Oppo tonight took the wraps off its latest phones for Australia – the R17 and R17 Pro.
The new phones are as much fashion statement and personal accessory as they are Android smartphones, continuing Oppo’s trend of colourful eye-catching finishes.
The R17 Pro is the darling of the bunch with its a Radiant Mist finish, a gorgeous purple-blue horizontal gradient that really takes it to this year’s current champ (Huawei’s P20 Pro in Twilight) on looks.
That’s not to say the others suffer on the looks front – the standard R17 comes in stunning Ambient Blue and Neon Purple colours. They’re fine. Really. They’re just not Radiant Mist, and Ausdroid’s review unit is.
Oppo’s making efforts to move back from the brink of 2018’s most controversial phone addition – the notch – with a “waterdrop notch” at the top of cloth phones’ screens. It’s a minimal incursion into what’s otherwise a full screen front that holds a 25 MP front facing camera, proximity sensor and speaker grille in a single compact area.
Otherwise, the phones are both sporting 6.4-inch full HD+ displays that impress in the hand with brightness and vibrant colours matching the finish of the phone. These phones are also first to market with Corning’s latest Gorilla Glass 6 toughened glass.
There’s also an in-screen fingerprint sensor – possibly our favourite smartphone technology addition of the year, making the R17 & Pro pair some of the first phones on the market with the technology inside. Unlike the notch, this is one trend we’re happy to see spread far and wide.
Inside, the R17 Pro is running one of Qualcomm’s latest chipsets, the Snapdragon 710, making it no slouch (the standard R17 model carries a more modest Snapdragon 670). In both models, the outdoors are paired with 6gb of RAM and 128gb of storage but that’s all – there’s no support for external storage on either model.
Seize the Night
Oppo’s got a reputation for delivering on photography in their phones, and they’re making much of the cameras here – so we’re sitting up and taking notice. Understandably, the focus is on the R17 Pro.
Samsung impressed with the variable aperture camera on the Galaxy S9 earlier this year, and the R17 Pro makes use of the same technology to intelligently change the camera aperture based on available light. This means you should expect better photos in low light while better light will mean a deeper focal depth and more of the subject in sharp focus.
Oppo’s also built a Night mode into their camera software that – as we’ve seen other manufacturers do – takes multiple exposures and combines them into a single shot to get better exposure in the dark. With Optical Image Stabilisation on the camera, we’re definitely looking forward to taking this out for a spin.
Oppo gave us an R17 Pro and took us out on Sydney Harbour tonight, so here’s a few sample night shots from the phone:
The R17 Pro also features a Time Of Flight sensor, which is something a bit new.
The Time Of Flight sensor projects light and measures its reflection back, so it allows you to get a very accurate measure of depth up to about 5 metres. Time Of Flight can also be used to create 3D models of objects and create 3D photos. Oppo promises their R&D department is working on some other cool features for it as well.
The software to take advantage of the sensor unfortunately won’t be available at launch, but should be delivered as an over-the-air update in the coming weeks.
Just a few weeks ago, Oppo took the rapid charging crown with Super Vooc charging on a new edition of the Find X, and it’s making another appearance on the R17 Pro where it’ll deliver 40% battery charge in just 10 minutes over the phone’s USB-C port.
Color OS, and an Update Commitment
It’s no secret that the Ausdroid crew hasn’t been the wildest of fans of Oppo’s flavour of Android, Color OS. While we’ll reserve judgement for a review, we can talk a little about the underlying Android OS.
One of our major misgivings about Oppo’s phones in the past has been the lack of updates and the fact that Google’s regular security patches just don’t turn up. Oppo tends to release with an up-to-date version of Android, but falls behind on updates. In keeping with that, our R17 Pro review unit is running Android 8.1, with August security updates out of the box.
Oppo tonight gave us a commitment that all security patches will be delivered within 90 days of release. That means monthly updates, just on a delay.
It’s not as fast as other companies, but it’s better than some others. It’s a start and it should help R17 owners feel more safe and sound.
Where we couldn’t get a commitment was on platform updates, is Android 9.0 Pie. Oppo’s promised to get back to us soon to discuss.
Pricing and Availability
Oppo’s newest phones go on sale on Monday November 12. The R17 will cost $699, while the Pro will cost $899.
You’ll be able to buy them at JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, Good Guys, Woolworths Mobile, Mobileciti and Telechoice.
Vodafone will have the Emerald Green version of the R17 Pro available on a plan from Wednesday November 14.
We’ve got a Radiant Mist R17 Pro on Ausdroid’s test bench, so look out for the full review in the coming weeks.