Hands-On, Smartphone

Oppo R17 Pro Hands-On: Almost as Good as a Flagship

The Oppo R17 Pro has just been introduced in Malaysia, and at a glance, it looks like a pretty decent upper mid-range smartphone. Sporting a sleek design with a gradient colour on the glass back, it’s a handsome device with adequate performance power.

But priced as high as it is, the R17 Pro has to contest with a number of more capable, flagship-tier smartphones. In my brief time with Oppo’s latest phone, I’m quite impressed with it. But even though it’s a really solid smartphone, Oppo’s pricing strategy may not appeal to everyone.

One of the highlight features of the R17 Pro is its gradient colourway, “Radiant Mist,” and it’s very well done. The colour shifts depending on what angle you’re looking at the phone from, and the frosted glass back – while slippery – gives it a very unique aesthetic. After all, most phones with gradient colourways have glossy finishes.

On the front, the R17 Pro has a “waterdrop” notch, and its overall design is very similar to the Oppo F9, right down to the tiny bottom bezel. What’s different here, of course, is the in-display fingerprint sensor. While it’s not as quick or as accurate as a conventional sensor, it can still recognise my fingerprint relatively well.

Aside from that, I love how the R17 Pro feels in my hand. It has great, reassuring build quality, and tipping the scales at 183g, it’s a hefty device too. Basically, this phone looks and feels premium – almost like a flagship smartphone.

I say almost, because the R17 Pro doesn’t have the processing power of a flagship smartphone. Don’t get me wrong, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chipset in this phone is plenty capable, but it’s not comparable to the Snapdragon 845’s superior performance. If Oppo had equip the R17 Pro with a Snapdragon 845 SoC, that would’ve made it a very interesting flagship phone.

But as far as performance goes, the R17 Pro feels very responsive and zippy. Now, I’m not a huge fan of ColorOS 5.2 and its oddities, but I do have to commend the smooth user experience of Oppo’s software; I didn’t notice any stutter or lag while using the R17 Pro. Chances are, the phone’s generous 8GB RAM played a role here, and it also comes with 128GB of internal storage.

Next is the R17 Pro’s gorgeous 6.4-inch 2340 x 1080 AMOLED display. Viewing angles are great, colours are vibrant and punchy, and needless to say, black levels are excellent. It’s an inherent characteristic of OLED panels – individual pixels are switched off whenever the screen has to show black.

On top of that, even though the R17 Pro “only” has a 1080p display, texts and images are plenty sharp. Paired with the phone’s 3,700mAh battery, it should have good battery life too.

And finally, we have the R17 Pro’s camera system. The front-facing shooter is a 25MP f/2.0 shooter, while on the back, there’s a triple camera system. The primary sensor is a 12MP camera with a variable aperture of f/1.5 and f/2.4 – much like the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Note 9 phones – and it’s paired with a 20MP f/2.6 sensor for bokeh simulation. The third module, on the other hand, is a time-of-flight sensor, which captures 3D information.

It’s an interesting sensor, but unfortunately, we couldn’t try out the 3D scanning feature – it wasn’t enabled on our test unit of the R17 Pro.

How is the camera performance of the R17 Pro? Impressive. While I didn’t manage to try the camera in daytime (most phones can capture great shots in ideal lighting anyway), I did take some low light images with the phone. Interestingly enough, there’s even a Night mode, which allows you to take long exposure shots without the use of a tripod. Yes, it’s similar to Huawei’s implementation, which was first introduced on the P20 Pro.

Looking at these images, I’m quite taken aback at how good the R17 Pro’s camera is. It manages to capture a good amount of detail, and overall, these shots look very impressive.

In fact, I reckon the R17 Pro’s camera performance can rival that of other flagship smartphones. I wouldn’t say it’s as amazing as, say, the Galaxy S9’s camera performance, but it’s definitely up there in flagship territory.

The Oppo R17 Pro is a promising upper mid-range phone. It’s sleek, it has adequate processing power, and its camera performance is quite impressive. I would’ve been more than happy to recommend this phone to anyone looking to buy a premium device, but the thing is, the R17 Pro is priced at the same price point as more capable phones.

Retailing at RM2,699 in Malaysia, the R17 Pro is in the price territory of notable flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S9+, Huawei Mate 20, and even the OnePlus 6T. Not only are these smartphones much faster than the R17 Pro, they are more feature-packed too.

I really like the R17 Pro, even more so than the company’s current flagship, the Oppo Find X. But would I spend this much money on an upper mid-range phone, when I can get more bang for my buck with other flagship-tier devices?

Well, that’s the question you’d have to ask yourself if you’re looking to get the R17 Pro. It’s a really good phone, but only in a full review of the phone can I say with conviction whether or not the R17 Pro is worth its steep asking price.

For what it’s worth, I’m positive I’ll enjoy reviewing it.

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