Oppo up the ante in the mid-tier space with new R17 and R17 Pro

Oppo has unveiled the latest two additions to its  popular R-series of devices: the R17 and R17 Pro.

Picking up where the previous R15 and R15 Pro left off, the new Android smartphones feature a teardrop-style notch and in-screen fingerprint sensor. The Pro Variant also offers up Super VOOC Flash charging and a unique triple-lens camera that's capable of taking night and low-light photography well beyond that offered by previous Oppo smartphone cameras.  

“OPPO is known for delivering camera technology that continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in a smartphone. The R17 & R17 Pro are full of cutting-edge features that showcase what OPPO is capable of," said Michael Tran, managing director at OPPO Australia.

“In particular, we are excited to bring the R17 Pro’s Ultra Night Mode and TOF 3D camera capabilities to Australia. Utilising the latest in smartphone camera technology, OPPO will help its customers seize the night and take advantage of new and exciting camera applications as they come to market. OPPO is excited to be at the forefront of this technology in Australia,”, said Michael Tran, Managing Director at OPPO Australia.

Rather than utilise a true triple-lens camera like that found in the Huawei P20 Pro and Mate 20 Series, the Oppo R17 Pro incorporate a  12-megapixel + 20-megapixel + TOF (Time of Flight)  lens combination. The R17 Pro's camera is also equipped with a Galaxy S9-inspired F2.4/F1.5 smart aperture, optical image stabilisation and a new AI-driven "Ultra-Clear Engine" that promises to enhance image processing. 

In practice, the TOF lens looks to offer 3D scanning capabilities somewhat similar to that found in Sony's recent Xperia devices rather than provide any additional zoom.

OPPO New Zealand Managing Director Kevin Cho told PC World Australia says that the new feature is intended to help future-proof the device.

"If you think about new technology - for example 4G when it first got introduced into the market - it wasn’t until the use cases became commonly-available or pervasive that it hits the tipping point and becomes really popular. And the way I see the R17 Pro with TOF is that it is ready to go as soon as those use-cases become widely available.”

Cho also weighed in on whether Oppo would continue to follow industry trends and put more and more lenses into their smartphone cameras.

According to him, "We’re definitely not in the race to compete for number of lenses we are delivering to the market. What we are competing on from Oppo’s perspective is more around what will deliver the best user experience for the consumers. So, if there is a need, I’m not ruling out the fact that we might have more lenses but ultimately, if the consumer only wants one lens, we’ll do one lens instead of five.”

The regular Oppo R17 features a more conventional 16-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual-lens setup. Both devices feature a 25-megapixel front-facing camera and a 6.4-inch FHD+ display coated in Gorilla Glass 6. They also sport a hefty 6GB of RAM paired with 128GB of on-board storage.

For better or worse, the R17 and R17 Pro tout 2D face unlock functionality rather than the 3D infared face-scanning found in the Find X.

Cho says that “With the Find X, it’s the tradition of the Find Series [to be] exploratory. We want to explore territory where it hasn’t been treated before, so we started with the 3D structure light with front-facing camera unlock technology. Where the R-Series is of [a] different category where we want to commercialize a device with technologies that can be as accessible as possible."

He tells us that Oppo are "still testing the differences in terms of the consumer feedback" and haven't decided whether 3D face unlock or in-screen fingerprint sensors will be the standard for them going forward.

There are a few other differences between the R17 and R17 Pro to be noted. The R17 runs on a Snapdragon 670, the R17 Pro features a more higher-end Snapdragon 710 processor. The standard R17 also lacks the Super VOOC charging found in the Pro.

Both the R17 and R17 Pro run on Oppo's ColorOS Android Skin, which is based on Android 8.1 but does support Android Pie features such as gesture controls and Oppo's take on Digital Wellbeing. Neither device features a headphone jack.

The R17 arrives at a recommended retail price of $699 while the R17 Pro commands a pricier $899. The latter represents a significant move in price for Oppo. Previous R-series devices have tended to occupy the $500 to $700 price-backet.

Asked about this trend, Cho told us that "if you just observe the industry as a whole, ASP is going up as a general trend and I think if you look at it from a percentage perspective that our R-Series in terms of percentage of price to a Apple flagship is still relatively stable, in terms of where we are sitting relative to competitor’s flagships. I think - to that end - that we are still delivering extremely good value for money when it comes to that perspective and also a lot of the components within the phone industry are also increasing in price and a lot is built into that rather than us trying to achieve a higher ASP.”

The R17 and R17 Pro will be available from the 12th of November through JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, The Good Guys, Woolworths Mobile, MobileCiti and Telechoice.

Vodafone will also have the device in a unique Emerald Green color from the 14th of November.

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Fergus Halliday
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