[First cut] Oppo K1: The dawn of a new, note-worthy series?

Oppo’s new series has an impressive debutant

by: - Last updated on: February 9th, 2019

Xiaomi is about to launch the next Redmi Note kin in the country (and is promising to turn the industry upside down) and while we have not officially heard anything about the device yet, the news is already getting the competition in “work”-ed up. Brands like Honor, Asus, Samsung have already launched devices in what we like to call the “Redmi Note Price Zone” and now joining the “kill the Note” cult is Oppo. And like Samsung, Oppo has taken the game up a notch and has announced a new smartphone series altogether called the Oppo K series. There is no prize for guessing the name of the first phone from the new smartphone series – the Oppo K1.

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Not glassy, but flashy

It is the glassy-flashy design era that is ruling the smartphone business right now and Oppo has taken a walk down the same route. Only a little less glassy and a little more flashy. While smartphones take pride in sporting a glass back nowadays, the Oppo K1 creates a perfect glassy illusion which means, it looks like it has a glass back but it actually does not. Some might turn up their noses at the thought of a faux glass back, but it actually does not look very different from most real glass backs out there. Plus it is obviously a little less crack-prone and subtracting the glass also takes a bit of weight away, making the device feel lighter than many others with glass backs. That said, it may not be glass but attracts fingerprints and smudges like a regular glass back, so be ready for a “wipe-fest”.

There is a dual primary camera setup encased in a gold accented horizontal capsule with a small LED flash attached to the tail. Slightly below the camera capsule is the company’s logo in white. But that is not the flashy part about the Oppo K1’s back. It is actually the color of the device. The K1 comes in what Oppo calls, Astral Blue and Piano Black colors. We received the former variant of the phone and a look at the back will either make you fall in love or make you cringe. There is nothing in between. Almost two-thirds of the phone’s back is covered in blue color which blends with the purple (which might look more pink than purple to some) present on the lower part of the phone. While we love the smooth transition from blue to purple, the device had us divided on whether it looked glamourous or gaudy – we did think it bore more than a passing resemblance to a Cadbury’s Silk chocolate bar package, which is not a bad thing, really. But one thing is guaranteed, if you like attention, the K1 is definitely going to get you some.

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While the back may have had us divided, flipping the phone around, had us united. In admiration. The smartphone carries a tall and beautiful 6.4-inch full HD AMOLED display with a 91 percent screen-to-body ratio. It is the notch-age and the K1 brings a drop of it along with a water drop notch on the top of the display. There are minimal bezels on the top and on the two sides but the display carries relatively thick bezel chin. The display is bright and offers a great contrast. Priced at Rs. 16,999, we think, the AMOLED display is actually a great highlight on the K1. The device probably is the only smartphone to offer a full HD+ AMOLED display at this price point with comparable specs. And to further add to its display-glories, the K1 brings in-display fingerprint scanner to the table – making this (once again) easily the most affordable phone to sport this feature. All of this is topped with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to keep that beautiful display safe and scratch proof.

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The device measures 158. 3 x 75.5 x 7.4 mm and weighs 156 grams. No, you cannot use the device with a single hand comfortably but thanks to the not-so-glassy back, the K1 is light and fits beautifully in the palm of one’s hand.

And with classy specs too

It is not only the looks of the Oppo K1 that attract attention, what is on the inside is very impressive as well. The K1 comes with a 6.4 inch full HD+ AMOLED display with a drop notch, in-display fingerprint scanner and with Corning Gorilla 5 on top to protect it all – finding all of these at this price point is a rarity. And that is not all. Diving in a bit more, you will find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (which has proved its worth in devices like the Mi A2) running the show. The chipset is paired with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage, which can be expanded up to 256 GB via microSD card.

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In the optics department, the K1 brings a combination of 16 and 2-megapixel sensors with f/1.75 and f/2.4 apertures respectively on the back while there is a 25 megapixel with f/2.0 aperture front-facing sensor for selfies and video calling. There is plenty of AI magic aiding both sets of shooters, claiming to enhance images, and given Oppo’s reputation in the photography front, we do have high expectations. The smartphone is powered by a 3,600 mAh battery and runs on Android 8.1 topped with Oppo’s ColorOS V5.2. Not having the latest Android version is definitely a negative in our book and for some, the skin might seem a little overwhelming, but these are early days. Some might also feel a little let down by the presence of a micro USB port rather than a Type-C one, but on the flip side, we can see many being delighted to see a 3.5 mm jack still in place. Other connectivity options on the phone include 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, OTG amongst others.

A noteworthy debut…so far

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For the specs it bears and the design it sports, the Oppo K1’s price tag of Rs. 16,999 is pretty competitive and actually is (very pleasantly) surprising, as the phone comes from the house of Oppo, which generally charges a slight premium on its devices. Its AMOLED display and in-display fingerprint scanner do place the K1 in a zone of its own at the time of writing and surely make it a worthy and very formidable adversary for any device that is launched in the range of Rs 15,000. Interestingly, that is a very competitive zone with the likes of the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2, the Redmi Note 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy M20, Realme 2 Pro, Honor 10 Lite and a number of others. And of course, looming on the horizon is another Note. Just how well the K1 performs will be revealed in our detailed review in the coming days, but as of now, we can safely say that it has made a very note-worthy debut for a new series of Oppo devices.

Pun intended.

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