OPPO A16s – everything you need in a low-cost smartphone (review)

The OPPO A16s has everything you need in a $269 smartphone – bright 6.52″ HD screen, rear tri-camera, dual sim (retail model), expandable storage, NFC, Wi-Fi AC and a big 5000mAh battery.

It is part of the updated A-series, including the A54s, A54 5G, A74, A74 5G and A94 5G, where OPPO’s quality control and stress testing make the A-series keepers.

Hint: It is essentially the same as the A54s ($299) that gets a triple 50+2+2MP camera (binned) and 128GB storage. For $30 more, this is the pick.

This is a mini-review. We still conduct all 70+ tests but report on things you need to know.

OPPO A16s

WebsiteA-series and Product Page
Price$269 ($249 if on a Telco plan
ColoursPearl Blue and Crystal Black
From *OPPO online, OPPO enjoys wide retail distribution from JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Harvey Norman, Bing Lee. Telco (usually single sim on a plan) include Optus, Vodafone, Australia Post, Coles, Big W.
Warranty2-years ACL
Country of OriginChina
CompanyOPPO is now #2 in Australia for Android smartphone market share. It has achieved that by excellent product and after-sales service.
MoreCyberShack OPPO news and reviews

* Grey market – no Australian warranty

We issue a strong warning that you must buy a genuine model with Australian firmware. Read Don’t buy a grey market phone to ensure you get the Australian model.

It is easy to identify the Australian version – usually under Settings, About Phone, Legal Information, Regulatory compliance, you will see the Australian RCM C-tick mark.

It is critical to get the full range of 4G and 5G sub-6Ghz and 5G low-band frequencies. Australian phones require local activation first, which means a grey market phone likely won’t be able to use 5G here. Also, you will not get local warranty, over the air OS and security updates, nor make a 000-emergency call without a sim.

First impression – everything you need

OPPOs A-series continue to delight me with a pretty complete set of features and a build quality well above some competitors. Sure this is entry-level – HD screen, 4/64GB, MediaTek Helio G35, but it has a good camera, Wi-Fi AC, NFC, 5000mAh battery, expandable micro-SD storage, all housed in a 190g, 8.4mm thin, well-made body.

It is a great first phone for students. Its long-life battery is perfect for long times between charges, and its 2-year warranty tops many well-known brands.

Screen – bright and colour accurate

Size6.52”, 1600 x 720, 269ppi, 71% NTSC (about 95% sRGB), 480 nits (typical), 1500:1 contrast, 16.7m colours, SDR, 60Hz IPS LCD

Yes, it’s a 720p screen, but that gives it a more extended battery life. It is bright (we tested to 600 nits max), colour accurate and fills 88.7% of the front. It has a pre-fitted plastic screen protector. It lacks DRM certification, so it may not play all external streaming content.

Direct sunlight use (with any LCD screen) is poor, but this is brighter than most. There is no Pulse-width modulation (PWM), so it is OK for sensitive eyes.

Processor – fit for purpose

SoCMediaTek Helio G35 8-core to 2.3Ghz, 12nm
Geek Bench Single/multi-core: 178/993
It compares to a Qualcomm SD450. It is in the OPPO A54s, Nokia G20, realme C11/12/15/21, Moto G Power and about 60 other models not sold here.
GPUIMG GE8320 @ 680 MHz Test: Compute: would not run IOPEN CL or Vulcan (typical of MediaTek Soc)
OtherIncludes the 4G modem, NFC, BT, speaker amp etc
RAM
Storage
Microe-SD
4GB LPDDR4/64GB eMMC (40GB free)/microSD to 256 GB exFAT
Test: Mbps sequential read/write
Internal: 191/134MBps
External 1GB Orico iMatch USB-C 3.1 Gen 1: Does not support external SSD
Throttle
15-min test
Max: 106,129GIPS, Average: 101,883, Minim: 94,242 –  6% loss over 15 minutes
CPU temp reached 32°
This phone barely throttles under load, reflecting OPPO’s excellent thermal design.

The MediaTek Helio G35 is a good entry-level system on a chip (SoC). It is not a gamer’s SoC, and the 60Hz screen confirms that. However, it should play most browser-based games.

Comms – NFC is a bonus

Wi-FiTestsWi-Fi 5 AC 2×2
Signal Strength 5Ghz – distance from Netgear RAX200, AX11000, 12 stream router
-dBM lower is better, and Mbps higher is better
2m: – 32/433
5m: -44/433
10m: -56/433
15: -66/433
This reflects OPPO’s excellent antenna design
BluetoothBT 5.0 with SBC, AAC and LDAC codecs (MediaTek does not support Qualcomm aptX codecs).
GPSSingle – OK for Google Maps navigation. Accurate to within 10m.
NFCYes (not always found in <$300 smartphones
USB-C2.0 with OTG
SensorsGeomagnetic (e-Compass), Light sensor, Proximity sensor, combo Accelerometer/Gyroscope, Gravity sensor, Step counting function

LTE – city and suburbs only with good tower coverage

SIMDual sim (standby mode – one active at a time), single ring tone dedicated micro-SD slot.
SupportVoLTE – carrier dependent – generally yes
Wi-Fi calling – Yes
UL/DL TestUL/DL/Ping 45/34Mbps/33ms – This is excellent
LTE Band1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/26/28/66 – full Australian support
TestUsing a Boost Mobile (Telstra retail network) sim at 1km line-of-sight from Telstra tower.
Expressed as -dBm (lower is better) and Femtowatts (fW) or picowatts (pW – 1000fW) where higher is better. Tower readings
1: -82/6pW
It has excellent signal strength bit as is typical of MediaTek SoCs; it could not find adjacent towers.

Battery – excellent 2-3 days between chargers

Battery mAh5000mAh
Charger
Test:
5V/2A USB-A to USB-C
 0-50% –
0-100% – under 3 hours

Tests100% load everything on, battery drain: 11 hours
YouTube stream 50% screen, Wi-FiL 20 hours
PC Mark Work 3 battery test:  12 hours
GFX Benchmark T-Rex:  567.1 minutes (9.5 hours) 1613 frames
GFX Benchmark Manhattan 3.1: 751.7 minutes (12.5 hours) 737 frame
Power save mode extends this to 60+ hours

Sound – mono for clear voice

SpeakersMono earpiece and down-firing speaker. The primary use is for clear voice, and it is not for music or movies with no bass or mid before 1000Hz and no treble after 10kHz. There is no sound stage.
MicSingle mic on bottom. It is affected by wind noise in hands-free mode.
3.5mmYes, and it includes cabled buds/mic
Tests dB
Anything over 80dB is excellent
Media – 72
Ring – 77
Alarm – 77
Earpiece – 50
Bluetooth HeadphonesBluetooth drove our reference Sony WH-1000xM4 in SBC, AAC and LDAC modes and provided good clear sound and plenty of volume.

Build – Excellent as expected from OPPO

Size/Weight163.8 x 75.6 x 8.4mm a 190g
ColoursPearl Blue or Crystal Black
BuildPanda MN228 glass with pre-fitted plastic screen protector
Frame – plastic
Back – plastic
IPIPX4
In the boxBumper cover
10W charger
USB-A to USB-C cable
3.5mm buds

Android 11 – PASS+

AndroidGoogle Android 11
Security patch date: 5 November 2021
UIColorOS 11.1
GoogleAll standard apps, Google Lens and Assistant. Dedicated Google Assistant key.
BloatwareMostly productivity and utilities
Update PolicyAssume regular security patches
SecurityFingerprint – 100% accurate in 10 tests
FaceID – 80% accurate

OPPO A16s camera

The global COVID-related component shortage has meant that many brands and models use a range of substitutable sensors. This likely has OmniVision or Samsung primary sensors and a mix of OmniCore or GalaxyCore secondary sensors. Overall it does not affect image quality.

The MediaTek SoC has some AI image post-processing – what you see is what you get.

Surprisingly the A16s 5G (not sold here) scored 80 on DXOMARK, which is higher than most budget phones. Its strengths were as a good all-rounder in daylight, and office light and its weaknesses were mainly in video (no stabilisation). “When shooting stills, the camera captures images with good white balance in bright light. Exposure is good, with a fairly wide dynamic range, in bright light and under typical indoor conditions.”

 Camera Primary 13MP
(not binned)
Macro 2MPDepth 2MPSelfie 8MP
SensorOmniVision
ov13B10
GalaxyCore GC02K0GalaxyCore GC02m1Omnivision
ov08D10
Focus PDAF FF FD AF
Aperture f-stop2.22.42.42.0
Pixel size um1.13  1.12
FOV° and cropped80 (68.5)88.888.879
Stabilisation Nil   
FlashSingle LED  Screen fill
Zoom5x digital   
Video Max1080p@30fps  1080p@30fps
Features Auto HDR  Auto HDR

Daylight, outdoors (overcast day)

Macro

Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)

Low light (room <100 lumens)

Selfie

Selfies are OK – 8MP with F/2.0 means you need good light

Video

Lack of electronic stabilisation and AI post-processing power means the videos are shakey and fairly unforgiving. Quality is OK in the day and office light. The sound recording is a little low.

CyberShack view – OPPO 16s – well-featured and staying power

OPPO continues to produce winning smartphones at a wide range of price points. We voted its Find X3 pro the best smartphone of 2021

The OPPO A16s 4G is a good, honest, phone that will give you years of service. What more can you ask for>

Competition (HD screen and 4/64GB unless noted)

The OPPO A16s 4G ($249/269) sits in the red ocean where vivo Y21 ($219), Motorola G10 ($249), Samsung A12 ($299 128GB), vivo Y33s ($299) and even its sibling A54s ($299) all fight for market share.

All these are excellent. My advice is to buy the OPPO A16s if all you have is $249/269, but I would spend $299 and get the A54s.

$249/269
8.9

Features

9.0/10

Value

9.5/10

Performance

8.0/10

Ease of Use

9.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Pros

  • Excellent build qualtiy and warranty
  • Love the Pearl Blue
  • One of the best battery life in its class
  • Better than social media class camera
  • NFC

Cons

  • For city and suburban phone reception only
  • No aptX support (despite the website saying it has)


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