2021 Winners and losers: Oppo

While the first members of the Oppo Reno5 series arrived in 2020, some did so quite late (including one on December 31), and others were launched in 2021. This year we also saw Reno6 and more recently the Reno7 series. There were also many launches in the A and F series, but we will try to condense the best and worst of Oppos 2021 here.

Winner: Oppo Find X3 Pro

Let’s start with the best, otherwise known as the Oppo Find X3 Pro. The phone was unveiled in March and it featured a carefully crafted design and custom camera hardware.

Winners and losers: Oppo

The design won a Red Dot Award, not a small part thanks to the seamless, smooth-flowing glass panel on the back. It is not easy to do, getting a flat glass plate to fit these curves is a process that takes 40 hours. While the glass was beautiful, the Cosmic Mocha version with vegan leather was also a looker. But really, the favorite part of the phone is the camera.

Oppo Find X3 Pro in Cosmic Mocha
Oppo Find X3 Pro in Cosmic Mocha
Oppo Find X3 Pro in Cosmic Mocha

Oppo Find X3 Pro in Cosmic Mocha

Quite early on, we caught that Oppo is working with Sony to develop a custom sensor for the Find X3 Pro. Preparations continued with the development of a 10-bit pipeline that captured, stored, and reproduced 10-bit color images in the DCI-P3 color space.

The custom sensor turned out to be the Sony IMX766, a 1 / 1.56 ”sensor with 1.0 pixelsm pixels and All Pixel omni-directional autofocus. This sensor was used in the phone’s wide and ultra wide cameras. In fact, it was used in several phones from Oppo, OnePlus, Realme and vivo.

Winners and losers: Oppo

It was a popular sensor and also very skilled which we found in our review. Speaking of which, the X3 Pro is one of the recommendations in our best flagship phones buying guide.

Oppo launched some limited editions like the Mars Exploration Edition, but the one we will briefly talk about here is the Kodak-inspired limited edition with a design based on the Kodak 35 camera. Also, most of Oppo’s rivals have already called dibs on a camera partner (e.g. OnePlus and Hasselblad). This officially launched as the Photographer Edition.

Oppo Find X3 Pro Photographer official posters
Oppo Find X3 Pro Photographer official posters
Oppo Find X3 Pro Photographer official posters

Oppo Find X3 Pro Photographer official posters

There’s more about the Oppo Find X3 Pro that we’ll have to mention, but that’s part of the next chapter – the future of ColorOS.

Winner: ColorOS

Android 12 entered its beta phase on May 18, and the same day, Oppo announced that it has a beta firmware for Find X3 Pro. To be fair, it was a pretty barebones ROM, but it showed commitment to timely Android OS updates.

ColorOS 12 was announced in mid-September with a stable release scheduled for early October, starting in China. Find X3 Pro was the first to also get the new version globally (also in October).

Winners and losers: Oppo

And it’s not just longevity, Oppo announced that the Find X3 series will have three years of software support, one year longer than most Oppo models. That means two years of OS updates plus an extra year of security patches. It is possible that the company will extend it to four years, depending on how the internal test takes place.

There were big shifts behind the scenes for what future software will be like for Oppo phones. A new company was formed, Oplus, which owns 100% of Oppo and has a majority stake in OnePlus (plus shares in Realme). This allows the two companies to share resources in the development of their products.

OxygenOS and ColorOS will merge into a single OS next year

OxygenOS and ColorOS will merge into a single OS next year

The first big step was to join the R&D departments of OnePlus and Oppo, which came in January. Next, it was the union of ColorOS and OxygenOS (HydrogenOS to China had already been replaced by ColorOS). The two software teams were combined to work on the internal together (led by the head of OxygenOS), but the surface parts of the software will still be adapted to the needs of the different customer bases at Oppo and OnePlus.

Loser: Oppo Reno7 series

As we mentioned in the introductory section, Oppo has launched phones across three generations of Reno this year. And besides creating potential confusion for customers, the company has not really shown that the new phones have a reason to exist.

Take for example the Oppo Reno7 Pro 5G – it’s by no means a bad phone, but is it better than the Reno6 Pro 5G, the one with the Snapdragon chipset we mean? Having two different phones with the same name only adds further confusion, but even worse is that the answer is “no”.

Winners and losers: Oppo

Here is the comparison. The 6 Series Pro has a brighter AMOLED screen, except that they are the same (same size, same resolution, 90 Hz, HDR10 +). The batteries are the same. The camera setup is pretty much the same, except that the Reno6 Pro has OIS on the main camera and a 2x telephoto. And it can record 4K video at 60 fps, while the newer model tops at 30 fps. The only advantage that the 7 Pro has is the wider lens and a new sensor for its selfie camera.

It only leaves the chipset – a Snapdragon 870 for Reno6 Pro and a Dimensity 1200-Max for Reno7 Pro. The two chips are about the same size in terms of performance, so the older model holds up well.

The worst part is that this is a pointless discussion for most of the world as Reno6 Pro (Snapdragon) is only available in a few regions. For example, it is available in Indonesia and the Netherlands, but not in neighboring Germany. Oppo Germany only offers Reno6 5G and still sells some Reno4 models. We do not expect the availability of Reno7 Pro to improve, but we would not mind being pleasantly surprised.

In summary, the question is twofold. First, the Reno6 Pro (Snapdragon) seems to be the better phone, so why worry about the 7 Pro. Second, people in most countries cannot buy either.

The Oppo Reno7 series was successful on all reseller platforms
The Oppo Reno7 series was successful on all reseller platforms
The Oppo Reno7 series was successful on all reseller platforms
The Oppo Reno7 series was successful on all reseller platforms

The Oppo Reno7 series was successful on all reseller platforms

Having mentioned the Reno6 5G, that phone is available in several regions of Europe and you can also find it in India and Indonesia. Which is nice, because it’s better than the Reno7 5G. That said, the Reno7 series broke sales records in China, so it’s likely to do just fine, plus there are hints that the availability of the new series will expand to India soon.

Winner: Oppo Find N

Small phones have almost disappeared, especially at the high end, so hearing about a new flagship with a 5.49 ”screen raises an eyebrow. Okay, the Oppo Find N is not exactly small in terms of portability, but its cover screen is easy to use with one hand. It’s not just the 5.49 ”diagonal, 18: 9 aspect ratio that makes it feel like a regular phone from before the high and narrow trend became dominant.

Oppo Find N is the first small (ish) horizontal foldable
Oppo Find N is the first small (ish) horizontal foldable

Oppo Find N is the first small (ish) horizontal foldable

A trend that is really pronounced in other foldable – the cover screen of the Galaxy Z Fold3 has a 25: 9 aspect ratio, the Mi Mix Fold extends it to 27: 9, the Mate X2 keeps it relatively sensible at 21: 9. Most apps do not look good on such narrow screens, and the top of them is virtually impossible to reach with the thumb.

With its size, Find N falls in the space between the smaller clamshell foldables and the larger horizontal foldables, a space it currently has for itself. But Oppo achieved another victory with this model.

Oppo Find N closes without a hole
The hinge can hold the phone folded at different angles

Oppo Find N closes without a gap • The hinge can hold the phone folded at different angles

The flexion hinge is the second gain. It is more gentle when folding the screen, making the folder much less noticeable, as we noted in our practical review. It also closes tightly, leaving no hole typical of the current generation of foldable. This both looks nicer and prevents foreign objects from meandering between the two halves of the screen. The hinge can also stand still at any angle between 50º and 120º, which enables several modes of operation.

Oppo Find N is not perfect, for example, the 7.1 ”inner screen is on the small side when compared to other horizontal folds. But it was a deliberate trade-off of Oppo. If you look at it differently, it has 50% more surface than a Find X3 Pro. It is not to be overlooked that this is one thick and heavy device, however, a hair that is heavier than even the larger Galaxy Z Fold3.

The battery is relatively large compared to the phone’s size (4,500 mAh vs. 4,400 mAh for the Galaxy) and supports faster cable and wireless charging than Samsung. The cameras are not groundbreaking, but it is true for almost everyone foldable. We will examine them in more detail in our full review, because now you can see camera samples.

In the end, Oppo Find N is not a winner here because of specific hardware decisions, but because of the overall design – the market really needs a less horizontal foldable. Reducing folds and closing without a space also does a lot to improve the aesthetics. Our one remaining complaint (which we hope will be resolved) is that Oppo did not announce any plans to launch this outside of China.

Winner: Oppo TWS headsets

We have reviewed several TWS headsets from Oppo this year, including the Enco X, Enco W51 and Enco M31. For all of them, we noticed that they deliver excellent sound quality, fit comfortably and have waterproofing.

Enco X is clearly the best of the three, but also the most expensive – not that $ 135 / € 110 is a high price for the hardware. The W51 costs $ 70 / € 55, and the M31 is quite affordable at $ 26 or so.

Winners and losers: Oppo

We had a few complaints, mostly centered on the companion app, which is not available for iOS and does not work with the M31, and the touch buttons, which were not good. Still, the True Wireless headset is the largest segment of the wearables market and Oppo has some competitive offerings.

Tab: Oppo Watch 2

Speaking of wearables, where’s the Oppo Watch 2? It was launched in China first and it never got a global release like its predecessor. And now it seems like it’s hard to find even in China, the online stores we checked out are all sold out.

Winners and losers: Oppo

The ECG version of the watch is available, but it is also more expensive. And of course, you can not buy it outside of China. Oppo is lagging behind in the smartwatch market, in fact it barely even participates. Oppo Band Style was fine, but it needs work.

Winner: Oppo

Oppo had a good year and the company seems to have secured fourth place in terms of smartphone shipments globally. Canalys reported that Oppo in the first quarter sent 37.6 million phones, an increase of 60% over the first three months last year. So in the 2nd quarter, the company shipped 32.8 million phones, an increase of 37%, according to IDC. In the 3rd quarter, growth was more modest 18%, but it is still 36.7 million units.

Given that the pandemic is still ongoing and in 2021 the chip shortage became quite severe, it was not easy for Oppo to grow its market share.

Xiaomi is still ahead, but the difference was smaller in Q3 than in previous quarters. Oppo is not alone in this either, as it shares R&D resources with OnePlus, which is one of the few Chinese companies selling phones in the United States. There is also Realme, which overtook Oppo in some regions like India, but like OnePlus, Realme also contributes to the joint hardware and software development efforts.

Leave a Comment