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OPPO F17 review: unique design, dependable performance

On: September 18, 2020

OPPO launched its latest F-series smartphones – the F17 and F17 Pro in India earlier this month. As is evident, the standard OPPO F17 comes in as the stripped-down variant of the Pro model. However, it does retain the square-shaped camera module, an in-display fingerprint scanner and a 30W VOOC flash charging.

Also read: OPPO F17 Pro review: yet another stylish camera phone

The highlights of the OPPO F17 are its premium design, lightweight profile, and vibrant AMOLED display. But are these enough for the OPPO F17 to fend off competition from the likes of the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max and POCO X2 in India? I have been using the OPPO F17 for a while now to find out the same, and here’s what I think.

Design and display

Just like the Pro variant, the standard F17 is also extremely sleek with a thickness of 7.4mm. The smartphone weighs just 163g and is among the lightest devices in the market. The phone has a 2.5D curved back panel, which makes it ergonomic to hold for a longer duration. Combine the build and the weight of the device, and you have a smartphone that’s extremely comfortable to operate for longer hours without facing wrist fatigue.

The OPPO F17 Pro is one of the most sophisticated-looking smartphones I have used in recent days. OPPO is offering the F17 in Navy Blue, Dynamic Orange and Classic Silver colours with laser-etched golden OPPO monogram on the back. All three colourways have a leather-like finish on the back, which keeps fingerprint smudges and scratches at bay. I received the Dynamic Orange colourway and it looks stunning with the soft gold chassis and trimmings around the camera module.

Speaking of the camera module, the OPPO  features a square camera setup with lenses arranged in a 2 x 2 grid, which gives it a symmetrical appearance. There is a tall and narrow dual-LED flash right next to the camera module. The power button is located on the right, whereas the volume rockers and ejectable dual SIM card tray with a microSD card slot are on the left. At the bottom, there is a 3.5mm audio jack, a microphone, USB Type-C port and speaker grille. There’s a single noise-cancelling mic on the top.

There’s no physical fingerprint scanner on the OPPO F17 as it’s embedded in the display. The sensor is pretty fast and accurate, but I ended up not using it most of the time. This is because the face unlock is equally fast and unlocked the smartphone even before I could place my thumb on the fingerprint sensor. The display is a 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED panel, retained from the F17 Pro. However, the F17 has a waterdrop notch display, unlike the dual punch-hole cutout on the Pro variant.

Since it’s a Super AMOLED display, it produces vibrant colours with deeper blacks for a sharper viewing experience. Additionally, there’s the Widevine L1 certification, which will help you enjoy high-resolution content on platforms like Prime Video and Netflix. I found viewing angles, sharpness and brightness to be pretty good as well. I particularly like the AI-backed eye care feature, which activates sunlight screen and moonlight screen depending upon the time of the day.

Cameras

The OPPO F17 features the same camera setup on the back as the F17 Pro except for the 16MP primary sensor. Other lenses include an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, 2-megapixel portrait lens and 2-megapixel BnW sensor. The waterdrop notch on the front is home to a 16-megapixel selfie camera. The camera app is equipped with features such as AI Dazzle Color, live filters, auto HDR, extra HD, pro mode and portrait mode, to name a few.

The 16-megapixel primary camera captures stunning pictures in daylight. The images have a good amount of details and decent dynamic range. There’s the signature saturation boost that OPPO devices are known for, which will appeal to those who post a lot of pictures on social media. However, if you are a purist like me, the saturation boost might put you off. The night shots are nothing to write home about, since the pictures are somewhat grainy and light sources get a prominent flare. However, the dedicated night mode does a good job of containing the flare and also retains more details in shadows.

Considering OPPO has been marketing the AI imaging prowess of the smartphone, I was surprised to see there’s no regular AI scene recognition in the device. Instead, there’s the AI Dazzle Color option, which features advanced scene recognition technology and applies the best suitable settings for each scenario, according to OPPO. But the phone doesn’t show the scene detail on-screen like an AI scene recognition feature usually does. In my usage, I didn’t find much difference between pictures taken in standard mode and those taken in AI Dazzle Color mode.

Coming to the dedicated lenses, the wide-angle lens works as intended but there’s a noticeable dip in the picture quality because of the lower resolution sensor. The 2-megapixel BnW and depth sensors impressed me with decent edge detection as well as an aesthetically pleasing blur effect. I did notice some halo effect around the edges every once in a while.  Thanks to the BnW sensor, there are a number of filters to be used in the portrait mode and they all work well.

The 16-megapixel front camera captures good selfies with a good level of details. However, the camera adds an unnatural red tint in selfies taking during the day time. The AI beautification happens to be aggressive even when it’s turned off. Notably, these are the same issues I faced with the OPPO F17 Pro as well.

Performance, software and battery

The OPPO F17 is the second smartphone in India after the Moto G9 to be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 chipset. It is an 11nm octa-core processor backed by Adreno 610 GPU. OPPO is offering the F17 in two configurations – 6GB + 128GB and 8GB + 128GB. I received the former and out of the box the smartphone offers around 110GB to the users. The phone is equipped with features like Game Space, Hyper Boost 2.1, and dual-channel network acceleration, among others. 

In my day-to-day stint with the smartphone, the OPPO F17 handled normal usage pretty well. The phone multi-tasks smoothly with multiple apps open in the background. I found apps opening quite fast and was also impressed by the smooth transition animations. Thanks to the dedicated gaming features I mentioned before, the OPPO F17 handles games like Free Fire and Forza Street extremely well.

The OPPO F17 boots the Android 10-based Color OS 7.2 out of the box. This is the same software that was present on the OPPO F17 Pro and my experience remains the same. The software is loaded with useful features such as gesture support, smart assistant, smart sidebar, system-wide dark mode, and Digital Wellbeing & parental controls. On the flip side, the software has tons of bloatware, some of which cannot be removed.

The OPPO F17 is equipped with a 4,015mAh battery with support for 30W VOOC 4.0 Flash Charge fast charging technology. In my experience, the handset charged fully from 10 percent in around 1 hour, which is quick. With my moderate usage of social media and YouTube, the handset lasted me all day. In PCMark Work 2.0 Battery Life test, the battery lasted for 10 hours and 32 minutes, which is quite standard for a battery this size.

The competition

The OPPO F17 has been priced at Rs 17,990 in India for 6GB RAM variant, and Rs 19,990 for the 8GB option. At this price point, the smartphone goes up against the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max and POCO X2. The Redmi Note 9 Pro has an upper hand in the performance department with the Snapdragon 720G, 64-megapixel quad rear cameras, 32-megapixel selfie camera and 5,020mAh unit with 33W fast charging. However, while the Redmi offering has a larger 6.67-inch display, it’s an IPS LCD panel as compared to the Super AMOLED display on the OPPO F17.

The POCO X2 also offers a 6.67-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display but with a 120Hz refresh rate, which is a huge advantage. Additionally, the phone is fitted with the Snapdragon 730G gaming processor, which is much more powerful than the Snapdragon 662. In the camera department too, the POCO X2 has a 64-megapixel quad-camera array on the rear and 20-megapixel dual cameras on the front.

Bottomline

The OPPO F17 is a sleek and stylish smartphone for those who care about design without compromising much on performance and cameras. The presence of a Super AMOLED panel, in-display fingerprint sensor and unique leather-finish back panel make it stand out from the similarly priced competition. However, if you’re looking for a more powerful processor and larger battery, you can consider the other options mentioned above.

Pricebaba’s rating: 7 / 10

What works:

  • Vibrant Super AMOLED display
  • Stylish and sleek design
  • Good battery backup with fast charging
  • In-display fingerprint sensor

What doesn’t:

  • Bloatware in ColorOS 7.2
  • Aggressive beautification in selfies
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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.