First impressions: Oppo N3, the phone with a motorized swivel camera

SINGAPORE: Oppo was the first phone maker to launch a smartphone with a rotating camera module, eliminating the need for two different lenses for front and back.

Now, the China-based premium device maker wants to take the experience to the next level with its new N3 smartphone that features a motorized camera swivel. This means you don’t need to manually rotate the camera mount when you wish to take a selfie. The smartphone also features high-end hardware specifications and a premium design. We got a chance to spend some time with it and here are our first impressions…

Oppo N3 looks like a refined version of the N1 with a relatively compact form factor and a more curved jawline that we’ve seen on the Oppo Find 7. It even shares the Find 7’s Skyline notification light. It fits well in the hand and one of the reasons for that is the 5.5-inch display (the Oppo N1 sported a 5.9-inch display.

The phone is held together by a frame made of industrial grade aluminium alloy 7075 complete with a powder coating along the edges, and it really feels sturdy.

The front features a 5.5-inch full-HD display and three capacitive touch buttons. Unlike the Find 7, N3’s display is not a 2K (2560x1440p) one but in our in our brief time with the phone we found it to be bright and vivid. The display also boasts of wide viewing angles and pictures and text looked crisp and sharp.

Just above the display, you’ll be able to spot the camera swivel with the front portion featuring the earpiece and sensor array and the back sporting a 16MP camera lens and a dual-mode LED flash. For some reason the camera swivel sports a faux-leather finish complete with faux stitching similar to the one found on Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The rest of the phone’s body sports a smooth matte finish. The camera swivel’s stepper motor has been designed by Schneider Electric and can rotate 206 degrees with a tap or swipe.

The camera lens has 1/2.3″ sensor, f2/2 aperture and pixel size of 1.34 microns. It is capable of recording 4K video at 30 fps, 1080p video at 60 fps, and 720p slow motion video at 120 fps. We did not notice any shutter lag during our brief use and the swivel rotated flawlessly. It can be activated by an on-screen swipe gesture, press of the Touch Access fingerprint scanner button at the back or through the O-Click remote control that can be paired with it. We’ll have a detailed look at the camera in our full review.

The left edge of the phone sports the power button and the sim card plus microSD card tray. Interestingly it can accommodate both nano and micro sim cards. You can also see the micro-USB port on the same side down below. The volume rocker and 3,5mm headset jack are placed at the right edge. The keys offer good tactile feedback and were pretty responsive.

At the back, you’ll see a metal ring that surrounds a squarish button. Oppo call this Touch Access. It’s not just a fingerprint scanner used for unlocking the phone and app authentication but also has convenience features. It allows users to scroll through lists and pages and activate the rotating camera lens.

You can use up to five different fingerprints or set up individualized guest modes for others for the Touch Access. We were not able to test the functionality of the sensor.

The chin of the phone features a transparent, double sided notification light.

In terms of hardware specifications, the Oppo N3 is slightly inferior compared to top flagships but still boasts of high-end hardware.

It is powered by a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB RAM and Adreno 330 GPU. The phone has a 3000mAh battery and comes with 32GB storage along with a microSD card slot.

The N3 runs Color OS 2.0 based on Android 4.4 KitKat and this version doesn’t feature a separate app launcher unlike the version found on the find 7. Navigating through the home screens and opening and switching between apps was pretty smooth.

Oppo N3 comes with the VOOC fast-charging technology, offering four times faster charging than conventional chargers. A five minute charge allows Oppo N3 to support a two-hour call. The company has made the bulky VOOC charger compact and ships the new variant with the phone. The phone also comes with the O-Click 2.0 Bluetooth based remote that can control the rotation of the camera, take photos, play music and receive calls even when you’re away from the phone.

The Oppo N3 will be available in Decemebr in the indian market. The global pricing is $649 and Oppo India CEO Tom Lu said that the India price would be on the same lines. At close to Rs 40,000, the phone would compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5, Note 3, Galaxy Alpha, Nokia Lumia 930, iPhone 5S and LG G3. Convincing buyers to shell out cash for a phone from a relatively new brand would not be an easy task for Oppo.

(The correspondent travelled to Singapore on the invitation of Oppo)

One thought on “First impressions: Oppo N3, the phone with a motorized swivel camera

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