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What we like
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Oppo has made some interesting smartphones of late, like the high-end Oppo Find X with its rising camera mechanism. The company’s new F9 isn’t quite as exciting on the spec sheet, but does some interesting things with its color scheme and uniquely shaped notch. We don’t expect this phone to come to the U.S. anytime soon, but felt it was still worth a look.
Read our full Oppo F9 review to learn more.
Although it may copy the same general look of the iPhone, it isn't made of premium materials.
There’s no denying the Oppo F9 is a blatant copy of Apple’s iPhone X design. Because of this, the Oppo F9 will most likely never come to U.S. markets (unless Oppo wants Apple to sue its pants off). Although it may copy the same general look and shape of the iPhone, it isn’t made of premium materials. The F9’s body looks like a combination of glass and metal but it’s entirely made of plastic. This makes the F9 feel substantially cheaper compared to other smartphones with glass or metal designs, but the body is still quite sturdy and tightly put together.
What makes the Oppo F9’s design attractive is its gradient color scheme. I have the sunrise red model which goes from a bright red and fades to a purple as you approach the bottom half of the phone. A unique diamond pattern on the back is visible at an angle. It’s my favorite thing about the Oppo F9 and it’s stunning to look at. If red and purple aren’t your thing there’s also a twilight blue model, which fades from black to blue instead.
The Oppo F9 doesn't have a USB Type-C port, instead using the legacy MicroUSB.
Everything else about the F9’s design is fairly standard. There’s a fingerprint sensor on the rear, power button on the right, volume buttons on the left, and a headphone jack on the bottom. Oddly, the Oppo F9 doesn’t have a USB Type-C port, opting for the legacy MicroUSB. With how common USB Type-C is this was very surprising to see even for a mid-range device.
We haven't seen a notch this small since the Essential Phone, and the engineering to achieve this is quite clever.
The F9’s other attention-grabbing feature is its notch. The notch is probably the most hated smartphone trend of 2018, but Oppo has figured out a way to make it look good. It’s called a waterdrop notch and it’s much smaller and more attractive than the typical notch. We haven’t seen a notch this small since the Essential Phone and the engineering to achieve this notch is quite clever. The notch only houses a front-facing camera, unlike most notches that also include the speaker. The earpiece is instead seamlessly integrated into the top bezel of the phone.
The screen is about as close to edge-to-edge as you can get, with very thin bezels all around. With a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080, this LCD display isn’t most impressive you’ll find on a smartphone, but I found it to be perfectly sufficient. The 6.3-inch display is large, comfortable to use, and pleasant to look at. Colors are vibrant, text is sharp, and it’s bright enough to see in direct sunlight.
The Oppo F9 is also the first smartphone to ship with Gorilla Glass 6, Corning’s most durable glass. It’s apparently capable of surviving an average of 15 drops from one meter, but I never dropped the device to test this claim.
The Oppo F9 runs on a Mediatek Helio P60 processor and 6GB of RAM. Most of the time the Oppo F9 performed fluidly. Launching applications, navigating through the interface, browsing the web, and other typical smartphone activities were smooth. The only issue I had was with gaming. Gaming on the F9 is a very choppy experience and it feels as if the Mediatek processor isn’t able to keep up. The phone even struggles with Clash Royale, which is a simple tower defense game and not very graphically intensive. Oppo’s software has a gaming mode to improve gameplay and provide better gaming performance but I didn’t notice a difference with it on or off.
In terms of battery life, the Oppo F9 performs admirably. The 3,500mAh battery had plenty of juice for the F9 to comfortably last me all day. Unfortunately, Oppo’s software doesn’t make it easy to gauge screen-on time statistics. I can say that YouTube took up 50 percent of my usage, and I always ended the day with around 15 to 20 percent battery left. The Oppo F9 is also very quick to recharge with Oppo’s VOOC fast charging. This is one of the fastest charging methods available which you may be more familiar with as Dash Charge on OnePlus devices.
On the rear, the Oppo F9 has a 16MP primary shooter with f/1.8 aperture and a secondary 2MP sensor for capturing depth information and portrait mode effects. The camera also offers a good variety of features such as time lapse, slow-motion video, stickers, AI beauty mode, and Google Lens integration.
The front-facing camera comes in at a whopping 25MP, providing plenty of resolution for zooming and cropping on your selfie photos. Selfie photos are very good, with nice detail and natural skin tones but I wasn’t much of a fan of the beauty mode. You can adjust the intensity of the beauty mode manually, but if you leave it up for the camera to decide it’s very aggressive in softening the details in your face.
The rear 16MP shooter won’t blow your socks off, but it’s more than adequate. In daylight or well-lit conditions, the camera performs well. Images are detailed with good dynamic range and color reproduction maintains a natural appearance. In low-light scenarios, the image quality deteriorates very quickly. Photos still retain quite a bit of color but lack sharpness, and there’s very little detail in the highlights. This isn’t all too surprising considering the camera’s lack of optical image stabilization.
My least favorite part about the Oppo F9 is the software experience. The F9 runs Android 8.1 Oreo with ColorOS, Oppo’s overbearing skin. ColorOS not only changes much of the aesthetics of stock Android but tries to emulate iOS as much as possible. The appearance of the icons, wallpapers, and features feel very similar. Some features are pretty unintuitive compared to how stock Android handles them. Notifications can simply be swiped away to dismiss them on stock Android, but not on ColorOS. Instead, you have to swipe the notification to the right and tap on the trash can icon to dismiss it. This method feels clunky and makes it difficult to clear away notifications quickly.
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
19.5:9 aspect ratio
Mediatek Helio P60
Yes, up to 256GB
Rear: 16MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture + 2MP depth sensor with f/2.4 aperture
VOOC Flash Charge (5V/4.5A)
Android 8.1 Oreo with ColorOS 5.2
Pricing & Conclusion
The Oppo F9 is available in select regions like Vietnam, the Philippines, and India. In Vietnam, the F9 is priced at 7,690,000 dong (~$330). It will most likely cost more to import one to the States, but it isn’t worth doing that, due to its lack of U.S. LTE band support — unless you’re perfectly content with 2G data speeds.
If you live in a region where it’s available, the Oppo F9 offers plenty of modern smartphone features for an affordable price. The screen is nearly bezel-less with an attractive notch, it has dual cameras, and the color options are very unique. It isn’t a game-changing smartphone, but it’s another smartphone showcasing Oppo’s continued efforts in design innovation.