've often found not to be the case with, say, Xiaomi phones with a similar design.
However, the screen isn't the highest resolution going, offering an HD+ resolution. That's like the 720p TVs of old, and while it doesn't look blocky in its depiction of details, a Full HD+ screen, like you get with the Motorola G8 Plus (over a slightly smaller 6.3-inch panel) makes for crisper visuals. Sure, this Oppo is marginally cheaper than that Motorola, but those extra pixels would help make a difference.
There's another problem with the screen: remove the plastic screen protector (just as we do with all review phones) and that top layer isn't the best at repelling fingerprint smears, which is something we've rearely seen since the Huawei P10. It doesn't ruin the experience here, but you may catch some more rainbow-coloured smears than you'd like.
Elsewhere in the design the A5 comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, so there's no reason you can't plug headphones in, while its bottom-positioned speaker is actually pretty loud when delivering audio for games and movies.
Performance & Battery
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 processor, 3GB RAM
- 64GB storage, dedicated microSD card slot
- 5,000mAh battery, USB-C charging
- ColorOS 6.0 operating system
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Oppo A5 is its battery life. Despite the body not being too thick, it's squeezed a 5,000mAh cell in there. Considering the flagship Samsung Galaxy S10 is just 3,400mAh by comparison, you can see the potential for how much more life this phone can offer.
Over the few days that we've been using the A5, it's been delivering about 28 hours of use per charge. If you're not constantly on your phone that's easily two days of life. If you are on your phone aplenty, chugging through games and all manner of apps, then you'll still get a full day's use zero problems.
Charging isn't super-fast, but it is via USB-C, not Micro-USB like some older devices (the Mote E6 Play springs to mind).
The battery life is aided by a number of specifications: the screen, as we've said, isn't the highest resolution panel going; while the processor, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665, isn't the most powerful chipset on the block.
Regarding the latter point, however, it's not a problem, per se. We've been able to play titles like Archero without any clunkiness, while our go-to South Park: Phone Destroyer has responded lag-free and with good animations. Indeed, this is the same processor you'll find in the Motorola G8 Plus.
However, the processor and amount of RAM (at 3GB), can sometimes show their middling levels. Be that a couple of second extra to wait for something to load, or a brief hang while an app is sorting its business out, it's only these small manifestations that let you know you're not using a flagship device.
The software on board is Oppo's long-established ColorOS, which is a lot like Google's Android operating system, upon which ColorOS sits, but with various additions, tweaks and layout adjustments. As a result we don't find the experience quite as clear-cut as an Android phone proper. Things like constant notifications from battery management, every app being layed out across multiple pages (even when App Drawer is activated), and numbered notifications have been a little taxing at times.
That said, there are additions such as fingerprint/face locking per app for additional security, high levels of customisation within notifications formats, a side-swipe quick-access favourite apps panel, and app duplication to make use of the Dual SIM (problem is, for WhatsApp, the system won't pull in backups for the second app - something that's never been a problem for us on Huawei's AppTwin equivalent).
Having two SIM cards also doesn't prohibit the possibility of expanding upon the 64GB on-board storage, as there's a dedicated microSD card slot. Very handy if you want heaps of photos, videos and apps on your device - an extra 64GB is unlikely to cost more than a tenner.
- 'Quad' rear cameras:
- Main: 12-megapixel, f/1.8 aperture
- Ultra-wide: 8MP, f/2.25 aperture (doesn't function)
- Two 2MP depth sensors, f/2.4
- Front camera: 8MP, f/2.0
In terms of cameras, the A5 is a total oversell. It claims to be a 'quad' camera system, but as two of those on the rear are depth sensors, and the ultra-wide camera doesn't function in our device, you can think of it more as a single lens system.
The camera app is a little slow, but this main camera isn't too bad for an affordable device. We've had no issues shooting in even low-light conditions, while close-up focus works really well - something of a rarity in many phones and cameras.
There aren't many bells and whistles though. Yes, you get HDR (high dynamic range) to level out those shadow and highlight details, but you won't find anything to cater for night shooting - at least not to the level of a Pixel 3a, for example - and, like we say, there's no wide option.
You do get a 2x and 5x digital zoom, which crops into the image, but still delivers a 12MP final result. As for the ultra-wide camera, Oppo's website says "for panoramic pictures", so we presume this sensor is reserved for pan-to-shoot panoramics, even though the angle of view in this mode isn't wide. Most perplexing.
The shots we've taken with the main camera have ample detail in good lighting conditions, although low-light causes inevitable softness. That said, for looking at on a phone screen or to share on socials, that's perfectly fine.
On the front, there's an 8MP camera which has the usual glut of Oppo's smoothing and face-thinning effects which, um, we're happy to never use. Each to their own, though, we know there are fans of the 'beautification' options.
If you're looking for an affordable phone there are plenty of good options, this Oppo A5 included among them. Its battery life is exceptional, with near two-day life, its screen is large, and its processor ample for tasks and games.
That said, the screen could be higher-resolution and better resistant to smears, the so-called 'quad camera' is a total oversell (treat it as a single 12MP main), and some will find the software fussy.
For the money, however, everything runs well, the design is on point, and there's all the makings of a strong Motorola G8 Plus competitor right here. Plus, the Oppo isn't as pricey either.
Moto G8 Plus
The real benefit of Moto's similar-spec offering is the cleaner software experience and higher-resolution screen. It'll cost you a smidgen more, but not by a huge amount, which we think makes this G series the slightly more desirable option.