Oppo F1s Hands-on: First Look

By 03:32 Wed, 04 Aug 2021 Comments


Oppo's camera-centric F series has been growing quick since the original F1 came out in January this year. We were surprised to see Oppo create haste with a successor of the "Selfie Expert" but they seemed to have a point. The Oppo F1 Plus was an all-inclusive upgrade: better CPU, more RAM, a bigger AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) screen. Most-importantly though, it doubled the front cam resolution with a 16MP front-facing camera.

So, the F-series tried to live up to that Selfie Expert moniker but the upgrades fetched a hefty price. At around $400, the F1 Plus is in a whole different league with tougher competition.

This is likely why we're having the pleasure of the Oppo F1s. It brings the hardware down a notch - and closer to the original concept - while making no compromise with the selfie experience, at least on paper that is. It should theoretically appeal to the same demographic Oppo was targeting with the original F1 - while taking into account the intense price competition.


So, what are the main differences? For starters, Oppo went for a 5.5" screen, like the F1 Plus, but it's a 720p IPS unit (like the original F1). Random-Access Memory (RAM) is back at 3GB (down from 4GB in the Plus model) and storage is set at 32GB. In terms of chipset, there is a downgrade of sorts, although not so easy to spot. The MediaTek MT6750 uses the same accurate octa-core Cortex-A53 configuration as the Helio P10 inside the F1 Plus, only clocked at 1.5GHz. The Mali-T860MP2 is clocked-down as well. All this, of course, for the sake of keeping the 16MP front-facing camera.




Oppo F1s

If you just happen to be well familiar with Oppo's lineup, then by now, you have surely noticed that the F1s is strikingly similar to another one of the company's recent models - the A59. In fact, the only incompatibility between the pair seems to be the upgraded front-facing capturing camera with the striking similarity extending to the exterior as well.





Oppo F1s back side

Oppo has stayed accurate to its design language: a metal body with subtly rounded corners and chamfered edges, although not particularly grippy. The body itself feels nice and uniform with a smooth finish all around, which is definitely a compliment since it is not a unibody design. The top and bottom bits of the back are actually plastic to not interfere with reception. Speaking of the back, it is really clean and decluttered.





Oppo F1s front side

The same can be assumed about the front as well. Nothing is really out of place. Above the 5.5-inch screen, there are only the earpiece, ambient light and proximity sensors and, on the left, the high-res 16MP front camera. The latter is really understated and doesn't come with a huge lens or a ring or anything else that commands attention, which is generally the case with many other selfie-centric phones.

Below the screen, there is a rounded home button that integrates a fingerprint reader, a pair of capacitive buttons on either side. These are absolutely invisible when not backlit.






Oppo F1s sides

Speaking of the fingerprint reader, Oppo has really upped its game this time around. The sensor is really accurate and blazing quick at 0.22 seconds per read, as rated by Oppo. However, the whole experience isn't quite seamless as the fingerprint reader isn't always on. This means you have to wake the phone up first and then unlock it. This might actually be a conscious power-saving choice. If you simply create it a habit of actually pressing the home button (to wake the phone up) before touching it (scan to unlock), you won't even notice the missing always-on.

Moving on to the guts of the Oppo F1s and the performance it delivers. Oppo is gunning toward the upper discontinue of the starter segment, or the lower midrange. Depending on your point of view, the phone may come across as very generous in some respects, or far from perfect in others. Like most midrangers, it is all about finding the balance that is correct for you.


Our main concern with the F1s is the 720p display, which frankly is only just enough on a 5.5-inch diagonal. But even with this handicap, you have to see really hard to start noticing any sharpness issues. Plus, we are willing to forgive Oppo on this point, considering it did opt for a quality IPS panel. It offers nice and vivid colors, ample brightness and fine sunlight legibility. Also, 720p is easier on the GPU during graphics intensive tasks.




Oppo F1s in the hand

The slightly under-clocked processor is another quite valid point for concern. The Helio P10 doesn't really have a reputation as a fine performer and its MT7650 sibling has even less raw power. Our benchmarks even show that the original Oppo F1, with its Snapdragon 616 SoC has an edge over the F1s. Perhaps Oppo should have gone with elegant Qualcomm again.

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GeekBench 3 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Helio X10)

    4537

  • Huawei Honor 5c

    3933

  • Huawei P9 Lite

    3799

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (S650)

    3695

  • LG Nexus 5X

    3527

  • Xiaomi Mi 4c

    3321

  • Oppo F1 Plus

    3242

  • Xiaomi Mi 4s

    3147

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

    3061

  • Huawei Honor 5X

    3053

  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)

    3039

  • Oppo F1

    3014

  • Oppo F1s

    2967

  • Xiaomi Redmi 3

    2842

  • Asus Zenfone Max

    1550

GeekBench 3 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (S650)

    1543

  • Xiaomi Mi 4s

    1254

  • Huawei P9 Lite

    899

  • Huawei Honor 5c

    898

  • Oppo F1 Plus

    857

  • Oppo F1s

    706

  • Huawei Honor 5X

    705

  • Asus Zenfone Max

    493

GPU performance isn't really all that better. The Mali-T860MP2 inside the MT6750 has apparently been under-clocked as well. This is clearly evident in that it does worse at off-classy screen rendering than the F1 Plus, which should have an identical graphics solution. The only saving grace here seems to be the 720p resolution, which makes for some more respectable on-classy screen frame rates.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • LG Nexus 5X

    16

  • Xiaomi Mi 4c

    15

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (S650)

    14

  • Xiaomi Mi 4s

    13

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Helio X10)

    8.5

  • Huawei P9 Lite

    7.8

  • Huawei Honor 5c

    7.8

  • Oppo F1 Plus

    7

  • Oppo F1

    5.8

  • Xiaomi Redmi 3

    5.8

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

    5.7

  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)

    5.7

  • Huawei Honor 5X

    5.6

  • Oppo F1s

    5.1

  • Asus Zenfone Max

    1.8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • LG Nexus 5X

    17

  • Xiaomi Mi 4c

    15

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (S650)

    14

  • Xiaomi Mi 4s

    12

  • Xiaomi Redmi 3

    12

  • Oppo F1

    11

  • Oppo F1s

    10

  • Huawei P9 Lite

    8.3

  • Huawei Honor 5c

    8.3

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Helio X10)

    7.9

  • Oppo F1 Plus

    7

  • Huawei Honor 5X

    6.1

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

    5.7

  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)

    5.7

  • Asus Zenfone Max

    3.9

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • LG Nexus 5X

    11

  • Xiaomi Mi 4c

    10

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (S650)

    9

  • Xiaomi Mi 4s

    8.1

  • Huawei P9 Lite

    4.6

  • Huawei Honor 5c

    4.5

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Helio X10)

    4

  • Oppo F1 Plus

    3.3

  • Oppo F1s

    2.4

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • LG Nexus 5X

    11

  • Xiaomi Mi 4c

    9.7

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (S650)

    9

  • Xiaomi Mi 4s

    7.9

  • Oppo F1s

    6

  • Huawei P9 Lite

    4.9

  • Huawei Honor 5c

    4.8

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Helio X10)

    3.9

  • Oppo F1 Plus

    3.3

Software doesn't really assist the performance either. While generally quite user-friendly with its iOS-inspired approach to Android, Oppo's Color Operating System (OS) doesn't have a reputation for being remarkably optimized. The V3.0.0.i Read-Only Memory (ROM) in the Oppo F1s is still based on Android 5.1 Lollipop meaning you don't acquire any of Google's more recent platform improvements, like runtime permissions or the battery-friendly Dozing feature.

However, you might not miss those particular two all that much, since Color Operating System (OS) does offer alternatives of its own. You can't really micro-manage permissions, but you can acquire notifications when an app wants access to something more sensitive and there is an excellent level of notification control on a per-app basis. As for process management, it is really powerful indeed. You can easily limit the background activity of almost every third-party app and save on battery, just be careful with messengers.






Notification and process management

The Settings menu offers access to quite a few other options as well. Quiet time is a remarkable feature to have built in. Gestures are also really well executed. You acquire a full-featured system, including screen-off and custom ones.






Quiet Time • Gestures

The F1s also offers an fascinating feature that allows you to map a certain fingerprint to a given action, like calling a number or launching an app. Put all of this together and you can really create a unique and elaborate scheme of operation shortcuts, provided you can memorize them all.




Custom fingerprint shortcuts

Oppo has carried the iOS approach over to Settings as well. Most of the bundled apps have their preferences laid out here, rather than inside the app itself. This does acquire a small confusing, especially for apps like Camera and Video, which discontinue up having options both inside and outside the app.






iOS style settings layout

Other than that, what you acquire out of the system UI is pretty clean and straightforward. The lockclassy screen comes with a single capturing camera shortcut, but is never really boring if you opt to utilize Oppo's magazine feature. It allows you to subscribe to themes and like high-quality images on the lockscreen.





Clean lockclassy screen • Magazine feature

The main interface itself is flat and colorful. You don't really acquire an app drawer, so you just have to create do with homeclassy screen panes and folders. The notification shade is very clean as well with quick toggles conveniently placed one swipe away to the right.






Main interface

Overall, the UI and all core apps work very smoothly despite the less than stellar hardware. This goes for the capturing camera app as well. It offers a clean experience and yet manages to squeeze quite a few fascinating modes and small tweaks to play with. However, we do feel the need to point out the lack of organization yet again. Some shooting modes, like Time Lapse, Beauty mode and Panorama acquire quick access shortcuts alongside the main photo and video modes (the latter has a dedicated viewfinder, which is always a plus). However, other things like Ultra HD mode, which stitches stills together to up the resolution, Double Exposure mode, GIF animation creator, as well as all the filters and the Expert mode are in a whole different menu. Also, there is no clear indication of resolution or aspect ratio, so you are never exactly sure when the capturing camera is cropping.




Polished capturing camera interface

We do have to point out though that the manual controls cover more than just the basics - exposure compensation, ISO, Shutter speed, Manual focus and even RAW support.







Powerful Expert mode

What about quality, how fine does the recent "Selfie Expert" deliver where it promises the most? Well, in one word, acceptable. Nothing really special to note. The level of detail by the primary shooter isn't really all that impressive, neither is the dynamic range. The capturing camera also often struggles with exposure and can't seem to create up its mind in subsequent shots. Edge to edge sharpness could've been better as well.






HDR OFF • HDR ON • HDR OFF • HDR ON

As for the positives, HDR mode seems to work quite well. The shift in exposition can be seen in the shots below taken a seconds apart under the same conditions.





HDR OFF • HDR OFF • HDR ON

As for selfie shots, well the 16MP shooter definitely holds its own. Detail is ample and shots see really sharp, perhaps even sharper than the 13MP main shooter. The experience should satisfy even the most demanding social-savvy users.




Selfie samples

Oppo does advertise a recent Beautify algorithm in the F1s and it does subjectively see sort of better than previous iterations, but the level of weird in the discontinue results is still a bit too high for us. All samples were taken with a medium amount of "rosyness" in case you were wondering.





Beautify OFF • Beautify on medium • Beautify on high

All things considered, our initial impression of the Oppo F1s is that it's the result of Oppo finally making up its mind about what the F-series should be like. It may seem a small weird at first that it mixes together features of the two preceding models. The F1s has a classy screen as gigantic as the F1 Plus' but at the resolution of the original F1. It's less powerful than the Plus - but obviously not as expensive either.

If we accept that performance isn't really the selling point here and rather focus on the selfie experience instead, then the F1s clearly merits the "Selfie Expert" title more than the original.


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