OPPO F1s review: Great hardware, inexcusably old software

The craze for selfies doesn’t need an introduction, especially when phone manufacturers start to give more importance to the camera at the front as compared to the one on the back. After all, why not? The front camera gets used, if not more, then as much as the rear camera nowadays. If you are a selfie-lover, then you would have probably heard of Oppo’s F-series smartphones, which the company calls as ‘selfie-experts’.

Oppo debuted its camera-centric F-series at the beginning of this year with the launch of the Oppo F1 in India. Shortly after, we got the F1 Plus, which was a more premium model. The company has been marketing this new series aggressively, especially in offline retail channels.

It’s been more than six months since the launch of the F1, and to be honest, it feels a bit dated today given how the competition has marched forward. The F1s is a much-needed upgrade, in terms of both design and features, in order to give it a fighting chance.Indeed, with both the F1s and Plus side by side, it’s impossible to know which is which except if you’re looking at specific things — not necessarily a bad thing, since the F1 Plus is a nice piece of hardware. The new F1s is a little larger, a little less powerful, and is making its debut in India for ₹17,999 ($270).

The focus however, continues to be on the front-facing camera. Let’s see how it fares.

Specs Overview

Operating System Color OS 3.0 based on Android 5.1
CPU MediaTek MT6750 Octa-core
GPU Mali-T860 MP2
RAM 3GB
Display 5.5-inch 1280 x 720 IPS
Rear Camera 13MP f/2.2
Front Camera 16MP f/2.0
Storage 32GB + microSD
Battery 3,075mAh
SIM Dual nano-SIM
Connectivity MicroUSB
NFC No
Fingerprint scanner Yes
Dimensions 154.5 x 76 x 7.38 mm
Weight 160g

 

What’s Cool?

It would be easy to mistake the F1s for the F1 Plus since they look virtually identical from the front. The mildly curved edges of the display offer a pleasant feeling when you hold this phone, and the slim bezel adds a bit of style. The phone has a pre-installed screen guard which attracts scratches fairly easily, and I think this could have been done away with since there is Gorilla Glass 4 for protection because lets be honest, they did not add it for free.

The 5.5-inch IPS display produces rich colours, and the maximum brightness level is much better than the Oppo F1 could manage. There’s no trouble with the display under direct sunlight. Even though the panel is good, just 720p HD resolution is a bit too coarse for a screen of this size. Even though pixellation isn’t all that apparent, it would have been nice to have text and icons just a bit sharper, and that isn’t asking for too much considering this phone’s price point.

Oppo_F1s_button_ndtv.jpg

The F1s gets a fingerprint sensor, which was missing on the F1, and it works very well. Just like the F1 Plus, the screen unlocks instantly. The sensor is flanked by two backlit capacitive buttons. Oppo also throws in a notification LED near the top. The all-metal body looks really good and the glossy gold trim that runs along the edges of the phone adds to the device’s premium aesthetic.

The F1s comes loaded with Android 5.1 out of the box with Oppo’s ColorOS 3.0, which means a lot of neatly placed bright coloured icons and minimal bloatware. Under the skin, there’s an MT6750 Octa-core processor, 3 GB of RAM with 32 GB of internal storage, which is expandable up to 128 GB via a microSD card and supports dual 4G Nano-sim cards. Interestingly, unlike other phones, there’s a triple-slot card instead of two slots or a hybrid tray. The 5.5-inch has good visibility even during daylight.

Oppo-F1s-back.jpg

On-screen and off-screen gesture controls are available as well, like drawing a ‘V’ while the screen is off for turning on the torch, ‘O’ for the camera along with double tap to wake the screen. Off-screen gestures are customizable as well.

Being a camera-focused phone, the expectations were high and the phone delivered. The front facing 16-megapixel camera offers a great selfie experience with clear picture quality and minimal shutter lag. If you use the rear 13-megapixel camera, then you won’t be disappointed as it offers decent quality pictures with good colour saturation. The screen also acts as a flash for selfies under low light. The F1s can take panorama shots with the front camera, allowing for a wider selfie. Group selfies anyone?

It also comes with Oppo’s beautification feature – Beautify 4.0, which works in sync with the front camera and offers seven beautify levels, two skins tone modes and upgraded photo-processing algorithms.

Oppo-F1s-side.jpg

Powering the F1s is a 3075 mAh battery, which may not sound like a lot, but will last you through the day.

What’s Not So Cool?

What doesn’t really impress is the styling which, despite having a premium feel, does not really make it stand out of the crowd. At 160 grams, it feels a little heavy despite having a sleek frame.

Yes, the camera can click good pictures but then the User Interface (UI) of the camera app is very similar to a flagship device offered by a certain another company. It also lacks slo-mo for videos.

Oppo-camera.jpg

The Oppo F1s runs on Colour OS 3.0, which makes Android look somewhat like Apple’s iOS. This is fine, but what I don’t like is the fact that OEMs are still serving up Android Lollipop today, which is now almost two generations old. We might see Marshmallow as an update down the line but it’s always nice to have the latest version at launch.

Oppo_f1s_screen.jpg

If we talk about the competition the F1s faces in the sub ₹20K segment, then you would find plenty of options with better hardware and features.

Verdict

Oppo’s intention when designing the phone is evident in the F1s – a phone meant for selfies and packs enough goodies to pull through other tasks that are thrown at it during the day. The company has priced it competitively as well at ₹17,990. The software could do a bit better and hopefully it will after an update.

So if you can’t stop taking selfies and want a well-priced phone to give you the experience of flagships, then the Oppo F1s is a good bet. But then, why settle?

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