OPPO wrapped up 2018 with some impressive smartphones in its portfolio including the mind-boggling Find X and the OPPO R17 Pro. The latter is what we got our hands on and we are excited to share our thoughts with you on OPPO’s best R series device of last year. The OPPO R17 Pro series came to India in December and that is when I got a chance to review it which I was waiting to do eagerly. The handset has also been made official in Europe with the OPPO RX17 Pro moniker. It costs 45,990 in India and that’s the territory of most flagship phones but the handset comes in just one storage and RAM variant – 8GB + 128GB. It competes with the likes of OnePlus 6T, Samsung’s Galaxy S9, and other devices in that price range.
- Extremely fast charging – Super VOOC
- Good Looks and gradient colors
- Great cameras
- Reliable performance
- Cons :
- Color OS with Android 8.1 Oreo
- No headphone jack
- No waterproofing or wireless charging
Many smartphone enthusiasts know the parallels drawn between OnePlus phones and OPPO’s R series. The R17 Pro continues that idea while adding some sparkle to the rear side of the R17 Pro. While the front of the handset has a teardrop notch and a screen very similar to the OnePlus 6T with very slim bezels (even at the bottom), the rear comes with two gradient colour options – Emerald Green (the one which I have) and Radiant Mist. This adds to the attractiveness instead of a simple all-Black coating like the OnePlus 6T.
The build quality and materials are also top notch but I hate the slippy glass back as it gives me jitters every time I imagine it falling from my hand. As a matter of fact, it did fall off my pocket and hand a couple of times, thankfully from a relatively low-height area. It survived without any major damage. There were noticeable scuffs on the edges and sides after the fall, though the back had no signs of damage at all. OPPO bundles a rubber case with the device but I didn’t use it for most of the time as it defeats the purpose of having such an attractive-looking smartphone. To add to that, the expensive handset doesn’t come with waterproofing or wireless charging which OPPO should have added to such a premium phone. However, the majority of OPPO’s high-end devices don’t come with the feature but I would have been overjoyed to have these two things as a feature set for the R17 Pro.
The OPPO R17 Pro’s Full-HD+ AMOLED panel is top notch. It is one of the areas where parent OPPO beats OnePlus 6T. In fact, coming from a OnePlus 6T itself, I quickly noticed the brightness of the display is much better than the OnePlus device. While one could struggle with brightness issues in outdoor scenarios with the OnePlus flagship, there will be no such fears with the R17 Pro. It also has a good level of low brightness and viewing angles are also no problem. In addition, Corning’s latest Gorilla Glass 6 gives peace of mind to users, in case they fear an accidental drop. It comes with a pre-applied screen protector which is a nice gesture from OPPO. Being an AMOLED, the blacks and whites are impressive, however, there are no built-in software settings to tune the colors if a user wants warmer or cooler options. All in all, a great display with a pleasurable viewing experience is what we get on the OPPO R17 Pro.
For a premium handset that is priced Rs 46,000, the R17 Pro with a Snapdragon 710 SoC definitely seems underpowered on paper. That’s more so in India with many lower-priced devices sporting a Snapdragon 845 SoC. Heck, the POCO F1 comes at less than half the price but still has a Snapdragon 845 SoC. While there’s no denying that the flagship SoC is obviously better, I for one did not notice any difference in regular usage one bit. There was no lag or frame drops, or stutters on the R17 Pro anywhere in my entire time of use. The high amount of RAM and storage definitely helps but suffice to say the Snapdragon 710 SoC is no slouch and is a reliable performer.
Sound quality on the handset is pretty loud and it still doesn’t distort at high volumes although the placement of the speaker leaves a lot to be desired, as other reviewers have also pointed out.
As mentioned earlier, day-to-day usage is a breeze although OPPO could learn the art of RAM management from OnePlus. Apps opened fairly fast and I have had no crashes so far. Moderate gaming is also a great experience, especially with the big screen and OPPO’s Game Space software that kicks in automatically once you fire up a title. There are almost no noticeable frame drops or lag on titles that I played such as Asphalt 9.
Heavy gaming is also no problem with even the most tasking graphics. I played Asphalt 9 and for a few races and I couldn’t find any reason to complain. While technically the Snapdragon 710 SoC is a minus on paper for the OPPO R17 Pro, in terms of real-life usage the margins are really thin and I think that’s what buyers should see.
Software: Color OS 5.2 (Android Oreo 8.1)
Color OS, is in my opinion, the biggest handicap of an otherwise outstanding flagship device from OPPO here. I can’t stand to see icons littered all over my home screen and OPPO stays stubborn year after year not including a simple drawer option for those who need it. Take a look at EMUI. Despite being a Chinese ROM, they’ve come far and give their users the option of an app drawer if they need it. Is that really hard to do? Thankfully some other annoyances like the persistent notifications have been addressed by the company and are a lot better now. I also direly need a Google Feed integration on my home screen which is not what OPPO plans to add in its Color OS launcher. There’s also no swipe down to show notifications which is another big pain on Color OS. Not to mention the absence of an AOD display on the lock screen which is super useful on the likes of OnePlus 6T.
Hence, I’ve moved to a custom launcher called Ruthless. It is close to AmirZ’s Rootless Launcher but has more customization options, and in my opinion, much better.
Not all is gloom and doom though about Color OS. There are some features which aren’t so bad like the super fast face unlock and the remarkably more accurate on-screen fingerprint reader. There’s a Theme Store for wallpapers and also a Lock screen Magazine that automatically changes wallpapers on the lock screen which is a good feature to have. The battery endurance is also good on the handset although I don’t understand why OPPO will not show detailed battery usage stats. like SoT in the battery usage section. There’s also a Phone Manager app which proves handy when you want to clean junk cache files and data in a few taps. OPPO has released Color OS 6.0 with Android Pie in China and I believe the R17 Pro will be one of the first handsets along with Find X to receive the update, whenever that happens. As of now, OPPO has not provided any timelines, as usual.
The OPPO R17 Pro is one of the few phones that proves strong in the most vital areas for a high-end smartphone. It has a good build, design, a good battery, a good processor, and also a pretty good camera. It’s OPPO’s first handset with a triple camera setup which consists of a 12MP + 20MP + 3D TOF sensor. Although, the latter doesn’t seem to be working right now but might be activated in the future. It’s also the first to boast variable aperture which adds to the quality of images in specific scenarios. It also has OIS for video and supports slow-mo as well as regular video recording at 1080p. However, the camera app is pretty basic but there’s an expert mode if you’re looking for to do for more granular manual controls.
Daylight images are impressive with balanced background and highlights without a lot of oversharpening. Colors are a bit over-emphasized but if you like that, you will be pleased. Low-light images are also surprisingly good because of the f/1.5 aperture and the impressive 1.4um pixel size. There’s a dedicated Night photography mode which works well and manages to reduce noise and reproduces good image colors. AI Beautification can be turned on or off if it’s an annoyance. Portrait mode seems to botch up the borders badly in some cases but works fine in other cases. There’s an AR sticker mode as well in the camera app but I don’t think it’s good enough, to be honest. Apple’s Animoji is miles ahead and OPPO has a lot of work to do.
Selfies turn out to be pretty good as well with good details and sharpness as well as color accuracy. Thankfully, the beauty mode can be turned off when you want it. As for the portrait mode, it works great when it does with edge detection but misses the point sometimes. There’s 1080p video recording and slow-mo available as well.
Battery on the OPPO R17 Pro is as big as the OnePlus 6T and endurance is also close but slightly lower than it’s OnePlus counterpart. However, both can last you a day with moderate to even heavy usage. When I’m working, I use my smartphone sparsely but when I’m done I do a lot of media consumption, social media and some gaming as well. Despite that, I rarely felt the need to charge the phone mid-day even when I used it heavily. What really puts the OPPO R17 Pro in a league of its own is the Super VOOC charge, which is mind-blowing to say the least. I was very impressed with OPPO when they first debuted VOOC back with the OPPO Find 7 some years back. And Super VOOC has spoiled me for every other phone in the industry. Suffice to say, it’s the current industry leader in the fast charging aspect. You can get around a 40% charge within just 10 minutes. And within 20 minutes, you’ll have around 70% charge which is good to last you easily for a full day if you’re an average user. I have never had such peace of mind ever (with regards to battery) in my several years of using a smartphone and that’s saying a lot. That said, the biggest downside is that the fast charging works only with OPPO’s bundled charging brick. You’ll have to carry it around to take advantage. Or, you could buy OPPO’s fast charging power bank which is only available in China right now. There are battery saving options as well which goes the standard route to saving some juice for you but I didn’t feel the need of it any time of my lengthy usage.
The OPPO R17 Pro is a well-rounded package in the flagship arena that gets most of the stuff right. It has a great display, a satisfying camera, a reliable battery with jaw-dropping fast charge, and the looks of a premium handset. There are things like the software that leaves more to desire but, as we all know, those can easily be addressed to a certain extent with launchers from the Play Store. Thankfully, OPPO also included a pair of USB-C earphones which ease your pain of not having a 3.5mm headphone jack.
With all that factored in, it leaves us the final question – Is the OPPO R17 Pro rightly priced at Rs 45,990? Well, admittedly it does skip on the Snapdragon 845 SoC, but when you consider it has Super VOOC which no other phone in the market has, the premium price tag can somewhat justified. It all boils down to what the buyer needs more – the extra firepower of the Snapdragon 845 chip or the blazing fast charging tech. If a buyer has no issues in compromising a little processing power in exchange for the fast charging tech, then the OPPO R17 Pro. Rounding off my final thoughts, the OPPO R17 Pro is a great premium handset that scores in almost all key areas and is a joy to use.