Oppo RX17 Pro Review

What is the Oppo RX17 Pro?

The Oppo RX17 Pro seems like it could be the cousin of the OnePlus 6T. The devices share almost the same curves and the same notch style.

But the RX17 has an upper-mid-range processor instead of a true high-end one. You get a triple camera setup on the back and ultra-fast charging as a consolation prize.

Start using the Oppo RX17 Pro and any familiarity disappears thanks to Oppo’s Color OS software. However, the outward similarity to the OnePlus does the Oppo no favours: swift and powerful as it is, you’ll wonder why you wouldn’t just plump for the OnePlus 6T instead. The latter is cheaper and even better for mobile gamers thanks to its extra power.

Oppo RX17 Pro – Design

That the Oppo RX17 Pro and OnePlus 6T appear similar makes sense on the realisation that both firms are owned by the same parent company. The two reportedly operate completely separately, however – although on first unboxing the Oppo, many phone fans won’t be able to avoid that comparison.

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The Oppo RX17 Pro’s rear is a single, curvy pane of toughened glass, while a minimal teardrop notch sits at the top of the display. Its sides are aluminium, and the rear looks pleasantly minimal until it catches the light, which highlights an S-shaped swirl of colour under the rear glass.

It’s an attractive phone, then, with none of the strange design choices that have earned Oppo some headlines over the years – and it’s a great choice to launch the Oppo brand in the UK. Oppo is the fifth most popular phone-maker in India by volume, and is in a war with Xiaomi for the number 2 spot in China – but many in the UK may never have even seen an Oppo phone in person before.

The RX17 Pro includes some neat practical extras. A factory-applied screen protector sits on top of the display glass, and you get a silicone case in the box.

Predictably, though, the Oppo RX17 Pro doesn’t have a headphone jack. The in-box earphones are based on Apple’s EarPods – a hard plastic earphone rather than an IEM (with silicone tip) – and there’s no adapter in the box. Bear this in mind if you do not already use wireless headphones.

The Oppo RX17 Pro hardware seems restrained in some ways: there’s no IR blaster, no wireless charging. However, there is a fast in-screen fingerprint scanner that’s at least as good as the one that features in the OnePlus 6T. Plus, the camera-based face unlock is so quick I’d suggest you choose either finger or face security; otherwise, the two methods elbow each other out of the way for your attention like a pair of needy children.

Size-wise, the Oppo RX17 Pro is similar to other flagships. It’s 74.6mm wide, which is almost identical to – you’ve guessed it – the OnePlus 6T.

Oppo RX17 Pro – Screen

The Oppo RX17 Pro has a 6.4-inch screen with a 19.5:9 aspect and a shallow, narrow notch that lets your media content take up as much of the display as possible. At this point, a number of high-end Android games simply pretend the notch doesn’t exist, rather than blocking off that last fraction of the screen.

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This is an AMOLED screen with 2340 x 1080 pixels. It isn’t quite as sharp as a Galaxy Note 9, but the difference is obvious only if you look up-close.

Colours are oversaturated, too, and there’s no “natural” mode to let you tame this in the Settings. This will become apparent on viewing photos, which look completely different on the Oppo RX17 Pro’s screen to other displays. Comparing their appearance with a colour calibrated MacBook Pro, tones are just slightly jacked-up on the Oppo – although it’s nothing like the borderline deceptive representation seen in some OLED phones.

You can tweak the colour temperature, however, to make the Oppo RX17 Pro screen warmer or cooler. Opt for the “warm” side if you want a look that’s closer to that of a pro-calibrated screen.

This is a punchy, bold screen that’s out to display the benefits of OLED’s great colour and contrast. The Oppo RX17 Pro also reverts to using its entire screen whenever possible. When playing games, this may mean little bits of the interface are snipped off by the screen’s outer curves and the notch.

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You can turn this off per app. There’s no option to block off the notch completely, however. The OnePlus 6T includes such a feature, as well as different colour saturation modes.

Oppo RX17 Pro – Software

The Oppo RX17 Pro runs Android 8.1.0 and ColorOS, Oppo’s custom Android skin. There are a few important parts to note here.

First, since it doesn’t yet have Android 9.0, you won’t get new features such as app timers and other elements of the release’s Digital Wellbeing functionality. ColorOS has no app drawer, either; it takes a more iOS-like approach, using home screens to hold your apps.

Distinctive interfaces such as this usually try to cover themselves by offering lots of customisation. ColorOS is more restrictive, however. You can’t add an app drawer, and there’s no Themes store to let you quickly download a brand new look for your Oppo RX17 Pro. However, there are eight themes preinstalled, effectively offering a handful of tasteful wallpapers for your phone.

For the first few days, I wasn’t a huge fan of ColorOS; I missed the app drawer and I wasn’t sure about Oppo’s font choices. However, you soon realise this is a relatively clean and simple interface.

If you’re after greater control, then opt for a OnePlus 6T.

ColorOS has a few periphery parts. To the left of the main home screen is a quick update page that displays a bunch of widgets: the weather, your schedule for the day and your daily step count. It’s inoffensive and free from ads.

The other important extras are Game Space and Clone Apps; the latter lets you install two separate versions of applications such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook. This is handy for people who, for example, have professional and personal social accounts.

Game Space is Oppo’s version of the now-common Android game tools. These alter the phone’s behaviour when you play a game. It limits other apps’ access to resources, manages notifications and lets you open up micro versions of apps such as WhatsApp, enabling you to reply to messages without leaving a game.

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The Oppo RX17 Pro is clearly a solid phone for games. Its screen is sharp, its 128GB storage offers plenty of room and the phone is powerful. However, it isn’t the strongest device at this price. It isn’t even close.

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The phone has a Snapdragon 710 processor, which has eight Kryo 360 cores and an Adreno 616 GPU. When the OnePlus 6T and Sony Xperia XZ3 have a Snapdragon 845 and cost a similar amount or less, how does the Oppo RX17 Pro stack up?

It scores 5835 (1815 per core) in Geekbench 4. A Snapdragon 845 phone can expect to achieve around 9000. The Oppo RX17 Pro’s score is only slightly higher than a Snapdragon 660 phone, such as the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite, but it does offer noticeably faster app loads and general responsiveness.

This may in part be down to fast storage and RAM. Internal memory writes reads at an SSD-like 501MB/sec and the 6GB of RAM is DDR4.

However, play some of Android’s toughest games and the performance difference between the Oppo RX17 Pro and OnePlus 6T becomes apparent. Most games run perfectly well at top graphics settings, but Ark: Survival Evolved chugs a little with the resolution maxed and detail set to Epic. The game runs significantly better on a OnePlus 6T.

This is no surprise – that phone’s Adreno 630 graphics chipset is far more powerful than the Oppo RX17 Pro’s Adreno 616. In 3DMark’s Slingshot Extreme test, the Oppo scores 1816 (1441 using the Vulkan API), the OnePlus 4635 points (3592 with Vulkan). The difference in raw graphics power significant.

Oppo RX17 Pro – Camera

The Oppo RX17 Pro has three cameras on its back. Its main camera has a 12-megapixel sensor and a lens that, like the Galaxy S9, can switch between f/2.4 and f/1.5 apertures. It narrows the lens aperture in bright conditions.

The second camera has a 20-megapixel sensor with a surprisingly slow f/2.6 lens.

This isn’t the lead bit of tech in the camera hardware, though. The third camera is a Time of Flight (ToF) model, which works in concert with a laser array to help judge the distance of objects in a scene. It’s for AR (augmented reality), in other words. There’s only one built-in feature to make use of it, though: “stickers”. These are similar to Apple’s Animojis, using facial recognition to map your face movements onto a cartoon avatar.

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Related: Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review

As such, this hardware would be far more useful on the front of the Oppo RX17 Pro. The ToF camera will likely spend most of its life just sitting there, not doing a great deal. A greater number of handsets are beginning to include ToF cameras now – including the Honor View 20 – which suggest we may see more development of Android AR soon.

The ToF camera will also come into its own when, or if, the phone receives an update to Android 9.0, making it compatible with more advanced AR apps.

The secondary sensor doesn’t have a true zoom lens, either. Consequently, the Oppo RX17 Pro’s camera setup seems oddly narrow for a phone with three lenses stacked on its back. You can shoot 2x zoom images, but looking at the results it becomes apparent that the zoom isn’t fully optical.

This camera is nothing like the ultra-versatile Huawei Mate 20 Pro in terms of image composition.

However, it does have advanced low-light skills. The Oppo RX17 Pro’s main camera has both large 1.4-micron pixels and optical image stabilisation. And there’s a Night mode that uses multiple shots to give you a similar effect to long exposure, but you can use it handheld. It’s effective, although images don’t appear to retain as much low-light detail as the Huawei P20 Pro.

In other words, it has roughly the same skills as the OnePlus 6T. And this is no bad thing.

Day-lit images are detailed and appear less processed than those of some top-end phones, lacking the stressed look that can be seen on a phone that’s trying to increase the impression of detail. The Auto HDR is effective and natural-looking too.

The Oppo RX17 Pro’s shadows do seem to vary in noise level and detail between images, both during day and night, as it flicks between different HDR strategies. But this is still a good, if not exactly class-leading, camera.

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