OPPO A1k Review: Solid build and great battery on a budget

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The mid-range smartphone market is a crowded place and it a place where it is difficult to get noticed. OPPO has thrown in the A1k smack-bang in there. Does it have what it takes to make a splash? We explore its features and capabilities in this OPPO A1k review. Do come along with us.

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The A1k was launched some months back in May 2019 and looking at the specs, its immediate attraction is the beefy 4000mAh battery. Everyone prefers a smartphone whose battery just keeps going, and a big battery is bound to get some attention. It got ours. But what else does the A1k offer? Let’s have a look at its core specs.

OPPO A1k Review: Quick Specs

  • Body: Polycarbonate shell;
  • Screen: 6.1-inch, 1560 x 720 pixels, 19:9 apsect ratio, IPS LCD with a waterdrop notch and Gorila Glass 3 protection.
  • Rear Camera: 8MP, f/2.2 auto-focus lens; LED flash; 1080@30fps video recording,
  • Front Camera: 5MP fixed focus lens; 1080p@30fps video recording
  • Chipset: MediaTek Helio P22 chipset, octa-core CPU clocked at 1.8 GHz, IMG PowerVR GE8320 GPU.
  • Memory: 2GB RAM. 32GB storage. Dedicated microSD slot for up to 256GB expansion
  • OS: ColorOS v6 based on Android 9 Pie;
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM (4G), Bluetooth 4.2, GPS/GLONASS, Wi-Fi b/g/n, FM radio, microUSB 2.0
  • Colors: Black; Steel.
  • Misc: Smart Assistant.

OPPO A1k Review: Quick Pros And Cons

Before we dive into the review proper, starting with the major pros and cons of this device.

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  • Solid telephony and Internet connectivity.
  • Control over Google services and access on the phone.
  • Gorilla Glass 3 protection for the screen.
  • Solid build and a touch of elegance.
  • Big, long-lasting battery.
  • Generous internal storage.
  • Not great at mulit-tasking.

OPPO A1k Review: In the box

Oppo a1k box mobilityarena

On opening the box, we came across the following items:

  1. the OPPO A1k smartphone itself;
  2. quick guide and warranty documentation;
  3. transparent silicone case;
  4. USB cable; and
  5. 3-pin 10W wall charger.
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OPPO A1k Review: Hardware And Design

Polycarbonate smartphones are the rave these days, and the OPPO A1k does not buck the trend. It has a polycarbonate shaell and a Gorilla Glass 3  protected screen in front. It feels solid in the hand – like a phone that will withstand a few knocks without falling apart.

OPPO phones are known for quality workmanship and the A1k feels reassuring in that regard.

The 6.1″ display has a waterdrop notch at the top. The power button is on the right edge, while the volume buttons are on the opposite edge. There is nothing at the top. Everything else – loudspeaker grill, USB port, microphone hole, and 3.5mm headphone slot – are on the bottom edge.

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At the back is a slightly raised horizontal camera module that houses an 8MP camera and LED flash. I particularly like the gold trimming around the camera module. The only other thing you will find on the back is the OPPO logo in gold. There is no fingerprint reader there – and no; there isn’t one in front or anywhere else wither.

OPPO A1k Review: Software

Oppo a1k in hand

OPPO A1k runs ColorOS v6 which is based on Android 9 Pie. ColorOS is a fairly heavy skin of Android OS and changes the look and feel of the OS, as well as adds some useful tools.

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Setup was smooth and easy, and during that, OPPO would like you to sign in with your OPPO ID to use their services. But if you would rather not, simply skip and move on. It isn’t mandatory. I looked for a toggle in the phone Settings to hide the display notch and couldn’t find it. It just might be hidden somewhere, which would be a shame. Such a toggle should be easy to find.

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Smart Assistant

ColorOS has a helpful tool called Smart Assistant built-in. It is available as a home screen pane and can be accessed by swiping to the right on your home screen. It is OPPO’s take on Google’s feed. Smart Assistant functions like an organizer, helping you keep track of things like the weather, your calendar, your quick functions, fitness schedule and more.

Privacy Control

One of the things I found intriguing about ColorOS is how it gives the user a greater deal of control over what details get synchronized to the phone. Let me explain.

Usually, on other Android phones, once you sin into your Google account, your Google Contacts are synced to the phone. Not in the case of the OPPO. You have to manually take an extra step to : In the Contacts app. select “Sync with Contacts of Other Accounts”, next page -> select your Google account and make sure that the Auto-sync Data toggle is enabled.

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Then on the next page, you get to select what gets synced from your Google account – Calendar, Contacts, Drive, Gmail, Google Fit Data, People details. Once you have selected what you want, tap “Sync Now” at the bottom of the page.

It is quite a number of extra steps, but I see its privacy benefits. If you are a user who does not want all your Google details on your device, OPPO’s software gives you control. It gives you the freedom to pick and choose what gets synced to your phone.

Security Features in ColorOS

Also baked into ColorOS are some other nifty security features – Secure Keyboard, Screenshot & Screen Recording Prevention, and Prevent Background Recording of Audio/Images.

You can toggle Secure Keyboard to auto-activate when you need to enter a password. It will take over from your default keyboard, which often tracks your input and can leak your secure info. Secure Keyboard does not track or record your keystrokes, it does not connect to the Internet, and it does not give suggestions when you type.

When using Secure Keyboard or OPPO’s Private Safe, screenshots and screen recording are disabled, so your secure information cannot be captured. Lastly, anytime an app or service starts using your phone’s microphone in the background, you get notified in the status bar. And should any background app try to use the camera, you get a prompt too.

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There is the Anti-harassment/Fraud feature too, which is another name for OPPO’s call blocking feature. You can create a Blacklist as well as a Whitelist of numbers. I really love the security-focused features of ColorOS.

Software Updates

What of software and security updates? We have no information about any future updates for the A1k, but it appears to be fairly kept up-to-date with monthly security patches. During our review, the phone got the June 2019 Android Security Patch during our review.

OPPO A1k Review: Network And Telephony

Telephony is solid on the OPPO A1k with clear audio. As a telephone, the A1k is one of the better ones out there.

For mobile Internet connectivity, there is 4G LTE support, including Glo’s LTE band 28(700). Glo 4G works like a charm. Both SIM slots support 4G, but not at the same time. If you choose 4G for one, the other stays on 2G/3G.

OPPO A1k Review: Display And Multimedia

The 720P display does a good job with viewing images and video content. I watched television shows and didn’t have a degraded experience.

OPPO A1k comes with a music player pre-installed. It is the same one that we liked on the F11 Pro for its visual appeal and it looks just as good here. It has all the controls you would expect from a decent music player.

Audio reproduction via the built-in loudspeaker is good and ticks all boxes for a device in its class. No disappointments here.

OPPO A1k Review: Photography

Oppo a1k review: rear camera

The A1k’s front camera is only 5 megapixels, while the rear camera is an 8 megapixels snapper with LED flash. Of course, we took them for a spin and returned with the following pictures, so you can judge for yourself.

First a selfie – or is it we-fie?

Oppo a1k selfie camera outdoor daylight
Oppo a1k selfie camera outdoor daylight

And on to the main camera:

Oppo a1k main camera indoor daylight
Oppo a1k main camera indoor daylight
Oppo a1k main camera indoor daylight
Oppo a1k main camera outdoors daylight
Oppo a1k main camera low light no flash
Oppo a1k main camera low light no flash
Oppo a1k main camera low light
Oppo a1k main camera low light with flash

OPPO A1k Review: Multitasking And Performance

If you have used Android smartphones with more RAM, you will quickly notice that brief pause that comes from using a 2GB RAM Android phone. If you have never used anything above 2GB RAM, you will not notice anything. Most phone users will be happy with its performance. Not power users, however. This is not a smartphone for people who love to juggle multiple apps every other minute.

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Internal storage is 32GB – a delightful thing to have. It gives you plenty of room for your photos and videos and other files. You can also sacrifice one SIM card for a memory card, if you need more storage space.

OPPO A1k Review: Battery life

The 4000mAh battery is rock solid and on lean days of little use, I still had as much as 60% at bedtime. On days of regular use, I often ended up with 20-30% battery to spare at the end of the day.

It takes over 2 hours to charge the phone’s battery up from 0%. The best way to charge this up for the day is to plug it in at bedtime and wake up to a full battery in the morning. Or when you wake up to take a leak at night.

However you choose to charge it, the solid battery life of the OPPO A1k will give you peace of mind. It is one of those smartphones some call “charge-and-go”.

OPPO A1k Review: Final Words

The OPPO A1k is a decent mid-range smartphone with a solid build, some touch of class, and very good battery performance. If you love to have more control over your data, there are not many smartphones out there that offer you that. For example, you can choose to sync only your email and nothing else.

The lack of a fingerprint reader can be a bummer, but there is Face Unlock and good old password security to fall back on. Do we think that OPPO A1k is a good phone to purchase for ₦45,000? Yes; we do. If it fits your profile, this is a dependable smartphone.

And on that note, we bring our OPPO A1k review to a close. Thanks for reading! And do not go away: we have more re views on the way.

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