OPPO R5 Review – The World’s Thinnest Smartphone

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With the thickness profile of 4.85 mm, the OPPO R5 is world’s thinnest smartphone! but it sacrifices on some other factors.

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OPPO joined the race of smartphones lately and has introduced the a bunch of devices worldwide to compete with the already stable brands their own flavor of Android OS. When we talk about the market in Pakistan, OPPO has done good campaigns to launch officially within the region with opening their experience zones country wide including in major and minor cities. But the fact, the company should really think about is their pricing factor of their devices. It’s true and common thought among consumers that their prices are very high.

If you are new to smartphones, you might be thinking over the title of this article as why it should be concerned. You might have seen competing smartphones for their hardware components, for their camera capability and for their screen size as well. If you don’t know already, there was also a factor before all those above that was the thinness.

The Chinese phone maker has just gone down with R5’s thickness as much as the smartphone has to sacrifice one of the major usable features – the 3.5 mm headphone jack, while the customers will have bundled accessory Micros-USB to 3.5mm adapter to use the feature. However on papers, OPPO R5 is world’s thinnest smartphone with the 4.85 mm thickness.

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It’s correct manufacturers war against each other with different features to take over to impress consumers. I personally didn’t prefer a smartphone over another only for its slimness. Because there are more important things in a smartphone that are useful and must be improved over time.

Before we get started with the review below, let’s have a look at the following listed features in the OPPO R5.

OPPO R5 Specifications

  • Size/Weight: 148.9 × 74.5 × 4.85 mm / 155 grams
  • Display: 5.2 inch AMOLED, FHD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, 423 PPI
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 MSM8939
  • CPU: Octa-core 1.5 GHz
  • GPU: Adreno 405
  • OS/Software/Flavor : Android 4.4 KitKat / ColorOS 2.0
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16GB (no microSD, no expandable memory)
  • Camera:
    • Primary/Rear: 13-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor
      • LED Flash, f/2.0
      • 1080p video @ 30 fps, 720p slow motion video @ 120 fps / 720p/ 480p/ HDR
      • Normal, Ultra-HD, Colorful Night, Slow Shutter, Expert Mode, Beautify, HDR, Panorama, Audio Photo, GIF, Double Exposure, Raw, Super Marco, After Focus,
    • Front camera: 5-megapixel front-facing 83 degree wide angle lens
      • Same aperture as primary: f/2.0
  • Battery: 2000 mAh Li-Po with Rapid Charge
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/a, OTG
  • Ports and Slots: Micro USB, Micro SIM single.
  • Sensors: Distance sensor, Light sensor, G-sensor, E-compass
  • Carrier Frequencies (International):
    • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
    • WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz
    • LTE Bands: 1/3/7/TD-40
  • Price: PKR 50,000/- ($490 USD)

Now like our flow, let’s start with the design first.

Hardware and Design

When you talk about the build of OPPO devices, one thing you should not be worried of, is its build quality. It’s real solid. We have seen OPPO N1, N3 and Find 7a. They are truly solid and have premium build quality. OPPO R5 is no exception.

With the screen size of 5.2 inch diagonal and a little bigger device size does comfort in the hands. No doubt the 4.85 mm thin profile is the main attraction of this smartphone but it is little too low to pick up from your table-top. I really wonder if you could easily pick it up if there was no component on the back like an extruded camera module – as it does help to grip the phone to pick up as well as a spot while holding your phone. However if you put your phone with the screen down, which is very unlikely, it’s going to be hard to pick your phone up quickly from the table top.

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Backside of the phone serves mainly with a camera module on the top-left corner and an LED flash to the right with a mic too. OPPO branding is in the middle while the product information is printed on the bottom. The OPPO R5’s back is parted in three groups as top and bottom strips with the main middle back panel.

The only bad which could be felt is the initial phases of picking up or putting down the phone as you would be holding your phone with your finger and thumb top most tips. Otherwise the overall grip and holding of the R5 is quite easy with its matte finish of metal edge around the device. As said before it’s really solid to hold in your hand to let you feel as you are not holding a cheap quality device.

Bottom of the phone comes with a micro USB port along with a mic/mouthpiece and the strips on the both sides.

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On the right side of the of the frame, there are hardware volume buttons and a power button for turning on/off, restart the device as well as locking unlocking the device’s screen.

The front is covered fully with the glass like every smartphone does. The top part serves with the earpiece along side the proximity and ambient light sensors vertically aligned and the front facing selfie camera on the right

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Bottom part of the front screen comes with the hardware navigation keys for Android – the menu key, home key, the back key on the left, middle and right respectively.

Making the thinnest phone in the world, OPPO has compromised with the most common and mostly used feature in phones since decades – that is the 3.5 mm headphone jack.

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The rest is the top side of the frame where we have nothing but the two strips like at the bottom side of the phone however we have a dedicated speaker left out of the phone as well as the headphone jack. Thanks to the thinnest profile of the phone to make two important features out.

I am not objecting on the thickness of OPPO R5. It’s not that if I prefer some brand, I’ll like to have it in any thickness. No! I have always been no-fan of thinness in any smartphone either it’s a Samsung, an LG, Apple, HTC or Microsoft Lumia (formerly Nokia), because an excellent camera in my smartphone is my first choice and a better camera comes with bigger room on the back. We’ve seen the companies fighting each other with every next slimmer device and we have seen people like them from their favorite brands while hating others’. OPPO just did the same thing by giving the accessory option to the user with a micro USB to 3.5mm adapter cable to listen to the music. That’s not even a best solution as micro USB port on a phone has already two main purposes – the connectivity and charging. You can’t listen to music on your R5 when it’s charging.

There is a loud speaker too hidden somewhere in the phone, we’ll see below.

Display

Oppo R5’s screen is moderately big with 5.2-inch AMOLED display and Full HD 1080p resolution serving at pixel density of 423 PPI. You can question here that major brands have moved on with QHD (Quad HD) 2160p resolution, then why R5 is still at FHD. Well the 1080p resolution on 5.2 inch display when serves at more than enough pixel density, then it’s really much better on an upper mid-range device.

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The AMOLED display for R5 is also a good by OPPO and gives vibrant colors output. Overall, the deep blacks and bright whites are good outdoors as well as indoor. Also the viewing angles are impressive.

Connectivity, Sound and Call Quality

A smartphone is after all a standard phone for calling and text messaging. The same way, OPPO R5 has two two variants – one to support internationally and the other one specially for US region. We sure have the international version that supports GSM connectivity at 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz, UMTS at 850, 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz and supports LTE 4G networks at band 1, 3, and 7.

Checking on the call quality on the OPPO R5, this was easy to evaluate that phone was good at it as both ends were fully satisfied at listening and reception was also good. However we didn’t talk about the loudspeaker so here it comes.

As already you have found about the missing on-board headphone jack, the dedicated loudspeaker is the second thing that was sacrificed over the thinness of the phone. This is also a good lack from the device due to having no room for it. However the loud sound is emitted from the earpiece and sorry to say that it is worse to listen at but it’s loud enough.

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Unfortunately we were not provided the adapter (micro USB to 3.5mm pin) hence we couldn’t evaluate the sound quality from the headsets.

The Software: ColorOS 2.0

The OPPO R5 runs version 2.0 of OPPO’s custom Color OS on top of Android OS which is 4.4 KitKat. R5’s skin theme comes with dark elements and colors to help AMOLED display perform better in power management. Like Huawei’s Emotion UI, the Color OS also does not have any traditional app drawer. Some like it that way but some do not.

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OPPO has given some really good modifications over stock Android. In fact you can tell that OPPO’s customization and exclusive app and features range make it somewhat unique among the competition.

OPPO’s ColorOS 2.0 brings some set of on-screen gestures to operate such as swipe down from the top and swipe up from the bottom. The bottom swipe-up gesture can be disturbing for some users due to accidental occurrence of the gesture while using the icons or keys at the bottom side and it could result in users just disabling the gesture panel – and yes I am one of them.

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With the “Theme store” app, overall look and feel can be changed while the wallpapers and lock screen can be changed into several other styles available locally and online. With no app drawer additionally, the main home screens provides the apps to launch or uninstall directly when customizable mode is active. App folders work the same way as pop-up with the apps inside. To the most left on home screens a music player screen is provided with the old styled vinyl player.

Like other Android smartphones smart dialing is available on R5. You can see all the dark screens below from “Settings” to help the AMOLED display perform better. It looks cool though.

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“Security center” provides access to a set of features like Memory cleanup, App Encryption, Data saving, Power Manager, Quite Time, Block – to block messages and calls, Data monitor, Permission Monitor and Guest mode. “Backup and restore” feature is available as a separate app.

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Unlike mostly Android skins, the camera app in OPPO’s ColorOS is rather simple with a limited set of options in settings, however an “Expert Mode” is provided where you can set ISO sensitivity and Exposure compensation and interestingly the shutter speed too. Although only the slower shutter speed can be set manually from 0.5 second to 30 seconds.

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White balance can be set as well as Manual focus is also present with a simple slider to set the focus on some specific depth of field.

Camera

OPPO R5 comes packed with 13 megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor and a single LED flash. We could not test the R5 with its camera for in depth detail due to short stay of the device here but as much as we could try with the camera, it’s not exclamatory. During the day time, outdoors, with enough ambient light R5 could produce good images with much detail and a little low noise, however dynamic range is just good while shooting normal mode.

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When talking about mode, ColorOS offers several modes to shoot with including Normal, Ultra-HD, Colorful Night, Slow Shutter, Expert Mode, Beautify, HDR, Panorama, Audio Photo, GIF, Double Exposure, Raw, Super Marco, After Focus. Well, I also couldn’t try all of them but a few only because the camera just did not impressed me. However, the pictures out of it are fine to share online with your friends on facebook or twitter.

On the other hand, the camera features are quite impressive such as “Ultra HD” that takes 50 megapixels shot by stitching multiple images. The feature no doubt is good but it still didn’t impress me with the resulted image. Raw and After Focus features are also good with which you can manipulate raw images from the camera on your computer and respectively adjust focus after taking you have taken a shot. Another feature I liked the most was the Slow Shutter in Expert Mode which let you take photos with the shutter open for longer time but due to no optical image stabilizer a tripod is a must. Manual faster shutter speed could have give more control over the camera but it’s not present. We didn’t try the R5’s camera with video recording but the few sample pictures are below.

Normal Mode

Macro Mode

Ultra HD

Battery Life and Power Management

Before going on, let’s revise and see what R5 is packing inside it, an Octa-core 1.5 GHz processor on Snapdragon 615 SoC, a 2GB of RAM and a full HD display of 1080p resolution on 5.2″ AMOLED display which are supposed to take not a lot of battery power. Whereas, what R5 looses for its thinnest profile also includes the battery power as, it’s only 2000mAh battery inside R5 which during our trial period never crossed 12 hours after a full charge.

Of course 2000mAh battery inside such a big phone with 5.2 inch is too small even if it’s running low power consuming components such as AMOLED display. But probably, OPPO might not have fit in a bigger battery than that. So for another loss, OPPO preferred to give you a slimmer device.

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But fortunately, the ColorOS comes with the two modes for power saving, where one is the normal power saving which has been there in mobile phones since decade. A super power saving mode is also present which we have seen in Huawei smartphones and the recent Samsung Galaxy Note 4. After turning on the super power mode, the R5 leaves you with very basic functions of the phone which are calling, text messaging, contacts, clock functions etc.

So in R5, if you are running out of battery, just turn the Super power saving mode for the most important features of a phone.

Verdict

The final verdict can not be given without discussing the price tag in any market and in Pakistan the OPPO R5 currently costs PKR. 50,000/- (~USD 491). Considering the upper mid-range family, it sure is an expensive device. But it is also a premium and solid device built with quality material including clean and slim metal. I have seen solidity of smartphones from Nokia and I can say that the quality from OPPO devices are also remarkable when compared to other brands – as it’s being called on the web as a hammer or such other things.

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While the headphones can be attached via a bundled accessory, what leaves is the battery performance. As told with zero gaming on this trial device, I could only use it for up to 12 hours maximum with mostly calling, text messaging, browsing on the web, exploring social networks even within half of these hours of screen-on and half of the time on stand-by. This didn’t not include the super power saving but the data (3G/2G) or WiFi were always on.

At another course, we are not sure if the Android Lollipop is going hit R5 officially. For some ones who prefer elegance, the R5 could be your next try if you really don’t care about the battery timings. But we believe, the price tag of the OPPO R5 could be at some lower point.

Do tell us below in the comments what do you think about this slimmest device of the world.

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