Oppo is a Chinese-based handset manufacturer and a relatively new player in the international smartphone arena. While it has been manufacturing and releasing phones in China since 2008, it is only now starting to make waves internationally with the release of the N1, Oppo's 5.9-inch flagship smartphone, which launches in Singapore today for S$769.
The N1 includes a number of unique features, such as a swiveling 13MP camera, which can be rotated to the front of the phone for high-quality selfies, and an interesting rear touchpad, but what truly caught the attention of the world is its official support for Cyanogenmod. Cyanogenmod is a very well known variant of Android OS that's popular with power Android users. Yet, there is always the issue of voiding the phone’s warranty, whenever one wants to flash Cyanogenmod onto a device. The Oppo N1 is the first device which allows users to officially choose between Oppo’s own ColorOS or Cyanogenmod - all without voiding the warranty.
With all of the N1's unique features, will Oppo be able to win the hearts of Android users?
Before we start, here's a quick look at the N1's specs:
The Oppo N1 is a huge phone, or to be more accurate, a "phablet". The phone sports a matte white, polycarbonate (plastic) unibody exterior, with chrome-colored accents lining the perimeter that actually is part of the phone's metal aluminium alloy inner frame.
Three capacitive buttons (menu, home, and back) are located at the bottom of the phone, outside of the usable screen area. The The loudspeaker, headphone jack, and micro-USB port are all located at the bottom of the phone. Despite the plastic build, the N1 exudes a classy, elegant feel, and we liked the matte finish. One has to be careful with stains though, as they cannot be easily cleaned from the white finish.
The N1 weighs 213g, which makes it quite a bit heavier than other phablets in the market, such as the 168g Galaxy Note 3 and 177g LG G Flex. In fact, it even feels heavier than the 212g Sony Xperia Z Ultra, even though they are approximately the same weight. Despite this, we didn't feel that the weight of the phone was much of a burden in the pocket, rather, it gives the user, particularly those with butter fingers, a sturdy feel, as opposed to the flimsy feel that can be experienced with some of the lighter phones.
As the Oppo N1 is of a unibody build, the battery is non-removable. The micro-SIM card is inserted through a SIM card tray, which is located at the side of the phone and requires a sharp pin for ejection. Fortunately, the package comes with a SIM tray ejector, thus new users can set up their phones right out of the box.
The Oppo N1 sports a 5.9-inch Full-HD 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution IPS display, yielding a screen density of 373 ppi. With such a high screen density, coupled with good viewing angles, text and images are rendered in a very crisp manner, making reading on the Oppo N1 a pleasure.
Oppo has certainly spared no expense in the N1’s display. Colors are rendered very naturally and, while the blacks are not as great as some AMOLED displays, color are well balanced - not overly saturated, and not whitewashed, which makes viewing photos and videos an overall pleasant experience.
The Oppo N1 is manufactured with 16GB and 32GB internal storage versions, but the model that will retail locally is the 16GB edition. 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, and the remaining 9GB as 'SD Card' space - reminiscent of how Android phones were back in 2011, when the latest Android OS was Gingerbread.
All of this points to one very disturbing fact: eventually, one has only about 3GB of space to install apps. As such, even if the processor is powerful enough to power graphics intensive games, what is the use when there is insufficient storage space to install them? Especially when you consider that some games can take up to 2GB of storage space.
Fortunately, you can choose where you would like apps to be installed by default. This option can be found at Settings > Storage > Preferred Install Location. Still, you would much rather if the file structure was modernized and the device sees one seamless storage area that can be used without concerns.
One interesting hardware feature on the N1 is its O-Touch trackpad. Located at the back of the phone, this functions somewhat similar to a trackpad on a notebook. The idea behind the O-Touch is to more easily facilitate one handed operation. Instead of holding the phone in one hand, and using your other hand to flick the display, you can now just swipe your finger down the back of the O-Touch to scroll through content. Unfortunately, using the O-Touch isn't that intuitive, and often results in some quirky results - for example, in Chrome, a flick sometimes causes the browser to switch to the next tab. For those who find O-Touch cumbersome, you can easily opt to deactivate it.
Scrolling quirks aside, the O-Touch does shine when it comes to taking selfies. In other phones, taking selfies can sometimes be a wrist-wrangling experience, as the shutter buttons are either located at the bottom of the display or, if you use the volume buttons, on the side of the phone. With the Oppo N1, one can configure the O-Touch to take a photo by pressing it, holding a while, and then releasing, allowing you to keep a firm grip on your phone. In this aspect, it's quite similar in functionality to the rear buttons of LG's G2 and G Flex smartphones.
The O-Touch can also be used as a shortcut to launch an app, as well as to auto-launch, record and send voice recordings over various popular SNS (social networking services) and IM (instant messaging) apps.
One interesting accessory that is available for the N1 is Oppo's O-Click. When paired with the Oppo N1, its primary function is to act as a remote shutter for the camera. This is especially useful if you want to take a group photo together and a selfie won't include everyone in the shot.
You can also use the O-Click as a proximity check device: should the N1 be taken out of the specified range of the O-Click, the phone will ring at its loudest volume, which can be useful if someone tries to steal your phone, or if you just happen to misplace it somewhere.
The first 388 customers that purchase the N1 locally will get an O-Click for free. After that it will be sold separately for about S$50.