In this review, we will get acquainted with an inexpensive (starting at $200) smartphone from OPPO. There are a lot of affordable phones on the market, and recently they have become very similar to each other. Let’s find out whether the A53 has sufficient performance, whether the cameras are good, and in general if the model is worth your time and money.
OPPO A53 positioning and cost
OPPO is one of the subsidiaries of Chinese holding BBK. Its sisters and brothers – OnePlus, Vivo, realme – are sometimes so similar that it’s easy to get confused.
The brand has been present on the market for many years, and has had its ups and downs. Now the OPPO assortment is wide, and the A53 may not be the cheapest, but it’s still quite affordable. In many ways, this is a compromise device that is pretty much incomparable with more expensive rivals. However, there are some interesting features.
OPPO A53 full specifications
|NETWORK||Technology||GSM / HSPA / LTE|
|LAUNCH||Announced||2020, August 20|
|Status||Available. Released 2020, August 25|
|BODY||Dimensions||163.9 x 75.1 x 8.4 mm (6.45 x 2.96 x 0.33 in)|
|Weight||186 g (6.56 oz)|
|SIM||Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)|
|DISPLAY||Type||IPS LCD, 90Hz|
|Size||6.5 inches, 102.0 cm2 (~82.9% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Resolution||720 x 1600 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~270 ppi density)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 3|
|PLATFORM||OS||Android 10, ColorOS 7.2|
|Chipset||Qualcomm SM4250 Snapdragon 460 (11 nm)|
|CPU||Octa-core (4×1.8 GHz Kryo 240 & 4×1.6 GHz Kryo 240)|
|MEMORY||Card slot||microSDXC (dedicated slot)|
|Internal||64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM|
|MAIN CAMERA||Triple||13 MP, f/2.2, 25mm (wide), 1/3.06″, 1.12µm, PDAF
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
|Features||LED flash, HDR, panorama|
|SELFIE CAMERA||Single||16 MP, f/2.0, (wide), 1/3.06″, 1.0µm|
|SOUND||Loudspeaker||Yes, with stereo speakers|
|COMMS||WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot|
|Bluetooth||5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX HD|
|GPS||Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS|
|USB||USB Type-C 2.0, USB On-The-Go|
|FEATURES||Sensors||Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, proximity, compass|
|BATTERY||Type||Li-Po 5000 mAh, non-removable|
|Charging||Fast charging 18W|
|MISC||Colors||Fairy White, Electric Black, Fancy Blue|
What’s in the box
In the box with the smartphone you will find an 18W charger, a USB Type-C cable, a SIM eject tool and a silicone case with a convenient cutout for the fingerprint scanner (the finger fits perfectly). There is also a protective film, it is glued to the screen.
Design, the layout, a fingerprint scanner
Even in inexpensive models, it is now easy to find modern features like bezel-less screens with notches. OPPO A53 is exactly that – it looks like a more expensive model. The screen bezels are minimal, the notch for the front-facing camera in the corner in unobtrusive.
The case is entirely made of plastic, although the frame does look like it’s made of metal. No, still plastic, but durable. But the back panel certainly cannot be confused with anything since it’s glossy plastic both in appearance and to the touch. Somewhat slippery, and hungry for fingerprints.
You can live with fingerprints when you get such beautiful gradient! I got the OPPO A53 for the test in a blue color that goes from light to dark. The gradient on both the sides and the rear looks great. People who don’t know much about modern devices might think that this model is very expensive by the looks of it.
There are two more color options – mint and black. In these cases, there is no gradient, but the panels of the phones also shimmer in the light.
I will add that the rear of the device collects scratches, but they are visible only in bright light and at an angle. In any case, it is better to use a cover, which is included in the box and practically does not increase the size of the smartphone.
Speaking of size. OPPO A53 is equipped with a 6.5-inch screen, so it is not particularly massive. In my opinion, the dimensions are optimal. And the display is large for comfortable work, and the model fits perfectly in the palm of your hand.
I also note that the smartphone is thin. And somewhat heavy, but the hand does not get tired from 186 grams. And the 5000mAh battery is well worth it.
Let’s go back to the rear panel – on it we see a camera unit on a slightly protruding module as well as a fingerprint sensor. The solution is standard for an affordable device, in-screen scanners in this price category are still a rare sight. Still, in my opinion, the scanner is placed too high. When I take a smartphone in my hand, my finger does not find it easily. Perhaps this is a matter of habit, and using a case makes things easier.
But the keys on the edges are conveniently located – the volume rocker is on the left, and the on/off lock is on the right.
On the left side there is also a tray for SIM cards and a memory card, and you can use two SIM cards and a memory card at the same time. At the bottom there are speakers, a microphone, and a Type-C connector.
The build quality is excellent, which becomes the norm even in this segment.
OPPO A53 screen
This is where you’ll find IPS matrix. I will not criticize that it is not AMOLED, not for this price. But even IPS could be better. Color rendition is “boring”, black depth is weak, maximum brightness is insufficient for a sunny day. It could have been better even at this price point, but what we have is what we have.
The resolution is also 1600×720, which is as low as you can go at this price. I won’t say that I see graininess, but the image is blurry if you look closely at the fonts.
However, it is worth noting that I am used to flagship smartphones with high-quality displays. And taking into account the cost of OPPO A53, the screen is fine.
Moreover, one cannot fail to note a feature that is rarely found in such devices. I am talking about an increased refresh rate. OPPO A53 can operate at both standard 60Hz and 90Hz. 90 Hz is, of course, not as high as some flahgships can go, but I can clearly see the difference. If you enable this mode, the picture becomes smoother.
Increased Hz work only in the menu and standard apps, but not in games. But the polling frequency of the sensor layer reaches 120 Hz, which is a plus for dynamic games.
The feature is not new, but the OPPO A53 has a separate screen temp setting. It is called Eye comfort, and with it enabled the colors of the screen become kinda pinkish. At first, they seem even too warm, but the eyes really do feel better.
As already mentioned, the protective film is glued to the screen. It’s useful, just like the bundled protective case: no need to spend money on accessories. The film does not spoil the colors, and does not come off at the corners. The only thing: if you prefer to use gestures to control the phone, the film interferes with the “back” gesture from the edge of the screen.
Hardware and performance
OPPO A53 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 (aka SM4250) processor, released early last year. On the one hand, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon is relatively powerful and energy efficient. On the other hand, the 400 series is the basic version, so don’t count on much.
The phone is not slow per se, but if you compare it with more expensive models, then yes, it is barely coping even with easiest tasks. However, undemanding users won’t find much to complain about.
Games are a somewhat different matter. Everything that’s not casual fun will struggle at minimum settings. I’m talking about games like Pokemon Go (even without AR mode) or PUBG. In general, OPPO A53 is not productive, but for basic tasks, instant messengers, and web browsing it is capable enough.
The amount of RAM (4 GB) is standard, it would be useless to expect more for that kind of money.
OPPO A53 versions are available with 64GB and 128GB of internal storage. The price difference is minimal, so it’s better to take 128 GB. Memory type is UFS 2.1. There is also a slot for memory cards, which is separate, and not combined with the slot for the second SIM card.
In 2020-2021, this became the norm even with affordable devices, but note the presence of NFC. And what is already rare is the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is still alive and kicking. Also, the sound quality. The stereo speakers are excellent: loud, and clear. In wired headphones, the sound is quite good.
Oppo A53 cameras
But the cameras just scream “cheap”. And no, I’m not saying that because I got used to flagship level, the pictures are just plain weak. Even in excellent lighting conditions the color rendition is poor, the clarity leaves much to be desired, the shooting speed is average, the pictures are often blurry, the autofocus is wrong. If the lighting is not perfect, then don’t expect anything good. I’m not even talking about night photos, the clarity drops completely, and noise is everywhere.
Oppo A53 proves that the number of camera modules does not correlate with quality. 2 megapixel macro lens is pretty much redundant. Even with perfect lighting, don’t expect much. And if the lighting is weak, don’t use macro, everything’ll be blurry. There is 2x and 5x digital zoom. The quality will make you cry.
The third module is a depth sensor, it is responsible for blurring the background.
The front camera has a resolution of 8 megapixels. And it is better than the main one! Selfies are good even in low light at home. There are built-in beautification modes, handy for social networks.
Video quality is fine enough for Stories.
The camera interface is familiar and simple, at the bottom you can switch between video, photo, portrait modes, as well as panorama, macro mode, manual mode, time-lapse (accelerated video) and stickers in real time.
In the camera settings, you can enable the shutter release by touching the fingerprint sensor, quick launch of the camera, and reassign the side keys.
OPPO has its own ColorOS 7.2 shell. It does not differ dramatically from “pure” Android or other shells, which means you’ll easily get used to it, even if you used smartphones from other brands before. In general, ColorOS and realme UI are similar, only the icons are different.
The shell emphasizes beauty and conciseness, everything is smooth and neat. There’s a huge number of settings compared to base Android, nice animations, the ability to record calls, screen capture, dark theme, beautiful live wallpapers, a smart panel for quickly calling the necessary apps in a pop-up window, split screen mode for two apps, cloning apps (you can run the same messenger twice), control gestures, features for gamers, bed mode (when at a specified time the phone goes into b/w mode and turns on DND) and so on.
Oppo A53 battery life
What Oppo didn’t save on was the 5000 mAh battery. For many, a good battery and affordable cost of a smartphone are more important than megapixels, megahertz, and resolution.
The Oppo A53 is really tenacious. It does not have the most powerful processor, and the screen is HD, so two days of work is not a problem. This is taking into account the use of instant messengers, Internet surfing, GPS navigation, a small number of calls, listening to music, and casual games. If you play “heavy” games like Pokemon Go, with the screen always on at maximum brightness, the battery will loose about 7-9% per hour. So you get about 12-14 hours.
At the same time, 90 Hz does not strain the battery life much. The video looping test showed 30 hours at 90Hz and 31.5 hours at 60Hz.
The bundled charger supports 18 W. It takes about two hours to fully charge. You can charge up to 50% in 40 minutes. Not record time, but not bad for 5000 mAh.
It is possible to use the phone as a power bank, but this requires a USB OTG adapter.
The verdict (and the alternatives)
The Oppo A53 is an imperfect budget smartphone, but nobody’s perfect. Its main advantages are a 5000 mAh battery, a 90 Hz screen, high-quality stereo speakers, NFC, power bank mode, and a pleasant shell. Cons are low performance, weak cameras, and mediocre screen. However, given the price, these aren’t bad results. Well, not really, the cameras still could have been better.
There are many competitors for the same price. And all are from China. For example, you can find a discounted Xiaomi Poco M3. Even without a discount, it’s worth paying more for 6000 mAh battery, Snapdragon 662, FullHD display and better cameras.
Also interesting is the Xiaomi Redmi 9 with a 5020 mAh battery, MediaTek Helio G80 and FullHD screen. realme C15 is almost the same (the cameras are just as bad) with the MediaTek Helio G35 processor and 6000 mAh battery.
Overall, the Oppo A53 is a smart choice considering the cost. However, if possible, it’s better to pay extra for something more powerful and with better cameras.
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