Introduction and design
The Oppo F1 Plus is an expensive-looking smartphone that’s actually half the price of the current crop of flagships. If you’d like an iPhone 6S, but your budget won’t stretch, this could be a contender.
At a cost of £299 (AU$599, around US$430), you get a lot of phone for your money. A decent battery, a 5.5-inch 1080p display, and an impressive 16MP selfie camera are just the beginning.
There’s also a lightning fast fingerprint sensor, a whopping 64GB of internal storage (with microSD support for more), and a sexy, svelte, metallic body, which may leave you wondering where the compromises have been made.
If you’ve never heard of Oppo before, suffice to say it’s a Chinese manufacturer that has done well at home and in emerging markets. It has gradually drifted toward the premium end of the budget market and is now looking to tempt Europeans with the best of its line-up.
And the F1 Plus definitely is tempting, but we also have to consider the MediaTek processor, Oppo’s Color OS on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop, and the 13MP main camera. There’s a whiff of style over substance here.
When you first lay eyes on it, the Oppo F1 Plus looks a lot like an iPhone 6S Plus. It has a curvy metallic body and a comfortable feel.
Flip it over and you’ll see a protruding camera lens at the top left and two horizontal bands breaking up the metal body that are there to improve antenna performance and ensure you can get a signal.
The F1 Plus also has exactly the same sized 5.5-inch display with a full HD 1080p resolution, as the iPhone 6S Plus, though Oppo’s display is AMOLED. It’s bright and vibrant, with good detail, but the colors definitely look oversaturated at times.
Oppo has managed to outdo Apple on the slim stakes; the F1 Plus measures just 6.6mm thick compared to the positively chubby 6S Plus at 7.3mm.
The lozenge design on the home button, which also houses a fingerprint sensor, is more reminiscent of Samsung. You have to actually press it to bring the F1 Plus to life and have it read your fingerprint and unlock, just like the last few Galaxy phones.
It’s also on a par with them in terms of performance, only occasionally failing if your finger or thumb is wet or dirty.
Regardless of where the design cues originated, this is a lovely-looking phone and it feels reassuringly solid, though it weighs in at just 145g, which is very light for a handset this big. Consider that the Samsung Galaxy S7 weighs 152g and only has a 5.1-inch display.
There are no surprises in the button placement, with separate volume controls on the left spine and a power button on the right. You’ll find the micro USB port and the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom edge.
The SIM slot is above the power button and it can accommodate either two nanoSIMs or a nanoSIM and a microSD card of up to 128GB in size.
The Oppo F1 Plus feels very comfortable to hold and, if your hands are big enough, it’s pretty easy to use one-handed. The matte metallic finish gives way to a gloss, chamfered edge when it meets the display and this actually adds some grip, too.
Oppo also provides a simple, transparent gel case in the box to give it an extra layer of protection.
My F1 Plus review unit is gold, but you can also get it with a rose gold finish.
The Oppo F1 Plus makes a very good first impression and there’s no arguing that this is a very polished design for a £300 (AU$599, around US$430) phone.
Let’s be honest here. You’re not going to buy the F1 Plus for the Oppo name. It’s not on your radar because it has cutting edge specs. There is no irresistible standout feature here. What it does is offer a very competitive all-round package at a good price.
If the external look of your phone is very important to you, then the Oppo F1 Plus justifies the price. There isn’t really another option in this category with such a premium metallic finish, and, if you like Apple’s design, you’d be hard-pressed to find a phone that looks more like the iPhone 6S Plus.
What you’ll be compromising on is the processor and the operating system, which I’ll cover in more detail in the next section. But, just as there’s no standout reason to buy, there’s also no glaring omission here either. The Oppo F1 Plus doesn’t have any major weaknesses.
The only feature that Oppo has gone out of its way to highlight is the selfie camera. The F1 Plus box bears the slogan “Selfie Expert”, because Oppo is pushing the fact that it has a 16MP front-facing camera.
It takes perfectly nice photographs, but if it wasn’t advertised, I wouldn’t have noticed the selfie cam was highly rated. If you’re a real selfie addict, then this might be noteworthy, but most of us would probably rather Oppo focused on making the main camera a bit better. Skip to the camera section for a closer look.
The biggest and most noticeable disappointment here is that the F1 Plus runs Color OS 3.0, which is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop.
If you’re jumping back to this from the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it feels like someone took an older version of the platform and jumbled up all the menus. It’s usable, but it’s not as polished as stock Android or the latest UIs from the big boys like Samsung, HTC, and LG.
Having said that, if you’re coming from an older phone it’s unlikely to bother you. It’s pretty smooth and there are plenty of customization options if you want to drill into them.
The default launcher lacks an app drawer, and there’s nothing very compelling in the pre-installed app line-up, but Google’s apps are all present and correct.
You do get a few wee extras. There’s O-Cloud for backing up text messages and contacts, gestures for things like one-handed operation and quickly launching the camera, and quiet time that you can schedule to avoid being woken by alerts.
It’s just that everything lacks that little bit of polish to match the high standards set by the phone’s exterior.
Performance and battery life
Inside the Oppo F1 Plus there’s a MediaTek Helio P10 chipset, featuring an octa-core processor with four cores clocked at 2GHz and the other four clocked at 1.2GHz. The underwhelming CPU has been paired with the Mali T860 MP2 GPU. Thankfully, it’s given a performance lift by a generous 4GB of RAM.
For basic web browsing, movie watching, and casual gaming the Oppo F1 Plus performs smoothly. I had no trouble with games like Fallout Shelter, but it got pretty warm, pretty quickly playing Asphalt 8.
One area where some stuttering and unresponsiveness set in was the recent apps menu. Sometimes tapping to open a recent app simply didn’t work. The F1 Plus was also slow to switch between apps at times and it would occasionally get stuck in landscape or portrait, even with auto-rotate toggled on in the settings.
Running Geekbench 3, the Oppo F1 Plus got a single-core score of 869, and a multi-core score of 3303. I ran it a couple more times and it hit 3331 and 3262, for an average of 3299.
Performance may not be the strong suit of the F1 Plus, but for the most part it runs well and the average user probably isn’t going to run into any trouble.
There’s a built in optimizer, but I’m not a big fan of Color OS. As previously mentioned, it lacks polish and it’s running on top of an older version of Android. Hopefully, the F1 Plus will get a Marshmallow update soon, but no date has been announced at the time of writing.
Before we move on I have to mention how the F1 Plus functions as a phone. I’ve tested a lot of different phones in the last few months and when it comes to signal strength and sound quality on a call, the F1 Plus is the worst of the bunch.
Oppo has managed to pack a 2,850mAh battery into the F1 Plus, which is impressive, considering how slim the device is. An average day with a spot of gaming, some web browsing, emails and messaging won’t drain it. I found it would manage a day and a half on average, but it all depends on how you use your phone.
Running our standard 90-minute battery test with a full HD video, screen brightness cranked up to full, and Wi-Fi connected, the Oppo F1 Plus still had 88% of its charge left.
That’s a loss of 12%, which isn’t quite as good as the 9% the Xiaomi Mi5 and the LG G5 lost in the same test, but is a smidgen better than the Galaxy S7 which lost 13%, and a lot better than the iPhone 6S Plus which lost 22%.
The Oppo F1 Plus also supports something called VOOC Flash Charge. Oppo claims that five minutes of charge is enough for 2 hours of talk time. Using the charger supplied, I found I could consistently fully charge the F1 Plus in under an hour.
As with other fast charging phones it charges very quickly at first, hitting around 70% in the first half hour, and gradually slows as it creeps closer to capacity. The five-minute claim seems to hold true.
Using a normal charger, the one that came with my old Sony Xperia Z2, it went from 16% to full in 2 hours. There’s no support for wireless charging and the battery cannot be removed.
The battery settings page is weirdly sparse, but there is a low power mode to help you extend battery life when power is running low.
The star of the show here is the 16MP front-facing camera which boasts a wide f/2.0 aperture lens designed to make the most of any lighting.
There’s obviously a limit to what it can do, but the results in low-light environments are quite impressive. If you’re out and about at night and in the habit of taking a lot of selfies, then you might be swayed by this.
Oppo has also included a beauty feature that’s supposed to iron out any blemishes in your face. You can slide to make yourself look rosier and pick a level of beautification. We’ve seen it all before and it’s pretty gimmicky, but if you’re in the habit of editing your selfies after taking them it might save you a bit of time.
Both the front-facing camera and the rear-facing 13MP snapper allow you to take panoramas, use beauty mode and capture time lapse videos. Oppo has also built in a wide choice of filters, but most people probably won’t care about those.
The rear-facing camera may have a lower megapixel count, but it supports HDR and has an expert mode that lets you drill into ISO settings and tweak exposure and shutter speed, amongst other things.
I found the automatic settings got pretty decent results. Low light performance isn’t as good as the front-facing camera, but it captures a decent level of detail and fires up quite quickly.
It doesn’t support 4K video recording, but this isn’t likely to be a deal breaker for many as it can record video at 1080p and 30 frames per second.
The Oppo F1 Plus doesn’t look out of place next to the latest high-end releases, but it is a great deal cheaper at £300. It has a big battery, a solid display, and plenty of storage and RAM.
It also boasts a great selfie cam and it even has a speedy fingerprint sensor. The physical design is undeniably derivative, but it’s also slick, stylish, and expensive-looking.
The big question is whether you’re willing to make concessions on the processor and the operating system. But we’re not talking about major concessions here. Overall, this is a very nice phone for the money.
That curvy, slim, metallic body is nice to handle and it looks great. There are no issues with the build quality here, despite the low price and weight. Oppo clearly knows what it’s doing on the design front.
I’m not a big selfie fan, but that 16MP front-facing camera is sure to tempt some people. The main camera is also pretty respectable and I was pleased with some of the shots it captured with the default settings.
Everything has to be framed by the price tag. If money was no object I’d say buy a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, because it’s a much better phone, but the Oppo F1 Plus has a lot to offer for £300. It may not excel in any area, but it’s a good all-rounder.
It’s always better to have the latest version of Android, especially if you want the latest convenient features and security updates, but I can live with 5.1 Lollipop. The real problem is Oppo’s UI. Color OS 3.0 may be an improvement on previous iterations, but it still feels immature and unintuitive to me.
At the end of the day it’s a phone. Calls are arguably becoming less and less important, but I still want to be able to make them without any problems. For call quality, the Oppo F1 Plus was a disappointment.
The processor in here is not cutting edge. You may argue that Oppo has to cut costs somewhere, but the Xiaomi Mi5 is also £300 (around US$450, AU$515) and it has the superior Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 inside.
If you’re willing to stray off the beaten track, you can get a little more for your money with the Oppo F1 Plus. Anyone who covets an iPhone 6S Plus, but doesn’t want to spend that kind of money should seriously consider this.
It’s probably the most premium-looking phone in this price bracket, though you can certainly find more powerful handsets without spending more.
The Oppo F1 Plus isn’t going to set the world alight, but it’s a decent phone for the money. The question is: are you willing to sacrifice a little substance for your style?
First reviewed: June 2016
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