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OPPO’s popular R-Series of smartphones, sought after abroad for being both stylish and capable in terms of imaging, has finally arrived in the Philippine market. And it falls to the OPPO R17 Pro to carry the R-Series flag into the country as the first phone of this series to be sold here.

The R17 Pro is a midrange unit that boasts a few striking features that just might endear it to those initially interested in range-topping smartphones. One of which, of course, is its powerful and distinctive three-lens camera setup.

In the world of smartphones – most of which are single- and dual-lens affairs – could a three-lensed wonder like the OPPO R17 Pro be king?

We’re about to find out, so stay stuck!

Many-splendored camera setup
Of course the OPPO R17 Pro isn’t just about its lenses, this phone has plenty of things going for it, but given that its camera setup is so distinctive, imaging makes for a good topic to begin this review.

First up, this smartphone’s main lens is a 12MP one that boasts dual-pixel phase detection autofocus to enable fast focusing, optical image stabilization, and f/1.5-24 variable aperture. OPPO dubs this a ‘Smart Aperture’ camera and touts its ability to automatically widen when faced with low-light situations. By doing so, it allows more light to enter – supposedly resulting in clearer night scenes. Other features like AI Ultra-clear Engine and Ultra Night Mode can also try to help boost the quality of pics taken in dim and fading light. And when the camera is used to take pictures of bright scenes, the opposite happens and the lens narrows to filter out glare.

The second main lens is a 20MP affair whereas the third is what is known as a TOF or Time of Flight camera, which takes pictures extremely rapidly and is used for 3D image capture, and can also help make sure shots taken have nice bokeh or background blur effects.

And the R17 Pro’s front-facing snapper is the one with the highest megapixel count at 25MP. It’s an AI Beauty Camera that uses artificial intelligence to learn your preferences from the settings you select. It also has modes like face slimming, makeup, and six other modes that are fully configurable, and also comes with a live preview option, too.

That’s a lot of imaging tech crammed into one phone. Is it any good? We put it through its paces, taking pictures in a variety of situations ranging from bright sunlight to dimly lit interiors and from closeups of individuals and groups of people to panoramic shots of the outdoors. Overall we were pretty impressed by the quality of shots the R17 Pro took – most especially in extreme lighting situations, in both bad light and bright, that would stymie many other phones, even pricier ones. (And we looked pretty fetching in the selfies that we took, too.)

So, yes, the R17 Pro’s three lenses can carry the day if what you want is a capable imaging phone. But this smartphone can offer more than just good imaging capabilities.

Head-turning style
The OPPO R-Series, as we mentioned above, is known for its aesthetics, and we think OPPO chose well when they picked the R17 Pro to be the first R-Series phone sold in the Philippines. We love the R17 Pro’s sole color choice, Stream Blue – its color gradient flows between purple and deep view as users shift the phone from side to side. It’s quite striking and we imagine will spark many a conversation.

But Huawei is playing with more than just appearances – it’s gunning to make this phone a textural standout as well. The phone’s frosted metal exterior was specifically crafted to be soft and grainy to the touch, and, OPPO says, is reminiscent of beach glass. The rear is made of a special sort of misted glass which was intended to feel like satin to the touch.

We didn’t use our test unit with a case, partly so we could enjoy how it feels in the hand, but, as with most modern phones especially those with glass backs, it’s best to use an R17 Pro with one – just try and use it without the case from time to time if you end up getting one so you can see what we mean about texture.

Shapely specs = pro-level performance
Now direct your attention to R17 Pro’s screen, a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED Full HD+ unit (1080 x 2340 pixels, 402 ppi, 19.5:9 aspect ratio and an 91.5% screen to body ratio, Corning Gorilla Glass 6). More and more phones are shifting to large and bright edge-to-edge screens and this one is no exception. And the phone’s water droplet-shaped notch really is less intrusive than many other implementations.

We loved this screen, although it didn’t really stand out from other AMOLED edge-to-edge screens in other phones we tested lately (which says more about the quality of modern screens in general than it does about the R17 Pro’s screen itself). It performed well, not washing out in bright light or sunlight.

What does set the R17 Pro’s screen apart, though, is its integrated fingerprint scanner somewhere in its lower portion, just right for thumb access. Said scanner works quite well; during our testing period, it unlocked the phone quickly and reliably. We hope that other manufacturers, at least those that aren’t going with facial recognition, will see the light and integrate these scanners into their units, as these solutions are far easier to use and much more stylistically friendly than rear-mounted fingerprint scanners.

Driving all this are an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor that incorporates a multi-core AI Engine and also comes with 8GB of RAM. That much RAM practically guarantees smooth, stutter-free performance – and this is indeed what we experienced no matter how hard we pushed our test unit. Internal storage is set at 128GB and can be expanded via a nano-SIM/microSD slot.

You might also be happy to hear that the R17 Pro comes with a USB-C port as well as SuperVOOC Flash Charging technology. For those not in the know, thanks to this technology, a drained R17 Pro can charge to as much as 40% battery capacity after only 10 minutes of charging. We tried it a couple of times and were satisfied that it lives up to its claims. Uniquely, the R17 Pro’s battery is a dual battery – a pair of 1,850mAh cells totalling 3,700 mAh – and with features like five-core smart protection to monitor charging. OPPO says that this setup makes battery charging both faster and safer.

The R17 Pro runs Android 8.1 Oreo with OPPO’s ColorOS 5.2 layered over it.

The verdict
We really like the OPPO R17 Pro and think you will too. It’s a noteworthy blend of style, technology, and power, and it takes lovely photos to boot. Be sure to give this one a try so you can see what we mean!



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