Oppo R9s Plus Review: A great mid-range Oppo-rtunity

Alex Kidman 28 March 2017 NEWS

Quick Verdict
Oppo’s refinement of its core design has finally borne some excellent results in the Oppo R9s Plus.

Strengths

  • High quality camera
  • Good core specifications
  • Dual sim capability
  • Good fingerprint reader
  • Very fast charging

Could be better

  • Battery life could be better
  • ColorOS is messy
  • Marshmallow rather than Nougat
  • No NFC


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.

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Buy the Oppo R9s Plus from Amazon AU

The R9s Plus represents a compelling budget-friendly alternative to Apple's pricey iPhones.

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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. OppoR9sPlus_3_738

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
    OppoR9sPlusSamplePic1 OppoR9sPlusSamplePic2
    OppoR9sPlusSamplePic3 OppoR9sPlusSamplePic4
  • 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.

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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.

OppoR9sPlus_1_738

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 providers like Woolworths Mobile and Optus with terms as follows:


Oppo R9s Plus Specifications

Oppo R9s Plus
Display 6.0in
Resolution 1920x1080
ppi 367
Software Android 6.0
Storage 64GB+microSD
RAM 6GB
Battery 4000mAh
Front Camera 12MP
Rear Camera 12MP
Processor 1.95GHz Octa-core Snapdragon 653
Size 163.6 x 80.8 x 7.4 mm
Weight 185g

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