Oppo is known for making well designed premium phones and India has been one of their handpicked choices when it comes to their international markets of keen interest as well as investing a damn good amount in terms of overall smartphones business. From making either budget/midrange or super premium phones, Oppo now jumps into making phones that will be known for a single area of expertise and this time around its the ability to take some good selfies. Ironically their new offering, the Oppo F1 which we presented to you a week ago for our initial impressions, is marketed as “Selfie Expert”. We have now used to phone for around 3 weeks. Is the phone really what Oppo claims it to be? Let’s find out.
The F1 is meant to be a compact and handy phone and it does well at it. A metal frame with a grainy texture on it runs all around the phone accompanied by chamfered lines. The back is a sweet matte textured plate with the same colour as the edges. The front is coloured white, and the 5” IPS LCD display with Gorilla Glass 4 protection curves around the edges as the top meets the metal in there – a true beauty when you pay a keen observation. The display itself though is something that will not delight you like the design. With a pixel density of 294 it is rather dull, showing hints of Oppo cutting few corners to keep the pricing at bay. Speaking of cutting corners, the phone has a trio of non-backlit buttons at the bottom and a single LED flash for the primary camera as against a dual tone LED – all of these speak about the same. But the F1 has a thickness of 7.3mm thickness and weighs just 134gms is an absolute delight to hold.
Where the delight continues is the Color OS 2.1 built off of Android Lollipop 5.1. It’s generally a thick skinned UI that lets very less RAM to be free but not on this one. At least 2-2.2 GB of the 3 GB RAM is free when all the apps are closed, good stuff by OPPO on the RAM management and very good software optimization. Throughout our usage, we never for once felt that the phone is struggling as it works its way in serving all our commands. Of course there are transitions all over the UI and though they are a fraction of a second slower when compared to other thick skinned fellas like the MIUI or EMUI, it is by design here. At times the smooth, stutter free transitions reminded us of iOS. And why not, there were no bugs or app crashes that bothered our usage. For all this, thanks to the new Snapdragon 616 Octacore chipset by Qualcomm, clocked at 1.7GHz coming with an Adreno 405 GPU. The good job continued in medium to high level gaming. But during elongated periods of gaming, we did notice some frame drops in NFS Most Wanted. But for the most part of it, the F1 was good. The phone is also good at keeping the thermal conditions from shooting high and the phone never went beyond 42-43 degrees no matter how much we pushed it.
The Color OS itself hasn’t changed much from what we’ve seen it from the Android KitKat days. Swiping left on the home page lets you quickly dive into music, the theme store is full of choices and very vibrant and colorful at that. The notifications are well sorted and displayed when you swipe down and if you do that again the complete list of toggle options come up. The settings menu is colorful (going cliché now!) and well laid out again. From options to enable USB OTG to changing fonts and its size, from setting up gestures like double-tap to wake the screen (boy we love this feature) to connecting with Oppo Sales and Services, it’s all in there.
Multimedia is good on the F1. The phone comes with a very good pair of earphones that provide good quality output. As for the loud speaker, we were apprehensive to start with, as the grille was just a 3 slot shortie. The output was loud and crisp, for its size though not the loudest of the lot in its range. The call quality and signal reception was very well over average and we never faced any issues. If you’re someone who uses two sims all day, then the hybrid sim slot will prevent you from adding upto 128GB of additional memory. This may be a deal breaker for some as the thick skinned Color OS will leave you with only 6-7GB of the 16GB internal memory. F1 comes with a 2500 mAh battery and at best it is just average. While on light usage the phone “might” get you through the day, more often than not you’d need a top up just before you head out for your evenings.
The Oppo F1 is pitched as a selfie expert and it does well at that with its 8MP f/2.0 aperture camera module. Pictures in low light come slightly better as compared to the other phones in its price range. Of course there is a beauty mode with various levels as options, yes it has a wide angle of coverage. But in no means this is something on the line of an “expert” that OPPO claims it to be. We have used the Lenovo’s Vibe S1, the OnePlus X and the good old Mi4, and these phones coming around the same price range also take some stunning selfies. The Mi4 especially takes good selfies in low light. The primary camera is a 13MP f/2.2 with a single LED flash and honestly there is nothing much to write home here. The camera struggles many a times to get the focus right. There is some portion or the other that is unnecessarily blurred, giving clear indications of focus issues. Check the camera samples below to get an idea on what we are saying. Hope Oppo fixes this via software updates. The camera app though is rich in options – gif mode, filters, manual mode, HD and Ultra HD and soon. All of these work really well. F1 also shoots 1080p videos and slow motion is also supported.
Oppo has priced the F1 at Rs 15,999, which is affordable by Oppo’s own standards. Does it capture very good selfies? Yes it does, but it’s neither way too ahead nor does it beat other phones which come with 8MP selfie camera like the Mi4 or OnePlus X by a huge margin. But what the F1 is great at is being a stylish, handy and a light weight phone with a very good operating system that has come of age. But if you are someone who likes a stock Android experience, then OnePlus X will be an obvious choice, without having to lose out on the style and design elements. But if you are looking for a good battery life along with a good front camera, we highly recommend you the Mi4 but it doesn’t have 4G or dual sim support. All in all, Oppo does get you thinking hard as you try to make up you mind when you’re looking for a phone with the above stated elements and that itself indicates they’ve done a decent job. What choice did you make? We would love to know.