Two years since entering India and offering phones with some unique features such as swivel camera, Oppo has decided to tap into the pulse of the Indian smartphone market with phones that can be considered in the budget range. The company now has a device for the most fierce price points such as sub-7k, sub 10k and so on. We’ve received the Neo 7 that sits at the competitive edge at Rs 9990. Let us see how it performs and will it hold its own in this price category.

Build and Design: 8/10Image2

A glimpse at the Neo 7 and it doesn’t appear anywhere close to the usual budget handsets. At the price point, Oppo’s Neo 7 is an extremely good looking device. We received the snowy white, glossy unit with a golden rim that exuded fine looks. If the Ceramic white is not your colour, then users can also opt for Deep black with silver rim.

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The Neo 7 follows a flat design principle and has minor curves around the edges, which means the views over its firm and convenient grip may vary depending upon users. It does sport smooth, rounded edges that should help.

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The right edge of the device is fitted with the power button, while left edge gets the volume controls. The upper edge and lower edge feature audio jack and microUSB port respectively. The minimalistic button placement is owing to the back flap that opens up to accommodate microSIM and nanoSIM slots as well as microSD card slot. The front of the device shows the 5-inch display, front camera sensor, and three touch buttons have been placed below the display.

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Compared to other recent Oppo devices, it seems thick at 7.5mm. However, it is still lighter and thinner than its closest rival Moto G third generation that falls in a similar price bracket. Despite the plastic back, the finish ensures that it doesn’t come across too plasticky.

Features: 7/10

Oppo’s Neo 7 features a 5-inch display, but with a poor screen resolution of 960 x 540, with the pixel density limited to roughly 220ppi. Under the hood, it gets Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916 processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. It is disappointing that devices at similar price or even lower such as Moto G third gen and Yu Yuphoria come with 2GB RAM. Oppo is offering the unit with 16GB onboard storage, out of which 9.7GB is available to users. The onboard storage can be expanded further up to 128GB. Though the rear flap can be removed, it gets a non-removable 2420mAh battery.

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On the camera front, the smartphone has an 8MP rear snapper and a 5MP front facing camera with f/2.0 and f/2.4 aperture respectively. The company has put in a lot of thought into the camera features coupled with a simple-to-use camera app.  The connectivity options include support for 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, OTG and microUSB. The sensors list includes some of the usual suspects such as distance, light, G-sensor and e-compass.

Software: 8/10

The Oppo Neo 7 runs ColorOS 2.1, the forked version built from Android Lollipop. Almost in line with UIs from other Chinese vendors, but it’s the simplicity that sets it apart. To begin with, there is no app drawer and the apps are placed across the windows. This is again something common with most UIs from Chinese vendors. One has to swipe downwards to view the quick function icons and an extended swipe will also show all the notifications.

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The homescreen has four spaces at the lower end for the frequently used apps. The Settings is divided into three columns for Sound, Display and everything else comes under the third section – General. Oppo has added a feature called Quiet Time in case you don’t want to be distracted for a few hours. Oppo Neo 7 also has several handy gestures and motion features, again seen in phones from Vivo and Huawei.

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You can double tap to wake up the screen, draw ‘O’ to directly launch the camera, draw ‘V’ to turn on flashlight and more. Some other more commonly found features include flip the phone to mute a call and automatically answer a call on taking the ringing device closer to your ear. Similarly, if you are in Contacts or reading messages, taking the phone closer to your ear and it will automatically dial that specific number. You can take a screenshot with the three finger swipe gesture on the display and there is also the option to clear cache and memory with a single tap. Most of these features worked perfectly each time we used them.

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It also comes with the Lockscreen magazine feature that changes the screen saver every time you unlock the device, allowing setting in a different mood each time. Also, Oppo hasn’t added too much bloat ware and that makes the device very smooth and swift to use. It also has theme store wherein there are many free wallpapers available for download.

Performance: 7/10

The Oppo Neo 7 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916 processor. It is disappointing to see the device come with mere 1GB of RAM. However, we didn’t face any stutter while switching between apps. When it comes to multi-tasking, loading an image heavy site took some time.

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Coming to the most basic calling functionality, the voice quality and network reception were good. But when playing audio, the speakers seemed pretty mediocre. We tried some casual games like Subway Surfer, Temple Run and a few shooting games. Interestingly, the device didn’t warm up. The device didn’t face any heating issues, while we played or streamed music. The gaming experience was good, but we did experience stutter for a few moments.

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Display: 6/10

The device comes with a lot of space above and below the 5-inch qHD display. It’s the 960 x 540 resolution that makes the device a raw deal compared to other devices in the price range. What’s interesting is the inclusion of an eye protection feature that adds some kind of tint to protect your eyes. Considering the amount of time we spend gazing at the display, it could become a permanent feature soon. The movie viewing experience on the Neo 7 wasn’t the best we’ve experienced and it couldn’t handle 1080p videos pretty well.

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Camera: 7/10

Oppo Neo 7 comes with an 8MP rear shooter and a 5MP front-facing camera. The shots taken in daylight were sharp and turned out pretty well. However, shots taken indoors in ambient light appeared with some noise. Colour reproduction seemed saturated, and the images weren’t well defined. In low light conditions, the images were decent. We also shot a few videos and there is not much to complain. The front-facing camera gets Screen flash, which means the screen adjusts the brightness and ensure your selfies don’t appear dull in low light.

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The camera app is simple and neat. The company has ensured that selfie lovers have plenty of options to play with.  The Beautify mode isn’t the usual gimmicky one with the ability to add some makeup. In fact, it clears and lightens the skin tone and gives a naturally glam look. There is also the option for Mirrored selfie along with others such as Ultra HD mode for better details in low light, a colourful night mode for those who want to capture some colour at night, Panaroma, HDR, audio photo and time lapse. There are several filters to choose from and a GIF mode too.

Battery: 7/10

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The Oppo Neo 7 comes fitted with a 2420mAh battery that let us easily squeeze through a day, but our usage included a few calls, social networking and checking emails. However, the benchmark test that keeps the device on its toes with continuous display usage gave 5 hours and 47 minutes, which is just-about average for a device with such capacity. Besides, you can also opt for the battery saving modes.

Bottom line

Oppo’s Neo 7 is an extremely good looking and well built device. Compared to the other devices priced at or around Rs 9990, this one would steal the show with its design. It could put even some sub-Rs 15,000 phones to shame with its looks. Now, that’s from the outside. Specs-wise, there are many devices that pack in much more at a lower price tag, especially considering the low-res display and 1GB RAM.

There are many devices that are priced much lower and offer better value for money. If you are looking for a budget device stuffed with high-end specs, and can compromise on build or cheap looks, then this isn’t for you. Its closest competitor, the Moto G third generation, seems a tad better when it comes to performance and overall user experience.

On the other hand, what works in its favour are premium looks, slick UI and a decent camera. If you are looking for some solid built, good looks coupled with a decent specs sheet , then the Oppo Neo 7 could be a good buy at Rs 9,990.

Publish date: December 30, 2015 8:29 pm| Modified date: December 30, 2015 8:48 pm

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