The Oppo R15 Pro is a nicely designed smartphone that finally doesn't just look like an iPhone clone for the most part.
NFC – finally!
Water resistance – finally!
ColorOS is an acquired taste
Doesn't compare well against the OnePlus 6 or Find X
Oppo's R15 Pro adds features the R series has needed for years, but its price point puts it in a tough position.
While it would never entirely admit to it, Oppo's business case for the longest time has been in producing smartphones that look almost exactly like iPhones but without the premium price point to go with it.
The Oppo R15 and Oppo R15 Pro shift subtly away from this, delivering a design that's more in line with premium Android handsets but, again, at a slightly lower price point. It's a welcome shift for the Chinese manufacturer, which has also got on board with other technologies that have been missing from the R series since inception, but that might not be enough to make the Oppo R15 Pro your next ideal handset.
Vibrant design stands in stark contrast to your typical premium smartphone.
Massive 6.28-inch display provides plenty of room to play with.
I certainly couldn't miss the Oppo R15 Pro when it landed on my review desk. Not just because it's a large handset, measuring in at 156.5x75.2x8mm with a 6.28-inch display, but also because the review sample tested is red.
Not just slightly red, but shockingly, vibrantly red. Sure, if you're not into carmine tones, you could opt for the "Cosmic Purple" version instead, but either way this isn't a phone for shrinking violets. It does give the Oppo R15 Pro a distinct character that reflects the company's work on premium style designs because this doesn't look like a cheap phone in any way.
Rather predictably, the glass back will look great in the box then be a mess of greasy fingerprint smudges minutes later once you've actually handled it. Oppo does provide a thin transparent case in the box and it's advisable both for simple device protection and to avoid the Oppo R15 Pro looking like you've rubbed it gently against a pizza. Such is the way of glass-backed phones generally, of course.
The Oppo R15 Pro's front display is topped with a notch, as is the style for so many of 2018's phones. The general approach of Android apps to notched displays is still somewhat mixed, with some apps wrapping around the notch neatly, while others treat it as a no-go area. That's not precisely something that Oppo can fix, but it's worth keeping in mind for any notched Android device.
Controls are kept simple with power on the right and volume on the left. It's a dual SIM phone with the usual arrangement of a secondary slot that is either for another SIM card or microSD memory card expansion. The Oppo R15 Pro also features a rear-mounted oblong fingerprint scanner. As is common with a lot of 18:9 phones, being taller than 16:9 devices, there's something of a learning curve to getting the placement of the fingerprint sensor right when you're not looking at it. However, it is far enough away from the camera lenses that smudging them shouldn't be an issue.
Produces sharp and clear shots that stand out against those of other mid-range handsets.
Plenty of extra modes and tools to further tweak your photos.
Just as it has done in the past with its camera offerings, Oppo largely mimics the features found in more premium handsets on the Oppo R15 Pro.
Actually, it's here where the Oppo R15 Pro rather more closely follows the iPhone-copying motif of its predecessors, with a camera app that's a virtual clone of Apple's approach, paired with dual 16MP f/1.7 + 20MP f/1.7 sensors at the rear and a 20MP front sensor for selfie purposes.
The front camera follows the usual trend of offering up a "beauty" mode that softens your facial features. Compared to some, its higher settings aren't too plastic, although it did its typical job of making me look like a sentient potato:
Or maybe selfies just aren't my strong suit.
Oppo offers up a range of shooting modes, including simulated studio lighting for portraits, although its portrait mode isn't particularly strong. There's a serious tendency to soften edges too far, leading to pictures that just don't look right, whether they're overexposed or just too fuzzy:
While many mid-range phones struggle in low light, the Oppo R15 Pro's performance here is quite decent. It's not up to the level of, say, the Huawei P20 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S9+, but in the mid-range space it stands out for being decent:
That's largely the story of using the Oppo R15 Pro in a nutshell. Oppo promotes itself as the "smartphone camera" company. While it's not leading the market with the Oppo R15 Pro, and I'm still waiting for the 5x optical lens it showed off at MWC 2017 to appear in an actual phone, the Oppo R15 Pro's camera delivers generally pleasing results:
Solid performance that sits between the mid-range and top-tier.
The iOS-like ColorOS won't appeal to everyone.
One area where the Oppo R15 Pro differentiates itself from its suffix-lacking compatriot is under the hood, where a lower MediaTek processor makes way for the Snapdragon 660 SoC, paired up with 6GB of RAM. That's the same Snapdragon processor found in the existing Oppo R11s and it's not quite the top-flight processor right now. We'll have to wait for the Oppo Find X to see how Oppo handles a Snapdragon 845 phone.
Still, the Snapdragon 660 is an entirely suitable processor for a mid-range handset. Paired with an impressive 6GB of RAM, the Oppo R15 Pro can deliver genuinely good performance:
Likewise, in 3D processing it fares well against its current mid-range competition, although below that of the true premium set:
Oppo's point of differentiation in the busy Android space is that it makes phones that run on Android, but you wouldn't know it to look at it. That's thanks to its ColorOS launcher which acts nearly identically to iOS, rather than the underlying Android operating environment. ColorOS remains a divisive matter. If you're coming from an iPhone, you'll undoubtedly find its colourful icons and lack of an app drawer a distinct drawcard. If you're used to more "pure" Google experiences, you'll probably find the way that Oppo rearranges everything openly confusing.
Typically, this would be the point in any Oppo review where I'd complain that it doesn't ship phones with NFC. Oppo has decent reasons for this since NFC as a payment gateway just isn't that prevalent in its native Chinese markets, but for the Oppo R15 Pro, I don't have to make this complaint!
That's because the Oppo R15 Pro has NFC onboard, which means it should work smoothly with Google Pay and other NFC applications. However, it's worth noting that NFC is exclusive to the Oppo R15 Pro. You won't find NFC on the regular Oppo R15.
Oppo wasn't done with just adding NFC to the Oppo R15 Pro, though. Another feature I've been waiting years to see on an Oppo phone, proper IP-rated water resistance, also makes its debut. The Oppo R15 Pro is IP67 rated, a little lower than the IP68 we've seen on some premium flagships this year, but still a welcome first step. Again, water resistance is a Pro feature only and the regular Oppo R15 won't take kindly to a dip in the water in the way that the Oppo R15 Pro will.
Has no trouble hitting all-day battery life, even with its massive screen.
Supports fast-charging via Oppo's proprietary VOOC tech.
Oppo packs a sealed 3,430mAh battery inside the Oppo R15 Pro, but with a screen that only pushes 1,080p on an OLED display, there's scope for some decent battery life. Here's how the Oppo R15 Pro compared against similar mid-priced phones in its class using Geekbench 4's battery test:
The Oppo R15 Pro didn't perform quite as well as I would have liked it to, although as always, battery benchmarks don't always match up to real-world performance. Certainly you shouldn't have issues with a single day's battery life out of the Oppo R15 Pro under most circumstances.
Like the rest of Oppo's fleet, you get access to its fast-charging VOOC technology to top its battery up, but that presumes you're only using the supplied charger. You'll also have to go a little old-school when charging because it's still using the somewhat antiquated microUSB charging standard, rather than easier to handle USB-C.
The Oppo R15 Pro is proof that you don't have to pay a premium for a power-packed smartphone.
The Oppo R15 Pro is, at the time of writing, the best handset that Oppo has ever released in Australia and in most circumstances that would make it an easy recommendation. If you've loved previous Oppo R-series phones, it would make a fine upgrade path. If you're new to Oppo, it shows off what it can do while slicing away at the $1,000+ price points that premium phones command.
However, there are some caveats in play here, all largely of Oppo's making.
First, the outright asking price puts it uncomfortably close to the bargain prices we've seen some flagships drop down to. It's an especially uncomfortable comparison with the OnePlus 6, given that the same parent company that owns OnePlus also owns Oppo.
Then there's the Oppo Find X. Released months after the R15 Pro, it was Oppo's true "flagship" phone for 2018, so those looking for the very best of Oppo might want to consider it instead.
Oppo R15 Pro: Alternatives
Within the Oppo family, the Oppo R15 is also available outright from 9 July or on contract from Woolworths Mobile. You do drop some processing power and lose both NFC and water resistance, but it'll set you back only $659 instead.
Obviously if you're keen on Oppo's take on Android phones and can wait, the Oppo Find X is shaping up nicely, although it will command a price premium over the Oppo R15 Pro. Based on some of its international pricing, that could be quite a considerable premium.
If you're happy buying outright, the OnePlus 6 sits with a better processor and much the same build quality and concepts as the Oppo R15 Pro, although you'll have to import one. OnePlus has no announced plans to offer the OnePlus 6 in Australia.
Buy the OnePlus 6 from Amazon AU
The latest premium phone from OnePlus offers the latest Qualcomm processor, improved camera and a large display at a much lower price than you'd expect for a flagship phone.
It's also worth considering the lower-end premium flagships, especially if you're happy to directly import or deal with an older handset. We've seen phones such as the LG V30+, Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact and even the Samsung Galaxy S9 dip down to near or below the Oppo R15 Pro's price point through selected direct resellers already.
Buy the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact from Sony
With the most powerful CPU you'll find in a small handset plus a 19MP rear camera and Full HD Super Slow Motion video, the Xperia XZ2 Compact shows that small phones don't have to be less powerful.
Alex Kidman is the tech and telco editor at Finder. He's been a technology writer with experience spanning more than 20 years, writing and editing at Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and many more. Alex has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a serious passion for retro gaming.
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