Over the past few years, smartphone manufacturers have started designing devices with bigger displays and thinner bezels. One result is the switch from the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio to the now-trending 18:9 aspect ratio. Apple introduced the notch on its flagship iPhone X (Review) in order to make the screen as big as possible but still accommodate an earpiece and front camera in their usual spots, and a lot of Android manufacturers have followed suit. The notch has also become a popular feature, but now Vivo and Oppo have both showcased a new way to achieve a near all-display smartphone - moving parts.
Vivo recently introduced the Nex (Review) with an all-display front and a selfie camera that pops up when required. Oppo on the other hand has housed all the cameras and sensors of the new Find X in a module that moves up and down. Is the Find X a fancy prototype or a practical smartphone that you can actually live with? We are about to find out.
The Oppo Find X has the ability to make you go ‘wow’ when you first see it. The face of this phone has thin borders all around the screen. The body has curves just like the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Review) and Galaxy S9 Plus (Review). The back is also made of glass that curves at the edges which makes the phone easy to hold. Oppo sells the Find X in two colours, Bordeaux Red and Glacier Blue. Our review unit was the former option and it is stunning to look at. The use of glass on the back makes the phone a little slippery and one must exercise caution while using it. Oppo also ships a case in the retail box but we did not receive it with our review unit. The power button is on the right while the volume buttons are to the left. Apart from those, the sides are blank. There’s a USB Type-C port at the bottom, along with a speaker grill and a SIM tray.
Dominating the front of the Find X is a 6.4-inch display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Oppo calls it a Panoramic Arc Screen, and says that this phone has a screen-to-body ratio of 93.8 percent. Since the front is all screen, Oppo has positioned the ambient light sensor on the top, along with a secondary mic.
Swipe up from the lock screen and the camera module slides upwards, revealing all the cameras and face recognition sensors. You can feel faint vibrations on the metal frame as a motor pushes the module up. When it is open, you can easily see the selfie camera and earpiece, but what you can’t spot are the infrared camera, flood illuminator, dot projector, and ranging sensor. These are used for face recognition, which is the only biometric method of unlocking this smartphone, and is dubbed ‘O-Face Recognition’ by Oppo. At the back, you can see dual cameras and a single-LED flash. Since the Find X lacks a fingerprint scanner, the back is plain and only has the Oppo and Find X logos.
The Oppo Find X does not have an IP rating which might be because of the moving module. We noticed that it was easy to get dust and grime on the sliding module, and you will need to clean it very often. While we cannot comment on how reliable the mechanism will be, Oppo claims that the slider has been tested over 3,00,000 times to ensure expected functionality. Overall, the phone definitely feels very futuristic.
Let’s first talk about the display, which is what makes the Oppo Find X look so appealing. The 6.4-inch AMOLED panel sports full-HD+ resolution and has vivid output. You can tweak the colour temperature and choose between natural or boosted colours. Since it is an AMOLED panel, the black levels are quite good. Brightness is adequate and the display is viewable outdoors. An always-on mode displays the current time and alerts for missed calls and messages.
At the heart of the Oppo Find X is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor which is as cutting-edge as it gets right now. It is an octa-core processor with eight Kryo 385 cores, of which four are clocked at 1.8GHz and the other four are clocked at 2.8GHz. To ensure that the processor does not face bottlenecks, the Find X has 8GB of RAM. It also gets 256GB of internal storage which is non-expandable. The Find X is a dual-SIM device and the two Nano-SIM slots are on either side of the tray, which is easy to miss at first glance. It has support for 4G and VoLTE on both SIMs.
The Find X has a non-removable 3730mAh battery and supports for the company’s proprietary VOOC fast-charging standard. Oppo ships a VOOC charger in the box. Connectivity options on the Find X include Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, and A-GPS. This phone lacks NFC, so you won’t be able to pair to other devices quickly or make NFC payments.
For optics, Oppo has gone with dual rear cameras. Its setup consists of a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 20-megapixel depth sensor. The selfie camera has a 25-megapixel sensor.
Software on the Find X is similar to what we have seen on other Oppo smartphones. It gets ColorOS 5.1 on top of Android Oreo 8.1. There are multiple customisations which deviate from the stock Android experience. The UI does not have an app drawer and all installed apps are available on the home screens. The submenus within the Settings app have been rearranged, but we could find most settings we were looking for by using the search functionality.
Oppo has added multiple gestures that let you interact with the phone. You get the usual screen gestures that let you launch apps by drawing alphabets when the phone is in standby. Edge gestures put the curved sides to use letting you jump to a previous app by swiping down twice on the edge, or enable multitasking by swiping in the opposite direction on either edge. While the first gesture is useful, the multitasking gesture felt gimmicky. We were also happy with the display’s palm rejection, and we could operate it even with our palms touching the edges.
On-screen navigation buttons are available and you can change the order in which they appear. You also have the option to ditch the buttons altogether in favour of gesture navigation, similar to the iPhone X. There are multiple ways of customising these gestures as per your preference. We switched to gesture navigation since it liberated space at the bottom of the screen, giving us a fullscreen experience pretty much throughout the UI. Smart Call features let you answer a call by lifting the phone to your ear or switching to speakerphone when you take the phone away from your ear. These will save a couple of taps and swipes if you are on the phone quite often.
Oppo claims that its Smart Driving feature blocks notifications and reminders, and reads out a caller’s name and messages when you are driving. It blocked notifications but did not read out anything for us when we enabled it. You also get a gesture to take screenshots, and the phone does have a lift to wake feature that brings the screen to life when you pick this phone up. Dual Apps lets you run two instances of the same app such as WhatsApp and Facebook. The Find X pulses the edges of the display when you have pending notifications, which looks really cool. Sadly, Oppo still hasn’t got notifications right. You cannot dismiss them by swiping them away, and instead, you have to click a delete button every single time, which gets annoying.
Game Space is a dedicated set of options that let you control resources while you game. There are three modes; High Performance allots the maximum resources to selected games; Low Power restricts performance to save battery life; and Balance manages performance and power consumption. The Find X automatically adds games to Game Space as they are installed. When playing these games the phone frees RAM, blocks notifications and calls, and allots the maximum data bandwidth to the game.
Swipe right from the first home screen and you will see the Smart Assistant that Oppo has built in. It isn’t a full-fledged assistant like Google Assistant but it does show the weather, upcoming events, the number of steps have taken each day, and photos from your gallery. You can still summon Google Assistant for any queries you may have.
In terms of apps, you get Google apps preinstalled but you can go ahead and uninstall them. Oppo AppStore, as the name suggests, is an alternative to the Play Store. The Find X also has Facebook, WPS Office, Music Party, and a Phone Manager app. The Music Party app lets you sync multiple phones to play the same song.
The Find X has powerful hardware giving it an upper hand in terms of performance. We did not notice any lag or stutter while scrolling through the menus and multi-tasking. With 8GB of RAM, the phone keeps quite a few apps in memory saving you from frequent reloading of content.
Oppo’s face recognition technology is good and failed to work only once across a period of four days. You need to swipe up from the lock screen to trigger face unlock or you can make the phone do that by simply pressing the power button. Since this smartphone uses a dot matrix projector that projects 15000 dots, and an infrared camera, it is capable of recognising faces even in pitch darkness. We tried this a couple of times at night and the phone did not disappoint us. The recognition process is quick but the camera module has to slide open each time, which means that there’s a delay.
We ran benchmarks to gauge the Find X’s performance. It scored 2,90,838 in AnTuTu, and 2,309 and 7,961 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. It scored 4,646 in 3DMark Slingshot Extreme, while clocking 50fps in GFXBench Manhattan 3.1. We noticed that the phone was a little warm to the touch after a couple of races in Asphalt 9. We also played Clash Royale, Real Car Parking 2, and Alto’s Odyssey. The big display gives you an immersive experience while gaming and watching videos, and the AMOLED display does not disappoint.
The 3730mAh battery in the Oppo Find X is capable of delivering good battery life. In our HD video loop test, the phone managed to clock 13 hours and 53 minutes. With our usage comprising of active WhatsApp and Gmail accounts, an hour using Google Maps for navigation, playing games for a while, and a few calls, we still ended the day with over 20 percent left in the tank. The VOOC charger in the box has an output of 20W and is capable of charging the phone very quickly. The phone managed to charge to 34 percent in 20 minutes, and to 90 percent in an hour. The rate of charging goes down from there, it takes close to 1 hour 40 minutes to reach 100 percent.
The cameras on the Find X are hidden, which should keep them safe from scratches in the long run. Launch the camera app and the module rises up exposing the cameras. There’s no quick shortcut like double-tapping the power button on stock Android. The mechanism has a bit of play, so you will have to be careful and hold the frame when taking photos in landscape.
The camera app has Portrait, Sticker, Pano, Slo-mo and Time-lapse modes, apart from the Photo and Video modes. An Expert mode lets you adjust the white balance, exposure, ISO, shutter speed and focus manually. The Find X has AI scene recognition which helps choose settings accordingly. Oppo claims that it can recognise close to 800 scenes, and while we could not put that claim to the test, we did find that it could recognise a moire pattern and tweak the output accordingly.
There is Google Lens integration in the camera app, which can be used for image recognition. You get a quick shortcut to apply filters before taking shots, as well as AI beautification. If you don’t like the AI beautification you can switch it off or adjust it manually.
The Find X is quick to gauge scenes and choose settings. It is also quick to enable HDR or switch to night mode when required. Photos taken with the Oppo Find X have excellent detail and you can make out objects at a distance. It captures colours accurately and the HDR mode allows capturing good details in the sky. In low light, the phone sets the camera up for night mode and bumps the ISO up to capture more light.
When we started testing the Oppo Find X, the photos we took had good details but a fair amount of noise. Portrait mode was slow, and edge detection was average. Using this mode with the rear camera felt buggy and slowed the camera app down. During the course of our review, the Find X received a software update that improved low-light camera performance, and the resultant images had better details. The camera also did a better job at noise reduction. Portrait mode had better edge detection and we did not encounter the same bugs that slowed the phone down earlier.
Selfies have good edge detection and details, and the phone automatically enables HDR when required. There are also portrait lighting options which look fairly decent, but it also takes a longer time to process the output just like with the rear camera. Video recording maxes out at 4K for the primary camera while the selfie camera can record at 1080p. When shooting with the primary camera, there is stabilisation available at 1080p but 4K videos lack stabilisation.
The use of movable parts to allow for a bezel-less display is a brave move by Oppo. The company has also done justice to this phone by using a vibrant AMOLED panel. This phone also isn’t only about showing off, as the Snapdragon 845 is the most powerful processor in Qualcomm’s stable at this point. With 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, it is in line with other flagships from leading brands.
Oppo has an uphill task of establishing itself in the new price segment that it has entered with the Find X. With the Pixel 2 (Review) twins and the iPhone X (Review) due for replacement very soon, the Oppo Find X has the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Review), Galaxy S9 Plus (Review), and Huawei P20 Pro (Review) as its main competition. This phone offers good enough hardware and features that make it stand out. Compared to the international prices of the Find X, the India pricing is quite aggressive at Rs 59,990. If you want to rock a device that is unique and are willing to pay the price, the Find X is a very good pick. But if you want to play it safe, you can opt for the Samsung Galaxy S9 instead.
Are Vivo Nex and Oppo Find X revolutionary phones or overpriced prototypes? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.