Oppo had a fairly decent start to the year as it launched the F1 and the F1 Plus photography centric smartphones. They were slightly overpriced but both of them, especially the F1 Plus, had the capability to shoot some impressive selfies. Today there aren’t a lot of smartphone makers that focus on creating selfie smartphones, but it seems that Oppo is going to stick to it as it just launched the F1s which yet again gets the ‘Selfie Expert’ Moniker.
While it is an updated to the F1, it feels like an update to the F1 Plus. Here is our in depth review of the smartphone.
Build and design: 8/10
More than the F1, the new F1s seems like an update for the F1 Plus. It is very similar in terms of looks with minor differences in the overall design. You get a metal back and frame with a glass finish on the front. The metal finish at the back has a matte finish adding a premium touch to the design. Even though there isn't anything new or different in the design, the handset has been crafted well and we found the build quality quite sturdy.
The 5.5-inch display dominating the front is another reason why we think this is an update to the F1 Plus. Above that is the earpiece, the front facing camera and the proximity and light sensors while below the display is the fingerprint embedded in the home button along with a capacitive back and recent buttons. Things are a bit glossy on the front so expect smudges and fingerprints to creep up.
At the back you will find the camera on the top left corner, which protrudes out but is hardly noticeable. There is also an LED flash along with it. The antenna bands, or what seems like them, are just thin looking chrome stripes.
The metal edges are slightly raised and house the power button and the SIM card/microSD card tray on the right. A secondary microphone sits at the top and the volume rocker buttons on the left. The 3.5mm audio jack, the primary microphone, microUSB port and the speaker are all placed on the bottom edge.
For a 5.5-inch smartphone, the F1s feels light and manages to fit easily in one hand. It doesn't slip out easily either thanks to the brushed metal finish.
The company has placed the smartphone as mid-range device and it features a 5.5-inch LCD display with a 1280x720 HD resolution which means a pixel density of 267ppi. The smartphone is powered by a MediaTek MT6750 processor which is built using the 28nm process, and is an octa-core SoC consisting of four Cortex-A53 cores with a clock rate of 1.5GHz and the rest four Cortex-A53 cores with a clock rate of 1.0GHz. There’s 3GB of RAM, while the graphics are handled by a Mali-T860 GPU. The internal storage is 32GB that is expandable using a microSD card.
The camera department includes a 13MP rear unit with PDAF and an LED flash sits at the front along with a 16MP camera to take impressive selfies. The connectivity package includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, microUSB, GPS/A-GPS, 4G LTE along with VoLTE support. The handset runs on Android 5.1 Marshmallow with Oppo’s Color OS 3.0 on top while a 3,075mAh battery fuels the smartphone.
The smartphone features a 5.5-inch LCD display with a 1280x720 resolution which translates to 267ppi and it is protected by Gorilla Glass 4. One usually expects a 1080p resolution on such a large display, but the HD resolution doesn't look bad either. It offers adequate brightness, but under sunlight it does struggle a bit. Colour saturation is spot and even the viewing angles are wide as we didn't see any colour shift.
The smartphone gives an option of changing the fonts and even the font size. Apart from that you also get a blue light filter which helps in reducing eye strain when using the smartphone for a long period or at night.
The F1s runs on Oppo’s ColorOS 3.0 UI layer on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop. It is the same version as we saw on the F1 Plus which was inspired by iOS. The icons, menus and even the notification shade are similar to Apple’s mobile platform. Now we’ve seen a bunch of Chinese UIs that mimic iOS but this one is surprisingly smooth. We didn’t see any signs of slowing down or frame drops. It seems like a nice approach to the software as you get a sense of minimalism on an Android device, but it can get confusing at times especially if you are used to a more traditional stock-like Android UI.
The OS offers some customisation options via a themes store and a feature that can automatically change the lockscreen wallpaper from a selection of online pictures. We didn't notice a lot of bloatware on the device, just a system optimising app, a backup app and an office app.
All in all we were impressed by ColorOS 3.0 and how smooth everything looked on the smartphone. Having said that, there are are some points to consider. Oppo is still using Android 5.1 and in about a month's time Android 7.0 Nougat will be officially released. Where is the Marshmallow update? Another issue is that the UI takes up a lot of space. Out of the 32GB of inbuilt memory, 25GB is user accessible but we noticed that an additional 4.5GB is used by system under the ‘Other’ section. Probably a chunk of the OS that utilises this space to keep the UI snappy, but again offering a 32GB smartphone with only 20GB of free space is a bit misleading. There is an option to add a microSD card, so it isn't entirely a deal breaker. Something that we had noticed on the F1 Plus was the battery indicator where you didn’t get any info as to how much charge was left until you actually plug the smartphone to a charger. The same issue remains on the F1s.
Day to day performance on the smartphone is great, apps open quickly and even multitasking is handled well thanks to the 3GB of RAM. Gaming proved to be excellent with very minor frame drops in games like Asphalt 8 and Dead Trigger 2. The overall performance felt close to a premium device and the processor, which is a 64-bit chip from MediaTek proved to be quite good. The smartphone doesn't heat up that much either and we noticed that only two or three cores out of the total 8 cores were operational most of the time. This was probably done to improve battery performance on the smartphone.
The synthetic benchmarks however pointed out that the hardware is indeed made for mid-ranged or a budget device. The results were not so impressive and were lower than handsets like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and even the iPhone 5s.
Call quality and network connectivity is flawless on the device and even the loudspeaker is pretty decent. One thing that really impressed us was the fingerprint scanner. It is one of the fastest on the market today, so much so that we believe it is the same unit that has been used on the OnePlus 3, you know since Oppo and OnePlus are closely related. Just a slight press on the home button unlocks the smartphone instantly.
Touted as yet another ‘Selfie Expert’, the F1s comes with a 13MP rear camera with PDAF and an LED flash while a 16MP snapper takes care of the selfie department. Oppo has been focusing on photography and while the F1 and the F1 Plus were above average shooters, the new F1s sees a slight improvement over the two.
The camera app is just like the one on Apple devices but it offers the five common modes including timelapse, videos, photo, beauty and panorama that work for the front as well as the rear camera. Other features for the front camera include some filters, a double exposure mode and even a GIF mode. The rear camera gets the same features with the addition of an Ultra HD mode which can shoot 25MP photos and an expert mode, which is basically a manual mode. One thing that we noticed was that we cannot set the resolution, so its either full screen, rectangle or square.
Both the front and rear cameras can take equally good pictures. The focus is fast, colours look very natural and sharpness is well maintained, although the front camera oversharpens images on some occasions. The front camera also has a lower focal length so it is suited for closer subjects as it can't focus on objects that are far away. We were quite impressed with the capabilities of the front camera as we got crisp looking selfie pictures.
In low light both the cameras struggle to keep up, there is visible noise and loss of details. The front camera also brings a pink tone especially around the eyes when you take selfies in low light, probably adding a flash unit on the front would have helped.
The Oppo F1s packs a 3,075mAh battery which compared to the F1 Plus is larger without adding further bulk to the overall design. Add to that a 720p display and you easily get a full day backup which includes incoming and sending of emails, Whatsapp and other messenger services, watching a few videos, placing a few calls and browsing through the Facebook timeline. The benchmark test churned out 9 hours and 19 minutes which is not bad at all, but it was slightly lower than the F1 Plus.
Priced at Rs 17,990 it seems a bit to much to ask for, but then that's how Oppo smartphones have always been. You get similar a performing smartphones at about Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000 with almost a similar premium design. Justifying the cost with superior front camera might not be the best way to go.
Having said that, if you are a selfie lover, the F1s is something to go for. There aren't a lot of smartphones on the market that provide a 16MP front camera that can take selfies as good as this smartphone. As an overall performer, the smartphone is pretty good in terms of battery life and daily tasks. We were also impressed with its design, the super fast fingerprint scanner and the smooth and stable ColorOS UI which imitates Apple's iOS quite well. It might not be able to compare with smartphones in terms of benchmark performance, but it is certainly not a slow device, so thumbs up on the performance as well.