OPPO A54 5G review: The latest technology is no longer a premium feature

OPPO is the latest smartphone manufacturer to offer 5G devices at budget-friendly prices. Enter the OPPO A54 5G — currently one of the cheapest mobile phones with 5G connectivity on the Australian phone market.

This is some great news for Aussies looking for a cheaper phone, but also wanting to future-proof their device as 5G networks continue to be rolled out across the country. It’s also proof to other manufacturers that 5G is no longer a ‘premium’ feature and should no longer be priced as such. This move into more affordable next-generation technology is a step in the right direction towards ensuring those with a tighter budget aren’t left behind when it comes to these tech advancements.

So, what can you expect from one of the cheapest 5G phones around? In this hands-on review, we’ll take you through the features and functionality of the OPPO A54 5G, to hopefully give you a better idea if this is the new mobile phone you’ve been looking for.

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OPPO A54 5G features and specsPerson holding fluid purple version of OPPO A54 5G outdoors

Here’s a quick look at the features and specs of the OPPO A54 5G:

  • $399 AUD RRP (available from Harvey Norman, Optus, JB Hi-Fi, Woolworths Mobile, Officeworks, and The Good Guys)
  • 5G compatible
  • 6.5 inch FHD+ display
  • 64GB internal storage + up to 256GB expandable micro SD storage
  • 4GB RAM
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G processor
  • Fingerprint and facial recognition for unlocking
  • Quad rear-camera setup (48MP main + 8MP ultra-wide + 2MP macro + 2MP mono)
  • 16MP front-facing camera
  • Night, panorama, portrait, time-lapse, slow motion camera modes included
  • Runs ColorOS 11 based on Android 11
  • Available in Fluid Black or Fluid Purple colourways

OPPO A54 5G Pros:

  • Fluid purple colourway one of the prettiest and most unique finishes on a phone
  • Really great battery life
  • Display quality is nice and clear

OPPO A54 5G Cons:

  • Slow to charge the battery
  • Facial unlocking not as seamless as fingerprint unlocking
  • Built-in speaker lacks a bit of depth to sound

Design and functionality

Perhaps the biggest selling points for the OPPO A54 5G is that it is one of the cheapest 5G compatible phones on the market. Another great selling point is that it also has one of the prettiest finishes in a phone that I’ve ever seen, thanks to the Fluid Purple colourway. That might not be a big deal to some, and I’m sure that some people would prefer the sleek but inoffensive Fluid Black colourway instead.

Some people might not put as much stock in a phone’s look and colour choices, but for others, it is an important feature. I love a nice-looking phone, and while my personal preference is towards pretty colours, a phone doesn’t always have to be a certain shade to look good in my opinion — it can even be a neutral colour and I’ll still like it. But OPPO has really hit the mark with the Fluid Purple colourway. While purple might be the trending colour for phones at the moment, OPPO has done something beautiful and unique with its gradient transition from purple to teal. The render images you see online look gorgeous, and in real life it does hit that mark. The material is a metal-like finish and is unfortunately really prone to fingerprint smudges, but luckily a clear jelly case is included to protect from constant smears and streaks.

Not only does the phone look as pretty as a phone possibly can, but it feels nice to use too. The size is comfortable to hold, while also giving you a big enough screen for a great video watching experience. The fingerprint sensor is conveniently in the side lock button, and it’s easy to unlock with the scanner’s placement. You can also use facial unlocking and while it was fairly quick to unlock at times, I did find the facial unlocking not as reliable as fingerprint. There was one occasion where there was a ‘camera being used’ error message while I was trying to unlock, despite the camera not actually being in use.

You get a 6.5 inch FHD+ display with 90.5% screen ratio and up to 90Hz refresh rate. The size is quite comfortable to hold and use, even one-handed — if you prefer slightly ‘smaller’ phones, it is a good size. It also feels very solid, without feeling particularly heavy.

Front and back of OPPO A54 5G phones in black and purple colourways
Source: OPPO

Performance

The OPPO A54 5G comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G processor and of course, 5G connectivity. I found it was rather quick and seamless to use, especially considering the price point. It managed most tasks rather quickly, although you can tell that the processor isn’t quite as quick as a premium device. For example, switching between video quality on YouTube did take a moment to process, and scrolling through apps could have that slightly ‘jumpy’ quality rather than a totally seamless scroll. I also experienced a few glitches in apps a couple times, such as not being able to scroll further on Instagram, and the top of the Facebook app being cut off at times. However it wasn’t a regular occurrence and often closing and reopening the app would correct the issue. For the price point though, I was rather impressed with how well it managed some processor-intensive activities, such as simultaneous HD video watching and social/web browsing in split screen mode.

On setup, it was quite slow to register my password when I was setting up fingerprint and facial recognition, and starting the device also feels a bit slow. However, for a phone on the cheaper end of the price spectrum, it’s almost to be expected that performance might be a little laggy or glitchy — even some expensive premium phones can have performance glitches — and overall, it was nothing frustrating that hampered my day-to-day use.

One of the big selling points for the OPPO A54 5G is of course, 5G at one of the cheapest price points currently on the Australian phone market. Using 5G for general use, including video watching, was nice and speedy, and I recorded average speeds of 209.77Mbps (on the Optus 5G network).

I found the screen to be rather bright and colours popped quite nicely. It had really clear quality when watching HD videos, and pictures looked vibrant on social media. As for the built-in speakers, they were a little bit of a let down, lacking a bit of bass and extra clarity, However, there is a headphone jack (and included headphones), so unless you regularly use the speakers, you might not find this much of a problem.

The battery is one of the best things about the OPPO A54 5G. On paper, you get a 5,000mAh battery, and while that is one of the biggest batteries on the market, in real world performance this battery really does hold up. When idle, it only drains around 4% of battery in a day, while throughout the day, with rather moderate use, it only drained around 10% of battery. Even watching HD videos didn’t seem to make much of a dent on the battery life, with only 3% battery drain after watching around 40 minutes of HD videos. However, using 5G will drain the battery a bit quicker — I recorded a 3% battery drain after 17 minutes of watching HD videos and web browsing.

While the battery performance is fantastic, the charging is very slow. Using the included charger, it took just under three hours to fully charge from 0% to 100%. It’s fine if you plan to charge overnight or when you’re able to stick around for a few hours to let it charge, but when you need a quick boost, it is pretty slow, especially considering how some cheap phones now include fast charge capabilities. However, the solid battery life is the trade-off, and hopefully you wouldn’t find yourself in too many situations requiring a quick charge.

Overall, I found the OPPO A54 5G had a really solid performance. It handled day-to-day tasks rather seamlessly and the big 5,000mAh battery does deliver that great battery life you would expect. There were a few minor glitches or instances of slow processing, but you always need to consider the price point in this context. For a device under $400, it won’t have all the bells and whistles of a premium phone, and even then, premium devices can suffer from glitches now and then.

Cameras

The OPPO A54 5G includes a quad rear-camera setup with a 48MP main camera, 8MP ultra-wide camera, 2MP macro and 2MP mono. You’ll also get a 16MP front-facing camera, and several photo and video modes including portrait (with AI beautification), night, panorama, time lapse and slow motion. There’s even a set of stickers and animal avatars you can add to portraits for both photos and videos.

Wide angle photo of ocean and rock pools on clear day
Wide angle photo taken on OPPO A54 5G

As you might expect for a phone under $400, the cameras have some flaws, but this is to be expected at the cheaper end of the price spectrum, and in the scheme of things, the flaws are minimal. If you’re someone who doesn’t take too many photos and just wants something that will get the job done, you’ll be fine with these cameras.

Photo of waves crashing on rock pool on clear day
Outdoor photo taken on OPPO A54 5G

Outdoor photography is where the OPPO A54 5G shines. I found colours to be rather true to life and although photos tend to be on the cooler side and not pick up on quite as much detail, especially in the distance, I was still able to take some really beautiful photos. I even found the zoom when used outdoors to be rather decent and the blur you expect from digital zoom wasn’t particularly grainy.

However indoor photography is the big let down, and this is such a common flaw for cheaper phones. Even when you’re taking a photo indoors with some light source, there were the ‘low ambient light’ messages encouraging you to turn on the flash. I did find that using night mode, even during the day in these low light situations, did make a difference to the quality and gave colours a bit of a boost when compared to standard photo mode. Low light photos also looked quite grainy when taking them, however turned out ok when you look back at your photos. Night mode in very low light settings, while it did do a really good job at boosting the brightness, does suffer from that common problem in most cheap phones of producing grainy results.

There are also a few different HD and ‘expert’ modes, which is surprising for this price point. Enabling HDR did give photos a bit more of a colour boost, while XHD picks up on a lot of detail, so if you want to look closer at your picture once you’ve taken it, you can zoom in a lot closer than the other standard photos. The ‘Expert’ mode I could take or leave — it doesn’t improve your photos, just shows you the camera settings (such as ISO) when you’re taking the photo. I can see some people might find it useful, but if you’re interested in your camera settings, you’re more likely going to be looking at a more expensive phone with a better camera setup than the OPPO A54 5G.

Macro photo of tiny shells clustered on rock
Macro photo taken on OPPO A54 5G

The macro lens is also another hit and miss, but this is such a common problem with cheaper devices. I do appreciate the token macro lens, as someone who loves taking macro photos, but the settings do need to be just right. Low light macro photos you can basically rule out with mostly grainy results, whereas outdoors with decent light you can get some nice pictures. I was pleasantly surprised that the macro photos I thought looked blurry on screen while taking them, actually turned out quite well once I looked at the photos. One real irritation I do have with the macro, and it’s something I’ve experienced with other devices, is the recommendation to be 4cm from your subject for the best results. This message doesn’t go away when you’re at the right distance, and it’s difficult to tell when you’re close enough to your subject.

Portrait photo of Growlithe Pokemon figurine
Portrait mode taken on OPPO A54 5G

Portrait mode is usable with both the front and rear camera, and portraits with the back lens will look much more vibrant than selfies with the front facing camera. However, you still get that background blur that we come to expect from any ‘portrait’ mode. I did find the background blur used for the A54’s portrait mode seemed a little artificial, and not quite that subtle background blur that adds depth to portraits. It also was quite temperamental about distance: I found that at times it was ok slightly closer, but then would change its mind and I’d need to move further away. Portrait mode also allows you to add stickers, including animated stickers, to add a bit of fun to selfies and portraits — both pictures and videos. AI beautification is also included and using this feature can at times, verge on an other-worldly look, but if you want the subtle smoothing features to your selfies, it does the trick.

Overall, the cameras do a decent job at taking photos and videos, although zooming in with photos is much clearer than using zoom with video, which did produce a rather grainy result. Outdoor photos was where it seemed to shine the most and produced some clear and vibrant pics. As can be expected from devices at this price range, the cameras do the basics and if that’s all you want from your phone’s camera, then you should be happy. More ardent ‘phonetographers’ might want to look elsewhere — and more likely at the premium end of the smartphone market.

Phone plans for the OPPO A54 5G

Not all of OPPO’s cheap phones are readily available on phone plans from telcos, however the OPPO A54 5G is available on a plan from Optus, Woolworths Mobile and TeleChoice. If you want to get the full use and 5G access from the A54, Optus is the only one of the three telcos with 5G network access available on its mobile plans.

The following table includes a selection of 24-month plans for the OPPO A54 5G from Canstar Blue’s database listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Using our mobile phone plan comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers.

Is the OPPO A54 5G the best mobile phone for me?

OPPO does have a really strong reputation for creating quality devices at more budget-friendly price points, compared to its biggest rivals Apple and Samsung. While Apple and Samsung have been a bit more adventurous in design and colour choices the past couple years, OPPO has been much more forward with phone designs and colour choices and the A54 has a beautiful finish. Gradients on phones can look tacky, but this is a really stunning phone and the finish is simply gorgeous. The Fluid Purple colourway isn’t as widely available as the black option, but if you do want a pretty phone, it might be worth the effort to track down this colour.

General performance and features were great — it handled day-to-day use with very few issues. The battery life was a big stand out, but is let down by slow charge, although fast charging is very rare in phones around this price point. Of course, 5G connectivity at this sub-$400 price is the biggest draw card. If you’re looking for a future-proof phone but without breaking the bank, the A54 5G might be a device to consider looking at. Other cheap 5G phones around this price point include the OPPO A74 5G at $449 RRP AUD, followed by the Realme 7 5G and Motorola Moto G 5G both priced at $499 AUD RPP.

All in all, if you’re a fan of OPPO phones, or want a bit of a change, and you’re looking for devices around this price point, the A54 5G provides a solid performance. However, it’s worth taking a look at other phones around the same price point and considering which features are important to you, to help you find the best mobile phone for your needs.

Consider the OPPO A54 5G if: You want a cheap phone with 5G connectivity, or if you’re looking for a straightforward and nice-looking phone for under $400.

SIM-only phone plans

While a few telcos offer the A54 on a plan, if you’d prefer to buy your phone outright from a retailer, you’ll need to bundle your phone with a SIM-only plan. You can choose between postpaid or prepaid plans, with lots of cheap plans and big data plans available.

Here is a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB of data, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Try using our mobile phone plan comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Here is a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB of data each month, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. If you want to compare a larger range of offers from other providers, use our phone plan comparison tool. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

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Product used for review/testing was a free sample provided by OPPO.

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