Oppo R17 Pro review: Stunning, good performance and crazy fast charging
Oppo has done well for itself when it comes to offering good looking, selfie-centric smartphones at a low cost in India. The company has been shy to bring its premium lineup to the country. It tested the waters with the Find X earlier this year and earlier this month the company decided to bring its R-series to the country for the very first time. The Oppo R17 Pro is the first R-series phone to come to India and it packs tons of attractive features that gives it a good chance to take on the competition in the high-end segment.
The Oppo R17 Pro is as stunning as it is powerful. But perhaps the most exciting feature about the phone is that it is the first to come with SuperVOOC fast charging in India. At Rs 45,990, the Oppo R17 Pro slots higher than the likes of the OnePlus 6T and Nokia 8.1. Does the phone offer enough to justify its price tag? Let's find out.
The first thing that will get you talking about the Oppo R17 Pro is its design. It might look familiar to a lot of people because it is rumoured to be the reference design for the OnePlus 6T, although the latter was launched in India earlier. So, a lot of the design elements are similar between the two phones. You get a tall Waterdrop display up front and a glass and metal combination. The rear panel gets a 3D curved Gorilla Glass 6 protection, which gives it better resilience against drops. There's also an in-display fingerprint sensor. The phone looks stunning as it gets a sleek design balanced weight.
But what really makes the phone look unique is its gradient colour, called Radiant Mist. The rear panel offers a matt-like, frosted texture which is smooth to touch and gives the gradient design a subtle yet attractive look. The Radiant Mist colour sees a gradual shift between purple and blue from left to right. In daylight, you'll notice the gradience clearly as well as the curved S-shaped light refracted from the surface. The R17 Pro is also offered in an Emerald Green option that is non-gradient yet equally unique in nature. These colours help the device stand out from the OnePlus 6T which gets its own set of gradient colour options.
The R17 Pro's misty gradient colour looks refreshing and hides any fingerprint or smudges that would otherwise have been easily noticeable on clear glass. Unlike the Huawei Mate 20 Pro's glossy rear panel that offers a nano coating to reduce slipperiness, the R17 Pro is incredibly smooth and slippery. You will want to be very careful while taking the phone out from your pocket, or you could slap on a skin or cover for a better grip.
The Oppo R17 is a pretty tall phone but the 3D curved glass back makes it comfortable to hold. Ergonomically the phone looks stunning as the glass back almost seamlessly blends into the slim metal frame. Despite holding a 3,700mAh battery, the R17 Pro is also pretty lightweight. The top and bottom of the frame is concave (curved inwards) much like the Find X. The bottom part of the frame sees a single speaker grille, Type-C port and a SIM tray that can hold two SIM cards. The phone does not support storage expandability nor does it offer a headphone jack.
Coming to the front where you get a tall 6.4-inch Waterdrop AMOLED display. Oppo is one of the first brands to introduce this sort of display where the notch on top is small and droplet-shaped. This makes the notch far less intrusive than the typical iPhone X-style notches we have seen on most Android phones this year. The notch is just big enough to house a single selfie camera, proximity and ambient sensors and an earpiece. The chin is also quite thin so what you're left with is pretty much all screen with a 91.5 per cent screen-to-body ratio that looks immersive. The display panel offers a FHD+ (2340x1080) resolution.
I'm a big fan of Oppo's waterdrop display after using the Oppo F9 Pro and Realme 2 Pro. Much like these two phones, the R17 Pro does not disappoint as well. The AMOLED panel is bright with vibrant colours and deep blacks. There's good contrast and the 1080p resolution is sharp so texts and videos will look crisp. It's a great display to stream content on Netflix, Prime Video or YouTube and you will also be happy running visually stunning games like Alto's Adventure.
Performance and software
The Oppo R17 Pro is the only other phone apart from Nokia 8.1 to come with a Snapdragon 710 chipset in India. We recently tested the new Qualcomm processor on the Nokia phone and were extremely pleased by the near flagship-grade performance, especially the smoothness in which it handles graphic-intensive games. And I'm pleased to find a similar experience on the Oppo R17 Pro as well.
This is an octa-core chipset clocked at 2.2GHz and coupled with an Adreno 616 GPU. This is a terrific mid-range chipset that promises to deliver a consistently smooth user experience over time. Everything works buttery smooth and I was impressed with the quickness at loading heavy apps like PUBG and the smoothness while scrolling through social media sites. In addition to this, Oppo is offering 8GB of RAM which is extremely generous and more than enough to handle intensive multitasking. Basically, you are not going to feel any lag or stuttering no matter what you throw at it.
The SD710 chip will run a game like PUBG on high graphics on default. A 30 minute session saw no noticeable drop in framerate or stutters. The game ran smooth consistently and the phone got mildly warm after about 15-20 minutes. The R17 Pro comes with 128GB of internal storage with no support for storage expandability. You probably won't mind that much because 128GB is sufficient to store a lot of media and other files.
The R17 Pro runs on the ColorOS 5.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. The custom Oppo skin brings features like Smart Bar which is a floating dock that offers quick access to your favourite apps. More importantly, the new ColorOS finally lets you swipe to remove notifications, a much-requested feature by a lot of people.
Oppo's new ColorOS version may have some improvements, but it is still the biggest problem with Oppo phones. The UI looks dated with big, chunky app icons. There's also the issue of spam notifications that crop up. We noticed notifications kept popping up even after disabling them in settings.
The in-display fingerprint sensor is bound to go mainstream next year and you can expect the speed at unlocking to improve in the future as well. The Oppo R17 Pro does not offer a fast in-display fingerprint sensor and there are times when it takes more than a second or two to unlock the device. Other times the sensor would fail to recognise my fingerprint at all. It's times like these when I prefer Oppo's facial recognition system. It may not be the most secure, but it is snappy as hell.
The Oppo R17 comes with three sensors on the back, but only two of them actually work for capturing photos. There's a 12MP primary sensor, a 20MP secondary sensor and a third sensor that is a TOF 3D camera for depth sensing. The ToF camera can't be used right now, but Oppo will release an update in the future to enable the camera. The most notable aspect is that the primary sensor gets a Galaxy S9-like variable aperture feature that Oppo calls Smart Aperture. This allows the camera to switch between f/1.5 to f/2.4 aperture depending on the lighting condition. So in daylight conditions, the sensor will shoot with a smaller f/2.4 aperture to keep exposure under control, while in low-light the sensor will automatically capture images with a mighty wide f/1.5 aperture to let in more light. You don't get the option to manually switch between the aperture so the phone will decide automatically on which aperture should be used based on the lighting condition.
The cameras on the R17 Pro are quite excellent in most lighting conditions. Photos captured in daylight are crisp and detailed with good brightness, colour reproduction and contrast. The fast shutter speed also helps in reducing shake. The phone offers AI Scene Recognition that is able to detect a scene and automatically adjust the setting for the best shot.
Low-light performance is quite stunning, really. The primary camera automatically switches to a wide f/1.5 aperture to take in more light so photos look brighter. This combined with OIS will make sure there is very little shakiness and blur. Even in really low-light condition, the R17 Pro does remarkably well. Photos captured will show little to negligible noise and were quite detailed. You can also manually switch to Night Mode, which slows down shutter speed for a couple of seconds to capture more light.
Meanwhile, the camera UI remains the same iPhone X-like interface. So you can swipe from left to right or vice versa from the modes on the bottom to switch between Photo, Portrait, Video, Pano, Night and Pro. When in selfie mode, you can switch between Photo, Video, Portrait, wide selfie and Stickers. The Pro mode allows you to manually adjust the ISO, WB and Shutter Speed to capture the shot you need.
Much like most other mid-range Oppo phones in recent times, the Oppo R17 Pro also offers a 25MP selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture. This is enough to offer some detailed and sharp selfies in daylight. The beauty mode is enabled on default so you will notice some smoothing, but things will become more true-to-life once you disable beautification. There is good exposure in daylight and indoors and you also get a selfie Portrait mode that uses software to blur the background. It does a decent job at it although the edges of the subject isn't as well-defined as you would want it to be.
There have been a few notable fast charging technologies this year, including the Mate 20 Pro's 40W SuperFast charger and OnePlus's Warp Charge 30. But none of them come close to what Oppo's SuperVOOC flash charge achieves. The R17 Pro charges from zero to 100 per cent in just 40 minutes flat, which blew my mind. This is arguably the biggest attraction of the new Oppo smartphone. The speed at which the phone charges has the ability to spoil you forever.
The Oppo R17 supports up to 50W fast charging, and Oppo has done something pretty clever with the battery. The 3,700mAh bi-cell battery is split into two capacities of 1,850mAh each. This is so that each battery charges at 25W output, thereby preserving the battery's shelf life.
The R17 Pro's terrific fast charging makes up for what is a pretty average battery life. The phone will last you a full day on moderate to intensive usage that involves 30 minutes of PUBG, some video streaming on Netflix, frequent messaging on WhatsApp and occasional social media browsing. The standby time isn't great as well, as the battery percentage drops by about 10 per cent overnight. This is likely the outcome of splitting the battery into two, leading to faster discharge. But I'll say it again, the SuperVOOC flash charge more than makes up for that.
Should you buy the Oppo R17 Pro?
The Oppo R17 Pro is a very attractive phone not just for its gradient design, but also for its waterdrop display, speedy performance, great cameras and stellar SuperVOOC fast charger. It is a perfect all-rounder that would please consumers on a number of levels, except when it comes to the pricing. As much as I want to tell people to buy this phone with all my heart, the Rs 45,000 price tag stops me from suggesting this to my friends and family.
The Oppo R17 is more expensive than the OnePlus 6T that ships with a Snapdragon 845 chipset. It is far more expensive than the Nokia 8.1 which gets a similar Snapdragon 710 chipset and offers a better Android experience. The R17 Pro should have been priced under Rs 35,000 to stand a chance against some excellent competition. This has been a terrific year for smartphones, and value for money phones at that. The R17 Pro for all its beauty and power may not be the phone for everyone. This is the first time the R-series has come to India, but the company will still see more takers for its affordable phones.