The budget mid-range smartphone market needs no introduction. This market is usually dominated by Chinese brands such as Oppo and Vivo. In 2017, Oppo launched the new F5 series – their latest creation to compete in this market. The series consists of 3 products – the F5 Youth, regular F5 and the F5 6GB, with a price tag of RM988, RM1298 and RM1698 respectively. In this review we will be focusing on the mid-ranger – the regular F5. Does it have what it takes to survive in this heavily competitive market? Let’s find out.
The Oppo F5 comes in a white box with the image of the device on the front. The phone is immediately presented on the top once the top cover is lifted off. Another box is presented once you lift the tray that the phone is sitting in, and in it contains a hard transparent case with nice textures, some documentations and a tray removal tool. The rest of the box contains the usual accessories – a USB wall adapter, a microUSB cable and a pair of earphone.
Appealing and beautiful
The Oppo F5 spots a rather attractive and appealing design. Gone are the copy-cat design that are found on their older devices, the Oppo F5’s design is based off the latest R11s, which signifies Oppo’s latest design language. The overall design looks like the Vivo V7+, but with touches which seperates the Oppo F5 from its Vivo V7+ cousin. It is more mature, more original design and everything is cleaned up pretty well. We’ve got less people asking us “isn’t that an iPhone?”, and that’s not necessarily bad as well. It’s well sized and fits comfortably in your hands, and even with the longer display, it is no taller than other devices with a regular display.
As for materials, like the Vivo V7+, it is a bit of a mixed bag. Covering the display is a full glass panel with Gorilla Glass technology. It is a really nice glass panel with coating that makes it real smooth, once you remove the cheap pre-included screen protector. As this is our long-term unit, we replaced it with another tempered glass screen protector immediately. It has rounded corners on all 4 sides too. The rest of the device might look like it’s constructed from metal, but looks can be deceiving. Like the V7+, the metallic-feeling unibody is actually plastic with metallic coating. We guess that at this price point, Oppo had to give up on something. We had nothing to complain about the body, as it’s smooth, expensive looking and helps in weight saving too, in which the Oppo F5 weights around 150-grams, which is average for this device.
A 6-inch display takes up almost the entire front panel, with very little room on top and bottom of the display. Like the V7+ and Honor 7x we’ve looked previously, it is in an 18:9 format. There’s no need for a wider device to accommodate such a large display. The bezels on both left and right sides are slightly larger than the ones found in the V7+ and 7x. There’s not much space on top and bottom of the display as well, but Oppo still managed to cramp a 20-megapixel camera, an earpiece and a couple of sensors on top. With little-to-no space at the bottom, Oppo has also switched to on-screen display.
The volume buttons are located on the left instead of the right like we’ve seen in other devices, but the power button remains conveniently located on the right. The removable tray is located right above he power button, and using the included or similar removal tool, it can be easily removed. The tray has all the slots that you’ll ever need, which includes 2 nanoSIM slots and a microSD slot, which most manufacturers are ditching. This means that you can run 2 SIM cards at the same time while enjoying the expanded storage.
The rest of the ports are at the bottom, and it’s in a slightly different order as well. A bottom-firing speaker is on the left, followed by a microUSB port, a microphone and an 3.5-mm external audio jack.
The back panel looks clean and simple. It has curved edges on both left and right which makes a breeze to hold in your hands. A 16-megapixel camera is to the top left, with a single-LED flash next to it. With no space on the front, Oppo has moved the fingerprint reader to the back, above the Oppo logo. That’s pretty much it for the back panel apart from some regulatory information at the bottom, and some chrome antenna lines running around.
The Oppo F5 is offered in 3 colours – a classy Black like our unit, Gold and Red. The red colour is only available if you step up to the 6GB model.
Specs and Performance
New processor, expected performance
Unlike Vivo V7+ who’s jumped on Qualcomm Snapdragon’s ship, the Oppo F5 has turned to MediaTek for their processor, opting for their new Helio P23 processor. It is an octa-core processor with all eight cores clocked at 2.3GHz. In some ways it is better than the Snapdragon 450 used in the V7+ with its higher clock speed, and it is aimed at devices at this price point. MTK’s new Helio P-series chips are said to be focus on efficiency, with increase in battery life without over-compromising on performance. Going along with the processor is 4GB of RAM.
In the real world, the F5 performed quite well. MTK has pretty much got rid of the usual quirks that is associated with a MTK chip – random freezing and slow performance. The F5 performs well under this chip. Simple and light tasks simply flew by, and well handled by the processor. The annoying random freezes associated with older MTK chips are pretty much non-existent. It could still use a quicker app loading time, but to be fair, it has a 18:9 display to deal with. When it comes to heavier tasks, even though there are signs of struggling, it’s so much better than previous MTK chips, and pretty much on par if not better than the V7+. Credit where credit’s due, the MTK chip has improved a lot, and the Oppo F5 performs better than expected for the price point.
Both the 4GB and 6GB model of the Oppo F5 settles for a 32GB storage, while most competitors at this price point have already moved to 64GB. While the read speeds are close to 300MB/s, the sequential write speed settled at slightly above 90MB/s. Nevertheless, you can expand the storage via microSD card without sacrificing dual-SIM functionality, and it will take cards up to 256GB.
The Oppo F5 also benefits with dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, along with Bluetooth 4.2. With the new P23 processor, Cat.6 LTE speeds can be expected. Data transfer and charging is through the microUSB port at the bottom of the device, which also supports OTG function with a manual toggle in the settings. There is also a FM Radio function in there, and it still requires an earphone to be plugged in.
Opting for a 18:9 display, there are no room at the front for a fingerprint sensor, which means that Oppo has to move it to the back. It’s not an exact round shaped sensor, but more of a cylindrical one. The matte surface sensor means accurate and quick reading, even when your fingers are slightly moist. You can’t do any gesture with the fingerprint reader, but as usual, Oppo’s screen-off gesture allows you to quickly launch the camera or toggle the flash light when the screen is off.
All hail the 18:9 display!
We’re actually happy to see Oppo jumped on the 18:9 bandwagon and are rolling it out for their more budget-oriented devices. On the F5 it measures 6-inch, and with the 18:9 display ratio, it is longer in terms of height compared to regular displays out there. With the taller display, it allows for more vertical content to be displayed. It’s also nice to see that Oppo opted for a 1080 X 2160 Full HD panel over a 720p panel like on the Vivo V7+. A quick calculation reveals the screen density – which is 402 pixels-per-inch. It’s definitely not the sharpest display out there, but it is adequate for most users, and it is pretty hard to pick up the pixels.
As for the panel, Oppo also went for the more budget-friendly LTPS IPS panel. Like on the 7x and V7+, it still has the core basics of an IPS panel – deep blacks with nice contrast level. In return you do get quite vivid colours, and it is tuned slightly towards the cooler side. Like the V7+, it could use more brightness, especially under sunlight. But overall, the experience is not compromised.
Seems like no effort is put in.
The speaker performance on the Oppo F5 is average as well. For starters, it features a bottom-firing mono speaker. It is not the best speakers out there, but it gets the job done. It has the loudness, but could use some work on bass and clarity. At higher volume, there is very little signs of distortion, but that’s ought to be expected at this price point.
If you dig into the settings, you can find Oppo’s Real Sound Technology, where it is developed to provide the most unfiltered sound as close to the original as possible. Of course, it will only work with a pair of earphones or external audio source, and there are several presets and EQ to play with.
So much mixed bag.
Calling themselves as the “selfie expert and leader” in the industry, the Oppo F5 is unsurprisingly revolves around their Selfie technology. So like the V7+, we had to talk about the front shooter as the primary camera. A 20-megapixel sensor with aperture of f/2.0 sits behind a 1/2.8” sized lens is in store for the front-facing camera. Oppo made a big hype on its new “AI beautification technology”, which uses artificial intelligence technology to help in more natural software beautification process.
Let’s start off with regular mode with all the extras turned off, and we are already impressed at the final image quality. It seems Oppo has put in lots of effort to make it a good camera. Of course, its best at sufficient lighting areas. You do get lots of details perfectly in focus. Colours are pretty nice too, with colours at the right levels, and more natural settings. It has the tendency to overexpose the face which ruins the colour balance, and moving to low-lighting conditions, it is what it is. There are quite a good amount of detail loss, and the colours go off as well. It does not feature a softlight on the front, and it relies on the screen for flash lighting. An addition of auto-focus and a wide-angle lens would’ve been a nice touch. The depth effect is also a hit and miss, and while most of the time it got the shapes right without the aid of a secondary lens, the effect just looks fake.
Switching over to beauty mode, this is where Oppo’s “A.I. beautification” steps in. Claims to “captures human beauty in all its forms”, it is supposed to apply a more natural beautification after analyzing over 200 positioning spots. To be honest, we only notice very little A.I. involved in the beautification process, although we still have to give credit for its natural software beautification if left in auto settings. Faces in the final image are smoother and cleaner, and easily deals with smoother skin tone.
As for the rear 16-megapixel shooter, it turned out to be quite a good camera. The Oppo F5 definitely captures good images when you need it to. Details are fantastic as usual, especially during bright lighting conditions. The colours are great as well, with vivid colours, but more true-to-life settings. Noise level are kept to a minimum. But, this is where we get to the elephant of the room – the inconsistent autofocus and exposure. While it captures great quality stills, it tends to miss focus or hunt for them quite a lot of time. Even if you touch on the object that you want to focus, at times it will still miss it even though it is easily in focus. It has bigger focusing issues with closer objects, and often you will find yourself frustrated with the autofocus. It also plays around too much with the exposure as well, where often it is overexposed. The Auto HDR settings works nicely, even though it can be a little tad slower.
As for low-light shooting, we are still happy with most of our stills. It does not try to bump up the ISO level too much which results in lots of noise, and it manages colour quite well for a device at this price point. There is still detail loss, but not a tremendous amount. Overall, its not too bad.
The Oppo F5 will only record videos up to 1080p, with frame rates capped at 30 frames-per-second. To be honest, its not the best shooter as well. Yes, you do get decent amount of details in the video, and at this point, we would just recommend to stick to 1080p for best results. While the option to record in 720p is available, its basically useless. Colours are pretty well balanced as well. But, the constant focus-hunting issue is present here as well, and it totally ruins the video. Unless you lock the focus which you can do by tapping and holding on the spot that you want to focus on, it gives the video a drunk effect which won’t be pleasant for most people. The inclusion of any form of stabilization would be nice too, but most devices at this price point does not offer that as well.
The camera app on the Oppo F5 is clean and logically laid out, iOS style. There are some shortcut toggles on the left, which the shooter, preview and camera switch toggle is on the right. Swiping up and down on the viewfinder switches to different modes. There’s no tonnes of hidden features or settings buried deep in the app, and the settings are located in the Settings app rather than in the camera app itself.
Looks familiar…. Hmmmm…
The Oppo F5 comes with Android 7.1.1 right out of the box, which is also a good start. On top of that, Oppo has added their ColorOS 3.2 user interface, which is pretty much the same as previous Oppo devices, but updated to adapt to the longer display and newer elements. As always, their ColorOS user interface looks a little too similar to iOS, down to the home screen layout with app drawer, the preloaded applications as well as the icons. But, it is easy to use, and does not have too much unnecessary apps to deal with. It does make Oppo devices stand out among the rest, and we have to give them credit for that.
The Oppo F5 is packed with a non-removable 3200mAh battery, which is right in line with its competitors. In our real world test, a heavy day returns around 25-30% at the end of the day, and it is slightly better than the V7+. It’s not the best or mind-blowing, but still, it is respectable. Most people will get better battery life with lighter usage. It will ask you to turn on power saving mode once the battery dips below 20%, and it will slightly extend your usage time.
As for charging, the Oppo F5 relies on a regular 2A charging through the microUSB port. Oppo’s proprietary VOOC fast charging is nowhere to be seen. Using the included charger, a 30-minute charge will bring a flat battery to around 30%, and a full charge takes just under 3 hours.
To Wrap Things Up
The Oppo F5 can be best described as a mid-range device that stands out with its large display. There are features that might make the Oppo F5 a let-down, but, to be fair, at this price point, it performs way better than expected. The days where budget mid-range devices perform the way their price suggests are over, and luckily, the Oppo F5 is a surprisingly likable phone to use for the price point. It is a nice thing to see Oppo stepping up its game.
The 18:9 ratio display
New MTK processor – peppy and battery saving
A.I. beautification technology is natural and works quite well
Impressive device for the price point
The constant focus hunting
Low-light camera performance could be better
Operating system features can be a mess
Video quality is just alright
Speaker performance is not great