"The OPPO R7 Plus is a 6-inch smartphone loaded with premium features. Our review"
Chinese brand OPPO has been around in India for well over a year, but unlike its counterparts that are more focussed on affordable smartphones, it has chosen to go down a different route, pushing out mostly mid-range and flagship devices. And while its handsets don’t exactly embody the value-for-money sentiment, they have been known to pack in some serious innovations, such as the N1 (review) with its unique swivel camera, the R5 (review) with its wafer-thin 4.85mm frame, and the Find 7 (review in pictures) that can capture 50MP photos through software interpolation. Now the company is back with a new mid-range duo, the R7 Plus and R7 Lite. The R7 Plus is the more premium of the two, and blurs the lines between smartphone and tablet with its huge 6-inch display. The smartphone also packs in a massive 4,100mAh battery and a fingerprint sensor. However, in true OPPO tradition, it’s steeply priced, and to find out whether it’s worth shelling out that much, we’ve been using the smartphone as our primary driver for the past couple of weeks. Here’s our review.
If there’s one area where OPPO differentiates itself from other Chinese brands, it’s in the design department. The R7 Plus features a sleek all-metal unibody design that’s constructed out of aircraft-grade aluminium alloy. Our gold and white unit looked stunning to say the least, with its chamfered edges and metal accents. To compensate for the huge 6-inch display, the R7 Plus features minimal bezels and a slim 7.8mm frame.
Above the screen you’ll see the front camera, sensors, earpiece and notification LED, while the chin features only OPPO branding. The navigation keys appear as software overlays on the display. Around the edges, you’ll find the volume rocker on the right, and the power button on the left, both within easy reach of your thumb. There’s also an ejectable tray on the left spine, which conceals a nano-SIM and hybrid SIM card slot, with the latter doubling up as a microSD card slot when required. The base holds the micro-USB port and primary microphone, while the top is where the secondary microphone and 3.5mm audio jack are located.
On the back panel, you’ll find a slightly protruding rectangular metal module that holds the primary camera and dual-tone LED flash, flanked by the laser autofocus sensor. Underneath this you’ll find the square fingerprint sensor and OPPO branding. A loudspeaker grill is located at the bottom right.
The OPPO R7 Plus’ 6-inch screen features 2.5D Arc glass which is subtly rounded towards the edges, similar to what we’ve seen on the iPhone 6. The display features full HD resolution, equating to a respectable pixel density of 367ppi. The screen offers crisp, clear visuals with good viewing angles and sunlight legibility. The use of AMOLED tech means you get those slightly over-saturated colours and deep blacks, which make photos and videos look stunning. The screen gets a layer of Gorilla Glass 3 for protection against scratches and knocks.
Under the display settings, you’ll find an option called ‘Eye Protection Display’. When enabled, this feature filters out the blue light on the screen to reduce eye strain. You can choose from three levels – low, medium and high. We set it to low, and while the screen takes on a slightly reddish hue, it’s still much gentler on the eyes during extended usage, and especially for viewing in a dark environment.
The R7 Plus gets a very capable pair of 13MP rear and 8MP front shooters. The primary camera uses a Sony IMX278 sensor and gets an aperture of f/2.2, while the front camera features an OmniVision OV8858 sensor and f/2.4 aperture. The camera interface is neat and uncluttered, but is pretty much a clone of the iOS camera app.
The large display makes for a roomy viewfinder, and you'll find flash and front camera shortcuts on one end, and the gallery, shutter button and photo modes on the other. Going into the functions menu, you’ll find various options like Normal, Ultra HD (takes 25MP shots after stitching images), Beautify, HDR, Panorama, Slow Shutter, GIF Animation, Filters and Audio Photo. There are also several other modes like Double Exposure, Super Macro, RAW and Time-lapse which you’ll need to download and install. For some reason, OPPO hasn’t included the Expert Mode by default, so you’ll have to install this too.
The R7 Plus’ primary camera is an accomplished shooter, delivering consistent results across various situations. The camera app loads quickly, and the laser autofocus sensor means it focusses in a jiffy, making for excellent macro shots with good depth of field and plenty of detail. Shots taken in daylight offer good colour balance and contrast levels. Low light shots are on the darker side, but noise levels are acceptable. The dual-tone flash does a good job of evenly illuminating the subject with neutral light.
The front camera takes really good selfies in natural light. In low lighting conditions, you can enable a screen flash, which lights up the screen to illuminate your face. It's pretty effective, and compensates for not having a front-facing flash. Overall, the image quality from both cameras was more than satisfactory.
Here are some image samples taken by the primary camera in full auto mode.
The OPPO R7 Plus runs ColorOS 2.1 based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, although you won’t see much evidence of stock Android on it. The company seems to have rebuilt most stock apps completely too. As is typical from most UI's from Chinese smartphone brands, you won't find an app drawer on ColorOS. The left-most pane is a dedicated music space, but you can remove this if you want. A pull-down tab on top gives you access to quick settings, and an expanded view shows you notifications.
OPPO has made sure you can personalise your smartphone, with a Theme Store app that offers a range of online themes, as well as a 'Personalise' section from where you can download additional wallpapers and lockscreen effects. Among the preloaded apps, you’ll find one called Security Centre, which lets you free up RAM, monitor data, block unwanted numbers, tweak privacy permissions, adjust power saving profiles and enable quiet time.
Like Xiaomi’s MIUI, on ColorOS you can batch rearrange apps on your homescreen easily. Similarly, you can pick multiple apps to add to a folder. There’s a neat screenshot option on ColorOS we discovered quite by accident. While pressing the power and volume down button at the same time lets you take a screenshot, doing the same with the volume up button lets you select the particular area of the screen you want to capture. There’s even a page down option built in that lets you scroll to the bottom of a page before you screenshot it.
ColorOS supports a bunch of gestures, both when the screen is on and off. When the screen is off, you can double tap to wake it, draw an ‘O’ to access the camera and control music using a range of gestures. You can also cold access apps using various preset gestures. When the screen is on, you can pinch to close with multiple fingers to activate the camera, double tap the home button to lock the screen, slide up and down using three fingers to take a screenshot, and adjust volume using two fingers. There’s also a single-handed operation mode, accessible by swiping down from the bottom corners. This will shrink and dock the screen on the respective side. ColorOS also has a few smart call settings, such as automatically answering a call when you lift the phone towards your ear, and flip to mute.
Since the R7 Plus features mostly flagship quality specs, it's surprising that OPPO has chosen to go with a mid-range processor. The device is powered by a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, consisting of two quad-core Cortex-A53 clusters clocked at 1.0GHz and 1.5GHz respectively. The chipset gets a generous 3GB of RAM and an Adreno 405 GPU to work with. During our usage, we didn't encounter any unwarranted freezes or app crashes. There were minor lags here and there, but that can be attributed more to ColorOS than the processor. The smartphone is able to handle gaming well too, with intensive titles like Riptide GP2 playing without any noticeable frame drops. Overall, the R7 Plus is smooth and dependable, but don't expect the blazing fast performance you might get from a higher-end chip. It's also worth noting that the smartphone doesn't heat up to uncomfortable temperatures during extended usage or gaming, a flaw the Snapdragon 615 chip has been accused of with other handsets.
The R7 Plus features a generous 32GB of inbuilt storage, and you’ll get around 22.2 GB available out of the box. The microSD card supports expansion up to another 128GB.
Large batteries aren’t always indicative of good battery life, but the R7 Plus really shines on this front. When used as our primary driver, the 4,100mAh battery lasted us for nearly 36 hours, and we got a good five hours of screen on time. The standby times are also excellent, with only a minimal drop in battery overnight. Our video loop battery drain test validated our real life usage, lasting for an impressive 18 hours and 50 minutes before running out of juice. The smartphone features an energy saving mode to extend the battery further. To ensure you don't have to wait hours for the smartphone to charge, the R7 Plus supports VOOC fast charging and ships with a compatible mini charger. Unfortunately OPPO sent us an unboxed unit without the charger, so we couldn’t test this out.
In terms of connectivity, the R7 Plus features 4G LTE, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and USB OTG. For some reason, you’ll need to enable USB OTG in settings to access an external flash drive.
The fingerprint sensor on the smartphone lets you add multiple fingerprints. You can register your fingerprint the usual way, by tapping your finger on the sensor repeatedly. In our experience, it was fast and accurate, and the only times it didn’t register was when we placed our finger incorrectly. This happened mostly due to the large size of the phone, which can be difficult to handle when you have small hands. The location of the sensor on the back panel is partly to blame too, which is much less intuitive than when placed on the home button.
The R7 Plus is a solid, reliable smartphone, but we feel like OPPO dropped the ball with this one. For a device with flagship-level specs like the 1080p curved dispay, competent cameras, excellent battery life, fingerprint sensor and all-metal build, having a Snapdragon 615 processor to handle it all feels like a bit of a letdown. And while we didn't have any major issues with the performance, shelling out Rs 30,000 with that caveat just doesn't seem right, especially when you realise there are several equally or more formidable options like the OnePlus 2 (review), Moto X Play (review), MEIZU MX5 (review) and Samsung Galaxy A8 (first impressions) available for far lower.
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