It wasn’t too long ago that OPPO introduced the F7 selfie phone, which I’ve previously expressed my satisfaction with the improvements it had over its predecessors. However, as the sub RM1500 smartphone category competition gets more intense, it led to the introduction of the OPPO F9, its an iterative update to the F7 with an interesting gradient color design, dual rear cameras, a smaller and less annoying waterdrop display notch, and support for VOOC Flash Charging, that’s a lot of stuffs  added to an already great mid-range device, but is it really a much better device than the F7?

Yes. I absolutely welcome some changes to the F9’s design, especially the less obstructive display notch and reduced bezels, the F9 has a 6.3-inch display that stretches to 90.3% of the body ratio, it is a very manageable device when using one handed, brightness and viewing angles are good when using outdoors, color reproduction is also better than the F7’s display.

OPPO F9 Review: More than Just Looking Pretty 1The frame is plastic and coated with a glossy gradient finish that makes it look extremely unique, my Sunrise Red version has a gradient color mix of red and purple, which I admire and tend to show off a lot to my friends. My unit also comes with a very attractive diamond texture design on the back when exposed to light, OPPO calls it a flower petal design which I kind of disagree with the name, you also get the same effect if you opt for the Twilight Blue color option, and personally I love the Starry Purple color the most but it isn’t available here.

Otherwise, there isn’t much changes on the phone’s hardware, it still has a headphone jack and uses a MicroUSB port for charging. Like its predecessor, the F9 uses a MediaTek P60 processor and is supported by 6GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage, the tri-card SIM tray is still present which is great for people who wants to use two SIM cards and expand storage at the same time, battery size has been slightly increased to 3500mAh, and it ships with a newer version of ColorOS software based on Android 8.1.

OPPO F9 Review: More than Just Looking Pretty 2OPPO’s software experience can be both a love and hate affair, depending on one’s preference, I don’t like how my apps arrangement gets messed up when I install and remove an app, it involves a lot of scrolling not unless I group them into folders, and there’s no easy way to create a home screen just for widgets. Therefore, I use a custom launcher to keep my home screen organized with a few apps that I usually access.

Despite that, ColorOS has a couple of neat features I appreciate, the full screen multitasking feature gives me some quick access to apps and features when I’m on a full screen app, you also get to choose three different gesture navigation methods if you don’t want to use the standard system soft keys. Lastly, the Game Space feature helps blocking nasty notifications when I want an uninterrupted gaming experience.

Many of us have been skeptical about MediaTek powered phones, the OPPO F9 is an exceptionally well optimized device with the P60 chip, it shows no signs of slowing down after a few days and no lags in resource intensive apps such as Facebook. In addition, the OPPO F9 doesn’t heat up terribly when gaming for extended periods, it is the most reliable Mediatek powered smartphone that I have ever tested.

OPPO F9 Review: More than Just Looking Pretty 3The OPPO F9’s main camera may have gotten a secondary sensor, however its merely a 2MP depth sensor that helps measure bokeh more accurately on photos, the main 16MP f/1.8 sensor is the very same hardware brought over from the F7, which we have found it to be very impressive in our review and it yields very much the same results on the F9, color and details are excellent when used in good lighting, it also does well in brightly lit indoors but falls short on dim lighting conditions.

The front 25MP selfie camera is hands down one of the best that I have ever come across, apart from its overdone beautify effects, it takes extremely detailed selfies that you can use it for prints, and if you seriously require some beautifying job when making video calls, the camera software allows you to activate the effect when using certain apps. Furthermore, it also does a pretty decent job in detecting my face when using Face Unlock in low light.

When I reviewed the OPPO F7, it had decent power efficiency despite merely sporting a 3400mAh battery, I fortunately got the same satisfaction when I’m using the F9 for heavy social media browsing, two hours of mobile hotspot, an hour of Netflix bingeing, I usually get around 45-55% of juice left when I end my day and I’ll only need to charge it around noon the next day if I didn’t plug in before bed time, VOOC Flash Charge is a great advantage that will get the phone charged really fast if you happen to run out of juice, hence you don’t need to worry about forgetting to plug in your phone if you ever do.

OPPO F9 Review: More than Just Looking Pretty 4With the OPPO F9, the company is once again showing that it can make great and value for money mid-range phones, the phone continues to excel what the F series is great at while improving design and hardware features without requiring users to pay more, while it does seem like a rather attractive deal for RM1399, OPPO does face tough competition in that price range, especially when devices like Xiaomi’s POCOPHONE F1 surfaces out of the blue at this point of time, offering much superior hardware internals yet priced cheaper than the OPPO F9.

The OPPO F9 is available for purchase now at Shopee.

The Good

  • Unique gradient color design
  • Less annoying display notch
  • VOOC Flash Charge
  • Decent battery life
  • Tri-slot SIM tray
  • Great cameras

The Not so Good

  • Uses Micro USB
  • Unpolished software


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