Travel tech update - From the Apple iPhone to the Oppo F5 - Rusty Compass travel blog

Travel tech update - From the Apple iPhone to the Oppo F5

| 27 Jan 2018
27 Jan 2018

I’ve switched from one of the most expensive phones on the market - the Apple iPhone - to one of the cheapest -an OPPO F5. And so far, I’m very pleased with the change. Here’s how it happened.

I’m an iPhone 6 Plus owner who’s been caught up in the Apple battery debacle getting press recently. Apple's handling of the problem has been appalling at so many levels. But I’m starting to think it’s ending well for me. I may have been weened off expensive mobile phones forever.

I’ve spent more than a year of frustration with a dysfunctional iPhone. All it needed was a new battery it seems. And Apple decided to mess me, and hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions - of its customers around with dodgy software “fixes” in preference to coming clean about the problem. So I only got one reasonable year of use from a phone that set me back more than $1000US.

This miserable experience forced me to look at the low-end of the mobile phone market for a short term replacement phone.

That turned out to be a blessing. I’ve discovered that the quality gap between cheap and expensive phones has been shrinking. There are very good phones available for a few hundred dollars. It looks like most of the innovation in mobile phones is taking place at the lower end of the market.

The more I played with cheap Samsung, Huawei, Sony, HTC and other brands in mobile shops in Vietnam, the more I realised how shite my iPhone was - and how phones are supposed to work.

I kept hearing good things about the cameras on OPPO phones so I checked them out too. I’d never heard of OPPO 12 months ago. Now I own an OPPO F5.

Instead of being a short term fix though, the OPPO has become a permanent replacement. I won’t be going back to the iPhone 6 Plus. Nor will I be buying a new iPhone, Google Pixel, Samsung or any other high-end phone. That money will be better spent elsewhere.

The video looks at some of the main issues and here they are listed.

Functionality and battery life

If you’ve been dealing with a dodgy iPhone 6 for a year or more, you may have come to believe that all that waiting, buffering and crashing is normal. It’s not. Nor is 3 - 4 hours of battery life.

My $300 OPPO F5 is fast. Everything opens on demand and everything works. It's giving me 24 hours of battery life with normal use too.

And you can get a decent hit of battery charge in 15 or 20 minutes that’ll cover you for a few hours.

I’ve been using the OPPO phone for 3 weeks now and so far so good.


The main reason I went with the OPPO is because everyone was saying the camera was excellent. And so it is at this price point. Video is impressive too - as you’ll see in the video.

Nguyen Hue St and Uncle Ho - OPPO F5.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Nguyen Hue St and Uncle Ho - OPPO F5.
Saigon People's Committee Building. OPPO F5.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Saigon People's Committee Building. OPPO F5.
Breakfast at The Old Compass Cafe, Saigon. OPPO F5
Photo: Mark Bowyer Breakfast at The Old Compass Cafe, Saigon. OPPO F5
New South Wales Art Gallery, Sydney. OPPO F5
Photo: Mark Bowyer New South Wales Art Gallery, Sydney. OPPO F5
Bondi Beach, Sydney. OPPO F5
Photo: Mark Bowyer Bondi Beach, Sydney. OPPO F5
Sydney CBD. OPPO F5
Photo: Mark Bowyer Sydney CBD. OPPO F5
Rural New South Wales. OPPO F5
Photo: Mark Bowyer Rural New South Wales. OPPO F5

Dual SIM and Micro SD

These are great features for travellers.

Being able to switch between SIMs is handy when you’re on the road. And while optional MicroSD storage is standard for Android phones, having come from the Apple system, I’m really appreciating the peace of mind of extra storage too.

Android backs up all my files, images and videos to Google’s photos platform in the cloud.

Other stuff

I love the fact that the F5 features a simple micro USB power cable (like most Android phones).

You get used to all that cable silliness with Apple. But it’s a pain in the butt.

Headphone jack? Yeah, that’s a standard jack too. No Bluetooth nonsense and no need to toss out all the old headphones (iPhones use a newish Bluetooth standard).

If Bluetooth headphones are where a decade of Apple mobile innovation has led us, I’m happy to catch my breath for a bit.

From iOS to Android

I was apprehensive about making the switch from Apple iOS to Android - especially as everything else i do is tied to the Mac.

I wrongly assumed there might be some pain making the switch.

You needn’t worry about that. It was straightforward and painless. I downloaded apps, logged in, and that was it.

Making sense of the day to day navigation was also simple - though I’m told OPPO is better for the transition from iPhone than some other Android phones.

There were no “how does Android do this?” moments. It was intuitive and straightforward.

I’ve made the simple judgment that the extra utility for the extra investment in a high-end phone simply doesn’t add up. I haven’t tested the other phones. But I’ve owned nothing but high-end phones for a decade. And I know what I expect from a phone now. One thing I expect is value for money.

I’m gonna guess that more mobile users will start making the same judgment.

What would a $1000US or $1200US phone from Samsung, Apple or Google do that I can’t do with my OPPO? Truth is I’m not sure.

When you’re travelling, phones are easily broken, lost or stolen. You’ll be grieving far less over a lost OPPO than a $1200US iPhone, Pixel or Samsung.

Let’s assume that expensive phones are more robust, have faster processors and better cameras than cheap phones. How much better can they be? And how much are you ready to spend to obtain these marginal benefits - 2 times? 3 times or more?

It’ll be interesting to see how long the OPPO F5 lasts. It’s made of plastic. And I don’t expect 2 years out of a phone that cost less than $300US. But my last expensive iPhone really only worked for a year.

If you’re in the market for a new phone, take a look at what’s available at lower prices. You might be surprised. I went with OPPO but there are other good options too.


We have no commercial relationship with any of the mobile phone manufacturers mentioned in this piece. We purchased the referenced phones from normal dealers at normal prices.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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3 comments so far

I agree with your assessment of the I phone. I'm glad I dumped apple years ago. My current smart phone is a Motorola moto z. It was under 200. The storage and memory are several times what my wife's I phone is. I've had great luck with older Samsung phones also. The battery issue is interesting because I have a Sony MP3 player that is over 10 years old that still works like a charm. I have several apple phones and MP3 players in my boneyard drawer that crapped out prematurely.

  • Robert Witt
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Wednesday, 25 April 2018 09:58

While the idea of getting an Iphone can be attractive sometimes because of its unified system an abundant of apps, I don't think I'll be able to let go of my android phone. The open system just works for me, also they're usually cheaper than Apple. While I heard good things about Oppo F5, I'll still probably wait for the new OnePlus phone before I decide. I'm currently using a Nexus 6P so if your priority is the camera, Google hardware is currently winning this game at a fairly high price point however.

  • Happy Luke
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Wednesday, 25 April 2018 12:27

*an abundant of apps you can visit for the latest updates on tech

  • Happy Luke
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Wednesday, 25 April 2018 12:29