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Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Review

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Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Review

1. Introduction

Oppo just announced its R15 flagship duo, which not only represents the latest and greatest from the world’s fifth largest manufacturer, but also comes to show what to expect from OnePlus and Vivo – the other two in BBK Electronics’ smartphone trifecta.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro

The better specced member seemed like a mouthful at first, carrying the clumsy Dream Mirror Edition title, but Oppo assured us that it will be known as the much simpler R15 Pro. With that silliness out of the way, we can take the R15 pair a bit more seriously.

Oppo R15 at a glance

  • Body: Aluminum body, glass front, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, 155.1 x 75.2 x 7.4 mm, 175 grams
  • Display: 6.28-inch AMOLED, 1080x2280px, 401ppi, 2.5D glass
  • OS: Android 8.1 Oreo with ColorOS 5.0 on top
  • Chipset: Mediatek Helio P60, 4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A53, octa-core CPU, Mali-G72 MP3 GPU, 6GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB internal with microSD hybrid (SIM2) expansion slot
  • Rear Camera: Dual 16MP, f/1.7, 1/2.6″, 1.22 µm, PDAF, plus 5MP, f/2.2, LED flash, 4K video recording
  • Front Camera: 20MP, f/2.0, 1080p video recording
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM, Dual 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 4.2, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, A-GPS/GLONASS, NFC, microUSB 2.0
  • Battery: 3,450mAh non-removable, VOOC Flash Charge 5V/4A
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted)

Oppo R15 Pro at a glance

  • Body: Ceramic body, glass front, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, 155.3 x 75 x 7.5 mm, 175 grams
  • Display: 6.28-inch AMOLED, 1080x2280px, 401ppi, 2.5D glass
  • OS: Android 8.1 Oreo with ColorOS 5.0 on top
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SDM660 Snapdragon 660, 4×2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260, octa-core CPU, Adreno 512 GPU, 6GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB internal with microSD hybrid (SIM2) expansion slot
  • Rear Camera: Dual 16MP, f/1.7, 1/2.6″, 1.22 µm, PDAF, plus 20MP, f/1.7, 1/2.8″, 1 µm, LED flash, 4K video recording
  • Front Camera: 20MP, f/2.0, 1080p video recording
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM, Dual 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, A-GPS/GLONASS, NFC, microUSB 2.0
  • Battery: 3,400mAh non-removable, VOOC Flash Charge 5V/4A
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted)

The differences between the include chipset – where the Pro has Snapdragon 660 rather than the MediaTek P60 and the camera – 16+20MP on the Pro vs 16+5MP on the lesser model. The Pro also rocks a ceramic body with a different finish, which gives it its lengthy Chinese name. Battery capacity difference is just 50mAh, which is barely worth a mention and while the chipset limitations mean no Bluetooth 5.0 on the vanilla R15 it’s hardly a big deal.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro

The 6.28″ notched OLED panel is shared between the two and so is the Color OS launcher running over Android 8.1 Oreo. Storage and RAM are also unchanged, so one has to wonder if the Pro version is worth the extra cash. That’s a question for another day though – one where we will have the full review completed. For now, lets focus on handling the two phones and see how they work beyond the official presentations and fancy promo videos.

2. Performance

As you can imagine, the MediaTek Helio P60 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, inside the Oppo R15 and R15 Pro, respectively, aren’t exactly created equal. Still, they are both mid-range chips that combine more than enough power for a fluid Android navigation, with battery efficient manufacturing processes – 12nm and 14nm, respectively.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Review

We managed to run a few quick benchmarks on both R15 models and starting with CPU performance, the pair of chips is actually not that far apart. That’s plenty of number-crunching power for most any everyday task. The pair can even kind of compete in with last year’s top Snapdragon 835 chipset in this department, which is a pretty good testament to how far mid-rage silicon has come in the last few months. Then again, it is a bit of a disappointment that last year’s Oppo R11 and R11s models are practically just as potent as their successors.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro performance

Things between the two R15 units look a bit different on the GPU side of things. The Mali G72MP3, just can’t keep up with the Adreno 512 inside the R15 Pro, as well as the Oppo R11 and R11s. The new even taller screen ration means a slight bump in on-screen resolution as well, which leaves the newer R15 Pro at a slight rendering disadvantage, compared to its predecessors. However, that’s only the synthetic loads talking, in real life terms, there is no discernible difference.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Performance

There are some modem differences as well, but we won’t get into that now as they are hardly too great.

Looking at some compound benchmarks, like AnTuTu and Basemark OS 2.0, we find some more, pretty solid performance from the R15 pair.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Performance

While neither of the phones is a slouch in real world terms, if raw performance is what you are after, then you can probably get more value for your money elsewhere. Without even looking outside BKK Electronic’s own selection, there is the OnePlus 5T. Crucially its OnePlus 6 successor is expected to drop any day now, complete with the Snapdragon 845 and a very similar exterior. It probably won’t have any of the ColorOS exclusive goodies though and the two will likely be headed to different markets.

So the R15 has external rather than internal competition to worry about and early signs are encouraging that it has what it takes to handle that.

3. Software features

The camera is not the only part of Color OS 5.0 with new features to flaunt. One of the most notable additions to Oppo’s custom ROM has to be the Full Screen Gesture model. Bigger display and diminishing bezels and chins tend to pose some ergonomic concerns beyond a certain point. Oppo’s current design might not be exactly there yet, but the company is already trying its best to prepare for that.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Software Features Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Software Features Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Software Features

When enabled, Full Screen Gesture navigation positions three small lines at the bottom of the UI. Swiping up from the middle one acts like a home button, while swiping on the left one opens the recent apps manager and naturally, the right one acts as a back button. Long-pressing the middle dash also brings up the recent interface, while tapping to the left or right acts as a back button. You can also hide the lines, since they are only visual aids.

If you dislike the idea entirely, there is a standard Android navigation bar to fall back to as well.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Software Featues Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Software Features Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Software Features Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Software Features

Oppo AI facial unlock is now quicker than ever, with unlock speeds as low as 0.8 seconds. Oppo now intelligently collects 128 facial feature points to power the system. There are some interesting multitasking features on the Oppo R15 and R15 Pro as well, designed to make good use of the notched display. While in portrait mode, the little display areas on both sides can display three recently used apps and another three recently used operations. The default album app has some new AI smarts as well. We’ll make sure to get into all that in more detail in the full review.

4. Hardware

Embrace the notch! It seems to be the trendy thing in the Android realm lately. Coincidentally, it became so after Apple found itself unable to fit the FaceID tech on the front of the iPhone X without cutting a bit of the screen. Since most current Android devices don’t really have that much extra hardware around their front camera and still have chins below the display we are left with the feeling that a better solution might have been available but it is what it is.

And on the positive side the notch still gives you some screen around the earpiece and front camera which would have been completely wasted otherwise. So, for now, the notch is here to stay and present on both the R15 and R15 Pro.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro  Review

The pair also share an identical bottom chin, underneath the display. An argument can be made that it helps usability and Apple even had to leave it empty in most parts of the interface so the iPhone X would be easier to handle. Oppo’s userbase might not have reacted kindly to such UI overhaul. The company did try its hand at some “iOS-inspired” gestures, also lets you opt of of them and stick with a regular Android navigation bar and some light thumb-stretching.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware Oppo R15 and R15 Pro  hardware Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware review Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware review Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware review

Continuing with the external similarities between the Oppo R15 and R15 Pro – both have identical 1080 x 2280 pixel displays. On that particular diagonal, that adds up to about 401ppi and looks very sharp in person. The picture quality, colors and contrast in particular also benefit from the AMOLED technology of the panels. It’s a really refreshing sight to see the same punchy, vivid color space on the cheaper R15 as well.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro  hardware Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware

The R15 pair are so visually similar that they practically share the same body. The shapes and curves are absolutely identical. The weigh the same too, at 175 grams and you really have to dig deep into the official specs to see that one is just a hair taller and fatter, while the other, ever so slightly wider. In person, telling the two apart really is impossible.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro review

Well, almost impossible. If you do your homework, you will notice the two are available in slightly different finishes. The R15 has a glass back, while the Pro substitutes that for a classier and more exclusive ceramic. The finish feels slightly different to the touch. Choosing between the pair really in a matter of choice, but the ceramic should theoretically be a bit more scratch-resistant. On the other hand while both are real fingerprint magnets, the ceramic R15 Pro seems to collect even more grease than its glass sibling.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hard Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware Oppo R15 and R15 Pro hardware

Oppo collaborated with famed designer Karim Rashid to create quite a few trendy color options for the two phones. The R15 gets Rouge/Hot Red, Frost/Snow White and Nebula/Star Purple, while the ceramic R15 Pro has another pair of paintjobs: Ruby/Dream Mirror Red and Infinity/Ceramic Black. The Nebula/Star Purple and Ruby/Dream Mirror Red stand out, in particular, thanks to their gradient design. It makes for an interesting look, especially under sunlight.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro review

Back to listing similarities then – the camera setups look identical and so is the control layout. Clicky separate volume buttons on the left and and equally nice and tactile power button on the right. Height is well selected so the buttons sit comfortably under your fingers. The SIM card tray is also on the right side. It sits nice and flush with the rest of the frame and can house either 2 SIM cards or a single SIM and a microSD card slot. Both phones also have a 3.5mm audio jack – a welcome sight these days.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Oppo R15 and R15 Pro Oppo R15 and R15 Pro

That’s pretty good so far, but it is a little bit unfortunate both the R15 and R15 Pro only have a single speaker. Plus, both still use the slow and out of date microUSB 2.0 standard.

5. Familiar dual camera setup

The Oppo R15 and R15 Pro have dual camera setups, quite similar to the OnePlus 5T. That’s not exactly saying much, since the particular combination of cameras is kind of unorthodox and offers arguably more limited applications compared to other setups.

But, before we get to that, some praise is in order here for the IMX519 sensor, found inside both phones. Oppo claims it was co-developed with Sony, specifically for the pair. We appreciate the comparatively larger 1.22µm pixels that should enable better low-light performance.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro camera

So, besides the lack of OIS, we actually have no beef with the primary camera on the R15 pair. It’s the choice of the secondary one that mostly perplexes us. On the regular R15, that would be a simple 5MP, f/2.2 unit. Oppo mostly uses it for additional depth information to improve portrait shots. That’s kind of a missed opportunity already, but we can let it slide, since it is the budget option.

The R15 Pro, however, is a lot more inexplicable in its choice of a 20MP secondary snapper. It is not black and white, has practically the same field of view as the main one, so no ultrawide nor zoom capabilities. Not only that, but it has the same f/1.7 aperture, its sensor is a bit smaller at 1/2.8″ and it has smaller pixels, at 1µm, compared to the primary 16MP snapper. That means that it isn’t that much help with low-light shots either. So, it seems that its main purpose, beyond playing the PR numbers game, is providing depth information for portrait shots.

Oppo R15 and R15 Pro camera

While on the subject, we might as well start with a few portrait samples, we captured on the R15 Pro. Oppo has introduced new AI optimizations to its portrait mode, which include a number of new 3D lighting techniques.

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