Unboxing & Review: OPPO R9s

OPPO refreshed their F1 last year August with the new F1s and the launch was a great success. The front equipped 16MP camera with OPPO’s selfie beautification algorithm must have captured the hearts of the selfie lovers. Two months later, without any signs of stopping, OPPO announced their R9 series would be the next smartphone to receive the “s” suffix – the 7-months old R9 Plus is being replaced with the brand new R9s!

On the surface, the new R9s might seem similar to the R9 Plus because of the same megapixel count for both front and rear camera, but the rear camera has being updated with the new Sony IMX398 sensor with extra wide f/1.7 aperture. OPPO claims that the new camera module with dual phase detection autofocus is clearer, faster and brighter.

So, is it final-lee clear? Read on to find out.

OPPO R9s retails for MYR 1798.

Specifications Overview

CPU & GPUQualcomm Snapdragon 625 (8 x A53 @ 2.0 GHz)
Adreno 506 @ 650 MHz
RAM4 GB
Storage64 GB
supporting MicroSD up to 256 GB (occupies SIM slot 2)
Display5.5 inches
1080p Full HD AMOLED
Camera (rear)16 MP
f/1.7 aperture
1/2.8 inch Sony IMX398 sensor
Dual PDAF
Dual LED, dual tone flash
Camera (front)16 MP
f/2.0 aperture
BatteryNon-removable 3010 mAh Li-Po
Operating SystemColorOS 3.0
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
SIMHybrid dual SIM (Nano)
ConnectivityGSM / HSPA / LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Dual Band
Bluetooth 4.0, A2DP
GPS with A-GPS

Unboxing

The packaging is pretty standard with an outer sleeve showcasing the device image at the front with specification info at the back.

The open box experience while reminds me of a certain fruity brand, but it also comes with OPPO’s own twist. For instance the will-be-useful cable management tab and the oh-so-high-class earphones.

Oh hey, OPPO even includes a soft clear case and a factory-installed screen protector for out-of-the-box protection.

OPPO also generously included their proprietary VOOC charger and VOOC Micro USB cable for your enjoyment of fast charging experience.

If you look closer at the Micro USB cable, you will notice that it is slightly different from your regular Micro USB cables. It contains extra contact pins for the support of VOOC Flash Charge. The phone and the charger adapter constantly exchanges the charge status and temperature information in order to maintain a fast and safe charge.

Certainly, you still can use your regular Micro USB cables and power banks, just that you don’t get to enjoy the benefit of Flash Charge. So that kind of sucks especially if you lost your Micro USB cable and you’re forced to get a replacement from OPPO. Otherwise, OPPO could’ve updated their VOOC to support USB-C which is an absolutely great idea as it supports high power delivery and data transfer.

Build Quality & Design

The 5.5-inch display takes up the majority space at the front.

Earpiece at the top with the 16MP front-facing camera at the left, while the proximity & ambient light sensor at the right.

The capacitive home button with chrome trim at the middle.

The backlit navigation keys are in reversed order, with the back button at the right while multitasking button at the left.

The capacitive home button also doubles as the fingerprint scanner. To be honest, this is probably one of the fastest fingerprint scanners I’ve ever used. Just a light tap on the scanner and the phone is unlocked.

The volume buttons at the left of the phone.

The power button and SIM slot at the right.

The hybrid SIM tray is quite common nowadays, but I’m not quite a fan of it because they seem a bit pointless. As manufacturers release dual-SIM phones with the support of Micro SD card, they might as well as make it support dual SIM and Micro SD card at the same time instead of choosing dual SIM or single SIM + Micro SD.

Mono speakers, Micro USB and 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom.

The back of the R9s has a minimalist design. The sand-blasted finish feels great to hold in the hands and looks nice to the eyes. The curved corners and edges design greatly contributed to the easy handiness of the phone.

Since antenna lines are a necessity for metal built smartphones, OPPO designers have introduced a new design for the boring and ugly antennas – six 0.3mm ultra-fine antenna lines. Honestly speaking, it blends with the body perfectly and serves the function well.

Sound

The R9s comes with a downward firing, mono channel speaker. Conveniently located at the bottom of the device, the speaker is not something that I would say great. It is just something that works.

Speakerphone calls and audio playback is fine, but don’t expect it to grace you with high definition music or video playback.

Display

The R9s display has received an upgrade, featuring 1080p Full HD AMOLED panel. What a great news as OPPO has finally moved away from the 720p display panel.

The AMOLED panel has excellent colour saturation and deep blacks for that high contrast looks. Screen brightness while not being super bright, but sufficient for outdoor usage.

Camera

The star of the OPPO R9s is no other than its rear camera. The Sony IMX398 is a customised 1/2.8 inch sensor that exclusively designed for OPPO. Paired with the bright f/1.7 aperture lens, OPPO claims that the R9s is capable of snapping clear and beautiful images in all kinds of scenarios.

The camera app itself is rather simple with limited customisation and adjustments. If you’re feeling a little bit creative, the expert mode has all the basic exposure configurations you’ll ever need. Video mode, however, is way too simple with almost nothing to configure except the shooting resolution.

Based on my usage, I can assure you that the dual phase detection autofocus is extremely quick, responsive and accurate even in low light situations. I’m starting to imagine how well will it perform if it pairs with laser autofocus.

Accurate colour reproduction with great details. Low light performance is a bit on the weak side with the rather failed attempt at noise reduction.

The front camera while being a 16MP shooter, it is nowhere near the performance of the rear camera. The 1/3 inch sensor with f/2.0 lens while being sufficiently wide for group selfies, but you have to make sure the subject to be well lit, else the high ISO would ruin the image details or worst, low shutter speed causing shaky and blurred image.

Heck, even the front camera is not saved in corrected mirror orientation. When does Domo has been renamed to OMOD? Yes, I’m OCD to this, and I definitely hope all smartphone camera apps to automatically save images in correct mirror orientation.

Moving onto the OPPO’s Beautify 4.0 software enhanced makeup algorithm. I have to say, the results are acceptable and looked a lot natural than what I had expected.

Software

OPPO R9s comes with ColorOS 3.0 skin which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. While the core OS is Android based, however, the appearance and user experience is pretty much an attempt at iOS clone. While it is not entirely wrong with it, but stripping off functions for the sake of imitation is going backwards. For instance, the battery reporting page is settings module has lost the battery drain graph and battery run time.

The swipe down gesture from the notification shade defaults to the quick settings, and I need to swipe right again to reach the notification panel. It is so annoying that I spent quite some time fiddling around settings hoping to change it but left disappointed. Heck, even the quick settings cannot be customised. Going backwards?

Performance

While benchmark data indirectly reflects the overall performance of the smartphone, but I’d take it with a grain of salt cause real life experience matters the most. What not, smartphone OS can be rigged to perform better in benchmark apps to achieve higher scores.

Putting that aside, Snapdragon 625 do not disappoint with its performance be it social media apps or mobile games, even multitasking is snappy and smooth on this phone.

Battery Life

R9s has spectacular battery life, thanks to the power efficient Snapdragon 625. I can easily achieve a full day 15 hours of usage with 6 hours of screen-on-time with a full charge.

OPPO’s proprietary quick charge technology – VOOC Flash Charging (Voltage Open Loop Multi-step Constant-Current Charging), whatever the fancy name it has, the sole purpose is to quickly juice up your OPPO device. Topping up the R9s 3010 mAh battery from 10% to 75% require around 30 minutes. Since then, I just leave the phone charging while preparing to go out in the morning. When I’m done with my breakfast, the phone is ready for all the challenges of the day.

Conclusion

Although the design is sort of a blatant copy of their competitor’s flagship smartphone, but it definitely works and I can see that OPPO’s designer is adding their own touch to the recipe such as the ultra-fine antenna lines.

For a mid-ranger, the rear camera has great capabilities and produces awesome photographs. The battery life and VOOC fast charge are so mind-blowing that now I can leave my home without bringing any power banks.

I have mixed feelings for the OPPO R9s, it has great hardware and built quality. What turned out to be the worst out of this smartphone is this 2 problems – Software and Price. The software is trying so hard to mimic iOS that it has lost all its original strengths. Then the price of MYR 1798 for a mid-ranged configuration, I mean seriously OPPO?

Pros:

  • Great packaging (included screen protector, soft case & VOOC charger)
  • Great build quality
  • Unique antenna line design
  • FAST fingerprint scanner
  • Great 1080p FHD AMOLED display
  • Great rear camera (fast focusing & responsive)
  • Good performance
  • Great battery life
  • Crazy fast VOOC charging (Fully charges 3010mAh battery in less than 60 minutes)

Cons:

  • Sub-par front camera performance
  • ColorOS 3.0 (Outdated OS with over simplified functions)
  • Proprietary fast charge technology hardware (VOOC charger and cable needed)
  • Price

Subjective

  • Hybrid dual SIM + MicroSD instead of true dual SIM + MicroSD
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