If there’s something you need to know about OPPO and its brand is it’s gotten rather good at developing selfie-centric smartphones wrapped in a good-looking package. One of the latest examples of that is the OPPO A94. But the company takes that a bit further by bringing its signature camera features like AI Color Portrait Video and Dual-View Video into this new midrange device.
Beyond that, what else does the OPPO A94 offer for you to consider it when you shop for your next handset? That’s what I’m trying to answer for you with this review. So, let’s get started, shall we?
You want a handset as stylish as you
OPPO is one of those smartphone brands that have mastered the art of putting out stylish, eye-catching handsets. The OPPO A94 is no exception, especially the Fantastic Purple color option I got to try out. It’s predominantly purple at the top quarter of the phone until it tapers off into a sort of turquoise shade at the bottom. But then, when light hits the polycarbonate back, the two shades kind of melt into each other. It makes the OPPO A94 look more expensive than it actually is. If you’re not into this mermaid-like shade, there’s also a Fluid Black option. Personally, this purple is the superior option, but to each their own.
LiTT Tip #1: Have a microfiber cloth on hand as the OPPO A94 is a bit of a fingerprint and smudge magnet. If you wear glasses, you can use the cloth that comes with them, too.
At 7.8mm thin and 172g light, the A94 is one of the thinner and lighter devices I’ve used recently. It’s so easy to slip into a purse. It is easy to hold in one hand, even if you have smaller hands, making it great for reading, watching, gaming, or any activities you spend hours on while on your phone.
Aside from eye-catching hardware, OPPO pairs that with a substantial amount of customization options on the A94. You can change everything from themes, wallpaper, icon styles, app layout, colors, and more. So, if you want to make a phone truly your own, this is an excellent built-in option to try. But since you’re on Android, you can also use a launcher.
A vlogger’s handy companion
The OPPO A94 comes equipped with a quad-camera array at the back and a solitary 32-megapixel selfie camera in front. I got the most use out of the 48-megapixel primary camera with PDAF and the 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor, but there are also 2-megapixel macro and mono cameras on this device.
This phone’s camera does its best in bright environments. I find the color reproduction to be pretty good. If you need the extra quality boost, there’s an Extra HD option on this phone that fully utilizes the full 48-megapixel sensor. But I was plenty happy with the pixel-binned 12-megapixel shots. (Here’s a quick explainer of pixel binning over at TechRadar.)
As with many smartphone cameras in its price range, ultrawide is best used in good lighting conditions. Color reproduction is better with the main sensor, but if you want to get more into your shot, that’s where ultrawide comes in. You can even record videos in ultrawide, but you won’t be able to zoom in once you hit the record button, so take note of that. There’s nothing too remarkable about the macro lens, but it’s there if you need it.
LiTT Tip #2: It’s probably better to shoot with the primary lens and then zoom in. Or use the Extra HD option and crop in with that shot if you want to take a macro photo.
As for videos, you can get up to 4K at 30 frames per second resolution. If you want to activate EIS via the camera’s Ultra Steady mode, you will record clips in 1080p@30fps. While Ultra Steady crops a bit into the shot, I find this particularly useful to avoid really shaky handheld clips. It’s available even for the selfie camera.
This video was shot and edited with the OPPO A94.
Beyond the Slo-mo, Time-lapse, and even Sticker modes on the A94’s camera, OPPO also includes its fun Dual-View Video and AI Color Portrait Video modes. Dual-View Video allows both the front- and rear-facing cameras to work simultaneously, while AI Color Portrait Video gives an effect where you or your subject are the only one in color.
AI Color Portrait Video is also available for both the front- and rear-facing cameras. There are also filters that isolate three specific colors for more interesting videos. These tools definitely help content creators or anyone who vlogs get more out of the built-in features in the camera.
Another hallmark of OPPO devices is their selfie capabilities, and the A94 is no different. You get a comprehensive AI Beautification filter that lets you tweak and touch up your looks to enhance what’s there. Personally, I just use a bit of the touch-up and smoothen filters for more flattering selfies.
LiTT Tip #3: If you haven’t been using grids for your photography, I’m here to remind you to enable those grids. They’ll help you take aligned and properly composed shots. The OPPO A94 helps you further with a Level feature that puts a rectangular box in the middle of the frame to help you shoot pictures and videos at a level angle.
You watch A LOT of content
OPPO brings a 6.43-inch AMOLED panel to the A94, with a Full HD+ resolution and a 20:9 aspect ratio. The handset has skinny bezels on the side and a slightly thicker chin. And the only other interruption is the punch-hole for the selfie camera.
Having an AMOLED panel means the OPPO A94 also gets an in-display fingerprint sensor. It’s also easier to look at the screen, even when I’m outdoors and the sun is on full blast. If you’re a fan of Always-On Displays, then you’ll get that here, too. OPPO will let you customize this by giving you the option to show notification icons, date, or battery. Of course, having the Always-On Display activated will mean it can affect your battery life a bit. But what OPPO does is it’ll hide what’s displayed after around 10 seconds. You can just tap on the screen to bring up the Always-On Display.
One extra great thing about this phone is it supports Widevine L1 certification, allowing you to stream content on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in Full HD. So, for entertainment junkies, this phone will suit your media-watching habits.
What’s holding the OPPO A94 back is its single bottom-firing speaker. It’s not as loud as I want it to be, but, at least, this device keeps a headphone jack. The company even supplies wired earphones in the box, which is rare to find these days. I recommend going the wired or wireless route for watching and listening to music or indulging in other content.
LiTT Tip #4: If you want the audio to suit what you’re doing, OPPO has the Real Sound Technology option within the Sound & vibration menu in the settings. You can choose between Movie, Game, Music, and Smart. The last choice lets the phone decide automatically what sound effect to use depending on what you’re doing.
Ready for the daily grind
Phones in the midrange segment, like the OPPO A94, might not be as speedy as their more expensive counterparts. But many users won’t be too bothered by that. The OPPO A94 could handle my daily tasks with ease. I can quickly switch between taking calls, answering messages and emails, social media use, light gaming, and more without any crashes. I never felt like it slowed me down.
This device runs on a MediaTek Helio P95 chipset paired with 8GB of RAM, 128GB of expandable storage, and Android 11-based ColorOS 11.1. The A94 comes with a triple card slot, allowing you to have two SIMs plus a microSD card to expand the phone’s storage capacity. Getting the option to expand storage is helpful for this device, especially since OPPO still likes to include tons of pre-installed apps with its handsets.
I’m not a heavy gamer, but I do enjoy a bunch of games that vary when it comes to their demand on the device. I had no trouble playing games like Alto’s Adventure, Asphalt 9, Crash on the Run! and Marvel Super War. I could play Alto’s Adventure, Crash on the Run!, and Asphalt 9 in maxed out setting without a hitch, but with Marvel Super War, I needed the graphics settings to be in mid to get it to work well. It is a bit of a mixed bag with game performance, but this handset should be fine for more casual gamers.
OPPO’s Game Space feature is available here, which serves as a hub for anything related to games. It doesn’t just bring all the games in a central place, but it lets you set up your phone’s power usage, too. For example, there’s a Pro Gamer mode that increases the resource use of your device. You can also adjust settings like lock the device’s brightness, block notifications, reject calls, and more.
LiTT Tip #5: If you need to unwind, use the O Relax app included with the phone. You can do things like have nature sounds play in the background, play soothing games, do some breathing exercises, and more. I’ve found the O Relax app helpful when I wanted some background sounds while I write.
I rely heavily on my phone during a workday, so I’m not surprised I can drain the 4,310mAh battery by the end of the day. On less hectic days, I can get it to last until the following day. But thankfully, the OPPO A94 supports 30W VOOC charging, which means it takes a bit over an hour to fully charge this handset. There is no wireless charging here, though, so if that’s important to you, you might want to look elsewhere.
What’s lit and what’s not?
What’s lit about it:
- Thin and light with an eye-catching design
- Plenty of personalization options
- Suite of camera tools to play with
- Great display
- Capable daily driver
- Fast charging
What needs the extra spark:
- Wants a louder mono speaker or the stereo speakers back
- Needs fewer pre-installed apps
- Wish it had a longer battery life
The OPPO A94 targets users who want a device that looks good and capable enough to handle most daily tasks. For those who vlog or create content on the go, this handset can help with those needs, too. If the above reasons are important to you, you might want to consider looking into this device the next time you’re on the market for a new phone.
The OPPO A94 retails for PHP 13,999. You can get it through OPPO concept and online stores, partner dealers, Lazada, Shopee, and through telcos Globe and Smart.
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