Oppo F1s Review: Is it a real “selfie expert”?

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As we all know, most devices out there are designed to be good at everything – laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. They’re brilliant at all the tasks that we throw at them. But, there are devices that are specialized at a specific feature. The Oppo F1s is that phone. Based on their already famous and budget-friendly Oppo F-series line-up, the F1s is designed especially for the consumers who love their portraits and share them online immediately. With a huge bump in front facing camera and some software tweaks, is it worth to get the F1s or should you settle with other competitors, or even the other products from Oppo’s F-series lineup? Let’s see.

Unboxing

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The Oppo F1s comes with a pretty normal white box. The phone is immediately presented on the top. At the bottom contains a small folder, and inside apart from the usual quick start guide and other documentations, it surprisingly also comes with a transparent protection case and a screen protector which has been applied, so there’s no excuse whatsoever to have no protection right out the box. It comes with the usual SIM-tray ejector, USB wall adapter, microUSB cable for syncing and charging as well as earphones. So its pretty well packed for the price! Most other phones which costs more doesn’t even come with a set of earphones these days, never mind the protection items.

Design

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The design of the F1s basically carries the same look as most other phones these days. The design does not look exactly like its other F-series siblings, but has the same trend. Like most other smartphones these days, the material used is premium considering its price – glass front and metal back. Even though it starts to get pretty boring as other manufacturers started the same trend as well. But for the price, just be grateful that you don’t ended up with a plastic phone. The low-gloss metal finish on the back looks really good and even though it weighs a little too light for my taste even though it’s the heaviest among its siblings, it feels solid and well put together. The whole body is surprisingly thin as well, measuring at 7.4mm.

The F1s is offered in 2 colours – regular gold or rose gold. Both colours look good even though we would like to see more colours offered. Whichever colours you pick; the front glass only comes in white.

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The highlight of the front glass is not only the 5.5-inch 720p HD display, but also the 16-megapixel camera. But, unlike the HTC Desire Eye, which is another selfie oriented phone, there’s no indication that this phone has a rather powerful front facing camera. It blends in along with the usual earpiece and couple of sensors on the top of the display. The bezels on either side of the display is small as well, and the big plus is that resting your fingers on the side while operating the phone won’t recognise any accidental input. At the bottom is a physical home button which doubles as a blazing fast fingerprint reader for unlocking and applications protection. On either side of the buttons are 2 usual capacitive buttons that are required for Android ecosystem.

On the left of the phone, it’s the usual volume buttons and nothing else. The power button is located at a reachable location on the right. Like most phones these days, it comes with a ejectable tray as there’s no removable back cover. One big plus of the Oppo F1s is that it comes with 2 nanoSIM slots and a microSD card slot for storage expansion. So there’s no need to sacrifice one for another. Both are ready to be used right out the box. There’s no IR blaster or any other fancy stuff on the phone, just a tiny little secondary microphone on the top.

The bottom is where all the ports are. The layout and design looks surprisingly familiar to us. You’ve got the 3.5mm earphone jack towards the left, followed by a microphone, microUSB port and a loudspeaker. The speaker is one of the many weak parts of the phone, and it’s just downright disappointing. The volume can go very high, but it just sounds terrible. It sounded like its distorted, and the clarity just wasn’t there. If you plan to use the phone as a loudspeaker a lot, consider investing in some portable speakers as well.

The back is not bad looking as well. Whichever colour you choose, both looks well enough. On the top left is a 13-megapixel camera, along with single-LED flash. We can’t really tell how well the metal finish will hold up, so its recommended that you use the included case as well. There’s really nothing much to talk about the rear of the phone apart from the big Oppo logo in the middle and 2 thin antenna lines running across the phone.

Specs and performance

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Unfortunately, the performance is not something to brag about this phone despite the specs that it’s packing. It uses Mediatek’s MT6750 chip. With no true octa-core processor and a clock speed of just 1.5GHz, the Oppo F1s performs the same as its predecessor, the F1. Still, the MT6750 is one of the lowest performing processors being fitted into a phone, but with its low clock speed and somewhat octa-core processor, its one of the most energy efficient as well.

In real world performance test, the F1s is not the best in the business even at the price point. The 720p display helps reduce load on the processor but still, the heavy UI tweaks sometimes does slow it down. Still, its not absolutely unusable and there are still other phones out there that performs worse than this. You’ll only get occasional lags when navigating through the UI or switching apps. The 3GB RAM does help with multitasking quite well.

With our usual Geekbench 4 test, the Oppo F1s only managed a single-core score of 673, one of the lowest we’ve seen. Even in the multi-core score test it manages a score of 2401. It’s not far off its predecessor and quite a gap away from the F1 Plus. It’s a recipe for disaster since it performs worse than its predecessor.

The F1s only comes in 32GB of internal storage, so it should be adequate for daily use. Should you need more space for the 16-megapixel selfies, the F1s also allows you to increase the storage up to 128GB with a dedicated microSD slot, while still maintaining 2 other micro-SIM slots.

Display

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The display rocking in the Oppo F1s measures 5.5-inches. While the size is right, everything else had to be held back to cut costs. It only has a 720p resolution (720 X 1280), and a pixel density of only 267 pixels-per-inch. It’s definitely not the sharpest display panel out there, and its immediately noticeable.

While it uses IPS LCD technology, the colour accuracy is nothing special. Our tester unit has a yellow tint on it which looks like it has night mode turned on all the time, but not. We hope that its only a defect on our unit. The yellow tint makes a warmer colour display which leads to colours being not so vibrant and average viewing angle. A good thing about the display is that its rather bright, and unlike the Honor 8 that we saw previously, it tends to increase the brightness a bit too much when auto brightness setting is turned on.

Camera performance

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Like the HTC Desire Eye, the main point of the whole selling phone is to provide fantastic selfies, hence the tagline “Selfie Expert”. But, unlike the Eye which uses almost identical 13-megapixel shooters for both its front and rear facing cameras, the F1s uses a larger 16-megapixel shooter for its front camera, compared to the 13-megapixel for its back. The front camera has an aperture of f/2.0. It’s designed to be able to capture more light during darker conditions hence improving selfies.

But, the big question is that is it worth going for the Oppo F1s just for the front facing camera? To be honest, after going through all the fuss of putting a better front facing camera than the rear, the results are just on par with other smartphones out there which focuses on better rear cameras than the front. The days are over when the front facing cameras are horrible. Most smartphones out there have good front facing cameras these days, which makes the F1s’s “selfie expert” a marketing gimmick.

The front facing camera takes good selfies, with sharp images and vibrant colours. Under sufficient lighting, image quality is good, but in darker lightings, while the f/2.0 aperture sensor allows more lighting, noise levels are noticeably higher and under some conditions, it can be overexposed. There’s not much technology being put into the front facing camera, and there’s not even a front facing flash either like the Eye with two-tone flash. What works quite well is Oppo’s Beauty Mode. It applies filter to parts of the face to make it look like some make-up has been applied. The low setting is the most natural setting, while medium and high settings are not our cup of tea. It looks too artificial and weird.

The front facing camera is a 13-megapixel shooter, with an aperture of f/2.2. At this price point, there’s not much technology that goes with it either, apart from a single-LED flash and auto-focus. The rear camera shoots images with enough details and acceptable level of colour level. Unfortunately, that’s the end of its praise. The biggest problem with this camera is its auto exposure. It tends to go crazy hunting for the perfect exposure but still, there are times where it tends to over or under expose the image, especially in auto mode. The auto focus works quite well even without any assist. HDR works very well indeed, as well as the expert mode which allows you to adjust numerous settings from exposure to shutter speed. Manual settings are perfect and they allow you to take perfect photos, which leads to just an issue with the automatic algorithm.

The F1s only records Full HD videos at 30 frames-per-second, with an option to switch to 720p. While contrasts are spot on, the colour is slightly less vibrant and could use more detail in its images. The exposure hunting carries over to video mode unfortunately, while its quick to respond to change of lighting, sometimes it can too over expose some sceneries. It does not have any slow-motion modes, unfortunately.

The camera app looks strangely familiar as well. Swiping left and right will bring you to different modes, from stills, videos, to beauty, timelapse and panorama mode.

To view samples of the Oppo F1s, click here.

Software

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Like most Chinese smartphones out there, the Oppo F1s runs on a heavily skinned version of Android 5.1 operating system. It’s called the ColorOS, and its has more similarities to iOS, rather than the Android OS that it’s actually running. The home screen with no app drawer looks exactly like the one in iOS, with additional ability to put widgets anywhere. It feels almost similar to other MIUI based systems found in other devices such as the Honor 8 and Xiaomi Mi 5, and like the Honor 8, there’s not much bloatware to be found either.

We’d love to see a more vanilla Android system in this case. ColorOS isn’t helping to reduce lags and provide a better user experience.

Battery life

The battery life of the Oppo F1s is pretty respectable. It does come with a 3075mAh battery, which is non-removable and highest among its siblings. At the end of a heavy day with 2 SIM cards running simultaneously, it still returns 20% battery life. So there’s no worries about battery life for extensive selfie sessions.

The Oppo F1s is charged through the microUSB port, and it charges rather slowly as it has no fast charging technology. It takes just a little over 2 hours to charge to full from a completely empty battery.

Conclusion

Putting its marketing gimmick aside, the Oppo F1s is a pretty good phone for RM1199. It has premium materials, solid construction, performs well enough as well as a good battery life. It’s use of premium materials and incredible price tag is what sets it apart among its rivals.

Recap:
Mediatek MT6750 1.5GHz Octa-core processor
3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, microSD card up to 128GB
5.5-inch IPS display, 720 X 1280 pixels, 267 pixels-per-inch
Dual-SIM, dual standby
13-megapixel rear camera, 16-megapixel front camera
1080p video recording, 30 fps
3075mAh non-removable battery
Fingerprint reader

Pros:
Packing a punch for its price
Use of premium materials
Blazing fast fingerprint reader at the front
Good battery life
Less bloatwares

Cons:
Performance lacking behind
Fair camera performance
Heavily skinned UI
No fast charging technology
Below average display