Cyanogen­mod, Sanc­tioned

Oppo N

HWM (Singapore) - - SINGAPORE’S NO. 1 MONTHLY AUTOMOTIVE MAGAZINE* - TEXT // JAMES LU & PY HO

Oppo is a China-based hand­set man­u­fac­turer and a rel­a­tively new player in the in­ter­na­tional smart­phone arena. While the com­pany has been man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­leas­ing smart­phones in China since 2012, it has only re­cently en­tered the Sin­ga­pore mar­ket, with the lo­cal launch of its flag­ship smart­phone, the 5.9-inch Oppo N1.

The Oppo N1 in­cludes a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing unique fea­tures, in­clud­ing a swivel­ing 13MP cam­era, which can be ro­tated to the front of the phone for high-qual­ity self­ies, and a rear touch­pad, which is de­signed to fa­cil­i­tate one­handed oper­a­tion. It’s also the first phone to of­fi­cially sanc­tion the flash­ing of pop­u­lar An­droid OS vari­ant Cyanogen­mod, which can be loaded with­out void­ing your war­ranty.

The Oppo N1 is def­i­nitely in the ph­ablet cat­e­gory, and is one of the heav­ier smart­phones out there weigh­ing in at 213g. The phone sports a matte white, plas­tic uni­body build, with chrome-colored ac­cents lin­ing the perime­ter. Three ca­pac­i­tive but­tons (menu, home, and back) are lo­cated at the bot­tom of the phone with the speak­ers, head­phone jack, and mi­cro-USB port all lo­cated along the lower edge. De­spite the plas­tic build, the N1 ex­udes a classy, el­e­gant feel, and we liked the matte fin­ish.

The N1 sports a 5.9-inch Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 pixel res­o­lu­tion IPS dis­play, yield­ing a pixel den­sity of 373 ppi. Clar­ity is ex­cel­lent, and text and im­ages are ren­dered crisp and sharp. Color re­pro­duc­tion is bal­anced and nat­u­ral and, while the blacks are not as deep as some AMOLED dis­plays, con­trast is still fairly good.

A unique fea­ture on the N1 is its O-Touch track­pad, a rec­tan­gu­lar sec­tion on the back of the phone that func­tions some­what sim­i­lar to a track­pad on a note­book. The idea be­hind the O-Touch is to more eas­ily fa­cil­i­tate one-handed oper­a­tion. For ex­am­ple, it can be used to scroll and nav­i­gate through con­tent by swip­ing your fin­ger down the back of the pad. The O-Touch can also be used as a shut­ter but­ton for the cam­era – use­ful for self­ies - or as a short­cut for launch­ing apps.

The Oppo N1 is man­u­fac­tured with 16GB and 32GB in­ter­nal stor­age ver­sions, but only the 16GB model is avail­able lo­cally. Af­ter tak­ing into ac­count sys­tem files, the de­vice is left with about 13GB of user stor­age. In­ter­est­ingly, the Oppo N1 fur­ther par­ti­tions this stor­age space into a 3GB ‘in­ter­nal stor­age’ space, with the re­main­ing 9GB sec­tioned off as ‘SD Card’ space - rem­i­nis­cent of pre-2012 An­droid de­vices. Un­for­tu­nately, as a re­sult, the Oppo N1 only has about 3GB of avail­able stor­age space for apps.

OS tin­ker­ers will en­joy play­ing with the N1’s OS op­tions, as the N1 is the first smart­phone to of­fi­cially al­low flash­ing to An­droid OS vari­ant, Cyanogen­mod. By

de­fault, the N1 comes loaded with Oppo’s ColorOS, which is based on An­droid 4.2. ColorOS, as its name sug­gests, is a col­or­ful and play­ful user in­ter­face with a num­ber of use­ful pre­in­stalled apps, such as King­soft Of­fice, App Backup, Guest Mode, and Per­mis­sions Mon­i­tor. Those look­ing for a sim­pler, cleaner user in­ter­face might pre­fer Cyanogen­mod, which is based on An­droid 4.3, and de­liv­ers an ex­pe­ri­ence much closer to stock An­droid. One in­ter­est­ing func­tion of in­stalling Cyanogen­mod is the unlocked De­vel­oper Set­tings menu, which in­cludes the abil­ity to tweak CPU per­for­mance. Un­for­tu­nately, the max­i­mum CPU speed is still capped at the phone’s rated speed of 1,700MHz, and there­fore can­not be over­clocked.

Flash­ing Cyanogen­mod does come with a few sac­ri­fices. Most of the use­ful tools and fea­tures found in ColorOS will be gone, and a few cam­era func­tions will also be miss­ing, such as burst mode shoot­ing.

The Oppo N1’s most dis­tinct fea­ture is its 206-de­gree swivel­ing 13MP cam­era. Rather than be stuck with a low-res­o­lu­tion front fac­ing cam­era, users can swivel the rear cam­era unit all the way around and take a full res­o­lu­tion selfie! The swivel snaps the cam­era into place, and auto ori­en­tates it­self so that the im­age will not be upside down.

Im­age qual­ity from the Oppo N1’s cam­era is ex­cel­lent, pro­duc­ing crisp and sharp im­ages in bright day­light, with good color re­pro­duc­tion and fairly low noise. Even in low-light, im­ages are still fairly clean, thanks to the cam­era’s wide f/2 aper­ture.

In terms of per­for­mance specs, the N1 is a bit be­hind cur­rent flag­ship smart­phones, armed with a Qual­comm Snap­dragon 600 pro­ces­sor (the same as the Sam­sung Galaxy S4). For com­par­i­son, most cur­rent Qual­comm-equipped flag­ship de­vices uti­lize a Snap­dragon 800 pro­ces­sor. The N1 also lacks LTE sup­port, so you’ll be stuck with 3G speeds.

In our bench­mark tests, as ex­pected, the N1 fell be­hind other flag­ship ph­ablets like Sam­sung’s Galaxy Note 3 and Sony’s Xpe­ria Z Ul­tra, both of which are armed with the more pow­er­ful Qual­comm Snap­dragon 800 pro­ces­sor. Bat­tery life on the N1 was, how­ever, quite good, with the N1’s 3,610mAh ca­pac­ity bat­tery last­ing just over 11 hours in our video loop­ing bat­tery test.

The Oppo N1 is likely to ap­peal to smart­phone pho­tog­ra­phy buffs, par­tic­u­larly those who en­joy tak­ing self­ies. Its 206-de­gree 13MP swivel cam­era al­lows for high-res­o­lu­tion self­ies to be taken, and us­ing the O-touch panel as a shut­ter but­ton lets one keep a firm grip on the phone.

A con­cern with the N1 is its high price of $769 – a tough sell for a smart­phone equipped with only an up­per mid-range pro­ces­sor, 16GB in­ter­nal stor­age with no SD or mi­croSD ex­pand­able stor­age op­tions and no LTE con­nec­tiv­ity sup­port.

The Oppo N1 has a 206-de­gree swivel­ing 13MP cam­era used for tak­ing both rear and front fac­ing pho­tos.

The rear O-touch panel can be used for one-handed nav­i­ga­tion and scrolling.

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