Driven by value: Oppo’s $299 metal 4G phone reviewed


With the performance mostly chugging along, you’ll find use of the Oppo F1 actually isn’t half bad, a skerrick of lag here and there, but mostly pretty reliable performance.

We’ve never been huge fans of Oppo’s ColorOS, partly because to us Android isn’t supposed to be a clone of Apple’s iOS with side-swiping menus, and yet that’s exactly what Oppo presents in the F1.

If you like iOS, you’ll be at home here, with no app drawer and merely just one constant menu to swipe through. Your app icons sit here, and you can move them around, but unlike other Android versions, you only have one instance, so no shortcuts as these are the full app. Move them into your shortcut dock at the bottom of the phone if you like, but just like on an iPhone, they will only sit in one place at the one time.

Like an iPhone, except not.
Like an iPhone, except not.

Coming from an iPhone, it’ll be like you’re right at home, though people used to other Android devices may take a little more time to get used to what they’re presented with, and it’s not the only place that could confuse other Android owners.

While Android generally provides on-screen soft buttons that change based on the app, Oppo has left the older style of soft buttons for this phone, with printed-on soft buttons shown here one of which — the left-most — is for the menu options instead of Android’s preferred multi-tasking option.

It still functions as multi-tasking button if you hold it down, granted, but it predominantly works as a menu button, making the use of this phone a little older than we’re used to, but still relatively up to date.


Newbies should be fine with the Oppo F1, though anyone used to another Android phone may take a little getting used to, not just because of the iOS-inspired operating system overlay, but also of that older soft button.

One thing we do like about the use of the F1 is the level of customisation Oppo has thrown into this phone, with customisable data speed notifications, an “eye protection” mode for reducing strain, a security centre for working out how to speed up the phone and make it more secure, and even constantly changing lock screen images.

Hey, there’s even a screen protector preinstalled to the phone the moment you get it out of the box, which is something else you don’t have to buy.

Battery life


Thanks to a combination of specs such as a 720p screen, Snapdragon 616 processor, and a highly tweaked operating system, we found Oppo’s F1 could hit a surprising one to two days of life depending on how much you used the phone.

Our test found closer to a day and a half, with the rest of that second day possible if you started to reserve usage, a result that impressed us.

Use your phone a lot and you should find a full day of life, a number that is still impressive given the price point being reached and the amount of technology inside.


Cameras are, however, one area where the Oppo F1 doesn’t really feel like you’re getting the best results ever, but then again it’s worth factoring in just how much this phone costs.

Yes, there’s a 13 megapixel camera on the back and an 8 megapixel camera up front, but the cameras here are examples of situations where megapixels don’t mean everything.


Take that rear camera which provides acceptable images in broad daylight provided you don’t zoom in or get close, because noise and soft detail are very visible.

Lower the light a little and you find the camera suffers more, with little to no detail in the dark areas and really no way of bringing out. You’ll get a flash to deal with that if need be, but these aren’t grade A cameras, not by a long shot.

Low light images are not fantastic out of the Oppo F1 camera.
Low light images are not fantastic out of the Oppo F1 camera.


Easily one of the best features of the Oppo F1 is the price, because at $299, Oppo is serving up a device that is very hard to look past.

Granted, it’s not the cheapest phone on the planet, but the Oppo F1 offers more value than we’ve seen out of any phone prior.

You’ve got that metal body, a decent set of hardware inside, a more than tolerable screen, and enough battery life and 4G speed to handle a day’s worth of activity. These features would normally incur a high cost — probably closer to the mid-range value of $500 or $600 — and yet Oppo has it for $299.

Now you can definitely find phones for lower than $299, and we’ve reviewed $99 and $199 models in the past, but without doubt the Oppo F1 is a phone that actually matches its value, and that is quite impressive.

The constantly changing lockscreen images are surprising, if only because we're curious where Oppo gets its images from.
The constantly changing lockscreen images are surprising, if only because we’re curious where Oppo gets its images from.

What needs work

While we’ve never been too thrilled with the iOS-style implementation of the operating system, ColorOS has its fans, and it’s not hard to get used to. Plus it does allow Oppo the chance to tweak the operating system, and there’s no doubt this level of customisation adds to the integrity of F1’s performance, which is pretty clear.

So this is hardly a real quibble, but just something we don’t like.

What you may find a little problematic is the screen’s viewing angles which does gel with the whole “budget” approach to making a smartphone.


You won’t notice it most of the time, and generally the 720p display Oppo has gone with is easy on the eyes, but the moment you twist that display to take a picture in landscape view, the angles will wash the screen out.

That’s one of the drawbacks with using a lower quality screen, and it’s quite clear this isn’t of the same ilk as its siblings. Still, at least it’s higher than 800×480, because your eyes won’t be squinting too much with a close-to-Retina value of 294 pixels per inch.



Overall, Oppo’s F1 really pulls together the value experience, with more technology and a better feeling product at a $299 price point than some phones that cost twice that.

Some things could definitely be better, sure, there’s no doubt that the screen could do with an update while the camera needs to be improved, and we’d still prefer to see stock Google Android instead of the incarnation Oppo uses that pretends to be like Apple’s iOS.

But if neither bothers you and you’re after a relatively high quality phone without spending a fortune, Oppo’s F1 absolutely delivers for the price.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Great premium-feeling body for the price; Solid rounded specs; Surprisingly impressive battery life; Supports either upgraded storage or two SIMs, dealer’s choice; Fast 4G; Screen protector installed to the phone out of the box; Inexpensive;
Screen viewing angles aren’t the greatest, and will wash out; Camera needs some work;