You might not know it, but Oppo is one of the world’s most popular phone manufacturers. On a global scale of shipped devices it’s in fourth place, behind Samsung, Apple and Huawei. And that’s without having a major presence in western markets like Europe and the US.
The Chinese manufacturer’s flagship, the R11, isn’t easy to obtain in ol’ Blighty – but having persevered to obtain one, it’s easy to see from this phone’s mix of affordability and features why the company has become popular in Asian and Australian markets.
Does the Oppo R11 set the standard that the western world will see in the near future, or is it too short to stand up to the big guns?
The first thing you notice when powering up the R11 is its vivid 5.5-inch display. Colours pop while dark on-screen blacks and brilliant whites make everything crisp.
The R11 could be mistaken for an iPhone 7 Plus. This is thanks to a curvy design which features rounded edges. About the only thing missing is an Apple logo and the rounded home button on its front.
Its alloy body has a smooth sandblasted finish which gives the R11 a premium feel. The curved design also makes its 6.8mm thick body seem slim. About the only design trick missing with the R11 is a bezel-less screen.
Display specs almost write themselves these days, at least in the middleweight phone category. Like many others, the R11 comes with a typical 5.5-inch AMOLED panel, featuring a Full HD resolution.
As you’d expect from this kind of panel, the end result is a screen that’s bright and very colourful. The R11’s operating system – which is Oppo’s ColorOS, built from an Android base – has a default colour scheme makes full use of this fact, with the bright green Phone and Message logos looking especially vivid.
In general, though, the experience of watching videos via YouTube and Netflix, or playing games, is as good as any other 1080p display we’ve used in recent times. Details are crisp, colours are not too saturated and whites are well balanced. And, but of course, those deep and inky blacks are there, thanks to the AMOLED technology.
There are also some very subtle design tweaks that you’d otherwise miss if you didn’t look for them. A good example of this is the two razor thin antenna bands the curve around the top and bottom of the R11. On my black review unit, they were almost invisible.
Its curvy design also makes the R11 a slippery customer – I almost dropped it twice while setting it up. Oppo has realised this and a transparent case is included with the phone. It improves the likelihood that the R11 will survive involuntary drop testing.
Except for its dual rear cameras, the R11 feels very similar design-wise to the R9s. It’s about the same size, and its controls feel identical.
There’s plenty going on inside the R11. For a start, it supports dual SIM cards. This is super handy if you find lugging both work and personal phones about a bit of a chore. It also means that you keep your NZ number when overseas while using a local SIM card and not get hit with roaming charges.
The R11 has a generous 64GB of storage which is upgradable to 256GB thanks to a slot for a microSD card. A downside of this is that it uses the slot usually occupied by the second SIM.
The R11 runs a skinned version of Android that Oppo calls Color OS. It’s tweaked for battery efficiency and smooth running. Underneath sits Android 7.1.
Color OS feels a lot like iOS. It is attractive and runs without bringing lag into the mix. It also makes the R11 the ideal device for iPhone users wanting to make the leap to Android.
The only real catch specs-wise I found was its lack of NFC. My phone does double duty as my Snapper card (which in Wellington gets me on buses and cabs). NFC also makes pairing many Bluetooth widgets a lot easier. Oh well.
One of the key selling points with the R11 is its twin rear 20MP and 16MP cameras and 20MP front-facing shooter. The pictures captured by both are the equal of a decent point and shoot camera.
The twin rear cameras deliver an optical 2x zoom. There’s also a “Portrait” mode which applies image processing to enhance portraits.
Like the R9s, the R11’s front-mounted fingerprint sensor is fast. Taping it is usually enough to unlock the R11. It uses a Qualcomm 660 CPU which gives it a stellar battery life. With light use, I got two full days’ use.
It also has Oppo’s VOOC fast-charging technology. In 30 minutes, it took the R11 from 15 per cent battery to an 80 per cent charge.
Following the trend of other dual camera phones, the Oppo R11 combines two lenses and two sensors to enable depth effects in portait photos, adding lots of background blur via software while keeping the subject in the foreground nice and sharp. In this particular instance, the company is using one 20-megapixel sensor alongside a 16-megapixel one.
The higher-resolution sensor is paired with an f/2.6 aperture lens, while the 16-megapixel one boasts a faster f/1.7 aperture lens, allowing for even more light to enter to avoid the kind of processing that can diminish quality to excess. It’s also equipped with phase-detection autofocus and an LED flash.
The resulting images when shooting in good daylight are rather good, with ample detailing and fairly well balanced colours. It’s not as blow-away as the processing really high-end smartphones can render, though, as you’ll be able to witness when zooming in to see some detail is lost (you maybe won’t see that clearly when looking at the entire photo from a small smartphone display).
The Oppo R11 is an attractive and nice elegant smartphone. Priced at the upper end of the mid-range smartphone spectrum, it offers flagship features and feels well crafted. Considering its pocket-pleasing price and capabilities, it is a solid buy.