You’ve landed on the TechRadar Oppo A72 review, where we’ll deliver our verdict on the features, performance, camera quality, design and value-for-money of this budget handset from the Chinese manufacturer. If you’re wanting to get your hands on a good-quality phone for as little money as possible, this could be the handset for you.
It arrives into a market that’s more competitive than ever down at this price point: if you’re in the market for an affordable, well-spec’d handset rather than a top-tier flagship, you’re spoilt for choice right now. Oppo has regularly impressed us in terms of the handsets that it puts out, and this is its latest attempt to find the perfect compromise between cost and quality.
At £219 / AU$299 (around $275), the Oppo A72 inhabits a niche between the true budget handsets and the packed mid-range.
We found that the Oppo A72 punches slightly above its weight in terms of performance and camera quality, though it’s hardly a revelation in these areas – just a little bit better than you might expect for the price. Despite a large 5,000mAh battery, its life is good rather than great, and the display is fine without being anything that you’re going to consider a revelation at this price point.
In terms of competitors, you need to weigh this against phones from the likes of Nokia and Motorola, as well as the other Chinese brands such as Xiaomi and Realme.
While we can’t put our finger on any one aspect of the Oppo A72 that really impresses, it’s also fair to say that it’s satisfactory across the board, and when you’re spending this amount of money you can’t really ask for much more.
Oppo A72 price and availability
- Costs £219 / AU$299 (around $275) SIM-free
- Not available in the US
You can pick up the Oppo A72 today for somewhere in the region of £219 / AU$299 SIM-free, though check the widgets on this page for the latest deals. Inexpensive contract deals from EE, Carphone Warehouse and Virgin Media are available too, though the phone isn’t on sale directly in the US, as has been the case with previous Oppo phones.
As the latest in the A series, it’s very much positioned down at the lower end of the price spectrum, putting it in competition with handsets from the likes of Motorola, Nokia, Realme, and itself – the Oppo A5 launched earlier this year is actually a little bit cheaper if you want to spend even less on your next smartphone.
- Stylish design
- Headphone jack
- Big camera bump
You can’t really tell that the Oppo A72 is a budget smartphone just by looking at it: it’s got a nice big screen, a relatively thin (8.9mm) chassis, a stylish, glossy back panel, and a chunky camera bump.
We’re not really fans of camera bumps, but you can’t easily get away from them these days, so this phone isn’t unusual in having one. Around the front, the only blemish on the screen is a small punch-hole camera cut-out in the top left-hand corner.
Your color choices are black (as with our review model) and a slightly more flamboyant purple, and the casing can really catch the light well – and attract plenty of fingerprint smudges at the same time. Add in the thin bezels around the side of the display, and you could be forgiven for thinking that this smartphone costs a lot more than it actually does, though no waterproofing is one tell-tale sign of its budget price.
The phone feels fine and solid in the hand, if a little on the plasticky side – it’s when you start actually playing around with the Oppo A72 that it becomes clear that you’re not dealing with a flagship phone costing a four-figure sum. You wouldn’t mistake this for a new iPhone or a Galaxy Note, but we have no major complaints about how the phone is designed and put together.
We’re pleased to see the modern USB-C has been adopted as the charging and data transfer port rather than the outdated micro USB – which some cheap phones fall back on – and you get a headphone jack too, so you don’t have to invest in wireless earbuds if you don’t want to. There’s also a fingerprint sensor built into the power button on the side, which works perfectly well.
- Sharp, bright display
- Not top-tier refresh rates
- Punch-hole cut-out
You get a 6.5-inch, 1080 x 2400, 20:9 aspect ratio IPS LCD display on the Oppo A72, which we found was sharp and bright and more than adequate for all the key tasks – from browsing across the web to sitting back and watching a few YouTube videos. Oppo will have had to cut some corners to reach this price point, but the display doesn’t appear to have been one of them.
Brightness levels and contrast levels might not hit the heights of the very best phone displays on the market, but it’s hard to find fault in this panel, especially considering the price that you’re paying for it and the attached phone.
It’s not up there with the highest 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate displays on the market at the moment, as it’s capped at 60Hz – that doesn’t make too much of a difference, but you might notice it if you’re switching from something much more expensive.
We put the Oppo A72 screen through all the usual tests in all the standard apps, and found color reproduction and crispness to be up to a standard that we were more than happy with. Delve into the display settings and you can change the color temperature of the screen if you wish – a slider lets you move between a cooler or a warmer display.
If you need to do some gaming or some binge-watching on the Oppo A72, then the screen will serve you perfectly well, with minimal lag or ghosting. If you view something in full screen mode, the software makes no attempt to hide the punch-hole notch in the corner, but it’s not too much of a distraction.
- Ultra-wide lens option
- Decent night mode
- Respectable for the price
The days of truly terrible phone cameras are behind us, and in 2020 even if you buy the cheapest of smartphones, you’re generally going to get an attached camera that’s able to take decent shots (especially if the lighting is good).
The Oppo A72’s camera follows the same pattern as everything else about the phone – the difference between this and a top-tier flagships is noticeable, but you’re not going to be all that disappointed considering how much more affordable this handset is.
Taking the Oppo A72 for a wander around the neighborhood, we were able to get some very good shots of scenes in the sunshine, with strong brightness and good color reproduction. Dark and light areas are handled well, and the camera app works quickly at finding a focus point and taking a snap when you hit the shutter button.
While we think there are better phone cameras around at this sort of price point – the Nokia 5.3, for example – the difference isn’t a huge one, and unless you’re zooming into the details of an image you’re not really going to notice it.
Your snaps will look perfectly fine on whatever social media platform you want to share them on, though if you’re planning a few enlarged canvas prints for the walls of your home you might want to find a phone with a more sophisticated camera.
The quad-lens 48MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP depth, and 2MP black and white array doesn’t give you any kind of optical zoom, but you can take ultra-wide shots if you need to fit more into the frame. Basic scene differences such as indoor and outdoor are recognized by the camera, and the automatic adjustments going on behind the scenes do seem to give the captured images more of a quality finish.
There is a dedicated night mode which helps you get something usable most of the time in the dark, provided you can keep the camera steady for a second or two while the phone takes several exposure readings. In most situations it picks out details and brightens dark spots okay, but it’s not up to the standard of slightly more expensive phones from Google, Apple and Xiaomi in the night shooting stakes.
Overall we were reasonably impressed by what the Oppo A72 has to offer in the camera department. While it just has the edge over pictures taken by, say, the Oppo A5, it is more expensive than that handset as well.
In the end you’re going to get what you pay for, and while the Oppo A72 isn’t bad in terms of the pictures it offers, this is one of those areas where doubling the money you spend is going to make a significant difference. For quick snaps and social media though, the Oppo A72 is more than good enough.
Specs and performance
- Runs most apps and games well
- Occasional video jitter
- Dedicated gaming mode app
The Oppo A72 comes with a mid-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, which you can expand via a microSD card slot if you need to (most people probably won’t).
On paper that’s an okay level of performance for the price you’re paying – anything less than this spec and you’d probably get noticeable lag in places on your phone.
As it is, the Oppo A72 deals with all the day-to-day tasks of modern life without any trouble – emailing, web browsing, social media, gaming. Even a demanding game like Asphalt 9 runs fine on this handset, though you’re going to be waiting a few seconds longer on loading screens than you would on a flagship phone, and you don’t get as smooth a frame rate as with more expensive devices.
We did notice the occasional jitter when watching movies and shows, which might be a sign that this is a handset at the cheaper end of the market, or just a problem with our internet connection – this seemed to happen in Google Play Movies & TV but not in Netflix, so it’s possible that Oppo needs to optimize its software a little more to work perfectly with Google’s digital video app.
Speaking of software, you get Oppo’s ColorOS on top of Android 10. It’s definitely an acquired taste, and if you’re used to the plainness of stock Android then you might find the bright shades and extra visual flourishes rather overwhelming at first. There’s nothing particularly bad about ColorOS, but it does come with a bunch of apps and extra menu options that we could definitely live without.
The performance of the Oppo A72 is another indicator that most of us can get by just fine with a phone right down at the lowest price brackets. As long as you’re not expecting the buttery-smooth feel of an iPhone 11 or a Samsung Galaxy S20, the Oppo A72 will perform just fine for you, and deal with just about everything you need it to. After using the phone for several days, we didn’t notice any major sluggishness or delay.
It’s worth mentioning the Game Space app that comes pre-installed on the phone, which mutes notifications and blocks background processes while you’re gaming, supposedly improving performance. We couldn’t see any real difference but it’s an interesting extra to have if you’re trying to get more demanding games working more fluidly.
In tests on the latest Geekbench app, the Oppo A72 scored 301 in the single-core and 1197 in the multi-core tests, and 369 in the OpenCL Compute benchmark. Have a look at the online databases and you’ll see we’re in the same territory as phones such as the Samsung Galaxy A51 and the Motorola One Action, though of course benchmarks don’t tell the whole story when it comes to performance.
- Large 5,000mAh battery
- Good battery life
- Battery-saving software tweaks
How fast your phone’s battery is going to drain of course depends on what you’re going to do with it, but we found the Oppo A72 easily made it through a whole day of regular use with a good quarter or so of its battery life remaining on average.
That said, we should add the usual caveat about our test unit being a brand new phone with a brand new battery, and we can’t tell you how quickly that will degrade over time.
Oppo claims “all day use” so we’ll go along with that, and you’re really going to have to work some to drain this completely by the end of the day.
Despite our misgivings about ColorOS, it does come with some useful battery optimization features, warning you about apps that are draining the battery excessively and giving you some tips about which settings you can adjust to make your battery last longer. It even estimates how much extra time you’ll get from each tweak, which is handy.
While we were watching a couple of hours of streaming video, the battery dipped from 100% to 80%, which is respectable enough performance, and means you should get around 10 hours of binge-watching from the device. Given the 5,000mAh battery capacity we were maybe expecting a little bit more, but you certainly won’t be worrying about running out of juice before the end of the day.
If you manage battery life carefully, you could get well into a second day of use with the Oppo A72. There’s no wireless charging here, but there is the fast charging tech that Oppo is known for – a maximum of 18W of power in this case, which should mean you can get out of the door faster in the mornings.
Should I buy the Oppo A72?
Buy it if…
You’re on a tight budget
There are a large number of affordable phones on the market, but the Oppo A72 strikes a good balance between price and performance, so it’s one of the better budget options.
You like tweaking your phone
Not everyone is going to love the extra software you get with ColorOS, but it does at least let you tweak battery life and performance, if you want to dig deep into the options.
You want a usable camera
The cameras on the Oppo A72 won’t blow you away, but they’re decent for the price you’re paying, and the included night mode will help you get usable pictures in low light.
Don’t buy it if…
You want the best display tech
The screen on this phone is by no means a bad one, but you can find much better on the market if you’re willing to pay a little (or a lot) more for a more expensive display panel.
You need top performance
The Oppo A72 performs well enough with games and demanding apps, but you’ll have to be careful not to overload it, and it features a sub-mid-range Snapdragon chipset.
You want all the extra features
Compromises have to be made at this price, so don’t opt for the Oppo A72 if you’re after the best mobile experience: 5G, wireless charging, and waterproofing are all missing.
First reviewed: July 2020