Oppo makes killer phones, but it still means little for the U.S.
Per usual, all eyes are on the major Android manufacturers as the 2014 flagships come out. We’ve reviewed the One M8 twice. Despite my initial takeaway from the announcement, I ended up buying one as my personal device anyway. And Michael is in the process of reviewing the Galaxy S 5.
Sony’s flagship is just around the bend, and a handful of other major smartphones will launch in the second half of the year.
But there are two other manufacturers enthusiasts are eyeing this spring, two up-and-comers determined to make waves and bring some of their own flare to a stagnating market: Oppo, out of China, and an offshoot of that very company, OnePlus.
The latter of those two is banking on what make the Moto X and Nexus 5 so lustrous: affordable no-contract pricing. The company’s first smartphone will come packed with some pretty impressive specifications and is rumored to launch under the $400 USD mark, give or take, depending on market.
Oppo, on the other hand, is shooting for the other end of the spectrum. Its devices promise the best of the best in terms of specifications, price be damned.
For instance, the Oppo Find 7a, which I just unboxed this afternoon, comes with specifications great enough to challenge even the highest-end Android handsets. It has a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display for a total density of 401 pixels per inch, 2GB RAM, 16GB fixed storage with a microSD card slot, 13-megapixel primary camera, 5-megapixel front camera, Snapdragon 801 SoC with a 2.3GHz quad-core Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU, and a 2,700mAh battery.
Compared to the Galaxy S 5 and One M8, the Find 7a is virtually a direct competitor, almost spec for spec.
But the Find 7a actually isn’t Oppo’s flagship; it’s the “lite” model of Oppo’s true flagship, the Find 7. The even higher-end Find 7 comes with an additional gigabyte of RAM, a slightly faster 2.5GHz clock speed on the Krait 400, 32GB fixed storage, a 3,000mAh battery, and a QHD (2,560 by 1,440 pixels) display with a density of 538 pixels per inch.
Oppo isn’t just packing its phones with killer hardware either. As I explained last month, it’s also working on some pretty compelling software features, too, specifically in the imaging department. With what Oppo calls Super Zoom mode, the 13-megapixel camera on the Find 7 is capable of taking up to 50-megapixel images through a method not entirely unlike the method astronomers and scientists use to gather image data of distant stars, galaxies, and other faraway celestial objects.
Point being, Oppo is well on its way to becoming a serious competitor in the Android space. Two of its previous handsets, the N1 and Find 5, didn’t go unnoticed by tech enthusiasts worldwide. The N1, for example, has a 13-megapixel camera on a swivel, meaning the primary camera also operates as the front camera.
But Oppo isn’t stopping there. It will allegedly bring the first phone with a MEMS smartphone camera to market. And if its short time in the smartphone market is any indication, this is only the beginning. The company is clearly dedicated to innovation, and that earns a lot of respect from those of us who are enthralled by new tech.
Best of all, Oppo seems to have a knack for great design and a penchant for only the best specifications. (The software we’re still not quite sure of yet.) However, the company has virtually no presence outside Chinese markets and tech crowds. Within the confines of China, Oppo is just as well-known as makers like Xiaomi or ZTE. According to Forbes’ Patrick Moorhead, locally, Oppo often outsells more globally renowned brands like HTC or Nokia.
Here in the States, however, Oppo is practically a no-name, which is unfortunate. Oppo is exactly the sort of competition the U.S. smartphone market is in need of – a company not afraid to put itself out there, try new (or even old) ideas, and actually move the market forward in bounds, not baby steps.
Other major manufacturers, like HTC and Samsung, have slowed the rate at which they innovate and introduce new, useful features. This year alone, Samsung’s flagship added a fingerprint scanner, heart rate sensor, and a camera with phase detection autofocus – only the latter of which is truly compelling. And HTC refined last year’s amazing smartphone while only introducing one new feature, the Duo Camera, which we’re not exactly impressed by.
Yet, for whatever reason, Oppo doesn’t seem terribly interested in breaking into the U.S. market. The Find 7 and Find 7a, like the Oppo phones before them, will likely never officially go on sale in the U.S., forcing those who want the phones to buy them no-contract through third-party retailers like Clove, Negri Electronics, or Expansys.
The thing is, with devices like the OnePlus, One M8, Galaxy S 5, and Xperia Z2, it’d be really nice to see yet another flagship – from a much smaller, risky, agile company, no less – change the pace of the market and bring a new level of competition.
Unfortunately, it’s not entirely Oppo’s fault, thanks to the less-than-ideal way carriers here in the U.S. like to operate.
Either way, we here at Pocketnow can’t be the only ones who want to see Oppo expand to the U.S. It’d be a big market for yet another major Chinese manufacturer to tap into, and the way we Americans love specifications, we’d be all over some Oppo phones at subsidized prices. Am I right or am I right?