Hands-On: Oppo R7

July 16th, 2015 | by Wilson Wong
Hands-On: Oppo R7
Cellphones
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Unlike its mainland Chinese rivals such as Xiaomi, Oppo has not gone after just the low-end smartphone market. It wants to win not just on price but also quality. 

The same strategy is clear in the company’s new R7, a phone clad in an aircraft-grade aluminium-magnesium alloy. Measuring 143mm x 71mm x 6.3mm, it is thin and small enough to slip into a pocket, despite a 5-inch Full HD screen.

Oppo painstakingly reminds people this isn’t a regular phone, certainly not in its design. There’s what it calls a 2.5D Arc Edge screen that softens the edges of the phone. Plus, the back of the phone is said to remind you of the neck of a violin.

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Good size and premium feel to the phone.

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No sharp edges and it comes with a full metal back. Battery is fixed though. Although it is touted to have a ‘violin arc’ design, the back is flat.

In reality, the R7 doesn’t have much of an arc but in its place is a smooth and straight backing with a matte finish.

The phone’s edges and its screen do seem a little curved in, though. I don’t feel the phone cutting into my skin – unlike the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. I also feel more assured holding the R7.

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Two SIM cards or one SIM card with a microSD card.

The R7 offers lets you pop in two SIM cards for switching between operators, say, when you’re travelling overseas. Alternatively, you can use only one SIM and slide in a microSD card next to it.

It’s a compromise, rather like Samsung’s Galaxy A7. Just be mindful of this if you use a microSD card slot usually and want to pop in a second SIM card on your trips. One has to go.

Speaking of compromises, the camera on the R7 has its pros and cons as well.

The interface can be improved, I feel. Though it resembles the iPhone in its look and feel, the software controls can be tuned to enable avid photographers.

There isn’t a way to change settings such as White Balance, Shutter Speed and ISO unless you install additional modes from the ‘Camera Shop’ option. This should have been the default selection.

To be fair, the R7’s 13-megapixel rear camera with f2.2 lens does an admirable job. When it comes to snap shots, you will thank its Phase Detection Auto Focus and software-based image stabilisation.

Image quality from the camera is admirable, with good colour rendition under artificial lighting and good overall sharpness.

Night shot of light-starved Robertson Walk is very good too.

Panorama mode on the R7 rendered beautifully with seamless merging throughout the frame. The R7 saves this in its full size (19MB), no less. Some phones reduce the file size to save storage space.

Same Panorama Mode done in a dark place. It is under exposed and in need of a bit of post editing.

With 3GB of RAM and an eight-core processor, the phone has no problems with performance. Apps load up pretty quickly.

The flip side is that the R7’s metal-clad body doesn’t insulate the heat from the user. This is apparent when running demanding apps such as games. And it does get uncomfortable after a while.

Fortunately, the R7 is pretty frugal with power consumption. During my test this week, the phone could last an entire day with moderate use.

What I’m more concerned with is the Android operating system on the R7. It still uses the older KitKat OS when new versions are running new Lollipop offerings.

It could be due to Oppo’s own ColorOS interface, which may or may not appeal to users. It doesn’t come with the standard Andorid app tray and the home screen can get cluttered up with a lot of apps.

Although the S$569 phone comes with a useful two-year warranty in Singapore, the use of an older OS could be a deal breaker for tech-savvy consumers

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