Oppo’s A15 is about the cheapest smartphone you can buy, and that comes at a cost.
The $239 price-tag isn’t much for an Android powered anything (which currently includes bonus wireless headphones) so temper your expectations.
The biggest shock out of the box is the A15’s micro-USB charging port which is as outdated and much less appreciated than the 3.5mm headphone jack it sits beside.
Also, you get headphones and a charging adapter with the phone! Now that’s a ‘good old days’ moment if I’ve ever seen one.
The A15’s body is made of a smooth plastic, which is to be expected on a phone this cheap. What I wasn’t expecting was the feel of Oppo’s glass LCD.
Its 6.52-inch display feels like plastic to the touch and your fingers simply don’t glide across it as you’d expect for a phone with a glass screen. It’s surprisingly bright despite the A15’s resolution being stuck at a predictably low 720p. However, the phone’s pixel count is hardly as problematic as the phone’s performance.
3GB of RAM doesn’t leave much room for the imagination and straight out of the box the A15 felt sluggish. Performance did improve once the apps were booted but simply scrolling through basic apps like the settings comes with an amount of judder and I wouldn’t count on it running anything more than the most basic of games.
I was ambitiously downloading Call of Duty when I booted up a basic tree cutting game to play during the wait. The A15 was battling to run Lumbercraft for more than a few seconds without stuttering.
More generally, it definitely takes a moment to unlock the phone if you’re launching to more demanding apps like a game or the camera.
Oppo touts a “triple” camera setup much like the $200 Alcatel 1SE; a phone which I’m certain shares the exact same screen, selfie camera and fingerprint sensor.
The numbers are slightly worse on the A15 when it comes to cameras though, including; a main 13MP wide camera lens, a 2MP macro and 2MP depth lens in addition to a 5MP selfie cam.
For a $239 phone, they work as you’d expect; terrible in dark places, okay in full sunlight. The A15’s “night mode” doesn’t have the hardware to back it up so it feels more like an artificial boost in brightness rather than any added clarity in darker areas.
The zoom is also entirely digital and after a blurry few shots of people walking, I’m convinced that taking photos of moving objects is near impossible to do with any clarity.
Ten seconds of video accounts for about a 22MB file. Thankfully, that’s nothing compared to the detail captured by 2021’s high end phones given the A15 has a paltry 32GB storage.
If you plan on taking any great number of photos or videos with the A15, or downloading any sizable apps, you’ll need to pay for a micro-SD card.
Recommending the A15 is tough given that there are for better options out there for slightly more money, including Oppo’s own $299 A53.
For those who want the basics, the A15 handles calls, messages and internet browsing just fine.