When Apple announced its flagship tenth anniversary iPhone X with a display notch, not everyone was happy. Also worried were the hordes of Android fans who knew that Apple being the trendsetter for most smartphone manufacturers meant more display notches showing up on Android smartphones.
And so it happened! Manufacturers like Asus quickly announced their own flagship ZenFone 5Z at the following Mobile World Congress (MWC 2018) which included a “smaller” notch, hinting that most smartphone manufacturers would be preparing their own iPhone X clones.
Notch a problem
While Apple cemented its new design with the display notch, the smartphone industry somehow seemed reluctant with Vivo turning out to be a crowd-puller at the MWC 2018. Vivo showed up with its Apex concept smartphone that featured no notch and an under-display fingerprint reader. Suddenly, it seemed that it was possible to create a smartphone with an edge to edge display and no notch. In fact, Vivo was so happy with the response that it said that it would put the smartphone into production.
A few months later, almost out of nowhere Oppo launched its successor to the Find 7 called the Find X. While teasers revealed nothing exciting jaws dropped at the launch when the Chinese smartphone brand revealed a device with a bezel-less display and no visible cameras. And out of nowhere, Oppo had pulled off the impossible, showcasing a design with a motorised pop-up camera that everyone (including myself) drooled at and were excited to get their hands on. Finally it seemed that someone had the “courage” to challenge Apple and set its own trend.
Not too long ago, the Oppo Find X was launched in India and I finally got the chance to review this unbelievably beautiful device.
Simply put, it is bezel-less, looks gorgeous and it makes the iPhone X look old and outdated. But while it has managed to do that, smartphones like the Galaxy S9+ and the Huawei P20 Pro will make you ponder over whether you should buy one, because it’s not perfect.
And now that I have explained why it exists, let’s get on with the review.
But before we go ahead, do note that Oppo sent us a pre-production unit with pre-production software for review. What this means is that software bugs and plenty of performance bumps and improvements can be expected when the final India-specific retail unit arrives.
I will update this copy or possibly write another one (long-term review) if I notice any differences in performance or camera quality, with the final India retail unit.
Build and Design: 9/10
The Oppo Find X is unbelievably beautiful. It features a symmetrical design that often had me holding the smartphone upside down when I pulled it out of my pocket. This is because there’s no visual cue or a physical protrusion (or depression) like the camera ring or a fingerprint reader at the back that you can feel. The same design elements that tell you which side is up; or even which side is the front, unless you are looking at it.
While the front features a gorgeous bezel-less display (by today’s standards) it’s the design at the back that adds a touch of class and sets it apart from any other smartphone I have ever laid my hands on.
Oppo calls it a ‘gradient design’ and it makes the back of the smartphone look like gemstone with the edges showcasing a glow. While the Glacier Blue thanks to the bright blue looks a bit flashy, the Bordeaux Red looks classy without overdoing it.
And it’s all in the details. Everything from the ports to the fit and finish are premium quality. The SIM card tray also features a unique clip on design that lets you stack two SIM cards on either sides of the tray. Once clipped on, they don’t fall off no matter how you hold the tray.
The phone’s overall construction feels solid but there is an area right below the camera lip at the back that gets flexes when you press down on it. It is basically the space behind which the motor is located.
The design of the Find X is stunning but it misses out on an IP rating, something which all of its competitors (considering its price tag) have. This is all thanks to that sliding structure that lifts the top end of the phone to reveal the stealth 3D cameras that host the smartphone’s one and only biometric authentication system that uses structured light to scan the face in 3D.
Privacy freaks will love the design, as the cameras are always remain covered and hidden unless they are in use (which is when they pop-up). The mechanism also means that your camera lens will always be protected from scratches.
So what if your finger got stuck between the sliding structure and the rest of the body?
Similar to a car’s power window that will stop when you obstruct it with your hand, the motor on the Oppo Find X will stop winding down the camera into the body of the device and simply wait there. At this time, the software goes ahead and shuts down the camera app leaving the camera half closed and your finger, intact.
You can push it down or close the camera by applying a bit of pressure, but it is best to open and close the camera app so that top half reaches its resting point, which is to sit flush with the rest of the body. And you should be doing that because you don’t want dust entering the internals of your smartphone.
Does the motor make a sound?
Yes, the motor does make a whirring noise but it’s not loud and won’t disturb anyone around you. You may get a few questions from onlookers though.
The mechanism does not feel flimsy either in the sense that there’s no play when you hold the sliding structure. So it feels robust enough like it would last a really long time.
According to Oppo, the sliding structure has fall protection and has been tested to work up to 3,00,000 times. From my week-long use of the smartphone, never has it jammed or opened unnecessarily.
One detail that Oppo had not officially shed any light on is whether the camera mechanism will work if too much dust or sand (most humans head to beach from time to time) accumulates in the sliding mechanism, which gets exposed when the camera is in use. And no matter where you are in India, dust is a constant companion.
So I asked the product guys at Oppo who told me that dust is not a problem with that motorised structure, which raises and lowers every time you unlock the device. In fact, they claim that if the device falls in the sand on a beach, you can simply shake the device (if camera was open when it dropped) to move the sand particles out of the mechanism.
Upon opening the SIM card tray, I noticed a red-coloured rubber seal which hints at some kind of splash proofing on this device. Upon questioning Oppo about the same, I was told that there was a foam lining in the camera housing as well, to prevent dust and sand from entering and damaging the internal components of the device.
The Oppo Find X apart from its focus on design also packs in great hardware.
The device features 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a 19.5:9 display aspect ratio and 2,340 x 1,080 pixels. Inside, sits a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC paired with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB of internal storage. There’s no room for an expandable storage here.
The camera setup features a single 25 MP front-facing sensor and a 20 MP + 16 MP dual rear cameras (with a dual LED flash). All three cameras feature an f/2.0 aperture with only the 16 MP primary camera getting OIS.
The handset features the usual connectivity options like 4G LTE radios, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS, NFC and USB 2.0 via a Type-C reversible port.
The device is powered by a 3,730 mAh battery and runs the latest version of Oppo’s ColorOS software with Android 8.1.0 as the base version. The only details I missed was an IP rating and the missing headphone jack.
Oppo went in for a curved-edge 6.4-inch AMOLED display which the manufacturer branded as a Panoramic Arc Screen. The display stretches from edge-to-edge and reminds of Samsung’s Infinity Display from its Galaxy S9 and S8 devices. The case of the Oppo Find X is also a bit different from Samsung’s.
“Curved Panoramic Light Effect”
Oppo does not make practical use of the curved edges on the sides like Samsung does with its slide out widgets (that I see few using to begin with). Oppo does however, use the curved edges for a stunning lighting display when you receive a notification. While it is similar to what you get in a Samsung Galaxy S9, it’s just implemented a whole lot better and it looks beautiful giving the phone an outline in the dark with a subtle pulsing effect that looks classy. After this, LED notifications are just downright outdated!
Lighting effects aside, the display is a great one. Despite its size, the high pixel density at 401 PPI means that both text and images look sharp. Thanks to its bezel-less nature, I kept forgetting that smartphone featured a 6.4-inch display. My daily driver, the Apple iPhone 8 Plus with its chubby bezels, felt heavy and cumbersome in comparison. The display is also very bright and I had no problems viewing content on it in broad daylight.
My only gripe was its reflective nature which was a problem with the Galaxy S9+ as well. The curved edges also add to the reflections. Luckily, the display does not catch smudges too easily.
Unlike the OnePlus 6 or the Galaxy S9+ the colours showcased by the display seemed fairly accurate without going overboard. There are no display modes in ColorOS but the software does let you tweak the colour temperature to make it cooler or warmer than the default setting. I preferred keeping it to default which seemed to be the sweet spot without going overboard.
Oppo’s ColorOS has improved drastically over the years and its latest ColorOS version 5.1 with Android 8.1.0 according to me, is the best you can get out there among the Chinese smartphone brands.
With a pre-production unit for review the handset ran ColorOS version CPH1871EX_11_A.04 which according to Oppo was pre-production software.
It’s quick, optimised and visually looks appealing (a lot more than Samsung’s Experience UI).
ColorOS uses an outer glow for its iconography which is the theme carried out across its native apps and user interface. The theme has been well thought off and is how we have the stunning, glowing display notifications system as well. Clearly, some effort has been put into it.
What I did not like were its strong battery optimisations. While the battery optimisations work well for its battery life, I ended up missing a lot of notifications from messaging apps. Delving deeper into the Battery settings, revealed a per app optimisation that is by default set to ‘Intelligent Restrict Background Running’ one that checks into the running status of the apps and will then “intelligently” optimise how often its allowed to wake up.
This is also a problem with the OnePlus 6. Only after changing that setting for my messaging apps to ‘Allow background usage’ did I start receiving notifications on time. So if you did purchase or are planning on buying a Find X, be sure to first head to battery settings and change these default optimisations. Again, changing these settings did not affect the smartphone’s battery life drastically.
The software also uses an iPhone-like gesture-based navigation system that lets you see more text on that gorgeous edge-to-edge display. The gestures can be customised in the Settings as well which is a nice addition.
There’s also an app lock feature that lets you secure apps using face unlock and even hide them entirely. You will need to type in number in the dial pad to be able to see them on the home screen.
Another feature called Full Screen Multitasking lets you open an app in a floating window and chat over a video when in landscape mode. You can access these apps only when in landscape mode. The selection of apps is rather limited because the developer has to support floating windows. Otherwise the split screen mode shown above seems enough for regular multi-tasking.
Since this was a pre-production unit, there were several instances where apps randomly slowed down or became unresponsive for a few seconds.
There is also this glowing dot that appears on the OLED display right about where the motor is located and usually shows up when the camera motor and the vibration motor are activated at the same time. This issue showed up occasionally.
Oppo is aware of these problems and I’m expecting to see these software and hardware issues fixed in the final unit that will be handed out to customers.
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB of internal storage, performance and storage were not a problem. Add Oppo’s cloud services that get you and additional 5 GB of free storage online and gets you complete access to the theme store as well.
Games ran smoothly and I faced no issues while playing graphics intensive titles like Asphalt 9: Legends.
Save for the occasional slowdown of apps which can be blamed on the pre-production software, I have little to complain about in terms of day to day usage.
The phone did heat up, but it wasn’t hot enough for me to stop gaming or put it down.
Oppo has tied up with Dirac, so several sound optimisations (Dirac Power Sound speaker optimisation solution, Dirac HD Sound earphone optimisation solution, and Dirac Sensaround soundstage widening) make the audio sound pretty darn good and immersive. While the technology made sense when using the bundled Type-C earphones, the speaker was loud and clear, but lacked bass and was not as good as the Galaxy S9+ or the iPhone 8 Plus that I use as my daily driver.
While recorded 4K videos played fine on the device, it did have problems with streaming Netflix in HD. The app which had to be side loaded only allowed for streaming in HD (definitely not FHD) which was disappointing given that edge to edge display. The rest of the apps including Amazon Prime video and YouTube played just fine. OnePlus’s 5 and 5T had similar issues to do with a DRM licensing. Hopefully, Oppo will have this resolved in the final product.
3D Stealth Cameras
Unlike the gimmicky face unlock solutions by other manufacturers like Vivo and OnePlus, Oppo’s 3D Stealth Camera system houses a plethora of sensors and cameras that let users unlock the smartphone securely because it captures data in 3D.
The system worked flawlessly and there was never a time where it failed to authenticate and unlock the smartphone. There is no visible delay as well and you can set the face unlock system to activate either with a swipe up after powering on the display or simply with power button. The system is quick and I did not miss the trusty fingerprint reader at all.
But here’s the reality. While face unlock is secure, at the moment it can only be used to unlock the smartphone and not to purchase apps or authenticate a banking transaction using a third-party app (like with fingerprint readers). This should be enabled only after Android P arrives which supports the latest biometric authentication standards. Yes, Google is always a few steps behind its manufacturers.
On paper, the Oppo Find X packs in plenty of hardware with a number of sensors all housed inside that motorised 3D Stealth Camera unit. By default the camera uses an AI mode that will change scene modes based on what’s on your viewfinder. You can choose to turn it off, if you find the “beautify" effects a bit too aggressive, but then you also lose out on the auto scene recognition.
Before I go ahead I will need to remind you that this review is based pre-production software which is why the performance could be different on the final retail unit.
The rear camera setup looks impressive on paper and performs well in daylight. Autofocus is quick and the camera produced sharp images with slightly saturated colours that look lively.
The noise levels were in control in daylight shooting scenarios and the blurring using the Portrait mode was pretty good as well. In daylight shooting, the camera performs really well and comparing it to my iPhone 8 Plus, I saw almost nothing to complain about save for the iPhone’s dynamic range, which was better. It’s that good!
Moving to just before sunset, the photos still looked sharp with resolved details taking a slight hit. Still then, the camera was able to produce some detailed images.
Shooting after dark however proved to be a problem. The camera did not seem to get a lock on the scene and kept hunting. Tapping to lock on the scene seemed to do the job. This is for shooting landscape (or cityscapes) photos in very low light.
In street lighting the photos do look impressive. They are sharp and slightly oversaturated, and the overall result is pretty good until you zoom in and see the lack of noise reduction in the dark areas. Indeed, this can be tweaked in a software update.
The quality of the images in low light were decent but not as good as what Samsung and Huawei deliver with the Galaxy S9+ and the P20 Pro. Switching off the AI mode also did not seem to improve the low light shots that showcased lots of noise.
Video recording was decent at best and Oppo for some reason does not let you utilise the true potential of the 845 SoC inside by letting you shoot only at 30 fps in 720p, 1080p and 4K. The videos in daylight showcased a decent amount of detail but did not seem to have any sort of stabilisation whatsoever. Add to this problems with bitrate which meant that the camera simply could not maintain those details while panning. This is keeping in mind that the rear 16 MP camera does feature OIS.
The front facing 24 MP camera did a great job in daylight producing some great selfies in various shooting scenarios. Video recording was decent but looked a bit jittery. Selfies or those clicked using the Portrait mode in low light are pretty much unusable. This certainly needs some fixing!
All in all, the Find X performs well considering its price, but with the pre-production software onboard our test unit, I expect things to get better when the final software arrives.
Battery Life: 8/10
With such a high screen-to-body ratio and focus on design with a slender profile, I did not expect the Find X to fare that well in our battery life tests. With a 3,730 mAh battery the handset performed surprisingly well in day to day usage giving me more than day’s use.
On an average day with two email accounts on sync, WhatsApp, Slack, Telegram and clicking photos and calls the handset easily lasted past the 9-hour work day with about 20-30 percent battery left to spare when I plugged it in before sleeping.
Thanks to Oppo’s strict app optimisations (mentioned in the software section), the standby times were great too and the battery would barely lose about two to three percent charge if left idle for up to a day or more which is impressive!
For some odd reason our standard PC Mark Work 2.0 Battery Life test did not run, but overall I was quite satisfied with the performance the smartphone delivered keeping in mind the size of the display and that powerful Snapdragon 845 SoC inside.
Verdict and Price in India
After using the Oppo Find X for more than week, I can summarise the Oppo Find X in three words: bezel-less, beautiful and bold.
An Oppo Find X is what you get when smartphone manufacturers start looking past the iPhone when it comes to design. The motorised camera looks and works without any problems and the design will get you plenty of attention whether you are in a meeting, in an elevator or with friends at a restaurant. This smartphone is a conversation starter even before you have unleashed the motorised camera.
And it’s priced to go as well. The Oppo Find X is priced at Rs 59,990 for the 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage configuration. At around Rs 5,000 more there’s the Samsung Galaxy S9+ that retails for Rs 64,900 for the 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. Then there’s the new kid on the block with the Huawei P20 Pro that proved its camera chops in our review, that sells at Rs 64,999. But that EMUI software seems pretty outdated even in comparison to the Samsung’s heavy Experience UI. Colos OS seems quick and responsive when compared to both and also well laid out.
Strange but true! This is me, comparing an Oppo smartphone to a Samsung and a Huawei-made premium flagships. Times are changing for sure!
Given the specifications and the software inside the pre-production unit, my only issue with the Oppo Find X is that it lacks an IP rating and that it’s not as good as the Galaxy S9+ and the P20 Pro when it comes to low light photos and video capture (though it comes close).
But I don’t want to keep it aside and move on, just because its looks so damn good!
And that is what the device excels at. It’s got that appeal that no other device in market currently has and with that, I would recommend the Oppo Find X if you are looking for a smartphone that will turn heads, performs well, delivers great battery life and comes with the latest hardware inside.
Ignore the Oppo Find X if extreme low light photos are important to you. As for everything else including those looks and that attractive price, the Find X has you covered.
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