OPPO has combined a stellar camera with a ceramic back and an OLED display to create what might be the best "mid-range" smartphone on the market.
OPPO is one of the largest smartphone makers in the world, even though it doesn't operate in North America and has almost no presence in Europe right now. OPPO makes some fantastic smartphones with great hardware - hardware that you may have seen with a OnePlus logo slapped on it in recent years. Its latest smartphone lineup consists of the R15 and R15 Pro. These two devices were announced last month, and both are pretty similar with a few key differences. The R15 Pro is the higher-end model due to the Snapdragon 660 processor (versus a MediaTek Helio P60) and a 16-megapixel/20-megapixel dual-camera setup versus a 16-megapixel/5-megapixel combo. We've spent a few weeks using the R15 Pro, so how does it stack up with other smartphones? Let's find out.
The OPPO R15 Pro sports a 6.28-inch OLED display, with a resolution of 2280 x 1080. That makes it a 19:9 display, and that is due to the notch at the top of the phone. Powering the R15 Pro is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 660 processor which has four Kryo 260 cores running at 2.2GHz and four at 1.8GHz, along with the Adreno 512 GPU. There's also 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage on board here. OPPO has also included a micro SD card slot, supporting up to 400GB.
On the camera front, OPPO is using a dual-camera setup with the R15 series. With a 16-megapixel sensor that has an aperture of f/1.7. The secondary camera uses a 20-megapixel sensor also with an f/1.7 lens. The 16-megapixel sensor is actually slightly larger at 1.22 microns, with the 20-megapixel one being a 1-micron affair. Combined, there's phase detection autofocus, but no laser autofocus. There is also a dual-LED flash here for getting great images in low-light conditions. OPPO also has some artificial intelligence features built into the camera, which we'll go over a bit later on.
Some other tidbits on the OPPO R15 Pro's spec sheet include the fact that it is a Dual-SIM smartphone with Dual-VoLTE support. There's also Bluetooth 5.0 with dual-band WiFi support. That means it supports WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. For location, there's A-GPS and GLONASS support. OPPO has kept NFC here and is using a micro USB connector for charging. There's also a fingerprint sensor, which is on the back of the R15 Pro. Finally, the R15 Pro runs on Android 8.1 Oreo and ColorOS 5.0 on top with a 3400mAh capacity battery keeping it running all day long.
In the Box
Inside the box is the OPPO R15 Pro below an envelope of paperwork. Which is a pretty nice change from other smartphones. This is likely to protect the R15 Pro a bit more while it's shipping. Inside the box, you also get a clear, TPU case for the R15 Pro. Along with a SIM ejection tool, a micro USB cable and a wall charger - which does support OPPO's VOOC fast charging. OPPO, to the surprise of some, have also included a pair of headphones with the R15 Pro.
For the OPPO R15 Pro, the company decided to go with a metal frame and a ceramic back with a glass front. That means that this phone is pretty fragile, but it looks great and feels great in the hand. The back is slightly curved, on the sides, which allows the R15 Pro to fit in your hands a bit better. The back of the R15 Pro is very clean. The camera module and flash is in the upper left-hand corner, with the fingerprint sensor a bit further down and centered with the OPPO logo below it. And there's nothing else on the backside. The black model that we have here does look really nice, but as expected, it does pick up fingerprints pretty quickly. The better bet, to not attract fingerprints, is to get one of the lighter colors, like the red which is actually a gradient and looks really nice.
On the bottom of the phone, you'll find the micro USB port, along with a speaker and a headphone jack. OPPO did decide to keep the headphone jack on the R15 Pro (and the R15), which is definitely a nice thing here, with many other smartphone makers opting to drop it from their newer smartphones. OPPO did stick with micro USB on the R15 Pro, and the reasoning behind this is the market. In China - OPPO's largest market - micro USB is everywhere still. So the company thought it was the better decision, than adopting USB-C. The right side is the power button and the SIM/micro SD card slot, with the volume rocker on the left side. There's nothing up top at all. The sides are also curved slightly, which like the curved back, also helps it fit into your hand more comfortably.
The front of the R15 Pro houses that 6.28-inch 19:9 display, which looks really good, but more on that in a minute. There is a slight chin here, along with that notch at the top. Otherwise, the front is all screen, and it looks great. The good thing about going all-screen on the front is that there is no room for a logo anymore. The hardware here on the R15 Pro is pretty good, despite being a mid-ranger with the Snapdragon 660 inside, it is definitely still flagship material in many aspects.
The OPPO R15 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 660 processor, which is the top-end of Qualcomm's "mid-range" chips. The Snapdragon 660 is known for being pretty good, while also being a battery sipper, and that's the case here with the R15 Pro. The Snapdragon 660 performs quite well. It doesn't cause the phone to lag or slow down whatsoever, which is great, but it's also likely due to the 4GB of RAM that is inside the R15 Pro, helping out. In day-to-day usage, the R15 Pro is plenty fast and works really well. Now when it comes to gaming, you will see it slow down a tiny bit, but nothing too crazy. Of course, the R15 Pro would perform better in games with the Snapdragon 845 inside, but the Adreno 512 GPU does definitely do a great job here.
OPPO has outfitted the R15 Pro with a beautiful-looking OLED display. It's a Full HD+ display, which means it is still 1080p, and frankly, that's perfectly fine. While the Quad HD+ display on something like the Galaxy S9 does look really good, Full HD+ still looks great as well. And that also allows the R15 Pro to sport even better battery life. As expected, with an OLED panel, the colors really pop here, and you're getting deep blacks. Of course, those are aspects of an OLED display. Now we did ask OPPO who the manufacturer of this display was, but they were unsure. But from what we can tell, there are no issues with viewing angles and no blue tint. So it could be an LG panel, but not the same panel from the Pixel 2 XL, which had some issues.
There's no always-on display feature on the R15 Pro, which is unfortunate, especially since it does have that OLED display. But that's what OPPO decided to do here. OPPO does allow you to adjust the temperature of the display, but you can only make it cooler or warmer. So you don't get as much control as some other smartphones on the market right now. Finally, brightness here is actually really good. The R15 Pro works really well in direct sunlight. We used it in Shenzhen in direct sunlight, and it was perfectly visible, which is an underrated feature of any smartphone.
OPPO did keep the fingerprint sensor here, which is on the back and it's still lightning fast. Of course, in 2018, it should be lightning fast, or there's something wrong. It is also really accurate, and I almost never had any issues with it not recognizing my finger. Which is a good thing, but also expected these days.
The company also kept Face Recognition here. Allowing you to unlock the phone with your face. This is something that debuted on the OPPO R11 late last year, and it's here on the R15 Pro as well. This works really well. It only takes a few seconds to enroll your face, and you're ready to go. Now there are a few options available here, including one that will brighten the screen when you are trying to unlock it in dark conditions. This works really well actually. At first, it seemed like it might be a gimmick, but in almost total darkness, the screen is able to illuminate your face enough to verify it and unlock it. Now it does take a bit longer, this way, but it does work. You also have the option to still show the lock screen, though that's just an extra step anyways. Between Face Recognition and the fingerprint sensor, the lock screen was almost never seen. As both ways to unlock the R15 Pro worked out very well.
OPPO is using a single speaker on the R15 Pro, which is located at the bottom of the device, next to the charging port. So you're not getting that stereo sound that many other smartphones are offering these days. But the single speaker is actually quite loud. The speaker does get pretty loud, so that shouldn't be an issue for most people. But the speaker quality leaves a bit to be desired. There's not a lot of bass but the mids and highs do appear to be pretty decent. Now there is a headphone jack here, but there doesn't seem to be a DAC included. So plugging in headphones will give you better audio quality - depending on the headphones you use - but nothing too crazy.
Phone Calls & Network
The variant of the R15 Pro that we have here is the Chinese model, which means it does not support 4G LTE in the US. So, unfortunately, we did not use this on a US carrier, since we would only get EDGE speeds here. But on the network side of things, data seems to be about as fast as it is on other smartphones. As mentioned already, there is VoLTE support here, and it's actually supported on both SIM card slots, which is really good as well, and something that is not found too often on dual-SIM card slot smartphones these days.
On the OPPO R15 Pro, we ran the usual set of benchmarks, which include AnTuTu, 3D Mark and Geekbench 4. On AnTuTu, it picked up a score of 146,422, which put it right in line with a number of other Snapdragon 600-series devices. Over on Geekbench, it picked up a single-core score of 1600 and a multi-core score of 5768. Finally, over on 3D Mark, it picked up a score of 1,352 on the Sling Shot Extreme - OpenGL ES 3.1 test. And a 1,071 score on the Sling Shot Extreme - Vulkan test. Pretty good scores here for the OPPO R15 Pro, and you can see the full results in the gallery below.
Battery life on the OPPO R15 Pro is also very good as the 3400mAh battery lasts an entire day and then some. In fact, during our time using the R15 Pro, we were unable to fully kill the battery in a single day at all. And most days, the battery would be around 60-70% by the time we went to bed. That's pretty good, and pretty much unheard of these days. Part of that is due to the 3400mAh battery that is here, but also due to the Snapdragon 660 processor. The Snapdragon 600-series is known for being very good on battery, and that continues to be true on the R15 Pro.
OPPO's VOOC quick charging technology is also here and works with the wall adapter included in the box. Which is a great thing, as you won't need to purchase an additional wall charger to get fast charging from the device. VOOC is actually faster than Quick Charge 3.0, so it's good for topping off the R15 Pro if you need to in the middle of the day. Though with this battery life, you really won't need to do that, unless you did a lot of gameplay on the R15 Pro.
At the time of writing this review, the R15 Pro was running on Android 8.1.0 with ColorOS v5.0, and it had the March 5th, 2018 security patch. This is also the Chinese model, so technically it's the R15 Dream Mirror Edition, but that also means that it's not fully optimized for Google Play Services, which we had to install ourselves. That also means that there are a ton of Chinese apps pre-installed here, that only work in Mandarin and not English - most of which are on the first page. The global model should be available later this month, and there may be some changes to the software. So keep in mind that this review is based on the Chinese ROM.
ColorOS remains the most customizable Android skin out there. There's so much that you can do with ColorOS here, from changing up animations in the launcher to changing themes and so much more. Starting with the launcher, it's very similar to the iPhone, where it does not sport an app drawer. Instead, all of the apps are placed on your home screen. Which is very common on Chinese smartphones, so that's not a surprise. And of course, you can always fix that by installing a third-party launcher (however, it's worth noting that option is not available on the Chinese model, but will be on the global edition). You can set the grid to be 5x6 so you can get up to 30 apps on each page. Now you can also opt to have empty spaces or have it fill all the spaces before starting a new page. This is great if you do not want to have the page full of apps.
OPPO has included all of the usual features into ColorOS that you would expect. Including a scheduled Do Not Disturb mode (known as "Quiet Time" in ColorOS), and Clone Apps. Clone Apps is a very popular feature of Chinese phones that are starting to become popular in the West. Basically, it allows you to take one app and clone it. So you can have two instances of the same app running on your phone. The purpose of this is to be able to login to the app with two accounts. So for example, if you have two Facebook accounts, you can be logged into both at the same time. Although in China, this is more commonly used with WeChat, the messaging service that has taken the country by storm.
One of the features in ColorOS that I really liked involves watching video. On the left side of the screen, you'll have a few shortcuts, for taking a screenshot and recording it (perhaps to make a gif). But there are also shortcuts to share the video with your friends via messaging apps. This is a really handy feature that should definitely make its way over to other smartphones in the near future. The software here on the OPPO R15 Pro is really smooth and fast, which you would expect from any smartphone in 2018, but still good to see it here. It is running on Android 8.1, so it is on the latest available version of Android and the company is certain that it'll be updated to Android P - though it isn't making any guarantees until Google releases it later this year. There's not much to complain about here on the OPPO R15 Pro, when it comes to software, and that is always a good thing.
OPPO has employed a dual-camera setup here on the R15 Pro, which has a 16-megapixel sensor and a 20-megapixel sensor in a horizontal lineup on the rear side of the device. Along with a 20-megapixel camera on the front. All three of these cameras will give you great images, but before we jump into the camera quality, let's talk about the software. The app is very simple to use, with plenty of features. But it looks very, very familiar. It is the exact same as the iPhone camera app, down to the same colors, same font and features in the same positions. The only major difference I could see was the addition of a few more modes, like Sticker, Pano, and Expert. Now from a usability standpoint, this isn't bad. As it makes it easy to use all the modes on this camera and get the perfect shot - especially with Expert mode being available. But from a design perspective, it just looks like OPPO didn't even try, and straight up ripped off Apple's camera app.
The app itself does work really good. With the shutter in the center, a shortcut to the gallery on the left and a button to switch cameras on the left, with a few settings up top. Which includes Flash, HDR, Timer (though this looks more like a Bokeh icon, so that needs some work), and the size of the screen (18:9, square or 16:9 aspect ratio). So the software itself is good, but it needs a facelift to look more unique and less like an iPhone.
Now, when it comes to the actual pictures taken with the camera, I was blown away. This camera on the R15 Pro is a really good one. Especially in low light. I took a number of pictures with the R15 Pro in Shenzhen while I was with OPPO and almost every single one came out stunning. Many were taken at night or in challenging lighting conditions, and they still looked great. This is due to the fact that OPPO is using artificial intelligence with the camera to help you get even better images. Some images do have a fair bit of noise in the background, but it is far less than with other cameras. In fact, we use the Mi MIX 2S side-by-side for a couple of days with it (though the Mi MIX 2S is on early software so things may change), and it outperformed it. You can see images we took with the R15 Pro down below in the gallery on Flickr. These were all taken in either auto or portrait mode. None were taken in Expert mode at all, though some did have the exposure adjusted so that it wasn't blown out. But there's a lot to like about this camera, the only downside is that Portrait mode doesn't work on the front-facing camera.
Great Camera performance in low light
Great build quality
Stellar battery life
Still Using a Micro USB Connector
Sports a notch and a chin, it should ideally be one or the other
The OPPO R15 Pro is a great smartphone from the Chinese company, and it checks most of the boxes you'd want it to, especially at its price tag. Now, it's not running on the latest silicon from Qualcomm, nor does it have the most RAM available in a smartphone today. But it has plenty of power under the hood, along with plenty of storage at 128GB. Which is a good thing with this camera, as you will surely be taking a lot of pictures with this one. The R15 Pro is an all-around great smartphone and it'll be hard to find something that's just as good or better in its price range for the foreseeable future.
Should I Buy the OPPO R15 Pro?
If the OPPO R15 Pro is sold in your country, definitely buy it. But if you are in the US, and thinking about importing the R15 Pro, things get a bit tricky. That is because it does not support LTE bands in the US, nor 3G bands. So you're going to be stuck on EDGE, which is not something anyone should be dealing with in 2018.