The OPPO Find X is truly as good as you think it is

I don’t think any other phone has excited me this year (at least, so far) more than the OPPO Find X. It was this jaw-dropping handset that seemed to simultaneously revive the company’s Find flagship series and give everyone the solution to what I liked to call the “camera conundrum”.

But things always look good at launch. The real test was whether it would also look good in real life. Short answer? Yes. A thousand times yes.

OPPO’s new flagship is an exquisite device. They’ve gone for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Nokia 8 Sirocco route which I think is a fantastic way to make your phone feel expensive. You’ve got curved glass on both the front and back of the handset that meet in the middle, separated by a wafer thin metal frame.

This gives the phone a really slim edge that has been rounded off so it isn’t too sharp. This, combined with the premium heft makes the device feel fragile, which in turn makes it feel expensive. But, I think it could have done with a little more fine tuning because certain corners — like the top and the edge of the buttons — are a little rougher than I think they should. Nevertheless, I’d give this a solid A for build and I’d put it right up there with the best, and I’ll even give OPPO points for choosing a relatively muted blue or purple colour scheme despite the silly names.

The most disconcerting thing about the device though is its lack of cutouts and blemishes. Both the front and the back of the phone are smooth and featureless thanks to the lack of any cutouts or bumps for a fingerprint scanner, front or rear cameras. It’s just so clean and I think OPPO did a great job at hiding all traces of this smartphone’s show-stopping feature.

I am, of course, talking about the device’s motorised camera module that slides up when you launch it. There was a lot of chatter about how well this whole sliding mechanism would work and how reliable it would be in the long run. While I can’t attest to its durability right now (OPPO says it is designed to last up to 5 years with an average usage of 150 times a day) I can say that all the videos I’ve seen of how polished this motorised camera is true. 100% true.

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One of the main concerns with this motorised camera was speed. Since the phone needed to push its entire top up, it could be pretty slow. To find out how well it stacked up against the competition, I tested the camera launch speed against against some of the biggest flagships in the market now. In all my tests, the Find X launched its camera as quickly — if not quicker — than both the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S9+ we had in the office. It was really only slower than the OnePlus 6, but even then it was by just a fraction of a second.

Considering the fact that the phone had to move an entire section of its body up before the camera could launch, I think OPPO really nailed it here. Now I can’t comment on the actual image quality of the Find X’s 16MP+20MP dual camera at the back and the 25MP selfie shooter in front just yet, but you should definitely stay tuned for my full review to find out.

I can tell you that it is remarkable how effortlessly this entire mechanism works to unlock your handset for you. For those who don’t already know, the Find X doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner and instead relies entirely on a 3D facial recognition system (think Apple’s Face ID) for biometric security. However, all of those sensors are also hidden in the same segment as the selfie camera, which means the phone has to slide the mechanism up before it can read your face.

Once again, I pitted it against the iPhone X and both phones unlocked at pretty much the same time. Keep in mind that I had the Find X’s face unlock set to “swipe to unlock” which is a little slower than the simple “power button to unlock” mode that you can switch it to.

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Running practical tests like pulling out out of my pocket and unlock the phone worked flawlessly. The scanner was accurate, worked well in poor lighting and even when I wore polarised sunglasses. It never felt like an impediment and if you can ignore the mechanical whir when the module slides up, it is almost as if the Find X didn’t have a moving part at all. Find X even has a safety measure built into the phone that will help it detect when the phone is falling so that the device can automatically retract the camera module to mitigate any potential damage.

I also ran a couple of stress tests, like holding the module down and launching the camera, pulling the module up forcibly when it was closed and forcing the module closed when it was slid open. All of which didn’t break the mechanism. In fact, it felt like there were safety measures in place to prevent critical damage in all of these scenarios, which I suspect was not easy to engineer.

Perhaps the only thing left that I’m most curious about is how dust buildup would affect the module. At the end of my hands on experience, there were things like lint and bits of dust caught in the cracks of the module, but nothing that affected the sliding mechanism. I guess only time will tell in this case.

The rest of the smartphone is pretty much your standard flagship Android handset. Well, except the gorgeous, practically bezel-less 6.42-inch OLED dual-curved Full HD+ display up front. The immersiveness of that panel is almost unreal.

But yes, inside you’ll find your usual suspects. There’s a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor inside mated to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. There is dual SIM support, but no space for microSD storage expansion. OPPO also equipped the Find X with a generous 3,730 mAh battery with support for the company’s VOOC Flash Charge fast-charging technology. It charges via USB Type-C, but there was absolutely no space for a 3.5mm headphone jack or stereo speakers.

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Performance is excellent which I don’t think comes as a surprise considering the high-end specifications. The only thing I’m bummed about is the fact that I have to live with ColorOS 5.1 (built on top of Android 8.1 Oreo) if I want to use this as my daily. I wish there was a version of this device with stock Android but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Since we’re on the topic of wishes, can OPPO also make a version of the Find X with a clear back like the one they showed off at the launch? Pretty please?

I was initially worried about whether the Find X would live up to the hype. I had all of these expectations that the device — especially its motorised camera module — would be polished and flawless, so I was pretty afraid that I’d be disappointed. Thankfully, I can say that I wasn’t — at least not yet. For now, it looks like OPPO’s put real thought into making the Find X a proper flagship smartphone, rather than rushing ahead with a flashy new idea.

That said, I do see challenges ahead if their plan is to sell a lot of these handsets in Malaysia. Its price, for example, is right up there with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S9+ (RM3,799) and even more expensive than the Huawei P20 Pro (RM3,299). Despite the fact that the phone packs more RAM (8GB) and way more storage (256GB), this is still a tough price to swallow because at this price point every little detail matters — even brand. And I don’t know if OPPO can really duke it out with the big guns in the high-end market.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below.