OPPO A31 Review – Full of Compromises

The Oppo A31 looks great with its matte looking Lake Green color option. But this is not the only factor that users keep in mind while buying a phone. The chipset is especially a key factor and the P35 on the A31 is an average chipset. The battery is huge but somehow Oppo has stuck to using the standard charging speed, which is something its competitors would laugh about.


Introduction

OPPO A31 is another budget smartphone from the Chinese smartphone maker. It has an attractive and youthful design and a beefy battery under the hood. The OPPO A31 brings a lot to the table, though the processor doesn't seem like a good option at this price point.

In any case, it is not enough just to look at the specifications on paper. Thus, a practical review is a must, and here's what I got to know about the Oppo A31 after testing it extensively for over a week.


Prices, Variants, Availability in India

Oppo A31 is available in India in two trims i.e. the first 4GB+64GB variant is available for Rs 10,490 while the higher 6GB+128GB variant is available for Rs 11,490. You can choose between different color options which are Fantasy White, Lake Green and Mystery Black. Get an exchange offer of up to Rs.10,700 on eligible smartphones and you can buy the smartphone from Amazon India, Flipkart and Oppo Store.




Specification at a glance

Before we talk about the OPPO A31 in detail, let's see what the on-paper specs look like?


Display: 16.5 cm (6.5 inch) HD+ display

Processor: Mediatek Helio P35 Chipset

Storage: 4GB/64GB, 6GB/128GB

Software: ColorOS 6.1 based on Android Pie

Rear Camera: 12MP (Main) + 2MP (Macro) + 2MP (Depth)

Selfie Camera: 8MP

Battery: 4230 mAh

Weight: 180 grams

Dimensions: 163.90 x 75.50 x 8.30 mm

design and manufacture

Oppo A31 is a well designed smartphone and is perfect for its price segment. The phone has a polycarbonate back and side panels while the front has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the top for protection. A plastic back panel that is rough does not allow scratches, fingerprints and smudges to remain on the panel. You can definitely use it without needing a phone cover which is a pro in itself.


The A31 weighs just 180 grams, which means it's super light to hold and that goes without saying as it doesn't have the bells and whistles that other phones can have. The chassis houses a strong 5,000 mAh battery which is probably a heavy element you will find on the device.


Coming back to the back panel, it enjoys a gradient effect, so it produces a slightly different hue when held against the light. I got the Charismatic Fantasy White color variant but I have seen other colors too and in any color the A31 will impress you without any doubt.


The back panel houses a vertically stacked triple rear camera setup and a "Design for A-series" inscribed along the height of the bump. There is an oval-shaped fingerprint scanner along with the camera assembly and finally, there is a subtle "Oppo" branding on the bottom-right section which makes for a clutter-free back panel.

The front, on the other hand, has reduced bezels around the edges, though not that small either. The chin on the A31 is sufficiently large and there is a water drop-shaped notch at the top that accommodates the selfie shooter.


Coming to the buttons and I/O port, there's a power button on the right side; There's also a dual SIM card tray along with a volume rocker, and a dedicated microSD card tray on the left. There's also a microphone, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a loudspeaker, and a micro USB port on the bottom.


Display

Oppo A31 has a 6.5-inch IPS LCD panel, which has a resolution of 720×1600 pixels. The aspect ratio of the display is 20: 9 and its density is 270. Also, it has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top.

To be honest, the Oppo A31 has a tall display. Thanks to the high aspect ratio, the video watching experience is thrilling on this phone. In fact, I doubt that in this price segment, you're expecting a sheer camera or performance, but it's media consumption and social media (probably) that's driving the wagon here.


 


The bezels complement the great display, be it for watching movies or playing games, etc. Of course, this is limited to HD+. The general explanation why Oppo used an HD+ panel here is because of the heavy processor that can't handle an FHD+ panel. I didn't find any issues with the display, but the fact that it's LCD (AMOLED is way better), has a lower resolution (higher would have been better), and overall, okay to be honest.

Display

Oppo A31 is paired with MediaTek Helio P35 SoC with octa-core setup. It consists of four 2.3GHz Cortex-A53 cores along with four 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 cores. There is a PowerVR GE8320 GPU that handles all the graphics processing on the device. In addition, the device packs 64GB/128GB of eMMC 5.1 storage and 4/6GB of RAM.


Oppo A31 has a Helio P35 SoC under the hood which has an AnTuTu score of 102,965 points which is n decent in its price segment. I have used a smartphone with P35 SoC in the past and the same verdict with this chipset. It is decent and not something that you can use to get high-octane games like cod mobile or pubg mobile. It can handle day-to-day tasks such as opening and multitasking between apps, browsing, watching videos and listening to music, and more without any hassle. The 4GB/6GB RAM ensures that you get maximum RAM to access multiple apps at once without exhausting the previous one due to insufficient RAM storage.

Casual games are certainly easier thanks to the GPU, however, so it's high-graphics games where the chipset takes the biggest hit. In fact, high settings can be selected on games like PUBG Mobile but you can still play it on the lowest available settings. Be prepared for some frame drops after some time and of course, the phone gets hot while working out to support these high-graphic games.


Overall, the performance is decent and at par with smartphones in this price segment. There is nothing extraordinary about the chipset and I won't take a second to say that Oppo used a tremendous processor for the Oppo A31, to be honest.


Software

The Oppo A31 came with Android 9-based ColorOS 6.1 out-of-the-box, which is clearly an older version. As of now, it has been upgraded to Android 10-based ColorOS 7, which certainly brings a lot of features and UI changes over the A31. Some of the features include game space, new animations and sound effects, screen recording, and more.


cameras

Oppo A31 has a vertically stacked triple rear camera setup. This includes a primary 12MP shooter with 2MP macro (f/2.4 aperture) (with f/1.8 aperture, PDAF, 1.25micron pixel size) and a 2MP depth sensor with f/2.4 aperture. On the other hand, on the front is an 8MP single shooter with f/2.0 aperture with 1.12micron pixel size.


Generally, Oppo and many other Chinese smartphone brands are seen as phones with great cameras. Of course, this is just an assumption that some people believe, perhaps confusing megapixels in a camera as directly proportional to the quality of shots. Talking about the Oppo A31, I would say that there is only one rear camera which can be used full-fledged. This seems like an unrealistic notion as the A31 has a triple camera setup and here's how it works.

A 2MP macro sensor available on A31 is okay. It grabs average macro shots during day time and you can decipher the details in the shots as well. But at the end of the day, it is just a 2 MP sensor and thus, limited to what it can do. Similarly, having a 2MP depth sensor means you can use it for depth-related bokeh and portrait shots only. It works with the primary sensor and that is why I said there’s only one workable sensor on-board and that’s the primary 12MP sensor.


The primary snapper captures beautiful shots during the daytime. There’s such a massive difference between its daytime and nighttime shots that you wouldn’t believe that the shots were captured using the same camera. Talking about the daytime shots, details were adequate and you will get decent shots with ease. Indoor photography takes a bit of a hit based on the intensity of light hitting the subject. Low-light indoor photo graphy is among the worst since the shots are unusable unless you have a LED flash turned ON. If it’s a shot of buildings, the shots can be used in some cases although I would still say it is average.


Moving on to the front camera, it does click average shots during daytime but it is the nighttime where the sensor takes a bit. I would say that using some light in the scene at least would improve the nighttime shot greatly.


At the end of the day, I wouldn’t say Oppo A31 has the best camera setup, it does have an average camera setup considering the price tag.


Battery

It’s a 4,230 mAh battery onboard with a standard 10W charging tech. Without any hassle, I would say that the battery is capable of giving at least a day of battery life. Since it isn’t a flagship phone, I doubt that it will be too battery-consuming and thus, a day’s battery life is a piece of cake for Oppo A31. You can get more than a day of battery life from light to moderate intensity.

The slow charging technology is something I don't like about the A31. I have Redmi 9A and it has 10W charging technology. To put things in perspective, the Redmi 9A is a sub-7K INR smartphone while the Oppo A31 carries over 150 percent of its price tag. It should take 2.30 hours to juice it to full capacity.


Audio, Connectivity, Bio-metrics

The Oppo A31 packs in a single bottom-firing speaker. this much only. There is no stereo speaker setup and I am not happy because of the low price. Talking about the speakers available on the A31, it is decent, loud and has good sound quality overall. There's nothing extraordinary about the speaker, so that's it.


There are a ton of connectivity features enabled on the Oppo A31 at your disposal. There's Bluetooth 5.0 with LE and A2DP, Wi-Fi 802.11ac with dual-band support as well as FM radio, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a micro USB 2.0 port for charging and data sharing.


I am using Jio 4G on Oppo A31. Audio quality on calls is good and network reception is also good. Of course, you will get some call drops on networks like Vi and even Jio has some issues but it is quite average. Internet browsing is as good as it gets on a budget phone. VoWiFi is available which is a big relief nowadays.


Apart from the usual PIN and pattern lock, you get face to unlock and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner with the Oppo A31. Face Unlock is surprisingly fast and so is the fingerprint scanner that unlocks the phone in a matter of seconds. Since the location of the fingerprint scanner is on the back, it feels natural to hold the phone like we usually do and tap to unlock using the scanner.


Pros and cons

professionals


good camera setup

huge battery capacity

Shortcoming


Fast charging is not included

type-c port missing

an average chipset

Decision

The Oppo A31 looks great with its matte looking Fantasy White or Lake Green color option or the super glossy Mystery Black variant. But this is not the only factor that users consider while buying a phone. The chipset in particular is an imperative factor and the P35 on the A31 is an average chipset. There is nothing extraordinary in this. In my opinion, the Oppo A31 could have gone for a slightly more powerful chipset as its rivals are already getting closer to the SD712 SoC from Qualcomm which is more powerful than the Helio P35. The battery is huge but somehow Oppo has stuck to using the standard charging speed, which its competitors will laugh about. The phone is good and will meet your day to day activities but it is not a gaming-oriented phone nor something that you can use for an excellent photography campaign. To be honest it is just average and a budget phone.