review

Oppo Find X Review: Experimental Excellency

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using the Oppo Find X. And I think I’m just going to go ahead and say it. I really like this phone. I’m actually sure there’s no one who wouldn’t like this phone. It’s fresh, it’s new, and all of its whizzy features do work and are more than merely expensive novelties. And maybe, after making sense of the talk I had with Oppo at their China headquarters, that’s enough.

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But what about people who are looking to spend a staggering Rs 60,000 on it and own for at least two years? Is Oppo’s first premium flagship for India, the Find X worth its price beyond all the razzamatazz? In this review, we try to find (yeah, this will happen a lot throughout the article and the pun is always intended) out.

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The Oppo Find X’s most striking traits are on the outside. Let’s start with the color. Instead of a gradient which covers the entire phone, Oppo has taken a rather unorthodox route. The phone is available in either Bordeaux Red or Glacier Blue but unlike other phones, the major part of the Find X’s exterior is still black. Instead, the red (more like purple) and blue hues shimmer along the rear’s borders and coat the phone’s edges resulting in an aesthetic that’s both unique and quite frankly, a little mesmerizing. We can’t tell you how much we’ve plainly stared at the phone sit idly and play with the lights reflecting it.

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The impressive color choices also blend well with the all-glass design which arcs around the sides. Those curves allow the phone to sit comfortably in your palms and make it a joy to hold even for prolonged periods. Of course, as you’d expect from a glass build, the Find X too suffers from the same catches like its tendency to retain fingerprints. The phone is also slippery and if you’re not careful, can easily slide off from surfaces. So yeah, glass designs continue to be double-edged swords. Covering the Oppo Find X won’t be a straightforward task either. Since the top section can’t be blocked, accessory support remains a question mark. The plastic case Oppo bundles in the box simply has a cutout at the top.

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This brings us to why the Find X matters in the first place. The mechanical cameras. Instead of stuffing the necessary front components like the selfie camera in a tiny piece of a bezel, Oppo added a motorized module at the top of the phone which houses all the cameras and the facial recognition hardware. The section comes out only when you trigger a function which demands the use of those lenses like when you want to take a picture or even unlock the phone with your face. Otherwise, it remains hidden yielding a seamless look and a truly edge-to-edge screen.

In my personal use, the module rises about fifty times for authenticating me, ten times for when I have to click a picture, and a thousand times for fun every day. Even after weeks, my mind refuses to be bored of this technology. From time to time, I would press the power key just to watch the cameras come out and listen to the sound the motor produces which is sort of a surreal experience considering how different this is than the phones we’re accustomed to. More importantly, the Find X didn’t fail once and to my surprise, the mechanical component is supremely quick to respond.

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I was initially skeptical about how reliable this approach would be especially when it needs to react everytime you need to unlock your phone as there’s no fingerprint sensor. But those skepticisms were put to rest by Oppo’s fine engineering. The bigger question at hand, though is not how fluidly the Find X’s mechanics performed in a few weeks, it’s whether the motor would be able to keep up after months of constant usage.

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Motors tend to wear out over time and phones with moving parts are generally much more fragile. The clearest representation is the fact that, in spite of a hefty price tag, the Find X is not water or dust resistant. In addition, in my time with it, I did notice dust particles accumulating inside the motorized unit which is certainly not a good sign when we’re talking about a phone’s longevity.

Moreover, JerryRigEverything’s stress test revealed that the Find X employs the same motor Vivo’s Nex does. The issue? The Vivo Nex’s motor is powering only a tiny component which comprises of just the selfie camera, whereas in the case of the Find X, it’s a much larger module with a myriad of sensors. It also concluded the Find X to be one of the most fragile phones available in the market today. So, yes, while the Find X’s motorized cameras did perform well in my testing, that probably won’t be true months later.

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On a related note, Oppo has nailed the minor software animations and features which constantly remind you this is not just another flagship. This includes the ambient display which lights up the edges of the screen with jaunty colors whenever a new notification arrives, the spark trial on the lock screen which moves with the rising cameras, and more. On the Find X, you also don’t need to worry about smudging the camera lens with your fingers when you’re playing a game or watching a movie in landscape mode.

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That was the build. The Oppo Find X’s second cornerstone lies in that massive 6.4-inch OLED screen that wraps around, stretches across the extremes, and dominates the whole front. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I’m absolutely spoiled by this display and returning to another phone won’t be easy. The 1080p screen itself has zero flaws with ample brightness, vibrant colors which can be muted down through software, and excellent viewing angles. However, my favorite part is the fact that apps, videos, and games can make use of the entire available screen estate with a minimal content loss. That’s, of course, primary because there’s no pesky notch intruding your view here. Reading articles on Pocket’s true black theme or playing cinematic games like Alto’s Odyssey, Monument Valley 2 or doing just about anything else people do on a phone screen will never be the same.

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The Oppo Find X is also the first commercially available phone to be able to challenge Apple’s Face ID. While Oppo ripped off nearly every aspect from its Cupertino friends including the name, I have to say I’m impressed with the implementation. It’s quick and works in almost every situation you can imagine. But the absence of a good ol’ fingerprint sensor does bring a set of downsides. Most importantly, facial recognition is not natively supported on Android. Therefore, you cannot use your face to log into compatible apps. For instance, I use the fingerprint sensor for authentication on a password manager called LastPass. That’s not possible on the Find X.

Speaking of software, Oppo’s custom Android skin continues to remain a bottleneck for its competent phones. On the Find X, you get Android 8.1 and ColorOS 5.1 out of the box. And sadly, the majority of complaints I had with ColorOS when I reviewed the F7 and the RealMe 1 are still here. It’s a beautifully designed skin, there’s no doubt in that. But Oppo’s odd backend decisions fabricate an underwhelming experience. I’m still missing important notifications thanks to Oppo’s aggressive RAM management system, dismissing a notification still takes two steps, configuring a third-party launcher is still a nightmare, you get the idea.

The single bottom-firing speaker on the Find X is another disappointment. With competition shifting to stereo setups, the Find X falls short. Call reception, on the contrary, was perfect and I didn’t experience any quality issues. Oppo, for some reason, has skipped NFC which probably doesn’t matter for you but it is quite baffling given the price.

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Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 and 8GB of RAM, performance was flawless on the Find X. Whether it’s playing intensive titles like PUBG or multitasking between a myriad of applications, the Find X handled everything without breaking a sweat. The only thing that concerns me is that in spite of all that RAM management, I was regularly being left with only less than 3GB of RAM even when I was not doing anything. Strange but it should be fixable through software as we saw in the case of the RealMe 1.

The battery life is another highlight of the Find X. With a 3730mAh pack, the Find X can easily last more than a day or even two complete days if you’re a light user. The presence of VOOC charging means that if you do manage to exhaust its juice, you can top it up to 100% in less than an hour.

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As for the cameras, Oppo has managed to offer two of them on the rear. There’s a 16-megapixel f/2.0 lens paired with a 20-megapixel f/2.0 snapper. The latter, sadly, doesn’t serve a purpose apart from being a helping hand to the primary sensor. So, no optical zoom or wide-angle capabilities. In addition, it seems like since the phone maker didn’t have much room for camera muscle, it has opted for relatively an average setup. The majority of the competition offer lenses with apertures below f/2.0, some of which even as low as f/1.5. Plus, while phones like the Pixel 2 or the Galaxy S9 has a large 1.4µm sensor, the Find X is stuck with 1.22µm.

And sadly, that does show in the outcomes. But before we delve into the shortcomings, let’s go through the areas where the Find X does shine. The 25-megapixel front camera produces detailed and well-contrasted selfies in most lighting scenarios. The Portrait Mode too works accurately given the right setting. The same can be said about the rear shooters in favorable conditions such as daylight and well-lit indoor situations. The majority of pictures I took with the Find X were pretty good with an ample amount of sharpness and eye-pleasing colors. Focusing is too quite quick and macros turn out nearly flawless every time. Oppo has also bundled AI scene detection which essentially configures the camera settings for you depending on what you’re trying to click.

Note: Click here to go the Flickr album with full resolution images.

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But as we have seen with other similar implementations, the process can be slow and a tad aggressive. The algorithms, at times, can go overboard which results in images which are either too saturated or oversharpened. The dynamic range could also use some updates considering what you get on other phones. Under dimly lit scenarios, the Find X can take above average snaps but I did notice signs of over processing and grain when zoomed in. But for purposes like posting on Instagram, it should do just fine. Of course, if we bring in phones like the iPhone X or Pixel 2, the Find X won’t stand a chance.

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The camera app is loaded to the brim with features including stickers, time-lapse, manual mode, and more. The 480fps slow-mo videos look nice too but more often than that, they had focusing issues. The normal 4K clips, on the other hand, came out stable, vibrant, and detailed.

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This brings us the original question, should you buy the Find X despite its uncertainties? I honestly can’t say. It is a bit of a gamble. On one hand, the Find X has an extraordinary design which is sure to turn heads, a screen worth drooling over, a hardware which can keep up with all your demands, and everlasting battery life to go along with it. On the other, the Find X’s hardware can bail on you (or not) in the longer run, its software is still underwhelming, and the cameras, well, are not up there with the best.

So, if you’re someone who is comfortable spending Rs 60,000 given you may have to switch to a new phone a year later and doesn’t want the greatest set of mobile cameras, the Find X is a compelling option. As I said at the beginning, there’s no way you won’t like this phone. The idea of living with a phone that actually has an edge-to-edge is exciting in an industry where nearly every phone is looking for the X-factor by simply imitating the X.