Packing a dual-lens camera, a 6.2-inch notched display and an enormous 4,230mAh battery, the Oppo A3s sets a new bar for what to expect from a budget smartphone.
Oppo builds and sells smartphones for a wide range of budgets, but its most popular handsets tend to be those at the cheaper end of the spectrum. This is where the Oppo A3s lies. Retailing for a very agreeable $279, it packs a surprising number of premium smartphone features including a dual-array camera, an edge-to-edge 6.2-inch screen and support for facial unlocking. This makes it quite a compelling choice for folks wanting a phone that looks and feels like a premium device, yet won't cost a small fortune.
Sleek design avoids the cheap look of many budget smartphones
Large edge-to-edge display is an impressive addition at this price point
For fans of the iPhone's clean design, the prospect of downgrading to a plain-looking budget handset can seem unfathomable. Oppo gets this and has styled up the Oppo A3s to look far more expensive than it actually is. Taking more than a few cues from the Apple iPhone XR, the Oppo A3s carves a smooth curved profile and features a glossy sheen to its back side. The divisive "notch" makes its appearance, too, cutting away a groove at the top of the screen to accommodate the front-facing camera. On the plus side, that means the A3s is able to deliver an edge-to-edge screen spanning an impressive 6.2 inches, a feat that very few non-premium phones can claim.
All that extra space gives the screen on the Oppo A3s a wider aspect ratio of 19:9, another trait rarely found in budget handsets. The screen resolution is a little lower than your typical premium smartphone, clocking in at a sub-full-HD pixel count of 1,520 x 720, but for this price point that's totally adequate.
Beyond the screen, the Oppo A3s more closely resembles its budget brethren. There's no fingerprint sensor, for instance. Instead, the A3s relies on a facial unlocking feature that lacks the precision of Apple's FaceID technology, making it a less secure method for locking your phone than even a regular PIN code.
Other counterpoints to the iPhone template are more welcome. There's a 3.5mm audio jack, for starters, so you won't need to throw out all those pairs of wired headphones tangling themselves up in your desk drawers. If you prefer cutting the cord, support for Bluetooth 4.2 means you can sync up all manner of wireless devices to the Oppo A3s, too. 32GB of onboard storage provides a decent chunk of space for housing your music or movie library, but if you find yourself running out, you can always add more via a microSD card provided it's less than 256GB in size.
One odd omission worth noting is the lack of 5GHz Wi-Fi support. The Oppo A3s can only connect to Wi-Fi networks operating at 2.4GHz, and only supports 802.11 b/g/n standards.
To fully deliver on the promise of an iPhone-like experience, Oppo outfits its smartphones with its custom ColorOS software, a variant of the Android operating system designed to both look and feel more like iOS. It uses a similar visual language emphasising contrast and minimalism, incorporating key elements from the iOS playbook including laying out all installed apps on the home screen and automating more complex features like file management and app security.
A dual-lens camera at this price is seriously impressive
Should easily satisfy most photography needs
Oppo continues to subvert the expectations with the A3s' camera. The primary rear-facing camera packs not one but two lenses, an impressive addition that has only recently become the norm among top-of-the-line premium smartphones. Measuring in at 13MP and 2MP respectively, these twin lenses allow the Oppo A3s to take sharper photos with greater depth than most single-lens cameras.
The A3s has plenty to offer selfie-takers, too. Around the front of the phone you'll find a capable 8MP sensor, but it's the camera software rather than the hardware that will appeal most to social media savants. An AI-powered Beauty Mode provides access to a range of photo-enhancing features, adjusting colours and applying various visual effects to accentuate your best features. That's Oppo's claim, at any rate.
Beautification aside, the Oppo A3s is well-equipped to take high-quality photos both of yourself and the world around you. At this price point, you'd be hard-pressed to find a phone capable of much more.
A capable yet cost-efficient phone suitable for most needs
A budget smartphone is never going to deliver the cutting-edge performance of a top-of-the-line iPhone, but the fact is that very few apps or activities actually require the high-end horsepower of the latest and greatest handsets. Unless you're editing high-definition video or playing the most demanding 3D games, the top-tier hardware found in $1,000+ smartphones is likely going to be overkill.
Knowing this, Oppo's decision to go with the older Snapdragon 450 processor for the A3s instead of a more powerful chip from the newer Snapdragon 600 or 800 series makes a lot of sense. Sure, the A3s isn't going to be quite as snappy as the iPhone XR or Samsung Galaxy S9, but it should be entirely sufficient for typical day-to-day phone use. That's exactly what we found when testing the Motorola Moto G6, a phone that also runs on the same Snapdragon 450 chip and packs the same 3GB of RAM as the Oppo A3s. We'd expect the A3s to perform similarly, delivering a solid and responsive experience for the vast majority of smartphone users.
Huge 4,230mAh battery should have no issue surviving for a day or more on a single charge
No fast-charging support, sadly
Budget smartphones already have an advantage in the battery life department thanks to the lower power requirements of their typically modest hardware. The Oppo A3s goes one step further by packing a massive 4,230mAh battery, far exceeding the average capacity of most budget and premium smartphones currently on the market.
Oppo claims the battery can deliver up to 17 hours of use which should be more than enough to get you through a full day on a single charge. Under lighter use, you may even be able to squeeze two days out of it, especially if you take advantage of the various power-saving features baked into ColorOS.
The only disappointment here is the lack of fast-charging support. Many other Oppo phones utilise the company's proprietary VOOC flash charging standard to regain hours of battery life in mere minutes. Since the Oppo A3s lacks this feature, you'll have to leave the phone plugged in for hours at a time to get it back up to full.
Pricing and availability
A premium experience at a wallet-friendly price
Sleek, stylish and versatile, the Oppo A3s brings top-of-the-line features to the budget smartphone market.
Matt Sayer is a writer for Finder, covering all things technology and telecommunications. Along with reporting on events like CES and Mobile World Congress, he has produced comprehensive guides for popular products like smart speakers and graphics cards. He has a Bachelor of Computer Science from RMIT University and is passionate about helping Aussies leverage technology to better their lives.
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