5G smartphones continue to proliferate in India despite there being no clear picture of when 5G services will actually be available. We recently tested the Oppo F19 Pro+, which was the company's first F-series phone to offer 5G, and today we have its first A-series 5G phone, the Oppo A74 5G.
Priced under Rs. 20,000, the Oppo A74 5G competes with other 5G offerings such as the Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G, the Samsung Galaxy M42, and the recently launched Realme 8 5G. What makes the A74 5G special is that it's one of the first phones in India to use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 SoC. It's time to see how this chip compares to MediaTek's offerings, and whether the Oppo A74 5G is actually worth buying.
Oppo A74 5G design
The design of the Oppo A74 5G is rather simple. It has a plastic body with a plastic back and noticeably thick borders around the display. The Fantastic Purple colorway that I have looks pretty nice though, thanks to the dual colours that are visible under the light at certain angles. This phone feels a bit heavy at 188g and isn't too slim at 8.42mm, but after a few days of use, I found it manageable. The plastic back is a major fingerprint magnet though, and is very tough to keep clean.
The Oppo A74 5G comes in an interesting Fantastic Purple colour option but that's about the only thing that stands out in terms of design
The recessed power button on the right side has an integrated capacitive fingerprint sensor. It worked well every single time I used it. There's face recognition too, which was equally quick and responsive. The Oppo A74 5G has a headphone jack, a USB Type-C port, and a single speaker, all placed on the bottom.
The Oppo A74 5G uses a 6.5-inch full-HD+ LCD panel. It has a 90Hz refresh rate which makes navigation and scrolling through lists feel fluid and snappy. The hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera is larger than usual and a bit conspicuous at first in apps, but it's something I got used to after a while.
In the retail box of the Oppo A74 5G, you get a USB cable, SIM eject tool, case, and 18W power adapter.
Oppo A74 5G specifications and software
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 SoC is what sets the Oppo A74 5G apart from the competition. At first, it's easy to dismiss this SoC as an entry-level part due to its positioning in Qualcomm's low-end 400-series, but it actually isn't. It's built on an 8nm fabrication process, which means it should be quite power efficient. Coming to the CPU cores, there are two Kryo 460 Gold cores and six Kryo 460 Silver cores. These are the same cores used in Qualcomm's Snapdragon 678 SoC, but clocked a little slower.
The GPU in the Snapdragon 480 SoC is the Adreno 619, which is also used in the Snapdragon 750G SoC though again it runs a little slower. All of this suggests that it should be more powerful than its model number might lead you to believe.
The Oppo A74 5G has the usual set of ports including a headphone jack
The Oppo A74 5G is available in a single configuration with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. ColorOS 11.1 allows you to use up to 5GB of the internal storage as RAM, although I didn't notice much of a difference with this enabled during my usage. There's dual-band Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.1, FM radio, and the usual suite of sensors.
ColorOS is feature-rich and familiar with lots of options to customise the look and feel of the Oppo A74 5G. It's still riddled with lots of preinstalled apps and many of them tend to generate spammy notifications. These include the stock apps too such as the browser and music player, which can't be uninstalled.
Oppo A74 5G performance and battery life
Performance was generally good in the week that I used the Oppo A74 5G. The OS ran well without any lag or hiccups, and interactions felt snappy thanks to the high refresh rate screen. Call quality and speaker volume are satisfactory too. The display gets adequately bright and content is rendered well, with good sharpness and colours. Videos looked good too, although the camera hole was a little distracting when watching anything full-screen.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 holds its own in benchmarks. The Oppo A74 5G scored 3,18,144 points in AnTuTu, as well as 518 and 1,726 points in Geekbench's single and multi-core tests respectively. These numbers were roughly on par with MediaTek's Dimensity 800U SoC, and the Snapdragon 480 even traded blows with Qualcomm's own Snapdragon 732G SoC, found in the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.
The display on the Oppo A74 5G is sharp and vivid, making it good for media consumption
The Oppo A74 5G handled games quite well too, whether it was simple titles such as Orbia or heavy ones such as Call of Duty: Mobile. I did notice some dropped frames in a few games after long gaming sessions, but this wasn't a persistent issue. The phone also doesn't heat up much either, which can be attributed to the graphite tubes used inside to disperse heat.
Battery life was pretty solid in my experience thanks to the capacious 5,000mAh battery. I was easily getting a day and half of regular use, and even more when I didn't use the camera much or play many games. Charging this battery isn't the quickest though, and even with the 18W charger, it only charges to around 66 percent in an hour. It takes another 40 minutes or so to complete the charge cycle.
Oppo A74 5G cameras
The cameras on the Oppo A74 5G are nothing fancy, and oddly, Oppo has not included an ultra-wide camera. I would gladly trade the macro and monochrome cameras for an ultra-wide, but that's not what you get. The Realme 8 5G is another recent smartphone at around this price to not have an ultra-wide camera. One can only hope that this trend doesn't catch on. The primary sensor is a 48-megapixel camera with an f/1.7 aperture, and in the front, you get an 8-megapixel selfie camera.
Oppo A74 5G main camera sample (tap to see full size)
Oppo A74 5G close-up camera sample (tap to see full size)
Oppo A74 5G macro camera sample (tap to see full size)
To break it gently, this phone's cameras are simply not up to the mark. Performance was quite disappointing, especially in low light. Under good light, the main camera captured decent close-ups but landscapes lacked detail and even slight motion in objects caused blurring. Macro photos looked alright, provided there was enough light while shooting.
Images shot at night also lacked detail and colours weren't reproduced well either. Night mode actually makes a big difference, but only to the exposure, and upon closer inspection, details don't improve at all. This goes for both, close-ups and landscape shots. Selfies were quite disappointing too. The ones taken in daylight can work for social media, but in low light, the image quality was poor.
Oppo A74 5G Night mode camera sample (tap to see full size)
Oppo A74 5G selfie camera sample (tap to see full size)
Video recording is limited to 1080p for both the front and rear cameras. The quality once again is not great even with good lighting, and I found the stabilisation to not be very effective. The quality dips even further in low light, with lots of jitter and grain.
The Oppo A74 5G is in a very awkward place considering its current pricing. The Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G is better in pretty much every single way at this same price. If you're not too fussed about having 5G right now, there's a buffet of other great options such as the Redmi Note 10 Pro and Poco X3 Pro, to name a few. In comparison, the A74 5G simply doesn't offer enough value to make it a serious contender.
It's not all bad though. The Oppo A74 5G does have a good display, an interesting colour scheme, decent app and gaming performance, and very good battery life. Unfortunately, these factors simply aren't enough in my opinion for it to stand out.