Oppo N1 review, A Smartphone with Movable Camera
The Oppo N1 knows it will need to fulfill the promises made by the Oppo Find 5. The latter essentially placed the company on the international map but the newcomer does look like a much improved and mature product that will aim even higher. The Find 5 was designed to impress and had an amazing screen a solid foundation for the N1 to build on, and it does not fail. Prior to release, Oppo went over and beyond to promote the upcoming smartphone with regular YouTube teasers and sneak peeks, getting CyanogenMod's top man, Steve Kondik, on board. That collaboration will bear fruit in a limited edition Oppo N1 with a CyanogenMod ROM but the one we are about to have a closer look at runs the company's homebrewed Color OS.
Oppo N1 is a seriously good-looking slab. The device has an aluminum alloy frame going around its sides and the back is treated to an impressively sleek soft finish, which is great to the touch and virtually impervious to fingerprints, while offering excellent grip. The front is dominated by the immense screen, with the three capacitive buttons enjoying plenty of space at the bottom. At this size though, they are almost unusable in a single-hand scenario reaching all the way down to them you risk dropping the N1 almost every time.
The camera is the most obvious attention-grabber, the lens placed on a 206Â°-rotating module, which has the earpiece and proximity sensor on one side and the 13MP camera with dual-LED flash on the other. A rotating camera design scores big on exclusivity in the current smartphone game, although we cannot discount Nokia's early efforts in the field with the 3250 and N90. More importantly though, the N1's camera has hardware you rarely see in a smartphone, and the software backing to make it count in more than just high-resolution selfies.
The Oppo N1 comes in a flat retail box with separate little boxes inside for the various accessories, for a premium touch to the packaging. One little box holds the O-Connect Bluetooth accessory, while the cable of the bundled earphones with volume controls wraps around the slotted sides of another container. A pin is supplied too for ejecting the SIM card, as well as an A/C adapter with detachable USB cable. The O-Click Bluetooth accessory is good-looking and quite efficient. Using Bluetooth 4.0 LE it will pair with the handset and serve several useful purposes. You can make the phone ring the remote or the remote ring the phone.
The Oppo went big on its latest flagship. With the rotating camera module and ample space below the screen for the capacitive buttons, the Oppo N1 is taller than devices of similar screen size like the Nokia Lumia 1520 and the HTC One Max.
The main focus is undoubtedly on the display and camera but Oppo did well to fill in the details there is an immense battery, ample 2GB of RAM and a solid connectivity set. It's the Snapdragon 600 chipset that looks a bit out of place. Not that you should worry about general speed and responsiveness, but it just does not provide as much in terms of future-proofing as the Snapdragon 800 . And it can't manage 4K video recording, which is a potential eyebrow-raiser in a package that bets so heavily on imaging.
Weight is about average. At 213g, the Oppo N1 is right between the Lumia and One Max. So is thickness, at the reasonable 9mm which is still nowhere near though the Z Ultra's 6.5mm.
Above the screen, the earpiece and sensors are on one side of the rotating bit, the 13MP camera and two LED flashes on the other. There are two flashes one is a bright LED for regular shots, but when you turn the camera beyond a certain angle, the phone uses automatically the diffused one so your selfies turn out with a more pleasing skin tone. There are restrained chrome accents that work well against the pure white paint. The Oppo logo is engraved at the back, the rotating piece, as well as the sides of the phone have slim metal framing. The camera lens, and the couple of LEDs are encircled in metal, while the earpiece and the loudspeaker have the same grille pattern.
Rotating camera module
By placing the camera lens on a rotating piece, Oppo has ensured an almost clinically clean back panel. It has a microphone and company logo and seemingly nothing more. Located under the OPPO insignia, the O-Touch pad is as good as invisible. The camera and screen are the highlights on the Oppo N1 and clever design makes sure they get all the attention. The phablet is big and heavy, no doubt about that, but the styling is as clean as it possibly can, yet with great attention to detail. We like the sparing use of accents and are delighted with the finish - that goes to premium feel and excellent grip in equal measures, the latter being essential in a device of this size.
Above the 5.9" screen there's the 206Â°-rotating module, which holds the earpiece and proximity sensor on one side and the 13MP camera and couple of LEDs on the other. If you enable it in the settings, rotating the swivel top will automatically launch the camera. Of course, it will launch in self portrait mode after all these are the highest-resolution selfies we can think of.
The sides of the Oppo have different duties. Near the top on the left side of the phone is the SIM tray, which takes a dedicated eject pin to pull open. On the opposite side you will find the power and volume buttons placed a little lower than usual, so as to be comfortably within reach. The lock key may see less use than usual, as the Oppo N1's screen can be double-tapped to wake up. There is nothing at the top of the Oppo N1, while on the bottom there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microUSB port and a recessed speaker grille. The frame around the device is nicely etched out to provide room for these three.
Top and bottom
The back of the Oppo N1 has the company logo, a noise-suppressing microphone and the O-Touch pad, which enables more ways to interact with the device. Scrolling is the most typical scenario but you can set it to launch apps too. We had a double tap start and stop the camera but it can be any app really, from the dialer to the torch. The touchpad can serve as a shutter key too as in tap to focus, release to capture. It also lets you control music playback.
The Oppo N1 did fabulously in our dedicated battery life test but that was to be expected from a battery this big. The N1 makes use of a 3610 mAh battery. True, it is not removable, but you would not need to keep a spare with that sort of endurance. For starters, it took us the amazing 25h of talk time on a 3G network to bring this battery down. And finally, our dedicated video test ran for a total of 11h 15min before the battery ran flat. We took into account the standby battery consumption with the screen off and we came up with our proprietary battery rating of 79h.