Launches & Lunches: Oppo’s Stunning R11

Oppo has launched its premium ‘camera phone’ in NZ. GARY STEEL reports on the event, and the phone.

 

You get an inkling of how much a company cares about its new product when they’re willing to throw money at a nice launch at a nice venue, and invite a bunch of people they figure might just get the word out about their product.

If your company name is Oppo, you’re a huge concern in China (over 100 million smartphones sold!) but little known down in the Antipodes. Nevertheless, you’ve got a product that has been carefully tailored to appeal, and an aggressive marketing push to establish brand visibility in quickstep time.

That Oppo has made significant inroads into our tiny market in little over a year speaks volumes. They’re serious about this thing. Not just another manufacturer looking for a slice of the action with humdrum handsets, Oppo has met with almost universal acclaim for its products, and today, it’s launching the R11 at Auckland’s swanky remodelled O’Connell St Bistro.

After canapés and a special cocktail that mimics the R11’s green packaging, and being introduced to a succession of Oppo staff, the throngs are herded through to a presentation on the svelte beauty, during which we’re allowed to finger demo models left lying on podiums.

The phone feels strangely familiar to this iPhone owner. Clearly, Oppo isn’t afraid to take what it likes from the Apple product without simply cloning the iconic originator. But there’s more! While operating the phone might be a comforting iPhone-like experience, the R11 does have quite remarkable points of difference.

One key difference is its ability to handle two SIM cards simultaneously, which makes things simple if you’re heading off overseas and don’t intend to use expensive ‘roaming’ services. It also makes sense if you want different accounts for personal and business use, for instance. Another key difference is that the phone is so camera-centric that Oppo actually calls it a ‘camera phone’. Even selfies are taken seriously by the R11, with an unbelievable 20 megapixels. The main camera is incredibly responsive and way faster and sharper than my iPhone, and with plenty of on-board post-production fixers. It even has a ‘beautify’ feature that will improve old crusty old faces, even though my ugly mug proved just too much of a horror show for it to cope with.

Waxing ecstatic about smartphone design often seems like so much wank, given a form factor that’s so essentially uniform, but the R11 is a particularly aesthetically pleasing object that’s been sculpted to slide into your hand rather than feel like an undistinguished rectangular chunk.

After hearing about what it can do and how it’s made, the assembled were expecting a 1K-plus price, and you could almost hear the silent gasps when we were told the R11 would retail for a mere $679. And that’s the thing about Oppo that’s as true of its AV division as that of its smartphones: it works to provide top-end product for affordable prices. While that’s still a lot of money for someone only willing or able to pay $100 for an entry-level smartphone, the R11 is obviously a premium smartphone for a mid-level price.

How do they do it? Well, my guess would be that they’ve not included some of the latest, cutting edge technology that they’ve developed but haven’t yet introduced, but only the most hard-bitten tech nerds would ever concern themselves with something like that. Admittedly this freeloading freelancer only had a brief play with the R11, but to me, it seemed like what I’d grown to think of as a mythical apparition, that thing called ‘an iPhone killer’. Apple might still be able to boast of spectacular sales, particularly in English-speaking countries, but its market is being eroded by stealth, and a company like Oppo have both the nous and the wherewithal to make it happen.

After the presentation, the wowed punters were herded back into the main restaurant for a rather scrumptious lunch. I managed to sit next to a guy who works for Mike Hosking without once betraying my deep contempt for the broadcaster, but the biggest disappointment was with the hot chips. Well, not the super-sized chips themselves, but my colleague Pat Pilcher’s assertion that they were fried in duck fat. I like ducks, but don’t like the idea of eating them, so the one fat chip I had pulled out of the bowl remained steadfastly uneaten on the side of my plate. Damn that Pat Pilcher.

Anyway, so here’s the bit where we tell you what’s so great about Oppo’s R11 ‘camera phone’.

  • Dual 20MP+16MP rear dual camera, as well as a 20MP front-facing camera for ‘professional-quality’ camera phones.
  • High performance, power-efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset.
  • Upgraded ColorOS 3.1 operating system ‘providing a faster and more secure user experience.
  • Flagship image processor, 14-bit Qualcomm Spectra 160 ISP.
  • Faster focus speed, more vivid colours and better low light capabilities than the R9s.
  • ‘Portrait’ means automatic intelligent exposure levels between portrait subjects and background; clear and bright portraits in very different environments.
  • Bokeh effect, automatic HDR function, intelligent skin tone beautification technology.
  • ‘All-new antenna lines 2.0 use customised tungsten blades flowing from the arcs to the top of the OPPO R11 body.  The visibly fluid design of ultra-fine antenna lines 2.0 reduces the antenna lines from three to two. The smooth base curves of the R11 are produced with new forging and pressing technology, making the streamlined device attractive and good to hold.’
  • More secure encryption for faster and smoother payment experience.
  • 5-inch high-definition display on a 1.6mm frame.
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB on-board storage, supports 256GB micro SD card.
  • Lightning-fast fingerprint ID.
  • Energy-saving, extended life 3000mAh battery using Snapdragon 660’s power consumption control.
  • VOOC Flash Charge ensures a short burst of charge can keep you talking with five minutes of charging allowing for two hours of talk time.

 

* The Oppo R11 retails for $769, and is available from Noel Leeming, 2 Degrees, JB Hi-Fi and PB Tech.

 

 

 

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