Oppo Find X review: Nice design, but too many missing features

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  • Editors' rating
    7.9 Very good
  • $599.00

Pros

  • Smart pop-up camera system
  • Great 6.4-inch AMOLED screen
  • 256GB of internal storage
  • Some nice software tweaks
  • Very fast charging

Cons

  • No fingerprint sensor
  • No NFC or IR blaster
  • No 3.5mm headset jack
  • Disappointing speaker
  • Slippery in the hands
  • No reading mode
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP dust/water resistance rating

A few weeks ago I reviewed the Oppo RX17 Pro, which I found to be impressive, offering long battery life and extremely fast charging alongside a range of other enticing features. Indeed, so impressive was that £479 (inc. VAT) handset that we decided to take a look at the top-of-the-range Oppo, the Find X. Like the RX17 Pro, the Find X is an exclusive to Carphone Warehouse in the UK, where it costs £799 (inc. VAT) SIM free.

One of the key talking points of this phone has to be its pop-up camera. But does the quirky mechanism make for easier and/or higher quality photography than usual, or is it a triumph of style over substance?

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The front and rear cameras are hidden until the camera icon is tapped, whereupon a motorised mechanism slides them out from the top edge.

Images: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Tap the camera icon and the whole of the top of the phone extends to reveal both front and rear cameras. You can hear a little motor whizzing away as the cameras pop out and back away again when the camera app closes down.

In design terms the absence of camera lenses on the chassis has a huge effect. The back of the phone is a slab that's not affected by protruding camera housing. There's a curve in its design where the glass back meets the camera slider, which adds a visual feature without affecting usability.

The glass back's long edges catch the light so that they take on a paler hue than the main part. This colour-shifting is fashionable right now, and it was certainly eye-catching on my Bordeaux Red handset, which is actually more plum-coloured than red. A Glacier Blue option is also available.

The negative point that comes from having a glass back, whichever colour you select, is the inevitably slipperiness of the phone. I didn't drop it during testing, but it did slip off my desk and the arm of my chair on several occasions. Fortunately it fell onto carpet every time.

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The 6.4-inch Find X has a minimal-bezel front and an uncluttered rear, thanks to its ingenious camera-hiding mechanism.

Images: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

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Meanwhile, the absence of a camera on the front of the phone means the screen can consume most of the face without the need to provide either a notch or an upper bezel. The result is a 6.4-inch screen with a claimed 93.8 percent screen ratio. Without wishing to rain on Oppo's parade, our favoured screen-to-body ratio calculator puts the figure at 86.4 percent. Still, if you're looking for a minimal-bezel handset, this is a great example. Oppo calls this design Panoramic Arc Screen. 

The display itself is a 6.4-inch AMOLED panel with a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (19.5:9 aspect ratio, 403ppi). This is perfect for consuming media, and I found it a pleasure to use. There is a real delight in extending video into the full available screen area and watching without the camera catching your eye. To be fair, I didn't really feel the camera to be an issue before, but I noticed it much more on returning to my everyday handset. 

At this point we should mention the Honor View 20 with its in-screen front camera and dazzlingly reflective glass back. Honor did not go nearly as far as Oppo in its camera-hiding, but the two handsets -- which have very similar screen specifications -- do make an interesting comparison.

Even with its minimal-bezel design, the Find X is a large handset. It measures 156.7mm tall by 74.2mm wide, making one-handed operation tricky for those with smaller hands. It's not the thinnest either at 9.6mm, although the 186g weight is reasonable. 

The bottom edge houses a single speaker grille, a USB-C port and a caddy for two SIMs. A handset that majors so much on its screen ought to have a high-quality stereo speaker system, but sadly that's not the case. The single speaker delivers plenty of volume, but audio is distorted when it's turned up loud -- you'll need to stay below around 80 percent for a pleasant listening experience.

SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)

There are some notable absences from the specifications. There is no NFC, so contactless payments aren't possible. There's no IR blaster, either: these are slowly making a comeback into handsets, and are useful for controlling TVs and other consumer equipment. MicroSD card support is absent, although this is mitigated by the fact that there's 256GB of internal storage, of which 223GB was free for user access on my review unit.

Oppo has also left a fingerprint sensor out of the mix. This means that if you want to use biometrics, you'll have to use the front camera's 3D face unlock. The front camera array's 15,000 recognition dots are half the number used by Apple, but Oppo says it's still 20 times safer than using fingerprint login. Maybe so, but I find it about 50 times more annoying to have to pop up the camera every time I want to access my handset. 

Also irritating is the absence of a reading mode. It's all very well using the Find X for video watching, but I also like to use my handset to read ebooks, for which a reading mode is essential. 

The camera system is very serviceable. The front camera is a 25MP unit that delivers nice selfies that can be 'enhanced' in multiple ways. These include a version of the beauty mode that allows you to change the appearance of facial features, the ability to add hats, hair and animal masks, add animations and use animated emojis that move around as you view the screen. You can even create personalised animated emojis.

At the back there are 16MP and 20MP cameras, both with f/2.0 lenses. Shots were of an above-average quality, with plenty of detail and good colour reproduction. The flash is a bit over-enthusiastic, but on the whole the camera produces very acceptable shots.

Oppo powers the Find X with a Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB of RAM, a platform that delivered Geekbench 4 scores of 8898 (multi-core) and 2403 (single-core) -- very respectable performance. It runs Android 8.1 rather than 9, which Oppo overlays with its ColorOS 5.1, adding a range of tweaks and features.

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QuickTools is a useful component of Oppo's ColorOS UI overlay.

Images: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

I remain a fan of the QuickTools applet which I encountered in the RX17 Pro. This is called up by a fingser-slide inwards from the right edge of the screen, and provides easy access to a range of system tools and apps. It's easily personalised, and I found it very useful. 

Oppo has also added a couple of gestures specific to the curved screen. A quick double swipe along any edge can take you back to the app you were last in, while sweeping both edges in opposite directions toggles split-screen mode. Both worked efficiently for me, and I found them useful. Split screen is certainly viable for some use cases on a 6.4-inch screen.

The feature I was frustrated with was Panoramic Light Effect. This can be set to send a coloured frame all around the screen as a notification. You can have it kick in for all calls, VIP, favourite or all contacts, and can have it show on the lock screen if that's useful. This could be helpful in many situations such as keeping watch for an important call while the ringer is off, but with only three colours to select between I found it under-specified. I suspect Oppo can do a lot better with this idea of colour notifications. Software update, please!

The Find X's 3,730mAh battery delivered 7 hours 21 minutes of life for a respectable Geekbench battery benchmark of 4410. In the real world it regularly saw me through long days including an hour or so of catchup TV or other video viewing. If you use the provided power brick and cable then the VOOC fast charging will pour 75 percent of charge into the battery in 35 minutes, so a quick charge as you grab a coffee when out and about is viable.

Conclusions 

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Image: Oppo

The Oppo Find X is a frustrating handset. The 6.4-inch AMOLED screen is superb, but the single speaker is lacklustre. The cameras are good, but the pop-up mechanism makes face login awkward -- and because there's no fingerprint sensor, your only other choice is a less-secure but easier-to-manage PIN. The 256GB of internal storage is welcome, but the lack of NFC, in particular, will be a deal-breaker if you've already bought into contactless payments. For me, the absence of a reading mode is a deal breaker too.

Oppo can clearly innovate, but the company should also remember to cover the basics when designing a premium-priced handset. A poor speaker and numerous absent features is just not acceptable. That said, if Oppo can get the balance right it could easily shake up the flagship handset market.

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Oppo Find X review (CNET)

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Where To Buy

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Where To Buy

Oppo Find X (128GB, glacier blue)

Part Number: CNETOppoFindXblue