“The OPPO R5 is the latest to stake claim to the world’s thinnest smartphone crown”
It seems that OPPO is out on a spree to put its stamp on as many world firsts as it can. Right alongside its latest flagship, the OPPO N3 (first impressions) – a phone that boasts the first automated swivel camera, the brand has taken over the world’s thinnest smartphone title by unveiling the R5. The OPPO R5 has snatched the crown away from the Gionee Elife S5.1, which was hitherto the slimmest ever with its 5.1mm profile, and before it, the same title was held by Gionee’s Elife S5.5 (review) which boasted a thickness of 5.5mm. These measurements are already very anorexic, so you may be wondering how slim the OPPO R5 is… and the answer to that is a mere 4.85mm. In fact, it’s so thin that the designers couldn’t find space to include a standard 3.5mm socket. Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves here – since we have quite a bit to talk about concerning the R5. Here are our first impressions.
Having played around with the Gionee S5.5 earlier, we knew what to expect even before we laid our eyes on the R5. The difference is only of a few millimetres after all. Despite that however, the OPPO R5’s sheer slimness did boggle the mind when we picked it up – it’s just so… thin.
If it wasn’t for the rounded sides, it could have cut our palms, but we’re sure it can still be used to cut cake – if you’re up for that sort of a thing. By encasing it in a metal frame, OPPO has ensured build quality is top notch. Ergonomics do go for a toss due to the thin frame, but it isn’t as uncomfortable to hold as we though it’d be. Tipping the scales at 155g, it isn’t too heavy either.
On offers is a 5.2-inch AMOLED display that offers full HD resolution and a pixel density of 423ppi. The fascia has white bezels around the display, with three capacitive keys below and the usual array including the earpiece, sensors and front camera above. That front shooter is 5-megapixels by the way.
Turn it around and you’ll see the metal – most of the rear is finished in silver. There are white bands on top and bottom, and the one on top sports the rear camera and the flash. Notably, the portion with the camera lens juts out ominously – again testifying to the device’s thinness. This means the glass covering the lens could be prone to scratches when you lay the device flat on its back, though we couldn’t try it out since the demo unit was tethered to the security apparatus.
There’s more metal around the sides, and the left spine holds an ejectable tray for a micro-SIM, while the right is home to the power key and volume rocker. The top is barren, and you’ll find the micro-USB port at the bottom. As we mentioned earlier, there’s no audio socket – so you may be wondering how you’d get your dose of entertainment or handle calls hands-free.
Well, OPPO is bundling a wired headset that plugs into the micro-USB port, and while this is a workable solution, it does affect quite a few things. For one, it limits you to the supplied headset, so you can’t use your preferred pair of headphones with it. Secondly, it also means you can’t charge the device if you have the included headset connected. Obviously, ditto for the other way around – you can’t use the headset if the device is connected to the charger.
Of course, using a wireless Bluetooth headset remains an option, but OPPO has another solution in the form a tiny accessory that resembled the sixth-generation Apple iPod nano. This clip-on accessory hooks up with the smartphone via Bluetooth, and offers a standard 3.5mm socket so you can connect any third-party headphone or earbuds to it. We sure hope the company includes this accessory free with the device when it launches in India, rather than making it an optional purchase.
In terms of software, you get the usual ColorOS (v2.0 to be exact), with Android KitKat 4.4.4 as the base… and the whole range of software features the ROM comes with. We won’t go into the details of all the features here, since we’ve seen most of them earlier on the OPPO’s devices such as the N1 (review), the Find 7 (review) and the N1 Mini (review).
One of the key highlights of the platform are the range of gestures it supports – allowing you to create custom ones and use the ones baked in. Some of those gestures work even when the phone is on standby, and there’s a dedicated gesture panel that pops up from the bottom of the screen.
Despite the slimness, the OPPO R5 doesn’t skimp on specs. An eight-core Snapdragon 615 processor clocked at 1.5GHz powers the show, the industry’s first 64-bit octa-core chip. It’s paired with 2 gigs of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. Don’t expect a microSD card slot though – we’re just grateful OPPO’s engineers found space for a SIM slot. A little over 11GB is available to use, and thankfully, there’s USB OTG support. The rear camera is 13-megapixels and boasts an aperture of f/2.0 and an IMX 214 sensor. The snapper also offers an Ultra-HD mode that can generate 50-megapixel images,along with a variety of other modes.
That AMOLED screen looks quite vibrant, and we didn’t encounter any lag while using the device. A 2,000mAh battery is responsible for keeping the show running, and features the VOOC rapid charging tech just like its siblings, the Find 7 and the newly-unveiled OPPO N3. We’ll be trying out the device properly once it reaches our shores, so we’d reserve our comments about overall performance till then.
In a way, this feat of coming up with the word’s slimmest phone seems a tad vain, since it’s just something related to aesthetics and doesn’t really add to the user experience in any way. It sure gives the concerned manufacturer (and the users) something to brag about though, and apart from adding another feather to the brand’s cap, also lets it thump its chest by acting as a showcase of its design and engineering prowess. Make no mistake – designing super-slim devices like this is no easy task, and a lot of thought goes into the construction materials and taking care of things like heating issues. We’re told that the OPPO R5 features a phase-change material that keeps temperature levels manageable, and the brand has included its patented heat dissipation technology dubbed ‘Cool Elements’ to keep the processer from overheating. We’re cool with that, as long as it works as advertised.
We'll get you more on the R5 as and when it launches in India. The expected timeframe is end-2014, and we’re quite sure it’d still be the world’s slimmest till then. The only question is – how long before another device stakes claim to the same crown? And when an even slimmer device does appear, what else will we get besides just the screen?