We review the Oppo R5!
Oppo’s R5 blew us away when we first saw it in Singapore last year. The one time thinnest phone in the world title holder, the R5 showed off the design chops of Chinese brand Oppo during the gala unveiling. We’ve spent a large chunk of time with it as our primary phone, and today we’ll be telling you what we think of Oppo’s thinnest smartphone to date.
Oppo R5 specs:
- 1.5GHz Qualcmm Snapdragon MSM8939 octa-core processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 16GB of internal storage
- 13-megapixel rear camera with AF, F2.0 lens
- 5-megapixel front camera
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
- 3G, LTE
- Android 4.4 KitKat with Color OS
- 2000mAh battery with VOOC fast charging technology
Definitely one of the thinner smartphones out there, but a bit awkward to hold
When it was launched last year, the Oppo R5 held the title of the world’s thinnest smartphone. That tile has since been wrenched from their fingers by other companies, and while it’s no longer the top dog in the realm of anorexic smartphones it’s still pretty dang thin. At just 4.85mm, it’s one of the thinnest phones that we’ve ever wrapped our hands around.
It also feels like one of the sturdiest phones we’ve ever used. The frame of the R5 uses stainless steel in its construction, to prevent it from bending under pressure. Oppo’s done a lot of magic to the frame to make sure it’s extraordinarily strong, since the danger of bending the R5 is real because of its thickness, or lack thereof. It also doesn’t hurt that the stainless steel frame also gives the phone a certain beefiness and rigidity that other high-end brands struggle to match – the phone really does feel like a tank despite its extreme thinness.
The overall design does remind us a bit of Apple’s iPhone 6, especially the bottom and top of the R5. All the physical buttons are within easy reach on the right side of the phone, while the capacitive Android keys are all located on the bottom of the 5.2-inch AMOLED display. Just like the iPhone, the R5’s camera module sticks out a few mm from the body so the phone won’t lie completely flat when you put it down on the table.
Of course there’s been a few concessions to get the R5 this thin. Oppo had to use a special thermal solution to dissipate heat around the Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, which struggles to cool the phone’s metal frame under full load (more on this later). The 3.5mm jack had to go as well, which forces users to go with either a Bluetooth headphone solution or the USB to 3.5mm jack adapter that’s included in the package. But probably the biggest concession to design was the small, 2000mAh battery that isn’t quite up to the task of powering the phone through a regular workday. Finally, holding the R5 wasn’t completely natural for us because there’s simply not enough thickness on the side to ensure a nice, firm solid grip. Granted we at Unbox are huge guys with almost comically large, bear-like hands so it may be different for people with smaller, more delicate paws.
The display of the R5 is really something else. The 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED display has excellent viewing angles, as well as excellent color reproduction. Oppo was smart to pick the AMOLED display tech for the R5 as well, as it requires far less power than a regular LCD display which puts less strain on the already small 2000mAh battery.
Has plenty of power under the hood, but feels sluggish at times
The R5 is one of the few smartphones in the market to run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor. That’s paired with around 2GB of RAM and 32GB of non-expandable internal storage.
In our tests, the Snapdragon 615 ran well in our benchmarks of the R5 though for the price, we expected something faster. Playing games like Real Racing 3 was alright on the R5, though we did notice a definite slowdown in navigation after a while. We’re not sure if this is the fault of the processor or Oppo’s own ColorOS treatment on Android 4.4. We haven’t had enough experience with either to give you a definitive answer, but we’re hoping it’s just a software issue that can be resolved through a software patch.
We also noticed the R5’s back heat up (specifically, the upper portion of the phone near the camera) when under heavy loads. While all phones generate heat when under full load, the R5 felt warmer than other phones though it never got as hot as the Zenfone 5 (sorry Zenfone lovers). Efficient thermal dissipation is one of the things that you lose with a body as thin as the R5’s, unfortunately.
Good performing camera
We were generally impressed with the Oppo N3’s camera performance as well as the camera app that was paired with it so we were expecting a lot from the R5’s camera performance. True to form the R5 did not disappoint. Aside from having much of the same shooting modes as the N3 (we really loved the manual focus feature) the R5 sports very good color reproduction and photos have a lot of detail in them.
Battery life isn’t enough
The biggest problem with the R5 is the battery – the 2000mAh battery in it is just too small, especially compared to its contemporaries. While we did manage to get it to last us around 9 hours on a single charge, that was with a lot of micro-management and tweaking of the power settings. If we used the R5 heavily (gaming, browsing, music with LTE on) we would be lucky for the phone to go past the 8 hour mark.
Thankfully Oppo includes a VOOC fast charger in the package that manages to get the R5 up to 75% from 0 in just 30 minutes. Even without using the VOOC fast charger, the R5 seems to charge rather quickly, which slightly makes up for the frequent trips to the charger.
Verdict: Must buy if you’re into sexy phones, skip it if you’re not
The Oppo R5 has a very limited appeal to the normal consumer. If you’re the sort that likes expandable storage, long battery life and a grunty processor this phone isn’t for you. The R5 is meant to attract a very specific set of customers – customers who don’t mind getting a less powerful processor in exchange for a ridiculously thin body and a sexy, sturdy frame. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide if a thinner phone is worth the compromises done to achieve it.