Chinese smartphone maker Oppo launched the A9 2020 in India with an aim to make a dent in the mid-range segment. The company announced two RAM and storage variants. The base variant features 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage for Rs 15,990. Moving to the top of the line, we get 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage for Rs 19,990.
With the Oppo A9 2020, we get a quad-camera setup, a 5,000mAh battery, and 3D color gradient. Oppo is aiming to combat rivals including Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, sub-brand Realme, Nokia, Huawei and more with this package. So, does the smartphone manage to take on the competition? I have used the device as my primary smartphone for about two weeks and I think I have an answer. Let’s dig deeper into my review for the Oppo A9 2020.
Classy design and good built quality
The first thing that one will notice is the design of the smartphone. The dual-color 3D gradient design manages to separate A9 2020 from past Oppo devices. It also updates the device to the current design aesthetic complete with a holographic rainbow effect. The device looks impressive though the rear does easily attract fingerprints and smudges. The best solution then is to use a clear case to combat the smudges and marks. In terms of usability, we get a curved panel on the back with glass-like characteristics. The curved finish gradually meets the side to provide an easy-to-hold experience.
Talking about the device, A9 2020 users will get the volume buttons and SIM tray on the left side. The right side comes with the power button with nothing on the top. Moving to the bottom, users are greeted with USB Type-C port, speaker grille, microphone, and a 3.5-mm audio socket. At the back, we get a triple-camera setup in vertical alignment along with a fingerprint scanner. Oppo has also added the fourth camera sensor with dual-LED flash on the right side of the vertical camera setup. Inspecting the built quality and design, the company has done a good job.
Display on Oppo A9 2020
The smartphone comes with a 6.5-inch IPS LCD screen with HD+ (720×1600 pixels) resolution. In addition, A9 2020 also features a 20:9 aspect ratio along with an 82.5 percent screen-to-body ratio. The display features a water-drop notch on the top along with a thick chin at the bottom. The panel is quite glossy so you may find it difficult to read content under direct sunlight.
Given that it is an LCD panel, you won’t get the deep blacks from Super AMOLED featuring Samsung devices. The flat display offers good usability with decent color reproduction and brightness. Though the display brightness takes a significant hit when viewed from an angle. Oppo has also added the “Night Shield” feature to reduce blue light while reading. The display also comes with Widevine L1 certification for HD video playback on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Moving on, let’s talk about the performance of the device. A9 2020 features Snapdragon 665 SoC with an oOcta-core CPU clocked up to 2.0GHz and Adreno 610 GPU. As mentioned above, the device also features up to 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. It also comes with a dedicated microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 256GB in capacity. Other features include usual connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, hotspot, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS, and FM Radio. The company also included microUSB port, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, and compass sensors.
Talking about day-to-day performance, the smartphone kept pace with my daily multitasking and gaming needs. It zipped through 8-10 apps while even allowing me to switch between WhatsApp and PUBG Mobile without considerable delay. I was able to run PUBG Mobile at Low settings and Call of Duty Mobile at High settings. It did heat up after 12-15 minutes of gaming, but it did not have any adverse effect on gaming performance. Beyond this, the back of the device was somewhat quick to cool down after a 1.5-2 hour-long gaming session. I was also able to run Dead Trigger 2, and Shadow Gun Legends without any issue.
It is worth noting that similar to other ColorOS-powered devices, the system animations out-of-the-box were slightly slow for my personal taste. However, that is my preference and it does not reflect on the performance of the A9 2020 in any way. Last but not least, the audio quality during calls is good. The device also offers a decent stereo audio effect with its bottom and top firing speakers while listening to music or consuming videos online.
Oppo A9 2020 quad-camera setup
The device comes with a quad-camera setup on the back along with a dual-LED, dual-tone flash unit. The quad-camera setup includes a 48-megapixel primary sensor with an 8-megapixel secondary sensor with an ultra-wide lens. The third sensor is a 2-megapixel macro lens along with a 2-megapixel sensor for depth mapping. We also get a 16-megapixel front camera sensor for selfies.
On the software end, users get multiple modes including “Night”, “Pano”, “Expert”, Time-Lapse”, “Slo-Mo”, “Sticker” and baked-in “Google Lens”. All these modes are in addition to the usual “Video”, “Photo”, and “Portrait” modes. The camera app also includes dedicated beauty control in the “Video”, and “Photo” modes. We also get automatic scene detection on the OS-level. Other features include HDR, “Dazzle Color” and built-in filters. The software also offers a zoom button with options for 2X and 5X digital zoom. Users can also toggle more options in the settings area including Shutter sound, location, photo ratio, Grid, AI scene recognition, Watermark, and more.
Talking about camera performance, we get good results in ideal lighting conditions across the board. The 48-megapixel primary sensor captures good images with decent texture, colors, and detail. The camera can capture impressive images in an ideal or sometimes challenging situation with good amount of dynamic range. While using the 2X button, the camera does tend to over-sharpen a bit making the image somewhat like a painting. Things get slightly out of hand in less than ideal situations with texture and details taking a hit. 5X zoom images are largely usable because of increased noise, and lack of details. You can check the image samples below.
The camera manages to take okay images in low light, but things improve dramatically with the dedicated “Night” mode. The resulting images have better details, texture, and dynamic range along with significantly less noise. Talking about the portrait mode, the A9 2020 does a decent job in background separation. It can do with slight improvements but the current image quality is good. Overall, the camera does a decent job of capturing decent images.
ColorOS 6 and rest of the software experience
Oppo A9 2020 features ColorOS 6.0.1 out of the box with CPH1937EX_11_A.08 build number. It also comes with September 5, 2019, Android security patch with Android 9 Pie as the base. If you have used an Oppo smartphone or Realme smartphone in the past then things should be familiar. To introduce the rest of the users, ColorOS 6 is a custom software skin that uses Android 9 Pie as its base. Similar to most skins, it changes things while introducing a number of new features not available in stock Android.
The launcher comes in typical “Drawer Mode” out of the box. But, one can switch it more Chinese skin-like “Standard Mode” where all the apps are available on home screens. In addition to this, the software comes with significant bloatware in terms of duplicate system apps or third-party apps. This includes “Music”, “Videos”, “Phone Manager”, “Theme Store”, “Game Space”, “Tips”, “File Manager”, “App Market”, “Weather”, “Game Center”, “ORoaming” and “Clock”. Third-party apps include “Helo”, “WPS Office”, “Facebook”, “Dailyhunt”, “NewsPoint”, “UC Browser”, “Amazon Shopping”, and “Paytm”. The OS also includes a number of tools including built-in “Calculator”, “Recorder”, “Clone Phone”, “Compass”, and “FM Radio”.
Oppo has also added system-level app recommendations in the form of “Hot Apps”, and “Hot Games” folders in the launcher. System apps also roll out notifications but users can turn them off in individual app settings. Similar to ColorOS in the past, we also get a “Smart Assistant” on swiping to the right from the home screen. Talking about standalone ColorOS features we get “Payment Protection”, “Emergency SOS”, “Anti-Harassment”, “Kid Space”, “Private Safe”, “App Encryption”, “Floating Windows”, “Digital Wellbeing” and more.
Oppo has also added a 5,000mAh Lithium-Polymer battery along with support for reverse charging. This means that one can use the device as a power bank to charge another smartphone. The company has added a 10W charger inside the box with charges the device from 0 to 100 percent in about two hours and 25 minutes.
Talking about the battery backup, the device lasted for about 13.5-14 hours on an average workday and about 10 hours on a heavy usage day like the weekend. Typical heavy use includes 1-1.5 hours of video streaming, five email accounts on constant sync, continuous WhatsApp and Telegram. It also includes 1.5-2 hours of gaming, 30-45 minutes of calls, 2.5-3 hours of music streaming, and 25-30 images.
Verdict: Should you buy Oppo A9 2020?
Oppo has continued with its habit of crafting well-made smartphones with its A9 2020. The device features an impressive design along with good built quality and respectable hardware. The device also performs admirably while getting the basics right. However, the key here is intense competition with its rivals. Oppo A5 2020 comes with somewhat similar internals with the difference in the primary camera sensor. If you are an Oppo loyalist and want then a 48-megapixel sensor then A9 2020 is the defacto choice. However, if you are budget conscious and can compromise on the camera then A5 2020 should be your bet.
Looking at the competition, while Oppo was first to the market, there are better offerings in the market. In fact, the competition has offerings with similar hardware at a more affordable price point. It is worth noting that A9 2020 launched starting at Rs 16,990 and the company slashed the price to Rs 15,990 weeks after the launch. For instance, Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 offerings somewhat similar hardware with improvements such as 18W Fast charging support. It also supports Type-C port and FHD screen at a price that is about Rs 5,991 less than the A9 2020. Similarly, Realme 5 is available for Rs 10,999 while offering somewhat similar hardware. If you want, you can look at the competition for better value for your hard-earned cash.