Oppo did an excellent job bringing the R series up to speed with the competition. The R11s' 18:9 widescreen comes just on time for the holiday shopping season, and it's the hot feature to have right now. And that red paint job, coupled with the Starry sky pattern above and below the screen, makes the R11s so hard to resist - Oppo has a real head-turner, and we all know the first impression counts big time.
We loved the Snapdragon 660 in the Oppo R11, so we just can't think of a better midrange chipset to power the R11s. The battery life and charging speed are the usual good stuff while the Color OS with the new Face Unlock feature is even more like iOS. Even if it's just a novelty for its sake, you can still use the fingerprint scanner as a fallback.
The camera is what bothers us. The R11 produced great regular photos and reasonably good telephoto images, while the R11s dropped the telephoto lens and didn't really provide a worthwhile substitute with this secondary camera. Long story short, it's neither the 2x photos nor the low-light samples that live up to the promise. And we'd still very much prefer the native sort-of-telephoto pictures of the regular R11 to the digitally zoomed output of the R11s. Both Oppo and OnePlus have to do some serious thinking on what they want to do with this type of setup because what they did on the R11s is more of a downgrade than an improvement.
When we think of a competing phone, the first name that comes to mind is none other but the Oppo R11. The regular R11 is better at taking pictures, regular photos and selfies alike. It is also cheaper, and if the 18:9 screen is not a must, then we'd pick the R11 instead.
The cheaper Oppo F5 is pretty much identical to the R11s, widescreen and Face Unlock included, though it's got an LCD instead of AMOLED and a different make of chipset. You will have to give up the second 20MP camera, but its benefits are questionable in the current setup anyway. The VOOC charging will likely be missed though.
The vivo V7+ does a marvelous job of taking selfies, and it's perhaps equally fast in graphics tasks thanks to the lower-res screen. It's cheaper; it's made of plastic, and the screen is hardly a match to the R11s' in resolution and quality. But the selfie-loving crowd should probably give it a chance. And, by the way, despite its lower resolution, the screen turned out great.
The LG Q6 is cheaper too, but you'd probably give up on too many things - performance, camera quality on both sides, battery life, even the looks. But the phone is MIL-STD-810G compliant, meaning it can survive more than a few bumps and drops and fear not dust and water.
The Huawei Mate 10 Lite is a good match for the R11s - and cheaper too. It has a beautiful metal body, a similar screen (though LCD), a capable chipset and at least it doesn't pretend that its secondary camera is anything more than a depth sensor used for defocusing backgrounds in portraits. Sure, this one doesn't have 4K video recording but the still images are good, and there are some advanced low-light modes.
Another sharpshooter from a reputable maker, the Sony Xperia XA1 Plus offers a high-res 23MP main camera, a slightly less capable processor but impressive battery life and a bunch of proprietary Sony goodies.
And if the 18:9 screen is not a priority, the cheaper Xiaomi Mi A1 or Redmi Note 4 will certainly serve you well with a bang-for-buck ratio that's hard to match. The Mi A1 has a pretty good dual-camera at that (wide+tele), while the Note 4 is a real bargain if not as hip.
So, the Oppo R11s - a great-looking handset that's in touch with the times but just not the great cameraphone it could have been. The new dual-camera setup was chosen with the best intentions, but something went wrong implementing it. Not sure whether it can be fixed via a firmware update and honestly they can leave it as is - the R11s will be a reasonably good cameraphone - it's just not great.
Other than the step back in the imaging department though, everything else was improved in a meaningful way: the looks, the screen, the software. The regular R11 is cheaper to have and better at some aspects of photography. The novelty factor and the looks are entirely in the Oppo R11s favor. And looking at this stunner of a paint job again, this may be just all it takes to get one hooked - especially around this time of the year.