Phone

OPPO N3: Swivel Camera Smartphone Review

While the OPPO R5 is the thinnest smartphone in the world, the OPPO N3 tips to the other end of the scale, weighing 192g and 8.7mm thick, which is almost twice the thickness of R5 (4.85mm).

The phone does feel clumsy to use, not just because of the overall size, but also the unfamiliar port and button placements. With the power button located at the left side of the phone, I am somewhat prone to depress it more frequently (I use my phone with my left hand). The headset jack, located at the top right side, and the USB port, located at the bottom left, gets in the way if you intend to slip the phone in a carry case while plugged in. The swivel camera module, while immensely useful, often gets accidentally swiveled out of place when carrying in your pocket, which may be an irritant to the mildly-OCD in me.

The fingerprint scanner positioned at the back panel of the phone is also a physical button which you could press to turn on the screen. But it only works if you configure to unlock the phone with fingerprint. OPPO could have saved a hardware button by making the fingerprint button as the power button.

The N3 may have a sturdy frame to hold the smartphone together, but the white colour unit, with the back panel made of plastic, appears to be susceptible to discolouration and stains.

However, I realised I do enjoy using the phone overall, due to the following benefits.

Rotating 16MP Camera

One of the best things that the N3 can offer is the motorized rotating camera. Taking 206-degree panorama photos is never easier and fun.

Besides the horizontal panorama, I can now do vertical panorama.

Shooting upwards will never require back-breaking positions.

The 16MP Sony BSI sensor produce detailed photos under good lighting. The Ultra HD mode creates images up to 64MP, for pixel-lovers.

When ISO increases, the images become less detailed as image noises get removed but colour tones remain faithful.

The swivel camera also lets me capture shots in odd angles without breaking my back. You can adjust the camera rotation by sliding your finger on the fingerprint button.

Check out the depth of field.

Just like the OPPO R5, the Macro mode on the N3 does a digital crop so that you do not go too near to the subject to capture the macro and cause perspective distortion. Naturally, it does not offer the same level of details as a DSLR but the image is highly usable for non-professionals.

Fingerprint Unlock

I also like that even when you may have enabled the fingerprint unlock feature, you can also unlock using pattern from the lockscreen. This, coupled with screen-off gestures (double tap to wake screen) means it is more intuitive to unlock the N3 without lifting the phone. On other brands, you would need to separately select the alternate unlock method on the lockscreen before the pattern grid appears for you to unlock.

Speaking of unlocking with fingerprint, placing the scanner at the back of the N3 is just so natural. I can conveniently unlock the device with just one hand, unlike all other devices in the market when you need to unlock with 2 hands (one to hold the phone, the other to place on the scanner to unlock).

Touchscreen Works with Glove and Wet Fingers

The touch screen is also responsive even when wearing gloves and even when your finger or the screen is wet! That is a great feature, something that many phones will falter under these conditions.

Dual SIM

For consumers who require dual SIM, the N3’s SIM tray supports one micro SIM and one nano SIM. Both SIMs are on active standby, so you can actively select either SIMs to make calls or send SMS. You can also nominate one SIM as 4G data but not both. If you do not require dual SIM, the other SIM slot may be replaced with microSD card.

Audio

The audio processor is powered by MaxxAudio, which seems to be a popular choice of recent months by Android manufacturers. Besides the preset audio settings which bring out the best of each sound character, you can customise the setting. I find the warm sound of the N3 pleasing to the ears: at high volumes, the N3 audio does not come across as noisy. The speaker is positioned at the bottom panel instead of the back, so the sound is better channelled to the ears.

Rapid Charger

And finally, I am pampered by the VOOC rapid charger that fills the battery up in just an hour. With it, I could charge the phone only when I need to, instead of having to plan my charge 2 hours in advance prior to going out. Such short charge bursts will extend the battery life span because you do not have to do full charge cycles.

O-Click 2.0

The included O-Click accessory is not particularly useful for me, but to the rest of you, you can use this Bluetooth device to swivel the camera lens, trigger shutter, control music, locate your phone, answer phone calls. The built is rather flimsy, and the large button surface means it is easily depressed if you put the O-Click in your pocket together with other stuff.

Notification Light

The notification light at the bottom of the phone, as well as the hollow arc underside, are rather unique design elements, where it allows the light glow to be more visible. I’d wish I could disable the indicator from lighting up when charging is complete.

Conclusion

At S$849, the OPPO N3 has a long list of unique features that no other smartphones have. I find the rotating camera immensely beneficial for photo-snappers. Notably, the N3 comes with higher hardware configuration of 32GB internal memory and 3000mAh battery capacity, higher than most smartphones in the market.

Tertiary students in Singapore can enjoy S$50 off when they produce their student pass and purchase at the OPPO flagship store at Suntec City.

Specs

OS: ColorOS 2.0, based on Android 4.4
Processor: 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AA)
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32 GB
Battery: 3000 mAh Li-Polymer battery with Rapid Charge
Display: 5.5-inch 1080×1920 TFT 16million colours
Weight: 192g
Camera: 16MP 1/2.3″ BSI sensor, 16-megapixel OmniVision OV16825 f/2.2 BSI sensor
Motorized 206-degree rotating Schneider Kreuznach lens, dual LED flash
Network (International): GSM850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA850/900/1900/2100, LTE Bands 1/3/7/20/TD-40
Hardware: Micro USB, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Display, GPS, NFC, OTG
SIM1: Micro SIM
SIM2: Nano-SIM or microSD
Color: White
Dimensions: 161.2 × 77 × 8.7 mm
Weight: 192g
In the box: OPPO N3, In-ear type earphones, Micro USB cable, VOOC Flash Charger mini, SIM ejector tool, O-Click 2.0

Reviewed by Chester Tan http://musicphotolife.com
Rating: 4 of 5

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