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OPPO A94 Review – What can it offer for the price of P13,999?

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The newest mid-range device from OPPO is finally here and they are positioning the OPPO A94 as a mobile gaming and video-centric device–but with a cheaper price. Well, they did an impressive job putting not just an AI-focused chipset, but also a gaming worthy processor. That’s quite impressive but we did try to test the phone and here’s our take on the OPPO A94.

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Unboxing

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The box is in blue color with a black accent and a large ‘A’ that indicates that it is an OPPO A-series. It has a Simple black box inside which is very classy. Upon lifting the cover, it has another compartment box with a jelly case, a sim ejector pin, and some documentation inside. Below is the device itself and underneath is the 30W power brick, USB type-c cable, and free headphones.

Design

Going to the design and build, the unit in our hand is the fantastic purple and it is really fantastic. The design is gradient, from purple to cyan but as light bounces onto the surface the color changes–which makes it looks pleasing to the eye. They also have the fluid black variant if you want a minimalistic-looking device.

The texture is metallic glossy which attracts a lot of fingerprint magnets but the build is plastic. It looks like a premium device, but when you start to hold it with your bare hands, you can feel the lightness of the device. It is just 172 grams, and it made me feel like I am holding a less sturdy device.

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The protruding camera module is in a rectangular shape which houses a 48MP quad-camera. Below the module, it looks like there’s a fifth camera but it only has an AI text. which is a bit gimmicky but honestly, I like the aesthetic.

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The frame also has a gradient style, colors are continuous from the back panel to the sides. The speaker grille, USB Type-C port, main microphone, and 3.5mm headphone jack are located on the bottom while up top is a secondary noise-canceling microphone. The volume rocker and simtray with dual nano sim and expandable storage that expands up to 256GB, are located on the left side. On the right is the power button, and the fingerprint scanner is located under the display.

Speaking of the display

The OPPO A94 boasts a 6.43-inch FHD+ with a resolution of 1080×2400 pixels. In its price range, it’s impressive that the panel is now AMOLED, and which is why the fingerprint scanner is under the screen. The overall look at the front is quite beautiful, it has slim bezels and a punch-hole cutout that houses a 32MP selfie camera. I thank OPPO for putting the cutout on the top left side corner of the screen which is the perfect place for a punch-hole display, but if you want to hide the cutout, you can, by going to the display settings menu.

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For the quality, I am impressed with the quality of the display, it is bright especially outdoors as the brightness can go up to 800nits. The colors are very punchy, the sharpness is on point, especially when playing a 1080p clip from youtube–you might even think the video has no compression. The contrast is also great, but one thing I found lacking is–the smoothness. I usually use a higher refresh rate and the feels that it gave to me, I can’t deny the fact that it looks better even if the display is only an IPS panel. Well, I guess it’s a matter of preferences and if you like AMOLED displays–it is–battery efficient with richer colors.

Camera

OPPO A94 is equipped with a quad rear camera. 48MP on the main cam, 8MP on Ultrawide, and 2MP for both macro and depth sensors.

The main cam outputs true-to-life and sharp colors, although sometimes highlights tend to be blown out. Once HDR mode is on, highlights will be balanced, but it will also introduce deeper blacks. If you add AI enhancement on the HDR image it shows the same results while giving brighter colors.

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When it comes to indoor shots, it outputs good images if the subject is lit properly. It gives true-to-life colors and detailed results but I noticed that taking photos without proper lighting will result in pale colors and the white balance is quite inaccurate. But overall photos are crisp and also detailed and white balance detection is not a permanent issue since it can be fixed once they push a software update to its camera AI.

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Now onto its 8MP ultra-wide sensor. It shows the same result as the main cam but with noticeable softness and distortions on the edge of the frame. Sometimes the white balance consistency is not accurate but overall sharpness is on point and colors are satisfying to look at.

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Now shooting with night mode and tripod modem, it is quite impressive. It lifts all the blacks while giving details that the naked eye can’t see. However, photos processed from the tripod mode are quite soft.

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Introducing a light source in the scene is just okay even without using tripod mode.
But it’s ultrawide at night, shows lesser exposure since it doesn’t use Quad-Bayer technology, and the results showed a little bit of softness.

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For its portrait mode, it has different features including dynamic bokeh, neon portrait, and the AI color portrait. The AI color portrait separates the subject from the background and giving it a monochrome filter while maintaining the colors of the subject. The skin tone is pretty much true to life the subject to background separation is good. But for the neon portrait mode, it is best to capture it in the nighttime.

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Now for the macro sensor, the results are quite impressive if I were to compare it on previous devices in its price range. They usually have lesser colors but the OPPO A94 did a pretty good job handling those qualities.

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Switching to the front cam, the 32MP selfie looks natural but it did some processing to enhance the face. The good thing is it retained the sharpness even the skin tone color. Although enabling portrait mode is quite inaccurate in detecting the subject from the background resulting in less natural edges. It still has the neon and AI color portrait mode but with less accuracy as well.

Video and Features

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On video recording, OPPO A94 is able to capture or record videos up to [email protected], but there are no [email protected] which is quite a bummer. [email protected] stabilization is present even with ultra steady off but it is a little bit jittery. Using the ultra steady feature is much better and besides, it also has a live bokeh, live beautification, dual-view mode, and last but not least a slow-motion up to 1080p.

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One of the features that Oppo is proud of is the Dual-View Mode and the AI color filters on its portrait and video. Dual-View Mode allows you to record videos from the front and the rear camera simultaneously. But the quality is reduced to 720p resolution. But it is still impressive knowing the fact that the chipset is capable of capturing two cameras simultaneously in this budget mid-ranger. AI Filters is a bit gimmicky but for some, they may find it enjoyable. Still, it feels like some features are missing like the video pro mode and [email protected] frames.

Overall, the qualities are okay and even if OPPO A94 didn’t include all camera features, it still offers flexibility for specific users.

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Performance

Under the hood, it is powered by an Octa-Core processor–MediaTek Helio P95 (12nm) with PowerVR GM9446 GPU and we have 8GB of ram and 128GB internal storage. There’s no G on its name but I know for a fact that the chipset has a MediaTek HyperEngine gaming technology for better and faster framerates plus smoother gameplay.

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In fact, we did test the OPPO A94 gaming capability with the Esports title games like PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile, Mobile Legends, and League of Legends Wildrift. They showed impressive stability throughout the entire test. And I really like the fact that Asphalt 9 has the motion blur that we can see on other higher midranger from OPPO–thanks to the Mediatek HyperEngine feature. Also in Honkai Impact 3–at the lowest quality–it is still stable, but playing Genshin Impact is quite frustrating due to noticeable frame drops but again the game is still unoptimized so it is acceptable.

Software

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Out of the box, the software that runs on the OPPO A94 is the latest Android 11 with ColorOS 11.1 on top. There are impressive features for multitasking including smart sidebar, split-screen, etc. For gaming, there’s a Gamespace and performance mode that will enhance the gaming experience. But what I really like about the software is the Personalization, in which all customizable settings are in one place–from changing the icon style, fingerprint animation, and even themes and wallpapers.

READ: OnePlus is switching to OPPO’s OS, ColorOS

Navigating through the entire UI, we didn’t encounter any lags at all. But it seems icons or picture contents loading time is delayed and maybe because of the internet speed. Regardless, the UI gives a lightweight feel and impressive optimization and animation.

Battery

As for the battery again the OPPO A94 only has a 4310mAh battery. With a kinda less-efficient 12nm chipset but the display is AMOLED, you should be okay with day-to-day use. As for charging on its 30W VOOC flash charge, it charges the battery to 100% in just one hour.

Overall

Does OPPO A94 have an excellent offering for both camera and gaming capability? Yes and kinda no. OPPO A94 really did an impressive job on making the two segments commendable, although, I can’t say it has both solid performances, particularly on its camera. The camera quality didn’t meet my expectations but the camera features especially on video are entertaining. But is it bad? Nope! The qualities are still impressive for its price of P13,999 pesos. Let’s just say I’m more impressed with the gaming capability, display quality, and the latter the camera performance.

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OPPO A94 specs, price, availability in the Philippines

  • Display: 6.4-inches, FHD+, AMOLED, 430nits, 20:9 ratio, 409PPI
  • Design: polycarbonate
  • Dimension and Weight: 160.1 x 73.2 x 7.8 mm, 172g
  • Chipset: MediaTek MT6779V Helio P95 (12nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (2×2.2 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • GPU: PowerVR GM9446
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB (expandable up to 256GB vis microSD)
  • Main Camera: 48MP, f/1.8, 8MP 119°, Ultrawide, 2MP Macro, 2MP Depth
  • Video Recording: [email protected], [email protected]/120fps; gyro-EIS
  • Selfie Camera: 32MP, f/2.0, HDR, [email protected]
  • Connectivity & Ports: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.1, A2DP, LE, aptX HD, GPS with dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS, NFC, USB Type-C, USB On-The-Go
  • Security: Fingerprint (under the display), accelerometer
  • Features: gyro, proximity, compass
  • Battery: Li-Po 4310 mAh, non-removable, 30W fast charging,
  • Audio: mono speaker
  • OS: ColorOS 11.1, Android 11
  • Colors: Fluid Black, Fantastic Purple
  • Price: Php13,999
  • Release date: March 26, 2021 (Philippines)
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