Chinese manufacturers such as Oppo and Vivo have been focusing on selfie-centric smartphones, and they have tasted immense success through this. With the F5 smartphone, Oppo wants to take selfies to the next level. The Oppo F5 comes with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered front camera, which the company claims helps in enhancing your selfies. Besides this, the smartphone also continues with the latest trend of having an 18:9 wide-screen display.
The Oppo F5 is offered in two variants – 4GB of RAM with 32GB storage priced at Rs 19,990, and 6GB of RAM with 64GB storage priced at Rs 24,990. It is available to purchase online exclusively from Flipkart, and from local retail stores too. Oppo has seeded us the 4GB RAM variant for the review. At its price point, the smartphone will closely compete with the likes of Vivo V7+ which is priced at Rs 21,990 and the Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro which is priced at Rs 23,999. I’ve used the Oppo F5 for about a week, and here is what I think about it.
18:9 display lacks a punch, but not bad either
Last year, Xiaomi started the trend of near bezel-less display with the Mi MIX, and then other smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6 and V30 among others followed the trend. And it’s not just the flagship smartphones, even the mid-range smartphones such as the LG Q6, Vivo V7+ and Micromax Canvas Infinity feature wide-screen displays running at HD resolution.
Oppo, on the other hand, has fitted a 6-inch full-HD display running at a resolution of 1080×2160 pixels, with an 18:9 aspect ratio and pixel density of 402ppi. Talking about the quality, the display is a bit boring to be honest. It is not as bright as you would expect, and sunlight visibility is decent enough. The colors are on the sober side, but those who prefer a vivid screen may not be too thrilled about it. It is an LTPS-IPS display, so this is bound to happen. The text and icons appear to be crisp, and you’d likely enjoy watching movies, reading e-books and browsing your favorite websites. ALSO READ: Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro review: For your portrait and wide-angle selfies
The wide screen and high screen-to-body ratio means that Oppo has fitted a 6-inch screen into a smartphone with a typical 5.5-inch form factor, making it easier to hold and use. Just above the display, you have the front camera, proximity sensor and the earpiece, whereas the bottom chin is plain. And to accommodate a tall display, the fingerprint sensor has now been moved to the back.
Coming to buttons and port placement, you have the volume buttons on the left, while the power / sleep button and the SIM tray are on the right. Unlike most smartphones where you get a hybrid slot, the Oppo F5 comes with two nano-SIM card slots and a dedicated microSD card slot. So, you don’t have to compromise on the second SIM card for additional storage. The microUSB port and the 3.5mm socket are placed at the bottom. ALSO READ: Oppo F3 Plus Review: The rise of the ‘selfie’ flagship
Selfies with AI beauty mode, worth it?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are today’s buzzwords, and these technologies are used almost everywhere. Oppo says that the AI beauty mode on the F5’s 20-megapixel front camera (of aperture f/2.0) helps to bring out your photogenic best in the selfies you capture. At the launch event, I had a chance to sit down with Oppo India’s product manager Aakash Gabhrani and understand how it works. He mentioned that it took nearly 18 months for Oppo to come up with a market ready AI beautification mode on a smartphone.
Explaining how the technology works, Gabhrani said that the AI is capable of capturing human beauty in all forms – irrespective of your age, skin tone, skin type and gender. With over 200 positioning spots, the F5 creates your facial contours and landmarks to enhance the symmetry between jawline, cheekbones, eyes and nose. The algorithms are designed to keep your face in focus – so whether you are in a crowded mall, in the park or at a place watching the sunset, the AI can differentiate between the background lighting conditions to illuminate your face. But, does it work as expected? ALSO READ: Oppo F3 Review: The one for your selfies and groupfies
In most cases, the front camera and AI do a pretty good job. With beautification mode turned off, the camera is able to capture adequate details in your selfies. When captured under good lighting conditions, the skin tones look natural and there is nothing to complain about. Take a look at the sample photos below.
With beauty mode turned on, the AI slightly smoothens the skin while making the tone a bit brighter. It also gets rid of those ugly dark circles and blemishes too. If you like clicking selfies every now and then, you will definitely appreciate the F5’s capabilities. Below are some samples.
The front-camera also comes with portrait mode, which uses depth information from the sensor along with software-based algorithms to add DSLR-like bokeh effect. Now, the Oppo F5 does a very good job in detecting the foreground while blurring the background. However, it does mess up with the edges while creating some pixilation. But, that is something we have noticed in the expensive Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 smartphones too. And considering the price point in which Oppo F5 is placed, it is pretty decent.
Low-light selfies take a major hit with drop in quality, details, skin tones and focusing. I clicked a couple of selfies in the basement of our office building where there was very little light, and they are just about bearable. Take a look at the sample photo below. ALSO READ: Vivo V7+ Review: Fighting the wide-screen fight
At the back, the Oppo F5 comes with a 16-megapixel camera of aperture f/1.8. The camera is quite a capable shooter in capturing good photos in day light. Close-up shots are tricky. Some of them look decent with adequate depth-of-field effects, some lack details and sharpness. Low-light photos look decent too. Here are a few sample shots.
Software and security
It’s been months since Google released Android 8.0 Oreo, but the operating system is still running on a very small percentage of Android smartphones. In the case of the Oppo F5, the smartphone comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS out-of-the-box with ColorOS 3.2 running on top. It runs on the latest October security patch, which is a good thing. However, there is no word on when Oppo plans to release Android 8.0 Oreo update.
The Oppo F5 comes with a single-layered interface where all the apps appear on the home screen, and there is no app drawer. Oppo has some software additions in the form of music app, call recorder, backup and restore app, that cannot be uninstalled. You also have WPS Office, Amazon Shopping and Prime Video, and they can be uninstalled. The company has also packed in Google apps such as Photos, Maps, YouTube, Play Music, Drive, Gmail and Duo.
Other additions include the Oppo app store from where you can download popular apps, Phone Manager that lets you clear the cache and memory, and add a privacy guard to protect your content and apps from prying eyes.
For biometric authentication, you have the fingerprint sensor placed at the back, and it is pretty quick in unlocking the smartphone. Oppo has also added Face Detection feature where your face is your password. It does away with the need for inputting your PIN, passcode or pattern for unlocking the device. Similar to the Apple iPhone X, this works pretty well in unlocking the device.
Oppo has also given an option to hide the Android navigation bar and opt for gesture controls instead, just like on the iPhone X. After activating gesture control, sliding up from the bottom left corner is to go back, sliding up from the center takes you to the home screen, whereas sliding from the bottom right opens the control center. And for the task switcher, you simply need to slide up from the bottom center and hold for two seconds.
Decent performance, backed by good battery life
At the heart of the Oppo F5 runs a MediaTek MT6763T (Helio P23) octa-core SoC paired with 4GB of RAM. Made on the 16nm process, the chipset has eight A53 Cores with big.LITTLE architecture, where four cores are clocked at 2.3GHz and the remaining four cores are clocked at 1.65GHz.
Performance is smooth throughout and I barely came across any lags during my usage. Even when you have a few apps open in the background, switching between them is quick and easy. Gaming performance when playing casual games is a breeze, however, it struggles when playing graphics intense games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne. With graphics setting at high, there was some stuttering, but as soon as I switched to medium, the rendering was pretty smooth.
Oppo has fitted a 3,200mAh battery on the F5 with support for fast charging (using a 5V, 2A charger). It took an hour and 15 minutes for the battery to go from 18 percent to 100 percent, which is pretty good. Talking about the battery life, on a single charge, the battery easily lasts a day, even with heavy usage. With moderate usage on the weekends, I was able to get battery life of a day-and-a-half. In terms of screen-on time, you can easily get around four-and-a-half-hours, and anything more than that is a bonus.
At a starting price of Rs 19,990, the Oppo F5 has a lot going in its favor. The 20-megapixel front camera with AI beauty mode does a very good job in most lighting conditions, the fingerprint sensor, face recognition, and gesture control features are commendable, the overall performance and battery life is also something that most people would appreciate.
The 6-inch full HD 18:9 display is good, especially if you appreciate sober looking colors. However, if you are among the ones who prefer punchy color reproduction, you may be slightly disappointed. The rear camera quality is decent enough, depending on the lighting conditions.
Overall, the Oppo F5 is a good smartphone for those looking for a smartphone that offers a well-rounded package, including a good front camera, battery life and edge-to-edge display. However, I feel that the 6GB variant is quite steeply priced as the cost directly increases by Rs 5,000. But compared to competition such as the Vivo V7+ and Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, the Oppo F5 is our first pick. The online and offline presence is another icing on the cake, as this means you can choose to buy the phone in your neighborhood store or opt for the convenience of online shopping.