All these years of Oppo’s existence in the Indian smartphone market has trained it well to contend against others (and even sister firms) in the sub Rs-20,000 segment. It’s not winning the war in this arena but seems to be slowly eating the market of others by launching smartphones with an aim to undercut them. One such smartphone is the newly-launched Oppo K3 that went on sale days ago in India. The smartphone is Oppo’s yet another attempt to eat a piece of the pie but what’s more important here is that is this just another handset in the already crowded segment or does it really bring something substantial for customers at Rs 16,990?
We used the K3 smartphone’s Rs 16,990 variant that has 6GB RAM and 64GB inbuilt storage for a few weeks as our daily driver and here’s our review.
If you haven’t seen the Oppo K3 yet, you might not be missing out on much. The smartphone plays on the same design and build as some of its recently launched siblings from different series. It has a clean, notch-less display at the front and a gradient back panel. The Aurora Blue colour variant that we got for review, has a glossy backside, which is as expected, a fingerprint and smudge magnet. Nonetheless, the smartphone looks beautiful with the flush dual rear cameras and the vertical, reflective branding, giving a contrasting look. The gradient colours are not so loud and attention seekers but rather subtle and simple.
However, scratches and scuffs at the corners are easily visible. Handling the device is not an issue as its light and feels balanced when using single-handedly. It’s thin at sides but the boxy shape helps retain the grip to some extent so there’s no fear of it falling or slipping out of your hands. What many Android OEMs are not getting it right these days is the placement of the power and volume buttons. It has lately been a regular task for us to look at the handset once while handling the volume buttons and power button just to be sure.
However, with Oppo K3 there is some level of reliability. This is only because the power button and volume buttons are on the left and right side but are reachable as they are not placed on towards the top but at the centre. At the bottom you get USB Type-C port and a mono speaker, which we are not a big fan of. To everyone’s relief, there’s a 3.5mm headphone slot here. Also, there’s a speaker grille placed stealthily above the screen at the front.
All in all, Oppo K3 looks good and something that shouldn’t bother you when it comes to catching the attention of the crowd. The gradient look is subtle but attractive and the device is easy to carry around and seems durable to take on drops from a couple of feet.
Oppo K3 is not a device that will be known for its display quality in particular. However, the screen specifications are at par with others in the similar price range. You get a 6.5-inch canvas size, which might sound big but doesn’t feel like it during real life usage. Oppo and Vivo have been doing a good job for the past couple of years in the smartphone display segment in general and the same streak seems to be carried by Oppo K3. The AMOLED panel is a delight to look at. Streaming videos won’t give you any complaints as such. From vibrant and punchy colours to impressive brightness levels, the display is not as long and less wide like what’s there in handsets like Huawei P30 Pro, something that we find ideal to play games on.
Looking closely will make you see a rather thin but prominent chin at the bottom. But that will grow on you eventually. It can be easily ignored while watching videos. And since there’s no punch-hole cutout or a waterdrop notch this time, you get the entire screen to yourself without any hindrance.
The panel cramps 2340×1080 resolution pixels, which is fairly decent and nothing that you won’t get in any other smartphone in the given price range. On the software side of things, Oppo K3 has the usual set of features ranging from auto brightness to full screen mode for apps, font size, screen size, Night Shield (Blue light filter) and low brightness flicker-free eye care, which when turned on is supposed to reduce the visual fatigue that happens during low screen brightness.
In our daily usage, Oppo K3 hardly gave us a chance to complain. The smartphone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, which is not new and can be found in several competing smartphones. The processor is not bad by any means as it has an eight-core Qualcomm Kyro 360 CPUs with a maximum clock speed of 2.2Ghz. Made using 10nm processes, the SoC has Adreno 616 GPU, which can handle the ever-so-popular PUBG well enough. What’s interesting here is that even after hours of video playback and gaming we didn’t face any heating issue.
However, the processor and 6GB LPPDR4x are not the only plus points. Game Space is one of the applications that keeps the handset performance optimum. We feel that Oppo’s Game Space is one of the most underrated features of ColourOS and a lot can be done to improve it, making devices even more worth it. The app usually triggers automatically when you launch a game. You can tweak the brightness, smoothness optimisation, networking and other notification alert options to reduce distractions while aiming at your rival or overtaking someone in a sports car.
While that’s one side of Oppo K3, the other side is the ColourOS. In general, the UI has improved a lot with the past few updates but there still remains a lot of room to improve. For the most part, you would still have to use both your hands to reach for certain functions on top corners of the screen. With screens getting bigger, Oppo (and other OEMs) should work and make the interface easier to use. We would like to give the example of Samsung’s OneUI, which although needs some more refinement, is definitely a step in the right direction. The most basic functions, such as swiping down from the middle of the home screen should give users access to the notification instead of search, something that OnePlus has. Another method could be what Vivo does with its FunTouchOS. You can swipe up from the bottom to access quick settings. None of this is in ColorOS. So this should be something worth considering.
Another downside on Oppo smartphones, including the K3, is the amount of bloatware you get. While some of them are Oppo’s own apps that you may not be using ever, some are third-party apps such as Hello, DailyHunt, Webnovel, WPS Office and more. Oppo itself has a dedicated browser app along with others including App Market, Clone Phone, Compass, Hot Games, Music Party, Theme Store and others. Most of them can be placed inside the Settings app as well. The non-reliable track record for Android OS updates should also be taken into account here.
While the UI seems a bit of a mess right now, the overall performance was flawless. We used the handset for streaming music, playing games and editing apps, all together using split-screen and didn’t face any issues as such. A minor problem could be while using the loudspeaker, which is not as loud as we expected. The single speaker grille at the bottom does give some clear audio but its not the ideal phone to get good audio output. What’s a plus point here is the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Camera is one of the strongest suits of Oppo K3. The device boasts of dual rear cameras and a single selfie pop-up camera, something Oppo has perfected over the years. We quite liked the image quality shot by the smartphone. There’s a 16MP primary camera with f/1.7 aperture with 6P lens and 1.22um pixel size along with a 2MP depth-sensing secondary camera. The images captured in daylight are good to look at but not exactly you see in real life. In general, we observed that the camera makes most images dramatic by darkening shadows more than usual. The highlights and the colours captured are nonetheless impressive. The AI is pretty much on point in recognising the scenario so there’s no issues there. The portrait shots are fine and work well for the most part. Tricky corners are still something that is a hit or a miss with Oppo K3.
The primary 16MP sensor lets you move between 1x and 2x zooming on a single tap. The 2x image was surprisingly sharp and clear. Unless clicking portrait in artificial light conditions, the shutter is quick to capture and the autofocus is quick enough. We didn’t like the images shot in low light conditions though, especially those with faces. The K3 tends to make your skin really smooth at times, which is enough to convince someone that it’s fake and heavily edited. As far as shooting landscape and scenery images in low light goes, this budget smartphone does a fairly decent job.
Night shots are really good though but for your social media only. The images are good in terms of reproducing colours but the highlights and shadows are tweaked every time. It’s not as natural-looking but for general users, this won’t be a problem. The sharpness however, is right up to the mark. Selfie lovers won’t be disappointed with the K3’s pop-up 16MP camera with f/2.0 aperture 5P lens and 1um pixel size. The lights captured in low light situations are enough for a decent-looking shot. The noise levels are not much and the shots are sharp. However, we found images lacking details when it comes to faces, hair strands and more. Although most of the settings including skin texture smoothening are set to ‘AI’, fortunately you get the ‘Natural’ option to click exactly how you look in the given light conditions. We found the highlights and shadows balanced in that particular mode.
As for the camera UI, Oppo K3 won’t be a hassle to handle. The key options are upfront and easy to access. You get three basic modes alongside the shutter button to capture images, videos, selfies and portrait. Other modes that include Night, Pano, Expert, Time-Lapse, Slow-Mo and Google Lens can be accessed from the three-line menu near the shutter button. We are not sure why Oppo chose to ‘hide’ the Google Lens button as it one of the important features. Most handsets have it either embedded or upfront.
Oppo has been going strong in the smartphone battery performance department off lately and the budget Oppo K3 seems to be just one of the examples. The smartphone has a 3765mAh battery, which is not bad by any means. In real-life usage, the device ran for around 8-10 hours on average before switching off. That’s good from today’s smartphone standards. Of course, the battery drain will be more while playing games and editing videos but if you are a light or medium user, you can forget about the charger at least during the office hours. Heavy users may still need to charge the K3 after 5-6 hours. But that’s not all, even the VOOC fast charging tech is impressive.
With VOOC fast charging, you get around 50% charge in about 30 minutes of charge. For now, Oppo is one of the handsets that has one of the best fast charging tech available for now. And with Oppo K3, it shows the company is serious about making the battery performance of the mid-range offerings better and at par with competitors.
On the software side of things, the Smart Power Saver stays enabled by default, which works fine. We didn’t face any issue with this. If you want the best of your Oppo K3, there’s a High Performance Mode as well, which stays switched off by default. However, it’s more power consuming. All in all, the battery performance of K3 is solid and until unless you have specific needs, you’ll be just fine with it.
Oppo K3 is a fairly good effort by the smartphone maker in a segment that is highly competitive. The performance of the handset is flawless sans few ColorOS elements that we wish Oppo will improve upon in future. Those who love shooting images, they are likely to find the device valuable. But more than that, the battery is what can be called as the major plus point for the device. Although the K3 is a powerful device in general, there still remains a lot to be covered by the company in general to make its devices really competitive in the segment, which for now is dominated by the likes of Xiaomi.
And in a country where the majority of customers check the spec-is-to-price ratio, the Rs 16,990 priced K3 has a lot riding on its shoulders. Oppo is definitely treading the right path by getting the pricing right but one can’t ignore the competitors when we talk about this highly competitive, sub-Rs 20,000 price bracket. While Xiaomi is trying to win battles with its latest Redmi K20, Honor and Samsung have their own army of Honor 20 series and Galaxy M series respectively.
And with most of them offering the same set of specs at the same price, the brand-name becomes the key factor in buying a smartphone. All-in-all, although the K3 managed to impress us in several areas and is a step in the right direction, it unfortunately stays a part of the herd instead of standing apart.