​Oppo R9s smartphone full review

Is this the best mid-range Android phone?

Oppo R9s
  • Oppo R9s
  • Oppo R9s
  • Oppo R9s
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Looks and feels great
  • Ultra-fast fingerprint unlock
  • Good value and well featured
  • Dual-sim

Cons

  • Bit sluggish running powerful apps
  • Annoying camera shutter lag
  • Mediocre battery life

Bottom Line

There's much to like about the R9s: it does so many things and looks great. It's a bit sluggish in terms of performance and camera, though. But at this price it's still great value.

Would you buy this?

Camera

Both front and rear cameras are 16-megapixel units. Despite the Full HD screen size, it can record video in 4K too. The video camera is generally good. Low light performance is impressive and focusing is very quick, silent and accurate but any kind of camera wobble is very noticeable – whether it’s due to walking or a trembling hand. Subjects could be a bit soft round the edges and fast moving objects also stuttered a bit. Sound was impressively recorded in noisy environments although, in quiet environments, background drone turned a bit robotic. Ultimately, we were impressed with video but be aware of the limitations.

The main stills camera did struggle though. Shutter lag is a regular pain and we missed many cute-kiddy shots with almost a full second delay in shooting.

We captured too many shots like this - blurry with the moment having passed - thanks to shutter lag.
We captured too many shots like this - blurry with the moment having passed - thanks to shutter lag.

Also, in mediocre lighting we suffered regular noise and colour casts.

When lighting was modest grain appeared. Also, indoors we kept experiencing yellow colour casts.
When lighting was modest grain appeared. Also, indoors we kept experiencing yellow colour casts.

But performance in serious low light was actually impressive. While there are some smoothing and sharpening effects, pictures were very useable – so long as the subjects were still.

Outdoors at night with low lighting resulted in impressive detail, colours and sharpness.
Outdoors at night with low lighting resulted in impressive detail, colours and sharpness.

In good lighting and without much movement, performance was generally fine, so long as shutter lag wasn’t an issue.

Outdoors and good lighting equalled decent pictures.
Outdoors and good lighting equalled decent pictures.
Panoramas could be a bit wobbly.
Panoramas could be a bit wobbly.

Other 'gimmicky' features like Double Exposure and Gif Animation were very poor though.

Conversely, the high-resolution selfie camera is one of the best around. It’s wide-angle, has a high-resolution and the Beauty Mode (which now offers pale-to-rosy pallor adjustments in addition to airbrushing features) is quite flattering. The shutter is responsive here too.

Looking good with a straight selfie.
Looking good with a straight selfie.

Read more: ​ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?

Whacking up the Beauty Mode airbrushing and rosy-cheek enhancement will appeal to some.
Whacking up the Beauty Mode airbrushing and rosy-cheek enhancement will appeal to some.

Ultimately, we suspect that the camera hardware is better than the software allows it to be. So hopefully, things will improve here over time.

Conclusion

Oppo’s $348 F1s is still one of the bargains of the phone market despite some issues. The R9s is a decent step up and while it mirrors some of the F1s’ foibles (particularly in the camera department), it’s very good value at $598 RRP. The dual-SIM feature is a great addition at this price and (camera and battery aside) there are few weak points. The fact it both looks and feels great is probably the best feature though - it's a classy piece of kit. Power users and enthusiastic photographers will likely find it sluggish and underwhelming.

Elsewhere, the chunkier Sony Xperia Performance X is worth checking out as the camera is better and it’s a bit zippier – but (impressively) the R9s is better in almost every other way. There’s also LG’s flagship G5 which plummeted in price and has few weak points – although it doesn’t look nearly as good as the R9s. The Alcatel Idol 4S was a similarly-priced favourite and still has much to offer, but we feel the R9s is, again, that bit more sophisticated.

There’s a raft of other second tier phones that have few weak spots but generally do everything well. These include the HTX One X9 and Huawei Nova Plus. If you want a ruggedized model with a better battery there’s also the Moto X Force. Check out our list of the best phones under $600 here.

So while it’s not an unqualified success, there’s much to like about the R9s – it’s one of the best looking and best made phones on the market (at any price range) and the feature set is great. Power users will feel frustrated but those who want a particularly-smart, smart-looking, sub-$600 smartphone this should sit on your shortlist.

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Read more on these topics: smartphones, mobile phones, smartphone, mobile phone, Oppo
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