We review the 2018 refresh of the OPPO A71!

OPPO’s A71 was a surprisingly capable phone when we reviewed it last year, pegged by the Chinese company as a budget phone for mobile gaming. While the device wasn’t a gaming powerhouse, it had more than enough spunk in its plastic frame to run most Android games with acceptable frames. This year OPPO refreshed the A71 with a better, more power-efficient processor while retaining roughly the same price. Is the refresh worthy of the same praise as last year’s phone?

Exterior leaves you wanting more

Just like the phone last year, this year’s refresh for the A71 tries to approximate the look of a premium phone yet uses less than premium plastic for its construction. Our pink review unit looked like a metal-backed phone from afar, though closer inspection of the device reveals its budget roots.

That doesn’t mean it’s shoddily constructed though, as the A71 (2018) felt solid in our hands. There’s no obvious creaks or gaps in the phone’s construction, which is usually the case for budget phones.

Button layout is typical for a phone its size, with the volume rocker on the right and the power button on the left. The 3.5mm jack is on top, while the USB port is below, along with the speaker grille. Flip the phone over you’ll see the 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 aperture tucked at the upper left side with a lone flash unit. Since the phone is a budget device, you don’t get a fingerprint scanner anywhere, unfortunately.

Display gets the job done

Just like the body, OPPO had to cut a few corners with the display to keep the price of the phone low. The 5.2-inch display doesn’t use the increasingly popular 18:9 layout, instead opting for a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio. The display panel is also TFT instead of IPS, which means viewing angles aren’t as forgiving.

Despite that the phone’s HD panel is good enough for most people. It’s sufficiently bright for outdoor use, color reproduction is fine and the display size is big enough to game on. Navigation is done via hardware navigation keys located on the chin of the phone.

Hardware can handle games like PUBG, just don’t expect amazing results

New to this year’s A71 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor, which replaces the MediaTek MT6750 chipset on last year’s model. The Snapdragon 450 processor carries a slightly better GPU in it, though you’re limited to just 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, which makes multi-tasking challenging.

Storage for games is also going to be problematic as well with the limited 16GB of storage.

So does that Snapdragon 450 processor have enough power under the hood to play games like say, PUBG for mobile? Sure – keeping settings on low yielded a consistent 26 FPS in PUBG, which is definitely steady enough to enjoy the game. Bumping settings to med doesn’t tank the framerates too much, with the phone managing to return 23 frames per second on average.

Camera is nothing special

We weren’t expecting too much from the A71’s rear snapper. The 13-megapixel camera has an f/2.2 aperture, and while it captures great detail in bright light, it doesn’t have a lot of dynamic range and has trouble with scenes that have challenging exposure.

Colors are a little muted, and low-light images are lacking in detail. It’s not really a big deal since the phone is a budget device, though you might want to keep that in mind when you pick one up. It’s pretty much the same story for selfies and the 5-megapixel f/2.4 camera.

It’s a battery champ

If there’s one thing we really like about Qualcomm’s 400 series of processors, it’s the fact that they are usually battery efficient chipsets. The Snapdragon 450 processor in our experience has managed to keep our review device running for more than a day with a single charge, with plenty of power left over for the second day. PCMark’s battery benchmark confirms that fact, posting an impressive 14 hour and 7 minute run on a single charge.

Verdict: a worthy refresh

We were pleasantly surprised with OPPO’s first A71 last year as it managed to deliver excellent value for money especially if you’re a mobile gamer on a budget. This year’s refresh is even better, and is capable of running this year’s hottest new Android game without any issues without draining your battery.

The OPPO A71 (2018) is priced at Php 7,990.