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Oppo R9 review: Looks and feels like an iPhone, but this is no iPhone

The Good The Oppo R9 is light and has a premium look and feel. The rear camera takes good photos and you can expand the phone's storage via its microSD card slot.

The Bad Gaming performance is poor, especially on graphically intensive games. The front camera lacks features such as HDR and its aspect ratio is too narrow.

The Bottom Line The Oppo R9 manages to ape the iPhone 6S' look and feel, but it lacks the performance and capabilities to measure up as a must-get phone.

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

Previous Oppo phones, such as the R7, have avoided blatantly ripping off Apple's iPhone design, but the new R9, known as the F1 Plus in certain countries, leans into it. The R9 unabashedly clones the iPhone 6S, even down to some aspects of the user interface, but fails to fully capture the charm of Apple's premium phones. The result is a $425-ish (£299 or AU$599) phone that, despite the aforementioned resemblance, doesn't stand out in any meaningful way.

While the super thin bezel that gives it an almost edge-to-edge display, Oppo hasn't included a palm-rejection feature, which became apparent every time a Web page scrolled away from me due to parts of my hand inadvertently touching the edge. Also equally irritating is the way too-aggressive light sensor; I couldn't complete a round of racing game Asphalt 8 without the screen auto-dimming each time my hands accidentally covered the sensor while playing. Of course, if you want, you can turn off the auto-brightness in settings to avoid this issue. Generally, though, the phone's comfortable to hold and has a bright AMOLED screen.

How blatantly the R9 rips off the iPhone becomes glaringly evident when you open the camera app. The layout icons are the same, and the camera app also employs the same "slide your finger across the screen to change modes" feature as iOS. And like most Chinese-made phones, there's no app drawer, so all of your apps are stored on the home screen. The ever changing lock-screen wallpapers feature was neat, but it's a minor feature at best.

The rear 13-megapixel shooter does really well even when compared to flagship devices: details were clear, though colors can be a little over saturated. I liked the fast autofocus as well -- it's as quick as flagship phones I've previously reviewed, such as the Xiaomi Mi 5. On the other hand, the front 16-megapixel selfie camera is pretty poor. There's no point to having a larger selfie image when the front camera lacks basic functions, such as high dynamic range (HDR). For Oppo's next phone, using a wide-angle lens for the front camera would make a lot more sense than simply increasing the size of pics, though there's a software panorama feature that acts as a "wide-angle" solution.

oppo-r9-09.jpg

The camera app for the Oppo R9 makes no bones about being a copy of the one in iOS.

Aloysius Low/CNET

The phone houses 64GB of onboard storage, and includes a microSD storage expansion slot. Gaming performance was disappointing, as Asphalt 8 got pretty choppy when I turned the graphics quality to high, though the 3DMark benchmark seemed to do well. In day-to-day general performance, however, such as opening and using apps such as Facebook or Gmail, all worked smoothly. The phone's battery isn't too shabby, and lasted 11 hours while looping a video in airplane mode.

Unfortunately, given the disappointing performance and copycat design, the Oppo R9 (aka F1 Plus) doesn't feel like a worthy buy, but if you're still keen, you can get it now through Oppo's online store.

Performance benchmarks

Oppo R9
11,079
882
3,330
Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
14,054
896
4,164
Huawei Honor 5X
7,719
702
3,130

Legend:

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

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Oppo R9/F1 Plus vs. Huawei Honor 5X vs. Xiaomi Redmi 2

Oppo R9/F1 Plus Huawei Honor 5X Xiaomi Redmi 2
Display size, resolution 5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels 5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels 5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels
Pixel density 401ppi 401ppi 401ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.98 x 2.93 x 0.26 in 6 x 3 x 0.32 in 5.98 x 2.99 x 0.33 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 151.8 x 74.3 x 6.6 mm 151 x 76 x 8.2 mm 152 x 76 x 8.3 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.11 oz (145 g) 5.6 oz; 158 g 5.64 oz; 160g
Mobile software Android 5.1 Lollipop Android 5.1 Lollipop Android 5.0 Lollipop
Camera 13-megapixel 13-megapixel 13-megapixel
Front-facing camera 16-megapixel 5-megapixel 5-megapixel
Video capture 1080p HD 1080p HD 1080p HD
Processor 2.0GHZ octa-core Mediatek MT6755 Helio P10 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 2.0GHz octa-core Mediatek MT6795 Helio X10
Storage 64GB 16GB 16Gb
RAM 4GB 3GB 2GB
Expandable storage Up to 128GB Up to 128GB Up to 32GB
Battery 2,850mAh battery (nonremovable) 3,000mAh (nonremovable) 3,060mAh battery (removable)
Fingerprint sensor Home button Back cover None
Connector Micro-USB Micro-USB Micro-USB
Special features Fast charging, Dual-SIM Dual-SIM card slots Dual-SIM card slot
Price off-contract (USD) $425 $200 $150
Price (GBP) £299 Converts to £135 Converts to £100
Price (AUD) AU$599 Converts to AU$275 Converts to AU$210

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