Oppo opened their 2018 product range with the Australian launch of their highly-anticipated R11s range – two phones, the R11s and R11s Plus – at an event in Sydney last night.
By any measure, Oppo had a pretty successful 2017 – it had hit phones in the R9 and R11, and it’s ascending the Canstar customer satisfaction rankings like nothing else. Given that success, there’s a certain buzz around the latest entries in the series, and a certain swagger about Oppo itself with the launch party at Carriageworks featuring a brief fashion parade from Aje and a musical performance by Nicole Miller.
The R11s is of course the update to Oppo’s 2017 R11 model which was well received by consumers although perhaps not universally loved by reviewers.
The “s” model usually doesn’t shift the needle much in terms of design, yet that’s the biggest first-glance indicator that the R11s is a brand new model – Oppo’s moved its flagship R-series phone to the increasingly common 18:9 (nee 2:1) screen aspect ratio. In doing so, it’s made the phone thinner and taller and is keeping pace with their industry counterparts. This might actually be the most wallet-friendly 18:9 screen I’ve seen yet.
The R11s Plus is the phone’s plus-sized big sister. The obvious visual difference is the screen size – 6.4 inches to the R11s’ 6.0 inches. There’s a special red edition of the R11s on offer as well, with a “starry sky” screen treatment — this appears to be a slight gradient overlaid on the screen to give it a richer look and more expansive feel. There’s a small difference under the hood too, with a bit more RAM (6GB to the smaller phone’s 4GB). Otherwise, the Plus is a bigger version of the R11s — choice is a good thing.
Both phones are powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor. We’ve seen great performance from the 6xx series processors in Oppo phones for a few years now, and with this being one of the most recent entrants in Qualcomm’s midrange processor series we’re expecting this trend to continue.
Oppo has a reputation for quality mobile photography, and that comes through in the attention to the R11s series cameras. These phones feature a dual rear camera (16MP + 20MP, both clocking in with an impressive f/1.7 aperture), and a 20MP front-facing camera that’s pulling off some neat AI-based facial recognition.
To the rear cameras. Oppo’s main talking point here is that both cameras are “primary” cameras. The 16MP camera takes the lead in well-lit daylight shots while the 20MP camera is the primary camera in the dark. This needs to be unpacked a little, because the camera software also offers a tap to switch between 1x and 2x zoom — this doesn’t appear to be blending inputs from both cameras but seems rather to just be performing a digital zoom. Oppo does talk about blending sensor inputs though (eg, in low light), so the proof will be in the pudding. Or the performance. It also seems a little counterintuitive to use the 20MP camera for low-light where you want each pixel to be larger to capture more light, but Oppo says it will “intelligently synthesise” 2.0µm pixels which should capture all the light it needs.
The front-facing camera is also a 20MP unit, and Oppo’s using some AI smarts to perform facial recognition on over 250 points. They say this allows for a better beauty mode with more subtle, natural enhancements, but I’m not so sure beauty mode is aimed at me.
More interesting is the opportunity that those 250+ points of facial recognition allows the phone to pull off on a security front – you can unlock your phone by looking at it, in under 1/10th of a second (0.08s to be precise). This actually has to be seen to be believed – it works in the dark and works if you’re wearing glasses, similar to a particular fruit-named company’s latest and greatest, although because it’s not using the same bevy of sensors it’s a little less secure. Still, there’s a rear fingerprint sensor and you can always enter a passcode.
The phones launch on Monday February 5, and they’re going to be available in more places than you’ve found Oppo’s devices before. The R11s going on-contract at Optus, Virgin Mobile, Woolworths Mobile and Vodafone. It’ll also be available from JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, RetraVision, and Mobileciti with an RRP of $659. The R11s Plus will be exclusive to JB Hi-Fi at $779. With that kind of availability and Oppo’s position in the Australian midrange market, we’re expecting to see Oppo shift a serious number of units.
There’s a number of accessories available at JB Hi-Fi with cases ranging from $25-$35.
We’ve got our hands on an R11s and included a few camera samples below, with a full review to come soon.