The Oppo R15 announcement was overshadowed by a massive media charade. A barrage of clickbait articles claiming this phone shows us what the OnePlus 6 will look like, took the spotlight off the actual product announcement and misfocused the attention on something else entirely. You won’t see any of that here, this review is all about the latest fashion-centric smartphone duo to come out of the Chinese company – the Oppo R15 and R15 Pro.
Oppo has worked hard to establish its recent smartphones as more than just handsets. Professional designers hired to create hues, famous people advertising the R series, big flashy concerts, fashion brand partnerships – Oppo’s persistence worked and anybody living in Asia could tell you an Oppo is more than just a phone, the brand is becoming part of popular culture .
The latest R15 and R15 Pro flagships, just like the newest Huawei P20s, have signature paint jobs that make them eye-catchy and easily recognizable. What we have here is the flat-back R15 in Nebula Purple and the curvy R15 Pro in Ruby Red.
Made of glass, those two devices feature the season’s favorite tall aspect ratio screens complete with a notch up top. Oppo is returning the AMOLED panels and has worked hard on building up the Selfie Expert branding with lots of selfie-centric features.
The rest is mostly incremental upgrades – an improved rear camera with a new 16MP primary sensor and some AI capabilities, Helio P60 or Snapdragon 660 chip, and a large battery with VOOC fast charging.
Oppo R15 and R15 Pro specs
- Body R15: Aluminum frame, flat glass back, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 front
- Body R15 Pro: Aluminum frame, curved glass (or ceramic) back, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 front
- Display: 6.28-inch AMOLED, 1080x2280px, 401ppi, 2.5D glass
- OS: Android 8.1 Oreo with ColorOS 5.0 on top
- Chipset R15: Mediatek Helio P60, 4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A53, octa-core CPU, Mali-G72 MP3 GPU, 6GB RAM
- Chipset R15 Pro: Qualcomm SDM660 Snapdragon 660, 4×2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260, octa-core CPU, Adreno 512 GPU, 6GB RAM
- Storage: 128GB internal with microSD hybrid (SIM2) expansion slot
- Rear Camera R15: Dual – 16MP, f/1.7, 1/2.6″, 1.22µm, PDAF, plus 5MP, f/2.2, LED flash
- Rear Camera R15 Pro: Dual – 16MP, f/1.7, 1/2.6″, 1.22µm, PDAF, plus 20MP, f/1.7, 1/2.8″, 1.0µm, LED flash
- Video recording: Regular – 4K@30fps, 1080p@60 fps; Slow-mo – 720@240fps, 1080p@120fps
- Front Camera: 20MP, f/2.0, 1080p video recording
- Connectivity: Dual SIM, Dual 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 4.2, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, A-GPS/GLONASS, NFC, microUSB 2.0
- Battery: 3,400mAh non-removable, VOOC Flash Charge 5V/4A
- Misc: Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted)
- The R15 and R15 Pro are not that different with the most notable exception being the design. While the chipsets are from different makers, they should deliver equal performance. Then there is this megapixel bump on the secondary rear camera on the Pro, which should improve the low-light performance, at least in theory. But we all know how this turned out for the OnePlus 5T and Oppo R11s, so we won’t be holding our breath here.
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We got to spend some time with the Oppo R15 and R15 Pro, so we’d be using both devices for the most part of this review.
Unboxing the Oppo R15 and R15 Pro
Both Oppo R15 and R15 Pro come packed with the same accessories. There is a VOOC-compatible microUSB cable and 20W plug, a pair of headphones, and a transparent silicone case.
Note that you can only enjoy VOOC charging by using both the proprietary cable and charger. Any other cable or plug limits the device to 5W or 10W charging.
The Oppo R15 comes with pre-applied protectors on both the screen and its glass back. The R15 Pro has a protector, too, but only on its screen. Of course, both phones use Gorilla Glass 5, so it’s really up to you to decide whether it’s worth sticking to those extra layers of protection or not.
The excellent screen is what you’ll first notice about the Oppo R15 and R15 Pro. Oppo says consumers want all-screen phones and having a notch out there is inevitable. The duo evolves the tall screen introduced on the R11s by making it larger, bezel-less, and yes, notched.
There are lots of changes beyond that AMOLED screen, too. For starters, Oppo has waved goodbye to the aluminum unibody in favor of glass and ceramic. It’s the other trend growing stronger lately – glass is taking over metal as the preferred material for the back. Both Oppo R15 and R15 Pro have polished metal frame gluing together the front Gorilla Glass 5 and rear’s shiny piece.
The R15 uses a flat Gorilla Glass on the back that comes with a pre-applied protector. The signature color for the R15 lineup is the Nebula Purple, a gradient designed specifically for the occasion. You can also get the R15 in Hot Red and Snow White.
Oppo R15 in all three colors
The R15 Pro, on the other hand, takes the design one premium step further – the back panel is made of either glass (Ruby Red) or ceramic (Ceramic Black), and is curved towards the longer sides. The R15 Pro is available in Ruby Red gradient paint job – also designed for the R15 Pro exclusively. There is also a China-limited Ceramic Black version.
Oppo R15 Pro in Ceramic Black and Ruby Red
The screens on the R15 duo might be bigger than the panel on the R11s, but the phones’ sizes have been kept the same at 155.x 75 x 7.5 mm. Only the weight has increased and is now up to 175g for the R15 Pro compared to the R11’s 153g.
The Oppo R15 Pro in Ruby Red looks stunning, there are no two ways about it. The glass back with that gradient is one of the best-looking designs we’ve seen on a smartphone lately and that alone might be a decision maker.
The R15 Pro’s glass back is curved, making it prettier than the R15’s. It also helps the Pro look thinner than it actually is, which is a nice touch. We’ve seen this curve on many phones, starting with the edge models by Samsung, but we are glad it is sticking around.
The R15 Pro will be available with an IP67 rating on all markets outside China, which is probably a first for Oppo. We don’t know the reason behind the Chinese exclusion, but a closer inspection revealed that even the Chinese R15 Pro comes with a lot of rubber seals around the chassis.
As we said, the back of the regular R15 is all-glass, but it lacks the edge of the R15 Pro. It still has a 2.5D rounded edge, so there are no sharp edges. Rather than that, everything looks the same – the camera hump, the flash, even the fingerprint scanner.
The R15 lacks any water-protection whatsoever, no matter the region. But Oppo still makes all of its phones, R15 included, moisture-tolerant as the coastal climate is rather wet a few months every year. The company has built entire machines that recreate the environment in different Chinese cities and tests all Oppos inside those.
The fingerprint sensors on R15 and R15 Pro are always-on, blazing-fast, and recognize your tips every single time. But in case that’s not your favorite security authentication method, you can also opt for the improved Face Unlock.
The notch on R15 duo has a small grille for the earpiece at its center. The 20MP selfie shooter is on the left, while the sensor bunch – on the right. There is no notification LED, and the earpiece is just that – no speaker functionality.
That 20MP cams are the technical part of the Oppo’s Face Unlock. It can’t be as secure as Apple’s Face ID, but it uses 120 recognition points and supposedly can’t be fooled by a picture. The good news is Oppo’s face recognition is as fast as the fingerprint scanner at the back.
Both Oppo R15 and R15 Pro have hybrid SIM slots meaning you can swap the second SIM for a microSD card.
But most importantly, those two phones look amazing. Oppo has hired a renowned designer to mix the signature gradient paintjobs and it has paid off. After all, being a fashion icon isn’t an easy task in today’s smartphone beauty contest.
Oppo R15 (Purple) next to the R15 Pro (Red)
Finally, handling the Oppo R15 and R15 Pro is a pleasurable experience. Ture, they both are slippery devices unless you use the provided silicone cases. But with or without protection, the R15 duo is made to impress, it just requires regular cleaning and to be handled with care when used case-free.
The Oppo R15 Pro, as well as the regular R15, packs a notched 6.28″ screen of 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (that’s 401 ppi). The matrix underneath that slightly curved Gorilla Glass 5 piece is of the Diamond PenTile kind.
In our display test, the R15 managed some 410nits of maximum brightness, in line with the R11s and OnePlus 5T. Just like the R-series phones to come before it, the R15’s AMOLED doesn’t offer a brightness boost in auto mode. Still, the other inherent benefits of the screen technology are intact. Contrast is, predictably, infinite and blacks are as deep as they get.
The minimum brightness equals the R11s’ – just 2.1nits, perfect for reading in the dark.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Contrast ratio|
|Oppo R15 Pro||0||410||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy S8||0||440||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy S8 Max auto||0||618||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy S9||0||370||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy S9 (Max Auto)||0||658||∞|
|Apple iPhone 8 (True Tone)||0.397||554||1395|
|Sony Xperia XA2||0.401||532||1327|
|Huawei P20 Pro||0||412||∞|
|Huawei P20 Pro (Max Auto)||0||582||∞|
|Huawei P20 (Max Auto)||0.481||695||1445|
Sunlight legibility is better than the R11s and pretty much the same as measured on the R11. It’s on par with most of the OLEDs there and means perfectly usable even in the brightest of days.