Chinese smartphone giant OPPO has revealed a new handset under its F series lineup in the form of the F21 Pro 5G. There is also a non-5G model from the company of the same name, which I have reviewed earlier. Some key differences between the two devices lie in the chipset being used, screen refresh rate, cameras, and back panel design. The F21 Pro 5G is priced a bit higher than its 4G variant at Rs 26,999 which puts it in direct competition with several phones from Realme, OnePlus, and more. Time to find out in this review, if purchasing the OPPO F21 Pro 5G is the right choice.
The OPPO F21 Pro 5G might not be a performance champ, but it makes up for that with its slim and sleek design along with good battery life. While daylight photography is great on the device, its low light capabilities will leave you wanting more.
- In terms of design, the OPPO F21 Pro 5G doesn’t have the clean leather-back exterior of the 4G version, and instead, opts for a vibrant polycarbonate back with a matte finish. Apart from that, the dimensions of the two devices are exactly the same in terms of weight and thickness, which is to say quite light and slim. Instead of the whole camera housing, only the two massive camera lenses protrude from the back and the bottom of the device has a USB C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a speaker grille.
- Display-wise, the phone sports a 6.43-inch AMOLED panel that comes with FHD+ resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate which is markedly lower than the industry standard of 120Hz. At 600nits, the device does get plenty bright for easy usage under sunny conditions. Typical of any OLED display, the F21 Pro 5G has great colours, deep blacks, and excellent viewing angles. However, I do feel that the bezels, especially the phone’s massive chin, could have been reduced for a better viewing experience. The phone has WideVine L1 certification for HD content on OTT platforms although neither Netflix nor Prime support HDR10 playback on it.
- Cameras on the F21 Pro 5G include the same 64MP primary sensor seen on the 4G model while the secondary shooters include a 2MP macro and 2MP depth sensor. Photos are sharp in daylight with good dynamic range and saturated colours. Focusing speeds are also optimum with no shutter lag to take note of. However, low-light shots are quite soft with a lot of overprocessing that smoothens out most of the details. Lens flare is also an issue and the dedicated night mode does nothing to quell the noise seeping into the inky black sky. The macro and depth sensors have very low resolution for the images they take to scale up on anything other than a smartphone screen. Lastly, the selfie shooter is a 16MP sensor that takes decent photos in good lighting but still cannot do without the hint of overprocessing so common in OPPO phones.
- The Qualcomm Snapdragon 698 SoC is running things on the OPPO F21 Pro 5G and I have to say that I expected something along the lines of the 7 series. Performance is pretty average considering what some other phones are packing under the hood within the same price range. In terms of benchmark scores, the F21 Pro 5G gets an Antutu overall result of 377,430 while Geekbench 5’s multi-core score is 1,976. Neither score is top-notch but if you are planning to get by your daily workload, which doesn’t involve heavy GPU usage, you should be more than fine. In terms of BGMI, the device can manage a maximum of HD graphics and Ultra frame rate although for the latter to function the former has to be set at Smooth. RAM and storage options include a single 8GB + 128GB variant with expandable virtual RAM up to 5GB.
- There is a single bottom-firing speaker on the F21 Pro 5G which is loud enough but I would’ve liked the earpiece to double up for stereo sound. 5G services are not available in India at the moment so I can’t comment on the device’s next-gen network performance. However, Jio’s 4G LTE services did not disappoint me and delivered up to the required expectations. The phone runs on ColorOS 12 which is based on Android 12. You can read about the software skin in my review of the regular F21 Pro.
- As for the battery life, the OPPO F21 Pro 5G has a 4,500mAh cell which is standard issue in its price bracket. I got about 5-6 hours of screen-on time via some light gaming, binging a few episodes, and operating my social media accounts. Of course, when 5G services are enabled it is sure to put a dent in the phone’s battery life but that is a problem for another time. There is 33W fast charging on the phone that can juice up the battery in about 80 minutes.
The OPPO F21 Pro 5G is a phone that might not match hardware requirements from a phone that costs above Rs 25,000, but it sure does score on looks. Daylight camera performance is good enough as is the battery life, but the lack of a high refresh display or stereo speakers cuts into the usability of the device. If gaming and heavy CPU usage is something that’s part of your regular usage, then the F21 Pro 5G might not be the ideal choice. For the rest, the device can be a viable option thanks to its good design, Android 12, and decent image-taking prowess in plenty of light.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Great design
- Good camera performance in daylight
- Decent battery life
- Could do with a better chipset for its price
- Low light shots need improvement
- Lacks stereo speakers