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OPPO F1 Plus Hands-On Review

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If you can get past its iPhone-esque looks, there’s much to be said about the F1 Plus. OPPO’s latest smartphone isn’t the most premium in its lineup, nor does it look anything like its little brother, the OPPO F1, but it is a phone that defies expectations in a good way.

DESIGN

If you were to judge based on looks alone, the F1 Plus would be a home run. It’s the prettiest phone we’ve seen from OPPO thus far, and one of the better looking Android phones of 2016. From every angle, there’s no denying where the Chinese manufacturer takes its inspiration.  

OPPO-F1-Plus-front-shot

Indulge me in a game of “spot the difference”: the front-facing camera is to the right of the earpiece (left on the iPhone); the home button is capsule-shaped (round on the iPhone); and the bezel size is thinner. As a result, the entire phone is smaller, too.

In fact, the F1 Plus is smaller than the iPhone 6S Plus even if both phones have 5.5-inch displays. Of the two, the F1 Plus feels lighter and more secure to the grip, which for phones of this size is always a plus (pun intended).

OPPO F1 Plus-back

While we’re comparing, its sides are more angular than on the iPhone, the only sore spot on an otherwise improved design. The sharp angles interrupt the fluidity of the aesthetic and make the phone a little less comfortable to grip.

But that’s nitpicking, really. Everything else is an improvement on the iPhone’s design. Its metallic back is cleaner and more refined. The two antenna bands that divide the top and bottom sections and are less in-your-face, and thankfully, there is no unsightly camera hump.

Button and port placements are also similar: the volume rocker is on the left; the power button and the SIM card tray are on the right. As with many Android smartphones these days, the hybrid SIM tray supports either two nano SIMs or one nano SIM plus one microSD card.

SELFIE EXPERT

While somewhat of a newcomer in the smartphone space, OPPO has a history of pushing mobile photography forward. Launched in 2013, before selfies became ubiquitous, the OPPO N1 was the world’s first smartphone with a swivel camera, meaning if you wanted a good selfie, you could just rotate its camera around for 13-megapixel selfie goodness.  

To reaffirm its commitment to the selfie generation, OPPO announced the F series back in January, saying it wanted to address a growing demand for “premium-quality mobile photography experiences.”

The F1 Plus is OPPO’s second attempt at building the ultimate camera phone. Dubbed the “selfie expert,” it boasts a 16-megapixel front camera, with more megapixels than not only the phone’s rear camera but also every other front camera on the market today.  

Beyond the megapixel spec, however, OPPO’s pulling out all the stops to ensure you get the best selfie possible. The phone has a reasonably large 1/3.1 inch image sensor and an f/2.0 lens that OPPO says takes in four times the amount of light than the average smartphone camera.

There’s also an improved Beautify mode that can airbrush away blemishes. We think our selfies turned out great, but we’ll let you be the judge.

Its main camera is no slouch either; it shoots decent 13-megapixel photos at f/2.2, particularly when there is sufficient light. Low-light shots were less impressive. But considering this is a sub-$500 smartphone, we really can’t complain.  

PERFORMANCE

While its selfie-camera components are most impressive, the rest of the spec sheet isn’t bad either. The F1 Plus is one of the few phones that ships with only a 64GB storage option (the iPhone, for example, still starts at a measly 16GB), while its 4GB of RAM is as much as all the big boys offer.

Its processor, however, is a bit of a letdown. MediaTek’s Helio P10 isn’t the fastest midrange processor on the planet today. But unless you’re into gaming, that shouldn’t matter much. On the bright side, the processor is less power-hungry, so battery life should get a boost.  

OPPO-F1-Plus-fingerprint-scanner

The home button doubles as a fingerprint sensor; it’s the kind that you have to press down on for any unlocking action to happen. But once you do, the phone unlocks in a snap.

BATTERY & VOOC CHARGING

The F1 Plus is only 6.6mm thin, so it isn’t that much of a surprise that OPPO’s only managed to squeeze in a 2,850 mAh battery. While that’s smaller than what you’d find on most mid- to high-end smartphones today, battery life looks respectable based on the few days we had with the phone.

The phone also gets VOOC flash charge, OPPO’s own quick-charging technology. Previously only seen on its high-end phones, you can get from 0 to 75 percent from a 30-minute charge. The phone should supposedly stay cool even while charging.  

COLOR OS 3.0

The F1 Plus runs OPPO’s latest version of ColorOS version 3.0 on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop. Despite the update, this version still isn’t based on the latest version of Android, which is a bit of a bummer. Not that you’d mind necessarily. On a strongly positive note, the F1 Plus generally runs slick, apps respond fluidly to input, and multitasking works with very little lag.

oppo-color-os-3
Ultimately, this is a pretty darn good take on Android, albeit a heavily skinned one with icons obviously borrowed from Apple’s iOS. As can be expected from other Chinese smartphone vendors, OPPO’s ColorOS removes the app drawer altogether.

Having said that, if you have a ton of apps installed, and you don’t want to swipe through multiple home screens, you’ll need to spend a bit of time dumping those apps into folders.

PRICING, AVAILABILITY, PREORDER

The OPPO F1 Plus is available in gold and rose-gold variants (availability will depend on region).

To preorder in the Philippines, visit any OPPO Store between April 16 to 29. The phone will be available on April 30th and will retail for P21,990.

To preorder in India, visit any OPPO Store between April 11 to 20. Customers will get a special gift pack and a chance to win an F1 Plus signed by Yuvraj Singh.

To preorder in Malaysia, visit 11street.my until April 20th. Deliveries start April 18th. The phone retails for RM 1,898.

To preorder in Indonesia, visit OPPO’s preorder page between April 9 to 17. The phone retails for Rp 5,499 million and comes with a free selfie stick. Deliveries start on April 18th.

CES 2018

Episode 001: Getting lost at the world’s largest tech show

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In this first epidose of GadgetMatch Podcast we talk about the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018) which just wrapped up in Las Vegas. Michael Josh and Isa share behind the scenes challenges of covering the world’s largest tech show. And the team talks about the most attention grabbing tech from the show including an entire range of Artificial Intelligence and Google Assistant gadgets, Vivo’s new phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor, Sony’s new robot dog, and Razer’s Project Linda.

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Apps

How to hide from Instragram’s new Activity Status feature

It’s on by default!

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Instagram silently rolled out a new feature of its app. If you don’t like your friends to know that you’re online (and also protect your privacy), you might want to take action. Why? Because it’s automatically turned on.

If you have the latest app, you probably noticed something new inside the Direct Messages section. This new feature dubbed “Activity Status” lets your Instagram buddies know if you’re online. If you happen to be scrolling through your timeline moments ago, the status will show that you’ve been available earlier.

This is switched on by default but the data is only shared with users that you follow and those you message privately. There’s no need to panic if you think a stalker will know that you’re online — unless you follow them, too.

How to turn it off?

You can easily switch it off inside the app. Just go to your profile page and tap the top-right icon for Options.

Next, scroll down until you see “Show Activity Status” and switch the toggle button beside.

That’s it! Now that it’s off on your end, your status will not show up to your buddies. Although, you won’t be able to see the status of other accounts as well.

Since the new feature was smoothly included in the recent updates from the Play Store or App Store, it’s not clear when Instagram introduced the function. Some might not have it yet, which could mean it’s still an experimental approach with a limited number of users.

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Automotive

The Best Car Tech of CES 2018

Exciting times ahead!

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We recently wrapped up CES 2018 (see our top picks) and even though the trade show originally revolved around consumer electronics, a big chunk of what was introduced was directed towards connected cities with a focus on making driving a lot smarter.

The idea of self-driving cars surely isn’t new and has been around for quite some time now. It’s basically the concept of what the future is like in addition to flying cars. At this year’s CES, brands who participated made us realize that this “future” isn’t too far away.

Here are some of the most promising cars and car technology that we’re excited to see in the near future.

Assistance

Multiple brands showed off their new toys left and right. There’s the announcement of Amazon’s Alexa coming to cars for voice assistance and content consumption. Toyota will be the next to adapt voice assistance in addition to BMW, Ford, and Hyundai. Meanwhile, Waze has also been integrated into select infotainment systems.

Nissan, on the other hand, is taking the user-machine a step further by introducing the brain-to-vehicle (B2V) technology. It basically uses a system that could read your brain patterns and signals to better prepare for what you’re about to do next while driving.

Platforms

In terms of services, Ford is slightly stepping out of the shadow of car-making and plans to be the new platform for autonomous vehicles. It has partnered with Lyft, Domino’s Pizza, and Postmates to create an operating system which small to large businesses can use for their unique services.

Speaking of unique services, Toyota unveiled its e-Palette concept vehicle which has all the potential to go big in the future of mobility. It’s envisioned as a self-driving vehicle running on Toyota’s tech and platform that other brands can use for food deliveries, as a moving boutique, or even a mobile hotel that you can rent.

As far as ride-sharing goes, expect it to join the bandwagon as smart cities are developed. During the trade show, car tech company Aptiv was present and was hand-in-hand with Lyft as they demonstrated their self-driving cars to the participants of CES. The public could just hail a ride from the Las Vegas Convention Center using the app and enjoy the view of the Strip to their destination.

Additionally, NVIDIA has also added Uber and Volkswagen to their growing roster of brands that will run on the company’s self-driving computer platform.

Cars

Apart from the new platforms, there were cars — quite a lot, actually. From concept to actual models on display, we got a peek at these vehicles that probably want to take on Tesla.

Derived from Bytes on Wheels, BYTON wants to blur the line between digital and automotive with their electric intelligent SUV concept. The new-gen smart device communicates with users and pedestrians via lights and patterns on its grille and recognizes the driver and passengers by face.

Kia was also present with its very own Niro electric crossover. This concept is basically an electric version of the Niro Hybrid but gets a new grille design. Like BYTON, it is now an interactive panel with a built-in Active Pedestrian Warning System, but what makes this something to look forward to is its range. It can go as far 383km (238 miles) before needing to charge again — beating what the Tesla Model 3 can offer.

Car designer Henrik Fisker gave another shot at making vehicles; this time in the form of the EMotion luxury sedan. The vehicle is a level 4 autonomous car and is equipped with the world’s first Butterfly Doors. Fisker also wants to set standards for other EVs so they made the vehicle last up to 644km (400 miles) on the road.

Meanwhile, Hyundai is continuing its push to go green and introduced the NEXO fuel cell electric vehicle. It has a more efficient engine, is a lot quieter, and maintenance is kept to a minimum. Although the best thing about it is that it emits nothing but water vapor. Features-wise, it has autonomous driving, self-parking, self-retrieval — the whole shebang.

In-vehicle Networking

Software updates are an important aspect of vehicles relying on digital systems. Tesla has somehow established its system already but for other car brands, updating hundreds, even thousands of vehicles across a country, is still not an easy task.

Hyundai and Cisco addressed this and aims to overhaul the process of in-vehicle networking. With the use of Ethernet connectivity and the Automotive Linux platform, they promise to be able to roll out updates remotely and it’s as simple as pushing a button.

 

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