Oppo R11s review

GSMArena team, 12 December 2017.

Wrapping it up

Oppo did an excellent job bringing the R series up to speed with the competition. The R11s' 18:9 widescreen comes just on time for the holiday shopping season, and it's the hot feature to have right now. And that red paint job, coupled with the Starry sky pattern above and below the screen, makes the R11s so hard to resist - Oppo has a real head-turner, and we all know the first impression counts big time.

Oppo R11s review

We loved the Snapdragon 660 in the Oppo R11, so we just can't think of a better midrange chipset to power the R11s. The battery life and charging speed are the usual good stuff while the Color OS with the new Face Unlock feature is even more like iOS. Even if it's just a novelty for its sake, you can still use the fingerprint scanner as a fallback.

The camera is what bothers us. The R11 produced great regular photos and reasonably good telephoto images, while the R11s dropped the telephoto lens and didn't really provide a worthwhile substitute with this secondary camera. Long story short, it's neither the 2x photos nor the low-light samples that live up to the promise. And we'd still very much prefer the native sort-of-telephoto pictures of the regular R11 to the digitally zoomed output of the R11s. Both Oppo and OnePlus have to do some serious thinking on what they want to do with this type of setup because what they did on the R11s is more of a downgrade than an improvement.

Oppo R11s key test findings

  • The phone looks great, and the hand feel is well on par, flagship-worthy. We appreciate the light but meaningful touches to the exterior.
  • The AMOLED display can get as bright as the OnePlus 5T's. The colors are equally off but some people just like their screens with more punch. Sunlight legibility is average for AMOLED but altogether good enough. Gorilla Glass 5 provides a welcome protection, but it doesn't hurt to keep the pre-applied screen protector. We've seen other phones with GG5 scratch easily.
  • Battery life is adequate with a 77-hour Endurance rating and performance is consistently good across all tests. The proprietary VOOC charging is very fast indeed, but it's still stuck in the micro USB era while the phones by OnePlus use seemingly the same technology over the more modern USB-C port.
  • The user interface is a nice blend of Android and iOS, with some useful touches in all the right places. Face Unlock works great, it's super-fast, but its setup is a hit and miss.
  • Benchmark performance is superb for the class, really close to flagship grade.
  • Audio output quality is great on an external amplifier, but only average with the headphones. Good loudspeaker volume, crisp and clear output.
  • Photos shot with the primary cam are very detailed, with pleasing colors and good dynamic range. We snapped a few good low-light samples too. As it stands, the secondary camera on the R11s doesn't have much use beyond helping in snapping portraits with defocused background.
  • Speaking of which, Portrait mode works well enough and is very good at separating the subject and background.
  • The selfies lack the level of detail you'd expect from a 20MP camera but have good colors and contrast. The simulated bokeh effect is great. Oppo claims it uses AI to provide the beautification effects here, but we liked the regular selfies shot by Oppo's own R11 a notch better.
  • 4K videos have lots of resolved detail, nice colors, and great dynamic range. The 1080p/30fps mode has less detail, but low noise and good colors. The 96 Kbps audio stream is disappointing, however.

The competition

When we think of a competing phone, the first name that comes to mind is none other but the Oppo R11. The regular R11 is better at taking pictures, regular photos and selfies alike. It is also cheaper, and if the 18:9 screen is not a must, then we'd pick the R11 instead.

Oppo R11
Oppo R11

The cheaper Oppo F5 is pretty much identical to the R11s, widescreen and Face Unlock included, though it's got an LCD instead of AMOLED and a different make of chipset. You will have to give up the second 20MP camera, but its benefits are questionable in the current setup anyway. The VOOC charging will likely be missed though.

Oppo F5
Oppo F5

The vivo V7+ does a marvelous job of taking selfies, and it's perhaps equally fast in graphics tasks thanks to the lower-res screen. It's cheaper; it's made of plastic, and the screen is hardly a match to the R11s' in resolution and quality. But the selfie-loving crowd should probably give it a chance. And, by the way, despite its lower resolution, the screen turned out great.

vivo V7+
vivo V7+

The LG Q6 is cheaper too, but you'd probably give up on too many things - performance, camera quality on both sides, battery life, even the looks. But the phone is MIL-STD-810G compliant, meaning it can survive more than a few bumps and drops and fear not dust and water.

LG Q6
LG Q6

The Huawei Mate 10 Lite is a good match for the R11s - and cheaper too. It has a beautiful metal body, a similar screen (though LCD), a capable chipset and at least it doesn't pretend that its secondary camera is anything more than a depth sensor used for defocusing backgrounds in portraits. Sure, this one doesn't have 4K video recording but the still images are good, and there are some advanced low-light modes.

Another sharpshooter from a reputable maker, the Sony Xperia XA1 Plus offers a high-res 23MP main camera, a slightly less capable processor but impressive battery life and a bunch of proprietary Sony goodies.

Huawei Mate 10 Lite Sony Xperia XA1 Plus
Huawei Mate 10 Lite • Sony Xperia XA1 Plus

And if the 18:9 screen is not a priority, the cheaper Xiaomi Mi A1 or Redmi Note 4 will certainly serve you well with a bang-for-buck ratio that's hard to match. The Mi A1 has a pretty good dual-camera at that (wide+tele), while the Note 4 is a real bargain if not as hip.

Xiaomi Mi A1 Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
Xiaomi Mi A1 • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4

The verdict

So, the Oppo R11s - a great-looking handset that's in touch with the times but just not the great cameraphone it could have been. The new dual-camera setup was chosen with the best intentions, but something went wrong implementing it. Not sure whether it can be fixed via a firmware update and honestly they can leave it as is - the R11s will be a reasonably good cameraphone - it's just not great.

Oppo R11s review

Other than the step back in the imaging department though, everything else was improved in a meaningful way: the looks, the screen, the software. The regular R11 is cheaper to have and better at some aspects of photography. The novelty factor and the looks are entirely in the Oppo R11s favor. And looking at this stunner of a paint job again, this may be just all it takes to get one hooked - especially around this time of the year.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

Side left lower button, side right button simultaniously

  • demy

Just swipe diagonally using three fingers all at the same time.

  • Anonymous

How to do a screen shot