The R15 is OPPO’s newest smartphone contender. Just announced last week in China, the upper-midrange device is a sequel to the R11 and the R11s. But, in the sea of near-borderless devices, is the R15 just another notched phone?
GadgetMatch flew to China (yes, we do a lot of things to bring you tech content) to see what this phone has to offer.
But first, let’s get the confusion out of the way. There are two new OPPO releases: The R15, which is the Chinese version of the phone, and the R15 Pro, which will ship internationally later on. The latter has also been dubbed the Dream Mirror edition — a name that stems from a direct translation of its Chinese name.
The review unit we have is the R15 Pro. Let’s move on to the hands on! 😁
It looks good, it feels good
Unlike its predecessor, this newer release now has a glass back which makes for a very sexy look. Admittedly, I still shudder to think about what can happen if and when I end up dropping any of these glass phones. But, the R15 Pro’s sexy, shiny new looks just make the risk worth it. OPPO also claims that this new material is stronger than the traditional metal or glass used in smartphones — and it certainly doesn’t feel like a fragile phone.
If there’s one thing I’m happy about with recent phone releases, it’s the new color gradient trend. This subtle touch makes for very pretty detail. OPPO has experimented with this before: The “Starry Sky” screen on the R11s is basically a color gradient on the phone’s screen that fades into the colored body. Applied differently, and you have the R15’s cool gradient back.
Now on to the basics: Volume buttons are on the right, unlock button is on the right. The micro-USB is at the bottom together with the speakers and an audio jack.
That display, though!
Before anything else: Yes, there is a notch.
The OPPO R15 has a 6.29-inch OLED display with a 19:9 screen ratio, i.e. a taller screen. This means more content in each swipe.
But, when watching videos, as with any notch, it can get distracting.
Said notch only houses the camera, the earpiece, and the proximity sensor which makes it a smaller distraction on the screen, compared to other devices. OPPO claims that this handset now has a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio — though that doesn’t change the fact that the notch is still there. And unlike the newest Huawei release, there’s no option to hide it.
Same old, but different
Equipped with 12- and 16-megapixel shooters on its rear, the R15 packs the same cameras as its predecessor, the R11s (and the OnePlus 5T).
This time, however, the camera setup is equipped with artificial intelligence. It can recognize up to 120 different scenes and adjusts to them accordingly to ensure that the best possible photos are taken. With my time with the phone, however, this feature was slow and laggy. At times that the rear cameras did detect a scene, I couldn’t really tell what difference it made.
Although it rocks the same shooters as the R11s’, better camera sensors on this smartphone mean better HDR capabilities. I put it to the test with some difficult photos and here’s what I got.
Details are obviously better on the R15 Pro photograph. The leaves are visibly more detailed and bright compared to the R11s sample.
In some cases though, the R15 Pro’s HDR mode can wash out the contrast in against-the-light shots. Sure, this makes the subjects seem brighter, but there are times when HDR photos look a little washed out.
The rear shooters are now equipped with a Portrait mode that’s reminiscent of the iPhone’s similarly named mode. There are five options and each one supposedly creates different lighting effects. The results are as follows:
Bokeh cutouts are still good and that creamy blur is still on point — not that I doubted OPPO’s portrait mode, I loved it on their previous releases.
Photos with the rear cameras look like this:
Still the selfie expert?
OPPO, of course, still makes sure the selfie shooters are on point. Its 20-megapixel front-facing camera still has a beauty mode from levels one to six, and AI beauty mode for that more natural fresh-faced finish.
The AI on this thing is improved to recognize more feature points and allow for more beauty combos. Admittedly, there were instances where it did a little bit too much — in some selfies, my eyes looked like they were definitely enlarged. Still, OPPO’s AI beauty mode remains to be one my favorites as it smoothens your skin without making you look like you’re made of plastic.
There are also stickers on both the front and rear cameras — yes, folks, no need for Instagram or Snapchat filters!
Now, the true test of these stickers is how cute they are. Trust me, the ones on the R15 are adorable.
Under the hood
The R15 is powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage — which means it’s a pretty capable device. Of course, I tested this theory by playing a little bit of Sims Mobile, and I’m happy to report that everything worked smoothly.
A 3400mAh battery powers the device which lasts a day’s use, approximately. It also comes bundled with OPPO’s VOOC charger which means it has fast charging! This device still uses a micro-USB port, though, which makes me wonder when OPPO will ever make the switch to USB-C.
It runs on Android 8.1 Oreo and ColorOS 5.0 which will make navigating this phone easy if you were ever an iOS user. Unfortunately, this means no widgets — the one Android smartphone feature I’ve grown to love. Nevertheless, the phone is snappy, responsive, and easy to use.
R15 vs the R15 Pro
The two R15 versions look similar, but the R15 Pro’s curved back gives this variant a more graceful look. Otherwise, most things are found in the same places.
The main difference is what’s on the inside. The R15 Pro has a better processor compared to the R15’s Helio P60 processor. Rear camera combination is also different with the R15 Pro rocking a 20- and 16-megapixel duo with f/1.7 aperture on both shooters. The R15 has a 20- and 5-megapixel combo and only the main camera has that f/1.7 aperture. What difference does this make? Well, not a lot. In difficult shooting scenarios, though, the R15 Pro does shine brighter with better bokeh cutouts.
In terms of battery, however, the R15 trumps the Pro with a 3450mAh capacity — 50mAh more than the Pro’s.
In 2018, bezels are out and the newest OPPO release is a fresh borderless update. This upper-midrange device is a definite looker and it feels as good as it looks. I love holding this phone and that’s saying a lot — of course, looks matter when we’re talking about something you’d be touting around every day.
I was a little disappointed with how AI on the rear cameras performed, though. I’m still hoping that an eventual update will fix that. Of course, despite these AI hiccups, the R15 Pro is still up there on the list as one of the best midrange devices for selfies and rear-camera portrait modes.
Even considering these tiny incremental upgrades, I don’t see much of a difference between this and the R11s — a phone that’s made it to our Best Upper-Midrange Smartphone list and has remained there to this day. If you’re not running after the latest borderless device, I’d still strongly recommend the R11s.
If you are, however, looking for the most up to date, premium-looking device with great selfie capabilities at a midrange price point, the R15 Pro may just be for you.
The R15 retails for CNY 2,999 (US$ 475) and the R15 Pro retails at CNY 3,299 (US$ 525). Both are now available in mainland China; the R15 Pro will roll out in international markets soon.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Hands-on
Samsung isn’t giving up just yet
It’s been a year since the first foldable of Samsung was released. Fast forward today, we have another foldable on the track.
Say hello to the Galaxy Z Flip! Unlike the Galaxy Fold that turns into a tablet, this one is so compact, it can even fit inside your coin purse.
Head on to the video above to know more or click the link here.
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Unpacked features just for you
2020 is a year where Samsung is taking a leap of faith by getting out of its comfort zone. The Galaxy S20 may look like last year’s Galaxy S10, but it offers double the power and features than its predecessor.
But does that mean the prices also doubled? Find out more by watching the video above or through this link if you can’t access it.
PH3 wireless headphones is a wearable Filipino pride
A limited-edition offering that gives back
Electronics manufacturer H-Audio has been providing quality products to its market when it comes to audio solutions. While they have a select lineup of offerings, it caters to different types of users.
What we have here is the PH3 that screams Filipino pride as soon as you put it on. Read on and find out if it performs as good as it looks.
It has a straightforward design
Three stars and a sun on each earcup
Solid build quality
Clasps comfortably on the head
Comfortable ear cups
What I personally like about the PH3 when it comes to design is how it has a minimalistic kind of approach with just the three stars, sun, and stripes of red and blue. Apart from these Philippine flag-inspired colors, everything else is white. Sure, it might require extra effort to keep it clean, but it’s just something that works aesthetically.
Build quality feels durable and not flimsy which is what I look for next to sound quality. This is made possible by using stainless steel for the headband support and hard plastic for the rest — making it light, but tough.
It has a nice fit around the ears and wearing it for extended periods of time was still comfortable thanks to its memory foam earmuffs. I’ve used it a couple of times while running on the treadmill and the earcups remained snug and in place.
When it comes to sound quality, let’s get to the point — the PH3 delivers. It’s got warm and distinct mids, decent highs, and impressive lows. The overall sound is what you’d expect of closed-back headphones and leans on the muffled side of the sound spectrum.
One thing I noticed, though, is that sound leaks a little to the outside world so you might want to keep that in mind when you’re in an elevator with other people or something.
Connection via Bluetooth was easy and automatically pairs to the phone each time the headphones is turned on. That alone is a big check for me.
The company says it has up to 20 hours of battery life. While I was not able to continuously use it, the headphones lasted me about five days with ANC off and mainly using it for music at the gym, walking around the neighborhood, or even just at home.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
H-Audio’s PH3 is a reliable pair of cans with minimal drawbacks. It might require extra care to keep it clean and sound leak at full volume might be an issue for a select few. Looking past those, however, you have a good set of headphones that not only performs well but also looks attractive with its touch of a local theme.
Additionally, its features like wireless connectivity and Active Noise Cancellation make operations easier and add to the overall music-listening experience.
Priced at PhP 7,480, proceeds will go to platforms to raise funds and help the underprivileged Filipino youth. The PH3 is available in select The Loop by Power Mac Center branches, Urban Gadgets, and The Listening Room. For more list of stores carrying their products, visit their Facebook page.
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