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.