It was not a long time ago when we posted our review of the OPPO F7. The OPPO F7 is definitely a phone to look out for in its price range. It offers a ton of improvements in many aspects over its predecessor -- from its new design to a significant improvement in performance; to the refined cameras; and, the new features included in the software.
The OPPO F7 is still quite rough in some of the edges though -- the software needs further optimization, camera focusing speed, as well as raw shooting speed is in need of some re-work. I also wished that they’d already move on to a Type-C port, and the absence of an LED notification light, is just plain mystifying, for a feature that’s very basic, but is also very essential. OPPO has made a huge leap here. And if they can address at least some of the issues that can be feasibly resolved, the F7 will be one of the phones to beat in the mid-range segment.
5 months later, we have the OPPO F9 -- bearing a brand new design, enhanced cameras but bearing almost the same core specifications compared to its predecessor. What changed? Does it perform leaps beyond the OPPO F7 and its current competitors? Here’s our full review of the OPPO F9.
Specs[table id=156 /]
The F9 has a 6.3-inch display with Full HD+ resolution. Perhaps one of the most noticeable changes is the re-designed notch, which is now smaller and has a water drop design. It is perhaps the most talked about topic, which completely overshadows the seemingly similar design concept of the upcoming VIVO V11’s notch design.
OPPO has also added a diamond-like pattern to the glossy rear panel, which responds beautifully when hit by light from the right angle. The one we have here is in Sunrise Red, but you can also get it in Twilight Blue, and soon, in Starry Purple. It is beautiful, in our opinion, although not as pretty as the one on their flagship, the OPPO Find X.
For a midrange smartphone, OPPO F9 delivers unexpectedly better than we originally thought of. Don’t make any judgments based on what you see on the specs sheet though. The F9 has an impressive system resource management feature, thanks to MediaTek Helio P60 chip. It has amazing memory and CPU resource management at its core despite occasional throttling, depending on the requirement of specific applications.
We ran 4 games with the OPPO F9 and assessed its performance using GameBench. Here’s what we gathered, so far.
Real world experience tallies with the benchmark presented to us using GameBench. Contrary to our usual gaming reviews in the past, we are not using Antutu Benchmark as we wanted to provide a more thorough approach in presenting performance. As you can see in the chart above, all the games we played performed really well based on the average FPS. We can attest that all the games are highly playable, and the performance is surprisingly at par with Huawei Nova 3i. When we compared this with Honor Play though, it is obvious that the device performs better than the OPPO F9. We all expected this, but what we weren’t prepared to see was OPPO F9’s ability to catch up despite having a mid-range SoC.
CPU and memory utilization are equally impressive on the OPPO F9. After running several tests, we noticed that the phone is able to smartly utilize resources even when doing strenuous tasks such as playing games, browsing multiple tabs of applications and jumping from one application to another.
There were multiple instances of throttling especially when playing games, but it was amazing for the phone to do this without draining too much battery when compared with its the Nova 3i and Honor Play.
With 30-minute gameplay of each game we tried on OPPO F9, the phone barely used more than 180mA per game. This means that at 1 full charge, you can -- for instance -- play PUBG on OPPO F9 for almost 20 times assuming that each round lasts 30 minutes, and there are no game matching involved. Honor Play is different though as it consumes 874mA per 1 round of PUBG. Hold all things equal, at one full charge, you can play PUBG for barely 5 hours.
Color OS 5.2 is, by far, the best and smartest iteration of the OS in OPPO F9. We have reviewed countless OPPO devices in the past, and the new OS gave us an all-new OPPO F-series experience. With all the new features included, using the device is smoother, better and smarter than ever before. Our personal favorite, apart from the souped-up camera application, is its Game Bar and the new video editing application.
Game Bar made gaming a lot better, thanks to its non-intrusive settings and content creation features. While the phone still records audio from its speakers, the fact that you take make screenshots and even record your game are plus factors. The video editing addon in its camera app is pretty useful too for content creators.
Here’s how these two software features helped me IRL:
- Play PUBG Mobile
- Swipe Game Bar and record gameplay
- Trim video and upload to Facebook or YouTube
The new OPPO F9 sports dual rear cameras – a 16MP primary, and a 2MP secondary, the latter used for adding the depth of field effect to your photos. This time, the new F9 uses an improved Ai Scene Detection that enables the camera to optimize itself depending on your subject. It isn’t an unprecedented move as the OPPO F7 also has the same feature, albeit inferior to F9’s.
Up front, the OPPO uses a single 25MP sensor, while the Nova 3i utilizes a 24MP + 2MP combination.
While having AI enabled is fine for most scenarios, there are times when you’ll just want to have it off. Sadly, the F9 doesn’t have an option for you to disable its AI. This is one of the major advantages of Huawei Nova 3 and 3i, which I find really helpful at times when the AI is to prove itself.
In terms of photography, the major advantages of OPPO F9 are color saturation level, low light photography, and selfie. With AI enabled, we found ourselves satisfied with the photos we took, which proves the more subdued control of AI in optimizing specific photography levels. Good job, OPPO.
What OPPO needs to work out is the level of noise generated when taking photos in dark environments. This is forgivable, in our opinion, as this can easily be addressed in future patches since we’re talking about a relatively powerful camera sensor -- Sony IMX576 Exmor RS Sensor.
At PhP17,990, OPPO F9 isn’t the most affordable compared to its competitors, but you can definitely count on its superior gaming performance and resource management.
OPPO F9 promises a wealth of smart features without breaking the bank. The term ‘smarter’ is an understatement in this version of F series, and we’re looking forward to using this for a longer period of time.