Thursday, 12 May 2022 15:51

Review: With A96, OPPO again proves good things do not cost an arm and a leg

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The OPPO A96. The OPPO A96. Supplied

There was once a time when the launch of a smartphone, be it an Android model or one of Apple's suite, was an occasion. The company behind the device made a song and dance about it, and the media tended to follow suit.

But now the market has reached a stage of maturity where little is new anymore. The arrival of a new device only means that there is something of a chore to be gone through in evaluating what it has to offer.

That's, perhaps, not the most enthusiastic way to approach the task at hand, taking a look at what the latest OPPO A Series model released in Australia offers the consumer for the modest price of $399.

But excitement is hard to summon up, if only for the simple reason that most of what is present on one device is also there on another; the smartphone-using public is split into tribes, with each having chosen its toy and generally unprepared to part ways.

{loadpisition sam08}This has made it harder and harder for companies in the field to keep growing, but this stage was always going to arrive. One is reminded of the time when Microsoft and Apple had reached this stage with their respective operating systems, and a wag asked, "what can they offer next - triangular windows?"

Most devices at a certain price range offer what are now standard features; often, even going from one price point to another does not mean that a device will offer that much more.

basket

Close-ups provide very fine detail.

The A96 is a good example of its class, this being the moderately priced 4G Android smartphone. OPPO has something of a pattern in releasing one model, and then following that with another that has a little more to offer if one is willing to fork out a little more.

The 6.59-inch 90Hz colour-rich punch-hole display means a 90.8% screen-to-body ratio; the interface is easy on the eyes due to the 1080×2412 FHD resolution.

The A96 has many features similar to the model that preceded it in Australia, the A76; the latter retailed for $349. The same SoC, the Snapdragon 680 4G, powers the phone, but this time there is 128GB of storage and 8GB of memory, rather than the 4GB that the A76 has.

There are two refresh rates again, the standard 60Hz and 90Hz; however, the lower rate seems to suit this hardware mix better. When scrolling at 90Hz, there seems to be a small lag every now and then.

As usual, there is a big battery, 5000mAh, and the 33W SUPERVOOC fast charging ensures that the device can reach 55% of battery capacity after being plugged in for half an hour.

The device has a 16MP front camera which is good for portraits. The rear-facing dual camera setup features a 50MP rear camera with high photosensitivity and high pixel count, and a 2MP bokeh camera, which allows users to utilise portrait mode and capture photos with bokeh effects.

hen

Looking for worms on a cold morning.

The rear camera supports 5x digital zoom and up to 20 continuous burst shots. The A96 has excellent sound, though it comes with no headphones.

For some time, it has looked like OPPO's forays into the market have little rhyme and reason, with the occasional model appearing and the company not really having a serious interest in the market.

As far as the reasoning for this conclusion goes, one could point to the share of the mobile market that OPPO enjoys (3.85%), far below that of Apple (56.09%) and Samsung (28.58%), going by Statcounter statistics.

I asked Michael Tran, the managing director of OPPO Australia, about the strategy in Australia.

His response: "OPPO always places the needs and expectations of our customers at the core of our product development cycle. We offer different devices and configurations to cater to the needs of our user bases in different markets.

"OPPO’s Find X series provides all-round flagship devices for high-end users who pursue technological innovation. Whereas, our entry level A Series, which is extremely popular in Australia, aims to make technology more tangible, fun and also empowers the users to enjoy their mobile lifestyle."

Asked about plans, now dropped, for development of OPPO's ColorOS and OnePlus' Oxygen OS [OnePlus is another brand owned by OPPO's parent, B.B.K. Electronics] to merge development, Tran said: "While OPPO and OnePlus share R&D resources and supply chain efficiencies, the two brands will continue offering flagship smartphones to cater to different types of users.

"The decision has been made to keep ColorOS and OxygenOS separate, although both systems will continue to develop on the same code paths. This approach is also reflected in other product aspects such as camera systems, where the results of the recent Hasselblad partnership will apply to both brands' flagship products.

trees

The camera copes well with objects both at short-range and at a distance.

Of OPPO's future plans for Australia, Tran commented: "Innovation has been the cornerstone of OPPO’s success in the smartphone industry. We have grown [by] leaps and bounds throughout this journey, owing to our effort to add value to our customers.

"We plan to remain committed to R&D in developing core technology that goes into building and delivering world-class devices and a multi-portal ecosystem of intelligent devices with smartphones serving as the key gateway.

"We have an array of exciting releases planned in the near future for Australia, not just limited to innovative handsets at accessible price points, but also the expansion of both our local IoT and accessories offerings."

The A96 is on sale at JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Officeworks, Bing Lee, Wireless1, Big W, Catch, Kogan, TeleChoice, Amazon, Mobileciti, and The Technology Store AU.

The device was released in China in January. It runs on Android 11 over which is layered OPPO's custom skin ColorOS, the latter being at version 11.1.

Technology GSM / HSPA / LTE

Dimensions 164.4 x 75.7 x 8.4 mm (6.47 x 2.98 x 0.33 in)

Weight 191 g (6.74 oz)

Build Glass front, plastic frame, plastic back

SIM Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)

IP5X dustproof, IPX4 waterproof

DISPLAY Type IPS LCD, 90Hz, 480 nits (typ), 600 nits (HBM)

Size 6.59 inches, 104.5 cm2 (~84.0% screen-to-body ratio)

oppo a96 sunset blue

The A96 Sunset Blue model.

Resolution 1080 x 2412 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~401 ppi density)

PLATFORM OS Android 11, ColorOS 11.1

Chipset Qualcomm SM6225 Snapdragon 680 4G (6 nm)

CPU Octa-core (4x2.4 GHz Kryo 265 Gold & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo 265 Silver)

GPU Adreno 610

MEMORY Card slot microSDXC (dedicated slot)

Internal 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM UFS 2.2

MAIN CAMERA Dual 50 MP, f/1.8, 27mm (wide), PDAF 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)

Features LED flash, HDR, panorama

Video 1080p @ 30fps

SELFIE CAMERA Single 16 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide)

Video 1080p @ 30fps

SOUND Loudspeaker Yes

3.5mm jack Yes

COMMS WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot

Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX HD

GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS

NFC No

Radio No

USB USB Type-C 2.0, USB On-The-Go

FEATURES Sensors Fingerprint (side-mounted), accelerometer, proximity, compass

BATTERY Type Li-Po 5000 mAh, non-removable

Charging Fast charging 33W, 50% in 26 min (advertised) Reverse charging

USB Power Delivery

MISC Colours Starry Black, Sunset Blue

Model CPH2333

Price $399

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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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