Phones

'Selfie expert' looks stylish but camera app is limited

The 5-inch F1's 8-megapixel front camera is sharp enough in bright daylight, and focuses reasonably quickly compared to other mid-range shooters.
The 5-inch F1's 8-megapixel front camera is sharp enough in bright daylight, and focuses reasonably quickly compared to other mid-range shooters.PHOTO: OPPO

Camera suffers in dim conditions and software has only three pre-set levels

The Oppo F1 touts itself as a "Selfie Expert", like the Sony Xperia C4 and the Asus Zenfone Selfie.

Such phones usually come with a higher-resolution front camera, and bundled software to spruce up plain selfie portraits with skin-smoothening or eye-enlarging features.

The 5-inch F1's 8-megapixel front camera - the one that will be snapping those all-important selfies - is sharp enough in bright daylight, and focuses reasonably quickly compared to other mid- range shooters.

It picked up details like strands of hair and skin tones accurately, although its overall palette leaned towards the slightly cooler.

However, it does not have a particularly wide-angle lens, so all the selfies I took ended up without much background in the picture.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $429

    PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core 1.5GHz

    DISPLAY: 5-inch, 1,280-by-720 pixels

    OPERATING SYSTEM: ColorOS V2.1.0i (based on Android 5.1)

    CAMERA: 13-megapixel, f/2.2 (rear) and 8-megapixel f/2.0 (front)

    MEMORY: 16GB of storage, 3GB RAM

    BATTERY: 2,500 mAh

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Looks-wise, the F1 is a stylish phone, with a profile that looks clean without being harsh or blocky, and bevelled edges that make it comfortable to hold.

In dimmer environments, the front camera also suffers significantly. When I tried taking a selfie in slightly darker conditions - such as under my office table - with no flash, the picture was quite grainy and a lot of facial detail was lost, with my usually wispy eyebrows turning up as a solid block of colour.

It fares much better using the Screen Flash feature, which converts the entire display into a flash. Although the image did not look very natural, the camera managed to pick up much more detail.

On the software front, the pre- installed camera app is limited. It comes with Beautify 3.0, which brightens the skin and removes blemishes.

But unlike apps such as MeituPic which allow you to tweak individual attributes such as eye size, face slimness and skin tone, Beautify 3.0 has only three pre-set levels: Weak, medium and strong.

It did even out my skin tone and get rid of my eyebags, and, overall, I did look brighter. It did also make my eyes subtly bigger, and the change still looked natural.

However, while the three levels are sufficient for a first pass, serious selfie-snappers would probably still want to download a third-party app with more enhancement options.

The F1 is a stylish phone, with a profile that looks clean without being harsh or blocky, and bevelled edges that make it comfortable to hold.

My review unit had a two-tone body, with a white front and a rose gold back, which is a nice change from most other single-coloured phones.

Oppo's ColorOS, which is based on Android 5.1, is clean, bright and blocky. Unlike a lot of other Android systems, it comes without an app drawer, so all installed programs are visible on the home screen, which can get cluttered.

Fortunately, the OS also comes with nice touches like being able to group icons to move them, and useful screen-off gestures that allow you to launch utilities like the camera or torch by drawing a pattern on a turned-off screen.

• Verdict: A selfie phone with a decent front camera, but a mediocre camera app. True selfie-holics will want to download a third-party app to tweak their pictures.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline ''Selfie expert' looks stylish but camera app is limited'. Print Edition | Subscribe