OPPO has been releasing a boatload of smartphones since it launched outside Asia in 2019, and now, it’s joining the super-affordable 5G race with the Oppo A54 5G. Costing £220 (around US$310), it’s priced a touch higher than the Realme 8 5G and the Redmi Note 10 5G, but it’s also got a better-specced camera than the competition.
Loaded up with an ultra-wide module, the A54 5G’s camera system covers the budget basics and is matched with a 48MP main sensor as well as a macro camera and depth sensor. Combined with an ample 6.5-inch display which makes for a fine viewfinder, on paper, it’s hard to argue with how OPPO’s curated its latest budget phone’s imaging spec sheet.
The A54 5G differs from Realme and Redmi’s phones in another respect – it uses Qualcomm internals, as opposed to MediaTek. With a Snapdragon 480 5G chipset combined with 4GB RAM, the A54 doesn’t quite pack the power the competition sports, but the question is, does its camera power make up for any performance and storage limitations?
Design and screen
The Oppo A54 features familiar plastic build, taking on low-cost options from the likes of Realme and Redmi launched over the last year. With matte sides and a high-gloss back, that doesn’t mean the phone isn’t well or together. It looks respectable for the price, and with a power button/fingerprint scanner on the right side, features biometric security. To the left side, there are volume buttons, while the USB-C port and headphone jack are at the base of the phone along with the mono loudspeaker.
Around the back of the A54, the phone’s quad-camera is housed in a small camera surround that protrudes slightly. At 8.4mm thin and weighing 190g, the Oppo A54 5G is a pretty hefty device, even if it isn’t quite iPhone 12 Pro Max or Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra big. Available in Fluid Black, Fantastic Purple, and Space Silver, all versions sport the same storage capacity and specs.
Combining a 6.5-inch screen with 1080 x 2400 resolution, the OPPO A54 5G’s IPS display is ample, sharp and smooth. With a 90Hz refresh rate, it matches up with other phones in the price range. While IPS tech can’t stack up to the AMOLED panel of the OnePlus Nord, the screen does the job, with decent viewing angles and viewability when used indoors and outdoors in most conditions.
The Oppo A54 5G’s main camera features a 48MP resolution half-inch sensor with 0.8µm pixels, though photos are taken at 12MP. Matched with an f/1.7 lens sporting a 26mm wide-angle and phase detection autofocus, it’s a familiar setup that’s spot-on for the price.
With an 8MP ultra-wide camera sensor combined with an f/2.2, 119˚ lens, while the quarter-inch sensor isn’t huge, with its 1.12µm pixels, the mere fact the camera packs an ultra-wide edges it ahead of the 5G budget competition.
There are a couple of sensors you won’t take notice of. The first is a 2MP macro camera which performs poorly. Then there’s a 2MP depth sensor, which supports background defocus effects.
The Oppo A54 5G’s 16MP front camera has an f/2 lens and a 26mm wide-angle. As for camera shooting modes, that’s another area the A54 wins out over other low-cost phones. In order of appearance in the camera app, the phone offers the following shooting modes: Night, Video, Photo, Portrait, Slo-Mo, Time-Lapse, Expert (manual), Extra HD, Panorama, Text Scanner, Macro, and Sticker.
As with most 48MP camera smartphones, in bright environments, the Oppo A54 5G captures sharp photos. From macro through to landscape, the wide angle camera focuses relatively reliably until the lights drop, and grabs plenty of detail. The fact the main camera is so competent at close-up photography renders the poor dedicated macro camera so redundant on the detail front.
Color and saturation from the main camera impress, with adequate punch. Pictures take less editing out of the camera than those shot on competing devices like the Redmi Note 10 5G, and the ultra-wide colors are relatively well-matched with those of the main camera.
One area all budget phones drop the ball is low light performance, and the Oppo A54 5G is only ever okay when the lights drop. The main camera captures usable photos in Night mode, with decent detail, though the automatic mode falls behind slightly pricier (though admittedly 4G) phones like the Redmi Note 10 Pro.
The 16MP selfie camera requires a steady hand to get a decent photo and isn’t fantastic in dim light. That said, in bright environments, selfies are good-looking – soft enough to be flattering but sharp enough to do the job, and there's a customizable beauty mode.
Oppo A54 5G: Additional specs
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G chipset paired with 4GB RAM, the Oppo A54 5G isn’t the most powerful phone for the price. Day-to-day performance is decent, with very occasional slowdown when switching apps and firing up the phone after a few hours. The main slowdown occurs when processing out photos, especially night mode shots which can take a second or two to save.
Running Android 11 with Oppo’s ColorOS 11.1, the interface is functional and stable. Virtually identical to the UI found on the flagship Find X3 Pro, handy elements like a shortcut sidebar that can be swiped in from the right side of the screen are loaded up on the A54 5G. The phone also offers full access to the Google Play Store, unlike Huawei phones, so app support is top-notch.
With 64GB storage, there’s a chance you’ll fill up the phone’s capacity if you’ve got a large WhatsApp backup and enjoy installing big games. There’s a microSD card slot as well as two SIM card slots, so you can bump up the storage capacity for photos and videos. That said, you can’t install apps or games to external storage. After just a week with the phone, for example, we filled it up by 63GB, leaving just 1GB free after transferring data from an old phone and snapping and videoing away. The A54 5G storage capacity would, therefore, be too small for heavy users.
Rounding off, the phone’s large 5000mAh battery is ample, and lasts for a couple of days with light to moderate use. If you’re 5G hotspotting, or heavy Netflix watching, you’ll get a day out of it. With charging speeds of up to 10W, the OPPO A54 5G powers up slower than its main competition from Realme and Redmi, whose 5G phones charge at 18W. In turn, it’ll take over two hours for a full charge.
Oppo A54 5G: Verdict
Is the Oppo A54 5G the best 5G budget phone out now? Yes, from a camera point of view exclusively; in fact, it could be one of the best budget camera phones out now. The phone isn’t the best from an everything else point of view though. What lets it down the most is its 64GB storage, but even its processor and charging speeds fall slightly behind the competition. That said, there’s still enough about it to deliver a good user experience for the price.
The phone’s screen looks good with its 90Hz refresh rate. Its design is also exactly where it needs to be, with an almost ombre gradient pattern. Then there’s the interface, which is more refined than Xiaomi’s Redmi line. Add to the mix stellar battery life, and if the storage limitations don’t phase you, the Oppo A54 5G could be a cracking low-cost option for anyone who needs fast mobile internet and a phone that lasts for ages.