Test: Oppo Find X - Reviewing the Unknown

Great Design - Challenging Package

Ever since the initial announcement of the Oppo Find X I have been aching to test it first hand. Seeing as the reactions to moving parts have been rough I do not expect this solution to be the final step in smartphone design, nor the notch-killer it might have been. But rumors have it that Xiaomi is planning to adopt the design on the upcoming Mi Mix 3. Looking at it from a user-perspective I cannot deny how cool the device feels, and how futuristic it is.

This is a product Test, which I have chosen to define as a review after a shorter term of use. This post will include both the Unboxing and the Review in one go. Rest assured that every mentioned feature is thoroughly tested.

Unboxing

The Oppo Find X comes in a different box which feels textured. Instead of lifting it up, or around the main body, the internal content slide out from the side of the main box. Seeing blue and yellow colors feels noticeably different, but not necessarily better.

Unboxing is pleasant however and the cool logo on the  yellow folder is a nice but subtle touch. The phone takes up most of your focus as it should and the charger and included USB-C headphones are laid out nicely underneath. Oppo uses their own proprietary Quick-charger dubbed the VOOC-charger but as you can see my box does not include a European charging-brick. Instead I have had to lean on old chargers laying around. Luckily though, Oppo and OnePlus shares a lot of Tech and that includes the charging technology. So the quickest way to get VOOC-charging on a Chinese Find X in Europé is to find yourself a Dash-charger. The phone cannot tell the difference.

 
I have never missed so many messages as when using the Find X.

There is a clear rubber case included in the box (as one would expect from a $1000 smartphone, right?) which fits the phone nicely. The special camera-placement reminds you of its presence in the case-design as it leaves the top-portion unprotected. A few cases try to fix this with a loose top portion, but I stayed clear of crazy ideas.

The Chinese Curse

If you have never tried a truly Chinese smartphone-model before, getting friendly with the Find X might prove challenging. This is actually my first attempt at taming a Google-free, locked down Android smartphone, and I can tell you that it isn’t always easy.

Firstly, as I mentioned, this is a Google-free modell. There is no Google Play store pre-installed, no Google services and no Google log-in request. Instead you are asked to log in to, or register, an Oppo-account. The first challenge appears as there is no way to change your region/country code and therefore no way to receive the confirmation-code text message your registering.
This issue is easy to overcome if you have another smartphone or a computer nearby though, and a quick registration over at https://cloud.oppo.com/login lets you bypass this.

But now what? Now the real adjustments begin.

 Can we all just take a moment to appreciate this?

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate this?

Getting Google-Friendly up in Color OS

Let’s begin with the positives here. Color OS feels very safe. On a less bright side that is a lot of the time thanks to the system-wide lock-down which also has a tendency to be overwhelming.

Installing the Google Play Store is easy enough. This first step should be quite easy as there is no app-drawer so you should see the Oppo App Store on the first screen and manage to search for Google. Google Play should be the first thing you see. Click it and install it. Following these steps you will have noticed several Chinese characters across the display, hinting that there are parts of the OS that aren’t translated to English. This is the case, and throughout Oppos enclosed app echo-system there are non-translated sections. Luckily we will avoid using these as much as possible.

Following the Google Play Store installation you will also be prompted to install Play Services. You will log into your Google account and from here you can begin to install Google- and third party apps from the store you know and love. This is when you notice the lock-down. Most users will start trying to replace stock-apps with their personal preferences, such as the Launcher, SMS app, and web-browser. You will soon notice that you cannot replace these. You can install new ones, but the launcher will not be accessed by going home, the SMS-app will not receive text-messages, and the phone will always chose the Oppo-browser for new web pages. Actually that last one isn’t entirely true as I did find the option to change the stock web-browser. The phone still reverts back to the Oppo-browser every now and again though..

Why an Android-manufacturer would want to limit the open-ended side of Android is beyond me, but it seems to be security-related. Oppo even limits Keyboard-usage when it comes to password-entering by defaulting back to the “safe” privacy-keyboard. Luckily this can be turned off.

Now, opposed to what others say I do not think that the stock Launcher is all that bad. I do miss the app-drawer, but I appreciate the animations, like with Xioami’s launcher the apps close into their respective Icon if it is visible. Swiping down on the launcher does not give you notifications and Quick-setting though but instead activates the search-panel, which accidentally is full of Chinese characters and utilizes a Chinese search engine.

As I said Oppo won’t let you change default apps, so text messages will show up in the stock sms-app and if you click on a link to an uninstalled app it will try to find it in the Oppo App Store. There are ways around this though, using ADB like we previously did when installing and approving the XDA-Gestures app.

I decided to test the phone with its stock configuration, as I think a lot of users will. There is a great discussion and instructions thread over at XDA. Remember though, it is recommended that you install the replacement-app before removing the one from Oppo. This is especially important for the launcher.

The First-Hand Experience

Big Phone, Small Bezels - Mostly Flagship

Huge - glass-on-glass - Slim Bezels - Hidden cameras - Curved Display - “Gradient” back color.

The Oppo Find X seems to have it all when it comes to design-choices. And this is the sleekest device I have tried. It is also large, and while it is possible to handle it in one hand it is down-right uncomfortable most of the time. As I said about the LG G7, it is time for companies to realize that even with small bezels 6” is pretty much the sweet-spot for mobility.

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Coincidentally I was able to lay the Oppo Find X next to the famous Huawei Nexus 6P and guess what. they are pretty much identical in their overal size even though there is a 0.7 inch display-difference. So while mostly being a two-handed Broadsword of a phone, the Find X is managable in one hand - if you don’t mind climbing up and down somewhat with your palm.
My ultimate test is picking the phone up while riding a bicycle and writing a message to my Fiancee that I’m on my way. It is doable, and I have yet to drop the phone.

Even though it is large it’s hard not to like the design and form-factor. The screen-to-body ratio is 93,8% and it is really impressive. People are equally amazed by the lack of bezels as they are to the motorized hidden cameras.

My model is the Black and Blue variant and the way the blue blends from the aluminium frames to the outer rim of the glass-panel is incredibly impressive. I didn’t think it would be such a big deal but Oppo really nailed the design here and the blue fades into a centered black.

There is a cleanliness to the design that other manufacturers have not been able to achieve and this is largely thanks to the cameras being hidden. There is something futuristic about the way the camera slides up, yet it kind of reminds me of an old-school camera-lens popping out when you hit on. The hidden section is a dust-magnet though as well as the back being very prone to attracting fingerprints.

Oppo has taken some design-inspiration from Samsung, curving the long sides of the display into the edge. Speaking of the edge, the plastic rim between the aluminium frame and the glass display is more noticeable than I am used to on the Find X and especially noticeable on the top-bezel were the cameras pop out. Now this is not a bad thing, and I actually think it looks good, just something to note as I first was thrown off by the rougher edges of the plastic. The glossy blue color on the aluminium frames are a nice touch.

I know a lot of people like them, but I would have preferred the screen edges to be edge-less. I agree that it looks cool at first, but it is entirely without function and primarily makes the phone feel less durable. On the Find X there have been moments were the software, and especially text, reaches all the way to the edges making it distort slightly. It’s actually more annoying than it is good.

When talking about the display here we are looking at a 6.42 inch Amoled panel with a resolution of 1080 x 2340. That’s Full HD+ with a PPI (Pixels per inch) of 401. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, as is the back-panel.
The screen is vibrant, it is without question sharp enough, and the brightness is both pleasant in Daylight as it is at 12 pm. I am also pleasantly surprised by the touch responsiveness which is incredibly good. So even if the small bezels steal the show I have found nothing that isn’t good about this display.

Color OS - Smooth like Oxygen

Color OS have been part of Oppo-phones for as long as I can remember. This is as I said a Chinese Android-skin, and those are known to resemble iOS.

As soon as the phone is up and running you should react to how smooth and fast it feels. Oppo is owned by the same Company that holds OnePlus and if we look at performance this is no surprise. The UI flies, doesn’t slow down at all and performance is really good.

The full-screen gestures are also a lot like the ones on the OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 6, but with animations that actually match the fluidity. The standard setting goes:

  • Slide up in the middle to go home

  • Slide up and hold to go to recent apps.

  • Slide up from either side of the bottom-bezel to go back

Now Oppo isn’t content to just offer a “one-fits-all” solution so there are other options in the settings menu, as well as the standard software-buttons. You can, as an example, set the recent-apps to open if you swipe up on the right/left side, instead of the swipe-and-hold.

But aside from performance and the overall feeling the software is bugged down by strange decisions. Notifications are turned off for every app (except a few selected) by default, and you’ll have to enable them individually. That includes allowing them to appear in a pop-up, in the notification shade and/or the lockscreen. This might not sound that annoying, but after a while it gets old. The notifications shade is an all-screen covering white card which feels old by now and swiping away notifications requires a swipe and then a confirmational tap. That sounds very Apple-esque right? at least on an iPhone I can swipe again, or swipe further to dismiss the notifications as well.
As if that wasn’t enough there is no support for notification icons on the notification bar, making the lack of a notch pretty pointless except for in design.

There is a built-in assistant, but coincidentally it is only available in Chinese languages rendering it unusable for me.

As far as features go however, the Oppo Find X have a lot of them. Here are just a few:

  • Assistive Ball: A floating navigation ball that either responds to taps/multi-taps or opens a menu of navigational buttons.

  • Screen-off Gestures: Double-tap to wake, and gestures for opening the camera of activating the flashlight when the display is off. IF you have used a OnePlus device you know what this is.

  • Curved Screen Gestures: Swipe twice on the edge to jump to your previous app. Swipe up/down at the same time on the opposite edge to enter split-screen.

  • Full-Screen multitasking: A simple menu that appears when rotating the display to landscape. Lets you access screen recording and text messages for example.

  • Theme Store: Free and Paid for themes to alter system-design, icons and wallpapers.

  • Clone Apps: You know this one by know. Have two of the same app. For example Instagram, with different accounts logged in to.

  • Game Center: Lets you optimize your gaming session by limiting notifications that come through, optimizing hardware performance, and stop auto-brightness.

Battery Life

The Oppo Find X comes packed with a 3730 mAh battery. It is not the biggest one out there, but it is larger than what I am used to. No surprise then that the battery-performance also beats every other phone I have tried this year.

As I am writing this I have 66% battery left on my phone and it is 3:50 in the afternoon. That means I am about to leave work soon and that is for me an unprecedented experience.

Oppo does however not give you statistics about battery usage. Basically this means that battery-usage isn’t displayed and stuff like screen on time is left to the unknown. Thanks to apps like AccuBattery though, we can find out how well the Oppo Find X really performs.

As you can see below, there are huge limits to what you can learn about your battery usage.

I actually Believe that the Oppo Find X can last two days if I limit my usage. Being so, I do not charge it over night but instead let it rest, a full night drains about 5-6% with Wi-Fi on. Dash/VOOC-charging gets it up to 80% while I get ready and I have no trouble getting through a full day on 80%. This is also the first phone I have owned that I can charge in the evening, use it a while and then just go to work the next morning without having to Think about charging it.

I you cannot tell, I really enjoy the battery-life on the Oppo Find X.

Of course. Good Battery Life is not only a hardware solution, and the Find X utilizes software quite aggressively to manage.

The above image is just one of several moments were I literally went “What?…”. The phone is not only limiting notifications by default, it is also limiting background activity in an unprecedented maner. This, coincidentally also effects notifications, and I have never missed so many messages as when using the Find X. It is quite logical really. The phone kills apps so they cannot deliver until you wake them up again. This saves battery life.

The thing is though, you cannot change this. There are settings for limiting power-management, and you can chose up to 5 apps that can auto start making it seem like it should work. But the phone still manages to kill them and once they’re dead, they’re dead.

This is also the reason why I haven’t been able to use apps like AccuBattery to get a good look at battery usage. The phone keeps killing the app even if I told it not to and in the course of minutes I go from 2,5 hours of screen-on-time to 5 minutes.

To make sure I’d get my notifications I hereby opened the Facebook Messenger app manually, repeatedly. On a positive note the Find X have had exceptional reception and data connection both in the city of Malmö and on the country-side.

Security

Oppo is proud of its facial recognition security, as they should be. The Find X slides open the camera-module when you unlock it revealing your face to the 3D camera and infrared sensors. This might sound tedious but it is quick. Of course, the system gives you options to use the “on-body detection” and “smart places/devices” to keep the device unlocked but I feel like this is more for the motorized camera than for your convenience. IT might make a noise when unlocking but you’ll only hear it if it’s quiet around you.
I thought I would miss the fingerprint sensor, but truth is that I look forward to this being a norm after using it for a while. It is fast and reliable and you can chose if it should require you to look at it or not.

But that is for unlocking, and except for Oppos own apps there is no support fore facial recognition in the Android/Google echo-system yet. So when using Google Pay, or in Sweden a mobile identification app, I still miss the fingerprint sensor.

The Phone also wants a PIN-code of 6 numbers for added security in case you lose your face.

The Camera

The Oppe Find X has a dual-setup on the back featuring 16MP and 20MP and a single camera up fron at 24MP. The 16+20MP camera setup reminds me of the OnePlus 6 on paper, with the primary lens being equipped with OIS and the secondary lens intended as an assistant to the primary.

Low Light is supposed to be assisted by Pixel-binning on the 20MP camera as well, effectively allowing it to capture more light at a loss of resolution. This happens automatically without your interference.

Auto Mode

Supposedly the Oppo Find X sports an AI mode for the camera. It is pretty automatic though and managing a comparison between AI-pictures and non AI-pictures has proven close to impossible. All of these photos are captured with auto everything, including HDR and AI. Sometimes a sticker pops up telling me I am looking at grass, the sky, or a night-scene. I have not noticed a difference though.

The camera does a really good job when it comes to well-lit Pictures. I’m impressed as to how well I can zoom into the images as well, even showing text on smaller stickers. HDR seems pretty good as well, and the sky is mostly never over-exposed. Clouds are visible and the range/lighting is good.

Looking at some of these images it’d be hard to tell that they are taken in direct sunlight. I couldn’t see the parking-lot, being blinded, but the camera captured everything in detail.

The photo of our dog is captured in Portrait mode but it is obviously not the optimal situation for a portrait shot, instead I really liked how the lens-flare ended up, artistically.

Low Light

Pixel-binning is the low-light tecnique of the Find X and while it is not the best low-light preformer out there it mostly does pretty well. The cameras do require a steady hand and a subject that doesn’t run around though.

As you can see, quality is dropping when the lighting goes down. Moving objects such as our dog in the fifth Picture results in a further quality-decline.

Overall though I believe that the Camera captures details and colors pretty good, and I absolutely feel comfortable bringing it along even in the evening. I am especially happy about the minimal amount of noise disrupting the image and while light sources do steal the show, they don’t destroy the rest of the image. Even though the LG G7 captured more light with its tricks, the Find X captures more details.

Portrait

Utilizing the Dual camera setup the Oppo find X takes some pretty great portrait shots. The edge detection is good and the “Bokeh”-blur is satisfying.

You can also do Portrait Mode effects like the Canvas effect, this is mostly a gimmick though and I haven’t found a proper use-case for these my self.

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This one is taken with the selfie camera, but as you can see it missed the gap in-between my arm and body. The edges also seem jagged and more 2D than 3D because of the cut-outs.

Selfies

The phone also sports a selfie camera of 25 MP

The selfie camera manages to produce detailed photos with a good amount of HDR. I cannot begin to tell you how annoying the beauty mode is though. It is, thankfully, fully possible to eliminate it for standard selfies though. In Portrait mode the camera software forces Beauty mode without any means to turn it off. Portrait selfies are thereby out of the equation. As is usually the case, the sky is just a white mess in portrait selfies, but if you look carefully there is a hint of blue up there.

Video

The camera also packs your usual video-abilities such as 4K at 30 frames per second (fps). Video supports OIS as well and I noticed a great stabilization in 1080p recording. Not s much in 4K though. There is also slow-motion available at 120 fps in 1080p and 240 fps in 720p.

Conclussion

Overall the Oppo Find X is a very pleasant device, over-looking the seemingly intentional limitations of Color OS the software is also smooth and surprisingly good.

The screen is Beautiful and the bezels easily makes the device even more impressive. Although it is shrouded in controversy the sliding camera-arrangement makes the phone feel futuristic and gives the design a Clean look that competitors haven’t managed to match.

Camera performance is great in good lighting and even handles low-light pretty well. Quality and sharpness have impressed me so far.

The camera-slider manages to capture a lot of dust and it is easy to fear for durability because of it. This also makes water-resistance impossible, and I do fear for this phone dying in the rain more than I usually do on other devices. I even left it at home when Walking our dog when it rained because I thought my jacket-pocket might not protect it enough.

Oppo nailed the design however, and whether you pick up the blue or the Bordeaux Red version you’d love probably love it.

I will not, however, keep using the device as my daily driver. If nothing else the missed notifications drive me crazy and as far as I know Oppo has not responded to any questions about this, from anyone. You’d think a communication-device could handle communication from several apps but its own in 2018 right.
The design is wonderful. Question is though, how much are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of design?

Is there something particular you’d like to know about the Find X?
Let me know in the comments bellow!