OPPO A96 – absolutely perfect $399 smartphone (review)

The OPPO A96 is tangible proof that you don’t have to spend more to get a perfectly capable smartphone. This has everything you need and more.

To me, the perfect lower-cost smartphone needs:

  • A reliable processor: Qualcomm SD680, Adreno 610 GPU and SBC, AAC, APTX, APTX HD, and LDAC sound codecs
  • 4G: no one needs or wants to pay more for 5G plans
  • Huge, bright, and colourful screen: 6.59″, 2412 x 1080, 90Hz, 16.7m colours, 100% DCI-P3 IPS display
  • Lots of ram and storage: 8/128GB/dedicated microSD card
  • Dedicated dual sim slots with very strong phone signal reception: Yes
  • Good point and shoot day and night camera: 50MP primary camera, a depth sensor and 16MP selfie with OPPO’s excellent camera tech
  • Big, fast charge battery: 5000mAh and 33W SUPERVOOC Fast charger and a bumper cover in the box
  • Good comms and NFC PayWave: Wi-Fi 5 AC, BT 5.0, NFC and 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Warranty: 2-years and superb local support

The OPPO A96 ticks all the boxes and then some.

OPPO A96 CPH2333 8/128GB/microSD, Dual Sim

WebsiteProduct page
Price$399
ColoursStarry Black and Sunset Blue
FromJB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Officeworks, Bing Lee, Wireless1, Big W, Catch, TeleChoice, Amazon (OPPO official store), The Technology Store AU
Warranty2-years ACL
Country of OriginChina
CompanyOPPO is now #2 in Australia for Android smartphone market share. It has achieved that through excellent product and after-sales service.
MoreCyberShack OPPO news and reviews

Deep-Dive review format

It is now in two parts. As this is a low-cost device, we will do a brief summary and a separate 300+ line database-driven spec, including over 70 tests to back up the findings. It also helps us compare different phones and features.

Most section headings have FAIL (did not meet expected standards), PASS (all you can expect) or EXCEED (better than you can expect).

First impression – The OPPO A96 is the $349 A76 on steroids – Exceed

We called the OPPO A76 OPPO A76 4G – honest, reliable and fast charging. It is one of those phones that won’t let you down, especially if it is all you can afford. It is not a spectacular performer, but the 33W fast charge really stands out.

The OPPO A96 has a larger 1080 screen, same processor, 8GB RAM, same comms, terrific phone signal strength, upgraded 50MP rear and 16MP selfie camera, and an excellent 1-hour charge – all for 50 bucks more. It is a no brainer to spend $399 to get this much in a phone.

OK, this is where we get back to Glass slab territory. Fortunately, the back is not a fingerprint magnet but has quite a slippery surface so use the bumper case.

There is a dual-camera (50MP Primary and 2MP Depth) and LED flash, stereo speaker and OPPO’s usual right-side power/fingerprint sensor and left-side volume rocker. It is relatively light at 164.4 x 75.7 x 8.4 mm x 191g.

Things that set it apart from the competition include a very long 30-hour battery life and a 1 hour, 33W charger inbox.

Screen: 6.59″, 2412 x 1080, 60 or 90Hz or auto step (30/45/50/60/90) Exceed

It is a bright (480 nit), colour accurate (100% DCI-P3), tempered glass screen capable of Netflix HD streaming.

The 90Hz auto setting refresh rate now includes five step levels, positively affecting battery life.

Summary: No better for the price.

Processor: Qualcomm SD 680 and 8/128/microSD – Pass for performance and Exceed for what it brings to the phone

It is fit for purpose, but it is not for games. OPPO’s excellent thermal management can deliver full power over 15 minutes with a negligible 8% loss.

OPPO also has a RAM extender that can add up to 5GB virtual to the 8GB physical RAM (RAM disk swap space). You don’t need it as it has twice what most phones have at this price.

We love that it still has dedicated microSD storage expansion to 1TB and that you can mount an external portable SSD via OTG, although being USB 2.0 means about 30MBps data transfer rates.

Comms – Wi-Fi 5 AC, BT 5.0 and NFC – Exceed

  • Wi-Fi 5 AC is 433Mbps and gets a very strong signal more than 10m away from the router
  • It has NFC, which is not expected at this price.
  • GPS performance is adequate and accurate to <10 metres
  • As it has a Qualcomm processor, it has SBC, AAC, APTX, APTX HD, and LDAC sound codecs, which means excellent Bluetooth quality over headphones and speakers.

Phone – Exceed for city suburbs and regional

It recorded some of the highest signal strengths ever and found two towers. You should have no issues using this anywhere in Australia.

Battery – 5000mAh and 33W SUPERVOOC charging – Exceed

You can probably get up to a week between charges (light use) and recharge in under an hour. But even better is that the charger comes inbox – something of a rarity now.

Sound – stereo with a nice sound signature – Exceed

You usually get mono sound, so stereo is a pleasant surprise. The sound signature has good high bass and relatively flat (good) mid and treble. Bluetooth and 3.5mm headphones are excellent.

It has some high-bass, so the music sounds reasonably good. Volume is excellent at 85dB – well above most phones.

Android 11 – you may get 12 – Pass

At this price, most phones are ‘sell and forget’. OPPO may upgrade it to Android 12 and offers two years of security updates. The Fingerprint reader is conveniently on the power button.

ColorOS is a light touch over Android and is very easy to use. It has all Google Apps and Google Play access.

OPPO build and warranty – Exceed

A well-made phone, IP54 rated and a 2-year warranty – hard to do better. It has passed 28,000 micro-drop tests and is a keeper.

OPPO A96 Camera – dual-sensor, but one does all the work – Exceed

It has a 50MP (bins to 12.5MP), PDAF primary lens/sensor and a 2MP depth camera.

  • Day (well, an overcast one): Primary sensor – the colours are excellent with good dynamic range and good details in the shadows and highlights.
  • Ultra-wide: The Primary sensor 50MP image is cropped to show ultrawide.
  • Macro: N/A, but the 50MP handles this very well
  • Depth: A 2MP sensor helps bokeh shots
  • Daylight zoom: It is good at 2, 5 and 10X with low noise and good detail
  • Office Light (<400 lumens): Good detail and natural colour.
  • Bokeh (portrait) is excellent.
  • <40 lumens: The standard (not night mode) takes great shots with good detail and colours. Night mode nicely saturates the colour and some details.
  • Selfie: The MP selfie has natural skin tones and details and a range of filters to enhance any image. AI Natural Retouching includes blemish removal while preserving the user’s natural facial features.
  • Video (we are not video experts): You can shoot at 1080p@30fps with EIS (Electronic Image Stabilisation) for a reasonably stable image.

CyberShack view – OPPO A96 is a terrific class-leading, lower-cost smartphone

As we said at the beginning, it has everything you could want and more. No, it is not 5G, but despite the exaggerated porkies that Telcos exuberantly pedal, you don’t need it and will pay more for the privilege.

It has a lot of competition, but it is ahead on points in most categories – notably the Qualcomm processor, 8GB/128GB/microSD, camera and screen.

It gets our unreserved buy recommendation.

CyberShack Smartphone database comparison v 1.1 (E&OE)

OPPO A96 CPH2333

BrandOPPO
ModelA96
Model NumberCPH2333
Price Base8/128
   Price base$399
Warranty months24-months ACL
 TierMid-range
WebsiteProduct page
FromJB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Officeworks, Bing Lee, Wireless1, Big W, Catch, TeleChoice, Amazon (OPPO official store), The Technology Store AU
Country of OriginChina
CompanyOPPO is now #2 in Australia for Android smartphone market share. It has achieved that through excellent product and after-sales service.
Test date5/5/22 to 1/6/22
Ambient temp18-23°
ReleaseMarch 2022
Other models not for Australia (Don’t buy)China model PFUM10
5G Model
OLED Screen model
Any other configuration apart from 8/128GB Single sim
Look for RCM C-Tick under settings, about phone, regulatory label.

Screen

Size6.59″
TypeIPS LCD
Flat, Curve, 2D, 3DFlat with slightly curved edges
Resolution2414 x 1080
PPI401
Ratio20.1:9
Screen to Body %90.8
Colours bits8-bit 16.7m colours
Refresh Hz, adaptiveauto step (30/45/50/60/90) or select fixed 60 or 90Hz
Touch response180Hz touch
Nits typical, test480 (tested 472)
Nits max, test600 HBM (tested 615)
Contrast1500:1 (tested 1475:1)
sRGBGentle 100+%
DCI-P3Vivid 100% of the 16.7m colour gamut
Rec.2020 or otherN/A
Delta E (<4 is excellent)2.6
HDR LevelSDR
SDR UpscaleNo
Bluelight controlYes
PWM if knownN/A
Daylight readableYes, with the light theme
Always on DisplayN/A
Edge displayNo
AccessibilityNo
DRML1 for HD SDR playback
Gaming40fps at best
Screen protectionHolitech/BOE: AGC DT-Pro (Dragontrail like GG3)
CommentExcellent bright, colour accurate screen

Processor

Brand, ModelQualcomm SD680
nm6
Cores4 x 2.4GHz + 4 x 1.9GHz
ModemX11 4G
AI TOPSEstimate 7 TOPS (low-end AI)
Geekbench 5 Single-core387
Geekbench 5 multi-core1661
LikeSimilar to older flagship SD845
GPUAdreno 610 1.1GHz
GPU Test
Open CL425
LikeSlow for games
Vulcan586
RAM, type8GB LPDDR4x 2133 4 x 16-bit
Storage, free, type128GB (97GB free) UFS 2.2
micro-SDUp to 1TB
Disk Test 
CPDT internal seq. Read MBps697
CPDT internal seq. write MBps416
CPDT microSD read, write MBps85/39 mountable
CPDT external (mountable?) MBps21/17 OTG
CommentReflects fast UFS 2.2 and external speeds USB 2.0
Throttle test
   Max GIPS171463
   Average GIPS163232
   Minimum GIPS153973
   % Throttle8
   CPU Temp67°
CommentExcellent thermal management

Comms

Wi-Fi TypeWi-Fi 5 AC supports Wi-Fi display and tethering
Test 
   Test 2m -dBm, Mbps-18/433 (excellent signal strength)
   Test 5m-39/433
   Test 10m-42/433
BT Type5.0
GPS single, dualSingle
USB typeUSB-C 2.0 480Mbps
   Alt DP, DeX, Ready ForNo cable but you can Wi-Fi cast and Chromecast
NFCYes
Ultra-widebandNo

Sensors

   AccelerometerYes -combo with Gyro is very sensitive
   GyroYes
   e-CompassYes
   BarometerNo
   GravityYes
   PedometerYes
   Ambient lightYes
   Hall sensorNo
   ProximityYes
   Other
CommentWi-Fi 5 AC is strong and keeps signal well to 10m

LTE (not 5G)

SIMDual sim and dedicated microSD
ActiveOnly one active at a time
Ring tone single, dualSingle
VoLTECarrier dependent
Wi-Fi callingCarrier dependent
4G Bands1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41
CommentAll Australian 4G bands
5G sub-6GhzN/A
CommentN/A
mmWaveN/A
Test Boost Mobile, Telstra
   UL, DL, ms22/17/38ms (good)
   Tower 1 -dBm, fW or pW-79/12-37pW (incredible strength)
   Tower 2-98/500fW to 2.5pW (ditto)
   Tower 3No
   Tower 4No
CommentFound two towers at exceptionally strong signal strength. City, suburbs and regional town use.

Battery

mAh5000 single battery 800 cycles still over 80% capacity
Charger, type, supplied33W SUPERVOOC 5V/2A/10W or 5-11V/3A (33W)
 PD, QC levelPD capable – Overcharge protection may influence charge times
Qi, wattageNo
Reverse Qi or cableNo
Test (adaptive screen)
Charge % 30mins50%
Charge 0-100%1 hour 3 minutes
Charge Qi, WN/A
Charge 5V, 2A4.5 hours
Video loop 50%, aeroplane27 hours
PC Mark 3 battery28 hours
GFX Bench Manhattan battery645.5 min (10.76 hrs) 1800 frames
GFX Bench T-Rex677.8 min (11.13 hrs) 2980 frames
Drain 100-0% full load screen on6 hours 12 minutes
Watt full load1000mA
Watt idle Screen on130-170mA
Estimate loss at 90HzExpect about 20% less at 90Hz
Estimate typical useTwo to three days at typical use
CommentExcellent battery life and a fast 33W charger make this a class-leader

Sound

SpeakersEarpiece and down-fixing speaker for stereo sound
TuningDirac HD audio technology
AMPQualcomm
Dolby Atmos decodeNo, but downscales Dolby Audio up to 5.1
Hi-ResNo
3.5mmYes
BT CodecsSBC, AAC, APTX, APTX HD, and LDAC
MultipointShould support it
EQReal Original Sound Technology
EQ – Smart, Movie, Game, Music
Mics2 with some noise-cancellation
Test dB – all on EQ flat DA off
   Volume max85dB (very loud)
   Media (music)84
   Ring84
   Alarm85
   Notifications84
   Earpiece55
   Hands-freeDecent hands-free and has 2 mics for some wind noise reduction
   BT headphonesExcellent separation and volume with Qualcomm codec set

Sound quality

Deep Bass 20-40HzNil
Middle Bass 40-100HzNil
High Bass 100-200HzSteep build to 200Hz
Low Mid 200-400HzFlat
Mid 4000-1000HzFlat
High-Mid 1-2kHzFlat
Low Treble 2-4kHzFlat
Mid Treble 4-6kHzFlat
High Treble 6-10kHzSlow linear decline to 20kHz
Dog Whistle 10-20kHzDecline
Sound Signature typeBright Vocal (bass recessed, mid/treble boosted) – for vocal tracks and string instruments. But there is just enough high-bass to give a satisfying sound signature.
SoundstageWider than the phone
CommentMono is all you can expect at this price, so stereo is a real bonus. It is surprisingly listenable for most music genres.

Build

Size (H X W x D)164.4 x 75.7 x 8.4 mm
Weight grams191
Front glassDragontrail hardened
Rear materialPMMA Polymethyl Methacrylate (shatter-proof glass substitute)
FramePolycarbonate
IP ratingIP54
ColoursStarry Black
Sunset Blue
Pen, Stylus supportNo
In the box
   Charger33W SUPERVOOC
   USB cableUSB-A to USB-C SUPERVOOC
   BudsNo
   Bumper coverYes
CommentOPPO leads this class with a 33W charger – it is fast.

OS

Android11
Security patch date5/05/2022 (recent)
UIColorOS 11.1
OS upgrade policyShould get Android 12
Security patch policyTwo years of security patches
BloatwareA little too much – AliExpress, Amazon, Booking.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, O Relax, PUBG, Soloop Cui, TikTok, and OPPOs alternatives for Google Apps. All are removable
Other
CommentColorOS is the light grease on Android wheels that makes it easier to use
Fingerprint sensor location, typeOn power button – 8/10 test
Face IDYes 2D
OtherOPPO ColorOS has advanced security features
CommentWould have been nice to get Android 12 but at this price Android 11 is fine

Camera – OPPO A96

Rear PrimaryWide
  MP50 bins to 12.5
   SensorSamsung S5KJN1
   FocusPDAF
   f-stop1.8
   um.64 bins to 1.28
  FOV°
(stated, actual)
77 (65.6-77.8)
   StabilisationEIS for video
   Zoom10x digital
Rear 2Depth
   MP2
   SensorGalaxyCore GC02M1B
   FocusFF
   f-stop2.4
   um1.75
  FOV
(stated, actual)
89.1
   StabilisationNo
   ZoomNo
   Video max1080p@30fps and EIS
   FlashYes
   Auto-HDRPrimary lens
FeaturesPhoto, Video, Night, Expert, Panoramic, Portrait, Time-lapse, Text scanner, and Sticker
   QR code readerVia Google Lens
   Night modeAI
Front
  MP16MP
   SensorSony IMX471
   FocusFF
   f-stop2
   um1.0
  FOV (stated, actual)79.3 (68.4-80.4)
   StabilisationNo
   FlashScreen fill and 360° screen paint
   Zoom10X digital
   Video max1080p@30fps
    FeaturesPhoto, Video, Panoramic, Portrait, Night, Time-lapse, Sticker
CommentExcellent primary camera – same as Motorola g51 but with a faster processor and AI.

Ratings – OPPO A96

Features9
Got it all
Value9.5
It really packs so much into a $399 handset.
Performance9
The Qualcomm SD6XX series are not speed demons. Performance is suitable for most needs.
Ease of Use10
ColorOS 12 is easy to learn and offers the much-needed grease over Android 11 wheels. But it should have come with Android 12
Design9
Another bland but nice glass slab
Rating out of 109.3
Pro
1It is all you could want from a well-priced smartphone.
2Large, bright colour accurate screen
3Superb battery life and 33W fast charge
4Excellent quality build and 2-year warranty with local support
5Front and rear cameras are excellent for point and shoot in day or night
Con
1None really for a $399 device
2Android 11 (maybe 12)
3Needs to use the OPPO 33W SUPERVOOC charger and cable to reach charge speeds
Final commentAt $399, it is all you need and fantastic value as the absolute class leader.

OPPO A96 CPH2333 8/128GB/microSD, Dual Sim

$399
9.3

Features

9.0/10

Value

9.5/10

Performance

9.0/10

Ease of use

10.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Pros

  • It is all you could want from a well-priced smartphone.
  • Large, bright colour accurate screen
  • Superb battery life and 33W fast charge
  • Excellent quality build and 2-year warranty with local support Front and rear cameras are excellent for point and shoot in day or night
  • Front and rear cameras are excellent for point and shoot in day or night

Cons

  • None really for a $399 device
  • Android 11 (should be 12)
  • Needs to use the OPPO 33W SUPERVOOC charger and cable to reach charge speeds (don;t lose it)


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