Oppo R17 Pro review: Sleek power for less

Alex Kidman 26 November 2018 NEWS

Oppo's flagship remains the Oppo Find X, but the Oppo R17 Pro offers better value for money if you're after a premium phone experience on a budget.

Quick Verdict
Oppo's R17 Pro is a classic example of Oppo at its best, delivering a mostly-premium experience without the price tag.

The good

  • Great design
  • Good camera
  • Snapdragon 710 provides plenty of power
  • Insanely fast cable charging

The bad

  • No wireless charging
  • No water resistance
  • ColorOS is still an acquired taste


Oppo stepped firmly into the premium space with the interesting but flawed Oppo Find X, but it followed that up locally with the excellent Oppo R15 Pro. The Oppo R17 Pro is the effective "replacement" for the R15 Pro and comes with a better camera, a boosted processor and a larger display.


Oppo R17 Pro review

Oppo R17 Pro: Design

  • Radiant Mist or Emerald Green finishes
  • Lacks water resistance
  • No headphone jack
  • In-glass fingerprint sensor

Writing about Oppo's design used to be easy because I'd simply look at that year's iPhone and comment about how similar that year's R-series phone was. However, Oppo has switched design camps of late, and there's a great deal more in the Oppo R17 Pro's design that mimics the design cues of phones such as the Huawei Mate 20 or Samsung Galaxy S9 than any iPhone.

It's a 157.6x74.6x7.9mm handset, available in two finishes in Australia. If you're the extrovert type, you'll enjoy the "Radiant Mist" finish, which takes its cue from the Twilight finish found on phones such as the Huawei P20 Pro, and has a delightful shimmering finish. I've tested the other variant, "Emerald Green", which is substantially less ostentatious. That being said, it's unusual in the local context because we really don't see that many green phones released Down Under. The green effect is accentuated by a glass back that changes your perception of the colour all the way from a green-blue through to a more vibrant lime tone, depending on the light and angle.

The front display is a 6.4-inch AMOLED panel with a 2340x1080 pixel resolution, a decent step up from the HD-style displays Oppo used to employ to save a few dollars. Notches are the style of the day in 2018, and Oppo has opted for a teardrop-style notch at the very top of the Oppo R17 Pro.

While that's a feature reminiscent of the Huawei Mate 20, Oppo's also added a feature to the Oppo R17 Pro that you'd only find in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro – a fingerprint sensor located under the glass of the display itself. It's a fun addition, but like the Mate 20 Pro's sensor, it takes some getting used to because you need a little more force than you might expect for accurate unlocking.

Keeping – rather unfortunately – with the style of the times, the Oppo R17 Pro has no dedicated 3.5mm headphone jack, so you'll have to switch to USB C headphones, use an adaptor or switch to Bluetooth headphones for any private listening.

Of note, the Oppo R17 Pro uses Corning Gorilla Glass 6, currently the most durable glass available for any handset and the first to launch locally with it. It should provide superior durability for bumps, knocks and drops, although lacking a spare Oppo R17 Pro to test this to the extremes I couldn't give you a precise figure of how hard that might be. Inevitably, someone online will bend one to the point of destruction because alongside notches, that's also an idea that's very much in style right now. They can go first.

Newer handsets usually build on the successes of their predecessors, but with the Oppo R17 Pro, Oppo's taken a couple of steps backwards. The Oppo R15 Pro was Oppo's first handset available in Australia to include water resistance but it's notably absent from the Oppo R17 Pro.

That means getting the Oppo R17 Pro notably wet would be a bad idea. Oppo's shown it can build water resistance into an affordable handset, and its absence is a problem.Back to top


Oppo R17 Pro review

Oppo R17 Pro: Camera

  • Triple camera lens... sort of
  • TOF lens is impossible to judge at launch
  • Overall pleasing performance for its price

The Oppo R17 Pro features – technically speaking – a triple rear-lens array, although for practical purposes, it's really just a dual-lens camera. That's because, alongside a 12 MP, f/1.5-2.4 variable aperture lens and 20 MP f/2.6 telephoto lens, there's also a tertiary "Time of Flight" (ToF) lens.

It's technically a lens in that it's measuring light, but what it's there for is 3D object sensing and future applications that may use that sensor. Unfortunately, at launch, the ToF lens does nothing more than look like another lens on the back of the Oppo R17 Pro. You can't access it, or use it to make 3D maps of objects, and there's no obvious use of it when taking photos to create additional depth of field.

The ToF lens may well be an investment in future possibilities, but the rest of the Oppo R17 Pro's camera prowess is quite exceptional for a phone in its class. Oppo has long sold itself as the "Camera Phone" company, and the Oppo R17 Pro is easily my favourite of Oppo's camera phones to date. Yes, that includes the much more expensive Oppo Find X.

Oppo's essentially grabbed every single photographic trick that other vendors have brought to market and wrapped them all up in the Oppo R17 Pro's camera app.

The primary 12MP lens has a variable aperture, similar to that found in the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and Samsung Galaxy Note9, allowing for greater light capture in low-light situations. However, you can't choose apertures the way you can on Samsung's flagships, with Oppo's own AI taking over that function.

Samsung Galaxy Note9

Samsung's productivity phone returns

The Samsung Galaxy Note9 features exceptional performance, top-notch battery life and the exclusive features of Samsung's S-Pen in a phone like no other.

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To further pump up the Oppo R17 Pro's low-light shooting prowess, it also features a low-light shooting "night" mode, similar to that on the Google Pixel 3 or Huawei Mate 20 Pro, where multiple exposures are stitched together over a second to give you more light.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei's flagship camera phone

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro combines the power of Huawei's own Kirin 980 chip, an exceptional battery and a class-leading triple-camera array.

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However, Oppo's night mode is not quite as pronounced as the night mode in those other handsets, with only a small difference between its variable aperture kicking in and its night-mode shot.

Here's a comparison shot taken at night at a nearby park with just the variable aperture at play:

Oppo R17 Pro Aperture photo

And here's the same shot taken over a second with night mode:

Oppo R17 Pro Night mode photo

Oppo also offers up a variety of portrait lighting modes, including regular types such as mono lighting and a genuinely useful canvas lighting feature that works well to cut out background features. Here's Finder's Brodie Fogg, taken with the regular portrait light:

Here he is with mono-tone light:

Here's the less useful bi-colour light, which would be useful if he ever wanted to make a Braveheart sequel:

And here's the canvas lighting take:

You can apply basic portrait lighting and focus effects on most objects, but some features do require the Oppo R17 Pro to detect a human face to actually kick in.

Oppo's camera app wasn't entirely flawless during testing, with a few instances where it outright crashed or refused to take a photo, but for the most part, it delivered top-quality photos for a camera in its price range. It's a serious challenger to the idea that you absolutely must pay premium prices for a good camera, and while the premium phones are still a little ahead of it, it's by the slimmest of margins.

Oppo R17 Pro Sample Photos
















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Oppo R17 Pro review

Oppo R17 Pro: Performance

  • Snapdragon 710 is a solid performer
  • No expandable storage
  • ColorOS still gives an iPhone feel

The Oppo R17 Pro runs on a Snapdragon 710 processor, combined with 6GB of RAM. It's actually the first Snapdragon 710 phone we've tested here at Finder. If Qualcomm's hype is to be believed, it should deliver a decent performance hit over the older 600-series Snapdragon processors Oppo's used in earlier R-series handsets.

In benchmark terms, the Oppo R17 Pro doesn't actually stretch much beyond the older R15 Pro using Geekbench 4's CPU test in multi-core mode, although it's a different story for single core performance. I've included the Oppo Find X, a much more expensive phone in this comparison because if you're an Oppo fan, you're likely weighing up Oppo's more expensive flagship phone against it as well as a range of mid-priced handsets:

It's a different story when it comes to 3D performance, where the Oppo R17 Pro edges out the R15 Pro's graphical prowess. Here's how it compares against a range of phones (including again, the Oppo Find X) using 3DMark's Slingshot Extreme test:

The Oppo R17 Pro is an Android 8.1 phone at launch, although you could be mistaken for thinking otherwise. Oppo always uses its own "ColorOS" launcher on top of regular Android, giving it a feel that's much closer to iOS than Android, right down to colourful icons and a completely missing app drawer. It's an acquired taste because if you're in any way used to regular Android, it may take you some time to get used to Oppo's own take. Conversely, if you're switching from iOS, you may find its iPhone-lite style appealing.

The Oppo R17 Pro features a teardrop notch that you can obscure as needed. One interesting aspect here is that Oppo obscures it by turning the sides of the notch black, the same as any other vendor, on a per-app basis only. You can't simply select it once to obscure it entirely, but equally it means if you have apps that respect it, you can make the most of the whole screen, while squashing down apps that misbehave around the notch otherwise.

The Oppo R17 Pro as sold in Australia comes as a dual Nano-SIM handset when purchased outright, but you can only use those slots for actual SIM cards. There's no capability for microSD storage expansion, which means that its 128GB of onboard storage is all you're going to get.Back to top


Oppo R17 Pro review

Oppo R17 Pro: Battery life

  • 3700mAh battery gives great endurance
  • Insanely fast VOOC charging
  • Glass back, but no wireless charging

The Oppo R17 Pro features a 3700mAh non-removable battery, recharged via USB C. Previous Oppo phones have given quite wide battery results using Geekbench 4's very linear battery test, but the Oppo R17 Pro beats them all. Yes, even the much more expensive Oppo Find X. Here's how it compares:

It's a result that plays out in real life too, with the Oppo R17 Pro easily capable of single-day battery life with moderate usage, and even the potential for multi-day usage between charges.

SuperVOOC sounds like it should be a charger which wears its underwear on the outside, but instead, it's a blindingly fast charging standard.

Oppo has its own fast-charging standard, dubbed VOOC, and for the Oppo R17 Pro, it features SuperVOOC. SuperVOOC sounds like it should be a charger which wears its underwear on the outside, but instead, it's a blindingly fast charging standard. Oppo's claim is that it can drop 40% of the Oppo R17 Pro's battery power into the device in just 10 minutes, which was an easy claim to test. It was right, too, although the big catch here is that you'll only get that kind of easy recharge with the supplied SuperVOOC charger. The Oppo R17 Pro will grab power from any other USB C charger, including portable batteries, but it'll only do so at a leisurely pace compared to the raw speed of SuperVOOC.

While the Oppo R17 Pro has a glass casing, giving it that lovely shimmering look, it's not there because it supports any kind of wireless charging. If you want to juice up the Oppo R17 Pro's battery, you're going to have to do it with some kind of wire.

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Oppo R17 Pro review

Oppo R17 Pro: Should you buy it?

  • Good value, although Oppo's prices are creeping higher

The Oppo Find X is meant to be Oppo's 2018 flagship, and if you looked just at pricing, you might think it was its best phone. However, given the performance, battery life and camera quality of the Oppo R17 Pro, it's not the case.

If you're an Oppo fan after the company's best, the Oppo R17 Pro is just that right now, given its feature set.

However, outside of the Find X, Oppo has always played in the mid-range, very affordable space, and the Oppo R17 Pro's asking price is higher than we've seen out of the Chinese maker to date. It's easy to see why for what you're getting, but it's also a sign that Oppo's growing out of the budget market internationally and pushing its prices ever higher.

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Oppo R17 Pro: Pricing and availability

Oppo R17 Pro

A stylish and powerful camera phone

Oppo combines a gorgeous design, powerful battery and triple-camera array in the exceptional Oppo R17 Pro.

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The Oppo R17 Pro sells in Australia with 128GB of RAM and 6GB ROM for $899 outright in Radiant Mist and Emerald Green finishes.

It's also available in Emerald Green finish only as a single-SIM model from Vodafone on contract:

Oppo R17 Pro: Alternatives

If you're keen on Oppo phones generally, you could consider the slightly older Oppo R15 Pro. It's not quite as quick as the Oppo R17 Pro, but you do get water resistance, missing in action on the Oppo R17 Pro.

Oppo R15 Pro

A flagship phone for the fiscally minded

The Oppo R15 Pro delivers long-awaited premium features like water resistance and NFC while retaining the affordable price tag Oppo smartphones are known for.

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If you wanted Oppo's actual flagship phone, you could opt for the Oppo Find X, although its only real advantage is the inclusion of the faster Snapdragon 845 processor over the Oppo R17 Pro.

Within the wider Android space, if you're willing to spend a little more than the Oppo R17 Pro's outright asking price, consider the Huawei Mate 20, a phone with an even better camera and processor as well as better battery life.

Huawei Mate 20

Huawei's lower-cost flagship

The Huawei Mate 20 combines triple cameras, exceptional battery endurance and Huawei's very powerful Kirin 980 processor in one astonishing package.

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You could also consider Oppo stablemate OnePlus, with the OnePlus 6 widely available at a similar price as the Oppo R17 Pro. Its battery life isn't quite as exceptional, but you do get the Snapdragon 845 processor to give it more grunt.

OnePlus 6

Flagship features at a fantastic price

The OnePlus 6 packs all the amenities of a full-priced premium smartphone while clocking in significantly cheaper than the competition.

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Specifications

Oppo R17 Pro Specifications

OS Android 8
Display size (inches) 6.4
Display resolution (pixels) 2340x1080
Pixels per inch (PPI) 263
Processor Snapdragon 710
Height (mm) 157.6
Width (mm) 74.6
Depth (mm) 7.9
Weight (g) 183
Battery size (mAh) 3,700
Wireless charging No
Internal storage 128GB
MicroSD expansion N/A
Fingerprint scanner Yes
RAM 6GB
Water resistance N/A
Rear camera (1) resolution 20
Rear camera (1) aperture f/1.5
Rear camera (2) resolution 12
Rear camera (2) aperture f/2.6
Rear camera (3) resolution
Rear camera (3) aperture
Front camera (1) resolution 25
Front camera (1) aperture f/2.0
Front camera (2) resolution
Front camera (2) aperture
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Network category speed N/A
NFC support Yes
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