OPPO F9 Pro first impressions: making the notch desirable

OPPO F9 Pro - Product Shots (1)

Honestly, when OPPO started teasing the F9 Pro, I was apprehensive about the need for another phone with a MediaTek Hello P60 in 2018. Because, both, the OPPO F7 and the Realme 1, are still good phones in their own right.

But, it looks like OPPO wanted to bring some more refinements to the table. The F9 Pro has a newly-designed tiny notch and it comes with OPPO’s trademark VOOC charging right out-of-the-box. Fun fact: Dash charge on the OnePlus is actually powered by VOOC. 

I spent some time with the phone at the launch in the event in Mumbai and here is what I thought about the new OPPO F9 Pro.

OPPO F9 Pro: taking design risks with funky backplates and a water-drop notch

The F9 Pro is a major design risk honestly. And, I think it pays off. The phone is made entirely of plastic — in a day and age where metal and glass are the most sought-after materials. But, this plastic is so deceiving that most people are going to firmly believe that it is glass. OPPO’s reasoning for using plastic is simple: they can’t possibly get the cool colour and pattern combination on the back panel otherwise. 

I saw the Sunrise Red and the Twilight Blue variants of the phone. And these phones look plain Red or Blue from one angle, but the moment you tilt-shift slightly it throws up a unique diamond-cut pattern. It looks astonishing. If you ask me, I like the Blue one more than the Red one and therefore I know that each one of you will have your favourites too.

As for the other design risk, OPPO has decided to change the shape of the notch. Now, the notch is as tiny as the one on the Essential phone and boy does it look good! The notch – shaped like a droplet of water is – honestly, the most non-intrusive way of including a notch to increase the screen estate. In fact, I noticed that OPPO has also added a screen guard that has cut out the curved part on the top to accommodate the curve of the notch. Even before using the phone, I can tell you now that the notch has already gone into peripheral vision. Also, it looks elegant so that’s an added advantage. 

The phone has a 6.3-inch FHD+ IPS LCD panel. And, at first glance this panel looked crisp and bright to me. Furthermore, just like the ASUS ZenFone 5Z, this LCD panel makes it look like the icons are literally floating on the screen. Although, I need some time with the phone to assess the display quality to its fullest. 

OPPO F9 Pro: Color OS 5.2 and dual cameras

OPPO, along with the new design changes to hardware, has also made one interesting change to Color OS 5.2’s software as well. Color OS, for the uninitiated, is OPPO’s bespoke UI on top of Android 8.1.0 Oreo. It comes with support for Project Treble, so that’s great too. Well the new addition to the software is the inclusion of a Smart Sidebar, which is just like Samsung’s Edge screen on its Galaxy flagship phones. While useful, I still think the Sidebar makes more sense on a curved edge display. In fact, the F9 Pro doesn’t even have a 2.5D curved glass for what it’s worth.

Now, while you do get a 25MP camera on the front you also get a new dual-camera setup on the rear. This module has a 16MP+2MP setup inside, with a dedicated flash attached to it. Also, the camera app now has Portrait Lighting features, first introduced by the iPhone X. I couldn’t test the shooting the capabilities of the camera in the limited time with the phone, but I did take a few samples for you to see. 

OPPO F9 Pro: VOOC is back

As for the hardware inside the phone, you get the same Helio P60 processor with upgraded 6 gigs of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. What’s cool is that you can also upgrade the storage space using a memory card and the phone has a separate slot for it. None of that hybrid slot nonsense. 

 

But, the biggest change in hardware is definitely the inclusion of VOOC charging. OPPO claims you can get 2 hours of talk time with 5 minutes of charge. You know us, we are more concerned about the charging time from zero to 100 so shall do that once we get our hands on a unit. 

Closing thoughts

The OPPO F9 Pro brings a lot of new changes that makes the phone an interesting proposition, no doubt. Having said that, for the F9 Pro’s asking price there are very many interesting alternatives out there. For example, the Nokia 7 Plus and the Mi A2 are great Android One phones. Also, the Honor Play is probably the most powerful phone you can buy in the same price bracket. 

But, that could only last another day because Xiaomi’s sub-brand is launching the Poco F1 in India on the 22nd. And, rumour has it, the phone will be priced around Rs 25,000. A phone with Snapdragon 845 at that price range, will just send the market into a tizzy. 

Good times for Indian smartphone buyers. Good times, indeed!

Ershad Kaleebullah

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?