If we take a step back and take a look at the smartphones recently launched in India, it becomes clear that most manufacturers are focusing on the Sub-Rs. 20,000 price segment. Popular models such as the Oppo K3 (review), Realme X (review) and Vivo Z1 Pro (review) have been launched in the past few weeks. Oppo has now launched the Oppo A9. 15,490 to take on some of these popular devices. Is the new Oppo A9 good enough to beat the others? We went through all of our tests to find out.
Oppo A9 design
The Oppo A9 follows the same design philosophy as the Oppo A7 (review), Oppo A5s (review) and Oppo A1k (review), all of which are part of the same series. The Oppo A9 has a large 6.5-inch display with a dropdown notch and tiny earbuds. For protection there is Corning Gorilla Glass 5, with the help of which the display is supposed to resist scratches to a certain extent.
A protective film made of plastic is included with the phone. The Oppo A9 has elegant bezels on the top and sides, while the lower chin is comparatively thicker. Pick up the handset and it sits well in the palm of your hand thanks to its curved sides. It's big and narrow, and you'll need to stretch a little to reach the top half of the display.
Oppo has positioned the on / off switch on the right side, on which the thumb naturally rests. The volume buttons are on the left and are also easy to reach. These buttons have decent feedback so you don't have to question inputs.
The Oppo A9 has a capacitive fingerprint scanner on the back, as it does not have a fancy in-display fingerprint scanner like some of its siblings. There is a double camera module and a single LED flash above the fingerprint scanner.
There is a micro USB port in the lower part of the phone, which is a little disappointing considering that many other phones in this price range now have Type C USB ports. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack and a bottom-firing speaker.
The Oppo A9 is available in two colors: Fluorite Purple and Marble Green. The Marble Green variant is ready for testing. Oppo comes with a 10 W charger, a transparent case and headphones.
Oppo A9 specifications and software
The Oppo A9 has some decent specs for its price, but it could be overshadowed by some other new releases. This phone is powered by the MediaTek Helio P70 SoC, a decent processor. We have seen that it powers phones like the Realme 3 (Review). However, for a smartphone priced at Rs. 15,490, it feels underwhelmed compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 675, which drives the Redmi Note 7 Pro (test) and the Snapdragon 710 SoC, which drives the Oppo K3 (test) and Realme X (test).
Oppo launched the A9 in only one configuration with 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. There are no variants with more RAM, but if you don't have enough storage space, this phone has a hybrid dual SIM compartment for expanding the memory. The Oppo A9 is packaged in a 4020 mAh battery and weighs 190 g.
Dual 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, Wi-Fi, four satellite positioning systems and USB OTG are supported. You also get the usual sensors, including light, proximity and gyroscope.
Oppo ships the A9 with Color OS 6 on Android 9 Pie, and the security patch for July was carried out on our device. The user interface is similar to what we've seen recently on phones like the Oppo K3 (review) and Realme X (review). However, more bloatware is preinstalled on the Oppo A9. It has apps like UC-Browser, Facebook, WPS-Office, NewsPoint, Dailyhunt, Helo, Paytm, Wynk Music, Webnovel and Amazon Shopping.
There is also Game Center, Game Space and an Oppo AppStore for apps and games. We found that the installed apps like UC Browser and Helo are spam, and they sent push notifications every hour. Fortunately, these apps can be uninstalled from your smartphone.
Oppo A9 performance, battery life and cameras
The Oppo A9 with MediaTek Helio P70 SoC is able to do everyday tasks without any problems. We were able to start apps and multitasking without any problems. The 4 GB of RAM are enough to ensure a smooth experience. As already mentioned, the competition offers more powerful processors for the same price.
We enjoyed seeing content on the Oppo A9 because the display is clear, bright and has good viewing angles. The lower speaker is loud enough, but you can accidentally mute it by holding the device in landscape mode.
The fingerprint scanner on the back unlocks the smartphone quickly and easily. The face unlock feature uses the Selfie camera on the Oppo A9. It's easy to set up and practical to quickly unlock the smartphone by simply looking at it.
When playing PUBG Mobile, we noticed that the game has a medium quality preset by default, with the graphics set to balanced and the frame rate set to medium. With these settings, the game was playable without delay or jerking. Oppo's Game Space wipes memory and disables popup notifications. We played the game for 20 minutes and found 4 percent battery drain. The smartphone didn't feel warm afterwards, which is a good sign.
We ran some benchmarks to measure performance. The Oppo A9 scored 1.45,999 points in the AnTuTu benchmark. Geekbench's single-core and multi-core tests scored 1,536 and 5,835 points, respectively. The Helio P70 also managed 37 fps and 7.4 fps in GFXBench's T-Rex and Car Chase tests.
The 4,020 mAh battery of the Oppo A9 offers a very good battery life. We could go over a day and a half if we regularly use an active WhatsApp account, use Google Maps for navigation and play PUBG Mobile. However, when using the supplied 10 W charger, the charging process takes longer than two hours.
Oppo opted for a dual-camera configuration for the A9, which consists of a 16-megapixel primary camera with an aperture of 1: 1.8 and a 2-megapixel depth sensor with an aperture of 1: 2.4. For selfies, it has a 16 megapixel front camera with an aperture of 1: 2.0.
The Oppo A9's camera app is similar to that of other Oppo smartphones. In addition to the usual photo and video modes, portrait, night, pano, expert, time-lapse and time-lapse are available. There are quick switching options for HDR and Dazzle Color (causing colors to burst). The standard camera app offers filters that can be applied before the shot. The Oppo A9 also has AI scene detection, which allows the phone to recognize what it is pointing at to set various parameters.
Photos taken with the Oppo A9 have proven their worth in daylight. The phone could measure the light correctly and lock the focus before taking the picture. We noticed that nearby objects looked good but had no details at a distance.
Close-ups have gotten good, and the phone's AI has helped. The Oppo A9 has achieved a good separation between motifs and backgrounds. The output also had good sharpness and level of detail, but the AI tends to emphasize the colors slightly.
Tap here to view Oppo A9 full size camera samples
Portraits had a mild shade of red, but the phone did a very good edge detection. With the Oppo A9, you cannot adjust the degree of blurring before or after a shot. It appears that the Oppo A9 smoothes its output, which is visible on the face of the subject. We noticed that the Oppo A9 does a good job with details in portraits.
In poor lighting conditions, the camera performance drops slightly. You may also have to wait for the AI to turn on and set up the scene correctly. The photos lacked the details, but the Oppo A9 managed to keep the noise under control. The output was as good as it is, but looked grainy when zoomed in. Night mode helped and provided brighter images with improved details.
Selfies taken with the 16-megapixel front shooter were good, and the phone was able to measure the light properly here too. These shots also had decent details considering the price of the Oppo A9. Portraits taken with the selfie camera were acceptable, but edge detection needs to be improved. This phone couldn't blur the gaps between a person's arms and body.
The maximum video recording is achieved at 1080p for both the primary camera and the selfie shooter. There is video stabilization and the Oppo A9 does a good job of reducing blur in the output. However, we would have preferred the recorded video to be a little sharper. In low light conditions, there is a slight shimmer in video clips.
The Oppo A9 is a decent smartphone, but its current competition makes it less attractive. At Rs. 15,490 for the only configuration, the Oppo A9 seems to be overpriced compared to its sibling, the Oppo K3 (review) and other smartphones at about the same price. The MediaTek Helio P70 is a powerful processor, but competes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 for the Redmi Note 7 Pro (test) and the Snapdragon 710 SoC for the Realme X (test) and Oppo K3 (test).
The camera performance would have been acceptable for the price, but competition has also increased recently. If you're looking for a smartphone on a budget, the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) and Realme 3 Pro (Review) offer better value for money.
If you want to spend a little more, Realme X (Review) and Oppo K3 (Review) offer better cameras and more modern designs. However, if you buy a smartphone in the offline market, it may be a lot easier to get a grip on the Oppo A9 than any of these alternatives.