Oppo R9s Review: An iPhone clone with a budget heart

Alex Kidman 6 February 2017 NEWS

Quick Verdict
The camera is good, general app performance is decent and the fingerprint sensor is amongst the fastest we’ve ever tested.

Strengths

  • That style
  • Dual SIM support
  • Excellent fingerprint sensor
  • Fast charging
  • Decent (but not spectacular) camera
  • Good mid-range performance
  • Headphone jack present and correct

Could be better

  • Older Android OS
  • Lacks NFC
  • ColorOS can be clunky


Oppo’s R9s provides solid mid-range performance with premium styling that is once again incredibly reminiscent of Apple’s own phone line.

The single most obvious statement that anyone could make when they first lay eyes on the Oppo R9s is that it looks like an iPhone.

Not just a little, but a lot, from the faux-button touch sensor to the rounded edges to the use of Oppo’s own ColorOS overlay to mimic iOS’ basic features.

Oppo has a lot of previous form in this regard, but with the Oppo R9s it has gone all out. It’s the iPhoniest-iPhone clone we’ve yet seen, and we can only presume that the reason that Apple’s lawyers haven’t come knocking is that Oppo has some incriminating photographs to hand.

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All of that shouldn’t bother you if you like the style of the Oppo R9s however. As with much of Oppo’s fare, it’s essentially a mid-range Android phone in the wrapper of a premium device. There are a lot of phones like that you could buy, so what makes the Oppo R9s stand out?

OppoR9s_1_450

Oppo R9s: Why you’d want one

  • That style: Sure, it’s highly derivative, but the advantage of looking just like something that looks really good is that you too, inevitably end up looking good. There’s no end of mid-range phones that look ordinary, so standing out is no bad thing.
  • Dual SIM support: The Oppo R9s comes with a dual SIM tray that can be used for either a SIM card and microSD expansion, or two SIM cards if you want to engage in a little network hopping while travelling. That’s based on the review model; it’s worth noting that the telco specifications for the Oppo R9s don’t list Dual SIM as a feature, so that may not be an option for some phones purchased on contract.
  • Excellent fingerprint sensor: The Oppo R9s fingerprint sensor is located on the front, and mimics the iPhone 7/7s force button, in that it vibrates gently when you tap it, because it’s not actually a button at all. It does offer extremely quick and accurate fingerprint recognition, rapidly unlocking the phone every time we tested it. One added plus is that you can enrol individual fingers to launch specific apps when unlocking.
  • Fast charging: The Oppo R9s repeatedly balked at finishing Geekbench 3’s battery test, although it was heading into the 9 hour plus camp before it did so. It’s not a huge issue either way, however, because it uses Oppo’s proprietary VOOC charger to amp it up when running low. VOOC provides a 5V/4A charge through to the phone, meaning that you can quickly top it up with just a few minutes of tethered charging.
  • Decent (but not spectacular) camera: Oppo makes a lot of noise about the quality of the 16MP F2.0 rear camera on the R9s, but then every phone manufacturer wants you to think its camera is the best thing ever. The Oppo R9s camera provided decent shots in our testing for a mid-range camera, with slightly better than expected performance in low light situations, but don’t buy this thinking you’re getting a premium camera. The abilities of cameras in phones such as the Google Pixel or Huawei Mate 9 are far ahead of what you’ll get here, but then again that’s reflected in their asking prices.
  • Good mid-range performance: The Oppo R9s runs on a Snapdragon 625 SoC, which is about as mid-range as you can get. Still, up against similar mid-range fare, it benchmarks well. Here’s how it compares on Geekbench 4’s CPU test:
    HandsetGeekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better)
    Motorola Moto X Force13523581
    Oppo R9s8433119
    Huawei Nova Plus8432985
    Motorola Moto Z Play7992648
    Sony Xperia X11222626
    LG X Power5541482
    Motorola Moto G Play5221334

    In gaming terms, the story is much the same:

    Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
    Huawei Nova Plus13969
    Motorola Moto Z Play13958
    Oppo R9s13691
    Sony Xperia XA11173
    Oppo R911053
    Motorola Moto G4 Plus9757
    Telstra Signature Premium9559
    LG X Power4953
    Motorola Moto G Play4475

    Benchmarks never tell the whole story, but in anecdotal testing, the Oppo R9s is a perfectly responsive phone across most tasks. If you're considering switching from iOS to Android it's an easy gateway to the potentially more complex and powerful Android experience.

  • Headphone jack present and correct: There’s one bit of iPhone style that the Oppo R9s doesn’t mimic, and that’s dropping the headphone jack. While Bluetooth support is still very much present, having the easy ability to use proper wired headphones is quite welcome.

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Oppo R9s: Why you might not want one

  • Older Android OS: ColorOS overwhelms the Android experience to a huge degree on the Oppo R9s, but what is also hides is that this is an Android 6.0.1 device. That means that functions of Android 7.0 ("Nougat") such as multitasking apps aren't open to you.
  • Lacks NFC: Oppo has omitted NFC capability in the Oppo R9s, as it has done with many of its phones. This means that if you’re a fan of contactless payment systems such as Android Pay, it’s probably not the phone for you.
  • ColorOS can be clunky: We get that ColorOS, Oppo’s overlay on top of Android 6.0.1, is intended to deliver a simpler Android experience with no app drawer and bright, colourful icons. The translation of some interface elements into English sometimes leaves a little to be desired, and if you’re already familiar with a classical Android interface, some of the UI choices can be a little baffling at first.

OppoR9s_3_450

Oppo R9s: Who is it suited for? What are my alternatives?

The Oppo R9s very much knows its market. If you’re keen on an iPhone but the $1,000-and-rising price for Apple’s finest puts you off, it’s a very fine substitute. The camera is good, general app performance is decent and the fingerprint sensor is amongst the fastest we’ve ever tested.

As already noted, Oppo has quite a lot of form in providing iPhone-esque experiences in previous handsets such as the Oppo R9, Oppo R7s or Oppo F1.

You could also consider any number of mid-to-premium range handsets such as the Apple iPhone SE if you wanted to stay in the actual-iOS camp, or perhaps Telstra’s Signature Premium or the Motorola Moto Z Play. Equally, if you're in the outright buying camp, you could do worse than chase down a bargain on one of last year's premium phones, many of which are starting to be sold around this price point.

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Oppo R9s: Where can I get it?

Oppo sells the Oppo R9s unlocked in Australia for $598 outright through JB Hi-Fi.

The Oppo R9s is also available on contract through Vodafone, Optus, Virgin Mobile and Woolworths Mobile on a 24-month contract.


Oppo R9s: Specifications

OppoR9s
Screen size5.5in
Storage64GB
Weight147g
ProcessorSnapdragon 625
Rear camera12MP
Front camera16MP
Battery3010mAh
Resolution1080x1920
Display density326ppi
RRP$598

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