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With the emerging smartphones and the requirements among all segments, Indian market creates opportunities for all types of smartphone vendors to serve this massive population. Observing a solid potential many smartphone companies have arrived in the country in order to sell their products.

Oppo the popular premium Chinese smartphone manufacturer arrived in India in January 2014 with the launch of Oppo N1 which was unveiled in 2013. Oppo unlike other smartphone manufacturers focus a lot on design and build quality without populating their portfolio with similar products. One such example is the Oppo N1 which we got to review last month.

Design and Build

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The Oppo N1 is the first product from the Chinese company that I have ever got to use. Prior to this, Oppo had Find 5 as their flagship model which was not launched in the Indian sub-continent but was known to be good.

As much as I had read and heard about the build quality, the N1 truly stands in favor of it. The build quality of the phablet is extremely premium. The detailing done with the design, the placement of buttons and the choice of materials is absolutely worth their effort. Even though the N1 is a 6-inch device, it is still lesser in width than others with the same dimensions.

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The Oppo N1 has an excellent build quality and design pattern which has never been on any handset until now. The ceramic like material which actually is aluminum with soft polish gives a great feel to the product. Every aspect of the phablet device have been kept in mind which actually makes sense when it comes down to usability.

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The 6-inch device can’t be used single handed and there is no doubt about it so, Oppo have designed the smartphone such that the consumers can make most of it when using it both the hands. There is O-Touch panel on the back which is a rear touch panel that not only utilizes the wide-space on the back but is an example of what is said above.

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The left edge is clean while the right edge contains the buttons, power/standby and the volume rocker towards the bottom which we feel is a wise choice learning that the smartphone is big.

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Display

The Oppo N1 features a 5.9-inch capacitive IPS LCD display with 1080×1920 pixel resolution that is full HD with 16million colors and 373ppi pixel density.

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The display is sharp, clear and is capable of reproducing rich colors. It does not have a good outdoor visibility and we were found struggling in bright sun but that’s a problem with every other smartphone display. The touch panel supports multi-touch with up to five fingers and is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 protection which prevents glass breakage to a limited extent.

Hardware:

The Oppo N1 is powered by a 1.7GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor paired with 2GB RAM. It packs Adreno 320 GPU and comes in a 16/32GB storage model which is not expandable any further. It comes with a 3610mAh non-removable battery and a host of connectivity options including WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, GPS, NFC, WiFi Display, Bluetooth 4.0 and USB OTG as well. The phablet supports GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz and WCDMA: 850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz frequencies which tops the HSPDA speeds up to 21mbps.

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Oppo N1 comes with a minimalistic Bluetooth LE remote key which has been designed to work only with this handset. It serves as a remote camera shutter button, a phone locator and a proximity alarm and works within the Bluetooth range. Running by the CR2016 button cell it pairs with Bluetooth and is enabled with the application bundled on the handset.

Software:

Oppo has got a lot of customizations with the software. To fit the large screen there has to be something which should make this phablet different from other big screen handsets.

Oppo have been known as the first consumer brand to team up with the popular CyanogenMod community to launch a CM edition smartphone and Oppo N1 was the first handset to arrive with the limited edition CM support. Unfortunately the CyanogenMod variant is limited to some western countries only therefore Oppo launched the original N1 here in India running ColorOS.

ColorOS is a customized operating system based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean which brings a lot more features adding on to the usability. ColorOS supports customized gestures which can be called from the notification drawer or even while the smartphone is on standby mode. Oppo claims it has added 410 design improvements with the ColorOS, compared to the stock Android 4.2.2.

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Camera:

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Oppo N1 is talked a lot about its swivel camera which was a first on a smartphone. The 206 degrees rotation served the 13MP camera sensor as the rear camera as well as a front-facing camera. Having a f/2.0 aperture the camera lens is definitely the best front-facing camera and even give a strong competition to other flagships of the year 2013.

The hinged camera module makes it easy to capture shots from different angles with less movement of the smartphone. It surely do attract some attention of the public with its size but more due to the swivel camera. Oppo has tested with 100,000 rotations and claims that N1 can last up to 7 years with that usage if a person rotates the camera 40 times a day.

The camera sensor looks like a gimmick as in a showoff but it performs very well. The picture quality is top-notch with five camera modes. It has a funny beautify mode, which whitens and smooths skin, as well as enlarges eyes slightly while slimming the face all at same time. Then there is slow shutter mode which can capture long exposure shots but requires the smartphone to be extremely still for decent capture or else you will get blurry results.

The Oppo N1 does full HD video recording at 30fps somewhat around 10mbps which is lower than expected. It uses inbuilt noise cancellation but requires a second to analyze leading to drops in between. The HDR mode was the most impressing shooting mode for video as well as image capture. The colors turned out to be pretty well, video having an upper edge.

Some of the sample pictures clicked are available here: Flickr

Performance

Oppo N1 is not just about swivel camera, build quality, o-touch and o-click; it do have a good specification set as well. Though we can’t oversee the USPs the phone looks good on paper. Powered with a Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core processor and 2GB of RAM it manages every task very well. Adding to that the 3610mAh battery makes it usable for a long run.

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Testing the smartphone for a month, we can say it is all about getting used to. Earlier when I first inserted my SIM to this handset I could not get my work done because of its enormous size and weight. Using it more learning about its proficiencies we get used to it. Camera performance was top-notch. I actually shot some videos at a launch and they turned out to be pretty well. The audio output is not that loud but acceptable. It comes bundled with a good metallic finish pair of earbuds which perform better than any bundled earphones. As for the call quality, there were no problems as such though receiving calls on this screen was a little awkward at first but then how can we forget the Galaxy Tabs clamped at the face.

Oppo N1 deliver a good 11-12 hours of battery life with heavy usage with about 4 hours of on-screen time but observing the competition there is a scope for power optimization.

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Verdict:

Its nice to learn about how some of the Chinese smartphone manufacturer come up with a smartphone with the high end specification set and interesting new features. After all in this stagnating market what we need is innovation.

Oppo did a good job with its N1 making a 6-inch device usable with its craftsmanship. In fact getting a brand new design is a bold move which turned out to be successful. There are some improvements that can be done like some improvements supporting a newer Android version maybe while others have to remain the way they are which includes the awkward positioning of the O-Touch. Oppo is committed to every product in their portfolio so it makes a decent buy for 37,990 because neither the swivel camera nor the trackpad comes for cheap.

Pros:

  • Solid Build and Design
  • Swivel Camera
  • CyanogenMod Support

Cons:

  • Weight
  • Awkward placement of trackpad

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