The personal technology market, especially smartphones, has become so lucrative that everyone wants to have its piece of the pie. Everyday, we hear about some new company joining the fray. One such is the Chinese firm Oppo, which recently launched their flagship product, the Oppo N1 phablet, in India with much glamour and blitz.
The Oppo N1 screams style right from the packaging itself. The handset comes inside a white jewellery box-like casing, which doesn’t feel flashy but extremely stylish. Everything inside the box, right from quality of the USB cable and in-ear headphones (angled to fit perfectly with excellent sound quality) to the way they have been packaged, makes the device look like a piece of art.
The 5.9-inch phablet, in matte white with metallic silver bordering, looks fantastic. Inspite of its huge size and 213 gm weight, it felt light in hand. Since I am not a fan of phablets as I find them too bulky for a proper hand-held experience, the N1 did feel wobbly while operating with one hand. So for an average user, this could feel too chunky. But for those who like it big, this could well be device.
With a 1080p full-HD IPS display (1920 x 1080 pixels, 377 ppi), the N1 gives an excellent viewing experience. Colours look sharp and crisp and viewing angles are also good. To put things in perspective, the iPhone 5S offers a 326 ppi display and the Samsung Note 3 has 386 ppi. The screen is made up of Gorilla Glass 3, which should provide respite from ordinary scratches.
The N1 is powered by a 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor with Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB RAM. Obviously with such raw power, the device gave butter-smooth user experience. Continuous multitasking with Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Chrome and a few games like Subway Surfer and Temple Run did not give any lags whatsoever. I could play a space-guzzler like Asphalt 8 without any glitch. Watching videos were also great, with stunning picture quality.
Oppo claims the N1 is the first smartphone with a rotating camera. So irrespective of whether you use the primary camera for clicking pictures or want to video chat, just rotate the 13 MP camera grid to get high-quality pictures or videos. The camera optics, along with the dual-LED flash, gave some quality pictures on well-lit conditions. However, performances in darker conditions were a big letdown, resulting in grainy and noisy pictures. Also, one can click the back of the phone to use it as the camera shutter and scroll pictures, which I thought was a novel idea.
Though based on the Android Jelly Bean 4.2 platform, the N1 runs a proprietary OS called Color, did not make much of a difference to the Android experience for a common user. The stock Android interface has just been tweaked in terms of the colour scheme and app icons, with other things broadly remaining same.
The phablet offers the option of 16/32 GB internal memory, with no option for expandable storage. The device that I tested was the
16-GB model, with just around 10GB free for the user. For a R40,000-device, this was a big disappointment. The mammoth 3610 mAH battery, however, brought some smile as this would easily last over a day for an average user.
An USP of the N1 is the ‘O-click’ wearable device. The ‘O-click’ is a bluetooth wireless remote that comes in the shape of a small key ring. This smart looking device can be attached to one’s keychain and can be used for taking pictures. Just position the camera and use the O-click button as a shutter, and voila, the picture is taken without any jostling with the phone. The device also works as an anti-lost tool (when paired with the N1, it can alert the user if the phone goes out of range or the user is finding it difficult to locate the phone) as well as alerts user when there is a missed call or message. A novel and sleek accessory.
Another thing I liked was the option of having a guest mode (where in case there is another user, the main user has the option of hiding private contacts, messages, pictures etc from the guest user) and the holiday mode (where calls, emails and messages can be muted for a specified period of time). The phone gave FM radio a miss, which I did not like.
The Oppo N1 has everything in it to shake up the premium phablet segment. In terms of style and features, it can well put the market leaders to shame. But unfortunately, the Indian consumer gets hesitant when it comes to taking chance with a new company offering a premium product, and generally falls for the tried-and tested ones. So if Oppo can market the N1 well with affordable buying options, this can be a clear winner.
By Debasis Basak