Oppo A94 Smartphone REVIEW
If you’re on a budget but need a smartphone that’s going to meet the challenge, Oppo’s A94 may be just the ticket, writes PAT PILCHER.
Oppo’s latest midrange 5G capable smartphone, the A94, can be had for a reasonable $499. But price aside, how good is it? Midrange phones are usually a compromise given their lower price, but have any corners been cut with the A94?
Would you like to support our mission to bring intelligence, insight and great writing to entertainment journalism? Help to pay for the coffee that keeps our brains working and fingers typing just for you. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Your one-off (or monthly) $5 or $10 donation will support Witchdoctor.co.nz. and help us keep producing quality content. It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.
It might not have the most inspired model name (is it just me or does it sound like an Audi more than a phone?) but the A94 has it where it counts in the looks department. Unlike a lot of similarly priced handsets, there’s no Tupperware here. The A94 has a slim glass-like composite body that is sandwiched by an alloy band. The review unit was attractively finished in what Oppo calls Cosmo Blue, a cool looking two-tone pink on blue finish. Thanks to a glass and alloy build, the svelte A94 doesn’t look like a cheapie. In fact, it has a distinctly premium whiff about it.
Powering it up revealed a surprisingly capable display. The 6.4-inch AMOLED screen has a 2400 x 1080 resolution. On-screen colours popped and high contrast levels gave everything a pin-sharp look. Scrolling, gaming and other chores all felt silky smooth. In terms of its brightness levels, the display peaks at around 800 nits. There are brighter displays out there, but for most phone-related stuff, it’s more than adequate.
Under the hood, however, the compromises needed to make the A94 affordable become apparent. While most flagship phones use the latest Qualcomm silicon, the A94 uses a slower (but more affordable) MediaTek CPU, which drives a Density 800U chipset. Sometimes there were lags when I had many apps running, or if I was using a particularly demanding app. But with most apps, the A94 was quite snappy. This is in part due to Oppo kitting it out with 8GB of RAM.
The A94 comes with five cameras: a 16MP selfie camera on the front and four additional cameras around the back. These consist of a 48MP primary shooter, an 8MP ultra-wide camera, a 2MP macro shooter and a 2MP Mono camera.
Shooting in a mix of conditions provided surprisingly good photos. Part of this is attributable to the many shooting modes available. These range from an ai portrait mode, a night mode, plus an ultra-stable mode and so on. Overall, colour reproduction and exposure looked good, and the night shooting mode also impressed. It was certainly better than I was expecting, given the A94’s affordable sticker price.
The non-removable 4310mAh battery plays to Oppo’s strengths and has plenty of capacity. It typically ran for just over a day with moderate to heavy use. When it needed topping up, Oppo’s Super Vooc fast-charging could give me over three hours of use with just five minutes of charging.
Another nice feature is the inclusion of dual 5G SIM support. This means you can run multiple phone numbers to keep work and personal calls separate. You can also take advantage of two different calling plans. Oppo has baked Wi-Fi calling into the A94, which means that in the absence of mobile coverage, calls can be routed over a Wi-Fi connection. For mobile reception dead spots, this is a handy feature. Wi-Fi calls are also treated as local calls when you’re roaming overseas.
While the 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage the A940 comes with might have sounded generous not so long ago, a growing number of phones are now shipping with 256GB of storage. Anyone with an extensive media collection will fill 128GB up in no time flat. But storage is expandable to 512GB using an SD card. That said, Google is killing off free unlimited photo storage in Google Photos. Forking out more cash for a MicroSD card on top of paying Google for more photo storage might be the straw that breaks the back of budget-conscious buyers.
Storage aside, the A94 is a pleasant surprise. Not only is it a great looking device, but it also packs a lot of features you’d find in a more expensive phone. It might not be a flagship phone price-wise, but from a design and features standpoint, it ticks many boxes – for just $499. If you’re looking for a decent phone and you’re on a budget, check out the A94; you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.