Oppo, best known in the U.S. for its boutique Blu-ray players, announced the R819 smartphone on Monday. The R819 is one of the thinnest, lightest 4.7-inch smartphones available, but it’s more notable for its software than its hardware.
The Oppo R819 ships with Android 4.2.1 (Jelly Bean) preloaded, with some light customizations from Oppo. Oppo also gives users the ability to easily install its soon-to-be-released new Color ROM, which adds a thicker layer of customizations over Android. More surprisingly, users are also given the option to install a ROM that will load the phone with a completely stock version of Android.
Now, Oppo might be better known for enthusiast-level Blu-ray players than smartphones, but this is a very smart move that’s sure to catch the attention of dedicated Android fans. Enthusiasts have been asking for an option like this from manufacturers such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung for years. Only recently have these requests been somewhat answered, in the form of Google Play edition devices.
But with Google Play editions you have to buy a completely separate version of the phone, without the option to sideload an approved build of software if you decide to change your experience. And while the phone will ship with Android 4.2.1, Oppo has said that it plans to release an update to Android 4.3 soon.
Spec-wise, the Oppo R819 lives up to its name: utilitarian. The phone measures just 0.29-inches thick and weighs just 3.88, giving it quite a trim figure. The 4.7-inch IPS display features 720p resolution, which works out to 312 pixels per inch. And the 1.2GHz quad-core MT6589 processor should turn in solid, if not top-of-the-line performance. These place the phone squarely in midrange territory.
The R819’s rear camera uses an 8-megapixel Sony Exmor BSI with f/2.0 aperture, and the 2-megapixel front-facing camera has an 88-degree viewing angle. The phone has dual-SIM support, and should be compatible with GSM networks in the U.S. But like its predecessor, the Oppo Find 5, the Oppo R819 lacks LTE support.
The $349 unsubsidized price is decent, and Oppo’s innovative approach to a user-controlled software experience is sure to draw some attention, but I’m afraid that midrange specs and lack of LTE mean this phone probably won’t make a huge splash when it’s released in September.