Oppo R7: Mid-Range Price For A Nearly Premium Smartphone

The Oppo R7 isn’t quite a premium phone, although it looks the part. As a mid-range offering it’s very solid value indeed.
Mid-range Android phones occupy an unusual space right now, simply because while at the top end there’s all the innovation and fashion-esque design, and in the budget space there’s a number of perfectly acceptable if not actually show-stopping handsets you can buy. As such, any mid-range handset usually has to appeal more to the crowd that would like a premium handset but can’t justify the cost of a top-tier device, many of which tip the scales at an outright purchase price of $999 or more.
The Oppo R7 is a decidedly mid-range phone in terms of pricing, with an outright price tag of $499, and specifications to match, although its design and charging features do make it stand out from the rest of the mid-range pack.
The R7’s design is a little nicer than you might expect from a mid-range device. Like the Huawei P8, there are traces of iPhone-esque design, and again you can take that with the requisite pinch of either flattery or theft depending on your point of view. The Oppo R7’s front glass display is a 5.0 inch 1080×1920 pixel AMOLED panel with glass that extends out to the edge of the bezel, providing a smooth front surface. Oppo refers to it as “Arc Edge” glass because it’s got a slight curvature, although unlike, say, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, there’s no additional functionality baked into the curve. One neat touch here is that the Oppo R7 comes with a preinstalled screen protector out of the box.
Underneath that AMOLED display you’ll find an octo-core Snapdragon 615 processor — a Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A53 to be specific — 3GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. It’s an Android 5.1 (“Lollipop”) device running Oppo’s own Color OS which I first encountered on the Oppo N1 Mini. Color OS is a full replacement type skin that makes that iPhone comparison rather more explicit. Again, that’s either flattery or theft, but the larger scale practical upshot if you’re a regular Android user the lack of an app drawer in favour of scrolling icon screens could be irksome. The Oppo R7 pairs a 13MP rear camera along with an 8MP front shooter.
The Oppo R7 is a dual SIM phone, although it’s one with a curious limitation in this respect. If you want full dual SIM capability you can do so with a Micro SIM and Nano SIM, both of which slot into a single SIM tray that pops out from the right hand side of the R7. The same tray can also accommodate a microSD card slot to augment the Oppo R7’s internal 16GB of memory, but to use it you’ve got to sacrifice the nano SIM slot. It’s not a huge drawback, but if you’re shifting from an existing Nano SIM handset, you can’t have additional storage as well unless you’re willing to go down the slightly risky bent-pin approach of using a SIM card adaptor.
Dual SIM capability aside, all of this points to a rather mid-range experience, and that’s backed up by the Oppo R7’s benchmarks, all of which tend towards the ordinary. In Geekbench 3, it scored 572 in single core and 2108 in multi-core mode, 21456 in Quadrant and 174 in 3DMark Slingshot and 7334 in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.
Those benchmarks suggest mid-range performance, and the experience of actually using the Oppo R7 reflects this as well. It’s not a high-end handset, but it’s acceptably nippy for most tasks that you’re likely to undertake on a 5 inch smartphone anyway. Color OS takes some getting used to if you’re a heavy Android user, and you’re at the mercy of Oppo when it comes to software updates for its heavily reskinned Android experience.

Color OS won't be to everyone's taste, but should appeal to iPhone switchers.
Color OS won’t be to everyone’s taste, but should appeal to iPhone switchers.

The Oppo R7’s 13MP camera provides decent shots, but nothing at all outside the realm of what you’d expect from a mid-range camera phone. It’s fine in fair light, if a little oversaturated in colours, which is fairly common for most camera smartphones. Put it in dim light, and you start to see blocky artefacts quite quickly.
The Oppo R7’s 2320 mAh battery is sealed, and battery life is only average; if you’re a moderate user you’ll get through a day of usage, but two might be a stretch. Where the Oppo R7 does stand out is with its charger, which works via the standard microUSB — so you can charge if from anyone else’s charger as well — but delivers extremely rapid charging. Oppo refers to it as Vooc Flash charge, and it provides 25W of power, compared to the average 5-10W of a “standard” charger. The Oppo R7 might only have average battery life, but you won’t have to wait all that long for it to jump up to full power when you do plug it in. The only downside I’ve noted here is that the supplied charger doesn’t play all that well with other microUSB devices; some will happily talk at the higher power setting, but not all, whereas I’ve had fewer issues with other rapid chargers such as the one that comes with Samsung’s Galaxy S6.
The Oppo R7 is $499 outright, and in Australia for outright sales it’s a Dick Smith Electronics exclusive. It’s not the only way to buy the Oppo R7, however, as it’s also the first Oppo device to be stocked by a carrier. Optus customers can sign up for the Oppo R7 under contract from $40 per month over 24 months (so a minimum of $960).
There’s definitely a place for mid-range handset with premium aspirations, and that’s exactly what the Oppo R7 is. It won’t knock your socks off in the way that an LG G4, Samsung Galaxy S6 or Apple iPhone 6 might, but then it’s priced quite accordingly, providing a decent challenge to the much higher prices those handsets command.

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