The OPPO A17 was announced earlier this year for $259 offering flagship camera features with a leather-like rear and a big, bright display.

Powered by a MediaTek Helio G35 Mobile processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage (with microSD Card slot), there is a 5,000mAh battery offering all day battery life. The 50MP AI Camera on the rear has a 2MP depth sensor and a 5MP selfie camera is nestled into a tear-drop notch in the 6.56” HD+ resolution LCD display on the front.

The rear of the phone is clad in a faux-leather material which is available in two colours: Lake Blue and Midnight Black – with OPPO sending over the Lake Blue colour for this review.

At $259, the price is right and the feature list is impressive on paper, so is it all it’s cracked up to be? I spent two weeks with the OPPO A17 and here’s how it went.

Hardware and Design

The OPPO A17 is very similar to other phones, though it seems OPPO is aiming for a more squared off edge these days, and I like it. The sides, as well as top and bottom are flat, giving it a very boxy feel, but it’s comfortable to hold. The phone is light at just 189 grams, and the faux-leather rear is both warm to touch, as well as keeping the phone free of fingerprint smudges.

There are two quite large camera bumps protruding from the rear which house the AI camera system that consists of a 50MP main sensor and 2MP depth sensor with LED flash. There’s also an AI Camera label just below that. There’s also some regulatory info printed on the back panel next to the OPPO logo, but that’s about it.

The sides of the phone feature the volume rocker on the right which has a satisfyingly clicky feel, and a fingerprint sensor enabled powered button just below it. There’s a SIM tray on the left, which also has room to put a microSD card into, and a micro-USB (yes, you read that right) port, speaker and a headphone jack on the bottom.

The inclusion of a headphone jack is a welcome surprise these days, offering a better option if you don’t want to use bluetooth headphones. The bottom firing speaker only offers mono playback, making it a little lacking when playing video.

The front of the phone includes a 6.56-inch display with a tear-drop notch in the centre housing the 5MP selfie- camera. That screen rises slightly above the side rails of the phone, and there’s a bit of bezel on the top and sides, with a more significant bezel on the bottom.

Performance

The OPPO A17 is powered by a MediaTek Helio G35 Mobile processor with 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage on-board. You can expand that storage with a microSD card which is always helpful in these budget phones.

Performance wise, the phone games and apps are slow to load, but once loaded,they run just fine. It has some issues keeping up with multitasking, with some lag while scrolling the recent apps menu to switch.

Perhaps the worst lag I suffered was keyboard input, which was frustratingly slow – something Scott also found with his review on the budget focused OPPO A57s. There were times when entering text I was waiting for the phone to catch up, with it displaying what I’d typed after a few seconds – but other times saw it miss half of what I typed and put together a mish-mash, forcing me to start again.

Overall, it’s not a performance focused phone, but it does run apps and games well once they’re loaded into memory. It’s more suited to running one app at a time, so if that’s your plan this is a decent option.

As always, I ran the OPPO A17 through GeekBench, which has now updated to V6, and here’s how it stacked up.

Display

The OPPO A17 IPS LCD display is, overall, pretty good. The significant bezel around the display is pretty significant, but allows you to hold the phone without worrying about phantom touches while you’re using it. There’s also a screen protector pre-applied for you to save your display from knocks while it’s in your pocket or bag.

The colour representation of the display is good, and there’s enough oomph in brightness that you can see the phone display even in bright sunlight. Colour representation on the display can be tuned with options for Vivid or Natural colour schemes, with Cooler or Warmer colour tones able to be changed in settings.

The resolution – at HD+ – is good enough to watch movies and videos, with text still looking decent on the screen.

Overall, it’s a decent display without being over-done. The HD+ resolution is a little blocky at times, but it’s bright and colourful and works well.

Camera

The OPPO AI Camera array, consisting of the 50MP main sensor with 2MP depth sensor on the rear and a 5MP selfie-cam on the front. There’s options for portrait shooting and low-light photography. using the combo on the rear, with the front camera offering a Fill Light option which lights up the screen if you need a little more light.

Photos taken during the day in well lit areas are good, though low-light photos are ok with enough time to capture a little more light – though if the subject is moving around a stage it does make it a little harder. Not exactly the highest quality, but they do offer a decent low-light shot.

The OPPO camera app is decent, though I’m still trying to work out the reason for including a 2MP depth camera on the rear, with no sign of a Portrait/Bokeh option available in there. The “More’ section contains a few extra options including Sticker, TIme Lapse, Pro mode and Panorma. Sticker mode is an interesting feature adding in downloadable stickers you can overlay over the display adding in accessories like hats, glasses and even head-dresses and backgrounds to your subject.

Battery & Charging

The OPPO A17 includes a 5,000mAh battery which has an extremely long life, and comes with a 10W charger in the box.

Also in the box is a microUSB cable for the phone, because yes, it has a microUSB port for charging and connectivity. It’s been a couple of years since I had a phone using microUSB, so it was a bit jarring having to go back to looking at which way to plug in the cable.

The battery life on the OPPO A17 comfortably saw me through two days of use with at least seven to eight hours of screen on time, with one 3-day stretch offering upwards of 11 hours of screen on time across that period.

I wasn’t using the phone heavily, but still used it for playing podcasts, making and receiving calls, messaging, as well as surfing reddit and checking out videos on YouTube. The consistent two-day battery life is definitely an impressive stat.

At 10W, charging isn’t particularly fast, but it does the job and most of my charging is done overnight. There’s also a lack of wireless charging, though that’s not a surprise in budget phones.

Software

OPPO loaded the A17 with ColorOS based on Android 12. The phone comes with the October security patch out of the box, though an Over-The-Air update available straight away will bring you up to December. You can look out for quarterly updates based on this schedule, and OPPO have been decently responsive in updating their devices.

There is some bloatware on the phone when you first login, with Booking.com and LinkedIn apps pre-installed. You can uninstall these apps when you first boot in though.

There’s a bunch of tools included though which is helpful including a voice recorder, FM radio app, Compass, media players and a phone cloner to help bring your data over from an old device.

Should you buy this phone?

There’s a lot to like about the OPPO A17 at this price-point, though of course there are some rough edges in terms of performance.

The MediaTek processor/4GB RAM combo really isn’t up to a lot of multitasking and use for things in quick succession – typing fast, multitasking etc. What it is good for is running basic phone apps, with the processor able to handle things well once it’s loaded. The camera could be better, but offers acceptable results in good light, though does tend to struggle a little with any movement in low-light shots.

Overall though the phone looks great with the faux-leather rear panel though, and has excellent battery life.

If you’re looking for a budget model 4G smartphone with excellent battery life and good looks, then this is definitely a good phone to check out.

The OPPO A17 is available for $259 from JB Hi-Fi, Big W, Harvey Norman, Officeworks, The Good Guys, Bing Lee. It comes with a Konec Mobile offer which includes additional data, so it’s worth checking out.