Sometimes you have to see things to believe it. For these smartphones, I not only saw — I saw double.
The much-awaited OnePlus 5 was very recently released. OnePlus, which prides itself in creating “flagship killers,” came up with a device with premium specs at a price tag that’s significantly lower. People have been quick to point out, however, that the newest flagship killer looks a little too much like the thing it wants to kill. *ehem* iPhone 7 *ehem*
But ladies and gentlemen, that’s a lie. The OnePlus 5 doesn’t look exactly like the iPhone 7 — it looks exactly like (the very recently released) OPPO R11.
Both smartphones have 5.5-inch displays and are roughly about the same size. They also both run on Android 7.1 Nougat with the R11 on ColorOS and the OnePlus5 on OxygenOS.
These smartphones come in a variety of colors: The R11 is available in gold, rose gold, black, and a special edition red version, while the OnePlus 5 comes in midnight black and slate gray.
Both matte black versions look stunning (and, well, identical).
The curved edges feel nice in your hands and both phones have a premium feel to them. Buttons and ports on both phones are similarly situated. On its side, the OnePlus 5 has what has been dubbed as the “Horizon Line” — a continuous line “casting one half in light and the other in shadow.” What this is, basically, is a continuous graceful line around the phone’s side; a small detail that isn’t on the OPPO R11 (not that you’d notice).
Beyond the surface
Though the OnePlus 5 is slightly (.5mm, to be precise) thicker than the OPPO R11, it may be well justified.
The difference between the two lies in what’s on the inside. The flagship killer is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor (i.e., the same processor on flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S8, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, and HTC U11) while the OPPO R11 is powered by a Snapdragon 660 (the newest processor for midrange smartphones).
Unlike the R11, the OnePlus 5 is already equipped with a USB-C port, the newest standard in Android phones (also known as that port they put on the latest MacBook Pro).
OnePlus has been widely criticized for its previous phones’ protruding camera bumps. I’m glad to report that both smartphones have minimal bulge. The R11’s seems more pronounced but at this point, to notice that slight difference is just nitpicking.
Both smartphones pack 20- and 16-megapixel cameras in the rear with built-in portrait modes and automatic depth effect, or what is usually called bokeh mode.
The dual-camera setup also allows for 2x zoom on photos (the better to stalk people with! Ha ha ha, I kid ?) See below:
Of course, when we talk about front-facing cameras, the Selfie Expert exceeds in terms of specs. The OPPO R11 has a 20-megapixel sensor up front trumping the OnePlus 5’s 16-megapixel camera.
The beauty mode is built into both cameras, but the end selfies can be quite different. OnePlus’ beauty filter is more subtle than the R11’s, although these filters on both smartphones may be adjusted to your airbrushing preference.
Because these two phones look amazingly similar, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing the two and clumping them into the same bracket. But, it’s really what’s on the inside that counts.
These two smartphones were (not very obviously, because of their twinsie situation) designed for different markets and function well for the group they were designed for — the OnePlus 5 for the practical techie in the market for a flagship smartphone worth their buck, and the OPPO R11 for the selfie enthusiasts who value photography above all else on the smartphone they own.
We’ve always been told never to judge a book by its cover, but these aren’t books and if we were to judge the outside, these two are looking pretty sleek; choosing between them now is only a matter of where your priorities lie.
OPPO A3s hands-on: A budget champion
Let’s consider this as an F7 Lite
The focus in today’s smartphone market is on the midrange segment. However, the budget category is also a strong market, especially for developing countries or for people who are looking for a no-frills phone.
Here we have the OPPO A3s, a competitively priced phone that keeps things in balance to give great value for your money.
It’s got a 6.2-inch HD+ display with a pretty wide notch
The notch houses the selfie camera, earpiece, and sensors
To the left are the volume buttons and card tray
In true OPPO fashion, it’s got three card slots
The right side only has the power key
The bottom is pretty busy with the speaker and micro-USB port
The back is pretty plain with just the rear cameras
Looks and performs like an F7 Lite
With the F9’s waterdrop notch already becoming popular, a wide notch feels quite like an outdated design. But for a budget phone, it’s something we should accept. Actually, it got a similar design to the F7’s which was released earlier this year.
The phone’s 6-inch display is an IPS LCD panel with a modest HD+ resolution and 19:9 aspect ratio. The screen’s quality is on par with more expensive models, minus the pixel density due to the lower resolution. But when it comes to color reproduction and viewing angles, there’s nothing to complain about.
With the latest ColorOS 5.1 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo, the user interface of the A3s is the same as with the F9 and even the more expensive Find X. It looks a lot like iOS, as always, with a hint of Android Oreo. I still have some issues with it though, like the difficulty of dismissing notifications.
As for the overall design of the phone, it’s mostly polycarbonate but it’s of high quality. It might feel plasticky on the hand, but there are no creaks or loose parts to worry about.
The plain back of the A3s might appeal to buyers who don’t want flashy patterns and fancy gradients. You can put on a case, since the design of the rear doesn’t really matter. Speaking of, there’s a transparent jelly case included in the retail package.
Specs-wise, it’s quite tricky to recommend the A3s for those looking to have a powerful midranger. Why? It has a Snapdragon 450 processor with 2GB of memory and 16GB of expandable storage. The processor is more than capable for games, apps, and everyday use, although the low 2GB of memory and limited 16GB storage are bottlenecks.
I tried to fill up the phone with graphics-intensive titles which take more than a gigabyte. Surprisingly, I didn’t have any issue with graphics performance as long as they were set to default. But, I did encounter a low memory warning after downloading a few heavy games.
Lastly, inside the A3s is a big battery. OPPO didn’t skimp on the capacity at 4230mAh. Expect the phone to last for up to two days of regular use. What’s missing, though, is a fast charger inside the box.
Equipped with decent shooters
Despite being a budget phone, the A3s still has similar features from higher-end OPPO phones like dual rear cameras. Equipped with 13- and 2-megapixel sensors at the back, the A3s can take decent photos with a good amount of details. The dynamic range is a bit lacking, but it’s nothing that photo editing apps can’t fix.
When it comes to selfies, the 8-megapixel front camera still lives up to the OPPO standards of self-portraits. It features AI-powered beautification which you can always turn on if you feel like taking a fresh-looking image of yourself.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
If you’re looking for a decent budget phone, then go for the OPPO A3s. Its fast processor and huge battery capacity are already great selling factors. While its memory and storage capacity might turn off some, the budget-conscious should still see its great value.
The OPPO A3s is priced at PhP 6,990 in the Philippines and INR 10,990 in India. There’s also a better variant with 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage which you should get if you can — it’s priced at PhP 9,990.
OPPO F9: All about that notch
Is this notch more forgivable?
In our OPPO F9 hands-on, we go through everything that’s changed, such as VOOC charging and dual cameras coming to the F series. And just when you thought the notch is dead, OPPO is bringing it back two months after the release of its futuristic bezel-less smartphone.
Fortunately, it looks very different from what we’re used to! Is this notch more forgivable?
ZTE Nubia Red Magic hands-on: A stylish gaming phone
One look and you know it’s a gaming phone
Not all smartphone manufacturers create a gaming phone. Technically, flagship smartphones with top specs are ideal for gaming but they lack the appeal and design. When Razer announced their own phone, it was true to its Razer branding but lacked the RGB lighting we’ve known from PC gaming peripherals.
I spent a few days with the Red Magic and here’s my hands-on.
It looks like a true gaming smartphone
The Red Magic practically screams “extreme gamer” due to its sharp, hexagonal cutouts, red vents and details, and the glowing LED strip on the back.
However, it’s still your usual premium Android device with a 6-inch Full HD+ display. It’s got an 18:9 aspect ratio and, thankfully, there’s no notch that’ll get in the way when playing games.
The top and bottom bezels are not as thin as the Galaxy S9’s, so there’s still some room for your thumb on the side when holding the phone in landscape with two hands.
Overall, the phone feels really solid thanks to its aluminum unibody, but to make things a bit special and more gaming-focused, the back of Red Magic is a bit curved making it comfortable in my hands.
On the side, it has what they call the “Compete Button” which reminds me of the alert slider on OnePlus’ phones. Instead of shushing notification sounds though, Red Magic’s slider puts the phone in tip-top performance. This is useful when you’re about to play a game.
The Compete Button not only improves the phone’s performance, but it also triggers some settings like blocking app notifications to avoid unnecessary pop-ups while playing. You can also set it to block the virtual navigation button from showing up accidentally.
Most importantly, the Compete Button activates the RGB LED strip at the back. It’s a visual cue showing that the Red Magic is ready to take on the challenge. The LED strip has four preset effects: Skyline, Rainbow Ribbon, Laserwave, and Voice Controlled.
It’s fun to play around with the effects, but my personal favorite is the Voice Controlled option. Well, it’s not exactly based on your own voice but rather with the audio of the game you’re playing.
The light strip also acts as notification light if you wish. Just be sure to lay the phone flat on a table so you won’t miss it.
The rear of the phone is quite intriguing but also distinct. There are four red lines on the corners which I first thought are all speakers. But, only one of them is the actual loudspeaker and it’s the one at the lower left. Even though it’s a mono back-firing speaker, it’s loud and has good bass.
When it comes to power, the Red Magic is not lacking but it could have had a better processor. The phone sports last year’s Snapdragon 835 processor which is a step down compared to this year’s flagship phones. At least it’s paired with 8GB of memory and 128GB of internal storage.
The Snapdragon 835 is still a capable processor with the Adreno 540 GPU. I managed to play a number of games on the Red Magic, and the device was able to handle them like magic. PUBG ran smoothly with the highest settings and the new Asphalt 9: Legends was flawless and stunning on the screen.
The Red Magic was even the best-performing Snapdragon 835-powered phone on AnTuTu’s list. It managed to be in the top ten of the most powerful Android phones last June which is dominated by phones with Snapdragon 845 processor.
Does it have good cameras?
A gaming phone still needs cameras. There’s a 24-megapixel f/1.7 rear shooter which takes good-looking photos. Thanks to the large aperture of the camera’s lens, it can take great photos even in low-light.
Here are some samples:
It might not be the best camera phone around, but that’s not the focus of the Red Magic. It lacks a secondary sensor for bokeh or other effects, but the camera launcher has a couple of modes you can play with including manual shooting. For selfies, there’s an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture.
Is this you GadgetMatch?
Hard to tell if the phone will impress mobile gaming enthusiasts out there, but the design of Nubia Red Magic is certainly a head-turner. The red accents might be too common in the world of gaming, but the unique RGB LED strip at the back sure gives its own persona.
The Nubia Red Magic is available in China starting at CNY 2,499 for the base variant with 6GB of memory and 64GB of storage. The high-end version I have here with 8GB of memory and 128GB storage is priced at CNY 2,999. In the US, it’s priced at US$ 399 through Indigogo but the funding project is already closed.
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