When the R7 and R7 Plus were released, it was the latter that received the most attention with its beefed-up battery and fingerprint sensor.

But as tiny as the R7 might be, we think it deserves a more generous share of the spotlight. What it lacks in fingerprint sensor, it makes up for in display. What it lacks in size, it compensates with feel. Here’s why you shouldn’t dismiss the slighter R7.

Visual pleaser

There’s not much to nitpick at in terms of design; it’s sleek and simple. The R7 is thin, but it isn’t R5 anorexic at 6.3mm. That’s a good thing though, as it allows for the return of the headphone jack, which everyone who has to endure the white noise of the daily commute will truly appreciate.

We’re not quite buying the the whole “violin arc” design description, but the R7 has fine design features if you know where to look. It’s in the glint of silver running alongside the edges of the phone, it’s in the subtle curves of its corners. It’s not form without function either. The burnished metal back of the R7 gives you a better handle on what would otherwise be a slippery eel of a phone. It’s 148g of solid unibody slimness that feels a lot more premium than it actually costs.

Pixel-packed intensity

Your eyes will crackle from how crisp the R7’s display is. If you think the iPhone 6’s Retina HD display is great, the R7’s 1080p AMOLED screen will melt your sockets with 445ppi of pixel perfection. Colours show up bright and accurate and images are so razor sharp, you won’t feel like you’re straining your eyes which is important for smaller-screened phones. Possibly even good enough to not hate watching a three-hour LOTR film on it.

And if your peepers should get weary, the R7 comes with a thoughtful Eye Protection Display setting. Enabling it will filter out the apparently harmful shortwave blue light to help make your viewing experience more comfortable. That’s something everyone who has to reply countless emails all on their smartphones can appreciate.

Constructive criticism-forged ColorOS 2.1

The message is clear - Oppo is listening with the new update to the ColorOS. They’ve heard your complaints and are making the necessary steps in the right direction with ColorOS 2.1’s philosophy of simplicity reflected through its cleaned-up icons, reduction of system crashes, and faster app bootups. We like the makeover, or should we say the makeunder? The interface has been scrubbed and glimmers with focus. The immediate shooting screen on the camera app only has two modes (photo and video) for you to swipe through to quickly land the shot you're after. Even the  expert mode isn’t cluttered with too many options at one time, just an overlay with the necessary slider settings.

ColorOS 2.1 might still have some work to do, but it’s an encouraging start. Launching apps was snappy but we’ll have to weigh the system down with our regular app load and put it through real world usage to see if the increment of 3GB RAM really makes the difference they said it would.

The 2320mAh battery it's packing isn't something to scoff at either, and coupled with the formidable VOOC charging tech, makes this a pretty good choice for users who can't last five seconds without using their phone. 

Snappy snapper

We’re impressed. If you’re a big fan of smartphone photography, the R7’s super responsive camera will more than fulfil all your snappy needs. Booting up the camera app is quickdraw-fast. Just tap the camera icon and it will launch so instantly that if you blink, you'll miss it.

The endless number of modes instead of a one-snap sharpshooter type of camera might be a little frustrating to some, but the sheer variety of modes available gives everybody something to work with. Besides the usual Beautify and HDR modes, you also get quirky options to make GIFs (tapping the button will fire off a string of succession shots for six seconds) and shoot double exposure snaps. Taking normal snaps is extremely responsive, but we noticed a little lag when firing off the first in a string of burst shots so you might miss the beginning of what you're trying to fast-capture. 

Initial verdict

At 2499 CNY (RM1460), the Oppo R7 makes a pretty compelling case for itself. However, it only comes in a choice-restricting 16GB. You can right the wrong via its expandable memory of up to 128GB, but we'd have prefer it come naturally in the first place. Well-built with an improved ColorOS experience makes this an equally captivating device as the R7 Plus, even without the extra features.