I have to admit, OPPO really impressed me in the last year. They managed to be one of the most popular smartphone brands in the Philippines in just a few years. Starting with the F1s, OPPO slowly built its reputation to be the authority in terms of their front cameras. With that in mind, 2018 is sure to be another year that OPPO expands their lineup even more. Their first smartphone for the year aims to get the best features of their flagship F5 smartphone and put them in an even more affordable one! That my friends is the OPPO A83.
At P9,990, the A83 is one of the most affordable phones with a bezel-less display. It also has the same AI Beauty technology found in its older brother, the F5!
My question going into this review is this: Are the tradeoffs made with the OPPO A83 justifiable just to reach an affordable price? Find out in this full review of OPPO’s newest budget smartphone.
(Starting with this review, I’ll be sharing to you how long I review a certain device. I know it’s already standard within the tech review scene but I just thought about it now. This way, the review will have right context when I share it with you guys.)
As I write this review, I’ve had the A83 for almost two weeks now. I brought it with me to Manila but I haven’t used it that much. I used this smartphone as my daily driver for one week.
Design and Build
I’m really loving the direction that phone makers are taking right now. With Apple going back to glass with the new iPhones, I’m glad that other phone makers like OPPO are using metal on their phones. OPPO keeps it simple with the design of the A83.
The front of the A83 reminds me a lot of the F5. Thanks to the bezel-less display trend, it really looks clean. No brand label whatsoever. I personally don’t like white bezels on the front since they really show the actual size of the screen. That’s just because I got the Champagne color though. I wish OPPO and other phone makers would make a variety of colors while keeping the black front. The A83 would look sleeker if they had black fronts to be honest. Don’t get me wrong: the OPPO A83 looks good. I’m just stating personal preference and I may be in the minority. Hehe.
There’s a weird gap between the body and the display. I found it odd that the display part is a bit narrower than the body, but I stopped minding it after a day of use.
Build quality is solid given that OPPO used a metal back for the A83. I just found it weird that I noticed some scratches on the back of the phone within 7 days. (For the record, that’s on me.) The back’s plenty sturdy though so I don’t mind a tiny damage on the phone. The buttons are clicky enough, but are too small that my fingers tend to miss it sometimes. These are things that you get used to after using it for a week though so don’t worry too much.
If there was one selling point OPPO can count on these days, it’s the Full Screen display. They didn’t skimp on the display with the A83. Colors look vibrant and details are clear enough. Since OPPO used an LCD display, the A83 had a bright display. It’s odd that it gets dimmer than the iPhone sometimes. You wouldn’t expect a picture perfect screen at its price point.
The OPPO A83 has a 5.7-inch 1440 x 720 resolution display with tiny bezels on both sides. The top bezel is still there to have space for the front camera. The bottom bezel is actually bigger than the top one. There is a legitimate reason for that top bezel but I’ll save it for the software side of things. Even though it’s an LCD display, it still looks incredibly good even under direct sunlight. It tends to be dimmer for my taste, but that’s just because I got used to flagship phones with brighter screens.
WIth the OPPO A83, you have options when it comes to utilizing the full display. You can sacrifice some part of it for the software buttons. You can also use the whole screen while using gestures to navigate the phone. Either way, they are straightforward and easy to learn. More on the gestures when I talk about the software.
If there’s one thing that impresses me about the OPPO A83, it’s the battery life. I can easily go through a day of moderate use. Usually I get to 35-40% by around 8PM. Mileage may vary on your usage though. Standby time is fairly decent too. It surprised me as to how they fit a 3180 mAh battery into a body that’s so light.
It takes around 2 hours to charge the A83’s battery from 0 to 100% with the included wall charger. I’m still scratching my head as to why they still use micro USB. Despite the initial hiccups, USB Type C (or USB-C) should be more than enough for smartphones in 2018! (It’s probably due to cutting costs on the phone.) Nevertheless, I hope most phone makers use USB-C so that we’ll be carrying less cables in the future.
I initially thought that the F5 would have a better processor than the A83. After doing some research, I found out that they both use the same Mediatek MT6763T Helio P23 processor. No wonder it’s fast for what it is! (Don’t worry, I am NOT going to compare it to an iPhone. It’s just not in the right price range.) My only issue with this phone is the 3GB RAM, but that’s due to its P9,990 price tag. It’s plenty fast for social media, taking photos, and web browsing. Just don’t expect it to play high-end mobile games so smoothly.
For the first time ever, I ran the AnTuTu benchmark for the review! I know benchmarks like this don’t really indicate real -world usage. For the sake of those who look for this, I did the benchmark.
It scored a 77,907 in the AnTuTu benchmark. I thought it was a good score until I found out that the top phones score at the 170,000 to 210,000 range! (Whoooa!) Good thing this doesn’t matter to most people.
What really matters to most people though is the camera. OPPO built its reputation on having great cameras, particularly the front camera. One of my worries with the A83 is that the camera quality would be sacrificed in favor of price. I took a lot of photos and found out a lot about these cameras. I’ll split this section into two because I have more to say on the front camera.
I’ll gladly start with the front camera. It’s fine for the most part but I actually find it too bright. Don’t get me wrong! I love a good bright photo but sometimes you don’t need it. Yes yes, you can tweak it in Expert Mode (a good built-in camera feature in my opinion). Most people would just stick to the normal Photo mode and take the photos there.
The AI Beauty mode on the front camera works well. Here’s a selfie of me using the Beauty mode:
It’s not super aggressive to the point that I look fake, but it looks obvious that the photo isn’t the original.
Group selfies (I refuse to use the term groufie) are great thanks to the wide angle lens. I always didn’t like the fact that the iPhone doesn’t have a wide angle front camera so this is a big advantage.
All in all, I like the front camera despite the lack of quality (8MP vs 20MP on the F5).
I honestly don’t know why OPPO decided to put a better camera in the rear with the A83. When I think of front cameras, OPPO is the first brand I go to. When I found out that the rear camera has 13MP while the front one has 8MP, it gave me a surprise. With that in mind, I took more shots with the rear camera to see if it really holds up.
The details on photos taken with the rear camera look good under bright conditions outdoors. The colors tend to lean toward the warm side but don’t really detract to the overall result. Here are more photos I took from the A83:
It struggles with low light since it tends to overexpose the area with light. The photo tends to go grainy when that happens. Make sure you have a separate light source with you when you take low light photos with the A83. I can say that this is a good camera for the price, but don’t expect amazing results from it.
One of the sticking points I have with Android in general is its increasingly insane version fragmentation. Yes they have replaced the stock Android apps with Google apps thanks to Google Play Services. But still, Google has to support at least 3 versions behind the latest one.
So I found it weird that OPPO’s ColorOS (their Android skin) feels like using iOS. I’m not joking! The OPPO A83 has Android 7.1.1 with ColorOS 3.2. It’s really different from other skins of Android. Basically, they removed the uniqueness of Android and tried to replicate the user experience of an iPhone. Apple sold a lot of iPhones in China a few years back. If I were part of a Chinese phone maker, I would try to capture that audience and one-up Apple on price. The result is phones like the OPPO F5 and Vivo X20. The OPPO A83 is some next-level way to do that.
Since the A83 doesn’t have a fingerprint reader, OPPO added Face Unlock as a security option. Note that it only uses the front-facing camera to unlock the device. Ever since this feature came back into the spotlight thanks to the Galaxy S8, I’ve been doubtful of Face Unlock. The feature actually works more often than not in bright light. Its weakness is in low light where it’s 50-50 at best. I get annoyed at times and I end up having to type my passcode when it doesn’t work. I hope OPPO doesn’t ditch the fingerprint reader with their next F series smartphone.
Business motivations aside, I think the UI is smooth and there are enough features that would make me want to use the A83 more. Since it runs Android, Google’s clout over their services reigns supreme. Google apps are really more integrated in this compared to any iPhone I’ve used. If you don’t really care about what your phone can do and just do the basics, you won’t go wrong with the A83.
Verdict on the OPPO A83
All in all, I am really satisfied with the OPPO A83. I can personally say that I would buy one for my personal use. Since I’ve been pleasantly spoiled by an iPhone, I would just relegate this as my secondary phone. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good enough to be YOUR only phone.
I can recommend the OPPO A83 to the following people:
– a first-time smartphone buyer who wants to tinker less but doesn’t want an iPhone
– a smartphone buyer on a budget who wants good cameras and decent performance
– a person who simply wants to remove imperfections in their selfies
At P9,990 (I can’t stress this enough), this is probably one of the best phones you can get. Thanks to its successes in the past few years, OPPO has set up service centers in major cities to cater to repairs and the like. If you’re looking for a good smartphone with good cameras, don’t mind the lack of a fingerprint reader, and is on a tight budget, the OPPO A83 is a good choice.
That is it for my OPPO A83 hands-on review! Is this your next smartphone? Or are you waiting for Mobile World Congress? Let me know in the comments below!
One more thing…
Here’s another shot with the OPPO A83. It’s a preview on what’s to come.