Android manufacturers seem to be on a notch-erasing spree, as we've recently seen a bunch of new budget phone launches that do away with a hole-punch or notch in favour of an all-screen display. The best part of this is that these new phones — such as the Redmi K20 (Review) and the Realme X (Review) — aren't even that expensive. Realme's once-parent company Oppo recently launched the Oppo K3 — its own version of the Realme X — and to no one's surprise, it's strikingly similar to Realme's current flagship.
The Oppo K3 hits the same price points as both versions of the Realme X and features only slight differences to the design, the RAM and storage combinations, as well as rear camera specifications. With a starting price of Rs. 16,990, is the Oppo K3 a good alternative to phones such as the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) and Vivo Z1 Pro (Review)? Let's find out.
Oppo K3 design
This isn't the first time we've seen similarities in design between Oppo and Realme phones, but with the Oppo K3, the resemblance is the most striking yet. The two phones have virtually identical physical dimensions and weight, which means that just like the Realme X, the Oppo K3 too can be a little cumbersome to use with one hand. The laminated back also picks up smudges easily, but we didn't see too many scratches during our review period. The polycarbonate body of the Oppo K3 feels premium and sturdy.
Button placement is identical to that of the Realme X. On the right, there's a dual-SIM tray but no provision for expanding the internal storage. The single speaker, USB Type-C port, and headphone jack are at the bottom, and on the top, we have the pop-up selfie camera mounted in the centre. It also features sapphire glass protection for the sensor.
The pop-up selfie camera on the Oppo K3 works well for face unlock
The 6.5-inch AMOLED display of the Oppo K3 has full-HD+ resolution and Gorilla Glass for scratch protection. There's a screen guard pre-applied, which can get annoying quickly as the edges feel rough. The AMOLED panel produces punchy colours and has good brightness. There's an in-display fingerprint sensor here, which is quick at authentication.
The Oppo K3 is available in Aurora Blue (which we have) and Jade Black options. The dual-tone finish of purple and magenta looks striking, and the lamination creates some cool visual patterns when light hits it.
In the box, the Oppo K3 ships with a VOOC 3.0 fast charger, USB Type-C cable, case, SIM eject tool, and warranty booklet.
Oppo K3 specifications and software
The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, which is a relatively power-efficient chip with good CPU and GPU performance. The Oppo K3 is available in two variants — one with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, priced at Rs. 16,990, and the other with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage which is priced at Rs. 19,990. We've got the 64GB version, which offers a decent amount of space, although in the long run it could fall short as you accumulate media files and WhatsApp forwards.
The Oppo K3 also supports dual 4G VoLTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5, USB-OTG, GPS, and the usual suite of sensors. There's no notification LED on the phone, but you can enable an always-on screen that shows you a clock as well as alerts of missed calls and SMS, but sadly, not much else. The Oppo K3 does have FM radio, which was missing on the Realme X.
The Oppo K3 runs ColorOS 6, based on Android 9 Pie
The Oppo K3 runs on ColorOS 6, which is based on Android 9 Pie. Our unit also had the latest July Android security patch. The interface is easy to get used to and features a bunch of different shortcuts and gestures, which we've seen recently on phones such as the Realme X itself. The Oppo K3 also has Dolby Atmos, which is enabled by default when using the phone's speaker.
For the most part, ColorOS doesn't spam you with unnecessary notifications, which is the case with some custom skins such as Xioami's MIUI. The Oppo AppStore app does this a bit when you just set it up, but you can disable push notifications in the app's settings.
There are a whole bunch of preinstalled third-party apps such as NewsPoint, UC Browser, Dailyhunt, etc, but all of them can be uninstalled if not needed.
Oppo K3 performance and battery life
Testing the Oppo K3 gave us an acute sense of deja vu, since we have only recently used the Realme X, and the general experience is very similar. The phone feels slightly bulky in the pocket, and one-handed use isn't the easiest, even if you have large hands.
The Oppo K3 can also feel a little slippery at times, but thankfully, there is a case in the retail box to go with it. The phone runs Android well; the interface feels fluid and we didn't notice any heating. When gaming, the back gets a little warm, but it's the normal sort.
Speaking of which, the Snapdragon 710 SoC inside the Oppo K3 has good integrated graphics capabilities, and can run even graphically demanding titles with ease. We tried the usual suspects such as Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG Mobile, both of which ran well at high graphics settings.
The large display might be cumbersome for regular use but when it comes to watching movies or playing games, it's a bonus. Thanks to the good colour saturation of the AMOLED panel and its high brightness, media is generally very enjoyable. Plus, the Dolby Atmos-boosted speaker sounds rich and gets fairly loud.
The Oppo K3 is a little big for one-handed use but it doesn't feel too heavy
The pop-up camera on the Oppo K3 has a very quick ejection and retraction mechanism, which makes face recognition work seamlessly. In low light, the screen compensates for the lack of light, so you can still use your face to unlock the phone.
The Oppo K3 has a 3,765mAh battery, which once again, is the exact same capacity used in the Realme X. Unsurprisingly, the results of our battery loop test were also very similar. The Oppo K3 ran for 14 hours and 46 minutes in our own HD video loop test, and with normal usage, easily managed to last a day to a day and a half with workloads such as social apps, video streaming, a bit of camera usage, some gaming, and a few calls. The bundled fast charger can charge the phone from zero to about 52 percent in half an hour and up to 91 percent in an hour.
Oppo K3 cameras
The rear cameras on this phone are a bit different compared to the Realme X, not only in the way they're laid out, but also in terms of the sensors used. The Oppo K3 has a 16-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.7 aperture and phase detection autofocus. There's also a 2-megapixel depth-sensing camera for use in Portrait mode.
The autofocus system on the Oppo K3 is quick and doesn't take much time lock focus on a subject. There's barely any shutter lag either, so saving photos, once you've hit the shutter button, is quick. In daylight landscapes, we noticed good details, colours had nice saturation, and HDR worked well for balancing the exposure.
The camera app also has the ‘Chroma Boost' feature that we've seen on Realme phones, only here it's called ‘Dazzle Colour.' The same goes for the night mode, which is simply called ‘Night' instead of ‘Nightscape'. Close-ups had good sharpness and detail, although the camera's AI can boost primary colours a bit too much, which ends up making them look a bit jarring at times.
Daylight landscape shot captured with the Oppo K3 (Tap to see full-sized image)
Daylight, close-up shot captured with the Oppo K3 (Tap to see full-sized image)
Photos captured indoors under artificial light also fared well. There was a good amount of detail, colours looked accurate, and there wasn't a lot of noise. Focusing speed was also fairly good. When shooting outdoors at night, the Oppo K3 managed to offer fairly clean shots but details were a little weak. This can be fixed with the Night shooting mode, which improves the brightness of dark areas, fixes overexposed areas, and brings out more detail in a scene.
Low-light, close-up shot captured with the Oppo K3 (Tap to see full-sized image)
Low-light sample captured with the Oppo K3 (Tap to see full-sized image)
Shot using Auto (left) and Night modes on the Oppo K3 (Tap to see full-sized image)
The Oppo K3 has a 16-megapixel selfie camera, which captures good selfies even when shooting against bright light. The HDR is very effective here, and manages to maintain good details on your face while still exposing objects in the background nicely. The camera struggled to capture good detail in low light, although the screen flash helped a bit. We also found the default beautification settings to be a little aggressive at smoothening skin, so it's best to leave it off. Selfie's shot using portrait mode don't have a very pleasing blur effect and edge detection is poor.
Shot using Auto mode on the Oppo K3 (Tap to see full-sized image)
Shot using Portrait mode on the Oppo K3 (Tap to see full-sized image)
Shot using Portrait mode on the Oppo K3 (Tap to see full-sized image)
Portraits of people shot with the Oppo K3's rear camera in its default mode had good detail, but skin tones were a bit on the warmer side. However, shooting with Portrait mode doesn't yield a very satisfying blur effect. Skin textures are automatically smoothened (both face and hands) and the blur effect looks a little unnatural. Edge detection is good, though. The phone does a better job when shooting objects in this mode.
For video, the Oppo K3 can record at up to 4K resolution, but without any stabilisation. Image quality is good, but colours appear slightly boosted. Continuous autofocus is very quick and there's absolutely no hunting when shifting focus between two subjects. You get stabilisation at 1080p, which works well. In low light, image quality is above average, and noise is suppressed well.
The camera app is easy to use and there's an option to activate Google Lens from the viewfinder, along with the standard shooting modes such as timelapse, panorama, expert, and slow-motion.
The Oppo K3 has enough merit to make it a decent all-rounder, however, Oppo couldn't have picked a worse time to launch this phone. The 64GB model that we have is priced exactly the same as the base variant of the Realme X (Review), which has 128GB of storage. On the other hand, there's 6GB RAM on the Oppo K3, compared to 4GB on the Realme X. The cameras are also slightly different, and from our experience, the Oppo K3 comes quite close to matching the camera performance of the Realme X. There's no doubt that both these phones are going to eat into each other's sales, as they are very similar.
Your choice will ultimately boil down to your preference of colour and might even be based on ready availability of one or the other. Between the two base models, we're inclined to lean towards the Realme X, as despite the lower amount of RAM, you get double the storage, which we feel is a lot more valuable especially since you can't use a microSD card with the Oppo K3. Also, competitors such as the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) and Vivo Z1 Pro (Review) either offer more storage or at least the ability to expand it, at around the same price.
The Oppo K3 is an online-exclusive phone and is only available via Amazon, although the open sale model means you should find it in stock most, if not all of the time. The Realme X on the other hand is available through flash sales online and should soon be available in offline Realme stores too.
The top-end variant of the Oppo K3 has the same amounts of RAM and storage as the equivalent Realme X, and is also priced identically. Picking one of them would ultimately boil down to which brand you prefer and which one's more easily available, as you can't go wrong with either.
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