OPPO has once again launched a new affordable smartphone to the Australian market in the form of the A78 5G. The last couple of affordable OPPO smartphones have been just that with performance to match. This one is different.
The OPPO A78 may look similar to those that came before it but its performance far exceeds the two others we have tested this year. The slight bump in specs onboard make a huge difference in performance.
Priced at just $359 the OPPO A78 5G sits in the entry-level, affordable smartphone segment but it certainly outperforms what its price suggests it is capable of. I spent a couple of weeks with the A78 5G and here are my thoughts on it.
Hardware and Design
Ever since late last year OPPO has kept the design of their non-flagship smartphones extremely similar, and I have to say I love it. A more square-ish shape, with a sparkly rear of the device and side-mounted fingerprint sensor seems to be the flavour of the week. I love it. The phone feels extremely solid in the hand and although it is a square shape it is still comfortable to hold.
Once again there are two large camera bumps protruding from the rear of the device housing a 50MP main camera and a 2MP black and white self-portrait camera. According to the label OPPO has placed underneath this camera system is apparently an “Innovative AI Camera.”
Once again there is obtrusive regulatory info printed on the rear panel next to the OPPO label. I really dislike this and I’m not entirely sure why OPPO do it considering companies such as Google and Apple do not have it on theirs. I find it detracts from an otherwise beautiful design.
The side-mounted fingerprint sensor is standard in OPPO’s affordable smartphones and once again I had no issues with it. Once you get used to where it is it works consistently and accurately nearly every time. I tend to register the thumb of the right hand and the index finger of the left as that is how I pick up the phone with the power button being on the right side of the device.
For those who prefer face unlock OPPO also provide that option and OPPO’s face unlock is possibly the fastest on the market.
The sim tray is a dual sim tray with room for either a second SIM or a microSD card for added storage.
The bottom of the phone houses the USB-C charging port as well as the speaker grille and a headphone jack – many/most affordable smartphones include the headphone jack. For OPPO to include a USB-C charging port that supports 33W SuperVOOC (and PD) charging is great. The charging solutions are normally one of the best things about OPPO smartphones and 33W in an affordable smartphone is great. I was able to charge the phone from 5 percent to 50 percent in around 27 minutes and up to 80 percent in around 45 minutes. What’s not to love about that?
The display is a 6.56-inch 720p HD+ LCD display with support for a 90Hz refresh rate. The 90Hz refresh rate is impressive in a phone this cheap and although it is an LCD. There is a tear drop notch in the centre at the top which houses an 8MP selfie camera.
The LCD display is decent but do not expect OLED-quality, vibrant colours and black blacks. You can make the colours more vibrant in the software included by OPPO – “Vivid” does enhance the colours a fair bit and I have little doubt that most will prefer this setting.
The 720P is a bit on the lower side when it comes to display resolution but for a phone this price that is one of the compromises you normally have to make to get it under the target price.
The bezels are relatively minimal around all sides, with the bottom bezel slightly bigger than the others. In saying that, the A78 still has an impressive 89.8 percent screen to body ratio.
Dan and I both found that the previous OPPO entry-level phones we tested were lacking when it came to response and performance. The OPPO A78 offers a step up in processing power and although it is still a Mediatek processor, the Mediatek 6833, it is more powerful than the G35 in the previous OPPO affordable smartphones.
The performance is better across the board with apps opening faster and there being a massive difference in lag within apps. The previous phones typing was a chore when the display lagged behind the words we had hit on the keyboard. Although the A78 was better and there was very little lag between typing and seeing that response on the display, it was still there.
The lag got worse the more apps I had on the go, as you would expect with just 4GB of RAM included, but the easy solution to this is to not leave so many apps running at once. OPPO has implemented an extremely aggressive task manager to accomplish this with apps closing quickly when not in use.
OPPO has loaded the A78 with ColorOS 13 (Android 13) out of the box, with the review model currently updated to include the April security patch. OPPO are much better at keeping their phones updated than what they were when they first ventured onto our shores.
OPPO is my favourite Android skin, including that from Google on the Pixel smartphones. The sheer amount of options are difficult to get your head around although their side bar quick launch action has recently been made worse in that launching apps from this will only launch them in a small window, not full screen.
The A78 includes all relevant ColorOS options which is impressive in a sub-$360 phone. Also included are some useful apps such as an FM radio app, Compass and the phone clone app to help transfer all your data to the new device. The included bloatware such as booking.com and LinkedIn can be uninstalled easily so don’t stress about them eating away at your phone’s memory.
As mentioned above, the rear 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.
Results were decent but not flagship level. Low light pictures lacked some detail while daytime (albeit overcast) images seemed over-processed by the AI on the phone. You should not expect flagship quality imaging from a phone which costs about 20% of that flagship phone though so these results are no surprise.
As you can see above though the results are decent with colour reproduction relatively good, but a tad muted. Night photography was decent but the sharpness was lacking. Although the phone is one fifth of the price of a flagship phone, the photos are certainly better than 20% of a flagship phone.
Should you buy this phone?
It is difficult to recommend affordable smartphones. They often lack in more than a couple of areas as they have an aggrassive price to hit. The OPPO A78 5G is no different. The chipset is far from a top end chipset but it performs well enough. The cameras are decent without being spectacular but are acceptable, just. In low light they will struggle as you can see above but the phone is $359.
The display is decent by itself with the 90Hz refresh rate making it pleasurable to the eye and in use. The fingerprint sensor actually works really well and OPPO’s face unlock is the best on the market. Finally, the design is actually quite stunning and a joy to look at.
If you can afford to spend more I’d say spend more and get a phone with a better processor and improved camera system but if your budget is at that $359 then this is a phone that performs better than this price suggests. The OPPO A78 5G is excellent value for money and if your budget is this sub-$400 range then you couldn’t do much better than it.