Traveling with a smartphone is a must these days. While the bulky SLR is still great for hi-resolution landscape shots and pretty food shots, speed is the name of the game, and smartphones are a way to keep social media channels like Instagram and Facebook updated while on the road.
But smartphones do have their shortcomings. Aside from low picture quality, another drawback is the relatively quick battery life compared to traditional cameras. Regular usage for checking mail and browsing also has a tendency to suck the battery life of a smartphone long before the day ends. Battery problems become more pronounced when you’re traveling as you tend to use your smartphone to play games or browse the web while waiting at airports and bus stations.
Enter the Oppo N1, a sleek Android smartphone from Chinese manufacturer Oppo, that seems to be the answer to tech-savvy traveler’s prayers.
Thanks to Art Samaniego, Tech Editor of Manila Bulletin, I got to test out this awesome smartphone for a couple of weeks for a gadget review for MB’s Style Weekend. I used it mainly for some food reviews and trips out of town. Here’s the lowdown on why this Android Smartphone is an all-around great gadget for travel.
1. HIGH QUALITY CAMERA & FULL HD SCREEN
The sleek smartphone comes with a 5.9-inch Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) screen and a 13-megapixel f/2.0 built-in camera. The camera takes photos up to 4128 x 3096 pixels, and has autofocus, dual-LED flash, touch focus and face detection. It can also take panorama and HDR photos. Video quality is 1080p @30fps. While the phone’s size and screen is larger than most standard Smartphones (but not as big as a tablet), it is still comfortable enough to grip in one hand. Browsing the web and looking at the photos you took is pure pleasure on its incredibly clear and sharp screen.
2. ROTATING CAMERA LENS
What makes the phone really interesting is that its 13 MP camera lens rotates allowing users to take high quality selfies. The 206° camera rotation actually allows the user to take hi-resolution pictures at creative and versatile angles and ensures that front facing shots are just as good as back facing shots.
3. YOU CAN TAKE PHOTOS REMOTELY
Another unique feature of the Oppo N1 is the O-Click, a minimalist Bluetooth key fob, which works as a remote camera shutter button, a phone locator and a proximity alarm. By enabling the Bluetooth, you can remotely operate the N1 camera even when you’re away from the device. If you’re traveling solo and you don’t have anyone to take your photo, you’re not limited to a selfie where you’re holding the phone at arm’s length. You just have to position the N1 (it helps to have a Smartphone tripod) and step back to include everything you want to capture and use the O-Click as a remote camera shutter, so you can take photos of yourself with the landscape.
If you misplace your device, you can find it by setting off an alarm on the phone. The O-Click fits as a keychain and supports a range of up to 15 meters, allowing you to stay connected to your OPPO N1 via Bluetooth (BLE).
4. EXCELLENT BATTERY LIFE
One of the best features of the Oppo N1 is the great battery life. It has a power saving mode which has significant effect on battery management, allowing users to use the phone heavily for calls, internet browsing, video playback, playing games and other smartphone usage without needing to recharge the phone for a full day or two.
This came in pretty useful during a trip for Style Weekend when I forgot to bring the phone’s charger. When fully charged, it had over 148 hours available use, but with heavy heavy use, I managed to get 35 hours and 55 minutes use out of it without having to recharge. I got home with the battery life at 3% and it still 2 hours left. Not bad!
With its white shell, classy silver details and rounded edges, the Oppo N1 is definitely eye-candy. While most plain black Smartphones exude business and functionality, this one is more aesthetically-pleasing. On more than one occasion, I’ve been approached by other people curious about the brand and model of the smartphone when I’ve taken it out to take photos. Then you show them the swiveling camera to take a group selfie and they’re even more impressed.
The color and the smooth curves of the phone make it especially attractive to female users. Guys may have a hard time fitting this into their pockets because of the large size so it’s better suited to be kept inside a protective case in a bag. It’s also so eye-catching that you have to be careful about taking it out in crowded public spaces and other urban areas.
FIELD TEST NOTES:
As a camera:
- The Oppo N1 takes sharp landscape photos. The relatively wide angle and large screen helps in framing the shots.
- The camera’s autofocus feature automatically balances the lighting and the camera takes pretty good photos even in low light conditions.
- Close-up food shots are clear and crisp as well. You don’t need to mess with filters in Instagram just to make photos look better.
- The unique camera rotation allows users to take hi-resolution pictures at creative and versatile angles.
- Since you can flip the camera, front facing shots are just as good as back facing shots, which is great if you’re into selfies. It takes mirror image selfies, which you can just rotate.
- The Oppo N1 was recently rated by Yugatech as the best selfie smartphone.
- The built-in editing tools for the photos were excellent.
As a portable gaming device:
- Because of its size, the Oppo N1 works really well as a portable gaming device.
- The large screen size makes it easier to input commands on the touch screen and play games.
- Google Play App games like 2048, Spaceteam and Quiz Up run smoothly on the device.
- I downloaded a 64-in1 NES Emulator to play old-school Nintendo Games like Super Mario Bros., Pacman and Tetris and found it much easier to use the screen as a controller compared to smaller or standard sized Smartphone.
- However, the Oppo N1 does have a tendency to heat up with constant use.
The Oppo N1 is a road-worthy gadget fit for the arsenal of frequent travelers. You’ll feel perfectly content to rely heavily on this and just leave the bulky SLR and lenses at home during trips. You can also be assured that you stay connected on social media. It honestly felt so bad going back to my old Android Smartphone (which is currently in the shop now for a defective camera) after using this.
The Oppo N1 has an SRP of P26,990.
WHERE TO BUY IT:
NOTE: This review first appeared in Manila Bulletin’s Style Weekend, July 25, 2014 issue in the Gadget Section.