A lifestyle and gaming device that offers often overlooked necessary features and a clever battery technology
In a sea of smartphone options, it’s not so easy to stand out. The game isn’t dominated by one name alone, and the list of bests changes yearly–and depending on the category. What is it then that makes a phone standout? For someone like me, whose phone is mostly used for work and a little for play, my considerations are pretty simple: price, design (particularly color), useability, battery life and camera (decent is fine). What it all comes down to, at least at first glance, are design and the standout features. Thankfully, we were given the opportunity to test out the OPPO A96, which positions itself as a lifestyle and gaming device.
My first impression: the phone looks good but I would have preferred the Starry Black option over the Pearl Pink. Nonetheless, the device feels comfortable in my small hands given its weight and rounded corners. There’s not much to note when you first switch on the phone, but you have to love a device that’s ready with app suggestions because I can barely keep track of all the apps I need without Google. But I wanted to see what it was like to set it up without Google’s help. App suggestions are plenty, from social media to gaming, and are likely based on popular apps (hello, Candy Crush). Meanwhile, the new side mounted fingerprint reader is a welcome update because it feels more natural to the touch. Response time is also fast and consistent. I would like to note, however, that when I checked other reviews, users were looking forward to the ColorOS 12, which is missing in the A96 (it still uses the older ColorOS 11.1). Should this be a dealbreaker for you, I’d like to say thank you for your time.
However, if you are still with me, then good, let’s talk about useability. The OPPO A96 holds well for your usual needs, like checking emails and scrolling through social media thanks to a 90Hz refresh rate—an improvement from the 60Hz of its predecessor. The gaming experience is pretty smooth, too, even as I tap a little faster and harder on the screen when I had to repeat Level 3 in Candy Crush and retry the bonus level in Fun Race 3D. Though I would like to see this device fare on less casual games, like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. In the event I finally decide to download ML, I will update this bit.
The audio, whether you’re listening to the music or sfx of the games you’re playing or reviewing the K-soloists you need to add to your growing K-Pop playlist, is pretty good. It’s crisp and immersive, and doesn’t disappoint at peak volume, even through the highs of your new favorite track. Also worth noting are the dual microphones for all those calls or virtual meetings you need to take on the go and a headphone jack because I don’t know about you, but wired earphones are my jam.
Now onto the camera, wherein the OPPO A96 decided to focus on a 50MP main and a 2MP depth camera over a triple. No gripes with the output because of better exposure and image clarity, especially when you enable the HDR function. It also takes decent photos in low light, where noise and grain are visibly reduced. If you like taking quick videos of your pets or your travels and sharing them on social media, the recording option is adequate but don’t expect 4K.
With all the activities I’ve done on the OPPO A96, how did the battery life fare? Not bad. In my case, I used it as an extra phone and not my main phone for work, so its 5000mAh battery lasted about a day and half. To recharge to 100%, it takes a little over an hour with the 33W SuperVOOC Fast Charger, which is included in the box when you purchase this device. What I like about it though is its Optimised Night Charging, which adjusts to the user’s sleep patterns and schedule, and stops charging at 80% then continues to charge an hour before you wake up. An underrated update to some, but it’s a clever way to preserve the phone’s battery life and performance.
Overall, from my experience of the OPPO A96, I’d say it’s a good-looking and powerful entry-level phone that addresses a lot of my own considerations: glitch-free performance at least in the span of time I had it, good audio, neat and necessary additions like the dual mic and headphone jack, decent camera and smart battery technology.
The OPPO A96, which retails for P15,999, is now available in stores and online via Lazada.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver