Last year's Oppo R5, touted as the world's thinnest phone, got consumers to notice the Chinese handset maker, but the company has been in the market for a while.
The Oppo N1 from early last year was a phablet with a single, rotating 13MP camera. Why bother placing two cameras on a phone, when a good one can do the job better?
Users simply rotated the camera module at the top of the device to capture sharp images on either side of the phone. The dual LED flash was placed on the same lens module.
Naturally, the story does not end there. The N3 adds new features to the camera, while reducing the size of the phone. Instead of the N1's 5.9-inch display, the N3 has a more manageable 5.5-inch screen, for single-handed use.
This is where the new motorised camera feature comes into play.
Instead of physically adjusting the module, you do an upwards flick on the screen to get the module to flip.
You can control the degree of rotation by sliding your finger across the screen slowly, moving the camera lens to focus on the subject, without having to shift the screen correspondingly.
The camera's cleverest trick is how it takes a panoramic image. So many of us are quite used to messing this up because our unsteady hands jog up and down. With the N1, you just fix the camera in one position and let the rotating camera do the job.
It helps that the 13MP lens here is a pretty good one, delivering sharp details and colours. Night-time shots are a tad washed out though, with duller colours than normal.
My primary worry - unfounded so far - concerns the ruggedness and durability of the rotating mechanism. The camera module does not lock in place, so it moves each time I take the phone out of my pocket.
Oppo added a fingerprint sensor to the rear of the N3, just below the camera. Thankfully, phone makers are moving away from finger-swiping biometrics. The sensor is activated by putting your finger (index or middle preferred) on it.
Very little has changed with Oppo's Colour operating system, including its gesture controls. These pre-customisable options let users draw patterns on the screen to activate features and apps directly.
Add in a quick-charge option, as well as a dual-SIM feature, and the Oppo N3 comes across as the younger cousin of Samsung's Galaxy Note 4, but minus a stylus.
Oppo seems to be aiming to be a premium device, but its use of plastic in a device with a $849 price tag says otherwise.
This phablet has a decent camera and well-rounded features.
Processor: 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core
Display: 5.5-inch, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 1,080 x 1,920 pixels (403 ppi)
Operating system: Android 4.4 (KitKat) with Colour OS
Camera: 16 MP, f2.2, 3,456 x 4,608 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash
Memory: 32GB (microSD expandable up to 128GB), 2GB RAM
Battery: 3,000 mAh
Value for money 3/5
Battery life 3/5
This article was first published on Apr 22, 2015.
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