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Oppo A54 5G review: An affordable Galaxy A52 5G alternative?

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Has your mobile provider already equipped you with a 5G contract and your smartphone does not offer 5G support? We have gotten our hands on a 5G-capable Oppo A54 5G to review. This is a 5G-capable smartphone that can be purchased for as little as €270, around $320. However, is this cheap 5G smartphone worth recommending? Let’s find out below.

Good

  • Nice design with rounded corners
  • Good camera performance during the day
  • 5G compatible
  • Large battery

Bad

  • Stuttering performance
  • LCD display is too dark
  • Poor camera performance at night
  • Megapixel count does not reflect actual quality
  • No Fast Charging support (2.5 hours to hit 100%)
  • No IP certification

Oppo A54 5G in a nutshell

With a recommended retail price of €269 – around $320 -, the Oppo A54 5G is not the cheapest 5G smartphone available on the market. However, it is priced far below the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, although they both share the same processor beneath the hood. Although the same processor powers both devices, the disadvantages of the Oppo A54 5G became clear in the review.

The LCD display with a refresh rate of 90 Hertz lacks brilliance, the camera produces good pictures only during the day, and charging takes forever (relatively speaking, of course). In order to achieve a full battery charge, I had to wait for slightly more than two hours for the Oppo to hit that figure in a battery test. These are values that are no longer acceptable in 2021.

NextPit Oppo A54 5G display
The Oppo A54 5G’s design was quite appealing to me in the review! / © NextPit

The lack of protection against water, a rather weak vibration motor, and a below-average mono speaker tarnish the high quality appearance that the smartphone actually exudes. That’s because the form factor reminded me of the iPhone XS Max thanks to its 6.5-inch display and rounded corners, which proved to be rather charming alongside its colorful back panel.

Performance-wise, however, the Oppo A54 5G is only just behind the much more expensive Samsung smartphone according to benchmarks results. However, the low amount of RAM slowed down the performance of the preinstalled ColorOS 11. Menus and system functions were too sluggish as a result.

Didn’t you already fall for the Oppo A54 5G in the teaser image? If so, do take note that there are better alternatives in the $200 to $400 price range. Take a look at our list of the best smartphones for under $400!

Design and display: Easy grip with a cool rear look

The Oppo A54 5G measures 162.9 x 74.7 x 8.4 millimeters and tips the scales at 190 grams.
 Armed with a 6.5-inch display, it is roughly reminiscent of the form factor found in the iPhone XS Max. This smartphone does not feature IP certification against dust and water, which is not uncommon when manufacturers include a headphone port.

What I liked:

  • Fits well in the hand.
  • High-quality workmanship despite a plastic back.
  • Cool color gradient at the back.

What I disliked:

  • No IP certification against dust and water.
  • Bezels are rather thick.

Similar to Samsung, Oppo serves the mid-range segment with its A series of handsets. We should therefore not expect the inclusion of high-end materials such as glass or metal. The fact that the Oppo A54 5G sports both polycarbonate back and edges is therefore not a big deal.

Nevertheless, workmanship quality remains high and the smartphone looks like it was made from an unibody chassis. What I found interesting is how Oppo rounded the corners of the devices in order to provide a nice feel when holding it. In addition, I liked the position of the Power button which has been integrated with the fingerprint sensor. When you hold the handset in a natural manner, it will unlock automatically this way with biometric security turned on.

NextPit Oppo A54 5G side
In my opinion, the strategically placed fingerprint sensor is quite practical / © NextPit

However, a rather unspectacular display is a major negative point in my book for the Oppo A54 5G. The 6.5-inch LCD panel does offer a refresh rate of 90 Hertz, but the brightness is simply too low compared to its competitors, especially when you are under direct sunlight. The resolution is decent at 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, although it is rather noticeable to see the halo effect around the punch-hole selfie camera in front.

In terms of the smartphone’s build and design, my main criticism would be the lack of IP certification. Oppo also failed to spell out any kind of unofficial protection ratings against dust and water. Hence, you should be careful if you want to make calls with the A54 5G in the rain. However, the 3.5-millimeter jack is placed at the bottom, so it won’t be directly impacted when it pours, and you’re caught in the rain.

TL;DR: The Oppo A54 5G is your typical mid-range smartphone, being made mostly out of plastic and tries to look a little bit more “hip” and “cool” with a colored back. However, it’s the rounded corners that end up making the smartphone offer a great grip. The display fails to shine in this department though, which is a bad thing. 

Performance: Snapdragon 480 is simply too sluggish

Oppo uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 in the A54 5G.
 This SoC supports the new 5G mobile standard and is also used in Samsung’s Galaxy A52 5G, while armed with 64GB of internal storage space and 4GB of RAM.

What I liked:

  • Expandable memory.
  • 5G compatibility.

What I disliked:

  • Internal memory is insufficient.
  • Overall performance is unsatisfactory, including the operating system.

We’ve seen a lot of 5G smartphones that carry a sub-$300 price tag this year. Still, the new mobile standard is not widespread enough and most other countries for 5G compatibility to be a “must-have” feature in smartphones. Make no mistake about it, 5G is a standard of the future and with the Oppo A54 5G, you are theoretically equipped to meet the future head on.

NextPit Oppo A54 5G front camera
The punch-hole selfie camera depicts slight bleeding which is typical for LCD displays / © NextPit

However, you will also pay a (rather dear) price for this future-proof device. In order to keep costs down, Oppo has equipped the A54 5G with only the bare essentials. In terms of hardware, you end up with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal memory, which are the bare minimum for smartphones in 2021, and they also don’t do much in terms of delivering decent performance. 

Right after powering it up for the first time, I could literally feel the result of having too little RAM and the slow UFS 2.1 memory. Everything seemed to be plodding along and run slowly, while shortening the animation duration in the Android developer settings did nothing to stop this. The Oppo A54 5G is also not the fastest mid-range smartphone on the block as you can see from the benchmarks:

Oppo A54 benchmark results

Benchmark Oppo A54 5G Oppo A74 Realme 8 Pro Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Geekbech 5 (Single / Multi) 520 / 1.642 311 / 1.360 568 / 1.685 620 / 1.740
3D Mark WildLife 978 at 5.90 FPS 106 at 0.60 FPS – – 1.090 at 6,5 FPS
3D Mark Wildife Stress Test Best: 978 / Worst: 958 Best: 108 / Worst: 104 – – Best: 1,093 / Worst: 1,090

The performance is slightly lower than the A52 5G that uses the same processor. However, since the Oppo A54 5G is significantly cheaper, the benchmark results aren’t all that bad. Especially having it compared to the Oppo A74, you should see better performance levels, which is especially noticeable in mobile games.

I installed Call of Duty: Mobile as part of the review. The game ran smoothly, even if you have to keep the graphics settings at a minimum. That’s all right and to be expected when you pick up a smartphone for this price range.

NextPit Oppo A54 5G side back
The Oppo A54 5G welcomes Micro SD alongside your SIM card / © NextPit

It’s also nice to see that you can make up for at least one flaw – which is support for micro SD cards. Even though Oppo doesn’t allow you to format micro SD cards as internal storage, at the very least, you’ll have room to store your pictures and videos.

NFC and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity are also included in the Oppo A54 5G alongside Wi-Fi 5. But the question remains: just how good are these specs in a mid-range smartphone?

TL;DR: The performance of the Oppo A54 5G was decent enough in benchmarks. However, you will have to be patient in the operating system, although mobile games do run well with Oppo having thought of including the most important wireless standards inside. Nevertheless, there are better candidates out there for a sub-$300 smartphone, especially if you can still make do without 5G.

Camera: Oppo cheats itself in terms of megapixels

At the back of the Oppo A54 5G, you will find a quad-camera setup with a maximum sensor resolution of 48 megapixels.
Apart from the main camera, you can switch to the ultra wide-angle camera, with the remaining two sensors being mere padded on hardware – a macro and depth camera. It does seem that Oppo has oversold itself in the camera department with the Oppo A54 5G. 

NextPit Oppo A54 5G camera
When it comes to the camera, Oppo did stretch the truth a little / © NextPit

What I liked:

  • Detailed shots which look good, especially during the day.
  • Nice and clean portrait mode.

What I disliked:

  • Unnecessary 108-megapixel interpolation mode.
  • Night shots are poor.
  • Selfie camera blurs details by a margin.
  • Switching between main and ultra-wide-angle camera is exasperating.

Well, are you ready for the Xth mid-range smartphone camera armed with four sensors and two focal lengths? Let’s do it! For the main sensor, Oppo relies on a 48-megapixel sensor, and it places a really fast f/1.7 lens alongside it. In addition, there’s an 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera, with 2-megapixel macro and depth cameras to round off the entire setup.

Main camera has good results during the day

Let’s begin with what surprised me positively about the Oppo A54 5G! The main camera in the smartphone provided really nice results during the day. Sunny Berlin was not pictured in a gaudy manner based on my preferences. At least, this happens when you keep your hands off the AI scene optimization function.

Oppo A54 5G Sunshine 3 NextPit
I quite like the Oppo A54 5G’s shots during the day / © NextPit

The sharpness of the 12-megapixel shots is also convincing when you crop the images afterwards. As you’ll notice, Oppo uses so-called pixel binning technology by combining four pixels of the main sensor into a single pixel.

But I was particularly surprised by the natural look in the image above. And that’s despite the fact that I had the HDR mode set to automatic. So let’s take another look at the HDR feature, preferably on an image that is quite challenging for image sensors to capture

Oppo A54 5G Sunshine NextPit
HDR mode works effectively, but not flawlessly / © NextPit

When shooting in HDR, the smartphone tries to achieve a particularly large dynamic range. Typically, the smartphone will compute multiple images together and balances information from areas that are too dark and areas that are too bright. Oppo’s software, which pretty much won me over on the Oppo Find X3 Pro, does a good job in this department.

However, even the A54 5G isn’t completely immune to the unnatural factor when it comes to HDR. Check out the bright border around the branches on the right edge of the screen. But I have one last example for you:

Oppo A54 5G Sunshine 2 NextPit
Here, the A54 5G has produced muck on the leaves / © NextPit

Above is an example that I actually really like from the exposure. However, true to the motto that “foreground makes a picture look good”, I placed leaves in front of the smartphone. These ended up as exactly what the Oppo A54 5G probably wanted to draw out of focus, resulting in a weird effect. Which is surprising, as the portrait mode performed so well.

Selfies and portrait mode

Because Generation Y, of whom I belong to at 28 years of age, prefers to take pictures of a particular subject: themselves! To achieve that, the front-facing camera has to be just right, and the portrait mode is also a valued friend among many younger smartphone users.

Oppo A54 5G Portrait NextPit
Portrait mode works for selfies as well as the main camera / © NextPit

Aside from selling my smile as a little boy, these pictures look surprisingly good. In each case, I think the blurred background is good enough with the right amount of sharpness. Only the skin tones do differ quite a bit, where you can see on the left, my skin color has blurred too much and somewhat merged with my t-shirt.

Ultra-wide-angle camera is poorly tuned

I also have some beef with the tuning of another camera on the Oppo A54 5G – the ultra wide-angle lens. When switching from the main camera to the ultra-wide camera, the colors changed completely from a bluish hue to the greenish one that we’ve already seen above.

Oppo A54 5G Zoom NextPit
The ultra wide-angle is the only other optical focal length on the A54 5G / © NextPit

Zooming works on a purely digital basis with the Oppo A54 5G since there is no telephoto lens. That’s not a bad thing, and the quality is rather surprising. You do not lose too much detail when zooming, which was possibly because of the additional megapixels that would otherwise have been lost to pixel binning.

Night shots are not convincing at all

All of the pictures taken so far were captured in daylight and the results were always acceptable at least. All of this changed when it gets dark. The night mode does a good job of brightening up images, but you lose just about everything else in terms of detail. The result? A blurred image that you won’t want to keep as a memory.

Oppo A54 5G Night NextPit
Unfortunately, night shots are not really usable. Do you really want to print this photo? / © NextPit

Furthermore, I had problems with the autofocus at night with the A54 5G. If I held the smartphone and pointed it at dark areas, the subject ended completely out of focus. A tap on the display for a readjustment had to be repeated several times before a half-decent result emerged. It’s a pity that Oppo’s night mode only works with a contrasting  image during the autofocus.

…that thing about 108-megapixels

Before the camera section of this review gets way too long, I’d like to point out one particular problem about the Oppo A54 5G. In the camera app, you’ll find an Ultra HD mode that produces 108-megapixel shots. This is despite the fact that the A54 5G only offers a 48-megapixel sensor.

The result is a 25 MB that doesn’t use the full resolution of the sensor, which is normally the advantage of an Ultra HD modes, but rather an extrapolation of the image. It stands to reason that Oppo would want to put 108-megapixels on its product page, since that feature is included in devices such as the Redmi Note 10 Pro. When it comes to us customers, however, this is pure deceitfulness on Oppo’s part.

TL;DR: The Oppo A54 5G surprisingly sports one of the better cameras in the mid-range segment, especially the natural look of the pictures in daylight. However, the sharpness drops considerably at night and the smartphone’s total of five cameras are generally not coordinated well.

Battery life: 5,000 mAh with a slow 10-watt charger

The Oppo A54 5G has a 5,000 mAh battery to keep it going.
According to the manufacturer, the battery provides 13 hours of video playback or 27 hours of talk time. and is charged via a 10-watt charger that plods along to fully charge the device in two hours.

What I liked:

  • Long battery life even with a 5G SoC.

What I disliked:

  • “Fast charging” only at 10 watts.
  • No wireless charging support.

The A54 5G proved to be a very enduring smartphone in my review. The 5,000 mAh battery provided battery runtimes of up to two days. Oppo claimed to have improved the energy management and touts a maximum video playback time of 13 hours.

Of course, context matters when it comes to daily use, where my pattern includes different instant messaging accounts, viewing YouTube videos, taking calls, checking out Instagram and emails, leaving me with slightly less than 60 percent of battery life left in the evening. I guess most users won’t necessarily have to worry about charging their Oppo A54 5G in the evening.

NextPit Oppo A54 5G usb
“Fast charging” works on the Oppo A54 5G at just 10-Watts. That’s way too slow in 2021 / © NextPit

However, it is recommended to charge the smartphone overnight if necessary after all. Because with a charging power of 10 watts, the included power adapter is simply not equipped for Fast Charging. This is a definite oversight, as Oppo normally tends to perform really well in the Fast Charging department. 

Starting from 0 percent, I achieved a battery level of 15 percent after 20 minutes. The battery was half full after an hour and a full charge took a lengthy 2.5 hours. These are values that leaves Oppo in the dust compared to its rivals.

TL;DR: The large capacity battery serves the Oppo A54 5G well with decent battery life, but the lack of fast charging is really annoying in everyday life. Who has 2.5 hours to charge their smartphone in 2021?

Data sheet and what else you should know

Oppo A54 5G: Technical data at a glance

 
  Oppo A54 5G
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G
Memory (RAM / internal) Min: 4GB / 64 GB
Expandable memory? Yes, MicroSD
Dual SIM Yes
Display 6.5-inch IPS LCD with 90 hertz (1,080 x 2,400 pixels)
Size 162.9 x 74.7 x 8.4 millimeters
Weight 190 grams
Connectivity 5G, LTE, WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.1, USB Type-C, NFC, GPS
Main camera 48 megapixels on 1/2.0″ at f/1.7
Ultra-wide angle 8 megapixels at f/2.2 and 119° field of view
Macro 2 megapixels at f/2.4
Depth 2 megapixels at f/2.4
Front camera 16 megapixel
Video max. 1080p at 30 frames per second
Battery capacity 5,000 mAh
Charging technologies Charging at 10-watts
Authentication Fingerprint sensor on the Power button
Operating system Android 11 with ColorOS 11.1

There are a few things that I wanted to leave with you just in case you’re thinking of buying the Oppo A54 5G. To save a bit of space, you’ll find them clearly laid out in the bullet points below:

  • The Oppo A54 5G is available in Fantastic Purple and Fluid Black colors.
  • ColorOS 11.1 (based on Android 11) comes pre-installed.
  • The Oppo A54 has also been released in a non-5G version (as part of the 2021 A-series).
  • Oppo promises at least two new Android versions for its smartphones.

Final verdict

To summarize, Oppo has entered the fray a little bit too late with the A54 5G. While the overall package seems decent enough, there are simply too many aspects that are too outdated in 2021 even at this price point.

First and foremost, the lack of Fast Charging irritated me quite a bit when I looked at the specifications. With just 4 GB of RAM, the operating system performed sluggishly, never mind that the SoC delivers 5G compatibility.

NextPit Oppo A54 5G Oppo
Finally, we get to enjoy the chic-looking back once again! / © NextPit

What surprised me positively in the review was the camera. If you like to take pictures during the day and in good lighting conditions, the Oppo A54 5G’s main camera comes highly recommended. However, the entire setup is compromised by its poor night mode performance and the poorly tuned ultra wide-angle camera.

As a final point of criticism, I would like to once again point out how the display was simply not bright enough. While manufacturers like Samsung and Xiaomi already use really cool AMOLED displays for devices in the same price range, the A54 5G simply lags behind in this aspect, so the fancy-looking back does not help its case.

But don’t hang your head in disappointment: There are sub-$300 smartphones that are excellent choices that you can check out when mulling over a new purchase. If you don’t want to read our list of best smartphones for less than $300, you can find a few alternatives here:

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