Budget phones are usually made for just that — a budget — but Oppo’s F1 bucks the trend, bringing a premium look and feel to a price point that doesn’t normally scream any of those things.
How much phone can $299 get you?
That’s the question Oppo is asking with its latest handset, a smartphone that goes for broke with a practical copy of some of Oppo’s other smartphones, and yet also a reduction in some elements that allows the company get to a smaller price point.
First up, we need to note that the F1 is very, very similar to what Oppo has released in its R7 series of phones, so if it feels like we’re just writing about that phone — especially if you have read the R7 or R7s review — it’s because Oppo is more or less borrowing a template.
As such, you’ll find the same processor and much of the internal spec as the original R7, complete with a Qualcomm eight-core Snapdragon 616 processor paired with 3GB RAM.
Storage on this phone is set to 16GB, and this can be upgraded with a microSD card if need be, provided you use a microSIM.
Just like the other Oppo phones, you’ll find support for two SIM cards in the Oppo F1, providing spaces for both a microSIM and a nanoSIM. Out of these slots, only one of them serves dual purposes, with the nanoSIM either working as a nanoSIM slot or a microSD expandable storage slot.
That means if you use a microSIM, you can either upgrade the storage with microSD or use a second SIM with the nanoSIM slot. Otherwise, if you use a nanoSIM — say you’re switching from an iPhone 5 or something else — you can’t use the microSD slot at all.
Connections for the Oppo F1 are pretty standard, with support for 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as 4G LTE, but there is no support for Near-Field Communication (NFC).
You’ll find your regular collection of ports that most phones support, with a microUSB port at the very bottom and a 3.5mm headset jack up top.
There are also two cameras here, with a 13 megapixel rear shooter and an 8 megapixel camera up front.
All of this sits under a 5 inch high-definition screen, displaying a resolution of 1280×720 with a layer of Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 4 to protect everything, while a metal body handles every thing else.
The battery inside the phone sits at 2500mAh and is not removable.
Picking up the Oppo F1, it’s hard not to see a little bit of Apple in the F1, or even a lot of Oppo.
Whether you glance at the F1’s white frame with camera and speaker up top and see Apple or twist the phone around to find a polished metal side and back for some of that Oppo love, you’re definitely going to envisage one of the two companies.
Really, it just comes down to what you know, and the F1 feels familiar regardless of your background in phones.
Despite this familiarity, it’s still a comfortable design with smooth edges, a soft metal back, and a slick glass front that feels more premium than most phones around the $300 price point ever achieve.
Inside the phone, Oppo surprises again, taking the formula it had previously used with the Oppo R7 series of devices — all three of them — and essentially cloning it, using it one more time for a smaller device.
That means you’ll find a new variant of the same eight-core Snapdragon 615 processor — now called the Snapdragon 616 — from Qualcomm as from the R7 phones, but with 3GB RAM paired with the phone and 16GB storage.
Just like the existing phones, Oppo’s ColorOS is here based on Android 5.0, which means it isn’t exactly like the way Google envisioned it, but close enough to let you run all of those Android apps you normally find on the Google Play store.
We’ll get into how the whole phone feels to use shortly, and ColorOS changes it from most other Android phones out there, but performance can be measured thanks to benchmarks and use outside of how the phone feels.
So what does it perform like?
Despite that obviously below mid-range price, the F1 handles its own, relying on Qualcomm’s eight-core Snapdragon 616 and producing some decent speeds as you use the phone.
On the benchmark side of things, it’s about the standard performance for this processor, but the 3GB RAM certainly helps to complete the package for the F1, providing only a hint of lag as you jump from app to app.
Mobile 4G performance is also quite good, and it’s clear that this Category 4 4G phone can handle its own, providing speeds as high as 123Mbps in our first day of testing, with regular speeds ranging from 20 to 120Mbps as we walked through Sydney’s CBD on the Telstra 4GX network.