Compared to a few years ago, all smartphones are pretty damn thin. And the thickness of a smartphone's chassis is only one of its defining characteristics. But that doesn't stop the Oppo R5, measuring in at a razor-thin 4.85mm thick, from being a fascinating and alluring piece of technology — as the world's thinnest smartphone. It's also just a good phone, too, so the svelte design is just icing on an otherwise healthy and low-carb and low-fat and just all-round skinny cake.
What Is It?
- Processor: Octa-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
- RAM: 2GB RAM
- Screen: 5.2-inch 1920x1080pixel AMOLED
- Memory: 16GB
- Camera: 13 megapixels
The Oppo R5 comes from Chinese smartphone and accessories powerhouse Oppo, which has an Australian counterpart selling its phones and accessories in Oppo Mobile Australia. It's available for $629, and should be in stock from the online-only store from the week of 23rd February onwards in a 16GB capacity.
The Oppo R5's specs make it unique, for the time being at least, in that it is the first and only smartphone on sale to use the brand new mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor. It's a 1.5GHz octa-core and a natively 64-bit processor, and both of these trends are where Android will be going in the next few years — towards more complex instructions and more multi-threaded apps, and running a larger number of apps simultaneously on any given phone. Alongside that 615, Oppo has squeezed in 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 13-megapixel camera all running through a 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED display.
The Oppo R5 is a mid-range handset, not the kind of world-beating flagship that usually turns the heads of smartphone lovers. It has a 1080p display rather than a top-of-the-line 1440p one; it has a processor targeted at efficiency rather than outright power. It has a 13-megapixel camera, the same Sony IMX214 as the Oppo Find 7 and OnePlus One. But it is, by and large, the design of the new phone that is its major talking point.
What's It Good At?
The Oppo R5's 13-megapixel camera is a pretty run of the mill 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 sensor, functionally the same as the Oppo Find 7 and the Motorola Nexus 6, but maybe there's some special sauce in Oppo's camera software or behind the scenes, because the R5 captures some beautiful pictures when it's in good or middling light. Take it outdoors and you'll capture some lovely images with some great pixel-level detail, more than I've come to expect from a phone camera. It's less brilliant in low light, but still competitive. Here are a few examples of what you can expect from the R5:
A 5.2-inch, 1080p, 423ppi AMOLED screen runs the show for the R5, and it's a beautifully bright and vibrant screen that reminds me of the first time I laid eyes on the Samsung Galaxy S5's equally stunning display. It's incredibly bright at its maximum luminance It's wrapped in Gorilla Glass 3, too, and despite giving it a little bit of a rough time in the last couple of weeks I'm yet to make any kind of impression on it apart from a lot of fingerprint smudging.
Although it's not the holy grail of stock Android, the Oppo R5's Color OS has some nifty features built in — like a flashlight and quick-lock screen button in the notifications bar. It does a good job of presenting itself straight out of the box, but also gives you the opportunity to alter its skin with various on-device and downloadable theme packs. You can opt for a close-to-stock "Android Jelly Bean" theme, for what it's worth.
The R5's 4.85mm-thin body is, obviously, the thinnest the world has ever seen. (That's excluding the camera bump, which adds a couple of millimetres' bulk on the phone's top centre rear in a rounded square. More on that later.) It's about more than just that number, though — the chassis edges are apparently hand polished by Oppo factory workers to remove microscopic abrasions left from machining, and the phone's bezel is very slightly curved from front to back to improve the way it sits in the user's hand. If you've ever held an iPhone 4 and felt the sharpness of its flat bezel, this is the issue that Oppo wants to eliminate with this change. This phone feels amazing in your hand, although you do definitely feel those edges (smoothed as they may be).
But what is worth mentioning most about the Oppo R5 is how smooth it feels. Whether that's an artifact of the new processor in action, of the simplicity of the home screen and notification bar and settings menus, or of something else I can't put my finger on, but the experience of using the R5 is With one annoyance — the period that you have to long-press the capacitive menu button to reach the list of currently running apps is a little too long for my liking.
Rapid charging means that the R5's 2000mAh battery, obviously relatively small and constrained by the size of the phone's chassis, gets back up to full power within under an hour from entirely flat — half an hour will see your battery top 75 per cent. On a high-end phone fast charging is nearly mandatory now and it's good to see that Oppo is adopting it across its entire range of new smartphones. It works, and although you'll have to charge your phone throughout the day, it really is a 15-minute affair to keep your battery topped up.
What's It Not Good At?
This is an absolutely necessary exclusion in a device of its thin profile, but the fact that the Oppo R5 doesn't have a 3.5mm headphone jack is a pretty big omission. Now, I have no shortage of headphones and speakers, but of the large number that pass my desk, only around a third are Bluetooth compatible. If you have a pair of existing non-Bluetooth headphones that you like, you'll need to attach the microUSB to 3.5mm adapter that Oppo bundles in the box with the R5, and if you switch regularly you'll need to keep the adapter with you at all times.
Not having any option for expandable memory and no step-up 3GB RAM/32GB storage option, you're stuck with what you get when it comes to the Oppo R5. That means you're restricted to only a certain amount of downloaded tracks on your Spotify account, only a certain number of data-hungry blockbuster Android games, and If you buy yourself an Oppo R5, it's a very smart thing to do to buy yourself a microUSB flash drive — I have a couple of 64GB Sandisk Ultras and find them infinitely handy for storing TV and movies for long international flights.
If the 'net's tech review sites (and maybe even Gizmodo? I can't remember) called out the iPhone 6 Plus for having a slight protrusion where the lens of the camera was, I am duty bound to do the same when looking at the Oppo R5. That bump for the Sony IMX214 13-megapixel imaging sensor and lens is large — more than a couple of millimetres more than the rest of the phone's chassis — and you feel it both when you're using the phone and when it's in your pocket. Whether you actually care about that? Entirely up to you.
ColorOS is Oppo's flavour of Android 4.4.4 Kit-Kat, and its default skin is somewhat like the Huawei Ascend Mate7's in that it's hampered by stock icons that are just a bit ugly. You can't alter some of them with an icon pack, either. There's no Android 5.0 Lollipop, at least on launch, for the Oppo R5. I'll start holding that against new handset releases in the near future, but not too much this time.
Should You Buy It?
The thin aspect of the Oppo R5 necessitates some compromises — there's a bump for the camera module. The battery is quite small. There's no headphone jack. Some of these are minor, some of these might completely turn a potential buyer off the phone. But if you really, really like this phone like I do, you're willing to make some pretty significant concessions.
The hardware is top notch, thankfully. Everything is just very refined and carefully chosen and carefully put together — it's all very iPhone-esque, and there's a huge parallel between the current iPhone and the Oppo R5. I can see this phone swaying the kind of iPhone owner that wants to switch to Android but that doesn't like the quality of the hardware on offer.
Do you want the thinnest Android smartphone going around? This is it — the Oppo R5. It also helps that it's just a very good phone on all other counts, too. If you can take those aforementioned compromises, the most unexpectedly significant of which is the loss of the 3.5mm headphone jack, into account you'll find the R5 an enviable and fashionable handset.