Oppo N1 Review
Oppo touts the N1 as “The Return to Innovation”, chiefly on account of the 13 MP swivel-mounted camera at the top. Oppo throws at us quite a bit of superlatives about the N1 camera, like wide f/2.0 aperture, 7-element optics and a dual mode LED flash, too, whose diodes are with different intensity, depending on whether you are using the camera as a rear or front-facing shooter. Oppo also has its so called Pure Image software to control the dedicated image signal processor (ISP). Oppo say they chose to put a tailored ISP to control the 13 MP sensor and the picture-taking process, as this gives it more flexibility over the stock one embedded in Snapdragon 600, and allowed it to make the camera very fast, to the tune of 0.6 second shot-to-shot times. Thus Oppo joins the ranks of manufacturer devices with such dedicated processors like Nokia's PureView Lumias, the HTC One series, or the Sony Xperia Z1, for instance.
As a sensor, we still have a 1/3.06” sensor, which is about the average mobile device size, and with 13 million pixels crammed on it. It doesn't have optical stabilization, for better low light performance. Oppo flaunts that up to 8 seconds exposure times are available with the N1 for night shots, but to achieve a blur-free picture in the night you have to hold the phone extremely steady or use a tripod.
When it comes to quality, however, the phablet is severely lacking compared to other flagship, and even midrange Androids. The pictures come out with less detail than what one would expect from a 13 MP unit, and the amount of noise present drowns the details even more. We definitely expected better quality from a high-end device, especially one touting its camera. The photos sport fairly accurate color representation and white balance, relaying the colors you see with your own eyes naturally. However, the phone's automatic measurements sometimes result in underexposed frames that look much less lit than the scene is in reality.
Indoors the pics get very noisy, unless the amount of light is abundant, and blur is usually a part of the picture if you don't keep the giant phone extremely steady. In fact, there is even more noise and blur than we've achieved with phones that have no pretenses to be camera-centric. If we compare it other high-end handsets, like the Galaxy S4 for example, the Oppo N1 is just not good enough.
Note that the camera software in our unit might not be the final one just yet, so picture quality might be improved further with a firmware update.
Since the rear camera is also the front-facing shooter when you turn it towards you, your selfies should be leaps and bound above anything on the market, right? Not really, as the usual indoor photos disadvantages apply here, and apart from more detail than with your typical front shooter, the snaps with the N1 aren't much to talk about in this case, too.
Video is shot with 1080p resolution, but the average frame count doesn't hit 30fps, rather stays slightly below. The footage is still fluid and detailed enough, but comes underexposed like the stills, and thus a lot darker than it should be.
The gallery is simply called Photos, and sports a number of on-handset editing possibilities for your pictures, though the sharing options only cover the basics like Hangouts and Facebook instaled out of the box.
Oppo had a whole homescreen on the R819 dedicated to the music player widget, but on the camera-centric N1 such a homescreen is reserved for the camera ability, and music playback is done in a more orthodox way. You can change the so-called Exclusive screen to the vinyl widget that controls the music player app, but out of the box the N1 comes with the camera homescreen.
The music app still has a cool vinyl icon, and a very pleasant, easy to use interface with big buttons. There is a Dolby Mobile surround sound mode you can turn on for allegedly fuller sound, which, however, simply seems to turn up the sound intensity. It comes, however, with a few visualized equalizer presets, and a custom one can be made by pulling the animated sound curve directly with your finger for some interactive equalizer experience.
Oppo supplies ergonomic in-ear hedaphones with the N1, whose stubs are slightly tilted for better fit in your ear, like the ones that come with the LG G2, and they have an additional opening, similar to the iPhone 5s and the Galaxy S4 pair, arguably providing better acoustics. The overall effect is pretty pleasing, compared to the typical earbuds that come with smartphones these days, yet they give way to the headphones that are bundled with the above-mentioned phones in terms of sound quality. The loudspeaker is also very good – pretty strong and comparatively clear.
The video player has no issues running every major format thrown at it, including MKV and DivX containers, up to 1080p resolution, but its interface is devoid of additional options, save for the playback ones.