PAT PILCHER gets his hands on the latest Oppo offering. So what’s the verdict?
While flagship smartphones capture headlines, another significant smartphone trend has been quietly bubbling away under the radar. Affordable midrange phones have been steadily improving, and have reached the point where they deliver a solid amount of bang without the big price tag of flagship offerings.
Many affordable smartphone models have transitioned away from creaky plastic chassis and miserly specs to blur the lines between budget and premium. A case in point is Oppo’s latest mid-range smartphone, the AX5. It might have an affordable $399 price tag, but it packs flagship features such as face recognition, dual rear cameras and a huge battery, as well as an upmarket premium design.
As is the current flavour of the moment, the AX5 has a glass back and front, sandwiched together with an alloy band. The back has a funky textured diamond pattern which adds a hint of sophistication. It comes in Diamond Blue or Diamond Pink.
In hand, the AX5 feels comfy, even though it’s not a small phone. With prolonged use, it didn’t feel unwieldy or too hefty either. That said, while the Ax5’s glass chassis lends it an upmarket look and feel, it also means that a case is a must as it won’t bounce when dropped.
The AX5 also has a roomy 6.2-inch screen. It sports a 1520 x 720 resolution at 271 PPI, along with the now obligatory notch at its top. The notched design translates into an 88.8 percent screen-to-body ratio, so the Ax5’s bezels are next to invisible.
Spinning the Ax5 around reveals two 13-megapixel shooters. These come with an AI-enhanced portrait mode which, while handy for snapping photos of people, won’t detect what you’re shooting and tweak camera settings.
Around the front is an 8-megapixel shooter which is plenty adequate for social media posted selfies. Further helping matters out is Oppo’s baked-in beautify mode, which will smooth out skin blemishes. I’m naturally dubious of beauty shooting modes, but in use, it even managed to tidy up my unlovable mug.
Helping with low light shooting with the front camera is an f2.2 aperture. The other nifty tech also included with the front shooter is Oppo’s face recognition. It proved to be surprisingly responsive and accurate (although, like most face recognition technologies, using it with the sun at my back did flummox it). In short, it is pretty bomb-proof.
Like other Oppo devices, the Ax5 is powered with Oppo’s Color OS, which is a version of Android 8.1 Oreo re-skinned to give it an iOS look and feel. If Color OS’s default look and feel isn’t your cup of warm beverage, there is a built-in theme store which gives you the choice of dozens of themes whose icons and wallpapers can be downloaded separately.
Under the hood, the Ax5 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 silicon whose Octa-core config is more than adequate for media and most gaming. Multitasking was also smooth thanks to 4GB RAM and 64GB of onboard storage which provided plenty of space for apps with Micro SD support for large media collections.
Keeping things running is a sizeable 4,230mAh battery. When fully charged, it’ll provide power for an entire day of medium to heavy use. While testing the review unit, I forgot to charge it overnight but was pleased to discover that it kept on for half a day before finally conking out.
All told, the AX5 offers premium functionality for a very reasonable price indeed. Further adding to its appeal is its build quality and design which definitely feels more premium than budget.
Display: IPS, 6.2” LCD capacitive touchscreen (1520 x 720 Pixels, 24-bit colour depth, 271 PPI)
Camera: (Rear Camera) 13 Megapixels + 2 Megapixels, Aperture F/2.2, Autofocus, Digital image stabilisation
(Front Camera) 8 Megapixels Aperture f/2.4, Face Recognition
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 450, Octa-Core 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex-A53, 8-Cores
GPU: Qualcomm Adreno 506
Micro SD Card Support: Yes
Dual SIM Support: Yes
OS: ColorOS 5.2 (Android 8.1 Oreo)
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 802.11 n 5GHz, Dual Band, Wi-Fi Display Wi-Fi Hotspot
USB: Micro USB 2.0 with OTG, Charging and Mass Storage Function
Bluetooth: Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP
Navigation: GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
LTE Cat 7 300 Mbps Download, 100 Mbps Upload
Battery: Li-Poly (Lithium Polymer), 4,230 mAh