These Oppo smartphone is cheaper than your AirPods


The Oppo A16s costs less than €140 – around $160 -, but what does an Android smartphone in this price range actually offer in 2021? We reviewed this chic entry-level smartphone.

Good

  • Decent camera
  • Chic design
  • Good battery life
  • Good display

Bad

  • Performance stutters at times
  • Only one “real” camera

Oppo A16s in a nutshell

The Oppo A16s does many things right. For starters, the primary camera delivers usable photos and even offers a night mode that allows for exposure times that last several seconds, hands-free. Battery life is decent and the display is pleasing to the eyes.

Finally, the design and build would still make the cut even if it was priced at double the amount. However, it is quite clear that you simply have to make sacrifices when it comes to performance in a device at this price range, and you should not expect much flexibility in the camera either.

Oppo A16s design and build quality

The Oppo Reno A16s looks chic,
especially the blue color variant of our review unit that really made a statement whenever we pulled it out from our pocket.

What I liked:

  • Chic design.
  • Quality workmanship.
  • Protective case included.
  • IPX4 certification.

What I disliked:

  • Plastic back scratches all too easily.

The Oppo A16s does not look like its price at first glance. The smartphone feels good in the hand, both without a case and with the included protective case. A protective case is generally recommended for all smartphones, although the aluminum frame is surprisingly scratch-resistant (Keys? Not an issue at all!), the same is unfortunately untrue for the plastic back.

On the other hand, the IPX4 certification for protection against water splashes is a nice and pleasing addition as a special feature in this price range.

NextPit Oppo A16s side back
Chi looks but unfortunately the back of the Oppo A16s is sensitive to scratches. / © NextPit

The buttons are easy to reach and offer adequate pressure feedback. The button on the right side of the case falls under the thumb naturally for most people. That’s extremely convenient because the responsive fingerprint sensor is also located at the very same button.

There is a USB-C port and a 3.5 mm jack at the bottom. Matching accessories are included in the box in the form of a 10-watt power supply, a cable, and a simple headset.

Oppo A16s display

The Oppo A16s offers a very decent display for the price range.
Sure: If you were to look through a magnifying glass, you can see slight blurring in the 720 x 1600 pixels resolution. But in return, the IPS display is bright and offers vivid colors.

What I liked:

  • Bright, colorful IPS display

What I disliked:

269 ppi – that’s close to the Retina numbers that Apple once offered in the pixel race on the iPhone 4. Ten years on, the human eye doesn’t resolve anything higher either, so 720 by 1600 pixels is still perfectly fine. Of course, you will notice slight blurriness if you were to look closely.

Reading longer texts is also naturally more fun on a higher-resolution display. However, it is sufficient for the daily routine of social media, instant messaging, reading news, and checking out e-mail.

NextPit Oppo A16s front camera
The display is pleasing to look at and words are still legible under all lighting conditions. / © NextPit

Speaking of everyday use: With a brightness level of 480 nits, the display of the Oppo A16s is quite bright. At least on bright autumn days, even the blazing sun can’t significantly affect the readability. A layer of Panda MN228 glass sits above the display, which is a departure from Gorilla Glass that most manufacturers would include.

Keys could not harm the glass in the review, but there were very slight scratches that can be noticed if one were to pay attention on a microscopic level. Thus, it is still highly recommended to get a screen protector.

Oppo A16s software

Oppo traditionally does well with software and could only convince Antoine with ColorOS 12 this week. The
Oppo A16s runs on ColorOS 11.1 at launch, but
 since we have already used ColorOS 11 on other devcies, I will not go into further detail about the operating system here.

The update to ColorOS 12 includes Android 12 has already been announced by Oppo for the A16s where it will arrive in the second half of 2022 if everything goes according to plan. You can always stay up to date about announced and upcoming updates with our big update tracker for Android 12.

Oppo A16s performance

A the heart of the Oppo A16s lies a MediaTek Helio G35.
The SoC is sufficient for everyday tasks without any issues.
However, users who want to play graphically complex games should shake the piggy bank harder to see if they have enough coin and settle for something that is beefier.

What I liked:

  • Adequate performance for everyday tasks and even for many games

What I disliked:

  • SoC hits its limits easily in demanding games

The octa-core SoC relies on eight Cortex-A53 cores, four of which have been clocked at 2.3 and 1.8 GHz, respectively. Of course, you should not expect any performance miracles from these cores. 

The A53 processors have been the standard for many a mid-range device, and recently more and more entry-level smartphones since the middle of the last decade. However, the performance levels are still sufficient for everyday tasks in 2021.

NextPit Oppo A16s
Generally, the performance of the Oppo A16s is acceptable. / © NextPit

But even in everyday use, the interface allows itself some time-out every now and then, and it regularly jerks a bit when scrolling. All this isn’t bad, but unfortunately, the entire user experience doesn’t seem that smooth. Compared to the Realme C11 with Helio G35 which Ben reviewed last year, the Oppo A16s performs noticeably faster.

Of course, power users or gamers will eventually hit their limits with the Helio G35 and its 4 GB of working memory all too soon. It was not a big surprise that Among Us can still smoothly transport the players into space. But even Call of Duty: Mobile and PubG still ran at reasonable frame rates, although the graphics would have to be downgraded by a few notches. It was even enough for a ‘winner winner chicken dinner’ session during the review.

Unfortunately, 3DMark’s Wild Life and Wild Life Stress tests could not be used due to a lack of support for the Vulkan Graphics API. But in the following benchmarks, the difference between the Helio G35 and the MediaTek Dimensity 700 in the €200 Realme 8 5G is clearly visible. However, those who don’t play graphically demanding games will be fine with the Oppo A16s’ performance.

Oppo A16s – Benchmarks

Model/Test Geekbench 5 CPU (Single / Multi) 3D Mark Slingshot
Realme 8 5G 573 / 1769 3.321
Oppo A16s 167 / 997 840

What else is there to say about the configuration? Having just under 50 GB out of the 64 GB storage available right out of the box, there is a microSD card slot for further expansion. There is also room for two micro SIM cards in the tiny drawer.

Bluetooth 5.0 and WLAN 802.11n would most commonly see action, including NFC support. The mono speaker might not exactly replace your home theater system, but it is loud enough for ringtones or occasional YouTube videos on the NextPit channel.

Oppo A16s camera

The Oppo A16s offers a triple camera at the back.
The 13-megapixel main sensor delivered decent results
and even snapped acceptable photos in low-light conditions thanks to its night mode.

What I liked:

  • Main sensor captures nice photos
  • Good night mode

What I disliked:

  • Macro camera is of mediocre quality
  • No ultra-wide-angle camera

The number of cameras is always a thing: A triple camera configuration is not equal to having three cameras. In high-end smartphones with three cameras, you’ll usually find an ultra-wide, wide-angle, and telephoto lens. In other words, three cameras with specific purposes each.

In entry-level smartphones like the Oppo A16s, not all cameras are meant for taking photos. One of the sensors, for example, merely helps the camera app calculate a depth map for the bokeh blur that is based on the offset.

NextPit Oppo A16s camera
Two of the Oppo A16s’ three sensors are rather unimportant for everyday use / © NextPit

The third sensor on the Oppo A16s is a macro camera, which falls more into the “gimmick” category. However, if you’re interested in close-ups, you can obtain some rather nice results under good lighting conditions. But now, let us talk about the main camera.

ColorOS 12 Global Design No Dark Mode

Oppo A16s: Main camera in daylight
ColorOS 12 Global Design

Oppo A16s: Main camera in daylight (HDR)

Under good lighting conditions, the main camera shoots decent, colorful photos. If you like colorful pictures, you can activate “AI”, which primarily increases the saturation. The white balance does a decent job and also performs quite well in mixed and artificial light. However, color reproduction quickly decreases in less light, for example in indoor shots. The pictures then often look a bit dull.

NextPit oppo a16s sample photos indoor colors
Colors are no longer as vivid when shooting indoors in low light / © NextPit

And even in the segment where many inexpensive smartphones often struggle in (low light conditions), the Oppo A16s performs rather well. However, do take note that should you use night mode here, you will need extremely steady hands (or a tripod) due to the lack of an image stabilizer..

ColorOS 12 Global Design No Dark Mode

Night mode on the Oppo A16s
ColorOS 12 Global Design

Night mode on the Oppo A16s

However, the indecisive autofocus is noticeable despite having PDAF. Although the focus is usually already somewhere but not necessarily in the right place, but it does tend to focus on the background at times. Only by manually tapping on the subject will help here.

ColorOS 12 Global Design No Dark Mode

Oppo A16s: Main camera under broad daylight
ColorOS 12 Global Design

Oppo A16s: Main camera under broad daylight (HDR)

The video mode offers a maximum of Full HD resolution at 30 frames per second. The quality is okay, but the missing optical image stabilizer quickly becomes noticeable when you do not concentrate on holding still while filming.

The selfie camera offers a resolution of 5 megapixels and manages 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 fps in video mode. The quality is acceptable for occasional snapshots, but you should not expect any miracles. It is nice that the portrait mode also works with the front-facing camera, so you can have the bokeh effect in selfies.

It is also pleasing that the camera app launches quickly. Shutter lag is also low thanks to the presence of PDAF, and switching between the modes or main and front camera is also quite fast.

Oppo A16s battery

As expected, the battery life of the Oppo A16s is good.
  After all, the demand that the low-resolution 60 Hz display and the Helio G35 SoC place on the 5,000 mAh battery is rather limited.

What I liked:

  • Included charger
  • Good battery life

What I disliked:

  • Maximum charging speed of 10 watts
  • No wireless charging

The Oppo A16s offers an excellent battery life. Most users should be able to manage more than two days’ worth of use with the smartphone, and it would take supreme effort to drain it within one day. Even the “PCMark Work 3.0 Battery Life” benchmark needed eight and a half hours to run the smartphone down from 100 to 20 percent with maximum display brightness enabled.

NextPit Oppo A16s jack
USB-C and 3.5mm jack – nice! / © NextPit

On a positive note, a charger is included in the box albeit with a charging power of 10 watts that doesn’t exactly impress in this day and age. Wireless charging is not supported.

Another positive aspect that I found in this review of the A16s is how the battery is charged to approximately 80 percent at night, while the balance will be fully charged before you wake up. This is supposed to slow down the aging of the battery because batteries age the fastest at very high (and low) fill levels.

Final verdict

All in all, Oppo offers a solid entry-level smartphone for a fair price with the A16s. Yes, you have to live without extras like 90 Hz refresh rate in its display, an ultra-wide-angle camera, or fast charging.

However, the build and design are pleasing, and a good Android interface is available in the form of ColorOS 11 now and ColorOS 12 from next year onwards. You cannot go far wrong here for the current asking price of €130 (~$150). At the end, these Oppo smartphone is cheaper than the AirPods 3rd Gen.



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