A cheaper #SelfieExpert smartphone – OPPO A39.
It looks like OPPO is really trying to take the crown as the “Best Camera Phone”. In my OPPO F1s review, I have praised both of the device’s front and rear camera sensors. And for its price tag of Php12,999, it is definitely one of the most impressive cameras in that category.
But if the OPPO F1s’s price tag is kind of hard to swallow, the company is also offering the OPPO A39, which is slightly more affordable at Php9,990. This device resembles a lot of the F1s’ looks and hardware, but with the inevitable compromises to keep the price a little lower.
The question is, is the OPPO A39 a worthy alternative to the OPPO F1s? Or should the consumers consider an offering from a different brand? Let’s figure that out in our full review of the OPPO A39.
OPPO A39 Specs
- Android 5.1 Lollipop. Color OS 3.0
- Dual SIM,
- 5.2-inch IPS 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 Display, 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, ~282ppi
- 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6750 octa-core processor
- Mali-T860 GPU
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 256GB
- 13-megapixel autofocus rear camera w/ LED flash
- 5-megapixel front-facing camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, hotspot
- 4G LTE
- Bluetooth 4.0
- GPS, A-GPS
- Dimensions: 149.1 x 72.9 x 7.65mm
- Weight: 147 g
- 2900mAh non-removable battery
OPPO A39 Video Review
Design and Build Quality
Like what I have said in our OPPO A39 initial review, the device has the same design footprint with almost all of the smartphones from the company. This isn’t really surprising since most of the smartphone manufacturers today tend to have the same aesthetic pattern across all of their devices that are released at a particular period of time.
With that said, the OPPO A39 has the same all-metal build and available in Rose Gold and standard Gold. It has a subtle tone that makes it look more like Brownish Gray (See our gallery and judge it yourself.). And also, just like what I have experienced with the OPPO F1s, a lot of people who have seen me holding this device initially thought that I’m using an iPhone 6/6s. And I can’t blame them, almost all of handsets from OPPO recently has a design that’s undeniably borrowed from Apple’s iPhone. Heck, even the user-interface looks like it’s been blatantly “inspired” by iOS.
But nonetheless, I do love the overall build and design of the OPPO A39. The device feels solid and feels premium in the hands. It is also relatively light for a 5.2-inch smartphone. And more importantly, it has a decent chunk to it, which makes it still look sleek without sacrificing the ergonomics when using the device. But if you really have butterfingers like I do, OPPO is nice enough to include a clear protective case which can safeguard your device from accidental scratches and minor drops, without concealing the beauty of the device.
Taking a tour, we do have the 5.2-inch IPS HD display on the front that is protected by a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4. We also have the star of the show, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Both the earpiece and the light and proximity sensors are sitting closely together. OPPO also added a LED notification indicator, which lights up in white – which I wish would display a different color than the same tone as the face of the handset so it would be easier to notice. The indicator on this thing would just blend in it would be hard to see.
At the chin of the device, we see the major compromise of the OPPO A39 from the F1s – the lack of fingerprint scanner. Instead, OPPO opted to use those capacitive buttons (LR: Recent Apps, Home and Back Button). The buttons work well and are easy to use since they are capacitive. However, they are not backlit, which makes it a little hard to use if you’re still new to the handset and you’re using it in a pitch black room.
Moving on, we have the volume controls on the right side and they are placed to be easily reached by the thumb. On the left side, we have the lock/power switch beneath the SIM/microSD card slot.
The buttons on this phone do feel satisfying to press. They have a thin profile but are protruded enough which feels tactile enough when being pressed. I would also like to praise OPPO for making space for two micro SIM cards and one microSD card (up to a 256GB), instead of the hybrid ones which are limited to two slots to house either another SIM card or a microSD card.
The top of the OPPO A39 is clean, while the bottom has the ports for the 3.5mm headphone jack and microUSB. We also have the built-in microphone and a loudspeaker, which has decent performance. It delivers well-balanced sound and clarity is nice. However, the volume is middling. You can surely use it in a room with decent ambient noise, but it can really struggle in public places. If you’re not paying attention, it can also be easily covered and have the sound completely muted due to its placement.
At the back, we have the 13-megapixel primary camera with LED flash and another built-in microphone for noise cancellation. There are also two cut-out lines in here, which are spaced enough to make it appear like a removable panel, but they are not – it’s there for design purposes only. Just like most all-metal built smartphones today, the OPPO A39 also has a unibody build, which makes removing the 2900mAh impossible without the help of a technician.
Like what I said earlier, the device has a 5.2-inch HD IPS display which has a 1280 x 720 resolution and pixel density of 282 pixels-per-inch.
Quality-wise, there’s really nothing to complain about. The colors are great without the existence of any software manipulation of over-saturation. Contrast is also great, blacks are deep as usual and the colors pop. Sharpness is also good. Some people might crave for a 1080p panel, but for most people, a 720p panel is really enough – especially at a low price point.
The OPPO A39 can get pretty bright, but not bright enough to combat the shiny outdoor sunlight when using the device outside. You can still see what’s on the screen, but you would have to cover it with your hands to see them clearly.
Performance and Hardware
The OPPO A39 still has a bit of muscle power inside it. The device is powered by a MediaTek MT6750 chipset that has a 1.5GHz octa-core processor, backed by 3GB of RAM and a Mali-T860 GPU. The processing power that this thing has is really close to what the OPPO F1s has; both of them have the same number of cores and they only differ from the GPU and RAM options.
Performance wise, this thing is a real trooper. Basic and essential applications that you would use on a daily basis can run seamlessly. Social media apps, taking photos and editing them, receiving/making calls and texts, browsing the web, and many more tasks that help you to get through the day works satisfyingly enough.
On the other hand, gameplay is also a pleasure on this thing. Visually intensive titles like EA Sports’ UFC ran well with at comfortable frame rates; while processor-intensive games like Roller Coaster Tycoon is playable at decent frame rates.
Unlike with the OPPO F1s, the device is only available in 32GB of on-board storage as there’s no 64GB variant present. The phone’s OS takes a large slice of the pie, 4.55GB in total, for the system files, leaving 25.09GB worth of user usable storage which still quite substantial if you ask me. I was able to install all of my basic applications, a few games and download all of the songs in my Spotify playlist with still 16.03GB of space remaining. But if you really have to take all your media library with you anywhere, you can just throw a 256GB microSD card slot on it.
Software is where most OPPO smartphones tend to cut corners. This thing only runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop and I’m not really expecting it to have Android 7.0 Nougat anytime soon. Hopefully, it’ll get at least Android 6.0 Marshmallow like the OPPO F1s, R9 and R9 Plus. However, you’ll barely notice the outdated operating system version since the device is presented with the company’s own ColorOS interface. But the thing is, Android Marshmallow is more than just its looks. We’re missing a lot of its notable features like the Google Now on Tap, a battery saver tool called Doze and much more.
Like what I have read in our OPPOS F1s review, you’ll see how frustrated I am when using this interface. Sure, it looks visually pleasing, thanks to that iOS-ish design material. But the usability and functionality may have been a little bit compromised.
The application drawer is now gone, which means the home screen can get cluttered really easily. The search button on the settings menu is now also gone. And if you’re really a big fan of the stock Android interface, these small things might really frustrate you. But nonetheless, if aesthetics is your top priority, then you would be really pleased with the ColorOS.
The OPPO A39 has a 13-megapixel primary camera and 5-megapixel front facing shooter for “Unstoppable Selfies”. OPPO is really trying to market their handsets as good camera phones, and thankfully they really are. However, the camera sensors on their devices aren’t necessarily on the top of the game. The software and enhancements are really helpful in making the photos stand out.
The 13-megapixel shooter at the back can take good photos, but not without its quirks. The sharpness is really on point thanks to those 13 million pixels, both the colors and contrast are decent. However, dynamic range is a little bit disappointing.
The autofocus works well during daylight shooting but gets really confused when shooting in low-light. Getting the shot right at low-light scenarios is really frustrating as the sensor, or probably the software is really having a hard time finding the right subject to highlight. But that’s not saying it’s bad, as most smartphone cameras struggle when it’s dark.
The selfie camera, on the other hand, does work well. This thing has a ¼-inch sensor that is populated with 5-megapixels. Quality wise, images that were taken look bright, with decent contrast and saturation. Details and sharpness are on point, not until you switch to the Beauty function, which generally makes your skin more appealing by lessening skin marks, resulting in a softer image.
The device can also take 1080p videos at 29fps, with 16.9Mbps bitrate. Ut also takes stereo audio at 130Kbps. The contrast, sharpness, and dynamic range are the same with the stills – it looks sharp, colors are decent, but with the light still its main weakness.
The OPPO A39 is complete with today’s essential antennas, and by essential I mean everything except NFC. The device has a WiFI 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and A-GPS, and of course, 4G LTE.
Using all these modes of connectivity is pretty much seamless, unsurprisingly. I didn’t notice any problems while I’m connected with our wireless home network, the Bluetooth 4.0 works well with my wireless Bluetooth headphones and the 4G LTE, depending on the geographical location, delivers fast connection with my ISP.
Call quality is also good. The earpiece delivers good volume, and the noise-cancelling microphones help deliver my voice to the other line clearly. Sending and receiving text messages also work as expected.
There’s a 2900mAh lithium polymer battery that’s powering up this device. This battery capacity is fairly decent for a 5.2-inch, octa-core smartphone like this.
The OPPO A39 was able to last for a whole day with still 10% to 15% charge left. That’s a whole day of casually sending/receiving texts, making calls, and web browsing. Depending on your usage, this phone can last you until the next day. But for most people in this age, you really do have to recharge this every night.
Screen-on time passed our 4-hour standard mark. You can definitely play games or stream media on this smartphone for hours without worries.
Just like all of the OPPO devices that are out in the market today, the A39 is also a stunning and admirable device. It doesn’t sport all of the all of the bells and whistles that are found in most flagship devices today, but it’s fancy enough for the mid-range category. The OPPO A39 is priced at Php9,990, which is slightly more affordable than its brothers like the OPPO F1s and OPPO F3 Plus, who are the real flagships of the company.
However, not everything is likable on the OPPO A39. The outdated software version, despite having an attractive manufacturer-made interface, may really disappoint Android fanboys, the missing backlighting from the capacitive shouldn’t be a problem since it’s been a staple feature. And lastly, despite the camera being great overall, I think it is a little bit overrated. The whole marketing gimmick doesn’t really live up to the hype, but it does shoot better selfies than the competition.
But nonetheless, the OPPO A39 was able to make up for these shortcomings by having a beautiful and sturdy build, impressive performance, good display quality, and long battery life.
If you’re in the market for a chic-looking device that’s not too hard on the pocket, then the OPPO A39 is definitely worth checking out. It’s currently available in the Philippines for a price of Php9,990 (originally Php10,990).