Oppo F1 Review

by Vishal Toshiwal 0

Oppo, a Chinese smartphone maker, has recently launched their new F-Series of handsets in the country, the F1, and F1 Plus. While the F1 is a mid-range handset, the F1 Plus is a high-end smartphone. Being touted as the selfie experts, these phones were previously launched in China under the name of A53. Though, the handsets that came to India are different in terms of RAM, storage and battery capacity. It maybe because of the heated smartphone competition currently going on in the country. With handsets like Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, LeTV Le 1S and Honor 5X, the consumers in India are more inclined to spend around Rs 10-12K and get a decent overall package than rather not lean on an established brands like Samsung and LG to purchase mid range handsets. It’s no secret that these top tier South Korean brands have taken hit to their mid-range segment market, all because of the rise of the affordable smartphone, which offers decent package, considering for daily usage.

But in the recent months, those Chinese brands have ante-up their investments and have introduced some of the finest mid-range handsets one can hope to see in the country. There are some brands like Oppo, who tries to heat a sweet spot, between those affordable and high-end handsets and offer a solid mid-range smartphone. This Oppo F1 certainly falls in that line and thus we were quite keen to see how the latest Oppo smartphone performs in real life usage. That’s why we got our hands-on to this device as our daily driver for quite a time now. Follow below to read our detailed review of the Oppo F1.

Design

The first thing that I would like to admit about the design of the Oppo F1 is that it is the most solid handset that I have come across in the price range it comes. With a unibody metal construction and treatment of zircon sand surface coating used on the body, it resulted in a lustrous and attractive design one can hope to see in this segment. Offering a premium feel, the latest handset from the company is a pure marvel of design aesthetics. And achieving a thickness of 7.25mm and weight of 134 grams is itself amazing. Though screen size is also said to be a contribution to its compact size, the credit should be given to the thin edges. I mean it isn’t categorized in the world’s slimmest smartphone list, but anything around 7mm is pretty sleek. I’m not wholly comparing it with Apple iPhone 6s, but it does have a solid construction and elegant beauty to it that can question even the best of the flagship, in terms of the design.

Now moving on to specifics, the front part houses a display, which is almost bezel-less, other than display; the front part has a white color. The front top houses a camera module, microphone and a set of sensors while the bottom front has capacitive buttons, which are unfortunately not backlit. So, don’t expect them to be user-friendly while operating in the low-light or dark light conditions. The rear side of the device is kept quite clean, with a gold color on the back, it feels shiny. You’ll notice different hue on the top and bottom corners, though; it’s just to separate the center part. There is a camera module on the top left corner, which has a slight bump that shouldn’t worry its users. Aiding the camera is an LED Flash just below the module. In the center, you’ll see the branding, which is beautifully done. On the bottom part, just above the hue separating the spaces, you’ll see a speaker grill, exactly three outlets, underneath that the loudspeaker is housed. Note that the back panel is non-removable, thus, battery or anything else as well, we do not recommend you to open the back panel.

Before we talk about the ports placements on the edges, let’s talk about the edges first, the device has much shinier edges when compared to the bright gold color on the back side of the device. It gives a unique, attractive looks to the device. Moreover, they are curved in shape, and that’s why it feels good in the hand, no sharp edges or corners. Now talking about the ports, the device houses a power button on the right edge and volume rocker keys on the left, they’re quite solid, but I wouldn’t agree for the slightest that they are ideally placed. I have always preferred them on the same edge, likely on the right edge. On right edge only, the device houses a hybrid dual SIM concealed inside a tray. One SIM card supported is micro-SIM while another should be a nano SIM. You can either use that nano SIM or use a microSD card slot that’s why it’s called hybrid SIM slot. On the top edge is the audio jack, whereas on the bottom edge it has a microUSB and a microphone. Overall, the ports placements are quite right, but it’s my personal preference that I like volume buttons and power button on the right edge. I feel this is a sturdy handset, and you will not get such solid design and quality product on the market within the price it comes.

Display

The device packs a 5-inch 720p display having a pixel density of 294 PPI (Pixel Per Inch), it isn’t the best resolution screen you’ll see in this range, but it does a commendable job in some aspects. One of the important parts of display other than showing good color output is the protection. If you have been reading our articles about Redmi Note 3, then you may know that we have highlighted that it lacks a proper protection on display aspect. Whereas compared to the Oppo F1 handset, it has a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection, which is the latest Corning Glass protection. It is yet to be picked up by many flagship devices while Oppo is offering the same protection on their mid-range smartphone. The company claims their smartphone packs a 2.5D curved glass; it makes the display scratch resistant. We put the device and cars keys in the same pocket, and the display came to be scratch-less. Moreover, it is also claimed that the display gloved and wet touch, meaning you can use the display while wearing gloves, as well as when your hands are wet. But make no mistake, it isn’t a waterproof or even splash proof, so be cautious around water bodies/presence, don’t immerse in water.

Oppo F1 - Display

Coming to the display performance, despite the screen being low resolution of 1280 x 720, I felt it was pretty good for my casual YouTube viewing. The media or system colors look quite good, not the best, but I didn’t felt like using a mid-ranger that was launched two years ago. It was more of a current generation display with minimum screen requirements. For a person like me, who doesn’t like to compromise with display resolution, it is pretty fine screen. Talking about the sunlight legibility, well it was average too; you can’t see everything when the display is put in bright sunlight. Adjustment of angle can be made, but that wouldn’t take you any further. Overall, viewing angles are good on the display, but since no large real estate, you can’t expect it to share with a larger audience at the time and think they’re enjoying the view. Let me assure; they aren’t. The screen is fingerprint prone, meaning you’ll see a lot of smudges within couple minutes of usage; it might affect your viewing experience. But they can be removed easily, although, I wish, the company has done a better job with the display, if not increased resolution. The color reproduction is decent, not too realistic, since not a full high-resolution display. Meanwhile, the company used IPS TFT technology, but no AMOLED here.

Interface, Apps

The software interface on the Oppo handset is quite similar to the ones you find in other handsets by the company. But the company promises an upgraded version on this smartphone. The ColorOS 2.1, which is based on the Android Lollipop 5.1.1 version, company has claimed to achieve 30% faster boot speed and shorter app launch time. I must admit, it’s quite smooth and offer faster transitions than what I experienced on other Oppo handsets. Though the appearance remains same, it still has no app drawer, gives access to the music player on left swipe and pretty much have the same icons for the default apps.

Oppo F1 - Software

Talking about the pre-installed apps, the device has a couple of default apps and few extra apps that can be quite resourceful depending upon your needs. What you should is that it doesn’t overload the system with unnecessary apps. Isn’t that something! The apps like music player, file manager, messages, dialer, browser, email, contacts, almost every necessary app have been replaced on what you found in stock Android. There is a gallery app named Photos and a Video player for accessing the media. The security center app keeps a tab on permissions ad monitoring data, as well as accelerating the performance of the system and saving battery life. There are dedicated apps like Backup & Restore, O-Cloud and Lock Now for individual utility functions. In separate tools folder, you’ll see Kingsoft Office to read documents like PDF, Word and Spreadsheets. As well as a separate clean memory and download manager app.

The Settings app is filled with tones of options; we are mostly fond of the gestures options, as they were not present on the handsets that were recently reviewed, such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. Even for a mid-range handset, it has become a necessity to sports tap to wake up and switch off the screen. Oppo makes it impossible not to like its software, as these gestures work pretty nice. You can draw letters like V to turn ON the flashlight, or double tap home screen button to switch off the screen. These gesture makes using a device more interesting and convenient. So, if you’re looking for a device with extended features like these, then it is quite the choice.

The multitasking on this handset isn’t quite as fast we expected, considering there is a large 3GB of RAM into play here. The recent apps interface is pretty similar to the iOS, which is not a bad thing. What’s not interesting is that company wasn’t able to manage app switching at a smooth pace. I mean it’s not bad, but it isn’t what was expected of it. Even with this intuitive interface for multitasking, the switch between apps wasn’t quite pleasing. Though the RAM availability was good, most of the time when 5-6 apps are running in the background, we could see around 1.85GB RAM available, which is amazing feet by ColorOS. The internal storage out of the box was around 9GB, which is decent. Note that there is a 32GB variant model available as ICC Version, which would have more internal storage space. You don’t need to worry about storage, as the device supports microSD card as well as OTG.

Regarding the appearance, there is a theme store that allows accessing tons of online themes, which you can download and access it from local storage. With one-tap you can change the looks of the system; icons, wallpaper as well as lock screen wallpaper. You can have separate wallpaper for the home screen and lock screen. These days many companies are offering such themes app, so, it’s not a new phenomenon. Overall, it can be said ColorOS is a feature rich Android skin, but needs work in multitasking operations.

Hardware & Performance

The Oppo F1 packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor; it is an Octa-core chipset, where four A53 cores are clocking at 1.7GHz while other four A53 cores at 1.0GHz. It is basically the version 2.0 of the Snapdragon 615, which is the controversial processor known for the overheating issue. But with the second generation, the company promises no heating issue. The processor is supported by Adreno 405 as a graphics processing unit while sporting 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. It’s nearly perfect combination for a mid-range, a Qualcomm Octa-processor with powerful GPU and decent internal storage.

The real test was when we played games, specifically the graphic intense games like Asphalt 8 and Dead Trigger 2. We had a good experience while paying those games, there was no lag at all, while for games like Riptide GP2, it was a piece of cake for the device to carry out the operation. But what was not interesting is the 720p resolution small real estate, it’s just not meant to give pure gaming experience. If you’re into games, then I wouldn’t recommend this device, but if you can only play games casually, then it’s not bad at all to consider this device. What’s important is the performance, and it can carry out daily activities quite easily. While talking about the heating, the device did heat up to a considerable temperature, but nothing like the Snapdragon 615 powered device.

Talking about the benchmark tools, the device was tested by two popular benchmarking tools, to see the potential of the device. They are Antutu and Vellamo apps while the first app has become popular, the later one is the app developed by Qualcomm to test its processors on devices. Moving on with Antutu, the device scores 35411, which is not below average nor is it any good, when compared to numbers crunched by other mid-ranged handsets. It can be broken down into four parts; 3D, UX, CPU, and RAM. While talking about the Vellamo, it measures score in three parts, metal, multi-core and chrome browser. They scored 1172, 1721 and 2432, which is a pretty average score, so there goes your answer for whether it is a high-performing handset or not. We did a real usage browsing test, which leads to believe that it has a good responsive screen and can carry zoom-in & zoom-out operations quite quickly. But why I wouldn’t recommend this handset for browsing desktop apps is because of the small real estate. Overall, the performance of the device was pretty average, it isn’t the highest performing mid-ranger that we expected it would be.

Camera

The camera package on this handset is the USP of the device, at least, that’s what company claims and is touting everywhere, in online and offline media. Being called as the selfie expert, the device houses an 8-megapixel front facing the camera, which has an aperture number of f/2.0, which quite good for taking even low-light selfies. Before talking about the rear camera detail, let’s talk how the performance of the selfie camera is. The 8MP resolution is pretty nice for a selfie camera, with good aperture company made sure that it would be capable of taking good captures even in low light. I would say the overall selfie looks well, but you can see some noise when capturing in low light. While if you’re capturing in the daylight or artificial light, there’s no doubt that that it’s one of the best selfie cams you can get in this price range. There is no front flash, but camera app uses screen flash, meaning the screen brightness is used as a flash to capture better selfie in low light. It was first introduced by Apple iPhone 6s, later has been seen on many Android smartphones. Now it has arrived on an Oppo phone too.

Moving on with the talk of the rear camera module, on the back side, it has a 13-megapixel image sensor, which has an aperture number of f/2.2. Despite the larger resolution on the rear module, having low aperture number (large f-number means less amount of light passes) doesn’t make it a quite good low-light capturer. Well, that’s where the HDR feature tries to prove this fact wrong, as we took rear module for a spin in all three lighting conditions, Artificial, Natural, and Low-light. The color reproduction, white balance and saturation were amazing in most of the outputs from this module. Especially, the HDR mode, which I recommend using when capturing in low light conditions. The focusing seemed quite fast; the company doesn’t claim to offer any specific feature like PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus) or any kind of technology to aid in auto-focusing. It is a good thing maybe, because despite not having any such features, camera app manages to score good points.

Now talking about the camera app user experience, the Oppo handsets usually offer feature rich camera app, it gets better on this handset since the company is touting it as a selfie expert. There is a Beauty 3.0 feature that brightens your skin and removes shadows or any blemishes. So, making you always look your best, despite the lighting conditions. The app comes by default with nine modes, but you can download more modes directly from the app. To name the modes like Ultra HD, Auto Panorama, Super Macro, Double Exposure, GIF, Slow Shutter, and Various filters. These are some of the modes that you would enjoy having on a phone if you’re not an expert in knowing the specifics like white balance, exposure level, shutter speed and other aspects of photography. But if you’re rather very much aware of it, then you can shoot in expert mode or better, shoot in RAW. Yes, this handset allows you to shoot in RAW and later you can do whatever modification you want. There are not many mid-range handsets that offer such kind of modes.

Regarding video recording, the rear shooter can record up to 1080p videos while the front snapper can do the same; both shooting at maximum resolution is available in 4:3 ratios. The company has inbuilt the Time-lapse and Slow-motion modes in the camera app for both, rear and front modules. Though, the slow-mo mode is not available for the front-facing camera. The video recording on the rear module is pretty decent as well as on the front module. It isn’t of crispy quality, but its fine for causal uploads on social media channels. Overall, the camera package on this handset might be the USP that company claims it is, as they offer impressive outputs.

Battery

The battery capacity is at 2500mAh on the Oppo F1. The first thing that would come to your mind is that it’s quite low, well, that’s right. But when you consider all things in, like display resolution, app management, and few other factors, then you come to the conclusion that it isn’t as bad of a number. We are not saying that with the 720p display it will be quite a sufficient amount, but it gives a day’s charge on average usage. The device is not meant for heavy usage just as we mentioned in the hardware section above. It doesn’t support Quick Charging, despite chipset offering such technology. So, that’s a no to fast charging. Overall, the battery life is as good as you use. If you’re a heavy user, then it’s a no on the recommendation. And if you need a device for casual usage, then it’s a yes. Go ahead!

Connectivity

Oppo F1 - Hybrid Slot

The connectivity options on the device don’t have a long list; it has rather usual features that you see on mid-range handsets these days. The 4G LTE network support means you have access to high-speed mobile data; we tested the data speed, and it was on par with other handsets in the segment. The device has a support of dual SIM; one has to be micro SIM while second SIM has to be nano SIM. Though, do make a note that to use microSD card, a nano-SIM has to be replaced. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and microUSB port.

Verdict

Oppo F1 may not be priced as aggressive as other handsets with similar specifications, but it has certainly more to offer in some instances like a sturdy build quality, excellent selfie camera, and feature rich UI. These three things aren’t scarce on mid-range smartphones, but they surely don’t come within 16K price tag. There are few handsets like Samsung A5 2016 that comes close to offering such solid build quality and design. But it is priced even higher. The F1 smartphone fills a void between the affordable mid-range devices and highly priced devices. It’s not priced to high, nor made quite affordable to the masses. Instead, Oppo is targeting a sweet spot where consumers expect devices to be reasonably priced with quality specifications. Though, do make a note that battery capacity on this handset isn’t what we expected, despite low-resolution display. It’s not a great performing device either, but carrying out daily operations shouldn’t be an issue on this handset.

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Vishal Toshiwal

Born in West India, raised in the North and currently chasing dreams in the southern part of India- Vishal is an entrepreneurial spirit, a tech enthusiast and a writer by profession, who is busy taking pictures when he is not writing. He would love to talk to you about the latest movies, TV shows and DC/Marvel comics. As a personal rule, he doesn't let a day get by without at least one dessert. Because, why not?