Oppo A52 Review: Very few flaws for this high-value budget phone

The grace feature of the Oppo A52 2020 is its A$299 price tag. That should already be an attractive proposition without even looking at the spec sheet, given the company’s reputation for efficiency when it comes to the more wallet-friendly ranges. Seeing as they’ve been dominant in this market so far, it’s not much of a surprise that the A52 gets much more right than it gets wrong.

Design

Considering this phone is considered budget, Oppo has been really generous with their 6.5″ LTPS 1080p screen (what Oppo are calling a “Neo-Display”). With a resolution of 2400×1080, you get tightly controlled temperatures and accurate colours when viewing content. Streaming services look great on this, far better than many other ‘cheap’ phones. It has also been carefully tweaked to go easier on the eyes, with Eye Protection Certification by TÜV Rheinland and a max brightness of 480 nitts.

A sizable screen-to-body ratio of 90.5% is helped by minimising left and right bezels but still managing to fit in a decent 8MP hole-punch front camera. The chin is quite large, but overall the display is as gorgeous and slim as you’d find on most pricier phones.

Flipping around the back of the phone’s plastic Twilight Black body, brings you to an AI quad-camera setup on a rectangular panel. I’ll talk more about the photography below.

At 192g and 8.99mm thick, it’s light and feels premium in the hand. The SIM drawer and volume buttons are located on the left, where your thumb would intuitively land if you’re holding this in one hand, and the large power button (doubling as the efficient and accurate side-mounted fingerprint reader) is almost directly opposite on the right side of the phone. The very bottom hosts a 3.5mm headphone jack, bottom-firing speaker and the USB-C port for 18W fastcharge.

Yes, fastcharge, on a phone that’s half the price of mid-tier leader Google Pixel 3a. Again, Oppo has been incredibly generous here and are obviously aiming to re-assert their dominance for entry-level users while giving us something similar in design to the forthcoming (and slightly more expensive) A92.

Performance

Not convinced of the generosity quite yet? Oppo has thrown in an efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 655 processor to power the smooth and intuitive Color OS 7.1 operating system built on Android 10. You aren’t going to be as impressed when it comes to pushing this phone with substantial gaming apps, but Hyperboost is quite good at maximising CPU so you can at least get a decent, seamless experience with more intensive use. The Adreno 610 GPU also handles things quite well, although there are noticeable drops on games like Fortnite and Asphalt 9 on ideal settings.

4GB RAM is fine for modest use, and it’s very unlikely you’ll run into issues with multi-tasking.

Audio performance isn’t nearly as impressive. Although you’ll get decent volume, the down-firing “Dual Stereo Speakers” don’t align with Oppo’s promise of high sound quality. Treble and bass are both equally dull, with the latter particularly muddle if you push the volume higher than say 60%. If you’re going to stream content, it’s a good idea to have a pair of headphones handy.

Camera

The front-facing 8MP sensor is fine for 2D face unblock, and while it could stand to be a bit faster, the process works without issue. Selfies aren’t going to impress, especially if you like to have depth in your vanity shots. It does however pick up colours quite well.

The rear system makes do with 12MP (f/1.8) main, 8MP (f/2.2) ultra wide, 2MP (f/2.4) macro, and 2MP (f/2.4) depth lenses. That’s not a bad set up at all, but while you’ll get some hard-working AI to clean up results, there are still going to be noticeable issues.

Take a look at the scene below, first shot with the A52 and then with my main driver, a Google Pixel 4 XL. Of course the high-end Pixel 4 is much crispier and overall better, but for a phone that’s almost $1,000 cheaper, the A52 holds it own.

Taken with the Oppo A52
Taken with the Google Pixel 4 XL

Daylight shots with a range of colours are impressive for the price, but quality drops fast if you zoom or opt to go wide-angle. Low light is similarly satisfactory, successfully brightening a photo in a way that still looks natural, but dulling warm colours and still holding on to a lot of noise. Surprisingly, the way low-light photos handles shadows is far beyond what you’d expect for a budget phone.

Shot with the Oppo A52

I found the macro lens retains a lot of detail, with close-ups quite crisp without a lot of clarity. The issue with colour is consistent though, with poor balance and a tendency to dull warmer colours.

Battery Life

Giving you a mid-range processor for a budget phone was more than enough to help justify the price tag, but Oppo has also gone ahead and put a reliable 5,000mAh battery inside. That’s bigger than a lot of Oppo’s more expensive mid-range phones, like the A91, as such you’ll get a lot of traction out of this even with intensive use. Expect the battery to last all day, and then some.

Verdict & Value

It’s hard to fault the A95 given how inexpensive it is. When you take that into consideration, this may be the most valuable budget phone Oppo has created to date. The battery and processor in particular outpace expectations, while the camera may be best in its category and display is more than just decent. You won’t get as smooth an experience when it comes to intensive gaming, but if you only need this phone for the basics, don’t bother looking at more expensive mid-range models and just go for this high-value device.

FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: An excellent all-rounder for a budget; unheard of battery power at this price range; hefty processor gets the average job done; decent camera.
Lowlights: Still quite a bit of noise with the camera; cheap plastic body is a fingerprint magnet.
Manufacturer: Oppo
Price: A$299
Available: Now

Review based on a unit supplied by Oppo.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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