Unlimited possibilities - a camera for every scenario
The OPPO A9 2020 comes with a multipurpose quad camera setup, including a 48MP main camera + 8MP ultra-wide lens + 2MP mono lens + 2MP portrait lens. The OPPO A5 2020 is similar but swaps for a 12MP main camera. The new quad cameras are engineered to capture every detail no matter the scenario.
The primary lens improves image clarity with higher resolution, while the 119-degree ultra-wide-angle lens makes it easier for everyone, and everything to fit into a single photo with added depth and dimension. The mono lens and portrait lens allows creators to add retro and atmospheric filters to portrait shots, for better personalisation of their images.
OPPO's latest stabilisation technology meets Kiwis growing demand for high-quality video content, with both models having a built-in gyroscope, enabling smoother filming for in-motion activities such as running, walking or cycling. As well as improved video filters that allow users to create their own movies with the press of a button.
Ultra Night Mode 2.0 allows users to create in the dark, enhancing pictures taken in super low light while HDR and multi-frame technology shoots multiple images continuously, reducing the noise, and combining them into one perfect clear image. Whether capturing bright city lights or dim country nights, with the A Series 2020 users never have to deal with dark, grainy photos again.
The A Series 2020 are equipped with a 16MP selfie camera and use AI beautification technology for natural and effortless selfies.
See the difference feel the difference
The OPPO A Series 2020 comes equipped with a compact waterdrop inspired screen for a better look and user experience. Its 6.5? immersive screen has a 89% screen-to-body ratio, with toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 3+. In addition, a Sunlight Screen improves screen readability under strong direct light, while a blue light filter relieves eye fatigue and better protects eyesight in low light.
Use it all day or use it to charge all your devices
A massive 5000mAh battery enables all-day use, capable of supporting 19 hours of continuous use. The battery can even reverse charge1 the user's other devices, truly placing power in the palm of their hand.
Fully immersive sound
Never miss a beat, the OPPO A Series 2020 boast 360-degree surround sound. With Dolby Atmos and Dual Stereo speakers users can immersive themselves with full-bodied, clear sound even at full volume to create a more thrilling, realistic and immersive audio experience.
The OPPO A Series 2020 also packs an ultra-powerful performance, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 platform, with an 8-core 64-bit processor. Built with the gamer in mind, Game Boost 2.0 accelerator technology offers improved Frame Boost and Touch Boost, both enabling lightning-fast game play response, by reducing touch screen latency and lag, for an overall better player experience.
Looks smart because it is smart
Both models run ColorOS 6, based on Android 9.0, providing a fresh visual experience that's more sleek, refined and comfortable even with heavy use. As well as fingerprint and facial unlock features, this operating system comes with a whole host of smart functions such as Smart Assistant and Gesture Navigation for more convenience, safety and overall versatility.
What's more, high-capacity and versatile memory options provide more space to record life's beautiful moments, such as a 128GB/64GB high memory capacity and a three-card (Dual Sim + MicroSD) slot that can support up to 256GB of memory.
When I got the A9, the first thing that struck me was the sheer look of it. The prismatic back gives it a distinctive visual appeal and looks stunning in good light. Having a glass back means it is smooth and feels very upmarket and premium, but also makes me uneasy about how well it would survive when dropped. The smooth reflective finish seems to pick up fingerprint smudges at the drop of a hat, so regular cleaning is advisable to avoid it getting quite dirty. While it does come with a rubberised slip-on case, once it goes on, the phone stops feeling so sleek and stylish and more like a kid's toy phone. It's a catch-22 that does no favours for the phone, either way you look at it. A metal case would have been far more in line with the level of quality implied by the price tag, and likely would have cost less than a glass back panel too.
Looking at the hardware, the 5000mAh battery makes for a great sounding package, and I got almost 2 full days of regular usage before I needed to put it back on to charge. Factors that contribute to this stunning performance include the screen type - it's not the OLED which is the default 'quality' option these days, but instead uses an IPS LCD screen that runs at the surprisingly low resolution of 720 x 1600px, and some very advanced power management software that seems to be able to eek out every last second of power and move it to where it is needed the most. However, this phone does not appear to support any fast-charge options like OPPO's SuperVOOC, so a full charge will take you 2-3 hours. While that may seem horrific to some, it's actually not that bad for a battery of this size.
The phone comes with 8GB RAM, which is quite high and well in line with expectations, however one of the best features of this phone, though not unique or groundbreaking at all, is the dual SIM + microSD card tray. I hate having to carry a personal phone and a work phone, but I also hate having to choose one SIM or the other in order to have extra storage for the (likely far too many) photos I shoot when I see something I want to capture, so the ability to have all the bases covered with one handset is highly appealing to me. I was also attracted to the support for Bluetooth 5.0 Low-Energy as it means this unit is ready for the next generation of BT devices. Though it does have NFC support, for me personally that's not a biggie since I don't use, or even like, that technology. But, for those that do, you get to use your PayWave or ApplePay at the EFTPOS terminal.
On the software front - As with all phones these days, it does come with a plethora of apps pre-installed, however many of them will do a clean uninstall, freeing up space and reducing background resource banging. I would have preferred the option of a list of recommended apps that are downloaded by user-selection only, but that is never going to happen, I suspect. At least OPPO are willing to give you the choice to remove them though, unlike some other phone manufacturers who seem determined to enforce your acceptance of their selection, requiring the user to set up a folder to drop all the unwanted apps into and lurk quietly in a corner or tolerate screens of pointless, unwanted icons.
Having a 720p display on a handset pitched at this level is sub-par by today's standards, and far below the specs one would expect from a phone in this price range. While the view is fine for your average user, for those who are aware of where the leading edge is, this phone will seem a little overpriced for what you get. When you factor in the 48MP camera, having a screen that won't even show you the photo you took at a good resolution seems somewhat antithical to the marketing. Still, it will suffice for those who don't need their games to play at max settings just to feel satisfied. The colour is very good, the sharpness is tolerable and the framerate is actually quite good, all things considered.
Running Android 9 Pie with OPPO's ColorOS 6.0.1 layered on top, the interface is in line with most other phones these days, but the one tiny thing that gave me great delight was the resurrection of the ability to suffle the order of the navigation buttons at the bottom. Having gotten used to Huawei's layout, I was surprisingly overjoyed by the discovery that I could rearrange the buttons and their order on the OPPO A9 2020, giving me "Back" on the left, "Home" in the middle and "Task Manager" on the right. Other options are available, and you can select the one that works best for you very easily. There are also an impressively wide range of UI options for customisation, so I would encourage you to explore them fully before you commit to buying one, so that you are certain it can work the way you do.
Powered by the Snapdragon 665, the CPU is good for day to day usage, but intensive games such as PUBG will give you trouble if you try to run them at the higher settings. This reduced 'grunt' impacts the overall performance significantly, and I was left feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the phone's ability to handle heavy workloads even for brief periods.
In terms of secure unlock features, you have the usual array of options, however the fingerprint sensor proved to be the top contender, being very fast, highly reliable and quite accurate. The facial recognition was also impressively accurate and effective, even in low-light situations, however the fingerprint scanner was noticably faster. Once again, the sensor is placed centrally, below the camera array on the back - a location that while convenient and simple for left- or right-handed operation, does mean that the cameras require regular wipe-downs to get the fingerprints off the lenses. I always wonder why the cameras are not arrayed in a horizontal format across the top of the back-plate - there must be some reason, but it baffles me because it would open up some amazing options for stereoscopic videography.
For me, my phone is now my primary work-related image-capture device, replacing a DSLR and three smaller cameras. I found this camera to be quite good overall - there was little to no colour variance, the sharpness was quite good, and of course at 48MP there were plenty of pixels to allow me to crop the images down without having to stretch the image to fit my final sizes. This meant that I never really felt the need to use digital zoom to get the shots I wanted - I could snap the shot and not be bothered about all the extra content, knowing that it would get trimmed away and still leave me with a sharp, unstretched image except in the worst case scenarios.
The only significant issues I found were the somewhat sloppy auto-focus, and the awkwardness of getting the camera to activate the wide-angle lens. In the end, it became more convenient and less troublesome to simply get a clip-on wide angle lens and use the camera in it's most basic modes only. The current trend of simulating a short depth of field by using edge-detection and information from the 2MP depth sensor is something that is still hopelessly mired in trouble, and reverting to a physical aperture would be a stunning leap forward in image quality, in my opinion. While I can imagine there are significant hurdles to this, OPPO lead the way with a physical zoom rig so I have some hope they may address this hurdle with the same ingenuity and dedication they showed that barrier.
On the flip-side of that, one of the highlights turned out to be the Night Mode. Providing extremely good images in very low light situations, I was quite blown away by the results of my early tests. None of the grainy, badly-exposed imagery I am used to from other phone cameras in similar situations. I ended up taking this camera down into an underground cave system, where there is minimal lighting provided by a number of natural skylights, so I was very curious to see what the camera could pull out from the gloom, and I have to say the shots I got struck me as nearly impossible at that level of light! Naturally, it's a long-exposure methodology, so you need to have a solid stand for the camera, but the crisp edges and brightness gave me a great indication of just how much research went into getting this singular facet right.
Aimed, as usual, at the Selfie Generation, OPPO boosted the front camera to a worthwhile 16MP, and packed their software with plenty of features that will allow even the most self-absorbed selfographer plenty to play with, including AI-enhanced beautify controls to make your face look nothing at all like it really does. I do not use these features at all, and I really don't like that manufacturers see promoting this unadulterated nacissism as part of their growth market strategy... but it is what it is, and the tools installed on this phone do work. How well they pull off their voodoo is entirely up to you to determine, based on your needs and desires.
While the screen will only display 720p, the camera will happily record video at 1080p and even 4K, further reaffirmation of the dedication this series has towards those who are hard-core into selfies and 'online influencer' style content creation. However, the best you will get is 30fps - there's no 60fps capture ability, and the wide-angle lens doesn't work for video at all. This last point even more strongly reaffirms my decision to adopt clip-on lenses for anything above "basic snapshots". That said, the digital image stabilisation is highly impressive, rivalling the capabilties of my dji Osmo handheld gimbal without adding the extra weight. It proved to be one of the two major image-relevant highlights of this device, along with the impressive results from the Night Mode. Running at a close third place was the natural colour gamut in video mode, giving a less oversaturated image, but still retaining the range of shadows and highlights. Of particular note, shooting plantlife gave crisp, natural greens and not the washed-out yellowed-greens that I sometimes get in patchy light when using my other phone camera.
The sound was actually surprisingly good - great for calls, and the Speakerphone mode was clear and crisp. Having stereo speakers, and the Dolby Atmos, meant that the depth and richness of movie soundtracks was maintained at very tolerable levels. There was even some decent bass tucked away in there, which helped salvage the phone somewhat. While I don't tend to use my phone to watch movies, I still enjoy listening to music while I potter around with household chores or if I am on a long drive, so this is at most a minor feature for me. Switching to a Bluetooth speaker or headphones will make this point utterly irrelevant though, so it's a minor victory at best.
Overall, I thought the phone had a lot of potential, but has missed the mark it aims for at this price range. It's quality gear for the most part, but the lack of some key features and a better video resolution made it lacklustre against the sales pitch. Is it worth buying? Certainly, but only once the price has dropped $100-$150. It would be a phone I would gladly hand over $300 to get, and would still consider it viable at $350. More than that is simply too much for what you get when held to the current leading edge of the tech. Still, it is well on the way to being a good base to grow from. Better screen, better CPU, and they could justify the $500 RRP with ease.
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