Oppo R9s Plus Review: A great mid-range Oppo-rtunity
The Oppo R9s Plus is the best phone Oppo has produced to date, and a really solid mid-range challenger to the premium phone crowd.
Oppo has gone from strength to strength in the Australian phone market, largely off the back of a range of mostly mid-range phones that ape the style of Apple’s very popular iPhones at a fraction of the cost. The end results have generally been good phones, but rarely great phones. With the Oppo R9s Plus, that changes. It’s taken the core of the Oppo R9s and expanded it in ways that makes for a truly compelling phone at a great price point.
Oppo R9s Plus: Design
We’re still not sure how Oppo hasn’t been greeted with some stern words from Apple’s lawyers, because the Oppo R9s Plus continues the trend of phones that look mostly like iPhones. In the Oppo R9s Plus’ case it’s obviously the iPhone 7 Plus that it apes, albeit with just a few unique style touches. We reviewed the white and gold version of the Oppo R9s Plus, but there’s also a black model if white isn't your style. Either is quite the striking device, with our white model enveloped in a gold coloured rear highlighted with metallic banding at the top and bottom. These aren’t just visual design cues, but also extensions to the Wi-Fi antenna for greater data receptivity. Unlike the iPhone 7, a headphone jack is still present, located next to the microUSB socket at the base. Measuring in at 163.6x80.8x7.4 mm, the Oppo R9s Plus is, like most phablet-style phones, quite a lot to hold in the hand, although its bezel is relatively slim unlike some other larger phones. At 185 grams it has some heft in the hand, and the solid metal body gives it a premium feel that belies its asking price.
Oppo R9s Plus: Why you’d want one
- High quality camera: The Oppo R9s Plus is priced as a mid-range phone, but you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a high-end model based simply on its camera quality. Oppo has made bold claims about its cameras on previous models, but that’s often ended up being more of an idle boast than a reality. It’s not so with the Oppo R9s Plus’ F/1.7 optically stabilised 16MP rear camera, which has excellent fast focus and colour reproduction. Like the physical design, the camera app itself is very reminiscent of iOS’ camera app, but that does mean it’s nicely simple. The 16MP front camera features Oppo’s take on a beauty mode, dubbed "Beautify", and like most modes of that type, it can be a little hit and miss as to whether it makes you look pretty, or overly smooth to a disturbing level. Sometimes that’s part of the fun.
Oppo R9s Plus Sample Photos
- Good core specifications: The Snapdragon 653 SoC that runs the Oppo R9s Plus isn’t top of the line, but Oppo matches that with 6GB of memory, and the end result is a phone that’s a little snappier than most mid-range phones when it comes to baseline performance.
Handset Geekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better) Oppo R9s Plus 1466 4415 Apple iPhone SE 2449 4171 ZTE Axon 7 1721 4089 Apple iPhone 6s 2465 4052 Google Pixel XL 1629 4051 Samsung Galaxy A7 771 3998 Motorola Moto Z 1477 3853 HTC U Ultra 1648 3848 Sony Xperia XZ 1636 3604 Google Nexus 6P 1293 3594 Oppo R9s 843 3119
It’s not quite the same story for graphics performance, where the Oppo R9s Plus is somewhat outclassed by most of the same phones:
Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result HTC U Ultra 29968 Apple iPhone SE 29276 Google Pixel XL 28458 Apple iPhone 6s 28171 Sony Xperia XZ 26279 Motorola Moto Z 25629 Google Nexus 6P 24703 ZTE Axon 7 23955 Oppo R9s Plus 17755 Oppo R9s 13691 Samsung Galaxy A7 13629
Overall, while benchmarks don’t tell the full story, they give a good reckoning of the Oppo R9s Plus’ overall power strategy. It’s not a premium phone, but it’s a powerful contender in the mid-range space.
- Dual sim capability: Buy the Oppo R9s Plus outright, and it’s a dual SIM model out of the box. This isn’t true for the contract version, as is commonly the case for dual SIM contract phones in Australia, but if you’re not using the second tray anyway it doubles as a microSD expansion slot.
- Good fingerprint reader: Again, like the iPhone 7, the Oppo R9s Plus features a solid fingerprint reader with a tiny feedback motor to give the impression that you’re pushing a button. It’s not quite as refined as the iPhone’s take on the concept, but it works well and quickly for unlocking the phone. As an added bonus, you can enrol individual fingers to launch different apps.
- Good switcher's phone: Oppo’s approach to Android is to entirely re-skin it with what it calls "ColorOS". Like the external design of the Oppo R9s Plus, it borrows heavily from Apple, in this case iOS. That makes the Oppo R9s Plus an appealing prospect if you’re switching away from iOS but don’t want to lose that essential look and feel of the way iOS operates.
- Very fast charging: Like most recent Oppo devices, the Oppo R9s Plus uses the company’s own VOOC fast charging. As long as you’ve got the charger nearby, even if you’re low on power you won’t have to wait long at all to have a fully charged phone.
Oppo R9s Plus: Why you might not want one
- Battery life could be better: Oppo equips the Oppo R9s Plus with a 4,000mAh battery, which is quite hefty. As such, we were expecting big things from it, because most phones that tip the scales with that kind of power can typically beat out 10 hours or more sustained benchmark battery life. It’s the one area where the Oppo R9s Plus didn’t quite live up to that promise. Here’s how it compared against a range of high-battery-capacity phones:
Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score LG X Power 14:50:30 5714 Huawei Nova Plus 13:21:20 8013 Samsung Galaxy A7 12:40:30 7603 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 11:55:00 7150 Huawei Mate 8 11:14:40 6659 Apple iPhone 7 Plus 11:11:20 6713 Samsung Galaxy S7 10:01:20 6013 Motorola Moto X Force 9:46:50 3914 Motorola Moto 4G Plus 9:44:10 3977 Motorola Moto G Play 9:36:00 3840 Samsung Galaxy Note 5 9:18:00 5580 Google Pixel XL 9:14:20 5543 Huawei Mate 9 9:00:30 5330 Huawei P9 8:26:30 4948 LG Stylus DAB+ 8:11:40 3278 ZTE Axon 7 7:56:20 4763 Oppo R9s Plus 6:14:20 3484
Geekbench 3’s battery test provides a steady workflow to run the battery down, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story. In more anecdotal testing we could run through a full day’s reasonable use without too much trouble, although we’d never be able to hit two days as you can with some phones. Oppo’s power management is quite aggressive, and that can eke you out a little more power again. That being said, for a phone with a 4,000mAh battery, we expected more than the Oppo R9s Plus delivered.
- ColorOS is messy: While it broadly mimics the look and feel of iOS, there are sections of ColorOS that are oddly laid out, or just plain odd. As an example, when you open up the provided theme store app, it warns you that it needs to send and receive SMS messages in order to operate. Why does a theme store need to send SMS messages? Other apps have odd English translations, or visual touches seemingly at odds with the rest of ColorOS’ style. None of it is terrible, but it sometimes feels a little underpolished.
- Marshmallow rather than Nougat: The Oppo R9s Plus stands as Oppo’s current "flagship" phone, but it’s stuck on Android 6.0 ("Marshmallow") rather than the newer Android 7.0 ("Nougat") release. This means that features that would make maximum use of the 6 inch display, such as split pane multitasking aren’t open to you. You’re stuck waiting to see if Oppo will offer Android 7.0 to its customers, or going down the sometimes risky path of flashing an upgrade yourself.
- No NFC: If you’re a fan of contactless payment systems such as Android Pay, Oppo isn’t the brand for you. Like its predecessors, the Near Field Communication (NFC) components needed to make contactless payments feasible are nowhere to be found on the Oppo R9s Plus.
Who is it best suited for? What are my alternatives?
Oppo’s refinement of its core design has finally borne some excellent results in the Oppo R9s Plus, and as a mid-range prospect it’s a phone we’d recommend to just about anybody, especially given how heavily its camera pushes above its pricing weight. It’s a step above the similar looking but smaller Oppo R9s, but that’s a phone that you should also consider if you’re switching away from an iPhone due to the same similarity issues with Apple’s iconic design. The mid-range space is one where we’re seeing a lot of activity and some truly exceptional phones, including the ZTE Axon 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy A7.
Where can I get it?
The Oppo R9s Plus sells outright for $698 through JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks and Woolworths. It is also available on contract through Woolworths Mobile on 24 month terms as follows:
Oppo R9s Plus Specifications
|Processor||1.95GHz Octa-core Snapdragon 653|
|Size||163.6 x 80.8 x 7.4 mm|