Back in the golden age of mobile phones, manufacturers like Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson all came out with crazy designs. Phones that pivoted, or had weird keyboards that rotated, or some that didn't really look like phones at all were launched.
Fast forward to today, and smartphones are all seemingly racing to the same inevitable end goal of having nothing but screen on the front. Of course, this now means creative ways to implement the front facing camera and other hardware. Enter: Oppo's creation, the Find X, which has introduced a rather intriguing solution.
Premium, glossy, pop-up marvel
- 156.7 x 74.2 x 9.4mm
- 186 grams
- Cameras slide out at the top
Oppo's Find X is almost all-screen on the front. In fact, the 6.4-inch display takes up 93.8 per cent of the front surface of the phone. And there's no notch, which also means a little creativity was required to build in the front facing camera.
While Vivo caught our attention with its little tiny popup selfie camera on the NEX smartphone, Oppo has taken a wildly different approach. Rather than have a single small camera that pops up out of the frame, the Find X has a pop-up that spans the entire width of the phone and doesn't just feature the front facing camera.
When closed, this mechanism also hides the dual camera system on the back. That means whenever you want to use any of the cameras - when you launch the app or a function that requires camera access - the mechanism slides up in about half a second. And then slides down again when you're done. It's actually quite a pleasing motion that's both smooth and relatively quick.
We do have concerns about the longevity of this mechanism though. It seems that having more moving parts in a phone could mean more chance of something going wrong, although Oppo claims it has tested this mechanism and it should live through up to 300,000 actuations. Even if it does last, it's surely going to be something of a dust magnet, and users will need to be careful not to get their phone wet, because having this open/shut mechanism also means the phone isn't sealed against water ingress.
Closed, from the front, the Find X looks similar to the designs coming from Samsung in recent years. The sides of the glass subtly curve towards the metal edges, which are shiny and polished to match the glass on the back. Unlike Samsung though, there's virtually no bezel at all on the top edge of the 6.4-inch screen, although the chin is slightly thicker, similar to the OnePlus 6.
Keeping up with the modern design trends, the glass finish is very eye-catching. It uses a multi-layer process and both the Glacier Blue and Bordeaux Red (actually more like pink or purple) models adapt and change under different lighting conditions, with the colour on the outside bleeding into the dark glass in the middle.
There's no headphone jack anywhere to be seen, but interestingly there's a SIM tray embedded alongside the USB C connector and speaker grille on the bottom edge.
On the whole, the phone feels on first impressions to be as well designed and well made as any top flagship we've laid our hands on this year. It's a premium device, there's no doubt about that.
Gorgeous and ginormous display
- 6.42-inch OLED
- 2340 x 1080
As for the actual screen, that's a 6.42-inch panel with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Did we mention there's no notch on this beauty?
As well as being big and immersive, it's built on an OLED panel which means vivid colours and lots of contrast. We've only spent a short amount of time with it, but it was certainly attractive on first looks.
Perhaps the one downside is that it's "only" a FullHD+ panel, which means 1080 x 2340 resolution and a pixel density of just over 400ppi. It's not the sharpest screen out there, but it's plenty sharp enough to ensure you shouldn't see individual pixels.
Omoji and 3D Face Recognition
- 3D and IR sensors
- Secure facial recognition
- Animated emoji
One key feature missing - and deliberately so - is a fingerprint sensor, and that's because this phone promises to have facial recognition capabilities that rivals Apple's own FaceID.
When the mechanism slides up, it's not just revealing a front facing camera. There's a collection of various depth and IR sensors which - combined - can scan and create a complete 3D model of a user's face. It can recognise and scan 15000 different data points that include depth as well as visual data, making it secure enough to authenticate payments and purchases as well as unlocking the phone.
As if that wasn't enough, you can have some fun with it too. Oppo's Omoji are exactly what you think they'd be from the name. It's essentially Animoji, in Oppo flavour. You can create your own custom 3D emoji character, or use a preset animal or character and animate them using facial expressions just like Apple and Samsung's emoji creations.
Those sensors also combine to help create artificial 3D lighting effects when taking portrait selfies with the 25-megapixel front facing camera. It's something we've seen before, so we're not entirely surprised to see it incorporated here.
Oppo's software this time around is based on Android 8.1 Oreo, and called ColorOS 5.1. A few things have changed since our last Oppo phone review, like the move to a gesture based system. In truth, the software running on these early models is pre-production and so there's not much we can comment on here yet. With that said, there is one important addition that takes a leaf right out of the iPhone x's book.
Power and speed
- Snapdragon 845 processor
- 8GB RAM + 256GB storage
- 3750mAh battery
- VOOC flash charging
With Oppo phones in the past, we've often seen mid-range processors being used to help keep the costs down. This time, that's not the case. The company has gone with the current flagship chip of choice, the Snapdragon 845, and then paired it with a generous 8GB of RAM. That should, in theory, mean a stupendously fast phone. Presuming the software doesn't get in the way.
Alongside this power there's a capacious 3,730mAh battery which is surely going to be enough to keep even the busiest person through a day. Saying that, it'll be interesting to see how much battery is used up by the regular opening and shutting of that pop-up camera mechanism.
Even when it does empty, Oppo makes use of its VOOC fast charging technology which - in years past - has been identical in power and speeds to OnePlus' Dash Charge. In short, it'll be one of the fastest charging phones around.
Of course, these are elements of the hardware we haven't been able to fully test yet given our limited time with the phone. We're looking forward to putting the Find X through its paces a little later this year.
About those cameras
- Dual 16MP + 20MP sensor
- AI scene detection
While the pop-up mechanism that reveals the rear cameras is certainly a spectacle, the actual sensors themselves should be very capable. And it's not just about the hardware. These are enhanced by AI.
The dual 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel cameras are both optically stabilised, and both have f/2.0 apertures. When you shoot though, the AI kicks in and starts recognising objects and scenes within the photo and then adapts settings to enhance the picture. It's very similar in theory to what we've seen from the Huawei P20, Honor 10 and the LG G7 ThinQ.
As with most elements of this device so far, more testing is required to see if it's actually any good, or if the promise of AI enhancement is just jumping on one of the current trendy buzzwords in the tech industry.
- China launch first
- France, Italy, Spain and Netherlands to follow
- Late summer timeframe
- €999 price tag
In a move that's almost as big an announcement as the actual hardware, Oppo has announced that it's bringing its phones to Europe officially for the first time. Once the initial Chinese launch kicks off at the end of this summer, Oppo will be selling the Find X in France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
Cost? That's where the announcement gets even more surprising than it already was. Oppo is distancing itself from its middle-of-the-road phones with the Find X, and will be selling the 256GB model for an eye-watering €999 in Europe.
There's also a special edition Lamborghini model that costs €1699, but comes with a custom carbon fibre finished and an even faster Super VOOC flash charging.
There are a few things that we liked about this phone at the launch event. We like the Oppo is pushing itself firmly into the premium flagship category with a device that has all the features you'd expect from a truly high-end phone.
The screen-to-body ratio comes closer to a truly edge-to-edge bezel free phone than any phone we've seen so far. While we have some concerns about the mechanism, it seems to work well, and it's enabled Oppo to add in some advanced facial recognition hardware that other Android manufacturers haven't managed yet.
At €999 it's not going to be sold by the bucket load, but with its collection of innovative and intriguing features, high performance hardware and stunning design, we can't think of a better way to announce itself to the European market. It's a phone people should talk about, even if they don't end up buying it.