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Oppo R17 gets underscreen fingerprint sensor, tiny notch

The newest Oppo phone from China ticks all the right boxes, but does it have enough to stand out?

oppor17-13

That gradated metallic blue is a cool look.

Aloysius Low/CNET

Oppo's R17 is a pretty good-looking phone, but it could be better.

I've only spent a short time with it so far, but it seems to lack that something special to help it stand out in a sea of similar Chinese Android phones. Dual rear cameras, beautiful design, a full-screen experience with a tiny notch -- these make it a killer midrange phone, but we've seen plenty of similar phones this year.

It does have an underscreen fingerprint sensor, but Vivo already beat Oppo to the market with that feature in the Vivo X21 ($399 at Amazon). At 3,499 yuan in China (about $510, £395 or AU$700), does the R17 have what it takes to make it a must-buy?

Now playing: Watch this: Oppo R17 shows off good looks and midrange specs
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For one thing, it's a really stunning looking phone. If you wouldn't be caught dead with a boring champagne-gold phone, the three-gradient metallic-blue rear of the R17 is gorgeous and eye-catching. For another thing, the dual 16- and 5-megapixel rear cameras take pretty good AI-powered pictures, and Oppo has tweaked the phone to be able to capture night shots with ease.

For high dynamic range (HDR), which typically combines a few shots together for a clearer image, Oppo says the R17 uses raw photo data when processing the final image, resulting in an image that's cleaner and rich in detail. Selfie shots also get a boost on its front 25-megapixel camera, which has a beauty mode that can slim your cheeks and make your eyes a lot bigger. (I know, it's weird, but these modes are really popular in China.)

I took the phone out for a spin in Shanghai, and came away pretty impressed with its photo capabilities. I'm waiting till it gets dark to see how it handles at night. Portrait mode shots seem a tad odd, with too much artificial bokeh, but I'll have to test this out more to see if it's intentional.

While the phone feels slightly heavy, it's a comfortable heft that makes it feel more expensive. Packing a 3,500-mAh battery, the phone should be able to last a full day, easily. There's no waterproofing or wireless charging, which is a shame.

Oppo R17 quick specs

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 octacore processor
  • Memory: 8GB RAM, 128GB onboard storage
  • Display: 6.4-inch full-HD+ 2,340x1,080 pixels resolution
  • Battery: 3,500 mAh
  • Software: Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Underscreen fingerprint sensor
oppor17pro

The R17 Pro comes with three cameras, just like the Huawei P20 Pro.

Aloysius Low/CNET

There's also a version called the Oppo R17 Pro. It will come with three cameras, two of which will feature a mechanical aperture just like the Samsung Galaxy S9, switching between f1.5 and f2.4 for better low-light shots. The third is a Time-of-Flight (TOF) camera, which Oppo says can be used for 3D scans or even mapping out the layout of a room for augmented reality usage.

The Oppo R17 Pro will go on sale in China in October, for 4,299 yuan ($625, £490 or AU$860 converted). No word yet on international availability, but expect it to hit markets where Oppo has a presence -- probably in November. 

Oppo R17 Pro quick specs

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor
  • Memory: 8GB RAM, 128GB onboard storage
  • Display: 6.4-inch, full-HD+ 2,340x1,080-pixel resolution
  • Camera: Mechanical aperture, f1.5 and f2.4
  • Fast charging

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