Manila, 12 May 2015—OPPO marks this summer with the introduction of their New Trio set: the entry-level Joy Plus, the mid-range Neo 5, and the upper-midrange R1x model. In a colourful event held at BGC’s Valkyrie Night Club, the launch was done to the soundtrack of DJ sets, animated with a pixel poi dance, illuminated by a 3D light show, and ramped up by chic fashion folk as well as their newly minted brand influencer, Kylie Padilla.

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A simpler set

The last time we heard from OPPO was for their high-end phones, each with groundbreaking features to tag-line their brand: the N3 with its unique servo-swivelled main camera, the ultimate selfie camera as it’s been called, and the R5 which at 4.85mm thickness held the record for the world’s thinnest phone for several months. OPPO hasn’t let up on developing such esoteric smartphones, an OPPO officer confirms that they’ll still be launching their R7 and R7 Plus phones later this year, again glitzing things with 2015 flagship models that continue the evolution of their razor-thin R5.

R1x-detail-1But for this launch, OPPO instead released a set that casts a net around the load-bearing layers of the market, from entry-level to upper-midrange, with models having distinctly graded feature sets and wide spreads between price points. You have the Joy Plus starter model at P4,990 SRP (an evolution of their Joy model of 2014) with 4” screen and dual-core processor mated to 1GB of upsized memory. There’s this year’s Neo 5 at P7,990 that ought not to be confused with a Neo 5 model from 2014. This new Neo 5 has a 4.5” screen, a quad-core chip, and 1GB of memory while sporting the kind of upscale construction and aesthetics previously found only on OPPO’s higher-end models. And then there’s the R1x at P15,990, a further development of their R1 from last year that approaches phablet proportions with a 5” screen displaying the fast-crunching capacity of its octa-core processor using 2GB of roomy RAM.

Joy-Plus-400 Neo-5-400 R1x-400
Model Joy Plus Neo 5 R1x
Display 4.0″ WVGA (800×480 pixels) 16M colors 4.5″ FWVGA (854×480 pixels) 16M colors 5.0″ HD (720×1280 pixels) 16M colors
Cameras, main / front 3mp / 0.3mp (f/2.8 aperture on both) 8mp / 2mp (f/2.2 aperture on both) 13mp / 5mp (f/2.0 aperture on both)
Operating system ColorOS 2.0 (based on Android 4.4 Kit Kat) ColorOS 2.0 (based on Android 4.4 Kit Kat) ColorOS 2.0 (based on Android 4.4 Kit Kat)
Processor Media Tek MT6572 Dual-core 1.3GHz Media Tek MT6582 Quad-core 1.3GHz Qualcomm MSM8939 Octa-core
Memory / storage 1GB RAM / 4GB internal flash storage 1GB RAM / 8GB internal flash storage 2GB RAM / 16GB internal flash storage
External storage up to 32GB microSD up to 32GB microSD up to 128GB microSD
Mobile connectivity 3G WCDMA, dual SIM 3G WCDMA, dual SIM 4G LTE, dual SIM
Battery 1700 mAh Li-lon (removable) 2000 mAh Li-Po (unremovable) 2420 mAh Li-Po (unremovable)
Dimensions / weight 124 x 63 x 9.9mm / 125g 131.9 x 65.5 x 8.0mm / 135g 140.6 x 70.1 x 6.8mm / 130g
Suggested retail price P4,990 P7,990 P15,990

 

First, though, let’s stare at the elephant in the room: OPPO phones are certainly pricey. The specs are familiar because these seem identical to those of less costly makes and models, while all of them are from the same country of origin. But, as in anything man made and that can be made in a multitude of ways, there are always caveats to explain the lower cost or higher price. And with this OPPO trio, there’s evidence that you’re getting what you pay for.

The double-layer metal structure of the Neo 5 encloses a toughened core and dissipates heat better
The double-layer metal structure of the Neo 5 encloses a toughened core and dissipates heat better

Classy builds

Forget looking or browsing and simply pick the darned things up. Get up close and hands on. You’ll see—or rather, feel—that build quality is hands-down exceptional. Hold ‘em, squeeze ‘em in all the usual places, and you’ll come away with the impression that these phones, particularly the slim Neo 5 and even slimmer R1x, are each made of just three parts—the glass-hard screen, the mirror-finished backface, and the apparently solid metal middle that these sandwich.

On the top-end N3, the monolithic feel is somewhat diminished by its trademark swivelling camera, but on these New Trio slates, there’s the sensation of the phones having nothing hollow, no cavities worth mentioning, inside. That‘s how well the hundreds of actual parts seem to be matched and mated. On the slim Neo 5 and R1x, the upscale models with Corning’s dense and durable Gorilla Glass III in front, the innards are made even flatter with fixed Li-Po batteries. This said, if the batteries are fully depleted, you’d mistake the unpowered phones for in-store mock-ups, the kind filled to the brim with dense heavy polymer.

Detail of R1x magnesium alloy case chassis with gold electroplating
Detail of R1x magnesium alloy case chassis with gold electroplating

The phones—again, particularly on the Neo 5 and R1x—have these side profiles that offer a positive and sensuous grip on things. Fingers find firm purchase with the acute bevelling on front edges joined by gentle taper to softer curves at the rear. A feature they had first brandished on the R5 to make for confident and comfortable handling of the record-breaking ultra-slim phone, it’s apparently finding its way to their other models and has become something of a design maxim for OPPO.

Sharp software

The distinctive utility and reliability of touch-screen smartphone models somewhat start off as conceptual. Tough things to deliver on slates that could be derided as useless slabs with their minimal buttons and which, at the end of the day, all seem to look the same anyway. The distinction, once you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s with the thing’s physical form—and hopefully its robustness—really comes from how crisply the software detects and acts on your inputs.

ColorOS

The Joy Plus, Neo 5 and R1x, this new trio of models, all run the latest version of OPPO’s customization of Android. Their current-version ColorOS 2.0 is a fork from Android 4.4 KitKat, a credible refinement that feels familiarly Android but with touches you’d certainly miss if you revert to Google’s stock software.

The intuitive instruction set and entertaining animations that come with ColorOS are, well, nice. But what really makes it a serious, commercial-grade operating system is that every button push or valid touch/stroke elicits a prompt response, whether it results in a new screen or just a note saying the system recognized and is working on your instruction. There’s little or no chance you’d suspect the slate of remaining idle and ignoring your urgings.

ColorOS-gestures

And then there are the other ways of telling the phone what to do. With strokes reminiscent of Graffiti from ancient PalmPilot days, you have a brace of short-cuts for things you typically want to do quickly whenever you want these done done done. For instance, with the phone in standby, there’s a gesture to launch the camera app quickly—just trace a circle on the unlit screen and, after a short enough pause, the phone will go directly to the familiar through-the-lens viewfinder display. If you’d rather not play finger twisties trying to press several buttons at the same time, just stroke down on the screen with three of your digits to get a snapshot of whatever you have displayed. Do the same thing with two fingers and it’ll pause whatever song you have running off your playlist in the background. And, if these “screen-off” and “screen-on” gestures still don’t hit the spot, ColorOS will get out of the way and let you customize a few of your own.

Rounding off

So, with their latest launch of models that don’t brandish superlatives and record-breaking gimmickry, these three new phones don’t just round out OPPO’s offerings but offer a finer glimpse at what’s considered brass tacks over at OPPO, a look-see into what defines their product as distinctly theirs without the distraction of cutting edge bells and whistles; rounding off what OPPO is, as it were, based on the common denominator among its products. The Joy Plus, Neo 5 and R1x: these mainstay phones make a subtle and therefore elegant statement on what really sets OPPO apart.

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