The formula for the smartphone to top all others is the industry’s
elusive philosopher stone. Being complete newbies, but keen as a bean,
Oppo’s take is perhaps the weirdest. Yet it seems to work.
The standard ingredients include the latest chipset, a robust screen,
and a high-megapixel camera. But why not try something crazy like a
rotating camera that can do the best selfies in the industry? That
seemed to be last year’s brief. This year the module is motorized and
can rotate all by itself. The camera has also seen a substantial
Oppo N3 official photos
Last year’s Oppo N1 had a rotating 13MP camera, a 5.9″ 1080p display
and a CyanogenMod ROM, as an alternative to Oppo’s very own Color OS.
This year the camera is 16MP, the sensor and pixel size have gotten
bigger but that’s about it as far as bigger goes. The phone is tangibly more compact, which has a simple explanation: a slightly smaller 5.5″ 1080p IPS display.
There’s no CM this time but Color OS is in at version 2.0 bringing
Android KitKat and this time there is no longer an app drawer.
Among the other things that make the N3 a better phone is a new
chipset (Snapdragon 801 over the S600 of old) and a fingerprint scanner
on the back where the O-Touch pad used to be.
- Optional Dual-SIM (micro SIM resides in microSD card slot)
- 5.5″ IPS LCD display of 1080 x 1920px resolution, around 403ppi
- Android 4.4.4 KitKat with Color OS 2.0 on top
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset, quad-core 2.2GHz Krait 400 processor, Adreno 330 GPU, 2GB of RAM
- Motorized 206-degree rotating lens, 16MP 1/2.3″ sensor, Schneider Kreuznach certified, 1.34Âµm pixel size, dual LED flash
- 1080p video recording at 30fps and 60fps, 720p slow motion video at 120fps
- Fingerprint sensor doubling as a trackpad and button
- O-Click Bluetooth remote comes in the bundle, can control the camera and locate the device
- 32GB of built-in storage; microSD card slot
- Cat. 4 LTE (150/50Mbps); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.0; GPS/GLONASS; microUSB, USB On-The-Go
- 2,000mAh battery with Oppo’s proprietary VOOC rapid charging tech (75% battery in 30min)
- No 4K video recording yet
- Comparably large and heavy for the screen size
- QHD resolution would have been nice
- No FM radio or IR blaster (we’re nitpicking because of the high asking price)
- Hard to get in brick-and-mortar stores outside of Asia
What was good about the Oppo N1 is even better here – the body is
still a lovely blend of high-quality matte plastic and aluminum. The
frame that runs around the phone breaks for a bit toward the bottom
where a notification LED forms what Oppo likes to call Skyline
Oppo did well with the successor, building on the strengths of the
N1, and ditching some of the things that were a little over the top (the
huge footprint and 5.9″ aren’t everyone). Can Oppo finally step out of
Asia with a global winner?
Well, for one, the N3 is yet to be available on the shelves of
walk-in stores around the world. You do get shipping to most locations
outside Asia and an international warranty to go along. But most people
don’t feel comfortable buying their phone from outside the country, let
alone across continents.
Then there’s the issue of carrier subsidies – many people get their
phones on multi-year deals from their carriers without worrying about
pricey upfront obligations – this isn’t an option with the Oppo N3.
Another thing to note is the asking price of $649, which sure looks
steep. Most of the points above are valid for pretty much every
smartphone to come out of China these days – few of which can match
Oppo’s vision and creativity.
Oppo N3 at HQ
In and of itself, the Oppo N3 is a great smartphone with a quirky but
potent-looking camera propped on its forehead. As a successor, it’s all
an Oppo N1 user can ask for – the screen is smaller but we think it
suits the device better, the chipset has seen a big improvement, and the
camera (the focal point of the package) has improved the most.
OK, the N3 has our full attention. Off to unboxing and a hardware checkup after the break.