The OPPO R5 is an impressively thin Android smartphone for sure, but upon further inspection it actually has a great deal to offer in all departments, combining a very decent camera with solid performance, some of the fastest charging we have seen and above a very impressive design that belongs to so much more than just its thinness. Welcome to the OPPO R5, a mid-range Android smartphone that scream class and quality.
OPPO R5 In Focus
The OPPO R5 is a 5.2 inch Android device that is based on the newly arrived Qualcomm Snapdragon 615. It has a solid 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (no micro SD support unfortunately) a Sony Exmor 13MP rear facing camera plus a 5MP shooter on the front. It was originally launched a few weeks ago to much fanfare as the world’s thinnest smartphone, supplanting the Gionee Elife S5.1 we reviewed a few weeks ago. In typical fashion with a technology industry that stands still for no man, the R5 has since been out-thinned by the Vivo X5 Max.
Regardless of world records and grandstanding, a thickness of only 4.85mm is pretty stunning to behold and a very impressive mark in the manufacturing sand when comes to device design. It is is also fairly hefty at 155 grams, a fact that is immediately apparent with the solid in-hand feel that the R5 gives you. Despite its thinness, the R5 feels surprisingly strong. The battery itself has a slightly light 2,000mAh capacity, but is backed by some of the best fast charging we have encountered.
We’ve got our full review video here by Nicole Scott if you wanted to check that out.
OPPO R5: Full Specifications
- 5.2-inch 1080p Display
- AMOLED w Corning Gorilla Glass
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
- 2.1GHz Octa-core w/Adreno 405 Graphics
- 2 GB of RAM
- 16 GB of Internal Storage
- 13 MP Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI Sensor
- 5 MP front-facing 80 degree wide-angle lens
- Micro SIM support
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
- WiFi a/b/g/n
- Global LTE Support
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 2,000 mAh battery (with rapid charge)
- 155 grams
- 148.9mm x 74.5mm x 4.85mm
- Color OS 2.0
- Android 4.4.4
- Available in Silver or Gold.
The specs above could not truly be described as flagship, most notably due to the cheaper, mid-range Snapdragon processor which, as the benchmarks later in the review will reveal, is actually someway off what we have seen on the current crop of top tier processors. The cameras also, while being impressive are not of the caliber that we see on Sony’s Xperia range or Samsung’s Galaxy phones. No surprises there.
The OPPO R5 addresses a market just below the flagship segment, retailing for something close to $400 USD. If you are looking for the company’s flagship offering. OPPO has its N series led by the latest N3 that does indeed feature an Snapdragon 801 chip and arguably better quality cameras. The OPPO N3 will cost something closer to the $500 mark.
The OPPO R5 attempts to lure us with one of the best handset designs around and a solid mix of features that has us pretty damn impressed.
Amazing Design and Build
The OPPO R5 is 4.85 mm thin. That’s one hell of a thing right there. The Gionee Elife S5.1 that we reviewed is a tad thicker at 5.1mm, and I recall saying at the time that as smartphones get even thinner they may have to forgo certain fundamental things, headphone sockets being one of them. Indeed we find the R5 to arrive sans audio jack, relying instead on a USB adapter to hook up your headphones.
Design decisions have knock on effects on other aspects of the design. One could ponder if a phone could be built this thin and also contain a true flagship level processor without overheating. We also find that camera sensor technology is reluctantly integrated in such thin housing, as the 13MP rear camera protrudes out from the chassis a good 2mm or so. The Gionee Elife S5.1 also suffered this design necessity so it seems decent camera technology requires a touch more width than other components.
The R5 is based around one very solid metal frame. OPPO’s marketing hyperbole seems justified in this case, talking about a ‘reinforced industrial grade stainless steel frame that undergoes a touch of handcraftmanship’. I find it hard to disagree having spent time with the device. There will be very little bend-gate opportunity with the R5 – it feels almost as solid as any Android phone you’ve ever held and a great deal of that is due to the metal frame.
OPPO have not been shy at promoting the solid build quality of the R5, creating a promotional video that shows the device being used to slice apples and melons and even crack nuts. Kind of underlines what I was saying:
The front face is almost all AMOLED screen with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass sitting slightly above the frame upon which it sits. The bezels around the edge are pretty thin while at the lower bezel we are treated to capacitive hardware navigation buttons. The front speaker is used for both calls and audio playback with a small row of vent holes on the top bezel flanked by the light and camera sensors plus LED flash. The lower edge features a USB 2.0 port in the center with a microphone sensor to the side of it. We find both the power button and volume rocker on the right side edge – a design decision that suits me just fine. The top edge has nothing of note but the micro SIM slot is accessible via a tray on the lower left side edge. As mentioned previously, there is no audio jack.
The rear of the R5 is mostly thin metal plate, with two white plastic bands at the top and bottom, presumably to help with antennae efficacy and overall call reception. The OPPO logo adorns the upper middle and looks pretty classy. The protruding 13MP rear camera sits in the top left corner with its LED flash next door.
Frankly speaking, with the R5 OPPO are showing that they are master manufacturers at the very top of their game. The sheer quality and audaciousness of the design makes a big impression and proves that the parent of OnePlus also knows a thing or two about creating sexy hardware.
A Solid But Not Quite Flawless Display
The AMOLED 5.5 1080p inch screen we get here on the R5 is really pretty impressive. It does not quite meet the dizzy heights that we have enjoyed recently on the Galaxy Note 4 or Sony Xperia Z3 – but you should discount that as real criticism as it would be asking a bit too much of ar $400 device. The brightness is there in spades, the colors look really vibrant and accurately produced with blacks that are very dark and real. There seems to be a little bit of self correction going on with certain bright greens and blues here and there, but other than that the whole spectrum looks great. The viewing angles are solid enough with only a hint color degradation at the tightest of angles.
One thing that is noticeable is that the screen is framed by a thin black bezel along all four edges… it doesn’t really affect the viewing experience but on the white version that we have it kind stands out a little. I wonder if this would be as apparent on an all black version. The OPPO R5 arrives with a screen protector in place, a decision that I personally applaud because of my utter lack of motor dexterity when it comes to putting these things on. The touch screen experience is good with excellent responsiveness within the Color OS 2.0 environment.
The OPPO R5 has a very good ALOMED display there is no question about it. 1080p might not set the hearts of some uber geeks aflutter, but it’s looks great here. OPPO have sourced a solid panel that performs really well.
Capable Mid Range Performance
The Snapdragon 615 from Qualcomm is essentially an update for Qualcomm’s mid-tier segment bringing an Octa-core architecture processor that has Global Cat LTE support and an Adreno 405 graphics chip that sounds better on paper than its performance in 3D apps would vindicate. The Snapdragon 615 combines two sets of four CPU cores, each based on the Cortex-53 architecture. One set has a peak clock of up to 1.0GHz and is designed to take of lower level tasks, while the other four cores can hit peak clock speeds of up to 1.7GHz and come in to play for the heavy lifting e.g. when surfing the web or when playing or recording HD video or 3D games.
The benchmarks below compare the Snapdragon 615 with a slew of other mobile offerings including the Snapdragon 801, the MediaTek MT6592 which we saw recently on the Gionee Elife S5.1 and also, just for kicks the Huawei-made Kirin 925. The results prove pretty conclusively that the 615 is some way off the pace when it comes to a head to head comparison with the 801 – but we could have safely guessed that I suppose. Having the extra cores does see the 615 close the gap somewhat in multi-core testing, an area where the Kirin 925 rules supreme interestingly.
OPPO R5 (Snapdragon 615): Benchmark Comparison
|OPPO R5 (Snapdragon 615)||OnePlus One||Samsung Galaxy S5(snapdragon 801)||Gionee Elife S5.1 (MT6592)||Huawei Ascend Mate 7 (Kirin 925)|
|GFX Bench T-Rex||14.4fps||28.4||27.1fps||12.6fps||Failed|
|3DMark - Ice Storm||5544||19654||18373||7152||13505|
The Adreno 405 GPU that we find in the 615 however cannot hold a flame to the power of the Adreno 330 found in the Snapdragon 801 when it comes to the hardcore 3D gaming benchmarks of GFX Bench and 3DMark. The higher model number could be considered somewhat misleading. Just for interest’s sake if we compare the 615 to the MediaTek MT6592, we see very little to write home about. In fact, in 3DMark we see Taiwanese and the Korean silicon vendors take significant leads.
During benchmarks and gaming we found that OPPO had managed to do a good job in keeping the device heating to a limit. This is good going for a device this thin and while it may in part be a result of the lower performance Snapdragon 615 processor, OPPO also claim that they are using phase-shifting materials that combine metal, resin and other composite materials to absorb unwanted heat, thus improving thermal efficiency. It seems like OPPO’s engineers have done a good job as the R5 doesn’t get anything beyond slightly warm.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 is without doubt a mid range mobile processor. In every day operation however we found very little stuttering or lag. Almost all the games we played where smooth and totally playable, despite what story the 3D benchmarks might tell you. You may find higher frame rates on a flagship device, but how this translates to actually game-play remains debatable. The Snapdragon 615 has what it takes to deliver a solidly performing Android Kit Kat experience.
Mediocre Battery Life Saved By Wickedly fast Charging
The story of battery life on the OPPO R5 is pretty interesting as the device itself is fitted with a somewhat paltry 2,000 mAh battery that pales in comparison to other 5 inch + devices that can have up to 3,100, like the exceptional battery beast that is the Sony Xperia Z3. This must once again be put down to being one of the draw backs of such a ruthlessly thin design. You could argue that the Gionee Elife S5.1 suffered a similar fate with its marginally superior 2,050mAh battery, but in our testing using the LatTop Mag battery Informant benchmark the S5.1 actually managed to crack on for a 7 hours 36 mins, a totally respectable score. The OPPO R5 did not fair quite as well however in the same test and conditions, eeking out a disappointing 5 hours 18 mins on standard power settings.
The R5 however does have a few tricks up its sleeve. ‘Normal power saving’ mode is a setting that can be configured to reign in display brightness levels, CPU clocks and, Bluetooth, GPS and WiFi. We found that by only using this mode to turn down brightness the device could score 7 hours 20 mins. Clearly like many device, the R5’s battery life is sensitive to brightness levels.
There is also a more severe option within the well designed Battery Manager app that allows for Super Power saving mode. This function will extend battery life considerably but will reduce your smartphone to something similar to feature phone functionality with only dialer, contacts, messages and clock functions remaining.
OPPO VOOC Rapid Charging
One thing that OPPO has really worked hard on is its Rapid Charging feature which the company claims can charge the battery from 1% to 75% in just 30 minutes. We attempted to replicate these claims and actually found them to be exactly true and correct. Using the provided charger and cable I witnessed the R5 do exactly as claimed. This is really good going. The device uses in-house developed VOOC technology to achieve these goals, using a higher 5V 5A charger and special 6-pin USB cable to pump far more energy in to the device’s battery at a much faster rate.
The OPPO R5’s non-removable battery consists of several separate cells that are joined together with the 5A current divided between them. Charging with a higher current of 5A (regular chargers use 2A) allows for much faster charging without overloading or cell damage. We found that the as advertised, the battery could reach a charge of 75% in exactly 30 minutes, taking approximately a further 30 minutes to complete the charge. That means a full charge in an hour. Damn impressive.
Fast or Rapid charging as OPPO describe it means you have to use the supplied adapter and USB cable. If these are not detected by the phone, then standard 2A charging will be used. This is the rub. I never seem to be able to keep the original charger for too long, and frankly I am as likely to charge in the office or at a friend’s house as I am at my desk or bed. Hopefully faster charging will become a standard one day, but for now you have to applaud OPPO for doing a great job.
OPPO R5 Cameras
The OPPO R5 packs a 13MP camera on the rear that features an Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor, while the front is adorned with a 5MP front-facing camera with a 83 degree wide angle lens. Both use a f/2.0 aperture and LED flash. In terms of modes there are many although some are not immediately available and need to installed. Available modes include Normal, Ultra-HD, Colorful Night, Slow Shutter, Expert Mode, Beautify, HDR, Panorama, Audio Photo, GIF, Double Exposure, Raw, Super Marco and After Focus. Plenty of options if you want to explore them, but we found that the Normal mode was capable of producing some pretty impressive snaps.
Check out the food porn below. Very good and natural reproduction of close up objects in a well lit space.
In lower light we do see some issues. The Flash can get a bit over exuberant at times, but when you actually tweak things in the advanced settings the rear cam does well, even in a relatively low light scene.
The camera app itself is well laid out and comprehensive with all the settings you could want including shutter speed, ISO, White balance, picture resolution and shot taking options. 13MP shots are produced in a 4:3 ratio. If you want 16:9 ratio shots you will have to drop it down to 10MP. In terms of video recording you are getting 1080p 60 fps and 720p slow motion video at 120 fps.
The rear camera is actually very solid with a pretty fast auto focus and all the options you would need wrapped in a well organized app. It doesn’t quite keep up with the top brass from Sony and Samsung, especially as the light recedes but it is a solid camera nonetheless. The 5MP selfie cam and its wide angle lens are also decent, but when there are so many products out there catering specifically for the needs of the selfie obsessed, it’s hard to call this a true selfie phone.
Color OS 2.0: Simple, Effective Yet Somehow Lacking Polish
Color OS 2.0 is a well designed Android Kit Kat UI, no doubts there. The menus are very well thought out, key features are easy to configure and setup and overall it looks good and runs smooth as you like. The only real gripe about the UI is that it kind of looks a touch bland and underwhelming in the aesthetic stakes. The icons are too cartoony for my liking, and that is after trying so many themes and their respective icons. They all have a certain design approach that ignores the key concepts of iconography – simplicity I call it.
As I mentioned there are plenty of theme options online, with dozens and dozens of free ones to try out. This is OPPO keeping up with the Joneses as companies like Xiaomi and Huawei are also offering very similar theme packs for free, each with a unique wallpaper, icon set and screen lock image. OPPO is certainly catching up fast with its rivals in terms of customization and (icons aside) there are more options than you could hope for and it looks good.
Color OS follows in the footsteps of its rivals in China where the app draw has been abandoned and there is an emphasis on giving folks as much as possible in terms customization. The UI has matured and there are several well made features that include customizable gestures and shortcuts that thankfully also come with the ability to turn them off. I did find I had several a photos of my ass due to the tap-to-wake-up feature ending up self-swiping to the camera app while in my pocket. Happens I guess.
Overall the app bundle is complete without coming anywhere near bloatware and include all the apps I think you would expect out of the box (flash light, folder explorer, system optimizer, calendar, calculator etc.) plus the key Google apps.
I feel like Color OS 2.0 has come a long way and improved a great deal. There is so much here that we should be positive about and OPPO deserve credit for doing a really good job. The gripes I have about design and aesthetics are a personal opinion only. Check out the pics and decide for yourself.
Surprisingly Good Single Speaker Audio
The OPPO R5 kind of takes an old fashioned approach to its integrated speaker, using the earpiece of the device for audio playback as well as for calls. This reminds me of the humble feature phone which pretty much did the same thing if you recall. The audio playback is not the loudest, but the volume and output of the device is clearer than most smartphones we have tested. There is no stereo of course, but the clarity of the audio kind of makes up for it.
The only real gripe is the the USB headphone adapter, something that is guaranteed to go missing in the first few months of ownership. I recall saying that when I reviewed the Elife S5.1 that if phones got any thinner, they are going to have to do away with the 3.5mm headphone jack. Alas, today my prediction becomes reality as you have to plug your headphones into what I assume is a proprietary adapter for the USB port.
OPPO R5: Final Thoughts
The OPPO R5 is a very impressive smartphone that has certainly made its mark on me; it’s an incredibly thin handset with solid performance, a good camera, slick software and a design that will appeal to anyone fortunate enough to pick it up. Some may rue the lack of microSD card support, especially as there is only a fairly paltry 16GB of internal storage, and I would point to this as one potential area of weakness. Gionee have managed to integrate a Dual SIM / microSD card combo tray, and can’t help feeling that this would have been good for the R5 too.
The real gem here however is the stunning design and build of the OPPO R5. It raises the bar on what we think a super thin device can be, challenging the notion that being thin means being vulnerably flimsy. This is as solidly thin as thin is going to get, and it feels good.