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Hands-on review: OPPO A54 5G and OPPO A94 5G

By Owen McCarthy
Mon 31 May 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

OPPO products are always a delight for me to review, and this time has proven no exception. For a start, they make me feel like a master movie maker and ultra-professional photographer, and whenever I need a quick Pomodoro break, they keep me entertained. However, you will need the wisdom of a King Solomon to choose between these two mid-range beauties. Let’s look at the specifications first for any hints as to a winner.

OPPO A94 5G

  • 8GB RAM, 128GB ROM
  • MediaTek Dimensity 800U
  • Ultranight video quadcam
  • Dual-view Video
  • 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0

OPPO A54 5G

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G
  • 4GB RAM 64GB ROM
  • 90 Hz Hypercolour Screen
  • 48MP AI Quad Camera
  • 5000 M/Ah Mega Battery

I’ll admit to being quite confused when it came to the chipsets powering these phones, so I asked OPPO for help, and still managed to get manufacturers names mixed up with chipset types.  However, my expert Rachel explained that the Dimensity Chipset is a ‘mid-tier’ chipset while the Snapdragon is more ‘entry-level’.  

She went on to explain, “When looking at the architecture, the frequency (in GHz or MHz) indicates the peak processing power for each core. So the Snapdragon 480 consists of 2 cores with 2GHz and 6 cores with 1.8GHz whereas the Dimensity 800u consists of 2 cores with 2.4GHz and 6 cores with 2GHz. This explains the better performance (in benchmarks) and higher power consumption (TDP) of the Dimensity 800u. However, the 7nm process technology used on Dimensity 800u should be more power efficient.” 

In comparison, the Snapdragon chip has 8nm process technology.  If I had added two plus six,  I’d have figured out that both are octa-core. 

She explained that the A94 5G has the advantage of an AMOLED display over LCD. This means “more vivid colours, thinner, ability to achieve ‘True Black’ and better energy efficiency.”

Besides the obvious differences of RAM and ROM, the A94 promises’ Ultranight video’ and Dual-view video. Aha! As I suspected, it’s coming down to what you need in a camera. I stopped to weep at this stage as I compared the specs of my now-ancient Digital SLR camera with the A54’s 48MP Quad Camera. At least I can now make some honest comparisons. Sadly you’ll never get to see my videos, but rest assured that in my mind, they are masterpieces. Someone hand me an Oscar.

Setting up two phones at once was a relatively simple matter. I chose my most important apps, logged into my Google Drive account, set up my first phone and then simply cloned it. Not that long ago, this would have required several phone calls to a tech guru, several cups of coffee, some inappropriate language and eventually some crying. The twenty-first century has made the setup process so ridiculously simple that it’s barely worth mentioning.

Eschewing the ‘Benchmarking’ tests that other reviewers use, I stuck with the well-used Owen Benchmarks. This means I took selfies, a few snapshot photos, a couple of videos starring me, and watched some videos via the likes of Prime Video, Disney + and Netflix. 

The colour definition of the A94 comes out ahead, just as Rachel said. The colours are more vibrant, and the ‘True Black’ made a difference watching movies. I may have to tweak my personal benchmark settings because I looked fantastic in both lots of selfies. 

Moving onto videos, the A94 standout feature is the ‘dual video’ feature, allowing you to use forward and rear-facing cameras simultaneously. This feature offers a plethora of exciting opportunities. For those of you making teaching or training videos, it will immediately allow you to demonstrate and talk at the same time. The cinematic artists amongst you will doubtless think up even more creative ways of utilising this feature.

Realistically, I struggled to separate the performance of the two models. Even when checking out their prices, the difference on Pricespy was about $50. At this stage, I was exhausted and decided it was time to have a break to watch my favourite Prime programme, ‘The Grand Tour,’ and see how both perform. That should give me a definitive answer. Watching the Vietnam episode, where they each buy riverboats and set about showing their complete lack of seamanship, I decided that perhaps I should watch on one handset at a time. 

Both had very good picture quality, given the A94’s AMOLED display advantage over the LCD of the A54. I wasn’t so enamoured with the sound quality, with the speakers having a ‘tinny’ quality to them. I quickly grabbed my Bluetooth speaker to enhance the experience. Once turned on, Bluetooth connection was a simple affair, and the little JBL Go3 made all the difference. As most of us have our preferences for sound, speakers are not a gamechanger.

So, in conclusion, I can definitively state that both of these models are winners. In the end, it will come down to your own preferences. I tend to favour the A94 for its marginally thinner build, faster charging time and dual video capabilities. 

OPPO are a company that takes product development seriously. My experience of them is that for price and quality, their products are hard to beat, and these mid-range models offer an economical alternative to some of their higher-priced competition.

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