OPPO N3 Review
The OPPO N3 is the company’s flagship smartphone that was officially unveiled back in October 2014. It features a premium build, 5.5-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 801 quad-core CPU, and a unique 16MP rotating camera that promises easier and better sefies. But is that enough to go head-to-head with other powerful phablets? Let’s find out by reading the full review below.
OPPO popularized the rotating camera technology way back with the introduction of the OPPO N1. The N3 introduced more features and better hardware to boot.
Design and Construction
As mentioned earlier, the OPPO N3 is a premium device that comes in white color. Compared to other flagships that boasts glass and metal, the N3 employs plastic, metal and faux leather in a design that is interesting and not boring to look at.
On the front we have the 5.5-inch display mounted with Gorilla Glass 3, above it is the rotating camera module that houses the earpiece and light sensor. Down at the bottom are three illuminated capacitive buttons for navigation.
On the left side we have the SIM card tray which can accommodate two SIMs (micro and nano), the power / lock button, and towards to the bottom is the microUSB port.
On the right side are the headset jack and the volume buttons. Down at the bottom are the speaker, microphone, and LED notifications light. Surrounding the whole of the device is a metal band which OPPO calls a “robust industrial grade aluminum alloy 7075 micro-arc frame.”
At the back, here you will see the rear part of the camera module which carries the 16 megapixel camera and dual-tone flash, microphone, the OPPO logo etched in some glossy material, and the rear key which also doubles as a fingerprint sensor.
On hand, the N3 is a fairly tall device. At 161.2 mm, it’s even taller than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (153.5 mm) with a 5.7-inch display. The tall frame can be attributed to the design camera module as it has to be placed on top to allow it to rotate.
That being said, the N3 feels large in the hands and top-heavy which makes this prone to accidental slips or drops if you force a one-handed use. Not to mention that it is hefty too at 192 grams. Another thing that bothers us is the placement of the headset jack as it makes it difficult for us to put in our pockets when a headset is plugged in.
On the bright side, the OPPO N3 feels luxurious. The slim metal frame is cool to the touch and adds grip. The plastic part has a smooth matte finish although not that resistant to dirt and smudges. The rotating camera module has a faux-leather finish with fake stitches while the lens and flash is framed in metal.
Display and Multimedia
The N3 uses a 5.5-inch IPS display with Full HD resolution which equates to 401ppi. Those concerned with pixel density may find it less compared to devices with a 5-inch Full HD screen but trust me, the difference is not that noticeable. It is crisp, vibrant with accurate colors and very good viewing angles and sunlight legibility. That being said, the N3 is a great multimedia companion.
Watching movies on the N3 is real treat thanks to the large and vibrant display. The speakers may look tiny but with the help of MaxxAudio, it is capable of producing good sound quality with acceptable loudness.
Speaking of MaxxAudio, the audio feature can let you tweak the sound quality you’re getting from the N3. In the settings you can adjust the equalizer, and levels for bass, trebles, volume, and dialogue.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software side of the N3 is Android 4.4.4 KitKat with ColorOS V2.0.1i. We received an OTA update for a bug fix for Contacts, charging optimization, window display support in protective cases, and removal of air gestures. Unfortunately it fails to update every time we try to install it. Hopefully this isn’t the case with future OTA updates.
ColorOS V2 is one of the nicest Android UI we’ve come across. It’s clean while its icons and built-in apps look fresh and colorful without looking toyish. The approach is similar to MIUI as it dropped the app drawer and utilizes multiple home screens instead. Customization is one of its main features as it has its own choices of effects, wallpapers, widgets, fonts, and its own Theme Store.
The N3 is feature packed as well like having its own Security Center (which manages memory cleanup, permissions, power management, SMS and call blocking, and guest mode), Download Manager, and Fingerprint unlocking. Deep inside settings are MaxxAudio, on and off-screen gestures, air gestures, scheduled on and off, and double-tap to wake.
In addition to the features mentioned above, the N3 has another trick up it sleeves which OPPO calls the O-Click. It’s essentially a software that connects with the Bluetooth-equipped O-Click Remote Control that comes in the package.
Once the N3 is paired with remote control you can control your camera and music playback, get notified when your phone receives a call or messages, and locate the N3 by making it ring in case you misplaced it. It seems gimmicky though as we found ourselves using it rarely and there were a couple of times when the Remote Control is the one being misplaced due to its size. A cool extra nonetheless.
As for apps, the N3 is pre-installed with Google applications. Unfortunately they cannot be uninstalled so if you’re not using some of them you’re basically stuck. When it comes to storage, the N3 has a claimed internal storage of 32GB. 5.85GB is occupied by the system while 4.04GB is used by pre-installed apps. This leaves you with a total of 22.11GB of usable storage. If this is not enough, you can expand it with a microSD card at the expense of the SIM 2 slot.
The N3 is equipped with a 16 megapixel Schneider Kreuznach camera. As you have noticed, this is not your usual camera as it uses a motorized rotating mechanism. OPPO acknowledges the problem of poor image qualities in selfies and group photos because of mediocre front-facing cameras. The N3 solves that by installing one good camera and just allow it to rotate 206-degrees.
OPPO tweaked the camera software to take advantage of the N3’s rotating camera. Tapping on the camera switch will automatically rotate the camera to the front and back. When set to front, the camera app automatically launches its Beauty feature which is buggy on our unit, by the way, as it only shows a black screen. Although it works without a hitch in Normal mode.
You can also adjust the camera angle in different ways, one is by slowly swiping up and down the screen, another is to slowly swipe up and down on the fingerprint sensor at the back, or just manually adjust it by hand which I think the N3’s camera do not mind. You can also trigger the camera by tapping on the screen, by using the rear key / fingerprint sensor, or by Voice shot.
Image quality is good but something we can’t consider as superb. Colors are good but could use a boost in sharpness. Low-light performance is acceptable but noise is easily observable. Take a look at the samples below:
[fancygallery id=”204″ album=”247″]
The camera also has a number of notable software features like Auto Panorama, Colorful night, Expert mode, HDR, and Ultra HD which captures photos at 6524 x 4893 resolution compared to the normal 4608 x 3456. Other camera apps can be downloaded like Audio photo, GIF, Double exposure, Super macro, After Focus, and RAW.
As for video recording, the camera can record Full HD videos at 30fps in MP4 format. Watch the sample below:
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the N3 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core CPU clocked at 2.3GHz, Adreno 330 GPU, and 2GB RAM. Performance is great, lags are non-existent, while animations are smooth and snappy. Those who want to play lots of games on Android will find the N3 a performer. We played Marvel Future Fight and Asphalt 8, both of them ran smoothly.
* AnTuTu – 40,140
* Quadrant Standard – 19,047
* Vellamo – 1,498 (Metal), 1,708 (Multicore), 3,332 (Chrome Browser)
* 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited – 17,275
We also monitored its temperature while playing games mentioned above and highest we got is 37.1C.
Call Quality and Connectivity
Smartphone manufacturers nowadays are starting to equip their flagship devices with dual-SIM capabilities. The OPPO N3 is one of them. Although it doesn’t have dual-LTE, having support for two SIM cards is better than one.
Voice calls are not a problem as voices are loud and clear on both ends. Mobile data connectivity is not an issue as well as it was able to secure itself to the available signal (4G or 3G) whichever’s the strongest.
The N3 is equipped with a 3,000mAh battery which can be considered the minimum capacity for a smartphone of this caliber. We ran PC Mark’s battery test on it and the result is 6 hours and 2 minutes. With our own test using a Full HD video on loop using MX Player in Airplane mode with brightness and volume set to 50% with headset plugged in, the result is an impressive 11 hours and 42 minutes worth of playback.
As for its charging prowess, the N3 has a feature called VOOC Flash Charge. Using the power adapter that came with the package, it was able to charge the N3’s battery from 0% to 50% in 15 minutes and up to 90% in under an hour which is also impressive.
The OPPO N3 is every bit a flagship phone as it claims to be. It has a premium build, sleek-looking design, large crisp and vibrant display, fingerprint sensor, O-Click, good performance, and a unique yet capable camera. Its ColorOS 2.0 is also worth giving praise as it provides the user tons of features and customization options, although OPPO has to fix that OTA update error we’re encountering.
The OPPO N3 doesn’t come cheap though at Php29,990 but that is expected given its flagship status and features mentioned above. On the bright side, the SRP is lower compared to other flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S6, Sony Xperia Z3, or Apple iPhone 6. So if you’re on a lookout for a smartphone that is packed with features partnered with a strong set of hardware and sub-Php30K price tag, the OPPO N3 is worth getting.
OPPO N3 specs:
5.5-inch full HD IPS LCD @ 1920×1080 pixels, 403ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AA) quad-core processor
Adreno 330 Graphics
32GB internal storage
up to 128GB via microSD (SIM 2 slot)
16MP AF Schneider Kreuznach rotating rear camera w/ dual-tone flash
4G LTE, HSPA+
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
WiFi Direct, DLNA
GPS with aGPS support
ColorOS 2.0.1i (Android 4.4.4)
3,000mAh Li-Ion battery
161.2 x 77 x 9.9 mm
What we liked about it:
* Premium build
* Good display
* Good performance
* Nifty yet capable rotating camera
* Lots of software features
* Good battery life
* VOOC Fast Charge
What we didn’t like:
* Too tall
* Odd placement of headset jack
* OTA update is currently buggy
* Rear is prone to smudges