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For the most part, the R1 is undeniably similar to the Sony Xperia Z series of devices with its angular stature and rear glass panel although both phone makers differ on the type of glass used. The 0.55mm Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the R1 is polished with 42 procedures into a gleaming finish while Sony uses tempered glass with a layer of anti-shatter film for their Xperia phones. As expected with any glass surface, the rear of the R1 is covered in a huge mess of fingerprints and smudges within minutes of handling it.
While Sony’s OmiBalance design utilizes a skeleton frame made of tough glass fiber polyamide, Oppo deploys an aluminum-magnesium alloy frame on the R1 that is more solid and has a premium look. Overall, the handling of the R1 is good as it is rather slim at 7.1mm and weighs 141g. In comparison, the Motorola Moto G weighs 143g and has a side profile of 6.0 ~ 11.6mm. The 158g Xiaomi Redmi is also thicker at 9.9mm.
The 5-inch 720p display is pretty standard for a midrange phone. Its resolution is plenty dense enough for most usage scenarios such as web browsing, watching videos and viewing photos. The bezels are neither too thick nor too thin, so you can rest your finger at the side without interfering with the navigation.
Similar to Xiaomi’s MIUI OS, Oppo took the time and effort to develop an entirely different interface. For the R1, the ColorOS V1.0.0i is based on Android 4.2. Its
more recent devices, the Find 7 Series, are powered by ColorOS V1.2.0i which is based on Android 4.3.
When queried on whether there are plans to standardize all Oppo phones to the same ColorOS versions, a company spokesperson told us that each ColorOS version is customized specifically to either enhance the user experience or rectify issues for different devices. Hence, there are no plans to standardize all versions across all devices.
One of the key features of ColorOS is its use of gestures on the lock screen and home screen as shortcuts to open apps or carry out certain functions.
To start things off, there are screen-off gestures that can be executed on the lock screen to jump straight into apps. By default, you can access the Camera app by drawing a circle. You can set other screen-off gestures of your own; you can draw an upward arrow to call home or swipe left to access Facebook.
The gesture navigation is extended to the home screen where you can swipe down from the top left corner of the screen. Known as the Gesture Panel, you can customize your own gestures to activate apps. Our favorites include accessing WhatsApp and Instagram by drawing “W” and “I” respectively. As the Gesture Panel can be accessed from any home screen or app, it helps users jump between apps effortlessly without having to press the Home button and look for a particular app.
ColorOS takes up about 5GB of storage space on the R1, which leaves about 10.28GB of available space for apps and other data. As the R1 lacks a memory card slot, power users may find the 10GB storage space too little for their needs.
Powered by a MediaTek MT6582 quad-core 1.3GHz processor and 1GB RAM, the R1 delivered a snappy user experience in its daily operation. Web browsing was smooth with no stutters. Its 8-megapixel rear shooter delivered average image quality as we spotted image artifacts in the darker areas.
In our battery test, the R1 lasted slightly over 5 hours which is below average. Despite having a slightly larger battery and the same display size/resolution, the R1 ran out of juice faster than the ASUS ZenFone 5. Under normal usage conditions, we managed to get the R1 to last close to a day.
Retailing at $519 however, the R1 finds itself in a very competitive market segment where its rivals can deliver more at lower prices. Other than ColorOS enhancements, there is not much else going for the R1.
The Gorilla Glass 3 panel on the rear protects against minimal scratches, but stands no chance against fingerprints and smudges.
You can turn on or off the backlight for the navigation buttons on the Oppo R1.