OPPO announced the A9 2020 last week and I found it to be an incredibly interesting phone for the Kenyan market. It is a crystal ball of what we should expect to see in 2020 and I’m quite excited.
The OPPO A9 2020 looks like most phones we have seen the past two years. There is a teardrop notch at the front. There is a number of cameras at the back. It has USB-C port at the bottom. The power button is conveniently located at the right hand side while the volume buttons are on the left.
The phone that I have here is the Marine Green variant and it looks pretty cool. There is a Space Purple version but I prefer this Marine Green variant.
First impressions of the A9’s display are disappointing. This is a Kshs 29,999 phone that has a mediocre 720p display. Resolution aside, the display is not colour accurate and the whites are wanting. It is disappointing since OPPO has put better 720p displays on cheaper phones like the OPPO A7 I reviewed last year.
The only reason I could think off as to why OPPO decided to go with this panel is to achieve the sub Kshs 30,000 price point. It is definitely the weakest part of this phone but thankfully that is not the case for the rest of the features.
The OPPO A9 has a 5,000mAh battery and my first impressions is that it is excellent. My daily driver is a phone with a 4,000mAh battery which has very good battery life.
The OPPO A9 has better battery life than my daily driver and that is a great first impression. That battery life is also further augmented by the 720p display and the Snapdragon 665 that hums within which is not a power hungry CPU.
The other key feature is the stereo speakers. Stereo speakers are surprisingly rare and has been made a ‘premium’ feature by manufacturers.
They sound pretty okay but they are not as well balanced and as clear as the Samsung Galaxy S10 ( a phone almost three times its price). I still don’t mind it because it is a great addition and stereo speakers improve the audio listening experience when you are consuming content without earphones/headphones.
8GB of RAM
The most surprising feature about the A9 is the 8GB of RAM. OPPO managed to cram 8GB of RAM to a sub Kshs 30,000 phone, which I believe is frankly amazing. Most 2019 Android flagship phones sport 8GB of RAM as standard (except the Pixel phones) and it makes the experience so much better.
My first impressions is that this phone keeps a lot of apps in memory and that improves the user experience a lot. It is my favourite feature of the phone and I hope in 2020, more sub 30K smartphones will have 8GB of RAM.
The camera situation with the A9 is not surprising at all. The primary camera system is composed of a 48MP main camera, an 8MP wide angle camera and two 2MP sensors. The front camera is a single 16MP sensor.
The main sensor is a 48MP camera that outputs 12MP photos. This Sony IMX586 sensor uses pixel binning to combine four pixels into one to theoretically take better and more detailed photos.
First impressions of the primary camera system is that it is actually good. In good light, it takes good photos. Since it doesn’t have OIS, I wouldn’t trust it to take sharp photos in lower light situations but that is expected for the price.
The wide angle camera is also decent but it is not the best I’ve seen. For the price, it is okay. It is also not the widest that I’ve seen.
The OPPO A9 2020 is the first phone that gives us an indication of what we should expect from phones that retail between Kshs 25,000 and Kshs 30,000. In an earlier editorial, I said that phones at the Kshs 25,000 price bracket are the ones to get and this has the potential to drop in price to that bracket in a few months.
This phone has killer specs for the price. A massive 8GB of RAM and stereo speakers make it stand out from its segment. It has competitors, like the recent Huawei P30 Lite New Edition, the more expensive Nokia 7.2 and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8.