Oppo A91 smartphone review

Let’s cut right to the chase: I was left impressed by Oppo’s mid-range A91 handset which screams high-end design and features but comes with a more wallet friendly price.

I say it’s mid-range because priced at $649 it’s not a cheap handset that you’d treat roughly and toss to the curb when you’re done. The A91 is much better than that.

In your hand, the A91 feels solid yet not cumbersome (it tips the scales at 172gms and 7.9mm thick) and right out of the box, it looks like a premium smartphone thanks to the reflective blue back plate.

Even when it’s snug within the provided clear silcone cover, the phone feels comfortable when you’re holding it (and the benefit of a clear protective case means you get to see the gorgeous colour which Oppo has name Blazing Blue. It also comes in Lightening Black).

Sporting a 6.4-inch full HD AMOLED screen (with a resolution of 2400 x 1080), colours are vibrant and images pop on the A91’s display, and a nice feature at this price point is the under screen fingerprint reader, which unlocks the device blazingly fast. It’s a nice touch on a phone at this price point.

It also has facial recognition which worked most of the time but I found the fingerprint so accurate that I tended to rely on that most times.

The A91’s rear camera setup.

The A91 has all the connectivity options you’d expect on a smartphone (WiFi, Bluetooth) and one that I wasn’t expecting at this price point (NFC). Couple that with 128Gb of expandable storage (up to 256Gb via microSD),  8Gb of memory and a 4025mAh battery, the A91 packs a lot of punch for  not a lot of money.

I got roughly a full day and a bit before requiring a charge and that was super quick, thanks to Oppo’s VOOC 3.0 fast charging option. The A91supports dual SIMs, which means you can have both your work SIM and personal SIM in the one device. I didn’t use that option but it’s a good feature for those of you who would rather just have one phone for both work and home rather than carry two around all the time. For the time I had the phone, it was the phone that used every day and I enjoyed my time with it.

Sounds good, right?

Well, it gets better with a quad camera set up which offers a 48MP main lens, an 8MP ultrawide lens, a 2MP lens and a 2MP depth sensor. I was impressed with the photographic capabilities of the A91, too, some of my efforts which you can see here (including the obligatory cute dog shot). There’s also a 16MP front facing camera for those of you who love to take numerous self portraits, if you’re that way inclined, of course.

Whenever I get a new phone to review, I always take lots of photos with it and it was no different with the A91: I took photos around the house, I took photos of the dog, I took photos of sunsets. Lots and lots of photos of sunsets and the A91 delivered solid results every time

The A91 uses AI to determine what’s in your photo then sets things up for you ie animal, sunset, fruit: It’s no muss, no fuss photography. It features Electronic Image Stablisation and a built-in gyroscope so videos are smooth and non-shaky, and it features an impressive ultra night mode, which does an excellent job of adjusting night time photos so you get the best out of what you’re taking photos of at night or in low-light situation.

Frankly, I was impressed immensely with the A91 and in this age of expensive smartphones, it’s a handset that ticks all the boxes for a well-rounded Android smartphone that won’t break the bank.

I can’t recommend the A91 highly enough.

Thanks to Oppo New Zealand for the review unit.

Oppo AX7 smartphone review

For as budget priced, mid-range phone, Oppo really has pulled out all the stops when it comes to the AX7.

It really doesn’t look – or feel – like a budget smart phone.

Clad in a colour that Oppo describes as glaze blue, the AX7 feels comfortable in the hand, with a nice weight to it, and the attention to detail in the small – but noticeable – details like the camera lens surround means Oppo’s latest phone will get noticed.

Powered by a Snapdragon 450 octa-core CPU, the AX7 comes with a 6.2-inch HD+ display, 4Gb of RAM and is running Oppo’s ColorOS 5.2 (based on Android 8.2) but weirdly, just 64Gb of internal storage space, which in this day and age of digital consumption doesn’t really cut the mustard these days. Thankfully, the storage can be expanded via microSD card (upto 256Gb). A nice touch is the SIM card tray has space for two SIMs, meaning you can use the phone as your work mobile and private number.

The AX7 comes with all the latest bells and whistles you’d expect, including a fingerprint scanner. If I had one gripe about the scanner it would be that I thought it was perhaps positioned a little too high and could be a tad deeper, so that it’s easy to find first time. That said, it’s fast enough when it comes to unlocking the handset.

I was pleasantly surprised with the phone’s battery life, with the 4230mAh battery lasting a good couple of days with moderate use (phone calls, texting, browsing, the odd YouTube video). I’m still not sold on Oppo’s ColorOS operating system, which can be a little slow at times.

Perhaps the star of the AX7, though, is the camera, which sports 13MP and 2MP sensors at the back and a 16MP sensor at the front. It’s a selfie star, according to Oppo, although I’m not big on selfies, to be honest. Sure the customisation options for the camera are limited when compared to more expensive phones but it’s a good, honest shooter that will do what it says on the tin.

Photos taken with the AX7 were clear and sharp, with bright colours and details, although I thought sometimes the images were a little over saturated at times.

Perhaps the best thing about the AX7, though, is the price. Oppo has set the RRP at $399, which means it’s within reach for average consumers. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Not everyone needs a $1000-plus smart phone (realistically, does anyone, really?) and like Huawei with its budget-priced Nova 3i, Oppo have created a nice-looking, well-performing smart phone that does everything you need without requiring you to mortgage the house, give up a kidney or sell your first-born.

Look, the AX7 isn’t going to compete in terms of lightning fast performance of higher end smartphones and with Oppo’s own rather great R17 Pro, but then, it’s not designed to. It offers great value for money with a battery that will go the distance (I’m still not 100% sold on ColorOS, though).

What’s not to like?

A big thanks to Oppo NZ for providing the AX7 for review.

Huawei Smartwatch: A classy and stylish piece of wearable tech

Since getting a Huawei smartwatch, my usual watch, an LG G Watch R, has been sitting unused and idle, gathering dust. Well, that’s not true: My teenage son has decided to flit between the LG and my FitBit surge.

I’ve hardly taken the Huawei watch off my wrist in the past two weeks. In fact, the only time I’ve taken it off is when I have a shower and when it needs charging. I really grown to love the watch, which makes my LG seem, frankly, bulky and unwieldy.

The Huawei makes a class impression from the moment you open the rather large box it comes in. The matte black stainless steel version that I had (it also comes in a stainless steel and gold versions) was nestled on a faux leather liner in the box, with the watch placed strategically in the middle. It oozed class and style.

An email notification appears on the Huawei's AMOLED screen. Swipe to the left to close it, swipe up to dismiss the program.

An email notification appears on the Huawei’s AMOLED screen. Swipe to the right to close the email,  swipe up to dismiss the program. Easy.

With a 1.4-inch AMOLED screen (with a resolution of 400×400) and 4.2mm in diameter, the Huawei watch will suit smaller wrists and won’t look out-of-place on your wrist, like I feel that my LG does at times, and I liked that the watch’s strap was a standard 18mm strap, meaning you can replace it easily. It comes with all the features you’d expect  a wearable to have, including a surprisingly accurate heart rate monitor. The only button on the watch is one set at the 2 O’Clock position. On the back is a heart rate sensor.

I’ve had my LG smartwatch for a few months now so I’m no stranger to Google’s Android Wear smartwatch software, so using the Huawei felt intuitive and familiar. With a smartwatch your preaching to the converted and I can’t actually imagine not having one these days. I used the Huawei’s inbuilt alarm to wake me in the morning and track my steps throughout the day.

The Huawei Smartwatch's sporty green watch face. That green circle? That fills up the more active you are.

The Huawei Smartwatch’s sporty green watch face. That green circle? That fills up the more active you are.

 

The screen is fantastic on the Huawei watch: Colours are bright and vivid and everything just looks much clearer than on my LG, even with my ageing eyesight. The display really is superb.

Navigating through the Huawei’s mentions are as you’d expect with an Android smartwatch: You swipe left and right through the screens, up and down to find the app you want and then tap the icon. It’s easy, to be honest.

You can change watch faces either by touching and holding the watch face itself then scrolling left and right to the face you want or through the Android Wear software on your phone. The Huawei had a good selection of watch faces that suit a variety of situations and you can buy new ones for a handful of dollars. My personal favourite watch face was green sporty, which shows your activity during the day through a green circle that progressive moves around the watch face the more steps/activity you do throughout out the day.

The Huawei uses a magnetic docking station (it attaches via some gold contact pins on the underside of the charger) and battery life was what I expect from a piece of wearable tech: I got roughly a day to a day and a half, depending on how many notifications I got throughout the day, before it needed recharging. Charging was quick, too, and I’d usually plonk the watch on the docking station when I was getting ready for work in the morning and it would be close to fully charged by the time I was ready to go.

The underside of the Huawei Smartwatch. The gold pins magnetically clip to the charging port.

The underside of the Huawei Smartwatch. The gold pins magnetically clip to the charging port.

The big question is: Is a smart watch essential? Well, no, it’s not but for me, as I said earlier, I don’t think I could live without one. Wearing one has made my life a whole lot easier and the Huawei looks classy enough to wear everyday.

Wearing a smart watch is part of my daily routine. And since wearing a smart watch, I don’t look at my phone nearly as frequently as I used to: The smart watch lessens the number of times I pull my phone out of my pocket to check that message, that email, that social media comment. If I get a notification (be it email, social media or email), all I do is check my watch and if it’s urgent, I’ll get my phone and reply. If it’s not, I’ll just leave it till I’ve time to answer.

If there was any negative to Huawei’s watch it’s the price: The black stainless steel watch (with matching black leather strap) will set you back around $750, while the gold-plated version is close to $1000, which makes the Huawei considerably more expensive than some other Android smart watches on the market. As a comparison, my LG G Watch R was about $479 when it first came out.

Make no mistake, Huawei’s smart watch is a premium piece of hardware with an absolutely stunning and vivid screen that makes it one of the best Android smart watches around right now, but it’s going to face stiff competition in the coming months as manufacturers bring new hardware to the market, one of those being Samsung and its new Gear S2 [Look out for a review of Samsung’s smart watch soon]

It’s going to be an interesting few months for fans of wearable tech.

Leaping Tiger app jumps to Android

The good folk at Wellington-based Leaping Tiger, a location-based friend finder app for gamers, is now available on Android platforms, after initially releasing on iOS.

LeapingTigerThink of the Leaping Tiger app as like social networking for gamers where you can find fellow gamers, let them know what current game your playing and be friends.

One of the founders, Amy Potter, describes Leaping TIger as If Foursquare and Tinder had a baby, and that baby was really into gaming, that’s Leaping Tiger”.

I’ve used the web-based Leaping Tiger and it’s great, even if I don’t use it enough when I game. I remember by the time I’ve almost finished playing!

Now that it’s available on Android, which is my phone operating system of choice, I’m happy.

Here are some links, depending on what smart device you prefer: iOS; Android

 

 

How nice to see you again, Agent 47

I’ve played pretty much all of the Hitman games (including Hitman Go the mobile game: It’s really, really good), the series featuring bald Agent 47 who has a barcode tattooed on the back of his head.

The last Hitman game, Absolution, was pretty good, and there’s a new game coming in the next year called Hitman (just Hitman, it seems), which features a younger looking Agent 47 than the one that appeared in Absolution. I’m not sure whether it’s set in his early days or developer IO Interactive just felt he needed a facelift but the game is said to bring us an Agent 47 when he was at the prime of his assassinating career.

Anyway, SquareEnix (the publisher) has released a new game play trailer from the game’s Showstopper mission, set to the backdrop of a Paris fashion show. It’s alpha footage and looks good to me and is said to give players to assassinate key targets a variety of ways (although I’m always amused with things like a character strolling around with a huge ass sniper rifle hanging across his back. Doesn’t anyone notice that sort of thing?)

What do you think?