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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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If the default modes aren't enough, the R7 also has a camera shop where you can download modules such as Expert mode, which lets you control the camera's shutter, ISO, exposure and focus. Or, if you're feeling up to it, you can shoot raw.

Oppo has historically placed a lot of emphasis on its camera features, and the 13-megapixel shooter of the R7 seems to handle itself well. Pictures look vibrant with easily visible fine details and bright colors and hues. It seems to struggle a little in low-light shots, but that's no surprise since it doesn't have optical image stabilization, which would help with the slower shutter speeds needed for low-light pictures. The front camera is pretty decent as well, but it only manages to focus on the center face when taking selfies, so anyone off-center will look a tad blurry.

Overall, I came away impressed with how the pictures turned out. If you want to take good pictures but don't necessarily need something top-of-the-line, the R7's cameras will meet your needs. Check out the sample shots below.

Colors are vibrant in this outdoor test shot (click to enlarge). Aloysius Low/CNET
The phone manages to capture details of the log despite the strong backlit conditions from the setting sun. Aloysius Low/CNET
The R7 picks out the vibrant colors of these flowers. Aloysius Low/CNET
The R7 struggles under warm incandescent indoor lighting, but that's expected. Aloysius Low/CNET
When there's enough light, the R7's camera handles itself well. Aloysius Low/CNET

Performance

Equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, the R7 is capable of delivering smooth performance for normal use, and the 3GB RAM gives you the oomph you'll need for multitasking. You won't have to reload apps when switching between them, which is sometimes the case with phones that have less RAM. I found the phone smooth and responsive, and I didn't see any of the lag issues that I encountered in the R5.

Compared with other Snapdragon 615 phones that we've tested, such as the Xiaomi Mi 4i or the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, the Oppo R7 holds up well and gets similar scores on our testing. This puts its performance squarely in the middle and lower tiers when compared with the flagships.

Benchmark tests comparison

Oppo R7
8,002
667
2,638
Xiaomi Mi 4i
7,721
699
2,926
Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3
7,588
NA
2,548
OnePlus 2
22,645
1,142
4,461
ZTE Axon Pro
25,742
868
3,958

Legend:

3DMark Ice Storm (unlimited)
Geekbench 3 (single-core)
Geekbench 3 (multi-core)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Battery life

With only a 2,320mAh battery, the Oppo R7 falls behind its competition when it comes to staying power. Sure, if you're carrying around the Oppo charger, you don't have to worry too much -- 30 minutes is enough to get you back up to 75 percent. But you'll probably run out of power before the end of the day if you're a heavy user who continuously fiddles with your smartphone.

In our CNET Labs video test, the Oppo R7 lasted just 9 hours and 5 minutes, which isn't very good. In comparison, the Xiaomi Mi 4i chugged along fine for more than 13 hours. But, to be fair, that phone has a larger 3,000mAh battery.

Call quality and data speeds

I had no trouble with the R7's reception or making calls. My calling partner on the other end could hear me, and there was none of the odd static or buzzing usually found on phones with terrible microphones. The speaker quality is also pretty loud for the phone's size, but may be hard to hear while in a crowded public space. The vibration is strong, though, and you'll definitely feel the phone buzzing in your pocket.

I tested the phone's 4G capabilities in Singapore on SingTel's 4G network, and data speeds were on par with other phones in this region. The phone achieved around a 99.44Mbps download speed and a 35.89Mbps upload speed at its highest, though your results will depend on your carrier's network quality.

Screenshot by Aloysius Low/CNET

Conclusion

The Oppo R7 packs midrange performance into beautiful hardware, but the price will hold it back. Xiaomi's Mi 4i comes in at almost half the price of the $400 (US) R7 and offers similar hardware and design, though it comes clad in plastic instead of premium metal.

That said, the R7 does have one advantage over Xiaomi -- it's available in the US, UK and Australia through direct sales from its website, so it's easier to buy globally. But if you're willing to pay a bit more, higher-end flagship phones from competitors such as the Huawei Ascend P7 or the ZTE Axon Pro may be a better deal. For just a little bit more cash, these phones offer much better performance while almost matching the R7's good looks.

If you're willing to pay more, there are other high-end flagship Chinese phones that offer better value. Aloysius Low/CNET

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