Back in early 2017, we’ve got our hands on OPPO’s flagship back in the day – the OPPO R9S, and we’ve praised it for its value and performance, while still keeping it under RM2000. Since then, we’ve missed out on a few models of their R-series products. It’s mid-2018 now, and finally, OPPO is back with their flagship R-series – with the new R15 Pro. The R15 Pro is the better-specified ones in its line-up, with the alternative having a MTK processor. Of course, in our market, OPPO is more well-known for their mid-range F-series, with the latest being the F7. Does the higher price that the R15 Pro is being sold at, which is RM2399, worth it, or should you go with one of the many alternatives instead? Let’s find out.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, Octa-core processor (4x 2.2GHz, 4x 1.8GHz)
6GB RAM, 128GB internal storage, microSD support up to 256GB
6.28-inch AMOLED FullView display with notch, 19:9 ratio
1080 X 2280 pixels, 401 pixels-per-inch
16-megapixel + 20-megapixel rear-facing camera, dual-LED flash, video recording up to 4K
20-megapixel f/2.0 front-facing camera
3400mAh non-removable battery, VOOC fast charging
The unboxing experience of the R15 Pro is already a great start. Unlike many other packaging, this one has a drawer where it slides off from the outer shell, which immediately reveals the device. The box that the device is sitting on contains the usual documentations, as well as a clear case and a tray removal tool. The rest of the box contains the rest of the bits, including a USB wall adapter which supports their own VOOC fast charging system, a microUSB cable and a familiar looking in-ear earphones.
This is one beautiful, premium looking phone.
Being a player in the premium mid-range segment, OPPO usually got it right in the design department. As usual, they have big holes to fill – to differentiate itself from the lower-priced F-series, to feel like a premium device, and stand out among its competitions. This time, we think OPPO has done a great job on the R15 Pro. It’s classy and elegant design really gives it that premium look that totally different from the F7. At first glance, it might even look like any of the flagships that usually costs more. For the price, the R15 Pro definitely excels in the looks department.
When you pick up the R15 Pro, you’ll understand the pricing that OPPO charges. Not only it looks good, it feels good in one’s hands too. The front and rear of the R15 Pro is made out of glass, real, premium feeling glass, along with a metal band that goes across the sides. The best thing about the glass is that it does not introduce lots of fingerprints. We feel that the R15 Pro just feels as premium as Samsung’s Galaxy S9+, which costs a lot more. At 180-grams, the R15 Pro is on the heavier side, but we can easily forget about it considering the build quality of the R15 Pro.
The display on the front measures at 6.28-inches, and it’s almost a full display. It has minimal bezels on both slides, while having lip at the bottom. There’s also a notch on the top too, which houses the earpiece, the 20-megapixel front-facing camera and a couple of sensors. Thankfully, the notch is small, which doesn’t obstruct the display too much. The lip at the bottom could be smaller, since it uses on-screen Android navigation controls.
Unlike most other smartphones out there, OPPO likes to keep its volume controls on the left, while the power button remains on the right. Above the power button is a removable tray, which houses a primary nanoSIM slot and a secondary hybrid slot, which as usual takes a second nanoSIM card or a microSD card for storage expansion.
There’s nothing on top except for a regular microphone, and the rest of the bottom is filled with the usual ports – including a bottom-firing mono speaker, a microUSB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The rear glass of the R15 Pro does curve in on both sides to give it that premium feel when holding it. On the top left is a pair of 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel sensors, sitting in their own housing. The entire housing itself doesn’t stick too far out from the rear glass, and most people won’t even notice it anyways. There’s a dual-LED flash next to the cameras. The gloss-surfaced fingerprint reader sits below that, where its conveniently accessible. There’s also a OPPO branding just below that.
While most devices out there only come with solid colours, the R15 Pro comes in a gradient type. Our ceramic black colour looks really classy, and slowly fades to a dark purple colour towards the bottom. The only other option is Dream Mirror Red, where the striking red colour also fades to a dark purple.
Specs and Performance
Average on paper, surprising in real life
To be honest, we’re not sure if the specs on paper alone is going to gain some points for the R15 Pro. Even with its premium looks, the R15 Pro is still a mid-range device, even though its price puts it at the top to the range. The R15 Pro is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 – Qualcomm’s latest processor for mid-range devices. The non-Pro version will come with a MTK processor, but that’ not available for our market. The cores on the Snapdragon 660 can go up to 2.2GHz for its higher-powered cores, while the rest is clocked at 1.8GHz. And yes, the 660 is a replacement for the 625 that’s present in the OPPO R9S. The R15 Pro also comes only in 1 configuration – with 6GB of RAM, paired with 128GB of internal storage.
Using the R15 Pro in real life definitely impresses us. The power that the Snapdragon 660 is enough for most tasks. Lighter tasks are nothing for the R15 Pro to handle. While most other mid-range processors do tend to suffer from random slow-downs, the R15 Pro doesn’t show much of that. It takes on the heavier tasks quite well too, and even under load, it’s still able to stay pretty cool. The 6GB of RAM that it comes with is more than enough for good amount of apps to be in the background.
Running Geekbench on the R15 Pro reveals a score of 1610 for single-core and 5829 for multi-core score. Both scores are still quite high for a mid-range processor.
The Pro version of the R15 also comes with 128GB of internal storage. While it’s not blazing fast, with read and write speeds at round 200MB/s, it’s sufficient for this device.
Thankfully, the R15 Pro is well-packed with latest connectivity options as well. A 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band WiFi is included, alongside with the usual WiFi Direct and Hotspot functionality. There’s also a NFC chip built-in as well, so you can use it for data transfers or make payments through supported platforms. Unfortunately, the R15 Pro still relies on a microUSB port at the bottom for charging and data transfer, and it only a 2.0.
In true OPPO style, the round fingerprint reader lies on the back of the device, and reaching it with the index finger is not a problem as it’s conveniently located. It has a gloss surface, but it’s quick to react, and pretty accurate for most of the time.
The R15 Pro also comes with Face Unlock, and like on Huawei devices, setting it up and using it is very simple. All it needs is a good angle of your face. Unlocking the device requires a swipe up on the display. Overall, it’s quick and easy to use, and pretty accurate, as long as you’re not wearing any face decorations.
Notch the FullView that I wanted.
Dominating the front of the R15 Pro is a 6.2-inch display. It’s of a 19:9 display ratio, which takes up most of the front panel. This means that it’s necessary to have a notch at the top, and thankfully, it’s not a big notch, but it’s still intrusive. It’s a regular 1080p display, but with extra pixels to accommodate the longer shape. With that said, the display density is at a regular 401 pixels-per-inch, and it’s good enough using it in the real world. It’s hard to pick up the pixels, and text and images shown are crisp and sharp.
Being a device with the “Pro” tag, we’re also happy to see OPPO chose an AMOLED panel for the R15 Pro. While it’s still an AMOLED panel, it’s more of a basic AMOLED panel. It doesn’t pop as much as what Samsung’s panel can offer, but to be fair, it’s good enough. You do get vibrant colours and it goes pretty bright, thanks to the nature of AMOLED panels where pixels won’t light up when not needed, creating a deep black effect which makes the colour pop. Using the R15 Pro under the sun won’t be a problem for most people, and the great viewing angle is a plus.
Still no stereo speakers, but at least there’s improvement.
Weirdly, stereo speakers are still something that only exists on expensive flagship smartphones. With that said, the R15 Pro relies on a good old bottom-firing mono speaker. But hey, compared to recent OPPO devices that we’ve reviewed, the performance on the R15 Pro is improved. For a mono speaker, it is still quite clear. They could still use a bit of bass though, but overall, it’s still pretty loud.
Here we go with the AI-assistance again.
The R15 Pro pretty much shares the same camera setup as the OnePlus 5T – which involves a combination of 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel sensor. OPPO claims that the primary sensor – the 16-megapixel sensor is using Sony’s IMX519 sensor, which is a good start. The secondary sensor – the 20-megapixel sensor, shares the same focal length with the primary camera, and it’s not even a black-and-white unit, which is the same as the OnePlus 5T. So, it’s there mainly just to provide depth information which aid in portrait mode. We’ve no idea what’s the reasoning behind that, but hey, at least they same some numbers to boast about.
Image quality wise, the R15 Pro is pretty much a good shooter in well-lit conditions. The level of detail is spot on; you can really see the details in an image. There’s also good colours and very well-balanced contrasts, which makes the colours look vivid. It still needs a little bit of work on the dynamic range side, which is what making the skies looking noisy. Like older Samsung devices, there seems to be a little bit of over sharpening, which makes some really nice details looks unnatural. The HDR works great if you leave it in auto mode, as it works really well at getting the images balanced.
Of course, the huge 20-megapixel sensor is there for depth information, and you’d expect it to take good quality portraits. Still, it gets the job done alright, and it really doesn’t like complicated shapes. The times where it gets everything right, the effect looks pretty real. But still, you can’t use the R15 Pro to replace expensive camera gears.
The secondary 20-megapixel sensor comes to life when shooting in darker conditions, and it combines 4 pixels into one which results in brighter image with lesser noise, which is pretty much the same as the OnePlus 5T. For some reason on the R15 Pro it’s upsampled back to 16-megapixels instead of 20 on the 5T, and it doesn’t work as well for our case. You can still kind of see the noise, which affects the details. The dynamic range issue that we’ve mentioned above doesn’t help too much as well, and most of the time brighter areas are overexposed. The lack of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) also means that bit of accidental movement will cause blur in image. By no means it’s a horrible shooter, and the way it works is still pretty smart, just that there are better results out there with similar solution.
The R15 Pro also supports video recording in 4K. There’s only 3 options – 4K, 1080p or 720p, all in 30 frames-per-second. In 4K images are quite nice, have lots of details, good colour balance and rather smooth frame rates. There’s still a little choppiness going on, but overall still a good experience. As per usual, there is an electronic image stabilization, but it only works in 1080p and below. If you want the resolution, you can record it in 4K, but we still think that 1080p offers the best of both worlds.
Of course, with any OPPO devices, they had to talk about how great their front-facing camera is. On the R15 Pro, a 20-megapixel sensor is put to application, in typical OPPO style. It’s a 20mm lens with aperture of f/2.0, combining that with OPPO’s own AI-assisted software beautification. Those who loved their selfies will like the front-facing camera of the R15 Pro, as it produces good quality selfies. The software assistance on the beautification also automatically detects points on faces and apply the correct amount of beautification without compromising the entire image. But, things like front-facing flash, wider angle and auto-focus is still missing. It might cost a lot more for them to add in those features, but since they’re going all out about their selfie performance, might as well, right?
Of course, like other OPPO devices, we’re greeted by a camera app that looks pretty much the same as what you might get from Apple’s iOS. The setting toggles are on the left, while the modes, shutter, camera change and preview buttons are to the right. You can switch to different modes by tapping on them if they are visible, or swiping up and down. The settings for the camera is buried inside the phone’s Settings app. There are a few lighting modes to choose from in portrait mode, and lots to play with in PRO mode.
Different, fresh but buggy.
As with OPPO devices, the R15 Pro is shipped with Android 8.1 right out of the box, and on top of it lays their ColorOS 5.0 customization. Like always, everything has been changed, and there’s little to no resemblance of a vanilla Android operating system. Even the home screen doesn’t have an app drawer unlike regular Android devices. On the plus side, the design and usability is pretty consistent compared to previous versions, and previous OPPO smartphone users will immediately feel right at home. It may look like one heavy operating system, but it feels light and quick. We’re also glad that there is not much bloatware that was shipped with the R15 Pro. Still, the experience isn’t as nice as regular Android skin, which is what OPPO should be working on in the first place.
Enough for most uses.
Packed in the R15 Pro is a 3400mAh non-removable battery, which weirdly, is 50mAh lesser than the non-Pro model. But battery life is pretty average. 12 hours away from the charger will return us about 25%, and it’ll go flat in 3-4 hours. The software does have a few power saving features, so you might need that to keep background apps calm in the background.
Of course, the R15 Pro had to come with fast charging, even though it’s their own proprietary VOOC system. Luckily, it comes bundled with a charger and cable that can do that. Putting the R15 Pro on charge will return around 58% just after 30-minutes, and of course, it will slow down as the battery gets full to protect it.
What we have here might just be the second most expensive device ever from OPPO, after their R9S Plus. Our market might not be ready for the R15 Pro, or any OPPO devices that breaks RM2000, especially when we’re get used to OPPO devices under RM1500. If you look at the competitions, the OnePlus 6 and the XiaoMi Mi Mix 2S offers much better specs on paper at same or lower price. But, that’s pretty much it. With all the toys that you get with the R15 Pro, and that solid feel on hand, RM2399 seems like a good deal, especially when it looks like a flagship, feels like a flagship and performs pretty much the same as a flagship. So while you’re cross-shopping for a device at this price range, give the R15 Pro a look as well.
Things we like:
• Solid premium build quality
• Comes with quick charge
• Amazing front-facing camera
• Display is crisp and sharp
• Almost a full view display
Things we’re not really sure of:
• Battery life is average
• There’s a notch on top, and a lip at the bottom
• Low-light photography is average
• Speaker performance could be better
• Specs on paper unappealing