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Oppo R7 review: Oppo's R7 charms with a sleek metal build, but the price isn't right

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The Good The Oppo R7 packs premium design into a slim, luxurious metal package. It also features Oppo's patented fast charging and you can easily get hold of it in major western markets.

The Bad The phone is expensive for its midrange hardware, and its battery life isn't that good.

The Bottom Line Oppo's R7 looks great, but the $400 price tag will push potential buyers away. There are cheaper phones out there that are just as good, and better ones don't cost much more.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.9 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Camera 7
  • Battery 6

Review Sections

Oppo's R7 -- the successor to the superslim Oppo R5 -- is a beautiful phone. It's kept the R5's metal look, but it's larger, slightly thicker and feels a lot more polished. And where the R5 had performance issues, the R7 runs smooth as butter. The camera app launches quickly too, resolving one of the biggest problems with its predecessor.

However, the price of the R7 will be a sticking point. It retails on the Chinese manufacturer's online store for $400/AU$449 (this converts to about £260), which is expensive for a phone with midrange specs. If you're willing to spend slightly more, flagship phones such as ZTE's Axon Pro are available, while cheaper phones such as the One Plus 2 or the Xiaomi Mi Note offer similar designs.

Design and build

  • 5-inch display with 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution
  • 5.6 by 2.8 by 0.2 inches (143 by 71 by 6.3mm)
  • 5.2 ounces (147 grams)
  • Comes in gold or silver

The Oppo R7 is a looker. While the phone bears a passing resemblance to Samsung's new Galaxy range, Oppo has made the R7 its own. The metal band around the sides accents the look, and it's just wide enough to contain the audio jack and Micro-USB ports. That said, unlike phones with a smoother edge, it isn't comfortable to grip. The slightly annoying feeling of a metal edge digging into your palm doesn't make for the most pleasant of holds.

The R7's 5-inch AMOLED display has a full-HD 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. The rear is an aluminum-magnesium alloy, and the metal gives it a smooth, luxurious feel. The 13-megapixel camera is located at the top left.

The Oppo R7 sports a magnesium-aluminum rear. Aloysius Low/CNET

Oppo typically features physical touch-sensitive menu keys, and the R7 is no different. The power button is found on the left side and the volume rockers are on the right. If you're worried the buttons are too small for its 6.3mm frame, fret not -- you'll have no issues here. In fact, I quite like the clickiness of the keys. That said, the power button placement can be a bit annoying as you'll sometimes hit it when picking up the phone or taking pictures in landscape mode.

Lastly, you'll find the dual-SIM 4G slots located above the volume keys. The microSD SIM slot also doubles up as a microSD card slot with support for 128GB of external storage.

Touch-sensitive keys take up space at the bottom. Aloysius Low/CNET

Hardware

  • 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor from Qualcomm
  • 16GB of storage (expandable memory of up to 128GB)
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 2,320mAh embedded battery

The Oppo R7 is a midrange phone, so it's no surprise that the specs aren't as impressive as flagship phones. It's powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, which, based on previous experience with similar devices, is capable of offering a smooth performance. You'll be able to run games and other resource-intensive apps just fine, but don't expect anything too impressive.

Other specs include 16GB of storage, 3GB of RAM and 13-megapixel rear and 8-megapixel front cameras. While the 2,320mAh battery is small, the phone features fast-charging technology. Oppo claims you can charge to 75 percent in a mere 30 minutes, and in testing it came close -- I was able to hit 72 percent in the stipulated time.

If you need 4G support, there are three different versions of the phone. The international version should work on LTE networks such as Three and EE. In Australia, the R7 is an Optus exclusive if you're buying from a carrier, but the unlocked version from the Oppo website will work on other networks such as Telstra. In the US, it can get 4G on both T-Mobile and AT&T.

The Oppo R7 has a good-looking design and packs midrange hardware. Aloysius Low/CNET

Software and apps

  • Google Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS
  • Gesture features that allow quick access to the phone
  • Customizable themes

While the Oppo R7 runs on the older KitKat version of Android, the phone uses Oppo's Android-based Color OS. So I'm not faulting this phone for running KitKat, since you won't see much stock Android on it.

Oppo's customized launcher comes packed with signature Oppo features including gesture control. For example, you can activate the camera by drawing an O, or you can turn the music on by swiping two fingers downwards while the screen is off. When the screen is on, you can pinch close with multiple fingers to turn on the camera, or slide three fingers up and down to take a screenshot.

The phone has a range of themes and gives you the option to change the visual effect for opening, closing and switching apps. Oppo has also included backup features and an O-Cloud sync for your contacts and messages, though this only seems to be compatible with other Oppo phones. If you're wondering where the app drawer is, it's not there. Like iOS, Color OS puts the apps right on the phone's home screen. That said, features such as control buttons -- to let you change your Wi-Fi and data settings, put the phone into airplane mode and so on -- are handily located on the notification pull-down menu.

On many large screen smartphones, the user interface isn't always optimized for the larger display, and some icons can appear too large and look awkward. It's definitely a pet peeve of mine. The R7's screen, however, isn't big enough that this would be a problem, and the icons appear to fit the screen well.

The Oppo R7 UI doesn't deviate too much from Android, though like many Chinese-based ROMs, there's no app drawer. Screenshot by Aloysius Low/CNET
The pull-down notification menu is similar to that of other Android phones, and you have quick access to control buttons. You can also enable gesture controls that give you quick access to the camera and music playback. Screenshot by Aloysius Low/CNET

Camera and video

  • 13-megapixel (bottom) rear-facing camera
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Full-HD video recording at 30 frames per second (rear)
  • Auto-focus, LED flash

The R7's camera app has a pretty simple layout. There's a big shutter button at the bottom, and when holding the phone in a landscape position, you can filter your photos by tapping the button at the top-left corner. Doing this will give you access to a bunch of filters and features, such as Ultra HD (which stitches multiple pictures into one for a larger image) and other standard modes such as panorama and HDR. There's a cool GIF animation creator, which lets you shoot a movable image like a video, but without sound. You can also reverse the motion of the capture to spice things up.

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