Oppo N1: Raising the Bar

 
Oppo N1

Oppo N1

Ambarin Afsar walks away quite impressed with the Oppo N1, a phone that is sure to raise the stakes in the cellphone shooter market.

The cameraphone market has not evolved beyond the megapixel war, sensor and screen size tussles. The capabilities of the lens and the camera app itself have not been explored to the fullest. Companies have filed patents for dual lens cameras, and Google has also come out with a camera app (available only for Android 4.4+ KitKat users) on the Playstore that allows you achieve shallow DOF and get the maximum resolution from the sensor without dropping any pixels, among other things. However, all these things are either in the pipeline or are available only to users of a specific Android version. In a market that is still gearing up for innovation, Oppo has released the N1, a phone that has a 13MP 360º rotating camera.

What’s the Big Deal?
Usually, when you are shooting with your cellphone, you have to physically move the phone to achieve a different angle. Despite customisable buttons and tap shutter options, shooting ends up requiring  us to contort into hilarious shapes, not to mention, struggle to see what the camera is seeing, especially when the phone is held at a low angle. The N1’s rotating camera quite radically changes your shooting experience, giving you the cellphone equivalent of a swivelling LCD.

 

What pleased me most about the N1 was its long exposure capability, and the manner in which it reduced noise without compromising greatly on image quality. Photograph/Ambrin Afsar

What pleased me most about the N1 was its long exposure capability, and the manner in which it reduced noise without compromising greatly on image quality. Photograph/Ambrin Afsar

 

More Goodies
The dual LED flash is located right next to the lens, which means that when you flip the bar, the flash also flips. The camera app also allows you to ‘Fill Light’, which basically means that the LED torch switches on, lighting up the scene that you are pointing at. Keeping the shutter-release button pressed will result in Burst mode shooting. The phone is quite fast in this regard, and before you know it, it will have recorded about 18-20 photos before the buffer runs out and the phone starts taking longer between two shots.

And the Pitfalls
The Oppo N1 is the first of its generation, and hence, has a few flaws. The camera app is sorely lacking an exposure compensation option and ISO and WB control. Also, when the camera isn’t perfectly parallel to the subject plane, you will witness a strange kind of distortion. This goes away as soon as you tilt the camera slightly.

Priced at Rs. 37,990, the Oppo N1 is quite a steep buy. But it gives you good image quality, crisp sharpness and vibrant colours. As I write this review, a low-end competitor has been launched. The game is already changing, and the first move has been made.

 

At A Glance
Specifications
13MP, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, Quad-core 1.7 GHz, 3610mAh battery, Rs. 37,990

What We Like
The swivelling bar is perfectly sturdy and did not seem prone to breakage

What We Dislike
Touch-sensitive trackpad at the back could have been higher

Why Buy It?
The 360° rotating camera is not just a gimmick and does its job really well. There is no lag in the visual feed, and no compromise on image quality.

 

Final Ratings

Camera Features
Burst shooting, long exposures of upto 8sec
13/15

Image Quality
Light sources almost always flare, decent low light quality
29/35

Video Quality
Smooth footage, camera records 1080p video
19/20

Handling
Plenty of customisability to access the camera app
14/15

Speed and Responsiveness
Fast AF, but no burst shooting in the Sports mode
14/15

OVERALL: 89%

Tags: 13MP, Ambarin Afsar, Cellphone Review, flagship, may 2014, oppo, Oppo N1, rotating camera