Super Thin, But Are Trade-offs Worth It?

After using the Oppo R5 as my daily driver for over a week, I’m left completely unconvinced that slim designs are the best option for today’s smartphones. Considering its flagship level price – $540 unlocked and off-contract from Amazon – there are simply too many compromises to make this a worthwhile high-end contender.

The biggest issue with the Oppo R5 is its horrendous battery life. This is a device with a fairly large 5.2-inch AMOLED display, and despite using a relatively power friendly SoC, the 2,000 mAh internal battery doesn’t cut it. In fact it’s not even close to being adequate, comfortably recording the worst battery life of any device I’ve used recently. Battery life is so critical these days that on this aspect alone the Oppo R5 is hard to recommend.

Next up is performance, with Oppo opting to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 SoC. Unfortunately this chip isn’t in Qualcomm’s top tier, recording performance around the same as the two-year-old Snapdragon 600 used in the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. As the R5 retails for just as much as (if not more than) a Snapdragon 801 flagship like the Sony Xperia Z3, Motorola Moto X 2014 or LG G3, this handset’s mid-range performance isn’t up to scratch.

The 13-megapixel rear camera can take a decent image in ideal conditions, but performance in other situations is decidedly mid-range once again. A lot of the time the camera produced dull or lacklustre shots, when really it should be rivalling the high-end cameras found in other $500+ devices. The camera app itself and the front-facing selfie camera are commendable, but Oppo needs to work on processing tweaks for their main rear shooter.

Of the things I did like, the Oppo R5 has a magnificent, slim and well-built body. The bezels to the top and bottom of the display are a little large for my liking, but the aluminium back and sides gives the R5 a premium look and feel. The 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED isn’t the best display I’ve seen on a high-end device, though it gets the job done with a great contrast ratio and good viewing angles.

On the other hand, the Oppo R5’s heavy ColorOS skin applied over the top of Android 4.4 leaves a lot to be desired. The skin is visually unappealing, looking very dated in comparison to Android 5.0’s Material Design. Oppo has also made some usability changes that degrade the experience, despite having some interesting features hidden away in the settings menu.

While some of the issues with the R5 are related to its quest for thinness, most notably an understandably small battery capacity, not everything can be blamed on this one thing. An average camera, mid-range performance and mediocre software are all separate issues, and for that reason, I find the Oppo R5 hard to recommend.

55
TechSpot
score

Pros: Attractive, ultra-slim design with a decent AMOLED display.

Cons: Slim design leads to woeful battery life. High-end price for mid-range performance and camera. Mediocre software. No 3.5mm audio jack or microSD card slot.