Oppo R9 review: Inexpensive but unexciting

Alex Kidman 12 May 2016 NEWS

Quick Verdict
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.

Strengths

  • Nice sense of style
  • Fast charging
  • Decent camera
  • Fast charging
  • Dual SIM capable

Could be better

  • Derivative design
  • VOOC charger doesn’t like other devices
  • Fair (but not great) performance
  • ColorOS, not Android
  • Middling battery life
  • Dual SIM at the cost of storage


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 R9 Oppo R9 Plus
OS Color OS 3.0/Android 5.1.1
Screen size 5.5in
Resolution 1080x1920
Display density 401ppi
Storage 64GB
Weight 145g
Processor Octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53
Rear camera 13MP
Front camera 16MP
Battery 2850mAh

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:
    Handset Geekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 2169 6446
    Samsung Galaxy S7 2156 6240
    LG G5 2305 5243
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 1492 4893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge 1324 4626
    Google Nexus 6P 1251 4597
    Samsung Galaxy S6 1347 4569
    Apple iPhone SE 2538 4455
    Apple iPhone 6S 2540 4410
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus 2491 4391
    HTC 10 1942 4191
    Sony Xperia Z5 1358 4134
    Samsung Galaxy Note 5 1111 3686
    BlackBerry PRIV 1196 3396
    LG G4 1190 3313
    Oppo R9 867 3303
    Google Nexus 5X 1188 3198
    Oppo R7s 696 2980
    Alcatel Go Play 453 1368

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

    Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
    LG G5 29597
    Apple iPhone SE 29276
    Samsung Galaxy S7 28903
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 28402
    Apple iPhone 6s 28171
    HTC 10 27392
    Google Nexus 6P 24703
    Sony Xperia Z5 19197
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus 17981
    Oppo R9 11053
    Oppo R7s 8390

    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:
    Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 11:55:00 7150
    Samsung Galaxy S7 10:01:20 6013
    Samsung Galaxy Note 5 9:18:00 5580
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 8:24:10 5041
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus 7:48:10 4681
    LG G5 7:36:10 4561
    Alcatel Go Play 7:21:10 2941
    iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case 7:21:10 4407
    Google Nexus 5X 7:14:20 4062
    Oppo R7s 7:00 2800
    HTC 10 6:54:30 4145
    Samsung Galaxy S6 6:51:30 4115
    Oppo R9 6:41:50 4018
    Google Nexus 6P 6:39:20 3754
    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5:42:00 2276
    Sony Xperia Z5 5:41:30 3414
    LG G4 5:27:50 3224
    BlackBerry PRIV 5:25:40 3256
    Huawei P8 Lite 4:39:40 2768
    Apple iPhone SE 4:27:10 2671
    Apple iPhone 6s 3:52:10 2321
  • 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.

floppor9

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 R9s Plus

Oppo R9s Plus from Amazon US site

Get the best phone Oppo has produced to date. Buy Oppo R9s Plus from Amazon today.

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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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