The Oppo F5 is a fairly unique smartphone – it brings certain flagship level features to an affordable price point, the chief amongst them being an edge-to-edge display and facial recognition – the very features Apple has recently introduced in their much hyped tenth anniversary iPhone.
To top it all off, Oppo has gone ahead and added a selfie camera to the Oppo F5 that has some advanced selfie tricks under its hood. Suffice to say, the Oppo F5 is not boring by any stretch of the imagination – nor is it lacking in ambition.
However, in order to compete with heavyweights like the Xiaomi Mi A1, Nokia 6 and the Lg Q6+ which also comes with a bezel-less design, the smartphone has to deliver on many more fronts to succeed – performance, camera, battery to name a few. Does the Oppo F5 have what it takes to compete against well-rounded competitors or is the smartphone only for selfie enthusiasts? Let’s find out in our full review:
Oppo’s flagship play
Instead of starting with the design and performance of the smartphone, let us talk about the three most compelling features of the Oppo F5 first – the AI infused selfie camera, the edge-to-edge display and facial recognition.
The 6-inch FullHD+ panel is pretty much what you would expect in this price range- it has decent viewing angles, great brightness levels (good enough to cope with harsh sunlight) and average colour reproduction (bordering on the pale and washed out side of the spectrum). What makes the display special is the fact that it is tall, with an 18:9 aspect ratio and it flows from one edge of the device to the other.
Thanks to the ultra-wide display, the Oppo F5 is great for multimedia consumption, for browsing the web and for reading articles and books. The aspect ratio is also great for gaming – provided the weak CPU/GPU does not hinder the experience, which we will talk about later.
Oppo allows you to stretch applications which do not natively support the wide 18:9 aspect ratio – which is quite nifty. The fact that YouTube videos cannot be stretched – they play with black bars on either side of them – is disappointing to say the least.
What takes away from the bezel-less experience a little bit is the black border around the display which is accentuated by the fact that the front fascia of our review unit is white in colour. The display also gets smudged very easily – much more so than other smartphone I have experienced in this price range.
Facial recognition that actually works
The facial recognition capabilities of the Oppo F5 really caught me by surprise. After being disappointed by half-hearted and gimmicky implementations of this feature in many Android smartphones, I was expecting more of the same here. While not as fast or accurate as iPhone X’s Face ID, the facial recognition on the Oppo F5 is extremely impressive.
The Oppo F5 is not boring by any stretch of the imagination – nor is it lacking in ambition
The only time the feature does not work well is in extreme low light or at night. In most other situations – be it in harsh sunlight, indoors, whilst walking and so on – the Oppo F5’s facial recognition works really well. Yes it is not as speedy as Apple’s implementation, but the Oppo F5 costs almost four times less than Apple’s tenth anniversary iPhone.
Finally, let us talk about the third and most touted USP of the Oppo F5 – the power of artificial intelligence. While the Oppo F5 does not come with a dual camera setup up front, the single 20MP shooter on board is supposedly quite intelligent.
According to the company – “With more than 200 positioning spots, the F5 accentuates your facial landmarks and contours to enhance the symmetry between features like your eyes, nose, cheekbones and jawline to create the perfectly refined and natural selfie. Its beauty-iris tool ensures that your eyes will shine brighter in any photo.”
Basically, the 20MP selfie camera on board the Oppo F5 is intelligent enough to recognise whether there is any background light in the shot and adjusts image settings accordingly. It also uses AI wizardry and a huge database of faces to accentuate your facial characteristics – it makes you look good in a nutshell.
While all this sounds great on paper, the proof as they say, lies in the pudding. And the pudding is might tasty. I can confirm that the selfie camera on board the Oppo F5 is truly one of the best in its class – it delivers crisp and well exposed images even in the harshest of lighting conditions. The level of detail is more than adequate and noise is well controlled even in low light.
In spite of just having just one sensor up front, the Oppo F5 can also be used to capture images with depth of field effects (bokeh shots). Just like the Google Pixel and Pixel 2, the depth of field effect is achieved through software algorithms. This is where the front camera falters a little – it struggles at times to distinguish between the subject in focus and the background.
Excellent battery life
Even after using the smartphone intensively for this review, I never once ran out of battery by the end of the day. In fact, most days I was left with around 30 to 40 percent battery life – which is pretty stellar in my opinion. With a moderate workload, the Oppo F5 is sure to last 1.5 days on a single charge.
The usual gremlins
Up till now the Oppo F5 seems like a fairly compelling mid-range smartphone with some truly unique features. However, when it comes to the essentials – the Oppo F5 is a bit of a mixed bag.
Plastic, plastic everywhere
While most smartphones in this price range are made of premium materials like metal or glass, the Oppo F5 is constructed out of plastic. While there is no denying that the phone is thin and light and looks quite premium from afar, plastic does feel a bit chintzy and cut-rate, especially at this price. The build quality is also so-so.
When it comes to essentials like performance, the Oppo F5 is a bit of a mixed bag
While the F5 feels solid enough to stand the test of time under regular use, it exhibits slight creaks and twists under pressure. The chrome lining around the edges of the front fascia and antenna lines not only looks a little tacky but also feels slightly unfinished.
The loudspeaker is decent – loud enough yet a bit tinny. On a positive note, the fingerprint sensor is stellar. Not only is it extremely fast and accurate but is also capable of reading your fingerprint in almost any direction.
The Oppo F5 is powered by the octa-core MediaTek MT6763T – the Helio P23 in other words – processor paired with either 4 or 6GB of RAM and a 3,200mAh battery. The smartphone is available in two variants – one with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage for Rs 19,990 and one with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage for Rs 24,990.
The 6GB RAM variant is not available as of now – it is set to go on sale in India sometime in the month of December. I used the 4GB RAM variant for two weeks as my daily driver and realized two things in the process. Firstly, that the F5 has stellar battery life and secondly, that it is definitely not a powerhouse.
The smartphone handles day to day use like causal web browsing, social media use and taking the odd selfie well enough – but even that is besotted with the slight lag or two. Push the phone and you are sure to be greeted with the a certain degree of slowdown.
On the gaming front, the device runs casual games like Subway surfers and Temple Run 2 with ease, although heavy titles like Asphalt 8 Airborne did suffer from dropped frames and lags in the highest settings.
The software on board the Oppo F5 is a bit of a mishmash. The device runs on Android 7.1.1 with Oppo’s Color OS custom UI skin on top. While ColorOS has made great strides since its Marshmallow days, there are still bizarre design decisions dotted throughout the UI. For example – deleting multiple messages requires entering your passcode, you need to enter a captcha code every time you want to enter the accessibility menu within settings, notifications cannot be dismissed with a swipe and so on.
There are also a lot of redundant applications on board – two different apps for Music, Photos, Browser and so on (Oppo’s own and Google’s versions of the same). On a positive note, third party bloat is minimal. There are also a myriad of software features on board – some of which like dual apps and the ability to take a screenshot by swiping up or down with three fingers are quite useful.
Average rear camera
While the selfie shooter on the Oppo F5 is extremely impressive, the rear 16MP sensor is average at best. While images have adequate detail and good exposure, the colour palette is very narrow. Noise and image softening is prevalent in low light. The autofocus is also a bit wonky – I had to resort to touch to focus in too many scenarios.
Should you buy the Oppo F5?
The Oppo F5 is undoubtedly a unique smartphone. Not only is it the selfie king of its segment, as are most Oppo smartphones, but those selfies are genuinely stellar thanks to artificial intelligence. It’s battery life is also a highlight and so is facial recognition which works surprisingly well. The edge-to-edge display might not be spectacular but is a nice futuristic bonus.
However, the smartphone does come with its fair share of compromises – performance is questionable, the software is cluttered and the all plastic build does not do justice to its price tag. The rear camera while not bad by any means also does not set the world on fire.
Unfortunately, like with Oppo phones in the past, it boils down to a choice between stellar selfies and all around performance. The choice is yours.
Oppo F5 review7/10
- Good stuff
- Great battery life
- Stellar selfie camera
- Good facial recognition
- Bad stuff
- Cluttered software
- Average performance
- Uninspiring plastic build