OPPO A96 review - Relevant mid-range phone for 2022
Last month, OPPO Malaysia launched its latest OPPO A series mid-range smartphone - the OPPO A96. The phone comes with specs that can be expected for a device of this category in 2022, including a large battery, high refresh rate display, and virtual RAM.
The OPPO A96 is available in Malaysia for RM1299, so is it the best phone in that price gap? Read our review to find out!
Design - Not much difference from previous-gen
The OPPO A96 features an OPPO Glow Design for the back that features a diamond pattern with a matte surface. This makes its surface difficult to leave fingerprints yet retains the sheen that makes it look like a more expensive phone. The back surface is made of plastic, but that's expected for a phone in this category.
OPPO logo on the smooth back
Simple camera module
The camera bump is quite thin
The camera bump is relatively thin, housing just two cameras and the LED flash. But if you dislike camera bumps, there's a silicone case in the box if you want to flatten the back of the phone. The colour we received had a prominent Pearl Pink white. If you want something more low-profile, we suggest the Starry Black colour.
The OPPO A96 has a curved plastic frame. It has a fingerprint scanner that doubles as a power button on the right. The volume buttons, SIM card tray, and microSD memory card are on the left. Also, its speaker, USB-C port, and 3.5mm audio jack are at the bottom.
Left: Volume buttons + SIM tray
Right: Power button with the integrated fingerprint sensor
Bottom: 3.5mm audio jack, USB-C port, and speaker
Thin bezels on the sides and top, but has a thicker bottom bezel
On the front is a 6.59-inch screen with a relatively thin bezel border on the top left and right. However, the bottom has a comparatively thicker chin. A selfie camera is in the punch hole at the top left of the screen. The phone's design is standard for a mid-range device, though it's not as beautiful as last year's OPPO A95.
Tech specs & features - As competent as any mid-range phone
Although its exterior design wasn't that impressive, this OPPO A96 does have interesting specs for a mid-range phone. Here are the full tech specifications for this phone:
- 6.59-inch FullHD+ (1080 × 2412) LCD screen, 90Hz refresh rate, 90.8% screen-to-body ratio, 100% DCI-P3, 96% NTSC
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 4G chipset
- 8GB RAM + up to 5GB of Expansion RAM
- 256GB internal storage
- 50MP main camera + 2MP Bokeh camera
- 16MP front camera
- 5000mAh battery
- Fast charging 33W SUPERVOOC
- ColorOS 11.1 operating system based on Android 11
- IPX4 waterproof resistance
- Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
- Dual stereo speakers, 3.5mm audio jack
- Choice of Starry Black or Pearl Pink white
OPPO A96 basic tech specs
Although this phone uses an LCD panel that can't produce rich colours like AMOLED, it still has a fast refresh rate of 90Hz. This will make the use of this phone feel very smooth when you scroll the screen.
The display also has Adaptive Refresh Rate Technology, automatically adjusting the refresh rate according to the displayed content to extend battery life. Other phones may also have a 90Hz refresh rate, but they might not have the same automatic refresh rate adjustment feature as the OPPO A96.
Videos still look decent, despite the lack of an AMOLED display
As for the chipset, the Snapdragon 680 is a 6nm chipset that delivers fast performance for daily tasks like internet surfing, text messaging, social media and others. This chipset has been widely used in 2022 smartphones and could remain relevant for at least another year.
The OPPO A96's camera module is slightly lacking, with only two lenses - the 50MP main camera and a 2MP depth sensor. This means that those who love ultra-wide shots or macro-photography would be disappointed with this phone.
An important feature of the OPPO A96 is its large 5000mAh battery, which can easily last more than a day. While charging, the 33W SUPERVOOC charger can fully charge this battery in a short time. And fortunately, the charger is included in the box.
Like most current mid-range phones, the OPPO A96 has a RAM Expansion function that can expand the RAM by 2GB, 3GB or 5GB. In terms of internal storage, this phone offers a capacity of 256GB. You could also add more storage with a microSD memory card.
Configurable virtual RAM at 2GB, 3GB, or 5GB
ColorOS 11.1 user interface
As for the interface (UI), ColorOS 11.1 software is easy to use for Android users. But the phone has a lot of bloatware. While playing games, Game Space makes it easy for you to access functions often used for gaming, such as performance enhancement or screen recording. Currently, the OPPO A96 still has the Android 11 operating system. However, I'm sure it will receive the Android 12 update shortly.
Performance - Better than before
Before we move on to the performance, here are the results generated from the Geekbench and 3DMark benchmark tests for the OPPO A96.
Geekbench & 3DMark results
3DMark scores compared to other devices
Since the chipset is just the Snapdragon 680, don't expect fast performance for heavy tasks like gaming. But if you just use the phone for daily tasks, it can perform brilliantly. In particular, the experience of using a 90Hz refresh rate display feels so different from old 60Hz screens.
For gaming, the phone delivered a decent performance in PUBG Mobile, COD Mobile, and Asphalt 9 at medium graphics settings. For a smoother gaming experience, we recommend setting the graphical settings to the lowest you can.
Asphalt 9 gameplay - graphics were all set to medium settings
Call of Duty Mobile gameplay - graphics were all set to medium settings
PUBG Mobile gameplay - graphics were all set to medium settings
As for the audio, the stereo speakers in this phone produce only moderate sound quality, and the volume is also not very high. Fortunately, this phone still has a 3.5mm audio jack, even as more mid-range phones from other brands start ditching it.
One thing we really like about this phone is its very durable battery life. It's capable of lasting more than a day. Even if the screen is left on from playing videos continuously, it recorded a screen time of almost nine hours on a full battery. If you want to make it last longer, you can activate Power Saving Mode or Super Power Saving Mode. This increases the battery life by up to three days.
As for the charging speed, the 33W SUPERVOOC can fully recharge an empty OPPO A96 battery in about 1 hour only. That's a pretty short charging duration for a mid-range phone.
Battery from 100% to 3% in 8 hours 25 minutes
Charging 4% to 99% takes 1 hour 6 minutes
Moving on, the fingerprint scanner on the right side works very fast. The face recognition is also quite responsive, except in low-light conditions.
Now, let's talk about its photography performance. Besides the basic ones, the OPPO A96 offers camera features like Portrait, Night, Slo-Mo, Panorama, and more. Like most phones in this category, the OPPO A96 can take great pictures in bright settings. On the other hand, your photos might look blurred in low-light conditions. Although Night mode can add some detail to your photos, it's not that noticeable.
Sample shots from the main camera
Sample shots with Night mode
Selfies from the front camera
Conclusion - A mid-ranger with lots of competition
The OPPO A96 offers good specs and a decent user experience for most people. If all you need is a phone for text messaging and browsing the internet, you won't experience any problems with this phone. Unfortunately, its RM1299 price tag means it faces stiff competition in the smartphone market.
This is because you can get alternatives that offer similar or superior performance for similar prices. One alternative is the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G (RM1199), which comes with a 108MP main camera. Another option is the realme 9 Pro (RM1099) which performs on par with the OPPO A96 but has more cameras (including an ultra-wide camera).
There's also the OPPO A95 (RM1099), which has an AMOLED screen for better visuals. However, that model uses an older chipset and probably won't get an Android 12 update. In fact, the phone was already lagging behind when it launched in 2021.
That's it for our OPPO A96 review! Do you agree or disagree with our points? Let us know what you think in the comments, and stay tuned to TechNave for more news and reviews like this.