The budget smartphone space is highly competitive when every pound is to play for, so can the £219 Oppo A78 match up?
Design & Build
Three colour options
Fingerprint and face unlock
The Oppo A78 5G is decently designed, but noticeably lacks the heft of mid-range and high-end Android phones. Weighing 188g (for comparison, the Pixel 7 Pro weighs 212g), it feels very light and comfortable, but not particularly durable.
At the top is a small teardrop notch, and while the chin at the bottom and the bezels around the sides are noticeable when unboxing they are soon forgotten.
The screen itself is ‘toughened glass’, according to Oppo, but it is not the Gorilla Glass that you might find on more expensive devices. It has an IPX4 rating, which means it is protected from splashes but cannot be submerged in water.
There’s a fingerprint scanner under the power button on the right-hand side. It is responsive but will be more difficult for left-handers to use, as opposed to the under-screen scanner found in more premium products.
Alternatively, users can opt for the face-unlock mode, which sets itself up incredibly quickly and works well.
The A78 5G comes in three colours – black, purple, and blue – with a slight colour difference between the majority of the back and the ovular composite panel that sits behind the cameras.
Unfortunately, this makes the phone feel less premium than if it was all one material, since running a fingernail across it creates a high-pitched scratch similar to a tazos coin.
The A78 also keeps the headphone jack alive, although it would be preferable if it was at the top of the phone rather than the bottom, and there is space for a microSD card alongside the (single) SIM card for expandable storage.
Screen & Speakers
6.56in LCD display
90Hz refresh rate
Ultra Volume Mode
The A78’s features a 6.56in, 1612×720 screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, which works well in all environments. Strapping it to a bike mount and putting it through its paces cycling in the sun and rain, it remained bright and clear.
Scrolling through apps is smooth and trouble-free, although profile photos on Twitter look noticeably pixelated compared to the higher-resolution screen on more premium devices or even competing products like the 2400×1080 screen on the Nokia G60 5G or other Full HD budget phones.
The two speakers – one at the top and one at the bottom – are loud enough to fill a room, with an ‘Ultra Volume Mode’ that doubles the external volume. The phone lacks the kind of clear dynamism and tenacity that comes from more expensive devices or dedicated speakers, but works well in a pinch and should not disappoint.
Specs & Performance
MediaTek 6833 processor
The A78 comes in two varieties, with either 4- or 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage although the UK edition is limited to 4GB of RAM. Inside is a MediaTek 6833 CPU, and a Mali-G57 MC2.
Practically, this gives the device a decent amount of power for mid-range gaming. Asphalt 8 and FIFA Mobile run smoothly without any noticeable jitter or lag, in either offline or online modes, as did more intensive games like Pokémon Unite.
Moving between apps is quick and painless, although loading images on websites takes some time and I did notice the occasional glitch when zooming in on photos in messaging apps. However, these were few and far between, and unlikely to plague everyday users of this device.
Oppo A78 5G benchmarks
As the name suggests, the A78 5G comes with the ability to connect to 5G networks. Not a given in the budget market.
Dual 50Mp rear camera
8Mp front-facing camera
Extra HD mode
There are two lenses on the back: the first is the 50Mp, f/1.8 main camera, while backing it up is a 2Mp, f/2.4 black and white camera for depth. On the front is the 8MP, f/2.0 selfie camera.
On the whole, the A78’s photo capabilities are prosaic. Taking quick snaps of local landmarks or flowers in bloom, it does the job. But there is clear room for improvement: the phone is not particularly nuanced in separating out darker areas compared to lighter ones, unduly emphasising parts of the picture.
Much like many other Chinese smartphones, it also brightens, lightens, and washes out photos more than is accurate – making light skin tones pasty in the sun and pushing blond hair towards gray or white.
The A78’s zoom quality (digital) is adequate up to 5x, but there is a significant dip in quality and a blur around the edges of objects when it reaches its 10x maximum that preferably would be avoided.
There are a couple of extra modes, both which give you access to higher megapixel photos: the Extra HD mode, that’s found under ‘more’ settings in the camera app, and the 50Mp button at the top of the camera screen – a marked upgrade from the 12.5Mp default at the expense of locking-off the zoom.
The 50Mp button does bring extra detail to photos, revealing more subtle textures that might otherwise be missed. These were only really visible when viewed on a large monitor and it would take a keen eye to spot them on the A78’s smaller screen – even zoomed in – but it is nevertheless a nice addition to have.
The Extra HD mode, meanwhile, uses an algorithm to create a 108Mp photo from just the information from the 50Mp lens, so photography purists may want to avoid this.
There’s also an AI mode, but it is better left off. The enhancement oversaturates colours and oversharpens details, adding what looks like an automatic filter over the photos. In low-light scenarios the A78 works decently, but has the opposite problem: it struggles to separate objects and lacks details.
Battery Life & Charging
All day battery life
The Oppo A78 has no trouble lasting all-day and then some, beating some premium phones by a considerable margin. After a full day of Spotify, Netflix, social media scrolling, and texting, I had only managed to deplete half of the battery.
Its 5000mAh battery comes with 33W fast-charging capabilities – with a power brick and a cable in the box- reaching 28% in 15 minutes and 51% in half an hour. This is almost double the charging power of the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G, which only reached a measly 21% in half an hour.
In the PCMark battery test, the Oppo A78 achieved an astonishing 21 hours and 8 minutes, easily outpacing competition like the Realmi 9i and the Nokia G62 by several hours. This is the second-best result we’ve seen to date for any phone, not just the budget category.
Software & Apps
Oppo’s ColourOS is layered on top of Android 13, bringing with it a few neat features like the ability to move multiple apps around on the home screen at once. Open the drop-down menu by sliding from the top, and users will find large buttons for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that make it easier to access the most-used settings, on top of smaller buttons for airplane mode, the torch, and notifications.
This layout does make it feel like Oppo has paid attention to what people are using the most, but is not perfect; when music is playing, the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons are shoved to the left to make space for playback controls on the top right that are too high to reach with one hand.
Unfortunately, the A78 comes chock full of bloatware. Lords Mobile, Booking.com, Amazon Shopping, Facebook, Netflix, TikTok, Spotify, and LinkedIn are all pre-installed on the device, and even a brief examination of the ‘Games’ section will download a number of low-tier games immediately.
The drop down menu also consistently encourages users to download ‘Trending Apps’, which I would prefer to do without.
For £219, this budget phone touts a two-day battery life, 5G connectivity, decent performance for scrolling and gaming, and a fine camera for casual shutterbugs.
Android devices at this price point always come with some unique drawbacks – like bloatware or confusing interfaces – but in general, the A78 plays its cards well and will likely suit any price-conscious customer.
6.56in 20:9 LCD display with 90Hz refresh rate
128GB internal storage
8MP front camera
50MP main camera, 2MP depth camera
802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 2.4/5.1/5.4/5.8GHz
5000mAh non-removable battery
33W fast charging
IPX4 waterproof rating
Launch colours: Glowing Black, Glowing Purple, Glowing Blue