Jan 18th, 2015 publishUpdated   Oct 1st, 2015, 3:46 pm

Oppo might not be a well-known name outside of it’s home market of China, but that doesn’t mean that the company’s mobile products should be overlooked. Oppo continuously pushes smartphone design boundaries along with new innovative features across their product line every year. This time around we have the Oppo R5, an elegant device that can proudly boast the title of world’s thinnest smartphone, coming in at an incredible 4.85 mm thick. With the design choices made on the Oppo R5, did Oppo make any notable compromises to achieve their thickness goal? We’ll find out in our detailed review of the Oppo R5 below.

Before we get started with this review, I’d like to mention that I’ve had the Oppo R5 for a little over a month. The device that shipped to me included pre-production software. I’ve held off on publishing this review for quite some time as I’ve been waiting for software fixes from Oppo. The company has produced multiple fixes over the past month, however, my pre-production device will not install any of the OTA updates that could include fixes for my issues. Since the OTA updates repeatedly fail me, I have requested a full-ROM from Oppo, but they have not provided one as of this writing. If they do, and my shortcomings are resolved, this review will be updated. Let’s get started.

Specs

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat / Color OS 2.0
  • Price:  $499 USD / €399 EUR
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
  • CPU: 1.5 GHz Octa-Core
  • GPU: Adreno 405
  • Display: 5.2 inch AMOLED
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels, 423 PPI
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16GB (no microSD)
  • Rear camera: 13-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor
  • Front camera: 5-megapixel front-facing 83 degree wide angle lens
  • Battery: 2000 mAh Li-Po with Rapid Charge
  • NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, 5G Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/a
  • Ports: MicroUSB, no 3.5mm audio
  • Bands: International
    • GSM850/900/1800/1900
    • WCDMA850/900/1900/2100
    • FDD-LTE B1/3/7
    • TD-LTE B40
  • Dimensions: 148.9 × 74.5 × 4.85 mm
  • Weight: 155g

Hardware & Design

If you’ve held an Oppo device in your hand before, such as the N1, or Find 7, you’ll realize that the Oppo R5 is no exception when it comes to solid build quality. Oppo devices feel graceful and look stylish in your hand, and the Oppo R5 holds true to that thanks to the high quality steel frame and rock solid build quality. Frankly, the Oppo R5 feels like an elegant tank in the palm of your hand.

Oppo_R5_Wallet_Case_Rear

The Oppo R5, while extremely minimal and flat, is quite easy to hold thanks to the overall thinness of the phone. The flat sides and rock solid build quality make gripping the R5 fairly easy. Often with thin devices I find myself having trouble to hold on to them, I didn’t have this issue with the R5.

The power and volume buttons were opposite from what I was used to with the Moto X or Nexus 6, and often resulted in pressing the power button inadvertently due to the button location, but I’d say that’s more of a personal preference than a design flaw. Besides placement, the buttons themselves are just as well designed as the rest of the phone, toting high build quality.Oppo_R5_Buttons

The main attraction with the Oppo R5 is the smartphone’s extreme thinness. At just 4.85 mm thick, the Oppo R5 is currently the thinnest smartphone available, a feat Oppo has held in the past with their Find 5 back in 2013. The Oppo R5 does make a few sacrifices on the design front, however this most impressive feat has been achieved without compromising any structural integrity as you’ll see in a video below.

The back of the phone isn’t entirely flush, having the camera stick out just ever so slightly, similar to the iPhone 6. The Oppo R5 is also missing something, a piece of hardware that we’ve seen on just about every phone since phones started carrying enough storage for media or had Internet access. The Oppo R5 is so thin at 4.85 mm that there wasn’t enough room to squeeze in a 3.5 mm audio jack and it’s housing. Instead, the Oppo R5 continues to push form over function and comes with a USB to 3.5 mm audio jack adapter for headphone enthusiasts.

Oppo_R5_Top_View

Oppo’s latest still hasn’t moved past 2011, including hardware keys equipped with a menu button on the left, home in the middle, and a back button on the right hand side. Many people still prefer physical buttons versus software keys, personally, I despise hardware keys. However, the inclusion of a menu button on the left hand side makes these cringeworthy no matter what camp you’re from.

Oppo_R5_Buttons

Oppo also included a wallet case with the R5 that includes a window that activates to display the date and time when you double tap the window. The case also turns the screen on and off when opening and closing the case flap. For those that like cases, the included high quality case is a nice added bonus.

Oppo_R5_Front_Case_Window 

Display
The display on the Oppo R5 comes with a 5.2-inch AMOLED display with a 1080p resolution, producing a Pixel density of 423 ppi. Quad HD might be all the rage these days, but Oppo opted for a more modest display that fits the device’s mid-range spec sheet. The AMOLED display produces vibrant colors with a heavy amount of saturation as one would expect. As for outdoor and nighttime visibility, the deep blacks and bright whites allow for great viewing no matter the time of day.

Oppo_R5_Side_View2

WiFi, Bluetooth, Data, and Call Quality
The R5 doesn’t have 802.11ac or Bluetooth 4.1, as the majority of new handsets have been doing for a while. As a mid-range specced Android phone, the Oppo R5 doesn’t come with all of latest and largest internals, and that’s okay as most people won’t need to care about iterations beyond 802.11n or Bluetooth 4.0 for a while. I was able to connect to my 5GHz home WiFi network just fine and use stream music to a Bluetooth speaker with no hiccups.

The Oppo R5 supports GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz), UMTS (850/900/1900/2100MHz), and LTE (Bands 1, 3, and 7) networks. That means, in the good ole US, it’s missing support for T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 and Band 4 LTE networks, as well as AT&T’s Band 4 and 17 LTE networks. The HSPA+ compatible radios in the Oppo R5 work well on AT&T and should function similarly on T-Mobile, though I wasn’t able to test. As for LTE connectivity, Oppo has no plans on releasing a US LTE variant at this time. Bummer.

Call quality on the Oppo R5 ran the course just as one would expect. I was able to hear callers and they were able to hear me as intended without struggle.

Speakers and Audio
The single speaker output on the Oppo R5 isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s not going to go down without a fight either. As I type this, I’m jamming to a healthy mix of dubstep beats, and the Oppo R5 does produce enough sound for me. However, when being compared to other devices such as my Nexus 6, the Oppo R5 does lose that battle. As for the ringer, I was able to hear the ringer in my car and in crowded areas with ease.

Oppo_R5_Bottom_USB

One of the more prominent concerns with Oppo’s R5 surrounds the audio jack, or the lack thereof. Oppo wasn’t able to include your standard audio jack do to the R5’s extreme thinness and instead opted to provide a USB to 3.5 mm audio jack adapter. The question remains; how does audio sound through the USB adapter? While I’m not an audiophile by any means, throughout my testing I wasn’t able to tell the difference and was completely satisfied. And speaking of headphones, in standard Oppo fashion, the R5 comes with it’s very own set of high quality earbuds. You just won’t be able to use them if you happen to need to charge your phone at the same time.

Camera

Oppo’s rear camera is equipped with a 13 megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor. If that sounds familiar, it’s the same camera sensor found in Google’s Nexus 6. Though when comparing the two, I believe the Nexus 6 takes better photos. The Oppo R5 camera does produce detailed images coming from a variety of lighting scenarios with minimal noise, unless we go into low light scenarios, then the R5 seems to underperform. That said, the shutter speed on the Oppo R5 is extremely fast.

When it comes to camera software, Oppo’s PI 2.0+ engine offers some of the best features in the camera control business with a wide variety of shot options, various scene modes such as GIF, Double Exposure, RAW, Super Macro, After Focus, Colorful Night, Slow Shutter, etc and even an expert mode allowing shutter speed control, ISO controls, and exposure compensation options. Just like the Oppo Find 7, the Oppo R5 includes an Ultra HD mode, which allows for 50 MP shots by quickly taking a series of photos and then stitching them together. It does take an extra second or two, but the end result is a sharper, more detailed, and very large image.

As for video, the Oppo R5’s rear video resolution tops out at 1080p, unlike the current 2K trend, but does offer a few juicy tidbits such as slow motion video and HDR video. Here’s a short video sample.

The front facing camera on the Oppo R5 consists of a 5 megapixel shooter with an 83 degree wide angle lens, which seems to perform quite well for “selfies”, videos, and video conferencing. Here’s another short video sample.

Battery Life

The Oppo R5 might arguably be the pinnacle of design and build quality, but there’s definitely a few shortcomings and battery life is near the top of that list. Due to the incredibly thin nature of the Oppo R5, Oppo was only able to include a small 2,000 mAh battery. Throughout my testing, I was only able to get about 12 hours of usage with about 2 hours of screen on time. Producing a phone this thin definitely impacted battery life and I’m not sure why being able to boast the world’s thinnest phone is better than a phone that can get you through the day, but whatever, preferences I guess.

Oppo_R5_Case_Front

Though, the good news here is that the R5 comes with Oppo’s patented VOOC rapid charging technology, which is capable of charging the R5 up to 75% in about 30 minutes. The R5 I received didn’t include a US charger, which makes sense as they don’t plan on supporting US markets. However, I had a spare VOOC charger from another Oppo device and was able to successfully use VOOC rapid charging at the advertised rates. Being able to quickly give your dying phone a hefty helping of juice is quite nice.

Performance

Under the hood the Oppo R5 packs a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon 615 processor, an Adreno 405 GPU, and 2GB of RAM. The octa-core Snapdragon 615 SoC from Qualcomm is considered mid-range, though is 64-bit compatible. ColorOS 2.0 and Android 4.4.4 however, are only 32-bit, meaning the software doesn’t take full advantage of the hardware. Still though, the phone generally performs great and applications launch fast with no noticeable lag or dropped frames from games or videos. Every once in a while while accessing notifications or the quick toggles, I would notice stutter and lag. Chances are these issues have been resolved or can be resolved in future software updates.

For those that like numbers, the Oppo R5 scored 29,714. As you can see, the phone’s not going to win any specs or numbers awards. 

Software

When it comes to software, Oppo’s deep customization options and suite of applications that make up ColorOS are quite unique. With the Oppo R5, ColorOS received a version bump to 2.0 and comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat, a first for Oppo phones. Although, the overall aesthetics haven’t changed all that much besides a darker settings panel, the gesture panel has been moved to the bottom, and the proprietary ColorOS apps received a fresh coat of paint.

Let me just tell you that moving the gesture panel from a swipe down from the top to a swipe up from the bottom is a lot nicer than it seems. The change in placement puts a stop to many accidental gesture panel launches when trying to access the notification shade, which normally resulted in users (including myself) just disabling the gesture panel in the past. The rest of Oppo’s standard gestures are all present, allowing for quick access to the camera, flashlight, changing tracks, turning the screen on and off, and now includes air gestures for navigating your home screen.

Moving on to Oppo’s full suite of applications, which are for the most part located inside an application called Security Center. Inside you’ll find Memory cleanup, App encryption, Data saving, Power manager, Quiet time, Block, Data monitor, Permission management, and Guest mode.

  • Memory cleanup – essentially an app and task killer, freeing up memory.
  • App encryption – not really encryption, it’s really just password protecting applications.
  • Data saving – you can block certain applications from accessing background data.
  • Power manager – power saving and super power saving modes.
  • Quiet time – allowing you to put your device into silent mode for certain hours.
  • Block – phone number white and black listing.
  • Data monitor – this is essentially just the built in Android data monitor.
  • Permission management – allows you to see which apps have access to which permissions.
  • Guest mode – allows you to set applications as private, disabling them by using the guest password.

Additionally, the theming capabilities are probably one of my favorite features of ColorOS. The Theme Store allows you to change the look and feel of nearly every aspect of your phone, though not as powerful as the theme engine that’s included with CyanogenMod.

As mentioned in the performance section above, ColorOS does have a few hiccups from time to time, that can be seen throughout the OS. For example, air gestures were very inconsistent and boreline too touchy. ColorOS comes with SwiftKey installed by default, if you try to change to another keyboard, the phone crashes and reboots, defaulting back to SwiftKey. The built in Music application is buggy, switching tracks automatically, though Google Play Music is fine. And lastly, sometimes the pull down toggles pull down horribly slow. Overall, I feel ColorOS 2.0 has some bugs and performance issues that need to be resolved, but it’s better than previous iterations of ColorOS.

Conclusion

At $499, the Oppo R5 is an expensive mid-range phone, but Oppo is obviously marketing this phone as a premium device based on the overall quality and aesthetics. When it comes to build quality, a lot of phones just can’t compare with what Oppo has done with the R5. As I said above, using the Oppo R5 feels like you’re holding an elegant tank in the palm of your hand. While I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home, Oppo has confirmed the R5’s impeccable build quality and used the R5 as a knife, a hammer, and a speed bump. Check out the video below to see what I’m talking about.

Beyond hardware though, the Oppo R5 is a tough sell for me and most likely for you too. The Oppo R5 is launching with Android 4.4.4 KitKat and if Oppo’s software update track record continues as it has for the past few years, the Oppo R5 most likely won’t see Android 5.0 Lollipop without going to a custom ROM.

Generally speaking, Oppo and their devices are very developer friendly. However, with limited connectivity options, there’s a good chance we might not see a whole lot of developer support for this phone making this a touch choice even for the Android tinkerer.

Oppo_R5_Side_View

If you could care less about Android updates, love having as many software customization options as possible, and happen to live in part of the world with the appropriate LTE bands, the Oppo R5 is a worthy contender if you’re looking to turn a few heads while sporting this hardware in your hand. Be sure to check out our official Oppo R5 forums and let us know what you think.

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