Oppo F5 Long-term Review: Frustrations, Niggles, Annoyances

By 11:05 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments


App killing

Color Operating System (OS) seems to suffer from a case of acute paranoia regarding third-party apps doing things to your phone. This may be explained by the fact that the Play Store isn't available in China, a market that's become a free for all in this respect, with dozens of sources where you can acquire apps from, some more legit than others.

Still, while Oppo isn't officially selling its smartphones everywhere around the globe, it does have a presence in countries other than China, where the Play Store is alive and well and most people wouldn't go to more shady avenues to acquire their app fix.


None of that matters for Color OS, which enjoys killing background processes like it's some kind of psychopath. This not only results in a lot of reloading of apps (and their content) when you switch back to them, but also missed notifications, believe it or not. The software seems to have some sort of built-in whitelist of apps that are allowed to exist in the background, and thus show you notifications. You don't have access to this whitelist, and if an app isn't in there, well, fine luck making Color Operating System (OS) believe that it's safe and unthreatening.

Here's an example detailing how we have managed to convince Color Operating System (OS) that Garmin Connect is one of those apps we trust and would really like to be allowed to live in the background. It's important, you see, since it's what sends notifications to Garmin smartwatches and fitness trackers. First, in the Energy Saver section of the Battery settings, we unchecked all three per-app options, namely "Background Freeze", "Abnormal Apps Optimization", and "Doze". You'd think that turning off only the first of those would work, but no.

You also have to uncheck the others, which is an action you might not hold lightly, becautilize of Oppo's strong (and deceiving) wording. Here's the description for "Abnormal Apps Optimization": "Apps in the background behaving unusually will be automatically closed". Based on that, why would you ever want to turn this off? Well, becautilize "behaving unusually" might actually mean "behaving as intended", as it turns out.


Oppo defines "Doze" as pausing "app networking, data synchronization, and other operations when the classy screen is off". If you've ever heard of Google's Doze Mode, introduced in stock Android a few years back, you may think this is that. But it isn't, becautilize that doesn't indefinitely pautilize syncing, it just performs it on an adaptive schedule.

That's not all, though. Garmin's app still wouldn't remain connected to a smartwatch even after all this. The final step if you want to tame Color Operating System (OS) is to go into the multitasking menu (which is horizontally scrolling becautilize of course it is) and pull the app down. This results in a 'lock' icon being added, and then the app will finally stay in memory. Don't swipe up on the app, though, that will just close it.

If this isn't confusing and annoying, we don't know what is. And consider that for some apps (Skype Beta comes to mind) not even this whole procedure has resulted in notifications being consistently shown. Then again, the popular messaging apps in their non-beta iterations do seem to be on that built-in whitelist, so you're not going to encounter these problems with the likes of WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

Invisible notifications

When you do acquire a notification you don't see the icon of the corresponding app in the status bar. A preview of the notification pops up at the top of the classy screen for a few seconds, and that's it. If you missed that you'll never know you have a notification unless you constantly pull down the notification pane. Sound familiar?

But wait, Oppo's approach is actually worse than iOS, and when discussing notifications that's really saying something. At least Apple has those notification badges that will draw your attention towards the respective apps. There are no such badges on Color OS, which feels like an odd omission from a skin that's otherwise gone to remarkable lengths to 'emulate' the iOS experience on Android.

Weird auto-brightness, blue light filter

The handset's auto-brightness setting is quite odd. It works well for the most part for a few times each day it can acquire stuck. Say you're indoors under colorful light, do something on the handset, put it down, then utilize the phone again after turning off the lights. In this case be prepared for some eye-searing brightness, since for some reason the level hasn't been turned down as much as it should have. This happens when you go the opposite route too, and the solution is manually adjusting the slider.


Speaking of manual adjustments, we're not clear on what goes on after you do that. It appears that the brightness level is even less likely to go automatically afterwards, if you haged auto brightness on. Turning that off and then on again always results in an immediate adjustment, so it might be a software bug, rather than the intended behavior.

The F5 has a blue light filter which you can schedule or manually turn on. If you go the latter route it will always turn itself off the following morning at 7 AM. It's fascinating that even this manual mode is in fact semi-automatic, but since the point of the filter is to reduce blue light before bedtime you're probably not going to mind. Its intensity is adjustable on a scale of Cooler to Warmer.



Blue light filter always turns itself off at 7 AM

No app drawer, no changing the Messaging app

Oppo isn't the only Chinese device maker that has created a launcher devoid of an app drawer, and yet some of its competitors have started giving you an option to change that behavior. Sure, it's usually buried deep in Settings, but it's there. Not so on Color OS, you simply acquire no choice. If you have a lot of apps and don't like seeing all of them spread out across dozens of home screens, you're going to have to install a third party launcher.



No app drawer

But hey, at least you can switch to another launcher if you want to. That's not the case for text messaging. Yes, Color Operating System (OS) lets you install third party options for that, and you can even set them as the default. Theoretically. In practice, this never works as the built-in Messaging app always takes over for "security" reasons. You can sdiscontinue texts from another app, but the only notifications you'll ever see will be from Oppo's Messages no matter how many times you pick something else as the default.

Other stuff

You can't adjust the in-call volume when the classy screen is off. So you need to go the phone away from your ear in order to do that. You will obviously miss what the person you're talking to is saying while you do this.

Finally, the Oppo F5 does support the 5 Giga Hertz (GHz) band for Wi-Fi, and that's a plus compared to some of its competitors stuck on 2.4 GHz, but there's no 802.11ac here. Instead, you acquire 802.11n at most, which means speeds won't be amazing. Unless you're used to having Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) ac on your previous phone, this won't be a gigantic issue, but it's something to haged in mind nevertheless.


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