OPPO F1 hands-on and first impressions

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OPPO plans to take over the midrange smartphone market one selfie at a time with their latest smartphone the F1. OPPO are so committed to the selfie abilities of this smartphone that they’ve even hired “Selfie Ambassador” Nora Danish to demonstrate just how powerful this device is at taking selfies.

Build

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Let’s start with the build. If you’ve been following our coverage of the OPPO F1, I’m sure you would have noticed how similar this device is with the OPPO R7 series. It so happened we had an OPPO R7s on hand so we placed the two devices side by side. Quickly, which device is which?

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Honestly, besides the size and the back firing speaker grille, these two devices are almost exactly the same from the back. The camera module, the flash, the two toned rear panels (because of the different materials), the feel and the rounded edges were all exactly the same. It was unreal.

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Since it was exactly the same, it also had the same feel in the hand as the R7s — albeit the smaller footprint — so that part didn’t feel so good. Then again, for a midrange device, you can’t really complain. Around the front, that’s a different story.

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The front bears enough differences to identify which is which. Opting for capacitive buttons instead of the on-screen ones on the R7s, the F1 lets you use its display to its maximum potential. Not that it had a very impressive display, but we’ll get into that later. What I did like was the rounded front edges.

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With the 2.5D glass set to curve slightly more and slightly later, the glass and the metal blended seamlessly into each other giving the device a nice rounded edge. It was almost iPhone 6s Plus like, so props to OPPO for acheiving the something like that on a midrange device.

Beyond that, the device felt generally nice in the hand — though I would have liked it a little more if it had a slight curve, but that’s up to the individual.

Performance

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The OPPO F1 is powered by a Snapdragon 616 octa-core processor paired with 3GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable internal storage. At the front, the device sports a 5-inch HD (1280×720 pixels) IPS panel which isn’t all that impressive. The device comes running Android 5.1 Lollipop with OPPO’s ColorOS 2.1 running on top. The device draws juice from a 2,500 mAh battery and also has support for dual-SIM (Micro+Nano) although since it’s a hybrid set up you will have to sacrifice a microSD slot for the second SIM.

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Performance was pretty decent. It didn’t lag when switching between applications (though there weren’t many applications pre-installed to begin with) and it handled what little multitasking I threw at it. I’m not particularly a fan of the ColorOS Android skin, but some of you may like it so that’s ultimately down to personal preference. The display was okay-ish and you probably wouldn’t notice the 720p-ness unless you’re coming from a higher screen resolution.

Camera

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Now we get to the part everyone has been waiting for — the camera. It packs a 13-megapixel ISOCELL rear shooter with Phase Detection AF and a large f/2.2 aperture that was pretty good in the venue’s sketchy lighting. It took decent shots, but since we could only view it on a 720p screen, we won’t make any claims just yet. What everyone’s curious about is the 8MP front-facing snapper.

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When you think of a “selfie phone”, you’d think of something like the ASUS ZenFone Selfie which sports a massive 13MP front facing selfie shooter with autofocus and dual LED flash for RM1,049. Next to those beastly specs, the OPPO F1 that costs RM1,198 simply pales in comparison. It doesn’t even have a front facing flash — instead it relies on a “screen flash”, which basically turns your screen white and bright, to illuminate dark subjects. Probably best used in dark conditions, the screen flash did absolutely nothing in the launch venue’s dodgy lighting, but again we will have to fully test this out before we make any judgements.

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When you think about this phone, you can’t go at it purely from a specs perspective. If you were to do that, perhaps the ZenFone Selfie is the better device with it’s 5.5″ full HD display, but look at it. It’s chunky, it’s fat and it is very plasticky. The OPPO F1 on the other hand, is a slim thing with a great build and a premium feel. It’s rounded metal rails and smooth metallic back are awesome to run your hand across. It’s the phone for the fashionista, for someone who cares more about style and looks than pure hardware specs. Let me put it this way, could you see Nora Danish using a ZenFone Selfie?

Exactly.