Oppo has emerged as one of the big surprises in the Indian smartphone market. In Q4, the company doubled its shipments. According to Counterpoint Research, Oppo finally moved ahead to become fourth major smartphone brand. This rise has come courtesy of a good mix of smartphones in the online and offline segments. As India beats US to become second major smartphone market globally, the consumed spending has also increased. The segment between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000 has become a new battleground. Realme, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo are fighting for this space. Oppo F15, launched in India last week, is the newest challenger.
In the sub-Rs 20,000 price segment, Xiaomi has Redmi Note 8 Pro, Realme has Realme X2 and Vivo has Vivo S1 Pro and V17. Oppo has been a leader of sorts in this space with its F-series. Traditionally, the series has done well, but it has some upbeat competition. With Oppo F15, the question is not really about whether the device is good. Rather, the question is whether it can compete with these devices. After using the device for more than a week, I think Oppo could have done better. Here is our Oppo F15 review.
Watch: Oppo F15 First Look
Design and Display
This is one of the biggest selling points of the Oppo F15. The smartphone does not feature a unique design, but rather sticks with the tried and tested design language. It sports a plastic frame and a plastic back panel. This allows Oppo to keep the weight rather low. While it weighs 172 grams, I found it to be rather light. It feels as if you are holding a big phone with polycarbonate material made popular by Nokia. This is a good choice, but not particularly a popular one. In the same price segment, there are devices with glass back that look and feel much more premium. It boils down to individual tastes.
Even though the back panel is plastic, it has a finish that is prone to fingerprints and smudges. Regardless of which device you use, it is mandatory these days to put a case on the back. At the front, there is a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution. The display is sharp, but the real advantage is the taller aspect ratio. You get 20:9 aspect ratio as opposed to 19:9 or 19.5:9. The contents thus scale to the edges of the display. If you are watching the Patriot Act on Netflix, Hasan Minhaj’s head might get cropped a bit but I think this is the way to experience content on mobile.
Since it’s AMOLED, you get deeper blacks and nice saturated colors. It can also get bright enough to view under direct sunlight. In comparison with rivals, the Oppo F15 has very good display, if not better. The front is also home to a notch that houses the selfie camera. There is a noticeable chin but it isn’t huge. On the right side, there is a power button. On the left side, there is a volume rocker and SIM card tray. The bottom part is home to 3.5mm audio jack, USB Type-C port and speaker. There is a microphone at the top as well as bottom. The back has quad camera setup stacked vertically. The “DESIGNED FOR F-SERIES” is a nice touch. There is also an Oppo branding at the bottom. Oppo F15 has a functional design but nothing to beat its rivals.
This is where Oppo has made questionable choices for its F15 smartphone. The good thing being that Oppo F15 comes in only one storage variant of 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. However, it relies on a processor that is most common in smartphones that are priced under Rs 15,000. It is powered by MediaTek Helio P70, which is an octa-core processor with four Cortex A73 cores and four Cortex A53 cores. The processor is also found models like the Realme U1, which sells for around Rs 8,000. The processor is basically doing the work that falls well above its pay grade.
Let’s start with gaming because that’s the raison d’être for models like the Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Realme X2. While playing PUBG Mobile on Oppo F15, you are limited to playing at medium graphics setting. On this beautiful display, you should be playing at the highest setting with HDR effects. However, the hardware is limited in pushing the pixels. While I won Chicken Dinner in couple of PUBG matches, it is difficult to recommend this device for gaming. At the end of a few sessions, I observed the device got warm and with highest graphics, you will see the device get hot to touch. Since the smartphone is just 7.9mm thin, there doesn’t seem to be much room for heat dissipation.
However, there is absolutely no problem with casual games such as Temple Run 2, Mario Kart, et cetera. Apart from benchmarks, I do see how smartphones perform when doing something common like spreadsheets and Google documents. When I opened a Google doc with over 400 pages, the scrolling was slow and the file crashed once. This is purely the limitation of the processor and Mali-G72 MP3 graphics. If you are going to use the device primarily for things like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, light gaming and couple of pictures then you don’t really need Oppo F15. Even something like Oppo A5 2020, priced at Rs 11,490 would suffice. Oppo is banking entirely on looks but that decision has cost meaningful performance.
Oppo has always been at the forefront when it comes to mobile imaging experience. The company has launched class leading devices like the Reno 10x Zoom and Find X in the past. In that sense, the camera on Oppo F15 does not disappoint at all. It may not have the highest megapixel count, but it has the basics covered. The camera captures pictures with good detail and saturated color. This is one of those cameras designed for the Instagram age. If you like your pictures bright and rich in colors, you will like Oppo F15. Let me tell you about the setup first. On the back, there are four cameras and at the front, there is a 16-megapixel selfie camera.
The main camera on the back uses a 48-megapixel sensor with wide f/1.8 aperture and equivalent focal length of 26mm. It may not sound like a big deal when compared to 64-megapixel cameras seen on rival devices in this segment. But the devil is in the details. The main camera captures images with good detail and they are always vibrant. The tone is also closer to accurate and I found that the colors are almost true to source. At 12-megapixel, you don’t really get details to crop into the image. However, these pictures look sharp to post on platforms like Instagram. In terms of colors, the greens and yellow tend to look a bit sharper than natural. The HDR processing is easy to notice but whites and browns have a look that is true to the source.
The main camera is paired with an 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle shooter. In order to activate this camera, you will need to switch from the left or top row of options. I would have preferred if Oppo gave the option to enable this camera directly from the zoom button above the shutter. The ultra wide-angle camera on Oppo F15 is not my favorite, but it brings versatility to the mix. The images captured in this mode cover a wider field of view but they also end up looking soft. There is less detail in texture and overall sharpness is also compromised. There are additional cameras for capturing depth and a sensor to aid in low light. If I look beyond design then camera is the strongest aspect of this smartphone. But again, the competing devices are no slouch either in the camera department.
As far as selfie camera is concerned, you get a 16-megapixel shooter with f/2.0 aperture. From this shooter, you get a result that is typical of Oppo smartphones. The camera takes really bright selfies, but it does not tend to over sharpen or beautify your pictures. There was a time when Oppo devices would click images that would turn dark skin into fair skin. The company seems to have changed the tone mapping for its camera software. The result is a selfie that is more nuanced and natural than standard selfies. Oppo could have stepped up the game by using a wider field of view, but the current result is a standard frame.
Software and Battery Life
Oppo F15 runs ColorOS 6, which is the custom skin based on Android Pie. Again, Oppo missed an opportunity to introduce its ColorOS 7 to the market with this device. So, the real deal would be when the device gets Android 10. I would like to say that ColorOS 6 is not the worst skin in the Android world. Yes, the choice of square icons with rounded corners is not that great. But it does have app drawer and decent amount of customization optimizations. The best part, however, is the fact that it does not run any kind of ads. Unlike its counterparts, Oppo makes enough money from its hardware that it does not have to monetize its custom software.
I like the sidebar implementation on ColorOS6, but the redesign with single column makes more sense. It is rather effortless to multitask between your favorite apps with this sidebar. It is also among the very few devices with January security patch out-of-the-box. Oppo really surprised me there. There is an in-display fingerprint sensor that offers few customisation options for unlock animation. What it doesn’t offer is customization for the Screen-Off clock. It’s a feature coming with the next version of ColorOS. No OS is perfect. Android, in particular is far from perfect. Similarly, ColorOS brings few nifty features but that customization means slow software updates.
The Oppo F15 houses a 4,000mAh battery and it supports 20W VOOC Flash Charge. It takes less than one-and-a-half hour to fully charge the device. Once charged, the Oppo F15 delivers between four and six hours of screen on time. Since MediaTek Helio P70 does not consume a lot of power, you can easily get to the second day with a single charge. It is more like charge once every second day type device. It is a decent accomplishment especially considering the thin form factor of the device.
Oppo F15 Review: Should you buy?
If I have to answer that question in a single word then it would be NO. I don’t think anyone should buy the Oppo F15 at its current price. It does not offer a premium build like the Redmi Note 8 Pro or Realme X2. It also lacks the processor architecture benefits provided by those two devices. Realme X2, in particular, has a powerful Snapdragon 730G and Qualcomm brand that can be trusted. The 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant of Realme X2 is available for Rs 19,999. At Rs 17,999, Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage is much more affordable. It is clear that those two devices have an upper hand in almost every department.
As one friend observed, the Oppo F15 has only one thing going for it – design and feel. The company is right to advertise the product as “Flaunt It Your Way”. However, I don’t think Indian smartphone consumers are design connoisseurs. They want a functional device that can get more things done. On the Oppo F15, you get a functional device but it is not one where you can get more things done. Rather, it can get limiting after a period of time. I am sure that Oppo F15 will soon get a price cut that will make it attractive. Once that happens, you should buy the device or else the options are plenty.