Oppo N1 review: Real camera innovation in a swivel

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.2
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Its matte finish gives the Oppo N1 a more premium feel than its plastic chassis would suggest. The phone also has a great camera and strong battery life, and the swiveling camera is an innovative touch.

The Bad The N1 lacks a microSD card slot, is heavy, and has no LTE. Some will find its dimensions awkwardly large.

The Bottom Line With its swiveling camera mount and high tech specs, the Oppo N1 is easily today's most innovative smartphone that most people haven't heard of.

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This review originally published November 20, 2013, on CNET's sister site CNET Asia. For full-resolution images, see the original review.

Announced�in�October,�the�Oppo�N1�isn't�your�typical�smartphone.�For�one,�it's�huge -- ���the�5.9-�inch�full� HD�display�takes�up�most�of�the�space,�and�it�comes�with�something you�seldom�seen�in�a�smartphone:�a�rotating�13-�megapixel�camera�that�you�can�flip�over to�take�a�selfie.

Design
Packing�the�aforementioned�large�display,�the�Oppo�N1's�shape�reminds�me�of�the�Samsung Galaxy�Nexus,�though�the�handset�lacks�its�slightly�curved�display,�thanks�to�its curved�edges.�And�while�the�N1�looks�like�it�has�an�edge�-to�-edge�display�like�the�LG�G2,�it's�actually�not�the case,�as�you�can�see�in�our�picture�below.�

Screen�wise,�I�have�no�complaints�about�the�5.9-�inch�full �HD�IPS�screen�of�the�N1. Colors�were�vivid�and�there�were�no�color�shift�issues�even�when�using�the�phone�at awkward�angles�(which�you�normally�won't).�The�only�concern�I�have�is�that�the�large�size of�the�handset���doesn't�really�fit�into�your�pocket�all�that�well�at�times.�(I�had�to�take�it�out of�the�front�pocket�of�my�jeans�when�sitting�down�or�it�feels�really�uncomfortable.)

When the screen is turned on, the illusion of an edge-to-edge screen is shattered. Aloysius Low/CNET

The�main�highlight�of�the�N1,�however,�has�to�be�its�rotating�camera.�You're�able�to flip�it�around�to�take�selfies�with�the�13�-megapixel�camera.�The�dual�LED�flash�is�located next�to�the�lens�which�means�it's�flipped�around�as�well,�and�you�can�also�use�it�to�light�up your�face�(if�you�can�stand�the�glare)�for�that�self�-portrait.�If�you're�worried�about�breaking the�camera�by�turning�it�too�much,�Oppo�says�it's�been�tested�for�100,000�rotations,�and�it didn't�feel�fragile�when�I�tried�it.

Why put two cameras in a phone when you need just one? Aloysius Low/CNET
The N1's camera mount swivels. Aloysius Low/CNET

Other�innovations�built�into�this�Android�device�include�a�rear�touch �panel�called�the O�Touch�that�lets�you�scroll�up,�down,�left,�and�right�with�your�finger.�This�kind�of�makes sense,�but�you'll�have�to�adjust�your�grip�to�get�your�finger�in�the�right�position.�While�it works�with�most�apps,�the�scrolling�didn't�seem�to�work�with�Chrome�when�I�tried�it.

You�can�barely�make�out�the touch panel's�boundaries,�but it's placed in just the right spot for your finger. Aloysius Low/CNET

Apart�from�these�two�innovations,�the�N1�is�a�pretty�standard�Android�handset.�The power�and�volume�rockers�are�located�on�the�right,�while�the�micro�SIM�slot�is�found�on the�left.�The�phone�uses�physical�touch-�sensitive�menu�buttons,�and�these�are�located�at the�bottom.�The�back�button,�like�Samsung�handsets,�is�found�on�the�right�side,�and�it�can be�quite�a�stretch�to�reach�it�with�one�hand,�if�you�tend�to�hold�the�phone�in�your�left�hand like�me.

Unlike�what�you�may�have�come�to�expect�from�a�lesser�known�brand,�the�Oppo�N1 feels�more like a premium model.�The�smartphone�maker�says�the�N1�sports�an�aluminum�alloy�frame�and has�a�soft�touch�finish.�This�gives�the�N1�a�feel�not�unlike�that of some�Nokia�Lumia�handsets.

The�Oppo�N1�is�9mm�thick. Aloysius Low/CNET
�

Features
The�Oppo�N1�uses�a�custom�operating�system called�Color�OS�that's�based�on�Android�4.2 (Jelly�Bean).�Interestingly,�the�UI�looks�very�similar�to�Xiaomi's�MIUI,�especially�the buttons�and�fonts.�Color�OS�generally�handles�very�much�like�your�standard�Android smartphone,�and�there�are�some�software�tweaks�such�as�an�image�enhancer�that�adds makeup�to�your�selfies,�as�well�as�a�theme�app�(like�MIUI)�that�lets�you�reskin�the�OS�to your�liking.

There's�also�a�gesture�feature�that's�activated�by�swiping�down�from�the�top-left corner���much�in the way that you�would�bring�down�the�drop�down�notification�menu.�You�can then�quickly�use�your�thumb�to�draw�a�pattern�that�can�be�set�to�do�a�whole array of things,�like launching�the�camera,�a�flashlight,�or�an�app.�I�found�that�simple�gestures�are�the easiest�to�do;�make�it�too�complicated�and�you'll�have�issues�trying�to�repeat�it.

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Where to Buy

Oppo N1

Part Number: N1

MSRP: $574.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 7.51 oz
  • Diagonal Size 5.9 in
About The Author

Aloysius Low is a Senior Writer at CNET Asia and covers all things mobile. A former World of Warcraft addict, he now dabbles in social media to stave off the withdrawal symptoms. As a lover of all things furry, he's also the unfortunate slave/minion of two adorable cats.