China's Oppo mounts charge in Australian smartphone market

Oppo takes smartphone design to new heights with 4.85mm thin flagship R5

The Oppo R5

The Oppo R5

A war is being waged over the Chinese smartphone market. On one side lies the well known foreigners, such as Samsung and Apple. The other side consists of home-grown natives, the likes of Xiaomi and Oppo.

China’s smartphone market is the world’s largest and it remains untapped. Phone companies are vying for the market in an effort to accelerate growth at a time when smartphone sales are saturating.

Both sides are landing punches, with each new device resonating like a loud thud, and the most recent uppercut has been dealt by Oppo.

Oppo entered the Australian market in September by selling its smartphones direct to customers online. The company garnered attention for its innovative flagship, the Find 7, which was the first smartphone to feature a 1440p display and a rapid-charge battery.

More firsts are being added to Oppo’s portfolio following the global launch for the Oppo R5 and the Oppo N3. Media rushed the stage to capture photos of the smartphones at the launch event in Singapore.

The N3 will appeal to people fond of taking photos, with its automated 16 megapixel camera that rotates 206 degrees from the front to the back, but it’s the R5 that will appeal to the mainstream.

The R5 stands out for its 5mm thin steel body, which savagely undercuts that of Apple’s 7mm iPhone 6. The smartphone is so thin that it had to ditch the 3.5mm audio jack.

A number of manufacturing obstacles had to be overcome for the R5, said Bakarrik Azeria, a product manager at Oppo.

“We discovered the machines we were using to polish the R5 were leaving tool marks on the body. If we kept using these machines, they would leave microscopic marks on the phone. People wouldn’t notice, but we would.

“So we did the unthinkable. We hired trained craftsmen to polish the frame individually by hand.”

Rival Apple faced a similar dilemma when it launched the iPhone 5. Customers complained when their smartphones came scratched out of the box.

What impresses most about the R5 is that it is not malnourished when it comes to features. Its 5.2in, AMOLED display has a Full HD resolution. The smartphone has a rear 13 megapixel camera from Sony, and a wide angle 5 megapixel camera on the front. It also supports Oppo’s rapid charge technology, which adds 75 per cent of charge within 30 minutes.

“VOOC is solely developed by Oppo,” said Azeri. “It took 3 years and 16 patents to get this technology out.”

Read more: Oppo Neo 5 review: $219 buys a whole lot of phone

Inside the R5 is an 8-core processor from Qualcomm, which consists of one powerful and another economical quad-core CPU. The smartphone will switch between each depending on the task, but Azeri said “all 8 cores can be activated in extreme circumstances”.

Slimming such powerful hardware down wreaks havoc on cooling. The conundrum motivated Oppo to innovate by making the R5 the world’s first smartphone to use phase-change material. The technology dissipates heat to protect the smartphone’s CPU and extend its lifespan.

Oppo did not announce when its N3 and R5 will be released, but pricing has been set at $US649 and $US499 respectively.

Tony Ibrahim traveled to Singapore as a guest of Oppo Australia.

Read more: Oppo Find 7 Android smartphone

Oppo R5 specs at a glance

Operating system: ColorOS 2.0, based on Android 4.4
Display: 5.2-inch, 1920x1080 AMOLED display, 423ppi
Camera: 13-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor rear, 5-megapixel front-facing 83 degree wide angle lens
Processor: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Octa-Core (MSM8939)
GPU: Adreno 330
Storage: 16 GB
Battery: 2000 mAh Li-Po battery with Rapid Charge
Dimensions: 148.9 × 74.5 × 4.85 mm
Weight: 155 g

Oppo N3 specs at a glance

Operating system: ColorOS 2.0, based on Android 4.4
Display: 5.5-inch, 1920x1080 TFT display, 403ppi
Camera: 16MP rotating camera with Dual-LED
Processor: 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Quad-Core (MSM8974AA)
GPU: Adreno 330
Storage: 16 GB
Battery: 3000 mAh Li-Po battery with Rapid Charge
Dimensions: 161.2 × 77 × 8.7 mm
Weight: 192 g

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: The busiest, biggest and best Samsung phablet

Originally published as 'Oppo R5: World's thinnest phone at 4.85mm coming to Australia'

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Tags ChinaOppoAndroid 4.4 KitKatR5ColorOSworld's thinnest smartphoneN3

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Tony Ibrahim

Tony Ibrahim

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