- ✓Good battery life
- ✓Excellent fast charging
- ✓Light touch ColorOS skin
- ✓Fast in-screen fingerprint recognition
- ✕Android 8 rather than 9
- ✕ToF camera needs better software support
- ✕Lacklustre speaker
Oppo may not be a household name, but the handset maker is big in China and its phones have now become available in the UK through Carphone Warehouse. The RX17 Pro (also known in some regions as the R17 Pro) is not the company's flagship handset -- that accolade goes to the £700 Find X. However at £479 (at the time of writing), the 6.4-inch Oppo RX17 Pro is a direct competitor for a current favourite in the value-for-money stakes -- the OnePlus 6T (NB: Oppo, OnePlus and another top Chinese brand, Vivo, all share the same owner -- BBK Electronics).
The RX17's most compelling practical feature is probably its incredibly fast charging. If you're a power user, this alone may be enough to seal the deal.
Smooth lines and neat design characterise the Oppo RX17 Pro's look and feel. The screen covers nearly the entirety of the phone's front, with just the tiniest 'teardrop' notch in the middle of the screen at the top to accommodate the front-facing camera. This results in a screen-to-body ratio of 85.4 percent. Rounded edges blend into the backplate, whose raised lozenge houses a three-camera array.
The back of the handset is something of a fingerprint magnet, but the build quality is pretty good, with the screen protected by Gorilla Glass 6.
The phone comes in two colours. My review sample was a rather nice Emerald Green -- a very deep, almost blue, shade. There's also a Radiant Mist version that's more blue/mauve in colour. My review sample came with a green-tinged clear bumper case, in-ear buds and the charging brick you'll need to use to take advantage of the RX17's very impressive fast charging.
There's no fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone because this feature is catered for on the screen. The in-screen fingerprint reader reacts quickly, with a nice little burst of animation when a finger is recognised. Having used a similar system on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, I'm quite happy with it as a login method. But if you don't like fingerprint recognition, face unlock and PIN are also available.
The power button is on the right edge with volume buttons on the left. Oppo has placed the SIM caddy on the bottom of the handset, which is a little unusual. This accommodates a single SIM card, whereas dual-SIM handsets are now common on high-end phones. The SIM caddy is flanked by a USB-C port for charging and connecting the provided earbuds. There was no USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter in the box with my review unit, but these are not expensive if needed.
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The Oppo RX17 Pro's 6.4-inch screen makes for a large handset despite its near bezel-free design. It measures 74.6mm wide by 157.6mm deep by 7.9mm thick, which may challenge some pockets, but is relatively light at 183g and quite comfortable to hold.
If the back's propensity to attract fingerprints is a visual intrusion then the slight indenting of the screen as it joins the sides is a physical one. Where I would normally expect to slide a finger along and off the screen without even noticing, here the tiniest of ridges all the way around the handset's front edge makes that motion noticeable. It's nothing I wouldn't get used to, but a little more attention to detail in build quality would help here.
The OLED screen has a resolution of 1,080 by 2,340 pixels (19.5:9, 402ppi) and is a pleasure to use and view. Colours are bright and poppy, and I was happy reading websites and viewing video content.
There's little to play with in terms of colour temperature adjustment though -- just a slider that moves you through cooler to warmer. With the OnePlus 6T an obvious rival for this phone, I find that the 6T's monochrome Reading Mode, which can either be set to kick in when specific apps are launched or activated manually, is a deal-maker.
A single speaker grille on bottom edge delivers sound that goes pretty loud, but loses fidelity at top volumes becoming tinny, distorted and harsh. Things are much better three-quarters of the way up the volume slider.
The Oppo RX17 Pro is powered by the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chipset, which the OnePlus 6T trumps with the Snapdragon 845. Still, with 6GB of RAM, the RX17 Pro delivered reasonable Geekbench 4 scores of 5915 (multi-core) and 1833 (single-core).There's plenty of internal storage: 128GB installed, 21GB of which was used out of the box, leaving 107GB free.
The RX17 Pro runs on Android 8 Oreo rather than the latest Android 9 Pie, with a skin called ColorOS that's neither app-heavy nor particularly strong on customisation. It lacks an app drawer, which doesn't bother me too much, although as noted earlier I'd like a reading mode. There are six themes you can play with -- I particularly liked the pre-installed green theme -- and you can decide whether you want a 4 x 6 or 5 x 5 icon grid layout.
Probably my favourite aspect of ColorOS is the app shortcuts tool. Sweep in from the right edge near the power button from any screen or in any app, and a little QuickTools applet pops up which you can populate with any apps for speedy, one-handed launch. It's simple and neat, and I found it very efficient. All in all, ColorOS keeps things simple, which is preferable to being overloaded with apps that duplicate Android standards and features that irritate rather than assist.
The cameras are a big selling point for Oppo.
There are three cameras on the back. The main one has a 12MP sensor and a Smart Aperture f/1.5-f/2.4 lens that automatically adjusts for low light levels. The primary camera also supports optical image stabilisation (OIS). A second 20MP camera with an f/2.6 lens provides depth of field information and 2x optical zoom.
The third camera is a Time of Flight (ToF) unit that uses infrared to measure distance. You could use it to make 3D scans, for example. I had to download a separate Oppo app called AR Measure, which can measure distance, length and area, to use the ToF camera. This was still in beta when I tried it, and accuracy was an issue -- it measured the 28-inch diagonal of my computer screen at 33 inches, for example. The ToF camera is a nice idea, waiting for solid apps to take full advantage.
The two main cameras are a good combination, producing nice photos with good low-light performance. It's not quite the revolution that Oppo suggests on its website though, with verbiage like "The RX17 Pro brings you deeper into night's most enchanting moments, with powerful night shot settings that coax light through the dark to gently capture their allure" and "even the faintest rays converge in clear, luminous images." Still, the camera produced serviceable photos.
The front-facing camera seems rather over-specified for selfies, with its 25MP resolution and f/2.0 lens. Its 'beauty' settings let you do things like have a thinner or smaller face, and change the size of your eyes, chin and nose. (Why are we not just OK with how we look, I wonder?)
Battery life is the Oppo RX17 Pro's standout feature. The handset has two 1,850mAh batteries, bringing a total of 3,700mAh to the party. These delivered an impressive 10 hours 37 minutes of life from a full charge, for a Geekbench battery benchmark score of 6370. I never had to worry about running out of charge before the end of the day on my regular workload diet of email, browsing, streaming and some GPS use.
When battery life does run low, as long as you have the SuperVOOC charging brick and cable with you, Oppo says you can get 40 percent charge in ten minutes. That's a ground-breaking claim, and it comes courtesy of the provided kit's 50W capability (with, we are assured, smart monitoring to protect the handset from such a high throughput).
Does it really work? Yes it does. After completely draining the battery I put it on charge. After 10 minutes the battery was up to 35 percent. After 20 minutes it had reached 73 percent. After 30 minutes it was at 95 percent, and after 35 minutes the battery was fully charged. To get this you do need to carry the Oppo charger, but given the long battery life it should be possible to charge the handset first thing in the morning and not need another charge until the next day. That regime certainly worked for me.
The Oppo RX17 Pro is a solid 6.4-inch smartphone with one standout feature: its battery subsystem. If your workload mix hits your phone's battery hard, the RX17 Pro's long battery life and super-fast charging should be a big attraction. If you do choose the RX17 Pro, you'll also get good cameras, acceptable performance, a nice OLED screen and appealing build quality.
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