Oppo R7 review: Changing course
VOOC charger in the box
The Oppo R7 arrives in a familiar retail box with a nice set of accessories. Other than the phone, you also get a charger, which supports the company's VOOC fast charging tech and outputs up to the massive 4A of current at 5V.
It's paired with a proprietary USB cable with additional pins to enable the fast charging. Rest assured -both the charger and the phone itself can take regular cables, just don't expect the same charging times if you replace one of the links in the VOOC chain.
There's also a headset inside the box with a single-button remote. Additionally, you get a clear rear protective cover, which wraps around the sides too.
The R7 comes with a screen protector pre-applied, but it takes away from both the look and feel of the smartphone. We suggest you follow our lead and duly remove it as soon as the phone is out of the box.
Oppo R7 360-degree spin
The Oppo R7 measures 143 x 71 x 6.3mm and while the first two numbers are run-of-the-mill, the thickness isn't. It is, in fact, one of the slimmest 5-inchers, even more so if you narrow down your selection to 1080p+ screens.
The metal build has resulted in a bit more heft than the size would suggest, and the R7 weighs in at 147g. The recently reviewed Xiaomi Mi 4i is a good deal lighter at 130, and so is Oppo's own R1x. The Lenovo Vibe X2 is lighter still at 120g.
Body and design
The Oppo R7 is quite a show-off. It boasts a magnesium-aluminum alloy unibody, which the company claims went through 48 polishing processes. A fine zircon sand paintjob has been applied, to which the back owes its smooth surface.
It is indeed a beautiful behind, its looks only spoiled by the two strips top and bottom, which were necessary for all the antennas to work properly. That said, Oppo claims the R7 uses the body itself as an antenna, having 92% of it made of metal. We presume they mean 92% of the non-screen surface.
The 13MP camera module has called for the inevitable bump, but it's nowhere nearly as pronounced as we've seen (think Galaxy S6 and Oppo R5). Here, it sticks out by about half a millimeter.
A shiny Oppo logo, etched in the middle of the matte brushed panel, adds a nice touch of contrast to the back. A less welcome step in the same direction are the regulatory markings towards the bottom, which are both large and sharp and draw unnecessary attention. Placing them on a sticker that you can peel off as we've seen other makers do would have certainly been the more stylish solution.
There's a tiny protruding dot at the bottom, which makes sure the speaker doesn't get muffled when the phone is lying on its back. It levels with the camera bump across to help the phone remain stable, and it will only wobble if you deliberately press its bottom right corner.
The back and the sides are made from a single piece of metal, though a groove running all around the sides would suggest otherwise. You can obviously forget about replacing the battery yourself, but that's the price to pay for such a slim waistline.
The remaining parts of the phone look like it's nestled in the metal tray. There's a liquid effect of sorts, showcased by Oppo itself in promotional material, making the front glass appear to be kept from spilling out by a white plastic frame.
It's a 2.5D glass, which nowadays is the decidedly unscientific term for describing a glass panel that ends with a gentle curve at the edges. In practice that gives your fingers a more natural feel when swiping across compared to a flat panel or, even worse, one with a raised edge.
Now, there was much talk about the R7 before its launch how it will have a unique bezelless design but that's not the case. It's about as standard looking as any other phone in this respect, and the much talked about edge-to-edge display has been reserved for the R7 Plus.
Anyway, the R7 is yet another in a long line of striking Oppo smartphones. Though not revolutionary by any means, and also far from the most distinguishable company designs, the handset still manages to attract jealous stares.
Controls and handling
The Oppo R7 stays true to a proven control layout with a power button on the left and a volume rocker on the right, virtually identical to the recently reviewed R1x.
Above the volume rocker you'd find the SIM-card slot, which would take a micro-SIM and a nano-SIM card or a micro-SIM and a microSD card, but not all three at the same time. It's one of the sturdier tray designs too, and it leaves you confident it won't break the next time you pop it out.
The microUSB port, which as we said has a couple of extra pins, is centered in at the bottom, the mouthpiece on the side. On top you'd find nothing but the 3.5mm headphone jack.
The R7 relies on capacitive buttons inside the bottom bezel, instead of onscreen buttons and the configuration is the typical Menu/Home/Back.
Above the display you have the earpiece, flanked by the front 8MP camera and the proximity/ambient light sensor. Further to the left there's a notification LED, which lights up from underneath the screen glass.
The 13MP primary camera resides in the top left corner, along with a single LED flash. The secondary mic is in the vicinity as well. Towards the bottom of the back is the single loudspeaker.
The R7 is a joy to hold in hand. The touch of the cold alloy, coupled with the slim profile, remind you every time you're holding a premium piece of tech, and the 2.5D front glass reinforces that impression.
The matte rear surface provides enough friction, and the edge between the outer frame and the display means you're guaranteed a secure grip.
The phone is really sturdy too, and doesn't seem prone to bending or twisting. Our (admittedly less than extreme) attempts at it resulted in no deflection or creaks whatsoever.