OPPO F9 Review: Taking It Up a Notch

by Jamie Inocian  September 2, 2018

A Closer Look at the New F Series Smartphone

It felt like it hasn’t been too long since we’ve commended OPPO on vastly improving on their F series devices with the launch of the F7 but it’s been about half a year. While there was a blt of shock when the F9 was released on our shores, the company has been known to introduce a new member of their mid-range device every six months. We’ve managed to book some quality time with the OPPO F9 to see what it’s capable of and see if it should be worth considering for your next buy.

Let’s Dive In!

How Does It Look and Feel?

Before the F7, OPPO’s phones would easily get lost in the crowd. They didn’t look bad but they didn’t quite stand out from the crowd. We said that the F7 was easily the best-looking smartphone that the company had ever introduced in the country but this new iteration easily takes the cake. The OPPO F9 looks absolutely gorgeous in either the Twilight Blue or Sunrise Red with subtle gradients and elegant facets that catch the eye when seen from different angles.

Build quality is pretty much the same on the F9, which is primarily made out of plastic. While we would have wanted to see a metal frame, it still feels good in the hand and it feels solidly built as well. We’ve been keeping our review unit in the case that comes inside the box to help keep it scratch-free and we recommend that you do the same if you do decide to pick it up.

How’s the Screen on the F9?

As impressive and as eye-catching as it may be, the biggest design change to the F9 wasn’t the back of the phone, it was actually to the screen. We’re pretty sure you’ve seen it by now but the Waterdrop Display on the F9 makes a world of difference and allows the phone to stand out in today’s market. The notch is way smaller than it was on the F7 or what we’re accustomed to seeing in most smartphones nowadays. In fact, the only phone we can compare it to is the Essential Phone.

This gives the device a better screen-to-body ratio at 90.8-percent, which is just 3 percent short of the Find X. There are still bezels on the 6.3-inch Full HD+ LTPS display but they’re very minimal.

The display is quite nice for consuming content with a good amount of color saturation and enough brightness to be used out in the sun; though there a few settings you’ll have to tweak to keep content from pushing into the notch area. You’ll have to head to the Notch Area Display Controls in the menus to make sure that you can game without the Waterdrop getting in the way.

You’ve got a lone speaker on the bottom of the device, which emits a decent amount of volume but you’re getting a bit of distortion above 80-percent. We also found that it could get quite tinny so we recommend using earphones like we do on most mid-range devices.

Is It Fast?

The biggest change to the F7 when it was released was the introduction to Mediatek’s Helio P60 processor that really provided a ton of zip under the hood of that device. The OPPO F9 retains the same SoC but has paired it with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. It’s just as fast as we remember it and can definitely hang with most mid-range processors available in the market right now. Because there is more RAM, expect it to be able to handle multi-tasking a lot better than its predecessors’ base 4GB model.

Your typical suite of social media apps are handled with no problem whatsoever and can even game quite well; made even better by OPPO’s game optimization built into their OS. It basically dedicates more of the phone’s muscle to the game you’re playing to give you a better experience.

Let’s have a look at the numbers.

First up, Asphalt 9. The newest version of the title that has become a staple in our gaming reviews may have faster races but they’ve also upped the graphics. During our gaming benchmarks, we were able to achieve an average frame rate of 23 frames per second. The big dips happen during transitions to the menus or just as the race begins but it’s completely playable. This was on the default settings so you might be able to squeeze more FPS by dropping down the quality to prefer performance.

On PUBG Mobile, things looked a lot better on HD Settings and High Frame rates where the phone tops out. You’re getting average of 26 frames per second while playing the War game mode. They are also more stable at 84-percent. Dips happen when there are a lot of textures to load but we didn’t encounter them during firefights so it’s all good.

Is the Face Unlock and Fingerprint Scanner reliable?

While these are features we something glaze over in review, we felt like we had to talk about it a little more in this review. Face Unlock on the OPPO F9 was quite fast and surprisingly accurate; even when there isn’t that much light. The biggest surprise to us though is that even cleaning the fingerprint scanner and having it retake our biometrics, it felt rather slow and the margin of error was a lot larger than what we’re accustomed to. It’s best to enroll the same digit you used twice so the phone has multiple samples to help mitigate some of those misreads.

How are the cameras on the OPPO F9?

No surprises on the front camera here. The F9 easily takes the cake when it comes to selfie quality compared to its competition. There’s a good amount of detail. Exposure is pretty much dead on each and every time. The colors are great and the depth of field for portrait mode is great for something that relies heavily on software.

One of the biggest additions to the F9 was a secondary camera, which was a first for the series. It’s 2-megapixel depth sensor to help with getting smooth bokeh effect and it really does. The only thing we wished for was the ability to control the depth of field to open up the options but the results are good as it is.

Aside from that, the rear cameras have a good amount of color to them, which can be amped up by turning on Super Vivid Mode. You’ve also got a good amount of dynamic range. We’ve seen a ton of improvements by OPPO on its rear cameras on the F series and the one on the F9 takes a notch higher.

Does It Have Lasting Power?

The OPPO F9 has a 3500mAh battery and it can actually last the whole day before having to top it up. This is was our main phone during a recent work trip and rely on it heavily to get around the city. We had data on the whole time and still had about 20 percent when we got back to the hotel after a long day.

VOOC charging makes an awesome comeback to the F9, which means that when you do need to top up you’ll spend less time hugging the wall. Less than 2 hours give or take if you’re completely out of juice to fully charged.

Should You Consider the OPPO F9?

The OPPO F9 is another step in the right direction for the company who has been slowly trying to buck the trend for this product line to make it more than just a Selfie Expert. Its performance is on par with a lot of its peers, it’s a good looking phone, and they’ve really improved on the rear camera performance too. We really have to commend the brand for taking things a step further with the F series. It’s definitely worth your consideration.

The biggest hurdle for OPPO and the F9 is the competition in the mid-range segment. It was already tough before, with all the usual players, but a few brands have really been turning heads as of late.

The OPPO F9 is now available in OPPO Concept Stores and Authorized Resellers for Php 17,990.

OPPO F9 Specs

  • MediaTek octa-core Helio P60 processor
  • ARM Mali-G72 MP3 GPU
  • 6GB RAM
  • 6.3-inch 19:9 aspect ratio Full HD+ LTPS IPS display,  2280 x 1080 resolution
  • 64GB of expandable storage
  • 16-megapixel f/1.8 and 2-megapixel rear cameras PDAF with LED flash
  • 25-megapixel front camera with f/2.0 aperture, SONY IMX576, AI beautification
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, fingerprint sensor
  • 3500mAh battery with VOOC quick charging
  • Android 8.1 Oreo with ColorOS 5.2 UI

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    > the company has been known to introduce a new member of their mid-range device
    > every six months

    Used to have that cadence, but it’s only been 4 months since the F7.

    They’ll probably launch another F series by January or February 2019 at the latest.

    If oppo was a student, he would be the obnoxious, rich stupid kid who flunked every level twice before passing it and thinks highly of himself in every discussion with his classmates. He dreams of becoming part of the cool kids, but never fit in, even buying designer clothes just to stand out.