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OPPO R15 PRO REVIEW: The Almost Perfect Selfie Phone?

After about a week of using the OPPO R15 Pro on a daily basis, here’s what I think about the new release.

Design

The R15 Pro currently has one of the slimmest bezels out there with a screen to body ratio of 89% while it’s sibling, the R15 has 90%. The phone also features a little notch on the top. The R15 is a slim phone, with a thickness of only 8.0 mm, comparable to the likes of the iPhone X with its 7.7mm thick body.
The back of the R15 features, like in most OPPO phones, the silver OPPO logo. In my opinion, the OPPO logo isn’t the most fabulous thing and the addition of the logo on the phones can make it look a little bit tacky. In addition, the bezels around the fingerprint sensor are a chrome silver, it makes the phone cheap. I think making the bezels a matching colour with the phone body would be something interesting, similar to what Samsung has done with the S9. The streaming gradient of the R15 and Pro is quite unique and gives off a premium feel. The pro has something called the 3D glass effect, which takes a significantly longer time to produce compared to the R15. The gradient effect on the brighter red colour of the R15 Pro is definitely more visible compared to the darker blue of the R15.
The phone has a tendency to slip off surfaces and might be a little slippery on oily and sweaty hands but the problem is solved by using a case, there’s even one that comes in the box! I love the buttons on the R15. They have notable tactile feedback and are placed in the standard, volume rocker on left, power on right. The phone is a tad bit heavier than I personally like but remains competitive with this generation’s smartphones. As a person with small hands and a user of the iPhone 7, I found that the phone was much too large for me and caused minor strains on my wrist and fingers. However the size of the phone is typical in the market and is currently the size that phone companies have chosen to go with, so small handed people like us will just have to adapt or go with our miniature versions!

Display

You would think the huge display on the phone would be great for media viewing, and it is – with a few hiccups. When watching YouTube and Netflix, holding the phone landscape wise and touching the left top edge would bring you back to the Netflix and YouTube home screen, or whatever page you were last on. So I think it’s recommended that you hold your phone in a way where your fingers don’t touch the display, at all. Speaking of Netflix, for some reason videos are playing in low quality (maybe 720p or lower) The quality is really noticeable and it does affect your viewing experience. A test on Netflix Test Patterns doesn’t even show numbers, so everything is still currently a mystery. However it’s important to note this problem only occurs with Netflix, and YouTube streams at HD 1080p with no problem. When trying other video streaming apps, notifications that the app may not be compatible with the device pop up frequently, so this may be the case with Netflix as well. The question is how long do we have to wait before these apps are compatible with the phone.

Hardware

The R15 Pro is fitted with mid-range CPU and has 6 GB in RAM. With no apps open the phone still consumes a whopping 3.29 GB. The device still uses micro USB and still has your favourite headphone jack and dual SIM card slot. The device is also equipped with 256GB of expandable storage and has a 3430mAh battery. The battery will last you up to 10 hours. It’s certainly an upgrade from my iPhone 7 but I don’t think it’s anything special compared to other newer phones of this day.

Camera

The highlight of the R15 is, of course, it’s camera. The rear camera is quite ordinary, it takes good shots and the colours are not far from reality. As for the AI front camera with all its new tech, it is rather impressive. The 20-megapixel camera takes crystal clear selfies and the bundled beauty options are tiered and cover up the smallest of blemishes and smooth out your face well. The front-facing camera also features a depth effect option. However, the blur effect on the background is really heavy making it look unrealistic and the AI background detection is clunky and may blur parts of your hair and face out. Also loaded into the camera is a variety of AR mapped stickers, the quality of the stickers are alright – they’re fun for what they are but I think the target audience for these stickers would rather be using apps like B612 to achieve the same effect with more options for customization. It’s great for a quick cute group photo though! The face detection on the camera is great and has barely failed to detect faces in the time I’ve used it.

 

Software

The R15 uses OPPO’s ColorOS 5.0 with Android 8.1. ColorOS looks similar to iOS with its lack of an app drawer and the gestures it features. But some of the app icons are uncreative and boring and the whole of ColorOS is not easy on the eyes at all especially with the huge screen. ColorOS also has a theme store that houses a handful of themes you can choose (or buy) from. Currently, it appears that all the themes in the store are free. The themes are not very customisable so if you’re looking to personalise your phone you would be better off with a launcher app like Nova.
Apps have crashed on me a number of times while I’ve used the R15 Pro but games have run smoothly. The R15 has a game acceleration function that claims to make the performance more powerful, it restricts background apps and does a handful of other things like graphics acceleration. This function only works on a number of games though.
The settings app on the R15 has been a hassle to work through. To this day I still haven’t been able to find many settings which should be easily found. The search function hasn’t been of any help either. The settings are categorized weirdly and some specific ones are hidden somewhere.
Gestures are widely used in the R15 and are customisable too. Instead of having dock buttons, you can replace them with gestures that do the same thing or you can choose from one of the four navigation schemes. There is also the assistive ball function which is great when you are browsing and don’t want to drag your thumb all the way down to the bottom of the display.
For security, you have your standard passcode, fingerprint and face unlock. The face unlock has surprisingly worked for me 100% of the time and the fingerprint is pretty smooth too, at least when you don’t have oily fingers.

Overall the OPPO R15 Pro is an average mid-tier smartphone that has some exciting flagship features. The phone has been available for purchase since the 26th of May. Buying the R15 or the Pro will give you these things: First 30 days exchange policy, 1-hour walk in repair, OPPO Care, 2-year service warranty and lifetime software support. The OPPO R15 retails at a significantly higher price point of SGD $749 while the OPPO R15 Pro is SGD $899.

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