Mobile phones have become incredibly advanced in a relatively short period of time. Their purpose has shifted from a verbal communication tool to a multimedia device; we now use them more for surfing the web, checking e-mail, snapping photos, and updating our social media status than actually placing calls. Smartphones are also replacing our other gadgets, such as cameras and video cameras. These days, we often see people use their mobile phones to snap photos and video; carrying point-and-shoot cameras seems to be a thing of the past.
With the growing popularity of the selfie phenomenon, we have seen a number of handset makers come up with devices that are mounted with powerful front-facing cameras. But OPPO, a Chinese device maker, which is widely popular in tech circles for its cool designs and the latest camera technology, has taken innovation to another level with its N3 smartphone. Serving as a successor to its not-so-old N1 smartphone, the N3 device packs a single, 208-degree swiveling 16 MP shooter with dual LED flash— ideal for capturing high-quality selfies. The big difference here is that the N3’s hinge is motorised, meaning users can flip the camera around by means of either a touchscreen gesture or by using the fingerprint sensor built in to the back of the handset. Pretty amazing isn’t it? I have been using the N3 for the past few days and here are some of my impressions about the new OPPO phone.
Past its swanky new camera technology, the N3 offers some solid internals. It looks, feels and is big, heavy and pretty thick. To put it simply, it is a brick of a phone, the like of which we don’t see too often any more. It’s closer in size to some of the larger-screen devices in the market. In terms of its body dimensions, the N3 is 9.9 mm thick and weighs 192g. My take is if you really want a slim and pocketable large-screen phone, this probably isn’t for you.
The N3 features a robust industrial grade aluminum alloy micro-arc frame. Its 5.5-inch display is a little smaller than its predecessor’s, but pushes a solid 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, giving it 403 pixels per inch. The screen is very pleasant to look at and offers a satisfying display. Its IPS display provides natural-looking colours, pretty good brightness as well as good viewing angles.
Probing the innards, there’s a fairly standard 2 GB RAM on board, as well as 32 GB storage with a microSD card slot for expandability. In terms of connectivity, the N3 device boasts 4G LTE, 802.11ac wireless, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0.
The device also gets you a pretty great array of hardware features. It is powered by a quad core 2.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. It has a 3,000 mAh battery that is non-removable, and can be charged to 75% in just 30 minutes. Trust me, I was actually able to do this fast charging.
The N3 uses Color OS 2.0 as its operating system, rather than a totally standard version of Android. Mind you, this isn’t just a light tweak of the look of vanilla Android; the Color OS makes some pretty serious changes. The most serious of the lot being the apps menu. For instance, it lets you download additional themes that
alter icon styles and wallpapers.
Moving further, the top of the N3 is really owned by the famed camera. Yes, we are talking about the motorised camera module that utilises the same lens for use on the front and rear. Let me make it clear here. There’s just one lens and one sensor, but they pivot around on a hinge that can either be moved manually or using a motor built into its hinge. The main camera can also be used for selfie shots. OPPO has partnered with Schneider to incorporate the smart motorised camera in its N3 device. The phone uses the Omnivision OV16825, a 16-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor which is pretty high resolution.
In actual usage, I found the N3 to be quite a snapper. Focusing is fast, there’s virtually no shutter lag and shot-to-shot times are snappy. The f/2.2 lens also offers good level of natural shallow depth of field.
What impressed me most was the sharpness of the photos. Colours look fantastic and the photos look bright and alive.
My takeaway: The N3 can produce high quality photos and offers much greater contrast than many other phone cameras. It will surely appeal to those who have a penchant for snapping photos while on the move.
* Display: 5.5 inch LCD (1920 x 1080)
* Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AA quad-core 2.3 GHz
* Operating system: Color OS, based on Android 4.4
* Storage & memory: 32 GB, 2 GB RAM
* Camera: 16 MP main & front camera
* Sensors: Distance sensor, Light sensor, G-sensor, Gyroscope, Finger Print Sensor, E-compass
* Battery: 3000 mAh Li-Po battery with VOOC Flash Charge
* Estimated street price: Rs 42,990