Oppo R9 Review: Inexpensive but unexciting

Alex Kidman 12 May 2016

OppoR9_450

Oppo’s R9 promises iPhone-style looks at a much cheaper price point, but its performance is generally lacking.

Oppo's market positioning is generally mid-range phones with premium styling for those who can't (or won't) quite spend the money associated with flagship phones. Previous Oppo phones we've reviewed have mostly aped Apple's design notes, but the Oppo R9 is in a class all of its own in terms of looking like a cloned iPhone. Then again, the iPhone is Australia's most popular smartphone, so as long as the Oppo R9 can deliver in the performance stakes, it could be a good purchase option.

Oppo R9Oppo R9 Plus
OSColor OS 3.0/Android 5.1.1
Screen size5.5in
Resolution1080x1920
Display density401ppi
Storage64GB
Weight145g
ProcessorOcta-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53
Rear camera13MP
Front camera16MP
Battery2850mAh

OppoR9_2_450

Upsides: Why you’d want the Oppo R9

  • Nice sense of style: The Oppo R9 is thin, light and delicately styled, with a look that somewhat belies its mid-range price. It’s (ahem) downright familiar in many ways, in fact, but that does mean it stands out quite a bit in the mid-range phone pack.
  • Fast charging: Like much of Oppo’s output, the R9 uses Oppo’s proprietary VOOC charging to deliver power. It’s capable, as per Oppo’s specifications of charging the phone to 70 percent in just thirty minutes, making it relatively painless to keep your phone going.
  • Decent camera: Oppo talked up the quality of its cameras on the Oppo R9 and R9 Plus at launch. The R9’s rear 13MP and front 16MP camera aren’t quite the world beaters that Oppo thinks they are; the front selfie camera is high resolution but had some issues with low light in our testing, for example, but within the mid-range space they’re perfectly acceptable options.
  • Dual SIM capable: If you want to run a work and personal SIM in the same phone, the Oppo R9 allows for that.

OppoR9_3_450

Downsides: Why you might not want the Oppo R9

  • Derivative design: We’ve noted Oppo’s propensity to deliver iPhone-esque experiences in the past, but the Oppo R9 pushes this to the limit, with a design that seriously apes that of the iPhone 6s particularly. It’s obviously not a bad or unattractive design to speak of. However,buying the R9 does open you up to the risk of folks assuming you’ve bought an actual iPhone and thinking you’re cheap when they realise that's not what it is.
  • VOOC charger doesn’t like other devices: The Oppo R9 uses a slightly modified microUSB plug and charging standard to deliver its power, which means that while other adaptors for other phones will slowly charge the R9, it won’t always return the favour, which is annoying.
  • Fair (but not great) performance: Mid-range phones should deliver slightly-better than mid-range performance. The Oppo R9 certainly doesn’t push that expectation, but in Geekbench 3’s benchmarks it’s essentially a low to mid-range performer. Here’s how it compares:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge21696446
    Samsung Galaxy S721566240
    LG G523055243
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
    Google Nexus 6P12514597
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    Apple iPhone SE25384455
    Apple iPhone 6S25404410
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
    HTC 1019424191
    Sony Xperia Z513584134
    Samsung Galaxy Note 511113686
    BlackBerry PRIV11963396
    LG G411903313
    Oppo R98673303
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
    Oppo R7s6962980
    Alcatel Go Play4531368

    Where the Oppo R9 stumbles more notably is in graphics performance. Here’s how it compares using 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited:

    Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
    LG G529597
    Apple iPhone SE29276
    Samsung Galaxy S728903
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge28402
    Apple iPhone 6s28171
    HTC 1027392
    Google Nexus 6P24703
    Sony Xperia Z519197
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus17981
    Oppo R911053
    Oppo R7s8390

    Those benchmarks play out in day to day usage, especially if you throw games at the Oppo R9. It might look like a premium phone, but even in the mid-range space it could do a little better than it does.

  • ColorOS, not Android: Oppo’s Android phones sport a complete overhaul of the OS it dubs "ColorOS". Like the R9’s design, it’s a very iOS-esque visual overhaul that may appeal to some and appal others, but what it also does is leave you very much at Oppo’s mercy when it comes to software updates. Underlying the ColorOS 3.0 experience on the Oppo R9 is Android 5.1, which means it’s already lagging behind the Android OS pack, opening up the possibility for unpatched security errors and the like.
  • Middling battery life: The VOOC charger may be able to charge the Oppo R9 quickly, but its overall battery life is nothing particularly exciting. It's not as bad as the iPhone 6s it apes its design from, but few things are. Here's how the Oppo R9 compares against a range of handsets using Geekbench's battery test with screen dimming enabled:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge11:55:007150
    Samsung Galaxy S710:01:206013
    Samsung Galaxy Note 59:18:005580
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
    LG G57:36:104561
    Alcatel Go Play7:21:102941
    iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case7:21:104407
    Google Nexus 5X7:14:204062
    Oppo R7s7:002800
    HTC 106:54:304145
    Samsung Galaxy S66:51:304115
    Oppo R96:41:504018
    Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754
    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 35:42:002276
    Sony Xperia Z55:41:303414
    LG G45:27:503224
    BlackBerry PRIV5:25:403256
    Huawei P8 Lite4:39:402768
    Apple iPhone SE4:27:102671
    Apple iPhone 6s3:52:102321
  • Dual SIM at the cost of storage: The Oppo R9 is a dual SIM phone which gives it some appeal, but it uses the SIM card tray as its microSD storage slot as well, which means you can either have microSD expansion or two SIM cards, but not both.

OppoR9_4_450

Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

The Oppo R9 is a faux iPhone in a much more bold way than previous Oppo offerings, but at a price point nearly half that of an actual iPhone. That has some appeal if you like the style but don’t have the cash, or don’t particularly like Apple.

That being said, the rest of the Oppo R9 package is largely unremarkable given its market positioning. There’s plenty of other mid-range offerings such as the Google Nexus 5X that offer the full Android experience, or many entry-level options if you’re particularly cash strapped.

Where can I get it?

Oppo sells the Oppo R9 through its web site for $599 outright, as well as in physical retail through JB Hi-Fi.

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