Just a few short months after Oppo released the Oppo F1, the Oppo F1 Plus is banging down our door to be paid some attention. Let’s see what this has over its predecessor and whether it lives up to the “selfie” proclaimed hype.
Disclaimer: Oppo gave us this F1 Plus to Review, but has no bearing on the outcome of this review. The software number is build X9009EX_11_A.02_160309 and the device was used on the Three UK mobile network for almost 3 weeks.
The Oppo F1 Plus is a device I watched quite carefully from announcement to retail, because it’s one of the few devices to put more effort into it’s front camera than the back one. With Oppo’s Innovative VOOC charging, a wicked fast fingerprint sensor and a heavily modified version of Android, can the F1 Plus keep up their with the flagships? read on to find out.
Speeds and Feeds (Specs)
- 5.5” 1920x1080p Super AMOLED display
- Octa-core MediaTek Helio P10, 2Ghz Cortex A53.
- Mali-T860MP2 700Mhz
- 4GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 64GB ROM
- MicroSD expandable storage taking the second SIM slot, up to 256gb
- 2850mAh Li-Po Battery
- VOOC Flash charging, 75% in 30 minutes
- 13mp F2.2 Rear Camera, LED Flash
- 1080p 30fps Video recording on the rear camera
- 16mp f2.0 front facing selfie Camera.
- 1080p 30fps video recording on the front camera.
- MicroUSB port
- Mono speaker on the bottom.
For a more complete spec list, head on over to GSMArena
I tend not to write about the unboxing experience of phones because I prefer to make unboxing videos, but with the Oppo F1 Plus I think I would benefit from writing it down.
From the outside, we have a cream covered sheath for the box, with a photo of the F1 Plus up front, with the Oppo branding in the top right, and the F1 Plus branding in the centre middle. The Left and Right are identical, with the Oppo Branding in the top centre, and the F1 Plus branding in the bottom centre. Lastly on the back we have the Oppo F1 Plus in the top left with a QR code in the top right. Below that we have a call out to the 4 most important features of the F1 Plus, the 16mp front facing camera, the 4GB RAM and the 64GB of ROM, VOOC Flash Charging and the Touch Access fingerprint scanner, as well with some rudimentary specifications underneath.
Removing the sheath we have a white box with a really nice lightly textured pattern and an embossed Oppo logo in the middle and weighted to the right and finished in silver. This has been replicated on the left and right spines, with the top, bottom and back all being completely barren.
Removing the lid we see the F1 Plus itself in a thin packaging bag. Removing the device and the tray it was resting on means we gain access the SIM card removal pin, which is a nice Oval shape and is very solid. With a cutout at the top of that piece, we find the included TPU case and the Quick start guide in multiple languages. Whilst TPU case or cases in general are not my favourite things, having one included out of the box is a very nice thing to have especially if you have ordered accessories and the device arrived first.
Pulling that part of the packaging out of the way we come to the last bit, we have the included VOOC Flash Charger, a VOOC compatible MicroUSB cable (more on that later) and some earbuds. I won’t be using the earbuds for health reasons, but for awesome reasons I will most certainly be using the VOOC Flash charger.
The Oppo F1 Plus is an iPhone Clone, let’s just come out and say it, there is no way around it. It is obviously based on the iPhone 6s Plus and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s futile to try to pretend otherwise. Where the F1 Plus gets it’s inspiration from is not just apparent in hardware. ColorOS, which is the modified version of Android this uses, is also heavily inspired by iOS. Again, that’s not to say it’s bad, far from it, but it’s good to know where it’s inspirations came from.
On the front, we’re looking at a 5.5” 1080p AMOLED panel flanked on the top from a notification LED, the ambient light and proximity sensors, the earpiece and the 16mp selfie camera. Underneath that fantastic screen we have the phenomenal fingerprint scanner which also doubles as a home button and a multitasking button on the left and a back button on the right, inverse of what Google wants, but in line with what Samsung does.
First off, let’s talk about that screen. If 1080p isn’t enough for you then you’re already on the wrong device, but the AMOLED technology behind it and the tuning of the software means that the Oppo F1 Plus’s screen just looks awesome in any light I put it in. Whilst It could stand to get a little brighter and it could have an improved anti-reflective coating, there was never a point on the F1 Plus where I thought the screen was anything other than top notch.
On the right hand side we have the power button and the NanoSIM and MicroSD tray. The MicroSD actually takes the place of a second NanoSIM, so if it is important to you, you can actually have 2 SIM cards on the device or a NanoSIM and a MicroSD card of up to 256gb capacity. It’s a good thing Samsung just made one of those isn’t it. The Power button is long and thin and has just the right amount of actuation force. It’s quite refreshing to have a device that has a satisfying “click” and can also be put in a pocket because you aren’t worried about accidentally pressing the damn buttons (I’m looking at you OnePlus X). On the opposing side we have the volume buttons, not volume rocker, two separate buttons. The volume buttons exhibit the same behaviour as the power button; they are nice and large, if a tad thin, have a nice click and just the perfect amount of actuation force. Personally, I’d take a thicker button that was slightly shorter but what we have here is not horrid or unusable by any means.
On the back we have the 13mp F2.2 camera with an LED Flash. This camera has an annoying iPhone inspired hump just as the rest of the external design does. Is it the worst thing in the world and it has ruined the device for me? Of course not, but would I rather it not be there? Of course. We have Antenna lines that more mimic what HTC, OnePlus and pretty much everyone that is not Apple has done. And lastly of course we have the colour, which on my unit is Gold. It’s a subtle Gold that I forgot was there after a short while, but when you notice it, you very much notice it.
Up top we have… nothing. Well that’s not true aswe have a noise cancelling microphone, but essentially, there is nothing up top. Down on the bottom we carry on the “inspired by iPhone” look with the Headphone jack, speaker grilles and inverted MicroUSB port as well as the microphone port. The Oppo F1 Plus is not ugly by any means, but it’s drawing inspiration from an iPhone that I never found particularly pretty to begin with. That said though, there are people that like the look, and for those people, the F1 Plus might be the perfect device.
For everything that Oppo had design influence from Apple on, the one thing that I wished they had pinched but haven’t, is the notifications toggle. OnePlus has a version of it on the OnePlus 2, OnePlus X and now OnePlus 3, and with Oppo taking a lot of influence from Apple on the design, it’s sad to see one of their best features going unused. One good thing that Oppo didn’t inherit is the seeming fragility of the metal chassis, there was no flexing, no bending and no sign of creaking from the F1 Plus. Whilst I can’t say that the design is my favourite, there is no denying that the F1 Plus is a solidly built and obsessively engineered device.
The Helio P10 and 4GB should make the Oppo F1 Plus fly, and you’d be right! Despite having a similar setup to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615/616/617, there are none of the issues that those line of chips exhibit. The Helio P10 is comprised of 8 Cortex A53 CPU cores from ARM with a clock speed of up to 2Ghz, and a Dual Core Mali T860MP2 GPU at 700Mhz and all of this has been made on the tried and true 28nm HPC process node from TSMC. Despite being the same CPU core of the Qualcomm variant, the Helio P10 has none of the same drawbacks. Not once did I notice a single hint of slowdown on the F1 Plus and not once did I get an animation stutter. Very rarely did I have devices fall out of the 4GB of RAM. Oppo and MediaTek have a winner on their hands here.
I’m not a big benchmark fiend as the way a device feels isn’t always comparable to the scores it spits out, but the F1 Plus was able to pull in Benchmark scores from Geekbench of 874 on the single core score, and 3319 on the multi-core score. Those numbers are not impressive by any measure, but as I said, the scores these tests spit out more often than not don’t show you how well the device performs. A lot of the time they, for example, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus rake in amazing scores on Geekbench, and they also perform fantastically, but a lot of the devices on the lower end of the spectrum, such as the Moto G and other Snapdragon 400 series devices don’t give performance topping numbers, but are a pleasure to use in daily life, and that is where the F1 Plus falls.
Would I have preferred the Helio P20, which has support for LPDDR4x RAM, newer LTE modems, newer, better GPUs and is made on the newer 16nmFF+ node from TSMC? Sure, but in all honestly, that isn’t needed here, the P10 performs valiantly, and has been a pleasure to use, whether I be doing some light gaming on Monument Valley, some slightly more intensive stuff in Man At Arms : Forged in Battle, or stuff that a HTC G1 could do like playing aa 2, the Oppo F1 Plus and the Helio P10 chip inside never stuttered or showed any sign that they were struggling.
See Qualcomm, it isn’t that hard.
The ColorOS software that the Oppo F1 Plus runs, just like the hardware, is heavily Inspired by the software Apple puts out on it’s devices, dubbed iOS. I am already not a fan of how iOS looks and operates, it is one of the many reasons I choose to buy Android devices, but whilst a lot of the things the F1 Plus and ColorOS do are quite refined and polished, there are a lot of things that irk me and I wish were changeable, and if they are changeable, more easily changeable.
If someone tries to tell you that ColorOS 3.0 is not inspired by iOS they are lying to you. From things like the lockscreen, the homescreen, the settings panel and the camera app, Apple’s influence can be seen in most places in the UI. Another Apple thing I am glad they picked up though is responsiveness. As I stated in the performance section of this review, the F1 Plus didn’t stutter or slow down on me once, just like the iOS devices I have used in recent memory.
ColorOS 3.0 is built upon Android 5.1, and It is very heavily modified. It goes past things like EMUI from Huawei and goes about as far as MIUI from Xiaomi. There are an awful lot of modifications done here, and whilst a lot of them are not to my taste, there are a fair few things that for the lay person, would probably be great. Things such as the standard ColorOS launcher throwing all your apps onto the homescreen (a la iOS) so you don’t have to go searching for them. Whilst I am personally not a fan of this style (I actually use Action Launcher 3) I do know people on Android phones that have switched from iOS and do miss having them all strewn out on the homescreens.
The Camera UI is another big deviation from standard as this is an almost carbon copy of the iOS camera app. Again, this doesn’t mean it is bad, and it is certainly not to my taste, but there are a lot of people who don’t want the complexity of some of the other camera user interfaces and just want an easy way to shoot great pictures. For those people the ColorOS camera app shines, and for the other people, well it’s Android, download or sideload a new one.
It is important to iterate that, once again, the designers on ColorOS have heavily borrowed some things from iOS when developing this UI, and whilst I don’t personally like the iOS UI and UX it is a very popular device with a lot of diehard followers. I have installed a new launcher, new camera app, new dialler, new calendar and more to make the device to my liking, but I could give the device stock to my friend/tenant and as she uses an iPhone 6 Plus, I’m sure she’d rather keep it as it is, with the faux apple camera app, throwing all her apps on the home screen and the very very iOS lockscreen. It isn’t a bad way of doing things, just different to how we are used to them on Android.
Let’s start talking about some of the less great things of ColorOS though, and these aren’t just things I don’t like, but things that don’t work properly. First off, one of the many benefits that Android has over iOS is the ability to change the default application to one you desire. This is rather hit or miss with the Oppo F1 Plus. Whilst I eventually got a new launcher and dialler set, it was nigh on impossible up until a few days ago to get a different camera and or a different messaging app to change and stay changed was nigh on impossible. There was a massive 1.36GB OTA update a few days ago and this was one of the issues fixed, which I am very happy about.
A 2850mAh Li-Po battery is actually something that isn’t all that impressive these days, where 5.5” device have upwards of 4000mAh batteries, but that doesn’t stop the F1 Plus from posting some quite impressive battery results here. Whilst Battery Benchmarks aren’t everything, they do give us a chance to see what something is like.
The Geekbench Battery Bench is a synthetic benchmark that stresses the SoC as much as it can and it has two modes, it lets the screen stay on at its current brightness level until the device dies, or it lets it dim to the lowest level possible until the device dies. With keeping the screen bright (just over 50%) the F1 Plus lasted 7 hours and 2 minutes, posting a score of 4228. When we let the screen dim as much as possible, we saw 7 hours and 15 minutes and a score of 4350, proving that the screen is incredibly efficient.
It was more than often with the F1 Plus that I was heading to bed with 40% left, and as much as I’d like to tell you what the Screen on time numbers were, the alterations Oppo has made in ColorOS makes getting that data incredibly hard, sadly.
So it lasts a while, and it’s got a moderately sized battery, i’m sure it takes a normal amount of time to charge right? Right?
The F1 Plus incorporates what Oppo calls VOOC Flash Charging. VOOC is without a shadow of a doubt the most impressive part of the phone, and that’s no small feat, there are a lot of impressive things on this phone. VOOC is a different type of fast charger, instead of pumping all the juice into the phone and letting it handle (or not handle) it, all the smart smarts of VOOC are in the charger and the special cable. Moving the important parts out of the device means two things, 1) the charger itself is going to cost more, and 2) the device stays considerably cooler.
VOOC charging is not something I do every day, I need not do it every day because of the battery life, but when I need juice fast? VOOC it up! (I need to trademark that) we are talking pretty much 75% in as little as 30 minutes, and 100 in under an hour all without the phone getting even slightly warm to the touch. VOOC even works this fast when you’re actively using the device, again, because the important bits that produce a lot of heat aren’t in the phone anymore so whilst I could talk about this more, instead i’m going to post a video from friend of the site Cam Bunton, from when he used to work at 9t05 Google and he reviewed the F1 Plus
VOOC Is no joke, and i love it. There is also a slight accessory ecosystem around VOOC, there are VOOC wall chargers, obviously, but there are also VOOC enabled car chargers, as well as a VOOC portable battery bank, these all cost more than their non-VOOC counterparts, but none of those can claim to be as fast,efficient or cool as VOOC. One Thing to note is that VOOC doesn’t use a standard MicroUSB charging cable, it uses a very lightly modified one. They haven’t changed the external design, but instead of MicroUSB’s standard 5-pin pinout, a VOOC MicroUSB cable has 7 pins in the heads for the extra juice. A VOOC MicroUSB cable is also considerably thicker than a normal one this is extra insulation to keep the cable itself cool as well.
This thing has probably the best thermals outside of an iPhone, period. In the 3 ish weeks i’ve been testing it, there was a single day that it got hot and that was a rare day in the UK that I am led to believe is called “summer”, it was over 20 degrees celsius, not a cloud in the sky and very little wind, that was the single day where I had the thought “huh, this is a little warm” but not hot enough that I wanted to stop using the device.
It was so refreshing to have a device that was fast, charged fast, had a big,bright screen and didn’t even get warm, it’s an odd thing to look forward to, but hey, lately i’ve had phones that seem to want to brand me they’ve gotten so hot, so i’ll take what I can get.
I was toying whether or not to put VOOC in here, but in the end there is only one extra feature that is worth talking about, and that is the lightning fast fingerprint sensor on the front of the F1 Plus.
Whilst I may not enjoy the placement which is integrated into the home button on the bottom front of the device (my favourite position for the fingerprint sensor is on the rear, under the camera sensor) , the Fingerprint scanner on the Oppo F1 Plus is nigh on instant, and even faster than the TouchID 2 on the newer iPhones, Oppo have really put a lot of effort into the Fingerprint scanner and it shows.
Doing some light digging I was able to find that the module used, an FPC1245 from Fingerprint cards, is the same one being used in the new OnePlus 3, and honestly, I think that that is not the only thing shared. Fingerprint cards make pretty much everything aside from TouchID (Apple makes those after they bought AuthenTec a few years back) and the fingerprint sensors in the Galaxy S and Note lines (those are made exclusively by Synaptics)
Using some software greatness, the F1 Plus pulls off an awesome trick, you can lock down individual apps, I can lock down my messages, photos, social media and emails, but i can leave games open etc. It has a fall back way of entry, which was a pattern for me, but I have never used it as the fingerprint sensor is so accurate it never failed me. I honestly can’t praise Oppo enough for the Fingerprint sensor on the F1 Plus, as I said, not in my favourite place, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that technically, it’s bloody amazing.
There are 2 camera experiences on the Oppo F1 Plus, the rear experience, and the front experience, and unlike most devices, on the F1 Plus, the front steals the show.
Let’s start with a lightly technical break down, the front facing camera has a larger sensor, with more megapixels, a lower aperture and the same sized pixels as the back. Every metric that matters, the F1 Plus makes sure that the front camera is better and there is a reason, this phone is the “selfie Expert”, and honestly, they aren’t messing around. Vlogging on the F1 Plus was more fun than anything else, I found myself using it to Vlog on other things than usual, and I felt less worried, because screw it, the end result is going to look awesome! Colours looked nice and vibrant, exposure was great with few swings, and the swings were fast and didn’t sway to one end or the other, Oppo seriously know what they’re doing here.
Moving on to the back, it’s more of the same, just slightly less impressive, its a smaller sensor, with an F2.2 aperture and 3 million fewer pixels to work with. It does have PDAF (phase detection autofocus) for better focus times, and whilst it was great, the HDR mode was producing beautiful images and more, I just found myself wanting to take more selfies with this thing more than anything else, and I’m sure my Instagram Followers would agree, there were a lot more selfies whilst I was testing this.
Video from the rear camera was less impressive than I would have liked, capped at 1080p30 isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it just didn’t look all that great, and when the photos did, it was just a little disappointing. Video doesn’t look bad on the F1 Plus, far from it, but it is just unexceptional, which doesn’t really cut it anymore, even when we are talking about low price points, such as the £300 the F1 Plus Retails for.
The F1 Plus is a Dual NanoSIM device capable of 4G LTE on both of those simultaneously, I didn’t check both slots as I didn’t have a second active NanoSIM, but the main SIM went in flawlessly, the tray is nice and deep to accomodate MicroSIM’s that have been cut down to NanoSIM size (fun fact, NanoSIM’s are fractionally thinner than MicroSIM’s, which is why cutting it down doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll fit), It’s the Little things.
The SIM I popped into the F1 Plus was my main Three UK SIM card, for the entirety of the review, the F1 Plus was my only device and not once did I have a dropped call, a missed call or fail to have SMS messages sent. The radios in the F1 Plus were comparable to what Motorola has done in recent years, one thing I must note, the Microphone on the F1 Plus is nothing short of astonishing, even on standard voice calls, the other person said I sounded much better, and when I switched over to a VoIP call, it sounded like they were right next to me, utterly astonishing.
Next up we have WiFi, a Dual Band WiFi chip has been put in here and speeds were as good as could be expected. My Home WiFi is on the fritz at the moment, so whilst we pay for 80/20, even my computer that is plugged straight into it often struggles to get past 40/20 most of the time. But nevertheless, the WiFi radios are just as strong as the mobile ones, and Oppo should be commended for this.
Usually the Conclusion of a phone review is the hardest part for me to write, whether or not you should buy a phone, whether or not it’s worth the money the OEM is asking, but with the F1 Plus, everything is worth it.
The Fingerprint scanner is flagship worthy, the speed is impeccable, the screen is top notch and the battery life is stellar. It even bests other devices costing more in some areas, such as the front-facing camera and the charger (VOOC is seriously awesome and is in another league to other fast charging solutions), it even comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of built in fast storage by default! And if you’re so inclined, you can even throw a 128gb MicroSD card in there as well.
As Long as you can deal with the heavily iOS and iPhone inspired Hardware and software, the £300 price tag of the Oppo F1 Plus is a no-brainer, sure there are other devices, such as the OnePlus 3 for only £9 more, but if stock android isn’t your thing? The F1 Plus is a stellar phone for not a lot of cash, and I will likely continue to use it for a big once this review is over.
Oppo F1 Plus£299
- Fingerprint Scanner is second to none
- Screen is gorgeous
- Helio P10 is more than fast enough
- VOOC is insanely awesome
- Front facing camera is legit
- External Design is very much inspired by the iPhone
- Software Design is very much inspired by iOS
- A tad too large for my tastes
- still MicroUSB