Slugfest: Oppo F1 vs Apple iPhone 6
By Winnie Lee March 30, 2016
AS the newest kid on the smartphone block, China’s Oppo has been making waves. It recently launched a new F series which it claims will continue to make a splash, especially in the area of mobile photography.
We received the new Oppo F1 straight off the production line. Does this new player live up to its promises, and how does it compare with the Apple iPhone 6?
Design and hardware
Other than their colour, both phones look rather similar with their metallic feel. The F1 tips the scales at 134g, and at 143.5mm x 71mm x 7.25mm, is a tad larger, thicker and heavier than the iPhone 6, which weighs 129g and measures 138.1mm x 67mm x 6.9mm.
However, considering the fact that the F1 has a slightly bigger screen (about 0.3in bigger), the difference in size and weight is actually acceptable.
The iPhone 6 is slightly curvier than the F1. Both generally follow a rectangular block design, but curves at the four corners are more rounded on the iPhone than on the F1.
The similarities don’t end here. The control buttons, such as the volume toggle and the power button, are also placed in generally similar areas on both phones. The volume toggle is on the left side, while the power button is on the right.
In both phones, the charging point is at the bottom.
The difference comes in the location of the SIM card slots and the audio-in jack. On the iPhone, the SIM card slot is below the power button, while on the F1, it is above.
The position of the audio jack on the F1 makes more sense. As it is at the top-left corner of the phone, the audio wire doesn’t get it in the way when it is upright in the bag or on the table.
The speakers (pic below), however, are at the back of the F1’s metal alloy body. Our concern is the muffled sound that might be produced when the phone is placed on a table and playing music.
The iPhone 6 is known for its round Touch ID home button right at the bottom. The F1, like other Android phones, utilises three controls at the bottom, and these are non-lit soft keys which may be troublesome to some, especially in the dark.
Oppo probably opted for soft keys to keep with the F1’s elegant look within budget.
Both phones feel good to hold, with smooth metal backs and glass front. However, the iPhone 6 feels a bit more fragile, perhaps because of its extra slimness and sleek, curved design.
One major difference in terms of hardware: The iPhone features the Touch ID biometric sensor, while the F1 doesn’t have any fingerprint sensors.
Quite a sensible decision we think – otherwise, Oppo wouldn’t be able to keep the F1 at that price point.
Clearly, Oppo has tried to squeeze as much as possible into the tiny package that is the F1, and yet keep it at an affordable price. It feels fast, perhaps thanks to the 1.7GHz Snapdragon 616 CPU and 3GB RAM.
In fact, I would say that the performance is rather impressive for a 720p resolution phone, with sufficient power to support the various applications.
All except the camera function, it seems. There were times when the camera just seemed to hang on us, especially when using modes like Super Macro. No matter how we tried to tap on the shutter button, the camera failed to respond.
Similarly, in the Super Macro mode, the image would suddenly look unnaturally close up and blur. To solve this, we had to close the camera application and restart it before things went back to normal.
The iPhone 6, on the other hand, has a 1.39GHz dual-core A8 processor and 1GB RAM for its power.
These specs put it below the F1 – however, the folks at Apple seem to have squeezed every bit of juice from the processor, such that the iPhone is able to perform sufficiently well, making it a strong contender beside the F1 for daily use.
Though the single rear speaker is right at the back of the F1, the sound is sufficiently loud and solid, though it did sound somewhat muffled sometimes when we placed it flat on a surface.
We would prefer the speaker to be right up front, or like the iPhone, at the bottom. However, that can sometimes pose some issues too to sound quality.
The iPhone’s screen quality is impressive, although it has only 750 x 1344 pixel resolution, with vivid and rich colours. Text crispness may lack some clarity, especially when browsing the web, though this is probably not a major issue.
Still, we wish that the iPhone 6 has a Full HD screen instead, especially when most competitors moved to that ages ago.
Now the F1’s 5in display seems a little ordinary with its 720p resolution. While the display doesn’t have the clarity of 1080p displays, we think that it’s acceptable for a phone that is this affordable.
The display still manages to make colours look bright and with sufficient detail, without being oversaturated.
What’s more, there’s a Gorilla Glass (pic below) on top of the display for good protection, and we do like the way that it curves ever so slightly to merge with the screen itself.
One gripe, though. We found that the display was not as responsive as we would like it to be. Taking pictures and shifting between modes was a pain as the display didn’t seem to register our finger touches.
The F1 touts itself as a selfie phone, and it’s not hard to see why. Compare its 8-megapixel front camera with a 1/4in sensor and a wide aperture of f/2.0; against the iPhone’s 1.2-megapixel front shooter, and immediately, one can see the F1’s strength: Selfies can be taken in less than perfect light, with finer details.
Definitely, the iPhone’s front shooter is nothing much to shout about, but honestly, there’s nothing much to brag about the F1’s front camera either, especially when many competitors are already fitting in 8-megapixel front cameras. The question is whether Apple will decide to do the same.
Similarly, the F1’s rear camera wins against the iPhone’s, hands down. Think 13-megapixel versus 8-megapixel. The former also has a wide aperture of f/2.2 and phase detection autofocus, while the iPhone’s aperture is also f/2.2 with a ‘Focus Pixel’s feature for faster autofocus and better clarity.
The F1 was definitely able to produce good shots, but the iPhone wasn’t lagging far behind either – just another way for Apple to show that a low resolution device can also produce decent images.
Which brings us to another point: With advanced digital imaging technology in mobile apps these days, a low megapixel image can also be edited to look fantastic, provided you are not planning on printing a poster.
The F1 has a built-in Beautify 3.0 mode while a third-party app has to be downloaded for the iPhone.
However, once a good app is found for the iPhone, one will probably look beyond the technical details and instead look at the aesthetic attributes to ascertain image quality.
The real fun begins when we started to explore the camera modes, and in this respect, the F1 had more possibilities to explore. The iPhone has built in HDR, panoramic, video, slow motion, time lapse and effects mode, which nine colour effect choices.
In contrast, the F1 has more than nine modes that one can use to experiment with photography. The Ultra HD mode is able to combine four images to create a huge 51-megapixel, or 8320 x 6240 pixel, image.
There’s the Animated GIF and Slow Shutter modes, the latter allowing more creative images up to 16 seconds long to be taken.
The various filters on the Oppo F1 (pic above) are quite fun too, which effects such as Sunrise, Nostalgic, Gothic Style and Mono.
There’s also the Super Macro mode (pic below), which impresses with its ability to capture fine details.
Explore the More Functions option, and there are additional modes that can be downloaded, such as the full manual Expert, raw photo capture, and double exposure modes.
These modes increase the capability of the F1’s camera, and make it more impressive compared with the iPhone.
Though the F1 runs on the Android platform, it uses the ColorOS user interface which gets rid of the apps tray Android users are so familiar with.
This means that more management and rearranging of the apps and reliance on home screen panels are required, which can be quite troublesome.
The interface is slick, with lots of customisation possibilities. However, we are puzzled by the fact that one full home screen is devoted to just music controls. We do think this is a waste.
Comparatively, the software on the iPhone 6 is reminiscent of its predecessors. It comes with iOS8, which is upgradable to iOS9. There are user interface tweaks that make it a bit more conducive to use, such as the ability to swipe back and forth through pages on the web.
There’s also the ‘Reachability’ option, where the screen will drop about one-third down by double-tapping on the home key without pressing in.
This extra ‘space’ at the top is intended to let users easily press anything there, potentially useful when surfing the Web. However, it is only potentially useful because it is quite an impractical way of doing things, and is forgotten rather frequently.
In terms of price, the Oppo F1 clearly reigns, with its elegance and good components, as well as a rather impressive camera. If one is strapped for cash, but yet wants a phone that looks sleek, then the Oppo F1 is the one.
Obviously, if money is not an issue, and one wants to go for a brand name, then the Apple iPhone 6 is the choice.
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