The Oppo F7 is priced from Rs 21,990.
The phone is powered by the Mediatek Helio P60 SoC and comes with up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
There are two single-camera setups, with a 25-megapixel front camera and 16-megapixel rear camera on the phone.
In the early days of smartphones and the Android operating system, screen sizes were much smaller. People’s usage habits and aesthetic sensibilities were also different, and small screens were favored. 2011’s Samsung Galaxy Note was among the first Android devices to proudly tout its larger screen. The phone had a 5.3-inch HD screen, which now seems small when compared to the 5.5-inch screens that are today considered ‘normal-sized’.
The point here is that larger screens are better, and the acceptable overall size of the smartphone has also increased. Increasing the size of the smartphone now would likely make things inconvenient, since evolution hasn’t allowed our hands to grow as quickly as the phones we use. As a result, any increase in screen size now has to come without simultaneously increasing the phone size.
The full-screen displays aim to do just that. With screens occupying more of the front, we’re now getting phones with screen sizes in excess of 6-inches, while retaining roughly the same size as before. However, the front of the phone needs to also have room for basic components such as the proximity sensor, front camera and earpiece. One way to do it is the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 way – have the earpiece piped to above the screen, and put everything else at the bottom. However, this can get awkward when all your selfies show off your chin in its full glory.
The only other way to do it is something made famous by last year’s Apple iPhone X – the notch. A lot of ‘notched’ devices have launched on the Android platform of late, and the latest in the list is the Rs 21,990 Oppo F7. It’s got a big 6.23-inch full-HD+ screen, complete with the cutout at the top for the front camera, proximity sensor and earpiece. We go into the details on everything that makes this phone in our review.
The notch and the screen around it
While the Apple iPhone X has a significantly larger notch, the current crop of notched Android devices feature significantly smaller cutouts. The Oppo F7 has a small cutout for the 25-megapixel front camera, earpiece and proximity sensor, and the screen space on either side of it is utilized to display notification and status icons. Pulling down from either side brings up the quick toggles and notification shade. As far as the user interface is concerned, the Oppo F7 is fairly well setup for the notch, and can tweak apps to run on the awkward screen ratio as well. You might have to set certain apps to ignore the notch area, and avoid the awkward viewing experience, such as video streaming apps and some games.
The phone’s screen is a 6.23-inch LCD IPS display with full HD+ resolution packed into a package of a typical normal-sized device. There’s just a thin sliver of non-screen space at the bottom, and the overall screen-to-body ratio is incredibly high as a result. The screen is sharp enough for the size, thanks to its full HD+ resolution. The Android navigation keys are on screen, and usually hide when you’re using full-screen apps to be brought back with an upward swipe from the bottom. On the whole, it’s an impressive screen, and buyers who are looking for a phone that properly utilizes its screen real-estate won’t be disappointed with the Oppo F7.
The phone isn’t quite built as well as I’d have hoped for, and looks a bit awkward from the back and sides. There is barely any effort in the design to disguise the plastic build of the phone; you can tell this is a plastic phone even from a distance. Although the back of the phone is a separate slab and is reflective to appear like glass, the odd reflections give away its plastic material. I’d go as far as to say the Oppo F7 feels a bit cheap, and unlike what I’d expect from a smartphone that costs Rs 21,990.
The Oppo F7 is powered by the Mediatek Helio P60 SoC, with Oppo being one of the few mainstream manufacturers that continue using Mediatek chipsets on even its high-end phones. While power users tend to prefer Qualcomm chipsets, it’s assumed that Oppo’s user-base is less concerned with the brand and make of chipset, and more concerned with the feature set on the device. The Helio P60 is an octa-core chipset fabricated on a 12nm process, and is, on paper, a capable SoC.
The phone also features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage on the Rs 21,990 variant. A Rs 26,990 variant comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, and the phone supports expandable storage through a dedicated microSD card slot alongside two SIM-card slots. The phone has a 3,400mAh battery and runs Color OS 5.0 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. Charging and data transfers use a micro-USB port, which is a bit of a disappointment in this age where even budget devices are going to USB Type-C way.
In terms of performance, the Oppo F7 doesn’t disappoint. The phone handles graphic-intensive games fairly well, and I had a clean, lag-free experience with the handful of heavy games I played on the phone such as Drift Max Pro, and Hitman Sniper. Even with multi-tasking, things runs smoothly enough. All of this is with the 4GB RAM variant which we received for review; the 6GB RAM variant will obviously run even better.
The Oppo F7 uses the company’s Color OS user interface, on top of Android 8.1. The benefits of Android 8.1 are, to some extent, lost in the heavy customization of Color OS, particularly the tweaks done to properly utilize the large screen and notch area. It’s a single-layered UI with a heavy focus on visuals and apps built by Oppo to handle basic functionality, such as a dedicated browser, photo gallery, music app and more. Even the camera app has been designed to resemble the iOS camera app. It’s really a matter of personal preference as to whether the system will suit you or not, but fortunately there are no serious issues with the software.
The quality in performance extends even to the security features. The fingerprint sensor is quick and accurate, and face unlock also works quickly. You can set up the lift-to-wake gesture, and the phone will unlock almost immediately when you pick it up and look at the front camera. Battery life is decent as well, with the phone running for a full day on a single charge despite the large screen. However, there is no fast charging tech, so charging the Oppo F7 will take a while – about two hours to fully top up the battery with a regular charger. On the whole, the phone is a top performer for its price category.
Camera with AI
During the launch event of the Oppo F7, the company made it a point to play up the camera’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. This is perhaps an attempt to use the Google Pixel 2 strategy of stating that the software will make up for the lack of hardware, considering that the Oppo F7 uses single-camera setups at both the front and back. Coming soon after the launch of the similarly-priced Vivo V9 (which sports a dual-camera setup at the back), the Oppo may come across as the less capable of the two when it comes to photography.
(Camera samples shot on the Oppo F7 – Resized for web)
In terms of specifications, the Oppo F7 has a 16-megapixel rear camera with f/1.8 aperture, phase detection autofocus and LED flash, along with a 25-megapixel front camera. Video recording is possible at up to 1080p@30fps with both cameras; some users may rue the lack of 4K recording. You can set the device to use the entire screen as a viewfinder by altering the image ratio, but this will of course reduce the resolution of the picture.
Pictures taken with the Oppo F7 are surprisingly good for the price of the phone, despite not having as many sensors as you’d expect from smartphones these days. The single-camera setup on either side might come across as inadequate, but the camera makes up for this with its AI chops. Pictures are generally well composed and look good, with accurate colors and sharp contrast where needed. The AI does show a bit of capability here, working to get the colors right.
However, the AI abilities are really put to work in getting the depth-effect and vivid-mode shots. Despite the single-camera setup, portrait shots with the front camera are excellent, getting colors, depth-effect and boundaries fairly accurately. The rear-camera’s portrait mode isn’t quite as capable, but works when needed. The vivid mode adds some punch to the colors, but this does make things a bit too artificial, and excessively colorful. Sticking to auto-HDR is the best option for getting pictures right, and these shots are decent for a smartphone that costs a little over Rs 20,000.
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The Oppo F7 isn’t the fanciest phone around today at this price; there’s also the Vivo V9 to contend with, along with the Moto X4. It isn’t built particularly well, and I’m not a fan of how the phone looks at the back. However, the screen is everything here. With its edge-to-edge design and excellent screen, the Oppo F7 offers something more. And the camera is pretty good as well – it won’t let you down in most photography situations.
On the whole, it has its pros and cons. It doesn’t offer fantastic value for money or anything of the sort, but it does excel in certain departments, which will appeal to a lot of users. The Oppo F7 does, of course, primarily benefit from its offline availability and powerful dealer network in India – you’ll be able to walk into a nearby store and buy one if you choose. For that, the Oppo F7 is worth a look.
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