Sunday, 17 October 2021 17:46

Review: OPPO A94 5G is the big brother of budget 5G phones

By
The rear camera on the OPPO A94 5G. The rear camera on the OPPO A94 5G. Supplied

The OPPO A94 5G is the third low-budget model from this Chinese vendor released this year, and also the most expensive of the lot, the others being the A54 5G and A74 5G.

It may come as something of a surprise, but in some aspects the two cheaper models — the A54 retails for $399 and the A74 for $449 — are better than their pricier cousin, which sells for $599.

But then this is a marketing strategy to ensure that if someone is fixated on buying an OPPO 5G, then they will pick up one of the three, using their own reasoning to convince themselves that they have got the best of the bunch.

No matter what they pick up, the cash registers at the same parent company — B.B.K. Electronics, which also owns vivo and OnePlus, and has an interest in realme — will ring when the purchase is made.

The A94 5G is, like all its compatriots, a black brick, weighing in at 173 grammes, and thus is quite light in the hand. It is slim, being 8mm thick and fits quite well into one's hand. You'll find the words "acceptable" and adquate a few times within this review and that's what the A94 is: adequate and acceptable for the price.

Unlike some earlier models — I have been using the A91, a 4G model, since May 2020 — the volume buttons on the left are encased in a single sleeve, though they are separate on the phone itself. Personally, I would have preferred if they were separate in the sleeve as well.

sky in box hill

The A94 takes clear, detailed pictures in daylight conditions.

The rear cameras make a noticeable bump, sitting well above the case that comes along with the device. Within that bump are 48MP f/1.7 main, 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 2MP f/2.4 macro and 2MP f/2.4 depth-sensing cameras. In the front, there’s a 16MP f/2.4 camera. This setup is the same as its two cousins.

The pictures are good, especially those taken in daylight. Those taken at night are acceptable, but in saying that one has said it all.

One point of difference between the A94 5G and the other two models is that the A94 has only the bog standard refresh rate of 60Hz. The other two offer the option of 90Hz as well and this is one area in which some may pick them, rather than the A94.

But when you look at storage and memory, the A94 scores, with 128GB of storage space and 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM.

gaming image

Gaming is a bit of a drag at 60Hz. Supplied

The battery is adequate at 4310mAh and took 46 minutes to charge from 5% to 100%. As the phone can support 5G, perhaps the battery should have been a bit bigger; when one is connected to 5G, the battery does tend to run down pretty soon. The supplied charger supports 30W charging, which is kind of mid-range.

The AMOLED display is bright and clean with a screen ratio of 90.8%. Scrolling is smooth, though, as with many Mitek processors, there is the occasional stutter.

And one thing that was noticeable is that the connection, be it Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or mobile, occasionally tends to drop out. And one bug that still remains in the messaging setup is that the occasional text tends to come in rather late.

The A94 runs ColorOS 11 laid over Android 11. It does not come with a whole load of crapware like some other brands.

night climber

Pictures taken at night are acceptable.

The device is built on a MediaTek Dimensity 800U which promises to provide 5G that's always on. In practice, there is the occasional drop out. There is a single SIM slot and an SD-card slot as well.

Given that this SoC can support refresh rates of up to 120Hz, it is somewhat surprising that the device is restricted to 60Hz.

The sound is surprisingly good when one uses the supplied headphones.

One downside of the device in Australia is that it is tied to the Telstra network. The 5G offered by Australia's biggest telco is erratic to say the least and also quite expensive, with the cheapest plan offering only 80GB a month for $65.

But then if one has no objection to being tied to this provider, then the A94 can be bought here outright or on a plan that runs from one year to three.

telstra 100

Yes, this is 5G, courtesy Telstra.

Personally, I would opt for a 4G plan and wait until there are really good reasons to go in for 5G. Australia has a more than adequate 4G network and the speeds are pretty good for the moment.

The other two 5G networks that are being built, Vodafone and TPG, will, hopefully increase the competition and bring down prices. At the moment, all four providers - Optus is the fourth - appear to have plans that are around the same cost.

SPECS

Size and weight

Height: About 160.1mm Width: About 73.4mm Thickness: About 7.8mm Weight: About 173g

Memory

8GB RAM + 128GB ROM RAM Type: 8GB LPDDR4X USB OTG: Supported

Display

Size: 6.43" (16.34cm) * 6.43" is the diagonal length when the four rounded corners of the screen are extended into right angles, the actual size is smaller.

Screen ratio: 90.80%

Resolution: 2400 x 1080 Touch Sampling Rate: 135Hz (Normal), 180Hz (Game mode)

Pixel density: 409PPI Brightness: 430nits (Normal); 600nits (HBM); 800nits (Peak value) [All of these are typical values.]

Panel: AMOLED

telstra 200

A moment after the reading taken above, the speed seems to have doubled. Again, Telstra.

Camera

Rear 48MP Main Camera: f/1.7; FOV 79° ; 6P lens 8MP Ultra Wide-Angle Camera: f/2.2; FOV 119° ; 5P lens 2MP Macro Camera: f/2.4; FOV 89°; 3P lens 2MP Mono Camera: f/2.4; FOV 89° ; 3P lens

Front 16MP Main Front Camera: f/2.4; FOV 78°; 5P lens

Image size

Rear
Maximum size: 6000 x 8000 (48MP)
Sizes in different aspect ratios:
3000 x 4000 (4:3)
3000 x 3000 (1:1)
1800 x 4000 (full screen)
2256 x 4000 (16:9)

Front:
Maximum size: 3468 x 4624 (16MP)
Sizes in different aspect ratios:
3468 x 4624 (4:3)
3456 x 3456 (1:1)
1840 x 4096 (full screen)
2600 x 4624 (16:9)

Video

Rear up to 4K (30FPS), 1080P @ 30FPS, and 720P @ 30FPS
Front 1080P/720P @ 30fps (Default: 720P @ 30fps; beautification turned on)

thin for bottomChips

CPU: MediaTek Dimensity 800U CPU speed: up to 2.4GHzCPU Cores: 8 cores

GPU model: ARM G57 MC3

Battery 4310mAh/15.48Wh

Fast charge

Supports 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0(5V/6A), PD(9V/1.5A) and QC(9V/1.5A)

Biometrics

Supports In-Display Fingerprint 3.0 and Face Unlock

Sensors

Geomagnetic sensor
Light sensor
Proximity sensor
On screen optical sensor
Accelerometer
Gravity sensor
Gyroscope

Cellular network

SIM card type: Nano-SIM card
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA bands 1/5/8 4G (LTE TDD) bands: 38/39/40/41
4G (LTE FDD) bands: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/26/28/66
5G (NR TDD) bands: n38/n40/n41/n66/n77/n78
5G (NR FDD) bands: n5/n8/n20/

Connectivity

WLAN: Wi-Fi 2.4G, Wi-Fi 5.1G, Wi-Fi 5.5G, Wi-Fi 5.8G, Wi-Fi Display
Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 5.1Bluetooth Audio Codec: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDACUSB Interface: USB Type CEarphone Jack: 3.5mmNFC: Supported * The NFC function does not support eID (electronic identification).

Operating system

ColorOS 11.1 based on Android 11

Location technology

GNSS: Supports Built-in GPS, A-GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS, and GPS

Frequency antenna: Supports GPS_L1, GLONASS, Beidou, and Galileo

Others: Supports AGPS, WLAN, mobile network, and electronic compass

Maps: Supports Google Maps and other third-party map apps


In the box
Phone x1
Earphones x1
USB cable x 1
Charger x1
SIM ejector tool x1
Protective case x1
Quick start guide x1
Warranty card x1
Pre-applied screen protector, Mobile Muster recycling card

[A special technology is applied to conceal the proximity sensor on the upper front of OPPO's smartphone for the whole look of simplicity. It may cause abnormality of proximity function if the film or protector covers the proximity sensor area. Refer to OPPO's official layout of protector and film for details.]


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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