Tech­nol­ogy

In the An­droid smart­phone world, Sam­sung is far from be­ing the only game in town.

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - by Peter Grif­fin

In the An­droid smart­phone world, Sam­sung is far from be­ing the only game in town.

If 2018 is no­table for any­thing in the world of smart­phones, it is the ar­rival of the big Chi­nese brands as cred­i­ble ri­vals to An­droid mar­ket leader Sam­sung.

Huawei’s P20 and Mate 20 set the bar high, par­tic­u­larly for de­sign and cam­era qual­ity. OnePlus and Xiaomi, mean­while, are in­creas­ingly on the radar of on­line shop­pers, and the lat­ter re­cently opened a shop in an Auck­land mall.

OnePlus owner Oppo wins the prize for the year’s most novel phone with the $1499 Find X. In­stead of cam­eras on the back and front, it has one that pops out of the top of the de­vice when you want to take a photo or use face recog­ni­tion to un­lock it.

It makes for slick styling, but I doubt that it will take off. For one thing, it can’t be made wa­ter­proof, which is a more use­ful fea­ture than a pop-up cam­era.

More con­ven­tional and much cheaper than the Find X is Oppo’s $999 R17 Pro, which has the glass body and build qual­ity you might ex­pect from a more ex­pen­sive hand­set. Its best fea­ture is fast charg­ing: Oppo claims that, from flat, the bat­tery takes 10 min­utes to reach 40% of ca­pac­ity, and a full charge takes 35 min­utes, although it doesn’t have wire­less charg­ing.

The R17 Pro’s other key fea­ture is its three-lens rear cam­era, which per­forms well. It is no Mate 20 Pro ($1499), but an aper­ture that ad­justs from f/2.4 to f/1.5 on the 12-megapixel mid­dle lens makes it good for low-light shoot­ing. Its so-called “ul­tra night mode”, cou­pled with image sta­bil­i­sa­tion and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence that au­to­mates a range of set­tings, helps it cap­ture great pho­tos. The 25-megapixel front-fac­ing cam­era is also more than ad­e­quate.

A key pho­to­graphic fea­ture touted by Oppo, which awaits a soft­ware up­date be­fore it be­comes avail­able, is Time of Flight (TOF), a cam­era mode that will let you record 3D im­ages. Cir­cle an ob­ject such as a chair, or a per­son, with the cam­era in TOF mode and the R17 Pro will gen­er­ate a 360-de­gree 3D image.

We’ll have to re­serve judg­ment as to its use­ful­ness un­til the up­date ar­rives.

In other re­spects, the R17 Pro de­liv­ers what you would ex­pect: its Snap­dragon 710 pro­ces­sor isn’t the top-of-the-range one that pow­ers Sam­sung’s S9, but I didn’t no­tice the dif­fer­ence.

The 6.4in Amoled screen has ex­cel­lent colours and con­trast. There’s just a small tear-drop-shaped hous­ing for the selfie-cam­era in­ter­rupt­ing the dis­play, and un­der the screen is a fin­ger­print scan­ner that is fast and works most of the time.

There is a USB Type-C port for charg­ing and head­phones, and a dual-sim card tray that lets you run two phone ac­counts si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

The R17 Pro has 128 gi­ga­bytes of stor­age as stan­dard. The en­try-level mod­els of the lat­est

Ap­ple iPhones, in con­trast, which cost more, come with just 64 gi­ga­bytes. Oppo’s ColorOS op­er­at­ing sys­tem, which runs on top of An­droid Oreo, has big icons and vivid colours and is rel­a­tively un­in­tru­sive.

The R17 Pro is a taste of things to come: more op­tions amid a grow­ing pack of An­droid con­tenders and im­prov­ing value be­low the

$1000 mark.

Price: $999

Oppo claims that, from flat, the R17 Pro bat­tery takes 10 min­utes to reach 40% of ca­pac­ity.

Here comes Oppo: the March launch of new mod­els from the Chi­nese phone maker.

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