Remember the OPPO A7 we reviewed last year, it was well, not on par with the competition, in fact, it was one of the worst value for money smartphone of 2019. Now, they have launched its successor, the A9 2020.
And it’s obvious that OPPO wants their A series to succeed, so they have upped their game with this phone with better cameras and an upgrade in overall performance. But the competition within the midrange segment is crazy, so does the A9 2020 live up to its billing? We have tried to explain that in this OPPO A9 2020 review.
OPPO A9 2020 Specifications:
- Display: 6.5-inch (1600 x 720 pixels) HD+ display
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
- CPU: Octa-core (Quad 2GHz Kryo 260G + Quad 1.8GHz Kryo 260S)
- GPU: Adreno 610 GPU
- Memory: 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, expandable memory up to 256GB with microSD
- OS: Android 9.0 (Pie) with ColorOS 6.0.1
- SIM: Dual SIM + Dedicated SD Card Slot
- Rear Camera: Quad Cameras
– 48MP primary with 1/2.0″ Sony IMX586 sensor, 0.8μm pixel size, f/1.79 aperture
– 8MP wide-angle with 119° FOV
– 2MP macro lens
– 2MP depth sensor
- Front Camera: 16MP with f/2.0 aperture
- Fingerprint sensor: Yes, rear-mounted
- Connectivity: 3.5 mm audio jack, FM Radio, Dual 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz + 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/ GLONASS/ Beidou
- Battery: 5000mAh battery with fast charging
- Price: Rs. 35,990
Now, I’ve been using the A9 2020 as my everyday device for the past couple of weeks and the one I’ve has a marine green glass back. Dark, glossy and filled with gradient colors. I guess that’s what best describes its look. You’ll be able to see different patterns of reflection on it depending upon your viewing angle. Overall, I’m quite pleased with its design given its glass back as it makes me look like I’m actually holding an expensive premium phone.
One minor complaint that I have though with it is that the glass finish attracts smudges. You’ll feel a continual need to keep wiping the back as you’ll feel that the fingerprint marks on the back of your device are quite common. However, the good thing is that you actually get a clear case along with the device itself. But still, if you plan on using the device case-less, all I can say is Good Luck!
On the backside, you’ll also find the quad-camera setup (48MP + 8MP + 2MP +2MP), with 3 cameras aligned vertically above the fingerprint scanner and another one just beside the camera array along with the LED flash. The button placement in A9 2020 is pretty standard. There’s a power button on the right and the volume buttons on the left. Just above the volume buttons is the tray for dual nano-SIM and dedicated microSD card.
In front, there’s the 6.5-inch IPS LCD screen with a small water-drop notch on top. The notch also houses a 16MP selfie shooter. There’s also a call speaker on top too. However, there’s no LED light for notifications. It would have been great to keep track of battery charge status and notifications.
The loudspeaker, a USB Type-C port, microphone, and a 3.mm headphone jack. All of it is housed in the bottom rim and the top rim is completely devoid of any. Now, I’ve no complaints about others however, the placement of the headphone jack really bugged me. Maybe it’s because I’m used to having one on top. Whatever it is, it is just one minor complaint from my side and others may not feel the same way. Well, to each their own, isn’t it?
Moving on to the display, the OPPO A9 2020 has a 6.5-inch HD+ IPS screen. It receives protection courtesy of the Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Thin bezel surrounds the devices’ screen. Now it does gives the device an aesthetically pleasing look however I did find the thick chin intrusive while watching YouTube videos in landscape mode.
The 720p resolution that the device offers is one of the biggest drawbacks of this device. I mean it costs upwards of 35K and what we are left with is a screen that has a low resolution simply does not do justice to its price. Don’t get me wrong, its display is fine as you’ll get good color and will be able to notice sharp enough details, however, the cost that you’ll be paying for this device is just too much.
I was already complaining about the Mi A3 which had too offered a 720p resolution. But at least it had an AMOLED panel. This phone in comparison does not even have an OLED panel. I think that 720p resolution should stay in the sub 20k smartphones. If you’re planning to go beyond the 35K mark at least include an FHD display or better yet throw in an OLED panel along with it too! An expensive smartphone with an average display is simply a huge bummer.
Software and UI
Now for the UI, the OPPO A9 uses the Android 9 Pie with Color OS 6.0.1 on top. Although I am not a big fan of Color OS, as compared to Realme phones, I found the UI to be better from Icons to transition.
Also, with the Color OS, you’ll probably not feel any lags while using it. Switching between the apps is also no problem as everything is very smooth. I think the smoothness is further complemented by its RAM which is a huge 8GB.
I found the UI to be highly customizable too. you can choose whether you want an app drawer or not the screen layout and even customize the ways you want your navigation buttons to be arranged. Furthermore, you get features such as smart driving and smart assistant which despite being common in smartphones these days might come in handy.
Now, the device does come pre-installed with many apps, however, you can easily uninstall them if you want.
I was actually present during the launch of this device and in their presentation, they had showcased it as a smartphone in which you can easily play games without any hindrance. Now, the 8 GB RAM does complement that statement and you can easily play games such as mobile legends, PUBG, and Call of duty on this device and that too with the minimum frame rate. However, I do not think you’re getting the very best with this. For god sake, it is powered by the Snapdragon 665 SoC. Not that it is not a good chipset, but again it does not quite match the price range of the device. They could’ve easily opted for the Snapdragon 675 SoC which guarantees better performance. But no, here too they have compromised.
Then again there’s the lingering issue of the display too. while playing PUBG you cannot go above the balanced graphics settings with minimum frame rates on this device. But the gameplay is indeed smooth even while playing in the maximum supported setting of games that the device supports. So, if you’re okay playing games in the lowest possible settings then, I’ve got nothing to say.
One plus point, however, is the sound quality. Thanks to the Dolby Atmos support, the device produces clear and loud enough sound which has a good depth to it. But then again, you’ll find that its bass support is not that great. Good thing that they’ve included a headphone jack.
Another aspect that the company has heavily focused on the device is its camera. Rear quad-cam with 48MP primary sensor. Front camera with improved AI algorithms, new night mode, and whatnot. From the outside, I felt that okay, so the cameras’ got to be pretty awesome on this.
On the rear, the device has a quad-camera setup. It comprises of a 48MP primary lens, an 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP monochrome lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. And honestly speaking, shooting photos from the rear camera is a hit or miss situation.
Now, to capturing perfect photos each time is a tedious task with the A9 2020’s camera. You need to shoot under good lightings and maintain focus to get the best results. Your perfectly captured photos will showcase accurate colors and you’ll see that it is pretty sharp too. However, the rest of the time, you get photos that look good on a surface level but as you zoom in it’s all grainy and lacks enough detail.
Capturing an image in low light is also not so great with its camera. Usually, I could see that my photos came out grainy. However, there is this night mode feature that you can make use of while taking night time photos. And indeed, you’ll be able to see a significant difference in quality between your normal low-light photo and those captured using the Night Mode.
So much so that I think that the night mode is a single good thing about its rear camera. You can see for yourself the obvious difference in the quality of the images captured with and without the night mode.
I was not impressed by the portrait images either. OPPO has included multiple filter options for portrait mode too. Seven to be exact! But what’s the use of all this filter if the portrait camera does not do what it’s supposed to.
I mean you’ll face several instances where you’ll find asking more of the blur effect on backgrounds as the bokeh could miss parts of the background. Here too, you’ll need everything to be perfect in order to capture a good portrait image.
Moving on to the front camera, OPPO A9 2020 has a 16MP selfie shooter housed in the notch upfront.
And I’ve to say rather than the quadruple rear camera. The photos come out great as you can observe good details and pretty good color in your selfie. It does have a lot of AI work going in the background and your selfies might not necessarily give a natural look but the quality is good enough to be uploaded on Facebook or Instagram. Low-light selfies might come out a bit grainy but still, they seem good enough.
In more than one instance, I was actually using the front camera more than its quad-rear camera. It’s much better at producing sharp images and you’ll find that the pictures pack sufficient details. And under perfect lightning, it can, in fact, produce a selfie that is tough to beat.
As far as video recording is concerned, the device is capable to capture 4K videos. Now, a good thing while recording the videos is that you can switch from normal to the ultrawide frame in a single video. Furthermore, there’s the added Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS). This comes in handy while capturing videos while moving. However, it too has a sort of a drawback as there’s a lack of focus.
Battery and security
The part in which OPPO has not made any compromises with this device is probably its battery. With a huge capacity of 5000mAh, the device in plain terms is power-bank. With a full charge, the device should easily give you a day and a half battery life. Depending upon the usage that is! It is obvious why its battery life is so huge. No, not just the battery size, the low-res HD+ display plays its role too.
In terms of security, the device pretty much has the standard passcode and biometrics. The biometrics, in fact, were quite impressive. The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and the face unlock are pretty quick. However, I found the fingerprint to be much faster than the face-unlock. A9 2020’s face-unlock, in fact, performs well in low light conditions too.
Another safety feature that’s available on A9 2020 is the Privacy Passcode. it is used for app encryption and can further be bound by a security email or your OPPO ID. The manufacturer’s claim that its encryption happens on the chip level and is secure from brute-force attacks. Your device might not be so personal. I mean a friend, family member or an associate might just have access to your device once in a while. And you might have some files or apps that you want to remain private. this is where this feature comes into play. You can enable app encryption, choose to have an app icon hidden (if required can be accessed from the dialer) or have a private safe within your device. Now that’s neat, isn’t it?
So, my verdict about the OPPO A9 is, Considering the price range, OPPO should have offered more. I mean its competitions are Redmi Note 8 Pro, Realme XT, and Vivo S1, which is near about the same price range provides more in terms of display and camera.
What I really add on to it is that this A series from OPPO is seriously underwhelming. And what’s strange is OPPO is launching K-series and Reno-Series phones in China and they are in fact worth the money. Better resolution and a much powerful processor.
For a like to like comparison, I guess it’s better if we take the K series. At a much cheaper price than the A9 2020, they offer AMOLED panel with full HD+ display. Not to forget the much better processor, for instance, the K3 in the K series offers. So, I guess it would have been better if the company focused more on the availability and improvement in the other series than in A series which do not meet the expectations whatsoever. If they at all cost want to push the A series then a serious improvement is needed because they cannot expect customers to go for it with such minimal performance and that too at what I think is a very high price.
So, to sum it up, even though the OPPO A9 2020 boasts some of the best specs out there, the actual performance does not match and its price is just too much as you can get better devices in the same price range. Thus, if it were up to me, I would probably go for a Redmi K20 or Galaxy M30s instead of the A9 2020.
Oppo A9 2020 Pros and Cons
- Great battery life
- Good stereo speakers
- Good cameras
- Pricey for the specs
- HD+ display
- No fast charging