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OPPO A16s – everything you need in a low-cost smartphone (review)

The OPPO A16s has everything you need in a $269 smartphone – bright 6.52″ HD screen, rear tri-camera, dual sim (retail model), expandable storage, NFC, Wi-Fi AC and a big 5000mAh battery.

It is part of the updated A-series, including the A54s, A54 5G, A74, A74 5G and A94 5G, where OPPO’s quality control and stress testing make the A-series keepers.

Hint: It is essentially the same as the A54s ($299) that gets a triple 50+2+2MP camera (binned) and 128GB storage. For $30 more, this is the pick.

This is a mini-review. We still conduct all 70+ tests but report on things you need to know.


* Grey market – no Australian warranty

We issue a strong warning that you must buy a genuine model with Australian firmware. Read Don’t buy a grey market phone to ensure you get the Australian model.

It is easy to identify the Australian version – usually under Settings, About Phone, Legal Information, Regulatory compliance, you will see the Australian RCM C-tick mark.

It is critical to get the full range of 4G and 5G sub-6Ghz and 5G low-band frequencies. Australian phones require local activation first, which means a grey market phone likely won’t be able to use 5G here. Also, you will not get local warranty, over the air OS and security updates, nor make a 000-emergency call without a sim.

OPPO A16s – everything you need in a low-cost smartphone (review)

First impression – everything you need

OPPOs A-series continue to delight me with a pretty complete set of features and a build quality well above some competitors. Sure this is entry-level – HD screen, 4/64GB, MediaTek Helio G35, but it has a good camera, Wi-Fi AC, NFC, 5000mAh battery, expandable micro-SD storage, all housed in a 190g, 8.4mm thin, well-made body.

It is a great first phone for students. Its long-life battery is perfect for long times between charges, and its 2-year warranty tops many well-known brands.

Screen – bright and colour accurate

Yes, it’s a 720p screen, but that gives it a more extended battery life. It is bright (we tested to 600 nits max), colour accurate and fills 88.7% of the front. It has a pre-fitted plastic screen protector. It lacks DRM certification, so it may not play all external streaming content.

Direct sunlight use (with any LCD screen) is poor, but this is brighter than most. There is no Pulse-width modulation (PWM), so it is OK for sensitive eyes.

Processor – fit for purpose

The MediaTek Helio G35 is a good entry-level system on a chip (SoC). It is not a gamer’s SoC, and the 60Hz screen confirms that. However, it should play most browser-based games.

Comms – NFC is a bonus

LTE – city and suburbs only with good tower coverage

Battery – excellent 2-3 days between chargers

Sound – mono for clear voice

Build – Excellent as expected from OPPO

Android 11 – PASS+

OPPO A16s camera

The global COVID-related component shortage has meant that many brands and models use a range of substitutable sensors. This likely has OmniVision or Samsung primary sensors and a mix of OmniCore or GalaxyCore secondary sensors. Overall it does not affect image quality.

The MediaTek SoC has some AI image post-processing – what you see is what you get.

Surprisingly the A16s 5G (not sold here) scored 80 on DXOMARK, which is higher than most budget phones. Its strengths were as a good all-rounder in daylight, and office light and its weaknesses were mainly in video (no stabilisation). “When shooting stills, the camera captures images with good white balance in bright light. Exposure is good, with a fairly wide dynamic range, in bright light and under typical indoor conditions.”

Daylight, outdoors (overcast day)


Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)

  • Low light (room <100 lumens)


    Selfies are OK – 8MP with F/2.0 means you need good light


    Lack of electronic stabilisation and AI post-processing power means the videos are shakey and fairly unforgiving. Quality is OK in the day and office light. The sound recording is a little low.

    CyberShack view – OPPO 16s – well-featured and staying power

    OPPO continues to produce winning smartphones at a wide range of price points. We voted its Find X3 pro the best smartphone of 2021

    The OPPO A16s 4G is a good, honest, phone that will give you years of service. What more can you ask for>

    Competition (HD screen and 4/64GB unless noted)

    The OPPO A16s 4G ($249/269) sits in the red ocean where vivo Y21 ($219), Motorola G10 ($249), Samsung A12 ($299 128GB), vivo Y33s ($299) and even its sibling A54s ($299) all fight for market share.

    All these are excellent. My advice is to buy the OPPO A16s if all you have is $249/269, but I would spend $299 and get the A54s.








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