❤ Oppo F9 ( F9 Pro ) review

Image result for oppo f9

 

 

The Oppo F9/F9 Pro is yet another installment in the hugely popular Oppo mid-range series. It’s the first phone in the family with a dual-camera on the back and backtracks on the screen cutouts by moving to a tiny waterdrop notch.

 

 

 

 

You have probably noticed we are using the F9/F9 Pro inscription for this review and there is a reason for that. Oppo has chosen a rather awkward approach to the naming of its mid-ranger.

In India – one of the key markets for the F-series – the F9 is available in two versions. There is the F9 Pro with 6GB of RAM, a 25MP selfie camera and VOOC flash charging, and the regular Oppo F9 with 4GB of RAM, a 16MP selfie shooter, and no VOOC charging.

Yet in every other market Oppo is selling only the F9 but with specs matching the Indian pro version(6GB, 25MP, VOOC). So, the phone we got for review is called F9, but specs-wise it’s identical to the F9 Pro as seen in India. We hope this clears it up and we’ll refer to the phone as just F9 from here on.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

Looking beyond the confusing naming, the Oppo F9 is actually a very attractive phone that comes with the trendy gradient paint jobs freshened with star or diamond patterns.

The internals are well chosen too – the Helio P60 chip has already proven as a solid mid-range performer, you get a dual-camera on the back with bright lens and a super high-res selfie snapper. Add the large battery with VOOC support and it looks like a great package. Sadly we are still seeing a dated microUSB port.

The Oppo F9 is also among the first to come with the latest and toughest to break Gorilla Glass 6. The new glass is shatter-proof for a dozen of drops from one meter, giving you some welcome peace of mind.

Oppo F9 (F9 Pro) specs:

  • Body: Gorilla Glass 6 body, plastic frame, 156.7 x 74 x 8 mm, 169g
  • Screen: 6.3″ 2,340 x 1,080px (19.5:9) LTPS IPS LCD, 409ppi, notched
  • Chipset: MediaTek Helio P60 chipset – octa-core processor (4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A53), Mali-G72 MP3 GPU
  • Memory: 4 or 6 GB RAM, 64GB of storage, (dedicated) microSD slot
  • Camera: Dual: 16MP (f/1.8) + 2MP for depth sensing, phase detection autofocus; 1080p @ 30fps video
  • Selfie cam: 25MP (f/2.0), 1080p video
  • OS: Android 8.1 Oreo with ColoOS 5.2
  • Battery: 3,500 mAh, 20W VOOC flash charging
  • Connectivity: Dual Nano-SIM; microUSB (USB 2.0), Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS, FM radio
  • Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, bottom-firing loudspeaker, 3.5mm audio port

The Oppo F9 stopped short of implementing the under-display fingerprint reader of its vivo V11 cousin, but at this point of the development of the technology it’s unclear if we should count that against it. The F9‘s rear mounted sensor may lack the geeky appeal, but is always-on, accurate, and blazing-fast – three things you can’t say for the V11’s reader.

We have the cool Twilight Blue model of the Oppo F9 Pro for this review and it’s time we proceed to unbox it.

Unboxing the Oppo F9

In addition to the Oppo F9 unit, you will be getting a VOOC-compatible microUSB cable, the 20W VOOC charger itself, and an EarPod-like headset. The non-VOOC supporting non-Pro Oppo F9 in India comes packed with a 10W regular charged instead.

 

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

 

Design

If your want a beautiful mid-range smartphone has to be beautiful and an instant eye-catcher, the Oppo F9 is the right device for the job.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

The almost bezelless front is a welcome sight and the waterdrop-like notch is far less objectionable than the large cutout on the F7. It wastes far less screen estate and some might even argue that it looks like a cool accent.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

 

Just don’t put too much faith in those official press renders as they show the screen going nearly edge to edge, which is not quite the story in real life. Still, the F9 offers some of the highest screen-to-body ratios in the price range and that’s already a huge thing the phone has going for it.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

Upon closer look next to the 25MP selfies camera you can also notice a tiny aperture for the proximity sensor.

The earpiece grille is almost invisible up at the top – in-between the frame and the display itself.

Moving on to the back, the Oppo F9 manages to impress again. A gradient paint job, a diamond-like pattern, and besides the Oppo logo – no inscriptions to spoil the looks.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

 

The colors also change depending on the available light with our Twilight Blue model going from light cyan to dark blue and even black. The shimmering diamond pattern is clearly visible if sufficient is available but disappears almost completely in the dark.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

 

The same is valid for the Sunrise Red model, though it looks a bit flashier with a palette of lilac, pink, orange and red.

The Starry Purple has a lot in common with the vivo V11 – it also has a gradient in the purple shades, but instead of a diamond pattern it has tiny dots, which look like thousands of stars.

The always-on fingerprint scanner and the dual-camera are the only things of real interest at the back. The snappers are accompanied by a single LED flash and while it all forms a small hump, it’s not big enough to make the phone wobble.

The Oppo F9 is among the first smartphones to make use of Corning’s toughest Gorilla Glass to date – the sixth revision. It’s supposed to survive a dozen of drops from up to one meter.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

The frame holding those pieces of Gorilla Glass, is made of plastic but painted in the same cool gradient as the back, sans the diamond-pattern, of course. It has a glossy finish and is slippery, but its slightly curved shape and the bulging screen enclosure improve the depth of the phone and help provide decent overall grip.

The Oppo F9 has everything as far as connectivity features are concerned – there is a 3.5mm audio port and it features a triple card slot. The latter accommodates two nanoSIMs and a microSD card slot, so you won’t have to choose between dualSIM functionality and memory expansion.

The only letdown is the old-school microUSB slot, but it supports VOOC flash charge, so at least from a functionality standpoint it’s not too bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Oppo F9 spreads at 156.7 x 74 x 8 mm and weighs 169g – almost identical footprint to the F7, but 11g heavier.

Handling the Oppo F9 is a pleasure, but not as immersive as looking at it. You can tell the frame is plastic, and the grip is mediocre. The F9 is also a fingerprint magnet and it will be smudgy all the time – maintaining those great looks will take some effort, we are afraid.

Display

The Oppo F9 packs a 6.3″ IPS LCD screen of 1080p resolution with a very decent pixel density of 409ppi.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

The native resolution is 1,080 x 2,340 – that’s 19.5:9 aspect – one of the tallest among the most recent smartphones. While we’ve seen other screens of such tall ratio, they typically have much larger notches, so the usable area is still close the 18:9 ratio of yesteryear. Here however the waterdrop notch leaves more of the height available to the UI.

The Oppo F9/F9 Pro display proved to be an excellent performer in our display test, pumping out north of 520 nits of maximum brightness. Combined with the deep blacks the F9’s display posted an excellent contrast of 1800:1. The minimum brightness level of 3.4 nits is also nice, meaning you can comfortably use it in complete darkness.

 

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Oppo F9 0.29 526 1814
Oppo F7 0.228 446 1956
Oppo R15 Pro 0 410
vivo V11 0 418
vivo V7+ 0.289 515 1782
Xiaomi Mi A2 0.277 420 1516
Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite 0.385 488 1268
Honor Play 0.414 470 1135
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 0.314 461 1468
Oppo Realme 1 0.35 423 1209
Oppo Realme 2 0.286 411 1437
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera 0.28 530 1893

 

 

The Oppo F9 did well in our sunlight legibility test, posting a fine score for an LCD panel. In real-world terms, the handset remains perfectly usable outdoors.

 

Sunlight contrast ratio

 

 

 

 

The color rendering is all over the place with an average deltaE of 6.9 and maximum deviation of 12.3 at point white – the screen has a noticeable blue tint and everything looks colder than it should be. If you set the color temperature all the way to Warmer end of the temperature slider, you’ll get one more accurate color presentation with an average deltaE of 4.9 and maximum deviation ot 7.8 at point white (still towards blue).

 

Battery life

The Oppo F9 is powered by a large 3,500 mAh battery. It offers Oppo’s custom solution called VOOC Flash Charging and requires using the bundled 20W charger and special cable combo, which can be limiting.

The 20W adapter can bring the Oppo F9 battery from 0% to about 57% in around 30 minutes, which is quite rapid.

The Oppo F9 scored an excellent result in our battery test with a 94-hour Endurance rating. It did a great job in all tested scenarios – video playback, calls, web browsing and even stand-by

 

 

Oppo F9 review

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Oppo F9 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern, so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use.

 

 

Loudspeaker

There is one speaker on the Oppo F9, and it’s at the bottom. It posted a Very Good score in our loudness test – 2db shy of the Excellent mark. The sound quality is excellent with rich and deep sound.

 

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Honor Play 68.3 73.8 75.8 Good
vivo v7+ 66.5 73.1 79.6 Very Good
Oppo R15 Pro 69.7 73.5 76.6 Very Good
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera 68.4 71.6 84.8 Very Good
vivo V11 70.7 73.8 80.7 Very Good
Oppo Realme 2 66.4 71.6 87.2 Very Good
Oppo Realme 1 64.8 70.5 89.9 Very Good
Oppo F7 68.0 73.8 84.8 Very Good
Oppo F9 71.7 74.4 81.6 Very Good
Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite 70.6 74.0 86.1 Excellent
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 72.8 74.7 86.6 Excellent
Xiaomi Mi A2 89.5 72.2 89.8 Excellent

 

Audio quality

Oppo F9 did great when hooked to an active external amplifier – it delivered very loud output that was perfectly accurate too. There’s really little else we could want here.

Plugging in a pair of headphones delivered a blow to volume levels, which sunk to average levels. Some intermodulation distortion and a moderate amount of stereo crosstalk crept in too, so the performance is not really worth writing home about here. It should still do just fine if you are not a huge audiophile, though.

 

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Oppo F9 +0.05, -0.07 -92.8 92.8 0.0016 0.0073 -92.1
Oppo F9 (headphones) +0.19, -0.50 -92.0 91.8 0.0090 0.380 -51.9
vivo V11 +0.02, -0.06 -92.7 92.7 0.0014 0.0071 -92.1
vivo V11 (headphones) +0.29, -0.18 -93.6 93.5 0.011 0.295 -54.9
Xiaomi Mi A2 +0.02, -0.06 -91.6 91.6 0.0018 0.014 -95.3
Xiaomi Mi A2 (headphones) +0.08, -0.12 -92.6 92.6 0.0028 0.120 -69.0
Samsung Galaxy A6+ (2018) +0.07, -0.03 -89.7 89.9 0.0060 0.201 -91.7
Samsung Galaxy A6+ (2018) (headphones) +0.22, -0.21 -91.6 91.0 0.016 0.305 -56.2

 

 

Oppo F9 frequency response

 

 

Android Oreo and Color OS

The Oppo F9 runs on ColorOS 5.2, based on Android 8.1 Oreo. The launcher benefits from a so-called AI engine with real-time translation, fast Face Unlock, navigation gestures, and split-screen multi-tasking. Introduced with v5.0 are also new app shortcuts (long tap), new security features including safe, and better gaming mode with WeChat integration.

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

ColorOS isn’t as bloated as it used to be, but it’s still very far from stock Android. It comes pre-loaded with social networking apps, a document editor, and some minor-footprint apps.

The so-called AI builds on-device user behavior models for faster app startups and better resource management. It also uses this behavior to show relevant information on the left-most homescreen pane – calendar appointments, quick shortcuts, weather, world clock, package tracking, flight info, among others. You can configure those, or just leave them to the “AI.”

The user interface is your typical Chinese manufacturer’s launcher familiar. There’s no app drawer on the default launcher. Instead, every app you install gets dumped onto the homescreen. A long tap on some of those app will reveal some quick shortcuts – a feature that failed to get momentum but many makers still decided to “borrow” from Apple.

The Lockscreen features a continually changing slideshow of images. You can subscribe to several different channels (e.g., photos of nature or cars or others) or provide your own imagery.

 

 

 

 

There is a proper fingerprint scanner on the back of the Oppo F9. It’s always-on, very fast and accurate. You can also set up face unlock in addition to it – it’s equally fast as the F9 wakes up the moment you pick it up.

As any other Oppo, you can spruce up the UI with Themes. The Theme Store features both whole themes and just wallpapers, sorted into categories (including free and paid ones).

 

 

 

 

The notification shade features notifications, quick toggles, and a brightness slider.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most notable additions to Oppo‘s custom ROM has to be the Full-Screen Gesture model. Bigger display and diminishing bezels tend to cause some ergonomic issues and while the F9 might not be there yet, the company is already trying its best to get you used to what’s coming.

When enabled, Full-Screen Gesture navigation positions three small lines at the bottom of the UI but you can choose to hide those lines. Swiping up from the middle one acts like a home button but if you stop the gestures mid-way – you’ll summon the task switcher (like on the iPhone X). Swiping on the left or right ones acts as Back. You can change one of those to open the recent apps manager if you like – we sure did.

If you don’t want to go there you get the option of standard Android navigation bar to fall back to.

 

 

 

 

 

Clone apps and file safe functions are on board, as well as real-time translation thanks to an improved voice assistant.

There is a Phone Manager that handles memory cleaner functions, app permissions and encryption, and virus scanning.

Naturally, multimedia is handled by Oppo‘s default apps. There are feature-rich Gallery, Music player, Videos, and even FM radio.

 

 

 

An improved Game Center allows you to handpick which notifications to pass through when you are gaming. It now supports WeChat Voice integration, so no more switching to WeChat if you get a call.

Finally, there are various screen-off gestures available, allowing you to launch apps without even unlocking the phone. Those are hardly more than a gimmick though, particularly given how quickly the Oppo F9 unlocks.

Performance and benchmarks

The Oppo F9 employs the same chipset powering the Oppo F7 and R15 – the Helio P60. The MediaTek’s P60 packs an octa-core processor with 4x Cortex-A73 @2.0GHz cores and 4x Cortex-A53 @2.0GHz cores. The presence of A73 cores is a serious boost the Android’s day-to-day operations.

There is a triple-core Mali-G72 GPU to handle graphics. We already know this is not the best in the mid-range class, but it’s no disaster either.

The Oppo F9 comes with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM in India with the latter being sold as F9 Pro there. Outside India the F9 is available only with 6GB RAM much like our unit.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

As usual we’ll start our benchmark tests with Geekbench. A single Cortex-A73 core ticking at 2.0GHz is only bested by the 2.4GHz A73 one inside the Honor Play’s Kirin 970, and the Kryo 385 inside the Pocophone’s Snapdragon 845.

 

 

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

 

 

 

 

Oppo F9 also has enough power for multi-core tasks. The only phone that’s noticeably faster than the F9 in its price range is again the Pocophone with its Snapdragon 845.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

 

 

The three of those Mali-G72 cores make up for a decent mid-range performer – its scores falls somewhere between the flagship graphics of the Honor Play with the same Mali-G72 GPU but with 12 cores, and the mediocre punch of the S625 (Mi A2 Lite). The GPU scores close to Snapdragon 660’s Adreno 512 (Mi A2, vivo V11).

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

 

 

 

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

 

 

The F9 ranked lower in BaseMark OS, though its score is not much behind its key competitors.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

 

 

The benchmarks show the Helio P60 is a very decent performer for a mid-ranger. It has a great processor and adequate graphics, which is what we expected from it. We ran all kinds of games and we spotted almost no issues whatsoever with lag or graphics. Hiccups might occur here and there, but not often enough to ruin the overall experience.

The Android + Color OS combo duo runs blazing fast and the phone remained cool, even after extensive benchmarking. There were no signs of throttling as a result of that, which is nice.

All-round camera experience

The Oppo F9 packs a dual camera on its back, although the 16MP primary sensor behind bright f/1.8 lens does all of the lifting with the 2MP secondary unit being a mere depth sensor. Phase-detection autofocus is available, and there is a single LED flash next to those cameras.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

The main sensor is nothing to phone home about really – 1/3.1″ in size with 1.0µm pixels. In fact it’s smaller than the 25MP selfie snapper with its 1/2.8″ size and 0.9µm pixels.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

The camera app offers the so-called AI-boost, which is a fancy name for scene recognition. You’ll see a small icon when a scene is successfully recognized, and the software will tweak all settings accordingly. Food, snow, pets (dogs and cats), sunsets, grass, among other scenes, are identified mostly correctly.

The interface of the camera app has borrowed a lot from the iOS app. Most settings are on the left (or top, depending on the orientation), while different modes are selected on the right (or bottom) next to the shutter key.

The app offers two trendy modes – 2x telephoto zoom and blurred background. The 2x mode have a dedicated shortcut on the viewfinder, but the zoom is purely digital zoom. The Portrait Mode is on the rolodex and it uses the secondary 2MP cam for depth information.

There are a few settings, including location tagging and guidelines, separated out in their own menu in the phone’s settings. There is a total lack of any clear resolution control for stills. All you get is a choice of aspects, between the standard 4:3 one, 1:1 and 16:9. At first glance it’s unclear which aspect ratio is native to the sensor, and you have to go through some trial and error until you see that 4:3 shots give you the most resolution.

 

 

 

 

Expert mode is available for those seeking more manual controls. It comes with a handy horizon level and can change most settings on the primary camera (this mode doesn’t work with the selfie cam). The shutter speed control offers fine adjustment and it’s good mostly for very low-light shooting – it starts at 1s and increments at full stops to a maximum of 16s. Manual focus adjustment is present as well.

Image quality

In good light the Oppo F9 images turned out nice with enough resolved detail, excellent contrast, and accurate colors. The dynamic range is slightly above average – there are clipped highlights here and there, but nothing that the Auto HDR can’t fix. The noise is all well controlled – an improvement over the Oppo F7. The foliage presentation also got better since the F7, but the grass is still often smudgy.

The Oppo F9 offers you a 2x zoom shortcut in the camera app, even if it doesn’t have a telephoto lens. This means the 2x samples are just cropped and then digitally upscaled to 16MP, which means they have poor detail and are generally useless.

As we said, the Auto HDR mode is pretty good at catching the contrasty scenes and will fix those blown highlights for you at the expense of a minor decrease in contrast.

The 16MP camera on the Oppo F9 has bright f/1.8 lens and it does help the pictures at night but the lack if stabilization is taking its toll. Half of the low-light samples we took with the F9 came out blurry, while the usable ones are still far from spectacular – the noise-reduction algorithm wipes away most of the fine detail.

If you have a tripod or you can stabilize the Oppo F9, then you can snap pictures like these using the manual mode.

Feel free to pixel peep in our Photo compare tool – we’ve pre-selected a couple of phones we found relevant, but those can easily be replaced from the drop-down menus.

 

Portrait mode

The Portrait Mode spits high-res 16MP images. The photos are very good – subject separation works well, there aren’t many abrupt transitions from sharp to blurred, the bokeh is nice, and overall – those are among the better portraits we’ve seen.

The F9 offers a few Portrait Lightning modes if you are into that kind of effects.

 

Selfies

Oppo F-series phones used to go be self-named Selfie experts, but the company has dialed down on the use of that particular title. Despite this, the F9 features a high-res 25MP selfie cam identical to the one on the Oppo F7. It doesn’t have autofocus, which is rather disappointing though.

The Oppo F9 supports the so-called 3-HDR tech for the selfie camera. It’s a combination of tricks that results into better HDR selfies with the HDR effect applied in real-time and visible on the viewfinder. You can turn that off if you like (disable the HDR Auto), but we’d recommend leaving it on – it does a good job.

The 25MP resolution might sound impressive, but the actual resolved detail is hardly great and if you miss the sweet spot of the fixed focus, you’d get slightly blurred images. The colors and contrast are great, though. And whatever the shortcomings, those pictures would look perfect once downsampled to any other size thanks to the impressive 25MP resolution.

 

Video recording

Disappointingly, the Oppo F9 records videos in 1080p and 720p at 30fps. There is an always-available digital stabilization which does an excellent job in stabilizing the footage. Unfortunately, there is no option for 4K video capture.

 

 

 

 

The standard 1080p/30fps mode is encoded at about 17Mbps. Audio is recorded in stereo at 128Kbps – an improvement over the F7’s mono recording.

The resolved detail is low, and even if the colors and dynamic range aren’t bad, this is far from a stellar video recording phone.

 

 

The Oppo F9 has a 2x telephoto switch for videos, too, and it captures those with the same quality as the regular ones. The sensor is big enough to allow for lossless zoom in the 1080p videos.

 

 

As usual, we’ve provided unedited samples straight out of the camera for you to download – [email protected] (10s, 22MB), and [email protected] telephoto (11s, 23MB).

You can also head over to our Video compare tool and see how the Oppo F9 stacks up against the competition.

 

The competition

The Oppo F9 is yet another smartphone trying to find its place in the crowded mid-range market. It’s a looker, which is a rather rare sights around these parts and has a new take on the notch that almost makes it a feature rather than an eye-sore. The 25MP selfie snapper and blazing-fast charging are also earning it a bunch of points and so does the impressive battery life.

 

 

Oppo F9 review

 

 

Now, the F9 isn’t a huge upgrade over the F7 – and that’s hardly a surprise given that its predecessor is just six months old. We can’t see F7 owners jumping ship, but the F9 was never meant to entice those – instead it was meant to keep the line relevant in a segment where new competitors are coming in every week.

Here’s a quick overview of the most noteworthy alternatives.

 

 

 

 

The Pocophone F1 by Xiaomi clearly managed to shake things up around the mid-range, offering a flagship-grade Snapdragon 845 chipset without at an unbelievable price. You also get 4K video recording, an IR-camera-powered face unlock and stereo speakers, so if you are a power user it’s hard to ignore it. Yet, the F1 doesn’t come even close to matching the F9 looks, nor its 20W VOOC charging.

The Honor Play also costs the same as the Oppo F9 and is another handset obsessed with performance. It has metal to the F1’s plastic but again isn’t attractive in the same way the F9 is. Oh and the notches on that one, much like the Pocophone F1 is huge and unsightly, so it’s not just about the looks of the back.

The vivo V11, an in-house rival, has a better Super AMOLED screen with a similar notch and under-display fingerprint scanner to brag about, in addition to the equally cool body and arguably better camera. It misses on the Gorilla Glass 6 protection though, and that futuristic fingerprint reader is rather unreliable.

Finally, the Mi A2 is all about the stock Android experience. It’s got an equally capable chipset and better cameras on the back, but a far less imaginative design and no microSD card slot.

The verdict

The Oppo F9 is among the most attractive in the mid-range today. Unique with that waterdrop-like notch and beautiful with the gradient back with cool pattern underneath.

If you are a power user, you will certainly find better phones than the F9 for the same price, but if you also care about design Oppo’s latest will certainly fit the purpose better, while still providing a solid smartphone experience.

Pros

  • Gorilla Glass 6 protection for the screen
  • A large display with excellent contrast and beautiful notch
  • Excellent battery life, VOOC charging
  • The Helio P60 isn’t a beast, but it gets the job done

Cons

  • Plastic frame
  • No 4K video recording, mediocre 1080p clips
  • Another microUSB port!

 

 

Oppo F9 review