The OPPO F9 is not a giant leap from its predecessor, but it’s a natural evolution of what is already considered as one of the top midrange smartphones this year. It packs an octa-core Helio P60 CPU, 6GB of RAM, and OPPO’s proprietary flash charging technology.
OPPO’s newest addition to the F-series is a step forward to the right direction of eliminating the notch. While it might not seem like it at first glance, the OPPO F9 is undoubtedly a respectable follow-up to the incredibly successful OPPO F7.
It took everything good about the previous generation and refined it to another level, improving both the design and internals to keep up with the fierce competition in the midrange market.
But no smartphone is perfect. So, we are here to assess how good OPPO’s new midrange offering is with regards to its asking price. Let’s get started with our OPPO F9 review.
OPPO F9 Specs
- Android 8.1 Oreo, ColorOS 5.2
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby (nano)
- 6.3-inch FHD+ IPS display, 2280 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~409ppi
- 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core processor
- Mali-G72 MP3 GPU
- 6GB RAM
- 64GB internal storage, expandable via microSD (dedicated slot)
- 3G, HSPA+, LTE
- 25-megapixel front camera, f/2.0
- 16-megapixel + 2-megapixel dual rear cameras, f/1.8 with LED flash
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, WiFi hotspot
- Bluetooth 4.2
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou
- OTG support
- Dimensions: 156.7 x 74 x 7.99mm
- Weight: 169g
- Colors: Twilight Blue, Starry Purple, Sunrise Red
- 3,500mAh battery, VOOC fast charging
Without question, the OPPO F7 is one of the prettiest smartphones of its time. The OPPO F9 looks similar in many ways, but with slight modifications to make it stand out from the crowd. Gradient colors are now a thing, so OPPO is going with the trend by giving its phone a new paint job.
OPPO F9’s Twilight Blue is a mix of black and blue, while Sunrise Red is a combination of Red and Purple.
The OPPO F9 colors we have here in the Philippines right now are called Twilight Blue and Sunrise Red. Both colors have a secondary combination, with the blue one mixed with black while the latter is a blend of red and purple. In addition, the diamond pattern which we previously saw on the black edition of the F7, is now a staple part of the F9 — albeit a little bit different in form.
Edges of the OPPO F9 are also more rounded compared to the former design, making it feel more comfortable to the hands. When held side by side, probably the most notable difference between the two are their thickness and weight.
Since the OPPO F9 has a significantly larger battery, it’s slightly bulkier and heavier than the F7. But in my opinion, I like it as it is because it feels much sturdier and the weight is reassuring that it’s not fragile.
Several years ago, a 6.3-inch is gigantic in size. Nowadays, it’s the normal size of a typical smartphone. Thanks to thin bezels, higher screen-to-body ratios have been achieved, which resulted to bigger screens and overall smaller footprint.
From 82.6%, OPPO has surpassed their previous screen-to-body ratio by more than 8%, as the F9 now has a staggering 90.8%. For comparison, the company’s flagship OPPO Find X has the current highest in the world at 93.8%.
Screen-to-body ratio has jumped to 90.8%, thanks to the OPPO F9’s waterdrop notch.
A huge reason behind the drastic increase in the OPPO F9’s screen-to-body ratio is the introduction of the waterdrop notch, which is basically a smaller notch. Its giant screen might seem huge at first, but it’s actually of the same size as a 5.5-inch smartphone’s body.
Display notches aren’t new, but OPPO’s implementation this time around is one of the finest we’ve seen. It’s so small it looks identical to the Essential Phone but even better.
The quality of the OPPO F9’s IP screen is pretty good, although it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Colors look great and the sharpness is just right, as its 409 pixel density is more than enough for most users. Blacks are fine, but I still like the deep black and punchy colors of AMOLED screens over IPS. In the settings, users can opt to adjust the screen color temperature to warmer and cooler, whichever effect they like best.
Despite the tiny notch, the shortcomings that comes along with that design choice still haunts the OPPO F9. Watching videos on YouTube and Netflix means that there are black bars on the left and right sides. Pinching in to zoom can turn the video into fullscreen mode, but that would cut out a little bit of the frame, because of the notch and difference in aspect ratios.
The upgraded 6GB of RAM and MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core chipset performs admirably well, with very little signs of stutter and lags.
Performance-wise, the OPPO F9 has an overall smoother experience compared to the F7. The chipset used is the same, so we have to give the credit to the upgraded 6GB RAM and more optimized software. Multitasking through several apps is a breeze and switching between them is seamless.
While its processor is midrange-level, it still packs a punch as it’s quite powerful by itself. Its RAM which we only usually see in flagships is really great to have because it’s more than enough for all the typical and heavy tasks. In fact, it’s currently the highest on the midrange smartphone market to date.
I’ve never experienced any significant stuttering or lags during my time using the OPPO F9. It’s fast and snappy even when moving between apps and games. However, if the app is not yet loaded in the RAM, it takes up a second or two to open up.
Speed is on par with premium midrange and flagship smartphones in some aspects.
Of course, resource-intensive tasks are an exception, but the F9 is very much adequate for everything else.
We don’t really rely on benchmarking apps to gauge gadgets performance nowadays, but it’s always nice to see how phones perform in these synthetic tests. When tested in AnTuTu benchmark, the OPPO F9 got a score of 136,744 — which is quite good for a midranger. GeekBench gave it a score of 1,483 for single-core and 5,747 for multi-core processing performance. For PCMark’s Work 2.0 performance test, it got a 7,909 score. Lastly, it got an overall score of 1,074 for 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL ES 3.1 and 941 points for Vulkan.
Users don’t need to worry about storage space because the OPPO F9 has 64GB built-in. And in case that’s not enough, they can easily expand it by using a microSD card with up to 256GB in capacity. Its dedicated slot also means that there’s no need to sacrifice the dual-SIM capability just to get extra storage.
OPPO’s Game Space feature elevates the gaming experience to another level.
Playing games on the OPPO F9 is extremely enjoyable, especially with the extra screen estate which was made possible by the waterdrop notch. This results to more space for the control buttons and the game, so it’s easier to manuever around.
OPPO also has its own gaming optimization built-in on ColorOS 5.1. There’s a bunch of settings inside, so let’s go through them one by one.
First is the game and graphics acceleration. OPPO didn’t go into detail about what it does, but according to the description, it “improves gaming performance through custom optimization of both the game and phone”. There’s also the smoothness optimization, which intelligently clears space in the system resources upon launch of the game.
For online games, OPPO has the network protection feature that restricts other apps’ online access to prevent them from interfering with the game’s ping to the server and overall responsiveness. Notifications will also be blocked from hogging the screen so that accidental clicks and interruption won’t happen while in-game.
Aside from optimizations, the OPPO F9 also has extras which could elevate the gaming experience. Swiping from the far left to the right brings up the Game Sidebar that hosts a number of features like Play AFK, Block banners, reject calls, screenshot, and screen recording. It can also launch a floating Facebook Messenger and Messaging app, so the user can still communicate while gaming
Unlike GPU Turbo, the OPPO Game Space supports any game in the Google Play Store.
PUBG Mobile starts with the Balanced and Medium setting, but it can handle up to HD and high with stable frame rates and not much stutter. Mobile Legends’ performance is also pretty good and it handles clashes and teamfights very well. Another popular game we tested is NBA 2k18. Considering that it’s not resource intensive, it can keep up high frame rates at all times.
Since I’m a fan of stock Android, I can’t really say that I like custom manufacturer skins like MIUI, FunTouch, EMUI, and ColorOS. However, I have to give credit to the brands who are working really hard on improving their craft.
Years ago, I could barely stand using these custom skins on top of Android because they are clunky and bloated. But things have changed, and most of them improved a lot functionality-wise.
In terms of looks, plenty of ColorOS’ design aspects and feel are pulled straight from iOS.
No launchers, icons on the homescreen itself, and minimalist approach are at the core, making it look clean all over.
A bunch of interesting and innovative features are also hidden within the software. First is the staple clone app which is a really useful feature especially for those who maintain multiple accounts (i.e. personal, business). For multitasking, there’s the split screen mode. As the name suggests, it splits the screen into two, making way for two apps to take over the screen side by side.
Another interesting feature is the Smart Sidebar. Wherever you are, it can be accessed by simply swiping from the rightmost part of the screen on Portrait mode and from the leftmost when in landscape. There’s a small indicator which shows where to swipe from. The Smart Sidebar contains shortcuts to the camera, screenshot, screen recording, and popular apps like Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Spotify. Like Game Sidebar, it also has floating versions of the messages and messenger app.
16-megapixel + 2-megapixel dual rear camera setup and 25-megapixel selfie camera
One of the best things about the new OPPO F9 is the improved cameras. Previously, OPPO settled with one sensor each in the front and back. Now, they have finally introduced a dual-camera rear camera setup, along with the pixel-packed 25-megapixel selfie camera.While its camera software is intelligent enough to give a prosthetic bokeh effect, the addition of the 2-megapixel sensor for depth-sensing could probably take its camera prowess to new heights.
Like the iPhone X, the OPPO F9 has a portrait mode wherein users can use artificial lighting like film light, natural light, mono-tone light, bi-color light, and rim light. This adds an effect which could definitely help in coming up with artistic and creative shots.
There’s also Google Lens integration built-in on the F9, which means it has a good image recognition capability as it’s powered by AI and machine learning. By simply pointing the camera to a text, number, address, or object, Google will process the information and give suggestions on what you can do with the data you captured.
For example, pointing to a mobile number will recommend the call button. Meanwhile, focusing on an item, say a smartphone or laptop, will find similar products on the internet and show the user where it can be bought.
Video recording quality is also decent and Super Vivid mode is also available while shooting. On the flip side, the front-camera video recording also has the Beautification feature, although the AI mode is notably absent probably because of its limitations. Unfortunately, video recording on the front and back can only go up to 1080p resolution and 30fps.
OPPO F9 can take slow-motion videos, but it’s nothing like the ones found in high-end devices.
It’s only limited to 720p resolution and 480fps, so it can’t really capture super slow-mo shots. But that’s okay. It’s a midrange smartphone anyway, and this feature is not really a necessity. Actually, it’s nice that OPPO managed to squeeze it in.
Finally, there’s the OPPO F9 Expert camera mode. As the name suggests, it’s for advanced users who know their way around different camera settings. Shutter speed, ISO, white balance, exposure value, and manual focus can be all adjusted as the user see fit.
In front, it’s the same old 25-megapixel shooter, but OPPO has slipped upgrades on the software side. Stickers were formerly available only when shooting photos. At present, it can now be used even in post-production, after the shot has been taken. There are also more stickers to choose from on the OPPO F9, with a lot more available for download straight from the app itself.
As always, OPPO’s Beautification algorithm is spot on when it comes to removing pimples, rashes, and blemishes on the skin.
Although some might argue that the Artificial Intelligence (AI) mode is too aggressive, it’s easy to tone it down by selecting among the filter levels from 1 to 5. Unfortunately, even when turned off, it still looks like that there’s an enhancement going on in the selfies. It’s not that big of a deal, but we wish that OPPO would soon give the option to capture raw and filter-free selfies.
For security purposes, OPPO has equipped the F9 with two biometric unlocking options. While some may find face unlock more convenient, there are still people (like me) who prefer the ease of use of traditional fingerprint sensors.
Even though the fingerprint scanner was completely removed on the Find X, OPPO decided to retain it this time while adding face unlock to the mix.
The OPPO F9’s fingerprint scanner can unlock the phone in as fast as 0.22 seconds. Meanwhile, face unlock happens in just a snap because it unlocks the device as soon as detects the face of the user. In case you’re worried about using it in the dark, the phone’s screen brightness compensates for the lack of light to help the sensor in detecting the face.
For additional security, there’s an option in the settings where the owner can set the face unlock to fail when the eyes are closed. This way, strangers won’t be able to access the phone without the owner’s consent.
The Wi-Fi Assistant intelligently selects the best performing network available and automatically switches to another one if the current is unstable.
Aside from the usual stuff, the OPPO F9 has small tweaks like the intelligent Wi-Fi Assistant. Since we have multiple Wi-Fi access points and repeaters in our office, it’s hard to keep tabs on which Wi-Fi I’m connected to. But with the help of Wi-Fi Assistant, it automatically switches me to the strongest and nearest network available. In case everything has poor connectivity, the phone will automatically switch to mobile data if enabled.
Bluetooth connectivity is fine and it didn’t drop the connection with my wireless speaker even if I’m several meters away. 4G LTE works very well without any hiccups for as long as there’s ample mobile reception in the area.
As for calls and texts, the reception is very good most of the time and I had no problems answering calls in a noisy environment. The person I’m talking had no complaints and we just went on with our conversation as usual.
The OPPO F9 dual-SIM feature also works as it should and I had no troubles getting good reception on both Smart and Globe networks in the Philippines. Both slots require the nano SIM format, so if you have a bigger-sized SIM card, you need to cut it for it to fit in or request for a SIM replacement from your carrier.
VOOC flash charging is a great addition to the OPPO F9, but USB Type-C is still nowhere in sight.
We don’t know what took them so long, but we’re glad that OPPO has finally brought their proprietary VOOC fast charging technology to the F-series. The OPPO F9 is the first-ever midrange smartphone from the company to get it, so it has the ability to get up to 2 hours of talk time with just 5 minutes of charge. Unfortunately, the F9 is still stuck with microUSB instead of USB Type-C.
Battery life has improved compared to the previous iteration, although the difference in capacity is just a mere 100mAh. Using the OPPO F9 with Wi-Fi and mobile data turned on all the time, playing games, watching videos on YouTube, browsing through Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit — it can last for an entire work day and still have 15-20% left to spare. In the PCMark test, the phone got 9 hours and 34 minutes which is quite impressive.
Charging the OPPO F9 from 0% to 100% using the included VOOC fast charger takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. For comparison, other midrange smartphones take up to 2 hours to get fully charged.
OPPO has undeniably delivered a good smartphone once again. The refinements made on the design are remarkable, and the subtle upgrades on the hardware inside are a welcome improvement.
While the OPPO F9 is a great choice for those who are looking for a handset with capable cameras and elegant design, we can’t say that it’s the best midrange smartphone in the market right now.
Depending on the consumer’s priorities, there are other choices available. If you’re into gaming, the Honor Play and Pocophone F1 are the better smartphones for that. If you have a limited budget, there’s also the cheaper Huawei Nova 3i.
OPPO F9’s notch is incredibly small that it’s sometimes unnoticeable, unlike other notches which clearly block a significant part of the screen.
But that’s not to say that these smartphones are completely better than the OPPO F9. While they all have their strengths, the F9 also excels in almost every important aspect in a smartphone.
In my opinion, the OPPO F9 is a good overall smartphone that I could recommend to anyone looking for something with a stylish design, great cameras, and adequate computing power. If you’re looking for an OPPO smartphone and you don’t want to splurge tons of money for a Find X, this is the phone to get.
Pricing and availability of OPPO F9
OPPO F9’s price in the Philippines is Php17,990 and it’s now available in OPPO stores, kiosks, and authorized dealers nationwide.
For those who don’t want to pay in cash, the OPPO F9 is also available through Home Credit 0% installment plans.
- Tiny notch, high screen-to-body ratio, thin bezels
- Decent real-world performance
- 6GB of RAM, excellent in multitasking
- Good cameras
- VOOC flash charge
- No USB Type-C support
- Prone to smudges and fingerprint marks
- Slightly expensive