OPPO Neo 7 Review


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Back in October, we reviewed the OPPO Mirror 5. A smartphone that came with lower mid-range specification at a mid-ranger price. The smartphone had quite a nice design with the mirror finish at the back. However, the low resolution display, poor battery life and lack of 4G LTE support really didn’t do it any good. The OPPO Neo 7 is basically a slightly different version of the Mirror 5. It is better in some ways especially due to the 4G LTE support however, the RAM has been downgraded from 2GB to 1GB RAM. So, overall the smartphone seems like a mixed bag judging by the specs sheet. Let us take a look at the review to see whether the smartphone impresses us or leaves us in doubt just like the Mirror 5.

Unboxing

We have already done the unboxing of the Neo 7. The video can be seen below:

The contents of the box are:

  • Oppo Neo 7 smartphone in White color
  • 2-pin charger
  • Earphone with microphone
  • Micro USB cable
  • User guide and warranty information

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Design, Materials and Build Quality

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In terms of design, the Neo 7 is virtually identical to the Mirror 5. The basic shape, size and weight all remain the same. The only thing you can really spot different is probably at the back. The Neo 7 also has a removable back panel like the Mirror 5, however there is no mirror like finish or effect like on the Mirror 5. The Neo 7 is available in both Black and White variants while the Mirror 5 came in Blue and White variants. The device is ever so slightly thicker than the Mirror 5, but is around 20 grams lighter than the Mirror 5. Yet it does feel heavy for a device of this size. However, it only adds to the premium feel.

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Apart from that, the position of the camera and LED flash has been changed. On the Mirror 5, the LED flash was located below the camera. On the Neo 7, the LED flash is on the right side of the lens unit which itself has been offset by a slight margin. So even though both the smartphones are very similar in terms of dimensions, users can interchange the panel from the Mirror 5 and Neo 7. The overall handling and feel of the device remains more or less the same as the Mirror 5. Just by handling the device, it is hard to tell that it has a removable back panel since the build quality feels solid and the whole things feels like a single unit. The back panel can be removed to access the dualSIM slots and the microSD card slot. The primary SIM slot is a microSIM slot while the second SIM slot is a nanoSIM one. The battery however is non-removable.

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The display on the front is a 5 inch one. Above it, you have the front facing camera, earpiece, ambient light and proximity sensors. There is a notification LED light here as well. Below the display, you have a set of 3 capacitive buttons that aren’t backlit.

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The right side houses just the power key while the left side has the volume rocker button. The White colour variant we have features a Gold colour side bezel that compliments the white colour at the front and back.

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At the top, you have the 3.5mm audio jack and at the bottom, you have the microUSB port and the primary microphone. The IR blaster that was present on the Mirror 5 at the top is missing on the Neo 7.

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At the back, you have the primary camera, the LED flash and at the bottom left corner, you have the loudspeaker as well.

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Display

The display on the Neo 7 remains unchaged from the one found on the Mirror 5. It is a 5 inch IPS panel with a resolution of 540×960 pixels. That resolution is hardly enough for a smartphone these days especially at the price that they are selling this phone at. Apart from that, the colours and contrast are quite good and so is the brightness. As a result, the device has good sunlight legibility despite the reflective screen. Sharpness however is an issue as the screen doesn’t look as crisp as most other smartphones these days especially when it comes to reading text. In fact, I do feel the strain on my eyes when reading stuff over longer periods. You could attribute the issue to an inferior quality panel as well apart from just the resolution.

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The capacitive keys offer good haptic feedback when pressed however they aren’t backlit. However, that shouldn’t really be an issue considering that you’ll know your device well enough to know where the keys are and what they do within a day or two of use.

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Oppo has bundled an Eye Protection mode that basically cuts down the amount of blue light emitted by the screen in order to reduce eye fatigue. This is especially useful if you are browsing in bed before sleep with the lights on/off. Users can choose 3 different modes – Low, Medium and High or choose to turn it off completely. Users also have the option to view the carrier logo to make it easier to identify the sims or choose network speeds to be displayed. They can also turn the battery percentage display on/off.

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There is a notification LED above the display. However, it is quite small and the isn’t all that powerful. While it still is noticeable in low light, it is hard to see it under bright light. It is known as easy light and there are options to customize it in the display settings.  Also under display settings is the ability to turn on battery percentage next to the battery icon. Users can also choose to display the carrier logo if they want which is something not many manufacturers do. This helps people easily identify between operators easily in case they have two SIMs in the device. You can also choose to view the network speeds in the status bar however, enabling it will take away the carrier logos. The haptic feedback from the screen is not too strong and not too weak either. The amount of feedback that the phone gives is spot on and is reassuring without being annoying

Calling and Messaging

The Oppo Neo 7 has quite good audio quality over the earpiece and speaker. Volume too is more than sufficient through both. Your speech is also clearly audible to the party at the other end thanks to the secondary noise cancelling microphone. We also tried the call quality over Bluetooth speakers and car kits and found that it was quite good too.

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The pre-loaded keyboard is SwiftKey keyboard. The keyboard is pretty good and easy to use. However, the keyboard does lag especially when using the cloud service. We aren’t the biggest fans of SwiftKey and if you like ourselves prefer to use something else, you can easily download another one from the Google Play Store that’s more to your liking.

Software and UI

The phone comes with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with ColorOS V2.1.0i out of the box. We hope that it would receive the update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow eventually but time will only tell.

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The software does have quite a lot of customization on top of Android. The UI offers a lot of ways to customize your device in terms of motions and gestures. Users can choose to enable/disable screen-off or screen-on gestures one by one. The screen off gestures include double tap to wake, draw O to launch camera and the ability to control music when the screen is off. Users can also add shortcuts to apps or call someone or even unlock the phones using preset gestures.

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Screen on gestures include activating the camera with multi-touch, double tapping to lock the screen, gesture screenshot, adjusting volume with two fingers and single-handed operation. All of them do exactly what you think they do and single-handed operation comes in handy for people who have smaller hands especially. It resizes the entire UI to one corner when you swipe outward from any corner to the centre of the screen. Once done, you can bring it back to normal size. Although I doubt you’d need it on the Mirror 5 considering how small the screen actually is. I think Oppo have just gone ahead and included the same set of features as most of their bigger screened phones and this also comes with it.

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Smart call motions allow the user to automatically answer a call by placing it on their ear, muting the incoming call by flipping the phone and switching from speaker to earpiece by just putting it near your ear. There are also settings you can enable to prevent accidental screen inputs when the screen is covered and another mode you can enable to use the phone when with the quick view cover that can be purchased separately.

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The phone also supports auto power-on and power-off. The notification bar has a lot of quick toggles including shortcuts for the eye-protection feature we talked about earlier. There are also shortcuts to the calculator, flashlight as well as kill switch for apps. Users can open up recently used apps by pressing and holding the menu key. The phone shows you a list of apps that have been used recently and you can click on any to open them up. Alternatively, you can swipe up on any of them to close each app individually or use the cleaner icon below to close all apps at once.

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Like most other Chinese manufacturers, Oppo doesn’t have an app drawer in its UI either. However, users can easily add one by using 3rd party launchers from the Play Store when needed. There is a built-in theme store as well where users can download additional themes to personalise their device in different ways.

Storage, Connectivity and Performance

Like the Mirror 5, the Neo 7 also supports dualSIMs. However, the Neo 7 also comes with 4G LTE support which almost every phone supports at this price range these days so it is a good thing that OPPO decided to add that. There is a microSIM and a nanoSIM slot. The phone supports 4G LTE on one SIM at a time while the other goes to 2G.

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There is 16GB of internal memory out of which the user gets around 10.57GB of storage out of the box. The internal memory is further expandable using the dedicated microSD card slot. The phone accepts cards up to 128GB in capacity. Users can also make use of the USB OTG functionality to connect hard disks and flash drives. You can choose to manually turn off the OTG function as well if you want.

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There is Bluetooth 4.0 and support for Wi-Fi b/g/n but there is no support for dual bands or the latest ac standard Wi-Fi. The phone is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor and has 1GB of RAM. That is a downgrade from the 2GB of RAM on the Mirror 5 and that affects performance especially when multi-tasking as the phone does get laggy. The processor maybe forgiven but halving the RAM capacity even with added 4G support seems like a bad decision on OPPO’s part.

Music Player and Audio Quality

The Music Player is similar to other Oppo smartphones. It allows users to display the songs according to title, artists, albums or folders. There is a quick access panel to the currently playing song at the bottom when browsing the library. The now playing screen gives access to the track controls as well as the ability to favourite a song, share it or turn Dirac HD on. Users can also enable or disable shuffle and repeat. Dirac HD works only when using headphones. There is a sleep option that basically is a timer that can be set for the music player. After the specified time, the music player will stop playing. This feature is especially good for those people who listen to music before sleeping. The now playing screen can also display album art, lyrics or quick access to the library. There is a simple FM radio app as well-built in. It has a clean UI and is easy to use. You will need to plug-in your headphones or earphones to listen to it as they will act as the antenna.

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The audio quality is very good over the headphones and speaker. The speaker is mono but is quite loud and clear. Since it is positioned at the back, the speaker does get muffled if you place the phone on a surface. The volume and clarity are really good through headphones as well. The dynamic range is good and there is very little stereo crosstalk. The sound does tend to be a bit bass heavy though and Dirac HD will make it even heavier on the bass so use it when apt otherwise, you’ll have too much of bass. We wish there was a better equalizer for the music player.

Camera

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The camera at the back is an 8 Megapixel unit with LED flash. The image quality is quite good and did surprise us. The colours are vibrant without being fake, the dynamic range is good and there is sufficient detailing. The HDR mode in particular works very well and gives good punchy images with good information from both the shadows as well as highlights. Click on any of the images below for full-sized samples. The thumbnails on the left are HDR while the ones on the right are taken in normal mode. Click on any of the images below to view the full resolution samples.

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The images on the left are taken in normal mode while the ones on the right are in HDR mode.

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The front facing camera offers good brightness and sharpness which should be more than sufficient for your use in social media channels.The videos are limited to a maximum resolution of 1080p at 30 fps. The quality is decent but not as good as most phone in this price range. The detailing is fairly decent but there is quite a lot of noise especially in low light and the lack of stabilization gives jerky videos.

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The camera UI is quite easy to use. You can either launch the camera using the app shortcuts or using off-screen gestures such as drawing a circle on the screen. The user can swipe left or right to access the photo and video modes. When holding the phone in landscape mode, you have the shutter button, gallery shortcut as well as mode button on the right. At the left, you have the quick toggles for flash and camera switch key. There are several other modes as well such as HDR, Ultra HD, Panorama, Slow Shutter, Expert Mode etc. Users can capture 8 Megapixel photos in 4:3 aspect ratio and 6 Megapixel photos in 16:9 aspect ratio.

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Battery Life

There is a 2420mAH non-removable battery powering the Neo 7. That is the same capacity as the one found on the Mirror 5 which achieved a One Charge Rating of 11 hours and 16 minutes. Coupled with the 540×960 pixels 5 inch display, it should have quite a long battery life, but it doesn’t. We expect a similar performance from the Neo 7 if not a bit better. We are currently performing our battery tests on the Neo 7 and will let you know the detailed results soon.

Conclusion

The OPPO Neo 7 is a handset that is near identical to the Mirror 5. While it is available at a cheaper price and brings 4G LTE support to the table, the RAM is halved and that worsens the performance. Despite the improvements, the smartphone still leaves us unimpressed just as the Mirror 5 did. While the smartphone does have some things going for it, there are so many handsets in the market at this price point that offer much more value for money at Rs 9,990.

Pros

  • Simple but Beautiful Design
  • Good Camera
  • Good Audio Quality
  • Dual SIM with 4G LTE Support
  • microSD Card Slot

Cons

  • 1GB of RAM Results in a Sluggish Performance
  • Average Battery Life
  • Low Resolution Display strains the Eyes

Author: Sandeep Sarma

Sandeep Sarma is a blogger and a freelance photographer. Apart from gadgets and phones, he also has a passion for movies and cars. He currently uses the S7 Edge as his main phone. Catch him on twitter at @sandeep9sarma