Tech Review: Oppo take a big step forward with the Find X, but is it enough?

We’re now over a month on from the release of Oppo’s new Find X, and from rave reviews and reactions, it’s very clear that the Chinese brand’s consistent evolution has lifted them high enough to face competitors Apple and Samsung head-on. Remarkably, they’ve done so by still sticking to their affordable (well, relatively) aesthetic, putting this on the market for an Australian RRP of $1,099 which competes very well with its closest comparison, that being the iPhone X starting price of around $1,579.

Right off the bat, it’s the design that’ll draw most people towards the Find X as we move into the last few months of 2018. And it is certainly special in that regard, defined by it’s eye-popping and gorgeous 6.4″ Amoled display, taking the emerging trend of edge-to-edge displays and shooting straight for the top. Building upon the pioneering efforts of sister company Vivo, the Find X uses an ingenious mechanised sliding mechanism to hide both front and back cameras inside the phone (more on that below), a great help to designers who have clearly aimed at maximising screen space. Because the cameras can be hidden, the Find X delivers on an impressive 93.8% screen-to-body ratio with (almost) no bezel in sight. The results are gorgeous; crisp, clear and vivid colours are perfect for entertainment and gaming, and it certainly helps that the rest of the phone is just as attractive. Gorgeous curved edges and a red-purple finish that ever so lightly glows whenever you get a notification, giving a futuristic sci-fi look to the Find X, complete the aesthetic; it’s hands-down the coolest looking smartphone on the market.

The clean design is largely credited to that aforementioned trick with the cameras, and it’s where Find X finds its biggest point of difference, for better and for worse. An automated carriage containing all cameras pops up from the phone whenever the camera function is needed – so that includes every time you go to unlock the display with the phone’s lightning fast face recognition – and quickly pops back down when not in use. It’s quick, seamless, and makes a faint whirling sound, though it may be off-putting for some. The addition of this pop-up carriage, which also boasts the phone’s actual speaker grille, makes fully appraising the Find X’s real-world performance so soon a bit difficult. The company claim that it will take around five years for the mechanism to start acting up, but the risk of that life-span shortening with a few accidental drops is a concern. As such, you’ll want to be extra careful with the Find X, and it’s true value won’t be completely revealed until it has been out in the world for a few more months.

The cameras themselves aren’t the best on the market, but they come close. On the rear you have dual 16 and 20 megapixel sensors, each with an aperture of f/2.0, and each lacking optical zoom; while on the front you have a nice 25 megapixel single (also f/2.0) which is a massive help when it comes to the Face Unlock feature, using a secure 3D scanning method that’s just as fast as its competitors, and is efficient even in low-light.

Though the cameras aren’t too impressive on paper, the rears work together remarkably well, resulting in vibrant and clear detailed photos with very minimal noise. The high-contrast shots may look better than they actually are, seeing as you’re viewing them on one of the best displays out, but there’s little to fault about the result compared to the specs. The biggest issue with the camera is the rather useless choices in the software, speaking to the “Instagram generation” with odd inclusions like an obnoxious “beautification” mode which seems redundant given the amount of filters and apps out there.

Where I think Oppo excels the most significantly is with X’s excellent battery life. The 3730mAh charge will easily give you around 17-18 hours and VOOC fast-charging will have it back to full in around an hour. Not even demanding apps will put a significant dent on the day’s charge (just don’t go overboard) and this, coupled with the display, makes it a beast when playing games like Fortnite or watching Netflix/Stan/Foxtel Now. Unfortunately trendy wireless charging isn’t anywhere to be found here, but that’s not a substantial loss.

Complementing performance is a top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU with four cores at 2.8Ghz and another four at 1.7GHz. With 8GB of RAM, this is as good as you get from a smartphone in 2018, and probably a major reason for Oppo’s high asking price. It’s worth it though; multitasking, media and games run exceptionally well save for some niggling lags when apps are set to their highest settings. Wi-Fi matches that speed with version 802.11ac and Bluetooth with 5.0. You’ll rarely have issue with the performance here, although I did get some freezing on the camera software when in video mode.

Holding the phone can be a bit awkward, but not more so than the iPhone X’s supersized body. Due to the glossy surface, it’s prone to slipping if you aren’t holding it tight, and fingerprints are plentiful each time you’re handling. You may want to keep a cloth on hand when you take this outdoors, which is rather annoying. It’s also harder to avoid accidental presses, and though the phone is very intuitive and logical like an iPhone when it comes to gestures, the bigger screen means that you might have to scroll a bit differently so as not to press the wrong thing by mistake.

One thing you definitely won’t accidentally do with your finger is unlock the phone. There’s no fingerprint recognition here; you’ll have to either use facial recognition or the traditional pin method. Luckily, as mentioned above, face recognition is smart and fast, playing amongst the best of them.

Another annoyance – although expected in 2018 – is the complete absence of a headphone jack. You’ll be using the same USB-C port you use for the charger here, and although a dongle is included in the box, the default preference is for Bluetooth headphones – luckily Oppo’s pair are great, and there’s plenty of other brands now making worthy models. I’m still not quite won over by the idea of having my headphones run on battery just yet.

While the standard Find X is certainly one of the more need-to-know smartphones of 2018, Oppo have already started pushing special editions of the phone with enhanced features. Just recently the company brought a new supercharged Find X ($1,299 AUD) to the Australian market, defined by its SuperVOOC flash charging. Following that, they have also launched the very limited Find X Automobili Lamborghini ($1,998 AUD), a collaboration with Lamborghini, also featuring SuperVOOC charging (a full charge is said to take around 35 minutes with this) as well as a customised UI, 512GB ROM and a design mirroring the iconic sports car.

Not even counting the more expensive iterations, Oppo have successfully barged their way to the forefront of the ongoing smart phone war. While the Find X isn’t without it’s flaws, and takes some big risks with only some pay offs, it’s an important step forward for the company if they’re going to tangle with Samsung and Apple in the next few years. At least now we know what formidable competition they are.

FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE

Highlights: Best looking phone on the market, both with design and display; super fast charging (and even faster with newer models); the most reliable battery out there; responsive with superior performance.
Lowlights: feels extra fragile; fingerprint magnet; gives way to more accidental gestures; no headphone jack.
Manufacturer: Oppo
Price: $1,099 AUD
Available: Now

Review conducted with a retail handset provided by the manufacturer.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review, an obsessive hip hop nerd, a whisky drinker, and a lover of all things travel. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter with @chrisdsingh.