We review OPPO’s latest mid-range phone!
Armed with better features and a higher price tag, OPPO’s newest A-series line has moved up to mid-range territory, displacing the F-series which is currently MIA. The new refreshed A9 (2020) sports a high-resolution camera, big battery, and handsome exterior and is ready to do battle with countless other mid-range phones in the same price range.
But is OPPO’s newest phone good enough to duke it out against the very best?
Packaging and contents
Inside the A9 (2020)’s white box, you have the usual stuff: the phone itself, transparent jelly case, SIM ejector tool, 10w charger, USB-C cable, and headset.
The most premium A-series to date
The A9 (2020) is easily the prettiest and most premium-looking A-series phone to date, borrowing design elements from OPPO’s F11, including a centrally-placed camera module, OPPO’s revamped logo at the bottom center, and an oblong-shaped fingerprint scanner right below the camera module.
The camera module is home to the A9 (2020)’s high-resolution 48-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, and 2-megapixel portrait camera, while a 2-megapixel mono camera is placed right below the LED flash.
Because the A9 (2020) has a large camera bump, we recommend that you to use the supplied clear case to protect it from bumps and accidental scratches that come from laying the phone down on rough surfaces. OPPO has tweaked the gradient finish on the A9 (2020) to include a subtle holographic effect in an effort to make the phone pop from the rest of the competition. The Marine Green review unit that was lent to us had subtle color shifts from black (in the center) to green (towards the edges) depending on how the light hits its surface.
The A9 (2020)’s curves are reminiscent of the R17 Pro and help in handling this rather large and thick phone. Port layout is similar to its predecessors, though the A9 (2020) finally ditches MicroUSB for USB-C—at last, OPPO is bringing this modern port to its more affordable line.
Disappointing screen resolution, but those stereo speakers are LOUD
While the A9 (2020) comes with a generous 6.5-inch display, we’re disappointed that its only HD+ resolution. The phone’s resolution is a major stumbling block for people looking to buy the phone, as other phones in its price range (sometimes even cheaper) sport Full HD+ panels. On the upside, colors look more vibrant compared to previous A-series models, and viewing angles are generous overall.
As for the speakers, the A9 (2020)’s stereo speakers are very loud, giving you crisp audio even at 80% volume. Dolby Atmos is enabled by default and helps you tweak your audio if you are using a pair of wired cans.
Internals can handle most day-to-day tasks
Powering the A9 (2020) is Qualcomm’s 11nm-based Snapdragon 665 processor paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. This is the first time an A-series phone gets a Snapdragon 600-series processor, and the generous helping of RAM helps it handle most tasks without issue. Don’t be fooled by its AnTuTu score; the A9 (2020) can handle most popular games well. Check out the benchmark scores below:
Save for Asphalt 9—which still has issues with Snapdragon 665-powered phones, the A9 (2020) can handle titles like PUBG Mobile, NBA 2K20, and Call of Duty with an average of at least 25FPS at a minimum of 70% stability on the highest graphics settings. If you want to play NBA 2K20 and Call of Duty at more than 30FPS, you will need to tone down the graphics settings.
Cameras deliver okay performance but perform better in video
The A9 (2020) joins the quad-rear-camera hype with its 48-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, 2-megapixel portrait camera, and 2-megapixel mono camera. Both the 48-megapixel main and 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle cameras produced good photos, with decent dynamic range and image detail.
Despite having a 48-megapixel main camera, the A9 (2020)’s digital zoom feature struggles even at 2x. On our tests, photos taken at 2x digital zoom have a significant reduction in detail and pushing it to 5x zoom results in a smudgy image that is barely usable.
OPPO’s Dazzle Color adds color pop to images, and performs well without putting too much saturation to photos.
The A9 (2020)’s dedicated portrait lens helps in delivering clean bokeh shots, though Portrait mode can be a hit-or-miss affair when it comes to edge detection.
OPPO’s own Night mode works for both the 48-megapixel main and 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle cameras. Compared to other phones within its price range, the A9 (2020)’s ultra-wide-angle Night mode is one of the better implementations out there.
As for the front camera, the A9 (2020)’s 16-megapixel snapper produced flattering selfies, and OPPO’s new image processing algorithm is much better compared to previous A-series phones.
While the A9 (2020)’s photo performance is okay at best, the phone shines when it comes to video. Aside from being able to record 4K videos at 30FPS, EIS works even at the highest resolution and you have the option to zoom into the subject while recording—the implementation may not be smooth, but it is a useful feature especially if you can’t physically go close to your subject. Check out the sample video below:
Monster battery life
With a huge 5000mAh battery and a power-efficient Snapdragon 665 processor, the A9 (2020) gave us a crazy score of 20 and a half hours on PCMark’s battery test. We’re astonished at the results, as this is the highest battery life score we have obtained in any smartphone to date.
On real-life use, we managed to use the A9 (2020) to close to two days before juicing it up—and that’s despite using the phone often to play several Call of Duty matches during our downtime.
While the A9 (2020) does not come with fast charging (you only get 10w charging with it), you can use the phone to charge another device thanks to the phone’s reverse wired charging feature. Topping up the A9 (2020) took us around 3 hours from zero to 100%.
Verdict: Viable alternative to what’s out there, but only if you ignore the screen
Disappointing screen resolution aside, the A9 (2020) is a decent phone if you consume and produce a lot of content. OPPO’s camera algorithm is well-optimized for videos, though we wish they’d update the camera software to improve the A9 (2020)’s digital zoom for photos. While its Snapdragon 665 processor is not the best SoC choice for its price range, the A9 (2020) stands out because of loud stereo speakers and insane battery life, making it an ideal smartphone for binge-watching movies when on the go.
At Php 15,990, the A9 (2020) is up against tough competition. It’ll be facing phones like the Realme 5 Pro, Galaxy A50s, and Mi 9T.
OPPO A9 (2020) specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 processor
- Adreno 610 GPU
- 8GB RAM
- 6.5-inch HD+ display with waterdrop notch, Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection
- 128GB of expandable storage
- 48-megapixel f/1.7 main camera, 8-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera, 2-megapixel f/2.4 portrait camera, 2-megapixel f/2.4 mono camera; with PDAF, EIS, LED Flash
- 16-megapixel f/2.0 front camera
- 3G, LTE
- Dual SIM
- WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, A-GPS,
- Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C, Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos
- 5000mAh battery with reverse charging
- Android 9.0, ColorOS 6