Review: Oppo F1s, king of budget selfies
By Ajith Ram August 12, 2016
According to IDC, Oppo is now among the top five smartphone manufacturers with a 153.2 percent year-over-year increase and shipments of 18.5 million units in Q1 2016. In the process, the company managed to displace its Chinese rival Lenovo from its fourth place position in the shipment charts.
The Oppo F1 Plus, which we reviewed recently, is still very much the king of selfies. But with a price approaching RM2,000, it is a product aimed at the bottom end of the premium market. Oppo this week launched the F1s, a more affordable edition of the F1 Plus. With a suggested price of RM1,198, it is a phone designed to compete against the budget offerings from manufacturers such as Asus and Leagoo.
In terms of physical design, the new F1s is almost identical to the premium version. It has the same plain aluminium rear with the Oppo logo. Interestingly, the newer version is 15 grams heavier than the premium version. The F1s is also a smidgen bulkier than the F1 Plus. But neither make a noticeable difference when holding the device.
The rear camera 'hump' is at the top left corner of the device. The volume button is on the left side while the power button remains perched on the other edge. There is a triple slot SIM tray next to the power button - an improvement over the premium version's dual slot one. This can accommodate two nano SIMs and a microSD card up to 128GB.
Like the premium version, the fingerprint reader is integrated into the oval home button. The micro USB connector, speakers and headphone socket are at the bottom. From a design perspective, it is clear that Oppo has decided to stick with its winning formula.
So how exactly did Oppo manage to reduce the price?
One of the areas is the new smartphone's display. While the premium version has a Full HD display, the resolution on the F1s is limited to just 1280x720. It could be construed that the 's' in the F1s stands for 'smaller screen' resolution. At 5.5 inches, the screen size remains the same and is AMOLED, giving it a slight advantage in displaying darker shades over its LCD rivals.
So does the lower screen resolution make a difference?
Not a whole lot. It only shows in very specific circumstances such as while playing a Full HD video with a lot of compression. At certain times, we could see noise artefacts. But the screens appeared identical during regular app use.
Like the F1 Plus, Oppo has decided to stick with a MediaTek processor for the F1s as well. The MT6750 Octa-core 64-bit is a slightly lower version of the premium phone's Helio P10 processor.
Built using the older 28 nanometre manufacturing process from TSMC, the Helio P10 also includes an integrated 4G modem with LTE Cat-6 support and a dual core 64-bit Mali-T860 graphics core from ARM. The CPU cores are based on the Cortex A53 architecture, also from ARM. Compared to the F1 Plus, the amount of RAM has been reduced to 3GB and storage goes down to 32GB from 64GB.
But there are no compromises on the camera front. The F1s has the original's 'selfie expert' 16 megapixel front camera and a decent 13 megapixel rear camera.
But do not be fooled by the camera 'megapixel wars' currently raging in the smartphone market. The number of megapixels is just one measure of the overall image quality. The quality of the lens, sensitivity of the image sensor and the processing software also make a huge difference. For example, see this night photo below taken with the new F1s.
And this one taken with a Samsung Galaxy S7.
As it can be clearly seen, although the Galaxy S7 sports a camera with a lower megapixel count, it still produces a sharper image with more detail.
The camera app in the F1s gives the user control over ISO, aperture and shutter speed. For still photos, there are also numerous preset filters like panorama, soft, cloudy and bright.
The 'selfie' front camera still remains the best in the business. So, taken together, the F1s retains the image quality strengths of its premium sibling.
Battery and Performance
The F1s sees a slight jump in battery capacity to 3075 mAh from the 2850 mAh battery in the F1 Plus. The newer phone retains the company's VOOC charging feature. Although the F1s has a slightly beefier battery, battery life is almost exactly the same as the F1 Plus. In our PCMark battery test, the F1s scored just one minute less than the F1 Plus's score of six hours and 35 minutes.
Battery charging performance was also in the same ballpark. It took a little more than an hour to reach full capacity from a starting point of less than 10 percent.
The slower MediaTek processor in the F1s does have an impact on the OpenGL benchmarks. The cheaper phone ends up about 20 percent slower in the 3DMark and Antutu benchmarks. Interestingly, in the GFX Bench benchmark, the F1s ends up faster than the premium predecessor.
Unfortunately, in terms of software, the F1s shares the same weaknesses as the F1 Plus. Oppo's marketing literature waxes eloquent about the company's ColorOS 3.0. Other than the mediocre ability to change a few app icons and download new themes, there really is not much to mull about. It is definitely not a game changer for the smartphone market.
On the other hand, Oppo has lavished a lot of attention on the Beautify software for the front selfie camera. It does make a difference to the final image quality.
Despite lacking major headline features, the Oppo F1s is still a solid product that should do well in the budget smartphone segment. It keeps performance pace with the other phones in the same price range while easily exceeding their front camera image quality. So it could be said that the F1s is the 'budget selfie expert'.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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