Saturday, 06 September 2014 15:28

Oppo-tunity in Australia - perhaps Featured

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Chinese electronics manufacturer Oppo – pronounced opp-O – has launched in Australia with four Android based smartphones – all of which are interesting.

First, some history - Oppo is an electronics manufacturer based in Dongguan, Guangdong, China. It started out in 2004 as a manufacturer of MP3 players, portable media players and upscaling DVD/Blu-ray players.

It is a company with ambition opening in Indonesia, Thailand, India, the US – and now Australia. It has two main arms – Oppo Digital and Oppo Mobile. 

It is in a strong position to expand – it designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells its own products – full control over the supply chain. That means it can sell its high-end, flagship Find 7 and Find 7a smartphones at prices well below Samsung or Apple – and still have room to move. Its business model is not bogged down by middlemen taking their cuts.

I spoke to Michael Tran, Marketing Director for Oppo Mobile Australia – he is well educated and knowledgeable about Oppo and its products. The occasion was the launch of its four smartphones at the Westfield Sydney Tower – a perfect place to show off and flawlessly organised by Ogilvy Australia – a well-known as a technology savvy public relations agency.

Tran stated that initially it had 16 staff at its Macquarie Park, Sydney offices. “We will be opening a service and repair centre there shortly and the best place to buy is Oppo online – free freight,” he said.

Oppo may not be a brand you see at major retailers nor via plans from Telcos but it is a brand you should consider. Design, build quality and its treatment of Android makes its products every bit contenders – but they are not perfect.

Find 7

This is a well-made, 5.5” Quad HD 2560x1440, 538 pixel, ISP, phablet yet it is only marginally larger than the Samsung Galaxy S5. The packaging leaves no room for doubt - this is a premium product.

However let’s address the multiple elephants in the room.

It comes with Android 4.3 – not KitKat, its ColorOS user interface (UI) is not as refined as other UI and its Australian support for 4G LTE is limited to:

  • 800 (no Australian Telco support)
  • 1800 (B3 – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, Brisbane, Sydney, Newcastle, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide)
  • 2100 (B1 - Optus Tasmania)
  • 2300 (B40 – Optus in Canberra only)
  • 2600 (B7 – Telstra, Optus and TPG not yet implemented)

It does not support Telstra 700/900, Optus 700, and Vodafone 850. It also means mobile virtual network operators (resellers) will have limited support for this phone. This is OK as long as you know in many places it won’t get 4G, it will frequently drop back to 3G 850/900/1900/2100 and possibly 2G. See table below - source Wikipedia.

By comparison the Samsung Galaxy S5 supports B1, (2100), B2 (1900), B3 (1800), B5 (850), B7 (2600, B8 (900), B40 (2300) and B28 (700) – and yes it costs more.

In other areas, the phone has high-end specifications.

It has the latest, most powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core processor, 3GB ram, 32 GB storage and a 128GB compatible microSD slot along with all the usual sensors.

The 13MP, f/2.0 rear camera and dual LED flash, has a dedicated ISP chip – it should take good photos. The 5MP front camera has a wide-angle 80-degree sensor.

The 3000mAh battery is user replaceable, and has a rapid charge feature when used with the 5A charger – 75% battery charge in 30 minutes!

Oppo’s music heritage is evident with MaxxAudio – essentially a professional quality pre-amp that will deliver better music over headphones or Bluetooth.

The Colour OS 1.4 allegedly has 410 design improvements over stock Android and 37 unique patents – its not there yet!

It uses Android 4.3 Jelly Bean because its based on the CynogenMod Android Open Source Project instead of Google’s version. That will suit the Asian market that does not, or cannot use Google Search or apps.

It is 152.6 x 75 x 9.2mm and weighs 173g (Samsung S5 with a 5.1” screen is 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm and 145g).

Suggested price: A$719 inc GST but I suspect that there will be a large parallel import market so shop around.

Opinion

It is a great phone let down by the LTE band support and an older version of Android.

Find 7a

This is virtually identical ecept that it has a HD, 1920 x 1080, 403 PPI display, 2GB ram, 16GB storage, no B40 LTE support, and a 2800mAh removable battery.

Suggested price is $629 inc GST.

N1 Mini

This 5” 1280x720, phone comes in white and cool mint and has a unique swivelling camera so you can get a 13MP selfie. It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad core, has 2GB of ram and 16GB storage – no microSD slot.

According to the Oppo Australia web site it has LTE Bands B1/3/7/20 but the press kit does not list this and there are other inconsistencies in specifications.

Suggested price is $539 inc GST.

Obviously aimed at the Selfie brigade the 13MP swivelling camera and “oppo remote” is nice but not compelling.

Neo 5

I did not see this but despite its name it’s a 4.5”, 854x480, IPS screen with a 5MP camera. It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2GHz quad-core processor, has 1GB of ram, 4GB of storage, microSD slot for up to 32GB and sells for $219.

The web site says it has LTE but the press kit does not.

This is a well priced entry level Android phone but it has a lot of competition.

Summary:

Oppo is determined, it has done the right thing by setting up in Australia, its products are well made.

When asked where Oppo will be in five years Tran replied, “We’re going to be leaders in technology. The Australian market will embrace us and we are bringing out innovative products: it is exciting for us. We see ourselves as a premium smartphone brand. I hope Australia will really like our devices.”

My take – Oppo's 4G models do not support all our present and future LTE bands. When that is addressed, as Samsung have with the S5, then the Find 7 and 7a will be worthy competition.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw [email protected]  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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