Oppo AX5s review

When the Oppo AX5s appeared on my desk, I was skeptical. I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of list somewhere showing me as the biggest fan of the AX5 that ever lived (because seriously that thing is S-tier), but I’m rarely as much of a fan of the re-releases of good products.

Oppo, however, have continued prove me wrong and impress me at the same time.

Let’s be fair; even after all my time with the AX5s, if you put it next to the original AX5, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. OK, that’s a lie; the AX5s I received is matte black, the only colour I believe a lady or gentleman’s phone should be. But I’ve been watching a lot of Downton Abbey recently, so that may be affecting my judgement. Either way, I’m a fan of the more understated design.

The OS is the Oppo ColorOS 5.2, which is based on Android 8.1, and a slight increase on the 5.1 we saw witth the AX5. The processor has debatably been downgraded to a MTK MT6765 from a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference except that Snapdragon sounds cooler. Make of it what you will.

I’d tell you how much it weighs, but a gentleman never tells… OK it’s 170g. The display is 15.8cm, or 6.2 inches if you insist on living in the past, and that’s the exact same as with the AX5.

Oh, and it’s got a teardrop notch now. Y’all like teardrop notches, right?

In most other aspects, however, this is the same phone. Camera, dimensions, storage, resolution, Bluetooth, even battery; all are identical across both devices. Now, again, I raved about how excellent most of these were when I reviewed the AX5 last year, and that all stands; for a phone of this quality, you should be paying at least twice the price of this device.

So what’s new? Well, the addition of Face Unlock is very welcome, especially since Oppo continues to require a six-digit pin. Seriously, who can remember six digits? Anyone, that’s who, but I am a lazy, lazy man, and staring at my screen to unlock it is far less effort. This has a bonus over other phones I’ve used, in that it even recognises me in sunglasses or wearing hats… Sure, the only time I’ve worn a hat in the last year was to test whether or not this would recognise me, but the point stands. The camera is still dual, with 13MP and 2MP at the back and 8MP for all those Beauty mode selfies.

The Beauty filter is still terrifying. Seriously. It makes me look like a ventriloquist dummy.

There’s a slight dip in RAM, from 4GB to 3GB, but if you care about that this much then I’d question why you’re buying a $300 phone. Because yeah, this thing is $300. You didn’t misread that. This is a device that costs just $300, and it is good enough that I have been able to use it as my everyday device for the last couple of weeks with no issues whatsoever. My main phone is the R17 Pro I reviewed last year and, while the AX5s certainly doesn’t beat that, if you don’t care about some of the flashier stuff this is a damn fine phone.

I put this thing through its paces, and it held up. A 4230mAH battery is hidden in that little phone, so feel free to Tweet or Snap or Link or Face or Insta or whatever you want, because it won’t die in a day unless you really try. I did, and it still didn’t die. Storage of 64GB doesn’t hurt either, and that’s expandable as well if the mood takes you.

There are some nitpicky points, sure. We’re still using Micro-USB here, which is slightly inconvenient, there’s no NFC, and… um… no, actually, that’s it. This thing does what it says it’ll do. I have no complaints.

The AX5s is an understated device, but it knows what it’s doing. It’s not the biggest, fastest, strongest phone, but it’s about a grand cheaper than those, and I’m not going to complain about that.

People say you get what you pay for, but that’s a lie. With the AX5s, you’re getting much, much more.

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