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OPPO A39 Review: Caught in a Tight Spot

OPPO ended 2016 on a high. The company shot up the ranks and was the second best selling smartphone brand in the Philippines, thanks to their aggressive marketing strategy for their selfie-centric smartphones; the most recent of which is the Chinese company’s Selfie Expert, the OPPO F1s. Before the year ended, OPPO Philippines quietly released the A39. It had the same internals as the F1s and it’s pretty much the same smartphone on paper, but there is one glaring difference between the two — the A39’s front camera doesn’t hold a candle to the one on the OPPO F1s. Is the A39 worth its asking price? Before we jump in, let’s take a look at the OPPO A39’s spec sheet.

OPPO A39 Specifications

  • 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6750 octa-core processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • Mali-T860 MP2 GPU
  • 5.2-inch HD IPS TFT display; 1280×720 resolution, 2.5D Arc Glass, Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • 32GB of storage; expandable up to 256GB via MicroSD card
  • 13-megapixel rear camera, LED flash, f/2.0 aperture
  • 5-megapixel front camera, f/2.4
  • 3G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop, Color OS 3.0
  • 2900mAh battery

Same Design, Same Build Quality

In terms of design. not much separates the OPPO F1s and the OPPO A39. We mentioned in our initial review that, looking at the rear of the device, you’d probably be hard pressed to tell the two apart if it weren’t for the difference in their dimensions. While it may not go over will that OPPO keeps a consistent design language for most of their smartphone releases, bear in mind that their devices are consistently well built as well; no gaps, no flex, no play and the A39 definitely feels sturdy despite its light weight.

 

Another difference we touched on in our initial review for the OPPO A39 was the lack of a fingerprint scanner on the device. We thought that we would slowly get back into the rhythm of having to tap in our PIN to unlock the A39 over the course of our review period, but it truly is a convenience we missed having on a mobile device. We’re mostly nit-picking here, but it did make us appreciate this feature that we now take for granted.

So, So Multimedia Experience

It’s hard not to read through the spec sheet and not notice the fact that OPPO has chosen to go with a TFT display for the A39’s 5.2-inch screen; and if you didn’t notice then, you’ll definitely know once you start using the device. It’s not to say that we’ve had a horrible time with the screen of the A39, but there’s definitely less vibrancy to the colors it displays, compared to the members of the F series, and we would have loved to see richer blacks as well. It’s speakers do pump out a decent amount of volume with pretty good audio quality; in case you’re the type that likes to share your tunes in public.

Passing Marks as a Daily Driver

We’ve seen a lot of phones rocking MediaTek’s MT6750 and it has proven itself as a dependable SoC for mid-ranged devices. The MT6750 is helped along with the A39’s 3GB of RAM, Mali T-860 MP2 GPU, and 32GB of storage; it’s literally the same processing package of the OPPO F1s. John said that it was good enough for daily use but it isn’t a powerhouse, and I am inclined to agree. I personally use my mobile device for social media, Viber, to get rides on Grab and Uber, Waze, email, YouTube, and to write an occasional article or two on the go — and the A39 was able to take on the tasks I threw at it without flinching.

The OPPO runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop with their ColorOS UI overlay. We’re not fans of these UI overlays and we really wish that OPPO could move up more current versions of Android, but at least it doesn’t get in the way of performance.

We ran our usual suite of games to see what the A39 could handle and it did a pretty decent job. You’ll have no trouble running Asphalt 8 on medium settings, as is the case with Hitman Sniper, but you’ll have to turn everything down to low on NBA 2K17. There will still be frame rate drops here and there, but its definitely playable.

Definitely Not a Selfie Expert

The OPPO A39 definitely loses out to the OPPO F1s on paper and in the images it produces as well. While the F1s rocked a combination of a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 16-megapixel front camera, you’ve only got a 13-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front camera on the A39. Though it may seem that the A39 wins out a little bit in terms of aperture size at f/2.0 compared to the F1s’ F/2.2, you won’t have phase detection autofocus on the A39.

Moderate Use Will Get You Through the Day

The OPPO A39 has a 2900 mAh battery, which got a time of 7 hours and 22 minutes on PCMark Benchmark’s Battery Test. In our real world test, we were able to get to the later parts of the afternoon before having to juice it up back up for the trip home; that’s with a mobile connection on the whole time and a YouTube video or two during down times. If you’re not such a heavy user or too reliant on having our mobile data up the whole day, then we easily see the A39 last throughout the day and till you get home safe and sound after braving EDSA during rush hour.

Verdict: Not in the Same League as the OPPO F1s

The OPPO F1s Lite is what we’ve playfully been calling the OPPO A39; given that its pretty much the same phone on the inside with the slightest of changes on the outside. You’ve got a few things missing from the equation, of course. There’s the lack of a fingerprint scanner, the change from a LCD display to a TFT display, and the fact that it loses out on megapixel count in terms of its front camera, which really puts the A39 in a pretty tight spot here considering it’s price tag of Php 10,990. The 3GB/32GB variant of the OPPO F1s retails for Php 12,990 and given that price difference, you may want to hold off on buying an A39 and save up a bit more to purchase the F1s instead. If you’re really have to stick to a budget though, the OPPO A39 is worth a look.

Jamie Inocian

A self-confessed geek. Jamie started out helping out on the Unbox Podcast and became the Digital Sales Manager when he joined the team full time. He has since then transitioned into one of our Senior Editors and Head Video Producer.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m planning to get the Asus Zenfone 4 Max for about P10K. I saw this Oppo A39 at Puregold today selling for also that price. I think the Asus is still and clearly the better buy. The Oppo has a slight edge in terms of CPU clock speed but the Asus has a dual lens camera (13MP+5MP) that theoretically should be better, and more importantly, it has a huge 5,000mAh battery. The battery alone is enough to make me get the Asus.

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