Review: Oppo N1 Mini
Do you like selfies but are sick of the one or two megapixel cameras smartphones are coming with? Oppo’s answer to this is an interesting one, putting the 13 megapixel rear camera on a hinge and making it work both sides. Is it a success?
Sitting in the mid-range, the N1 Mini offers up a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor clocked at 1.6GHz paired with 2GB RAM and working alongside 16GB storage. Unfortunately, there’s no way of improving on this storage, with only the storage inside and no microSD slot.
Google’s Android 4.3 runs here, though with a very different version, the modified “ColorOS” which takes most of its core from Google’s Android, even though it’s not technically the same as Android with an overlay on top.
Connections are relatively standard with nothing special to speak of, relying on 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Near-Field Communication, GPS, and of course a microUSB charge and data transfer port, with 4G using a Category 4 compliant modem capable of achieving download speeds of up to 150Mbps and uploads of up to 50Mbps depending on the network you’re using.
Cameras are interesting, though, with a lone 13 megapixel camera with flash sitting on the back on a special hinged section. Thanks to that hinge, this section — the camera section — can be rotated and used as a front-facing camera, providing 13 megapixel images and Full HD videos on either the front or the back, just not at the same time.
This sits underneath a 5 inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) touchscreen display, protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 and running the high-definition friendly resolution of 1280×720.
With this combination of specs, the Oppo N1 Mini runs a pixel clarity of 294 pixels per inch, roughly 30 pixels below the Retina HD resolution of the 4.7 inch iPhone 6.
Few buttons exist on the phone, and there are just as many ports, with two physical buttons — the power button on the left edge and the volume rocker on the right — while the ports are handled by the 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB ports at the very bottom of the handset, while a microSIM slot can be found on the right, used and handled by a SIM ejector pin tool.
There are the typical three Android soft buttons here, but unlike most handsets, these aren’t built into the software, with printed-on and backlit soft buttons provided for menu, home, and back.
The battery for the Oppo N1 Mini is rated for 2140mAh.
You might have heard the name Oppo before from its high-end Blu-ray players and just-as-high-end audio devices, but media playback isn’t all the company wants to be recognised for. No, it’s also getting into phones, proving to the world that it has what it takes to be another Samsung with not just another phone, but something different.
In fact, a recent launch to the Australian market boasted four specific products that have arrived, and we’re checking one of them right now, with the Oppo N1 Mini, a unique proposition that seems to cater to people who love taking photos, whether they’re taking something in front of them or taking photos of themselves.
That proposition is a mid-range just over $500 smartphone with a 13 megapixel camera that can rotate and take pictures both behind and in front of the phone.
Aesthetics of the Oppo N1 Mini are reasonably minimalist, but it’s clear this isn’t the same touchscreen phone as everything else, with the 5 inch screen taking up the majority of the front, but the hinge camera providing a noticeable top white chunk of the frame, a design feature that will move the speaker to the back if you decide to take a selfie at the time.
There’s also two metallic gold lines surrounding the Oppo N1 Mini, which give the phone a unique look, but one that won’t be for everyone. It’s not for this reviewer, but we’re sure there are people who won’t be turned off by the metallic showing this handset offers.
It also doesn’t feel bad in the hands, though it’s clear this is a plastic handset, with a slightly slippery finish that is comfortable to hold.
Switch the display on and you’ll see a relatively bright display gazing back at you, offering up 720p, which is clear enough, though not on the same par as any of the high-ranking screens we’re seeing on other top 5 inch handsets.
Oppo’s take on Android is also a little different, with a custom version of Android used instead of regular old stock Android with an overlay on top.
For Oppo, this special version means the icons are pretty cheerful and bright, with lots of colours, and yet a reasonably minimalist take on the apps.
As usual, there are multiple homescreens and menus, as well as a shortcut dock you can change whenever you want — you can even move the menu icon and shortcut — and because it’s a custom take on Android, there are things you might not see coming.
Things like gesture shortcuts, with a quick swipe from the top left of the screen revealing a gesture panel for you to make drawings and gestures to quickly load apps you’ve linked up at another time.
You can even do this when the phone is off, provided you switch the setting on, making it possible not just to tap twice to switch the phone on, but draw a circle on an otherwise off handset (standby, technically) to load the camera.
Support for the O-Click tool is also there, which may or may not be included in the box, but provides a small Bluetooth remote for taking photos, and can be left on the key ring.
Live weather support is also here for the theme of the handset, showing animated seasons based on the weather, though like all live wallpapers, this will of course have an effect on the battery life.
Over to the performance, and while it’s not the most high-end chipset out there, Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 400 does an admirable job, its pairing with 2GB RAM revealing few slowdowns in most of the phone operations, though you might see some here and there.
Mobile speeds are a little less impressive, and while it might have been Telstra, we found speeds ranging from 19 to 48Mbps on this handset.
Technically, Oppo is delivering a Category 4 LTE modem here, so it’s possible we were seeing an issue from Telstra’s end, but it’s worth noting that speeds should be sufficient for most people.
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