Chinese smartphone brand Oppo is on the rise. The Shenzhen-based company began the year with the introduction of a rolling phone that made headlines online, then overtook Huawei as China’s number one phone brand (largely thanks to the U.S. government), and now has a new flagship phone that is extremely polished and capable of new camera tricks that no other phone has ever done.
I’ve been testing this device – the Find X3 Pro – for a few weeks now, and it’s as polished as anything I’ve ever used.
Originally released in 2018, oppo find X was an experimental and strange phone that was unlike any other on the market. It had a camera system that was hidden behind the phone’s casing when not in use. This made the phone look like a single piece, with no protruding parts or recesses (at least when the camera was hidden).
Find X3 Pro is much more traditional but retains the seamless aesthetic of the original design. This is thanks to the rear glass plate of the Find X3 Pro, which consists of a single piece of glass and covers the camera system. More than 99% of smartphones on the market have a separate camera module from the back. If the camera module did not stand out from the back of the phone, then a single piece of glass covering the system would not be anything remarkable; but the Find X3 Pro, like all modern smartphones, has a very powerful camera system that requires extra weight. So the camera’s sticking out, but the glass still covers it with this thin horn.
In the photos, it looks strange, even worse in press photos, but in real life, I was attracted to this strange, curved shape. Reflects light in a definite pattern different from the rest of the glass back. It looks like the Terminator’s T-1000 liquid metal changing shape.
Oppo claims that more than 2,000 warp points had to be mapped to the glass to achieve this design – I usually take the numbers used by the consumer brand’s marketing with great salt, but it’s a unique design I’ve never seen before. The phone is well located in the hand, not too heavy and not too thick (193 grams and 8.26 mm), and does not have a single sharp edge. Even the protruding part of the camera, which is usually flat-edged in 99% of phones, is smoother here thanks to the curvature of the glass plate.
We will start the camera system and its work later, but first, let’s look at the characteristics and common components of this device. The display is a 6.7-inch panel of WQHD, which means that it has a resolution of 1440p and a variable upgrade frequency of up to 120 Hz. The higher refresh rate makes the phone’s animation particularly smooth and fast.
Oppo’s marketing emphasizes that this phone is one of the first to use a 10-bit panel, which means it can display a billion colors. Almost every other phone on the market uses an 8-bit panel that can display “only” 16.7 million colors. Yes, it’s as technical and cheapest as possible. I’m sure the experts in color science or display will be satisfied with the billions of possible nuances, but 16.7 million is enough for me. I’d be lying if I said I actually “see more colors” on the Find X3 Pro screen than on other top Android phones.
But that isn’t to say the screen doesn’t look good—it looks exceptional, as good as the display panels seen in recent Xiaomi and Samsung phones. I just can’t say it’s better even though technically it can display more colors.
Inside the Find X3 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 with 12GB of RAM, so these are top notch components. The phone also supports wireless charging and has IP68 water resistance. And unlike Samsung and Apple, it comes with a charging brick in the box, a super fast charging 65W one that can bump the phone’s large 4,500 mAh battery from 0 to 50% in under 15 minutes.
Because the screen has such a high refresh rate and is so pixel-dense, the 4,500 mAh battery can only power the device for about 12-13 hours of use, which is solid, but not great, battery life. There’s an option to lower the screen refresh rate for much better battery life, but I’m not willing to make that compromise because 120Hz screens look so much better than 60Hz.
Let’s talk about this camera system. Oppo Find X3 Pro’s main camera system consists of four cameras, including two 50-megapixel Sony IMX 766 sensors that cover both wide-angle focal lengths, a 13-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 3-megapixel “microscopic lens.”
It’s the latest lens capable of things I’ve never seen before. It essentially allows you to hold your phone very close to an object – so close that the camera presses on the object you want to photograph – and takes a super macro photo that zooms in to show details that the human eye can’t see. Don’t just believe me, look at these pictures.
It could be said that the ability to take such photos is a niche feature, many average smartphone users do not use the camera. Never mind, but I think it’s worth pointing out that a smartphone camera can take great photos that you can’t see with the naked eye.
A more useful lens is the ultra-wide-angle lens; this is one of my favorite lenses I’ve been using since LG introduced this smartphone camera a few years ago. I like to use the wider field of view to capture architecture and landscapes.
In general, the ultra-wide-angle camera is weaker than the main camera, sometimes surprisingly. They have much fewer pixels, and their sensors are usually older. In other words: If you’re using the ultra-wide-angle camera, you’ll take a worse picture than your phone’s main camera. Xiaomi and Samsung phones suffer from this problem.
Oppo Find X3 Pro doesn’t make such a compromise, as the ultra-wide-angle lens and main camera use exactly the same 50-megapixel Sony IMX 766 sensor. Ultra-wide-angle shots seem equally detailed, with the same precise exposure and color science in most shooting conditions.
Find X3 Pro’s main camera is also very good, taking vivid, noise-free photos. But the main cameras on the best smartphone phones have been very good for quite some time now, so for me, it’s the ultra-wide-angle camera and microphoto lens that highlights the phone’s camera system.
The selfie camera is very good, but sometimes it struggles with its dynamic range. Selfies are good, but they’re not spectacular.
Software and overall performance
Find X3 pro runs oppo’s software skin on Android 11, and I’m a fan of it. The software called ColorOS is full of customization options and runs smoothly even when it’s completely full of apps.
The phone has stereo speakers and an excellent display, so it’s a pleasure to play games or watch movies. Overall, this phone performs very well.
Pricing, however, is very erratic
The Find X3 Pro is a very well designed and balanced, high quality flagship phone. However, its price varies from region to region, and the differences are truly staggering. In the UK the price is £1,099, or $1,500. Elsewhere in Europe, the price is €1,149, the right for $1,300. In China, it is the cheapest model at 5499 yuan (about 845 dollars). In the rest of Asia, including Hong Kong and Singapore, prices range between China and Europe. I don’t understand how people living in the UK can justify paying almost twice as much as people on the other side of the world.
Finding the right price for the Find X3 Pro is key. In a vacuum—meaning ignoring pricing and just rate the phone on its technical merits—the Find X3 Pro is worthy as the latest flagship from the biggest Chinese smartphone brand.