It also has a shiny design that makes you feel like you’re holding a premium phone.
Ahh yes, the Oppo A57. A phone so popular back in 2016. One, for its premium design, two, it’s basically a more affordable Oppo F1s with a high-res 16MP camera and the other? It had 3GB RAM which was a big deal at the time.
With that said, Oppo has officially rebooted the phone… TWICE! It now comes in a more modern design and comes in two types, one with 4G and the other with 5G. The review unit we have in question is the 4G one, as the 5G is not yet officially released here (are they going to though?). This one comes in a Glowing Green colour which looks bluer than green and 4GB RAM with 64GB internal. In terms of specs, how does it fare against its 2016 ancestor?
Just like the original, it comes in an HD+ screen although no mention of a protective glass this time (the original had Corning Gorilla Glass 4). The phone uses a waterdrop notch and is measured at 6.56in. Also, there’s no high refresh rate here sadly.
I honestly like the colour reproduction of the display here. Despite being only 720p, the colors pop out and the screen is vibrant. When playing games, there are no ‘obviously visible’ pixels catching your attention. I even used it to read articles and the text is crispy and vibrant. Oppo clearly used a high-quality IPS LCD screen here so props to that. Phones of the same class usually have inferior darker screens. Well… apart those that use AMOLEDs.
Although there are some weaknesses. The most obvious is the lack of a higher refresh rate. Even 90Hz would be nice. Also, though this is cherry-picking, the waterdrop notch. It’s getting dated as hell. Another weakness is its performance under the sun. It is a victim of the same weakness other IPS LCDs have, and those are the lack of brightness and the desaturation of the vibrant screen. It’s all gone underneath the flaming ball in the sky.
Thankfully you can adjust and tinker with the display through the phone’s settings. By default, it is set to light mode and “vivid” screen colour, explaining the apparent vibrancy and sharpness of the screen. When they say “ColorOS”, they really mean pop with colour. In addition, if you dislike the waterdrop notch, you can always hide it… although it’s limited to apps you have installed, so exiting the home screen would just turn it back to normal. It’s set to “Auto Adapt” by default.
By the way, the phone comes with a plastic film screen protector installed. It is not 100% reliable as it is quite prone to scratching.
DESIGN AND SOFTWARE
On top of the phone is nothing. The bottom is very busy as it houses the 3.5mm jack, microphone, speaker, and USB-C port. While the phone is advertised as “stereo speakers”, there’s only one here that I can see. On the right is the side-mounted fingerprint scanner + power button combo button, and finally, on the left, are the volume control rockers
There is thankfully a triple card slot. This means you don’t have to constantly switch between using two SIM Cards or a single SIM Card + MicroSD card. This is also convenient and probably crucial, as the phone has a very limited amount of storage to spare.
The phone uses ColorOS 12.1 based on Android 12. It’s a pretty heavy interface and by default, you don’t get an app drawer (although, unlike older versions, you do have the option now). It is also bloated with apps and ads, especially through its app downloading service called “App Market”.
The app market is essentially a rehashed Google Play, and for a phone that already has low storage, it feels redundant. All apps you can download through the Play Store, you can get it here. And when you download through the play store, it registers as an app market download instead.
Oppo is all about building personality, your own style. This is quite hinted at on some of their phones which include several filters in their native camera apps. There are also themes with several user-made designs that you can choose from in its theme store. Heck, you can even change the fonts if you wish.
Just take note that some themes require payment. These are tagged as “premium themes”. Ditto for the fonts.
A common theme among Chinese-made UIs is their similarity to OIS, featuring squircle icons with a flat, colourful design and usually, a lack of an app drawer. Oppo has grown ColorOS to the point it has its own personality, one that isn’t just another iOS clone. One thing’s for sure, in our own experience, ColorOS is far more stable than MIUI ever will be. Also, the UI has more personality than the latter. One caveat of ColorOS is that it consumes too much storage which already bloats the already small storage. It had a security update (which is nice) but that also takes some space that, without root knowledge, is impossible to remove.
While bloated and heavy, ColorOS does have several features. Our favourite being the built-in screen recorder. The design of it is rounded and we honestly like it although this design makes it look “typical” as other Chinese UIs have a similar-looking design such as Vivo’s FunTouch, Xiaomi’s MIUI, and Huawei’s EMUI. Although if you were asked to match the brand to the notification look, you can easily tell which one is Oppo thanks to its linear design and iconic green colour.
PHOTO and VIDEO
The original Oppo A57 released in 2016 featured a single 16MP front camera and a single 13MP rear camera with flash. The reboot left that 13MP main camera intact (in addition to the useless 2MP depth helper) but has sadly halved the resolution of the front camera to just 8MP. The aim of the original was for better selfies. The new A57 focuses mainly on its high endurance which is evident thanks to its 33W fast charging and 5000mAh battery which we will discuss later.
We like the design of the rear cameras, it reminds us of our induction cooker at home. You can probably cook on top of those lenses as well although the food you are cooking might not be as tasty.
The cameras lack any type of stabilization and you should not really expect it anyway. This applies for the front camera as well
The camera app is as basic as it is lackluster. You only have a few extra modes such as stickers, pro mode, pano, and time-lapse. The photo mode has a few additional features such as AI retouching and Dazzle Colour although these two modes don’t really do much. For videos, you’re stuck with 1080p@30fps and 720p@30fps. These resolutions are due to the limitations of the Helio G35 chipset inside.
Speaking of the Pro mode, you, fortunately, do get a bit of customization. The ISO ranges from 100-6400, the Shutter Speed can be as fast as 8000th of a second and can be slowed down to 16 seconds, White Balance from 2000K to 8000K, and +/-2 exposure compensation. Manual focus is also available. If you are not familiar with these camera controls, Oppo has provided a little info button at the top right of the screen.
Despite only having a quarter of today’s acceptable camera megapixels, the Oppo A57 took decent shots. During the day, the images are full of colour but thankfully it isn’t oversaturated (our initial worry since Oppo phones do take oversaturated shots). We also like the contrasty look, it makes the image more “dramatic” in a good way, as if filming a melancholic movie. These 13MP shots can compete well with higher MP cameras too, and that’s impressive. Not surprising since Oppo is all about cameras and their software is pretty impressive, even for budget phones. All shots here are taken in a 4:3 aspect ratio although the phone also offers 16:9, 1:1, and full frame shots.
Although we don’t like how oversharpened the image gets. The processing may have done this to prevent it from being soft, or to simulate higher MP cameras. It just doesn’t work out too well here. It’s a lost identity for this 13MP camera. We may have a feeling that Oppo is having a dilemma between a 48 or 50MP camera, and a 13MP one.
At first, we thought the Night mode is incompetent and we are expecting nothing much out of it. However, when it worked, we’re surprised to see that the Night Mode on the Oppo A57 4G is quite aggressive. This is due to their brilliant development of their camera software. It brightens up the image and makes it more vibrant than the normal mode ever was. There is also a high level of contrast in the images which adds a bit of “drama” or “flair” for every image which we actually like.
Of course, the image still turned out to be soft due to the small sensor. It also is very noisy and grainy. In addition, the night mode on this phone works purely on a situational basis (i.e. low light situations) and will not work under no-light areas. It also takes about 3 seconds to take the image and about 1 second to actually capture it so if you don’t have stable hands, images can turn out blurry while it is processing. During the last 2 seconds of processing, you can let go.
Overall, it is still a competent night mode, especially for a budget phone with only 13MP of camera resolution.
COLOR DAZZLE MODE
While the phone does not have any additional cameras, it does have a few extra features (or gimmicks, depending on your perspective). For example, the phone has a “Color Dazzle Mode” that makes your images more vibrant. We didn’t see a noticeable difference at first but upon closer inspection and by shooting in places where there is ample light, the phone processes the image using AI algorithms to make it more vibrant. This can take a bit of time.
In all honesty, we prefer the regular mode better. To us, it’s already saturated enough that adding more colour makes it somewhat oversaturated.
We were a little hesitant at first about the stickers feature but when we finally played around with it, it was that time I realized it’s actually a fun feature to use. It basically adds image-like filters to your photos, such as the grainy film above. It only works in a portrait orientation and some others require a face for it to work
Every smartphone released nowadays has a panorama mode, and the Oppo A57 is no different. This is probably the least developed mode as, before this image was made, there were obvious stitching and cropping that frequently occurs when there’s a fast-moving object. The sensor isn’t fast enough to avoid such mishaps from happening. Colours are the same as that of the normal camera mode and we also like the same contrasty look here.
You can only do panorama from right to left in a vertical position.
We say oftentimes that the 2MP depth sensor is useless. They still are but the phone won’t let me do portrait shots if it’s covered, wouldn’t you believe that? You must also be an inch away from your subject or the bokeh effect won’t apply. The Oppo F7 from a few years back had portrait mode and that only came with a single 25MP camera.
The portraits are hit-and-miss, mostly miss. You can adjust the intensity of the effect before taking a picture. With that said, almost all of our samples here are 100% bokeh, so we can just see how extreme would Oppo’s algorithm be.
More often than not, the camera can leave artifacts in the subject image and can also blur parts that shouldn’t be blurred. What we noticed though, it not just applies the bokeh but also enhances the images as well by increasing its clarity, balancing out whiteness and contrast, as well as brightening the overall image. If you’re close to the subject, then the camera may have a better understanding of what’s the foreground from the background. Just remember you need to be at a certain distance to make the effect happen. Not following the instructions will yield you a regular photo shot instead.
We also don’t like how artificial it feels. However, this is coming from a 2MP depth sensor which is why we won’t be too harsh about this.
8MP FRONT CAMERA:
Unlike the original, this new Oppo A57 sports a weaker 8MP camera sitting on the waterdrop notch. Oppo has opted to use a fixed-focus sensor here. Also unlike the original, selfies aren’t the main focus of this, but rather the battery and the included 33W fast charging.
We don’t like the quality of the front camera. It’s lacking colours and the images are too soft and noisy. Also, the shutter speed is too slow so if your hands are shaky, the images can be blurry too. It lacks dynamic range. If you’re not too concerned about quality, I guess this can do.
The front camera does have the same stickers feature as the rear and also has Panorama in case you have a wide group of friends you annoying extrovert. They are fun to use and mess around so I guess that compensates for the terrible quality.
13MP rear camera (1080p)
The phone can take both 1080p and 720p videos (no 4K here, chipset limitations) but they are stuck at 30fps only. Not a lot of choices and it isn’t ideal for videographers.
What I like about taking videos here, no matter which quality you use, the sound separation is pretty good for a budget phone. It is loud, clear, and sharp. I was just using the normal microphone here.
The video quality itself is decent. Sure it is sharp, but not to the point where it is oversharpened. In terms of colour reproduction, we like how vibrant the video looks. It is not as vibrant as still images but it’s passable. We would have expected better contrasts for a phone priced at 10K, though. Dynamic range needs improvement too as one side can be too bright for our tastes, and the other too dark. It’s not a balanced set of whites and blacks.
That’s it for now. Tune in on the second page of this article for the Performance, Battery, Sound, and Conclusion assessment!