OPPO A18 review

We review the OPPO A18, a budget smartphone with decent performance for its affordable $219 price tag.

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8.3Expert Score
Affordable, yet functional

The OPPO A18 smartphone doesn’t set the world on fire with its performance, but its price is extremely attractive.

Design
8.5
Performance
8
Pros
  • Screen is bright and responsive, even in full sun
  • All-day battery
  • Nice, if unexceptional design
Cons
  • Limited performance
  • Camera is average
  • So. Much. Bloatware.

Cheap phones are never the most exciting phones to review. You know from the ticket price that you’re making sacrifices in performance and functionality. The real challenge is whether the phone sacrifices too much and becomes barely usable.

The OPPO A18, I’m happy to say, does not. This is still a remarkably functional device, despite its wallet-friendly $219 price tag.

While the OPPO A79 I reviewed last month managed to find that ideal balance between price and performance, the A18 is not quite so robust. It can be slow to react, the visuals don’t pop as much, and the camera itself is best described as “average”.

But, it costs $219. And when you compare it to cheaper devices like the Aspera AS8 I reviewed last year, it offers significantly better performance.

OPPO A18 review: Design

The OPPO A18 comes in two colour options: “Glowing Blue” and “Glowing Black”. 

I tested the Black version, and I have to say it didn’t do a huge amount of glowing. The finish is a subtle matte black that has a slight sheen in sunlight, but I wouldn’t say it glows.

The front of the phone is a 6.56-inch LCD screen, with a resolution of 1612 × 720. It can display 16.7 million colours, with a screen ratio of 89.8%.

That’s quite low-res for today’s premium smartphones, but is definitely helping keep the costs down.

Ultimately, it’s not too bad. While OPPO has kept the resolution down, it has added a couple of features to make up for it.

Firstly, the phone supports a 90Hz refresh rate, which helps things seem smoother when watching on the lower resolution. It doesn’t help when the processor starts to chug along (more on that later), but for day to day tasks it’s pretty good.

The other key addition is what OPPO calls its “Sunlight” screen. The A18’s display can show a peak brightness of 720 nits, which is bright enough for you to clearly see the screen even in full, direct Australian sunlight.

And for the most part, that combo of refresh rate and brightness makes up for any real resolution disappointments. 

The other small thing of note is the tiny camera notch at the top of the display, housing the 5MP f/2.2 selfie camera. 

The cameras on the OPPO A18

Cameras, features, and other specs

Like the A79 5G we reviewed last month, the rear camera array is emblazoned with the phrase: “INNOVATIVE AI CAMERA”.

The specs are different, though. The A18 has an 8MP main camera, with an f/2.0 aperture and a 78 degree FOV, with a 2MP, f/2.4 fixed focus lens to help it create nice bokeh effects when taking portrait images.

All that AI functionality is in the software, and largely amounts to smoothing out skin in selfies and portraits.

On the video front, you can only record 1080p quality at 30fps on either front or back, which isn’t too surprising given the price.

Inside the phone, everything is powered by the MediaTek Hello G85 processor, with 8 cores up to 2.0GHz.

There’s also a Mali G52MC2 GPU. You get 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage as standard, with a MicroSD card slot for expanding that storage. 

Like other OPPO phones, the A18 also offers extended RAM functionality, which can use up to 4 GB of free ROM to give you a bit more memory for intensive processing situations.

A 5,000 mAh battery will get you through the day, but unlike more expensive OPPO phones, there’s no SUPERVOOC fast charging.

Holding the OPPO A18

OPPO A18 review: Performance

This phone sells for $219 RRP, so it’s not going to be the fastest phone on the planet.

It is, however, quite functional. It can manage web browsing, typing, and even a little bit of gaming well enough, though you can definitely expect to see some frames dropping in any game that features constant movement.

On the benchmarks side of things, this is how things look against the A79 5G and the Motorola G54:

Single-core:

OPPO A18
431
Oppo A79 5G
714
Motorola G54
904

Multi-core

OPPO A18
1405
Oppo A79 5G
1840
Motorola G54
2072

Vulkan Compute

OPPO A18
1094
Oppo A79 5G
1226
Motorola G54
151

*A quick flag that the Moto G54 didn’t complete the GPU test, with errors contributing to that low score

Both those devices are pricier than the OPPO A18, so the OPPO’s scores here indicate it does a reasonable job.

In terms of real-world usage, I spent a bit of time playing Mighty Doom, and I was actually surprised that the game was playable. 

While not overly detailed in its graphics, the game involves lots of motion on screen and a few controls. When there was a lot of moving parts on the screen, then there was a very definite drop in frame rate, and the A18 started to shut along.

But it was still playable, and I managed to clear levels without any real challenge.

What’s perhaps most frustrating with the A18 is the pre-installed bloatware. This isn’t a new challenge for OPPO phones – we’ve seen pre-installed junk installed on every OPPO device we’ve tested.

But on this budget device, it feels more intrusive. Given the limitations of the phone’s performance, should I really have to spend my time deleting “Dice Dreams”, “Coffee Run 3D” or “Fill the Glass” from the phone before I start using it? 

Camera performance

This is not a phone for aspirational photographers. 

While you can squeeze out a photo good enough to bang up on Facebook or Instagram (probably with a filter, just to be safe), you will seldomly get a shot you’ll want to print and stick on the wall.

Colour reproduction is typically washed out and muted. Even on a sunnier day, colours lacked vibrancy.

However, skin tones are reasonably well captured, making it much better for portrait photography than landscapes.

The Portrait mode does add a subtle bokeh effect, and while it’s not as remarkable as what you’ll find on a premium device, it’s certainly serviceable enough.

Annoyingly, the camera app shows a 5x zoom option by default, and I haven’t found a way to turn it off. It’s a digital zoom, and it is terrible. You should never use it, and the fact you can’t disable the digital zoom function is disappointing.

See the photos of the rosella below to see what I mean.

I also want to touch on the AI functionality a bit. When taking a photo of a person, you can control a slider for “AI retouching”. It essentially smoothes out the skin with a heavy hand.

Here are a couple of selfies, one with AI retouching set to 0%, the other set to 100%.

Obviously these are the extremes, but I cannot fathom why anyone would use this. I find the results to look unrealistic, fake and disappointing.

Battery life

5,000 mAh is pretty standard capacity for larger screen smartphones, and that means that you can get through a full day without any issues. 

Obviously, actual battery longevity will depend on how you use your phone. Over the course of the review period, browsing the web, playing Mighty Doom and taking photos, I could get through a day to a day and a half. On a single charge.

OPPO A18 review: Verdict

So long as your expectations match the price tag of the Oppo A18, then you will be happy with the result.

This is not a phone for photographers. It’s not a phone for gamers. It’s not even a phone for social media fans.

This is a phone for people on a budget. It’s for replacing a broken phone (relatively) cheaply. Or, it’s a solid choice for a first device for your kids.

It’s not going to blow your mind with its features and functions. 

But it will work, and it’s cheap.

The back of the OPPO A18

Buy the OPPO A18 online

8.3
OPPO A18 – Glowing Blue

OPPO A18 – Glowing Blue

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8.3
OPPO A18 – Glowing Black

OPPO A18 – Glowing Black

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Product disclosure

OPPO supplied the product for this review.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

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