Recently we covered Konec Mobile and their partnership with OPPO to help them gain a foothold in the Australian MVNO market.  We already have a lot of MVNOs in Australia with most of them offering great value and bang for your buck.

Not all MVNOs are created equal though – some use the Optus network and some use the Telstra network and some use parts of one or the other.  Konec Mobile uses a lot of the Telstra network, including 5G in a large slice of Australia.  We tested out Konec Mobile on their 4G $25 plan along with their $35 plan which, at the moment, includes 5G as a trial.

First though, let’s look at the phone that OPPO has included in their deal with Konec – the OPPO A57s.

Specs + design

Make no mistake about it, the OPPO A57s is an entry level phone so let that temper your expectations before getting too excited about it. One thing though it is a great looking phone with the Starry Black rear of the device in a squarish design that we saw and loved on the OPPO Reno8 Pro late last year.

The specs are far from impressive with a Mediatek Helio G35 octa core processor – octa core means little these days, what chipset isn’t this at a minimum?  It is paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.  

While the storage at 128GB is acceptable, the Helio G35/4GB RAM combo is not.  I’m not entirely sure if this is the full reason for the average performance but I dare say it is a lot of it. There is a fingerprint sensor incorporated into the power button and as for all other fingerprint sensors that OPPO put in the power buttons of entry-level devices, it works well and fairly consistently.

The display is a 6.58-inch 720p LCD display which, is not impressive on paper but looks decent enough, especially on an entry-level phone.  Brightness only goes up to 600nits but that was still enough to see the display on the beach.

The camera setup is a 50MP main camera with f/1.8 paired with a 2MP depth camera – definitely entry-level specs.  The selfie camera is an 8MP wide camera.  

So how are the pictures?  Good but not great.  Let’s face it though, if you are buying an entry-level phone your expectations are going to be a lot lower than someone paying nearly 10 times as much.

The daytime, good light photos were good, with quick focus and detail of stationary subjects.  There was a bit of over processing of some images with lower light giving them a strange appearance but by themselves they were still acceptable.

Low light photos, as per usual for an entry-level phone, were barely acceptable. Low light photography is not great on the A57s with the phone struggling to pick up enough detail without washing out details. This is the extra level you get when you pay more – better specs and better post processing.

Selfie images were good enough although I’m not entirely sure what folks want in a selfie – you or the background or both?  This seemed to pass with both but be warned, OPPO did not get the memo on defaulting to non-edited images so the default is to make the image look like your skin or the lens has been smothered in Vaseline.

Battery life on the A57s was great. I was easily able to get through a full day of heavy usage which is my usual measure for good battery life. You will easily be able to use this for at least a full day given most people’s usage is a lot less than mine (hotspot all day, streaming NBA, NFL, podcasts etc).

One thing missing from the A57s, and until we hear otherwise from OPPO I’m going to assume is their new policy for all smartphones, there is no case included.  I thought it was strange they didn’t include one in the Reno8 Pro box and hoped it was a one off.  Unfortunately not.

I know that if you want a decent case you are going to buy an aftermarket one but the OPPO case has always been handy until that one arrives in the mail.  You are unlikely to find an OPPO A57s case where you buy your phone or in that stall in the centre of the walkway at your local shopping centre.  For the sake of a fraction of a dollar it seems like something OPPO could (and should) do to set themselves apart, in a good way, from most other manufacturers.

Software and experience

The software on the OPPO A57s is ColorOS 12.1, which is Android 12 but the latest security update is from November 2022, so at this stage you get the full Android security.

Now, I’ve used Android 12 a lot and quite like it, on a phone with good enough specs to run it, but unfortunately that’s not the case here.  There’s significant lag on the phone, likely due to the Mediatek processor, which will be quite noticeable to anyone coming from higher end models.

The switching from one app to another was slow as treacle, but that is comparing it to a flagship device.  By itself it’s ok – a bit like the camera.  If you are under 60yo and are considering this phone I’d recommend spending a couple hundred more and get a mid-range device.  OPPO has some great mid-range devices that perform a hell of a lot better than this.

For most of the older folk, such as my Dad who is over 75 now, it is just fine.  They won’t notice the slowness of the apps or the switching and if they do they won’t care.  I work in aged care and can tell you that this would be a perfect phone for these folks.  Cheap and works fine, just not quickly.

So how is its performance as a phone with a Konec sim card? There is one thing to be aware of before buying this phone with the Konec SIM. The OPPO A57s does NOT support 5G so if you plan on using one of the Konec 5G plans — which are only in trial at the moment — you will not get 5G reception with this phone. Once again, this is an entry-level smartphone and those who purchase it are far less likely to require 5G speeds.

Konec Mobile

Setting up the Konec sim card was super easy – although you will need to download the Konec app first so you’ll have to do that over Wi-Fi.  Enter your name etc and select the plan you want and whether you want to port your number over to Konec and you are done.  The sim was good to go within a few minutes so there is no issues there.

For my job I travel around Melbourne a lot, from the far South East to the far East and up to the Northern suburbs at times as well thus I was able to test out the 4G sim fairly extensively.  After using the 4G for a month I upgraded the SIM to their Everyday Plan which includes Telstra’s 5G. As mentioned above the OPPO A57s does NOT support the 5G network and thus I used the SIM card in my OPPO Find X5 Pro.

At no time did I lack reception with the signal being better than my usual Vodafone sim inside a lot of the aged care facilities I go to (the reception in these facilities are often notoriously bad) and while driving around Melbourne I had perfect reception at all times.

5G reception was surprisingly good. Checking out the Konec website you can see that their 5G coverage basically mirrors that for Telstra in the larger cities. I was able to get fast, reliable 5G reception which is all you could hope for — so, in a nutshell, it’s as advertised, as you’d expect.

Of course, my experience may not be yours given that you’d have to be following in my footsteps exactly to get the same experience.  This is Australia though and in the major cities all carriers have a great and extensive reception.  If you are at all concerned you can check out their coverage maps over on their website.

On the plus side, and this is a massive plus, Konec have the old-fashioned data bank – they are not the only MVNO to do this but it is definitely not something they all do.  Simply recharge within 24 hours of expiry and you can bank any unused data, capped at a total of 500GB for all plans except the 90-day expiry plan.

What’s not to like?

Telstra offers the best overall coverage of any carrier in Australia but you pay for that coverage.  Telstra’s value for money is a lot less than the other two main players which, if this coverage is important to you, makes an MVNO that uses the Telstra network an attractive proposition.

Konec offer great value for money with their 4G sim, and the one that comes with the OPPO A57s at the moment, costing a minimum of $25 per month (no lock in contract).  They also have a “starter pack” that will cost $60 for 90 days, so only slight saving with about the same data (45GB) due to the current $25 Essential pack proving double data (44GB).

If 5G is your want you’ll have to stump up $35 a month but that does give you 42GB of data that is currently doubled to 84GB.

One interesting and negative tidbit/piece of fineprint is that all downloads are capped at 100Mbps on ALL plans — which is strange because I was able to get over this speed on my 5G speedtests. 

Final thoughts

A lot of people want the coverage that Telstra offers but are unwilling or unable to pay the ransom they ask for a decent amount of data. For those folks they should be looking at an MVNO that uses the Telstra network. They rarely, if ever, use the entire Telstra network but in the city, where the bulk of Aussies are, you are unlikely to notice a difference.

Konec Mobile is perfect for this. You get the reliable Telstra 4G network and at this stage some of the 5G (in the cities you get basically all of it) but the 5G availability and costs in the future in unclear at this stage. If you want great reception and don’t care for 5G I can highly recommend Konec. If you care about 5G I’d consider testing them out at the moment while they have the 5G on trial and then reassess once they decide if they are going to charge extra for it etc.

As for what phone to use with Konec Mobile, the OPPO A57s that they have for cheap as part of a great deal at the moment, it is good but remember it is an entry-level device so you will not get great performance. It is acceptable for those who don’t need that high end performance but go in with both eyes open. OPPO has a lot of other phones that sit in the lower mid-range that perform a lot better but they will cost you a bit more. Keep in mind that the OPPO A57s does NOT support 5G so if you want that, get a different phone.

Get the OPPO A57s along with a Konec Essential Plan SIM card for just $249 with bonus double data available at the moment.