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OPPO A31 (2020) Review – Full of Compromises

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By Akhil Kapoor - 
21st Jun 2021
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OPPO A31
Review Summary

Oppo A31 looks great with its matte-looking Lake Green colour option. But it’s not the only factor that users consider when buying a phone. The chipset is particularly an imperative factor and the P35 mounted on A31 is an average chipset. The battery is huge but somehow Oppo has stuck to using standard charging speed which is something its competitors would laugh about.

PROS
  • Decent camera setup
  • Huge battery capacity
CONS
  • Fast Charging not included
  • Type-C port missing
  • An average chipset
Key Specs
Battery Capacity
Battery Capacity
4230 mAh
Operating System
Operating System
Android v9.0 (Pie)
Screen Size
Screen Size
6.5 inches
Highlights:
  • Yes
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • 4230 mAh
  • Android v9.0 (Pie)
Introduction

OPPO A31 is yet another budget smartphone from the Chinese smartphone manufacturer. It has an attractive and youthful design and has a beefy battery under the hood. OPPO A31 brings out a lot on the table although the processor seems not a good choice at this price tag.

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In any case, just looking at the on-paper specifications isn’t enough. Thus, a hands-on review is a must, and here’s what I found out about Oppo A31 after extensively testing it out for more than a week.

Prices in India, Variants, Availability

Oppo A31 is available in two trims in India i.e. the first is 4GB+64GB variant available at Rs 10,490/- while the higher 6GB+128GB variant is available at Rs 11,490/-. You can select between the various colour options that are Fantasy White, Lake Green, and Mystery Black. Avail exchange offer at up to Rs 10,700/- on eligible smartphones and you can buy the smartphone from Amazon India, Flipkart, and Oppo Store.

Specs at a glance

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

  • Display: 16.5 centimeters (6.5-inch) HD+ display
  • Processor: Mediatek Helio P35 chipset
  • Storage: 4GB/64GB, 6GB/128GB
  • Software: ColorOS 6.1 based on Android Pie
  • Rear cameras: 12MP (main)+ 2MP (macro)+ 2MP (depth)
  • Selfie Camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4230 mAh
  • Weight: 180g
  • Dimensions: 163.90 x 75.50 x 8.30 mm
Design and Build

Oppo A31 is a well-designed smartphone and perfect for its price segment. The phone has a polycarbonate back and side panels while the front has a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top for protection. Having a plastic back panel which is rough doesn’t allow for scratches, fingerprint, and smudges to stay afloat on the panel. You can definitely use it without needing a phone cover which is a pro in its own senses.

A31 is just 180 grams in weight which means it is super light to hold and it goes without saying because it doesn’t have bells and whistles that other phones might have. A beefy 5,000 mAh battery takes the helm in the chassis which is probably the one heavy element you would find on the device.

Going 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 colour variant but I have seen other colours too and A31 in any colour would impress you without any doubt.

The back panel has a vertically stacked triple rear camera and a “Designed for A-Series” inscribed along with the height of the bump. There’s an oval-shaped fingerprint scanner alongside the camera assembly and finally, a subtle “OPPO” brand on the bottom-right section that makes up for a clutter-free back panel.

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The front, on the other hand, has reduced bezels around the edges although not that tiny either. Chin on A31 is sufficiently large and there’s a waterdrop-shaped notch on top that accommodates the selfie shooter.

Talking about buttons and I/O ports, there’s a power button on the right; volume rockers, and a Dual SIM card tray with a dedicated microSD card tray on the left as well. There’s a microphone, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a loudspeaker, and a micro USB port at the bottom as well.

Display

Oppo A31 packs in a 6.5-inch IPS LCD panel with a 720×1600 pixels resolution. The display has an aspect ratio of 20:9 and has a 270 PPI density. Plus, there’s a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top of it.

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The Oppo A31 has a tall display, to be honest. Thanks to the higher aspect ratio, the video viewing experience is a thrill on this phone. In fact, I have to doubt that at this price segment, you are expecting a sheer camera or performance but it’s the media consumption and social media (probably) which is driving the wagon here.

 

The bezels do complement the ginormous display be it for watching movies or playing games and so on. Of course, it is limited to HD+. The common explanation of why Oppo used an HD+ panel here is because of the underwhelming processor that couldn’t handle an FHD+ panel. I didn’t find any issue with the display but the fact that it is LCD (AMOLED is way better), it has lower resolution (higher would have been better), and overall, okay-ish to be honest.

At a Sub-11K INR price tag, I couldn’t buy more but there are companies that are offering some more so if you come across them, consider checking out their reviews as well like the Samsung Galaxy M12.

Performance

Oppo A31 is paired with a MediaTek Helio P35 SoC with an octa-core arrangement. This includes four 2.3GHz Cortex-A53 cores with four 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 cores. There’s a PowerVR GE8320 GPU that handles all the graphics processing on the device. Furthermore, the device has 64GB/128GB eMMC 5.1 storage and 4/6GB RAM.

Oppo A31 has an Helio P35 SoC under the hood that has an AnTuTu score of 102,965 points which n is decent in its price segment. I have used smartphones with P35 SoC before and the verdict with this chipset is the same. It is decent and not something you can use to get around 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 the previous one ending due to insufficient RAM storage.

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Casual games are no doubt easy pieces of the cake for the GPU to handle, however, it is the high-graphics games where the chipset takes the most hits. In fact, higher settings are selectable on games like PUBG Mobile but you can still play it at the lowest available settings. Be ready for some frame drops after some time and of course, the phone heats up while working out to support these high-graphic games.

Overall, the performance is okay and comparable to the smartphones of this price segment. There’s nothing extraordinary about the chipset and I wouldn’t take a second to say that Oppo used an underwhelming processor for Oppo A31, to be honest.

Software

Oppo A31 arrived with Android 9-based ColorOS 6.1 out-of-the-box which is obviously an older version. Cut to now, it has been upgraded to Android 10-based ColorOS 7 which brings a lot of features and UI changes on-board A31 for sure. 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 f/1.8 aperture, PDAF, 1.25micron pixel size) with a 2MP macro  (f/2.4 aperture) and a 2MP depth sensor with f/2.4 aperture. The front, on the other hand, has a single 8MP shooter with an f/2.0 aperture with 1.12micron pixel size.

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

Check Out: iQOO 7 Full Camera Review 

A 2MP macro sensor available on A31 is okay. It grabs average macro shots during daytime and you can decipher the details in the shots as well. But at the end of the day, it is just a 2MP 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 photography 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.

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The slow charging tech is something I don’t like about A31. I have a Redmi 9A and it has a 10W charging tech. To put things into perspective, Redmi 9A is a Sub-7K INR smartphone whereas Oppo A31 is more than 150 per cent of its price tag. It should take a good 2.30 hours to juice it up to its full capacity.

Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics

Oppo A31 packs in a single bottom-firing speaker. That’s it. There’s no stereo speaker setup and I am not amused because of the low price tag. Speaking about the speaker available on A31, it is decent, loud, and overall, has a good sound quality. There’s nothing extraordinary about the speaker so that’s the thing.

There is a tonne of connectivity features enabled on Oppo A31 at your disposal. There’s Bluetooth 5.0 with LE and A2DP along with 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 have been using JIo 4G on the Oppo A31. The audio quality on calls is good and so is the network reception. Of course, you will get some call drops on networks like Vi and even Jio has some issues but that’s fairly 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 a face to unlock and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner with Oppo A31. The face unlock is surprisingly snappy and so is the fingerprint scanner that unlocks the phone in just a fraction of a second. Since the placement of the fingerprint scanner is on the back, it just feels natural holding the phone like we usually do and tap to unlock using the scanner.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Decent camera setup
  • Huge battery capacity

Cons

  • Fast Charging not included
  • Type-C port missing
  • An average chipset
Verdict
Oppo A31 looks great with its matte-looking Fantasy White or Lake Green colour option or the super glossy Mystery Black variant. But it’s not the only factor that users consider when buying a phone. The chipset is particularly an imperative factor and the P35 mounted on A31 is an average chipset. There’s nothing extraordinary about it. In my opinion, Oppo A31 could’ve gone for a slightly powerful chipset since its rivals are already getting as close to SD712 SoC from Qualcomm which is way more powerful than Helio P35. The battery is huge but somehow Oppo has stuck to using standard charging speed which is something its competitors would laugh about. The phone is decent and will get your day-to-day activities completed but it isn’t a gaming-oriented phone and neither something you could use for an exquisite photography campaign. It’s just average and a budget phone to be honest.


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