Oppo F5: An Oppo for Pretty People

 

On the face of it, the Oppo F5 offers quite a bang for the buck. K Madhavan Pillai reports.

Oppo F5

Oppo F5

Cerulean blues happen to be some of my favourite tones, and just as difficult to reproduce in print. When I saw the mettalic cerulean sheen of the Oppo F5, and its equally interesting, rubberised, velvet-lined well-fitted hardcover (my biggest gripe with newer phones… they tend to slip), I decided to see what else it offered.

Interiors of the splendrous Dubai Opera. Despite the obvious over-processiing, the rear camera manages to capture the ambience.

Interiors of the splendrous Dubai Opera. Despite the obvious over-processiing, the rear camera manages to capture the ambience. All Photography / K Madhavan Pillai

All the Bells and Whistles
At price ranges Rs. 15,000 and above, one begins to expect a performance oriented device. In this, the Oppo F5 is quite exemplary. The 4GB /32GB version that I tested (Rs. 19,990) had a large bunch of features, including face recognition unlocking, fingerprint sensor and a camera that can be accessed simply by drawing an ‘O’ on the 6-inch FHD+ near bezelless touchscreen at sleep. All of these work either flawlessly, or as well as one expects it to, and the phone is quick and responsive with no lags. It has an impressive battery life.

It sports an ‘A.I beauty’ 20MP f/2 1/2.8-inch sensor front ‘selfie’ camera (the primary camera in the case of the F5), and a 16MP f/1.8 rear camera. I am personally not much for selfies, but tested it in a variety of condition, along with friends and family.

Colours are pleasantly saturated. More than other cellphones, the F5 tends to overprocess and over-smoothen details.

Colours are pleasantly saturated. More than other cellphones, the F5 tends to overprocess and over-smoothen details. Photography / K Madhavan Pillai

The Bangs and the Fizzles
In low light, the 20MP selfie camera performs quite well (despite no selfie flash). I noticed that the finer details seem actually better rendered in lower levels of fluorescent lamp light. The A.I works in several ways to enhance selfies… recognise facial structures to enhance symmetry and blur backgrounds (quite effectively), prioritise faces and elevate exposures to make faces look brighter, and smoothen skintones. Texture smoothening gets rid of noise as well as most kinds of detail, but leaves the eyes sharpened for impact. It certainly is not very realistic and the images are extremely over-processed, but most ‘self-a-holics’ would be quite flattered.

There is an effective Panoramic selfie mode, that causes interesting background motion blurs in low light. Speaking of blurs, the camera produces a rather good level of artificial bokeh, even in situation with busy backgrounds. There is no Pro mode.

Compensating is important with the F5, to avoid burnt highlights. On the other hand, at low ISO in good light, there is enough of retreivable detail in the shadows.

Compensating is important with the F5, to avoid burnt highlights. On the other hand, at low ISO in good light, there is enough of retreivable detail in the shadows. Photography / K Madhavan Pillai

The rear camera is quite another story, unfortunately. It produces images that are overly smoothened, over-processed, and lacking critical detail, in average to poor light. It manages a passable job in good light, but I’ve noticed plenty of clipped highlights, in situations that would have been better handled by more basic phones.

Video resolution tops of at 1080p, and while it makes use of A.I and filters, is nothing much to speak about. There is a built-in time lapse function (with no real controls), but no slo-mo.
By default, the display, though quite sharp and well resolved, is tends to be too blue for my liking. Luckily, colour temperature adjustment renders colours more accurately, pushed to its warmest level. The display has another unforgivable issue. In sunlight, the visibility of the display is extremely poor, even at its brightest settings. In open shade, this improves, but is still inadequate. Phones a third of its price perform better in this regard. Composing a frame in bright, sunlit conditions, even for selfies, becomes a little more than guesswork. This turns the tide.

In Conclusion
If you are buying a phone primarily for selfies, and are the type to generally shun the sun and shoot a lot in the evenings, you will probably enjoy the Oppo F5. Otherwise, there are other options out there. Despite the F5 being an otherwise capable device, for me personally, as a serious photographer, poor outdoor display visibility in bright sunlit is a deal breaker.

AT A GLANCE
SPECIFICATIONS 6-inch LTPS TFT FHD+ (2160 by 1080 pixels) Display, 20MP f/2 front camera, 16MP f/1.8 front camera, 5000 mAh battery, 4GB RAM, 32GB internal memory, Octa-core MT6763T processor with ARM Mali G71 MP2 770MHz GPU, ColorOS 3.2, based on Android 7.1, Unibody metal design
WHAT WE LIKE Metal build, non-slip fitted case, front camera performance, responsive
WHAT WE DISLIKE Average rear camera performance, very poor display visibility in sunlight
WHY BUY IT Good battery performance, sturdy build
FINAL RATINGS 74%
CAMERA FEATURES 20MP ‘selfie’ camera, 16MP rear camera, bezelless display 21/25
IMAGE QUALITY Flattering selfies for self-a-holics, but overprocessed images 20/30
VIDEO QUALITY 1080p, time-lapse feature, no slo-mo or significant editing tools 10/15
HANDLING Excellent non-slip cover, light, slim profile, display visibility issues 10/15
SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS Responsive performance across parameters 13/15
Tags: An Oppo for Pretty People, April 2018, better photography, Cellphone Review, K Madhavan Pillai, Oppo F5