Sunday, 14 February 2016 13:59

OPPO F1 – quality smartphone without the price (review)

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OPPO’s new F series beginning with the F1 is a great mass-market phone with credible specifications and a signature OPPO style.

To bring it in at A$299 there have had to be some trade-offs especially if you compare it to the R7 at $449. But that is really not fair to this phone because it offers features well above many of its competitors costing twice as much.

For example, the ‘Applesque’ design (a term I use on the R series as well) is clean, elegant and getting a metal chassis and back is almost unheard of at this price. It’s a nice looking phone.

It has class leading features:

  • 8MP, f/2.0 front facing ‘selfie’ camera
  • Dual SIM/micro-SD up to 128GB
  • Gorilla Glass 4
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 616, eight-core processor
  • 3GB RAM, 16GB memory (plus micro-SD expansion)
  • Cat 4 LTE
  • 2500mAh battery – 58-hour endurance rating
  • 7.3mm thin and 134g

OK some of the other features are standard for a mass-market phone

  • 5”, 1280 x 720, 294 ppi, 67.6% screen to body ratio
  • 13MP, f/2.2, phase detection auto-focus, rear camera
  • Wi-Fi N single band
  • No OPPO VOOC fast charge or fingerprint reader

In other words, an elegant, well made phone for a reasonably little price with no unacceptable compromises.

Out of the Box

The F1 is a part of a new value series yet the first thing you think is this is a quality, metal phone – not a cheap plastic one. OPPO says that the aluminium alloy has been treated with a zircon sand surface coating so its smooth, soft to touch, yet less slippery.

The screen has the R series characteristic 2.5D curved edges – called micro-arc.

It has a 5V, 2A USB charger, cable and reasonable quality microphone/ear buds.

Screen

It is an IPS, LCD panel and the screen performs well – no graininess, reasonable contrast, and good colour.

Having said that I also had an R7s (HD AMOLED) to compare and when you put them side by side you can see the true blacks and vibrancy of the AMOLED – the IPS screen looks less black! In tests where Black is measured in cd/m2 and AMOLED is usually 0.00 this was 0.46. That is very similar to the Huawei P8lite or the older LG G2.

Battery life

I only tested this for two days – usual testing is two weeks at least so battery life under a broad range of use has not been measured.

The 2500mAh battery scored 58 hours’ endurance rating which translates to a day of hard use and two days of average use.

ColourOS

OPPO have modified Android 5.1.1 with its ColourOS overlay. On the whole it adds value to pure Android offering improved productivity apps and more gestures. I particularly like the double screen tap to wake and it has more granular app permissions.

Under the bonnet

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 is a new generation eight-core that offers a good balance of power and performance – close to the older 615 used in the R7 series. OPPO seem to have a knack for maximising speed from these processors and it was significantly higher than Huawei’s P8lite and about 10% slower than the R7s.

You have to remember that we are not comparing this with the flagship Qualcomm 8xx series or the Apple A9 – this is a good processor, well implemented for this phone.

Camera

The best, and worst thing I can say about the rear camera is that it provides good average shots well within what you are reasonably entitled to expect in this price range.

The OPPO camera app called Pure Image 2.0+ extracts more – even on full auto mode – from the f/2.2 lens and single flash. There is a lot more you can do with this app.

In all reference shots (and comparing it to the R7s as well) it produced acceptable results, good crisp focus (phased detect autofocus is fast), contrast and colour. It has HDR when you need it.

It takes acceptable 1080p 30fps video in all but very low light conditions.

The front camera is amazing – an 8MP, f/2.0 selfie with fill flash (from the screen) and reasonable 84° field of view.

Phone/sound

Good volume in call and hands free. I did not test it for frequency response but given OPPO’s sound heritage I will take that as a given.

Conclusion

If money is prime driver then at $299 this is one of, if not the best, phone in that price bracket. Sure look at Moto G, Sony M4, or Samsung’s A series but I think you will find that it meets or exceeds all these on performance and features.

OPPO are serious about the Australian market – they have offices, support and investments here that make it a safe choice.

The phone is available on line or via Dick Smith and Optus.

The hard stats

ITWire has developed an Australian paradigm for smartphone reviews to ensure that the phone is compared fairly within one of the following categories.

Flagship phones – Apple iPhone 6s series, Samsung Galaxy S6 series, LG’s G4, Sony Xperia Z5, HTC One M9, Lenovo Moto X, and Microsoft Lumia 950 series. Huawei, OPPO, Xiaomi, ZTE and others have entrants in this category.

Mid-high market – Huawei P8/Max, OPPO R7 series, Xiaomi, ZTE, Samsung A, LG L&F series, Moto E/G, Lumia 6XX. This may include Note/Phablets with Pen support

Mass market – Huawei Ascend Y/G series, OPPO F series, ZTE

El-cheapo <A$100

At $A299 this is at the lower end of the mass-market price category Note the greyed out mass-market column represents typical specifications for that category and it is judged against that. If it exceeds typical specifications, it gets a + and vice versa.

 

Mass

OPPO F1

Rating

Screen

4-5”

5”

5             

Screen type and quality

LCD

IPS – good screen for this price bracket

 

5+

Pixel per Inch

<300

294

5

Glass (equiv)

Hardened

Gorilla Glass 4

5++

Res

720p

1280 x 720

5

CPU

32-bit, dual core+

Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8939v2 616, eight core (4 x 1.7GHZ, 4 x 1GHz)

Adreno 405 GPU

Host USB

5++

Memory RAM

1GB

3GB

5+

Storage

8GB

16GB

5+

MicroSD

Up to 16GB

Micro-SD up to 128GB

5+

LTE

Local market only

LTE 1/3/5/7/8/20/28/TD-38/39/40/41

5++

Dual SIMM

N/A

Dual nano/micro SIM and micro-SD carrier

5

Telstra Blue tick rural

No

Not tested

N/A

Wi-Fi

G/N single antenna

Wi-Fi N single band

Wi-Di, hotspot

5

NFC

Option

No

 

GPS

A-GPS

A-GPS

5

Mapping software and maps

Google or HERE

Google or HERE

5

Bluetooth

Optional

V4.0

5

Sensors

G-shock

Gyroscope

Ambient light

Compass

Proximity

Accelerator

Most

Distance sensor
Light sensor
G-sensor
E-compass

5

Battery

(Assumes Micro USB or Lightning)

<2000mAh

At least a day Removable

2500mAh – up to two days with 53 hours’ endurance rating

USB 5V 2A

5+

Fast charge and/or Qi

N/A

N/A

 

Camera Rear

8MP+ f2.4

Single flash

13MP, f/2.2, single flash

Normal, Ultra-HD, Beautify, Various Filters, Panorama, HDR, GIF, Slow Shutter, Audio Photo, Double Exposure, Super Macro, Expert Mode, RAW, Time-lapse, Slow-mo, Flash Shot, Face Detection, Electric Anti-Shake, Consecutive Capture

1080p x 30fps

5+

Camera Front

2MP 720p

8MP, f/2.0. 84° wide angle, fill flash, Beautify feature. Gesture and speech activated

720p

5++

Screen to body ratio (higher is better)

60%+

67.6%

143.5 x 71mm

5+

Thinness

9-10mm

7.3mm

5+

Looks – highly subjective

Consumer quality

High quality metal finish with clean lines and ‘Applesque’ design cues

5+

Weight

>200g

134g

5++

Operating system

Previous, or latest version.

No upgrades promised

Android 5.1.1

(not sure on upgrade policy)

5

User Interface (UI) Bloatware

Are the UI and apps adware heavy

ColourOS

5

Video, Audio codecs

Limited

MP4/H.264/FLAC player

MP3/eAAC+/WAV player

Document viewer

Photo viewer/editor

5

Options

Buds

Microphone and buds

5

Innovations

N/A

Not so much innovation but quality. Camera app Pure Inage 2.0+ is well ahead of the class

5+

IP or ruggedized

N/A

N/A

 

Warranty

1 year

1 year

5

Service in Australia

Yes

Yes

5

Price

$250-499

$299

5++

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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