Oppo A15 review: Big screen, slow phone
Quick verdict: The Oppo A15 appears to be a bargain on paper with a large screen and multi-camera array, but everything is not quite as it seems.
- Large display screen
- Solid battery life
- Included case
- Bland performance
- Cheap plastic build
- microUSB charging
Power, storage and battery
|Launch price (RRP)||$239|
Of late, we've seen a lot of flagship and mid-range phones from Oppo, but less in the true budget space. Fellow BBK Electronics stablemate realme has plenty of cheap phones, but Oppo has played less in this space in recent years than it used to.
The Oppo A15 is a return to that space, selling at around $239 at launch, which at first glance appears exceptional for a phone this large. Dig a little deeper and try out the Oppo A15 and its shortcomings become all the more apparent. The Oppo A15 isn't a bad phone for the money, but it is at best a deeply average one.
- Dynamic Black or Mystery Blue finish
- Plastic body attracts fingerprints
- Controls sit high on the phone body
Among its low-cost brethren, the Oppo A15 certainly stands out for size, if nothing else. It's fronted by a 6.5-inch 1,600x720 pixel LCD display, a little larger than you might expect at this price point. It's big, but as that pixel count reveals, it's not astonishingly sharp, with a maximum 720p resolution for anything you're going to look at on it.
You don't have to spend a whole lot more, even in the budget space to pitch towards a full HD/1080p display, making the Oppo A15 almost instantly feel a little dated.
The overall design has some older style aspects as well. The front-facing camera hides behind a teardrop notch, where so many competing phones are now using hole-punch-style cameras. Which you prefer is a matter of taste, of course.
Speaking of taste, Oppo sells the Oppo A15 in two colour variants in Australia. You can opt for the more sedate Dynamic Black or the slightly fancier Mystery Blue. Either way, you're getting a plastic body phone that will quickly accumulate fingerprints until you throw the complimentary case onto the back of it.
Larger phones will always have more space for controls, but that doesn't always mean they'll be in great positions. The Oppo A15 measures in at 164x75.4x7.9mm, with side controls for power and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, but they all sit quite high on the phone body.
That's especially true for the fingerprint sensor, which is quite close to the phone's camera array. It took me quite a while to get used to where it is and those with smaller hands may find it actively tricky to reliably use.
- Triple-lens array delivers ordinary photos
- Zoom, but it's only digital cropping
- Macro lens is poor
At the rear, the Oppo A15 houses 3 sensors, led by a primary 13MP f/2.2 sensor. That's backed up with a 2MP f/2.4 macro lens and 2MP depth sensor. It's a relatively ordinary recipe for a camera lens, even in the budget space, but then the Oppo A15 is very much a budget phone.
That's highly evident in the shots you're able to take with the Oppo A15, which only ever really manage to be fair and never particularly great.
There's an included night mode, but the photos you get out of it tend to be very murky, even for a cheap handset. That's the same story for the macro lens, but then we've seen so very many phones include a cheap 2MP macro sensor at the rear in the past year with exactly the same limitations. With a lot of patience and luck you may get a rudimentary macro shot out of the Oppo A15, but that's about as good as it's going to get.
It's the same story with zoom functionality. Fire up the Oppo A15's camera and you're greeted with 2x and 5x zoom options, but of course there's no actual zoom lens. It's just a simple digital crop with a little AI smoothing and even there the results are pretty ordinary.
To give this a fair shake, the Oppo A15 is a low-cost device, so expecting great camera results wouldn't be likely in any case. Still, against the crowd of budget phones on the market today, there has been an upwards shift in overall quality and expectations. Oppo has met the expectation for multiple lenses and camera modes, but the results aren't really all that exciting.
- MediaTek MT6765 plus 3GB of RAM is ordinary
- Only 32GB of onboard storage
- ColorOS is bright but inconsistent
In recent times, we've seen some budget phone makers opt for Qualcomm's cheaper processors, but this is still an area where MediaTek's deliberately low-cost silicon tends to predominate. That's precisely the case for the Oppo A15, which runs off a MediaTek MT6765 SoC with just 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. You can upgrade that with microSD storage cards and you don't even lose a SIM card slot doing so, which is a nice touch.
Still, it's a low-power recipe for a smartphone, which equates to low performance, both anecdotally and in benchmark terms. I hit a number of instances where websites lagged drawing screen elements or when scrolling through photos that were pretty clearly a matter of the processor and RAM struggling to keep up. That's borne out by its benchmark results, where even against similarly priced phones it can only manage middle-of-the-pack performance at best. Here's how the Oppo A15 compares using Geekbench 5's CPU test:
And here's how it compares for 3D graphics performance using 3DMark's Slingshot Extreme test. 3GB of onboard RAM is too little for the newer Wild Life test, sadly, and even Vulkan testing was beyond the Oppo A15's grasp:
You can actually play Android games on the Oppo A15, but nothing that requires high fidelity or particularly fast action without quite a lot of lag.
The Oppo A15 is an Android 10 handset with Oppo's own ColorOS 7.2 installed on top of it. ColorOS gives Android a very bright makeover that may appeal to some, although it can be a tad befuddling if you're used to the way that standard Android manages its affairs and menus.
- 4,230mAh battery performs well
- microUSB charging feels dated
We've seen a lot of budget phones really tackle the idea that only flagships can carry big battery capacities of late. The Oppo A15 ships with a sealed 4,230mAh battery, a little larger than some but not quite up there with the 5,000mAh beasts of the current budget generation.
That lower resolution screen and lower power MediaTek chip should be of benefit here, as they're going to draw less power than a faster system would, although the display size is also a consideration. Everyone's usage patterns differ, so to test out relative battery draw, I ran the Oppo A15 through our standard battery life test, running a YouTube video at maximum brightness and moderate volume from a fully charged battery.
What we typically look for here is at least 90% remaining after an hour's usage, because that's a good sign for a phone that should be able to last at least a day in real-world terms. Here's how the Oppo A15 compared:
It's quite close in the budget pack for worthy phones, but the Oppo A15 is actually punching above its weight class here when you consider that the realme C3 manages the same score but with a 5,000mAh battery instead.
When it does come time to add some tasty electrons to the Oppo A15, you're going to be fumbling around a lot, because it's still stuck on the older microUSB charging standard. We're achingly slowly seeing that become less common as a charger choice, thankfully.
Should you buy the Oppo A15?
- Buy it if you want a large-screen phone at a fair price.
- Don't buy it if you want the best value at this price point.
The Oppo A15 doesn't really do anything "wrong" within its price bracket, providing a decent large-screen phone experience at a budget price.
The issue is that it doesn't really do anything to stand out in that respect either. You don't have to spend too much more – and in some cases or with some deals, no more at all – to get a better quality display, faster performance or snappier cameras, even within the constraints of a lower-cost phone.
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Images: Alex Kidman