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OPPO Find X3 Pro review: Third time’s the charm?

Has OPPO finally found the flagship formula?

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Over the past three or so years, OPPO has been trying to rise above the reputation it built for itself — a smartphone brand for the masses. With the Find X3 Pro, the goal is clearer than ever: to be mentioned in the same breath as Apple and Samsung. And perhaps, fill the void that’s steadily growing as Huawei fights to keep its international relevance alive.

They can say otherwise, but it’s pretty evident with how rapidly their series of phones have shifted.

From the roots built upon the somewhat confusing F-Series and R-Series lines rose the best-selling budget and lower midrange phones in the A-Series. Then, there was the awkward crossroads between the Find X and the OPPO Reno 10X Zoom.

For a while, it looked like Reno was going to be the flagbearer with the aptly named Find X being the experimental premium line. Things quickly pivoted when the company launched a confusing set of Reno2s barely six months since the introduction of the Reno line.

OPPO Reno5

Fast forward to today and Reno is already on its fifth iteration in just three years. Meanwhile, Find X is in its third, four years after the first one was showcased in Paris.

Reno has since settled in the midrange and upper midrange arena, while Find X has taken the wheel as OPPO maneuvers to relevance in the upper echelon of smartphones.

Finding an identity

The first Find X and the Find X2 Pro share very little in overall characteristics. The only thing they had in common was being tagged as the best OPPO had to offer at the respective time of their releases.

The time in-between is pretty significant. One year and eight months to be precise. OPPO used that time to refine what it wanted to offer as its best. To a certain extent, it succeeded. The Find X2 Pro was a culmination of all the research and development it had poured into smartphones.

OPPO Find X and Find X3 Pro

Was it perfect? Not at all. The company may have overshot the pricing, and opted to not include wireless charging — a feature that had been present with its contemporaries for around two years at the time. Still, it was a step in the right direction.

The makeover wasn’t just in the hardware. ColorOS, the user interface (UI) that OPPO puts on top of Android also underwent a change. Things shifted software-wise when OPPO stopped trying to take a bite out of Apple and started breathing Oxygen.

It’s now less concerned about feeling like a weird amalgamation of Android and iOS. With its latest iteration, ColorOS 11.2 has, instead, embraced it being an Android and took lessons from sister brand OnePlus to deliver a smoother, cleaner UI.

Of course, there’s still the iPhone-looking camera module, but you know… baby steps.

Awakening Colour

Now that I’ve gotten that word vomit of a backgrounder out of the way, let’s dive straight into what a lot of people care about with these flagship smartphones — the image production.

Every phone maker has said this in all of their device announcements, but this time with OPPO, they truly meant it when they said they took extra care in how the hardware and software of the Find X3 Pro work together in producing quality images.

Here’s the quad-camera setup on the rear: 50MPSony IMX 766 sensor with optical image stabilization, 50MP ultra wide-angle lens, 13-megapixel telephoto camera, and 3-megapixel macro sensor. The setup is capable of 5x hybrid-digital zoom and 20x digital zoom. For selfies, there’s a 32MP camera.

Microscopic lens

But first, let me get the microscopic lens out of the way. Do I think it’s a gimmick? Yes. Should they have not included it on the phone? Not necessarily.

Features like this exist so there’s something new and different that can be talked about on the phone. And don’t get me wrong, IT IS pretty darn cool, just not practical. But if you’re the type who can fork out cash for a premium device then it’s nice for that device to be able to show-off something unusual.

Night mode 

The Find X3 Pro’s night mode is one of my favorite night modes on any smartphone. Most of the time it’ll give you an evenly lit scene with plenty of details retained. It captures an image that actually still looks like night time instead of a scene that looks like there’s a massive spotlight pointed at the photo you took.

Don’t get me wrong, it still does commit the sin of making a night time shot look almost like it’s day time. Take for instance the example below. The area was nearly pitch black and the software overcompensates by adding too much brightness to the scene.

However, this isn’t always a bad thing. Used on the right kind of scenery, it will produce an image that can draw some type of emotion or reaction from anyone who sees it.

Ultra wide 

There weren’t many opportunities to use the ultra-wide angle lens seeing as travel is still pretty restricted and I’m not about to show you how messy my room is. But the few times I got to use it produced some pretty looking pictures that I certainly wouldn’t mind sharing.

AI mode was turned on when these were taken for both the wide and ultra-wide shots. One of the key things to takeaway is how the Find X3 Pro delivers in its promise to give you similar (if not same) quality images for both lenses with the only difference being the wider field of view.

Wide

Ultra-Wide

Food 

If foodtography is your thing, you’ll have a blast using the Find X3 Pro. The shots we took really make the food look appetizing without it resorting to shooting up the saturation too much.

Even a shot like this that I didn’t put too much thought into looks pretty mouthwatering. I kid you not, I had people sliding in my DMs when I posted this as an IG and FB story asking how it tastes and where they can order. In case you’re curious too, you can message the Burger Garage FB page to order.

Indoor and lowlight 

Here’s an area where the Find X3 Pro also performed admirably. I’m just going to let the images speak for themselves.

Portraits and selfies 

The OPPO Find X3’s portrait mode shined the most, I think, when it was able to retain so much detail in the background in the sample below despite the other sample totally botching the HDR.

The thing about taking photos of people is how accurate it gets skin tones, and this smartphone does pretty well for the most part. In terms of color accurate capture, the Find X3 Pro is probably the Android smartphone that gets as close to natural as possible.

I’ve been particularly shy showing myself in front of the camera after all the pandemic weight I gained, so I left the selfies part for our Associate Creative Director MJ to scrutinize. Other than retaining detail and producing an all-around pretty good image, what caught his attention the most is how the beauty mode isn’t as aggressive anymore.

It’s still a hit or miss, especially with the beautify mode on, but it’s still able to produce favorable results especially when taken under good lighting. It doesn’t completely erase the imperfections on your face but does enough that you won’t want to retouch it and just upload right away on social media with the caption “Felt cute, won’t delete.”

This is an encouraging development from OPPO who’s a self-proclaimed selfie expert. To quote our MJ, “They made me embrace my scars more because it didn’t feel like I have to be shy about it.”

Other shots for your appreciation

If it isn’t obvious by now, we’re absolutely huge fans of how OPPO approached imaging for the Find X3 Pro. It’s absolutely one of the best smartphone cameras today. Here are a few more shots for your appreciation.

If you want side by side comparisons, we did a camera shootout of the Find X3 Pro versus the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra here, and versus the Mi 11 here.

Enjoyable mobile gaming

The last time I gamed on a smartphone as much as I have on the Find X3 Pro is when I was using the ROG Phone 2. That’s saying a lot since the latter is more geared for gaming while the former is more a do-it-all flagship.

I spent an entire Saturday afternoon levelling up on Call of Duty: Mobile simply because it was so fun to play on the OPPO Find X3 Pro. The combination of its performance specs — Snapdragon 888, 12GB RAM, 240Hz touch sampling rate — and the 6.7” AMOLED display made for a truly rewarding experience.

Aiming felt fast and fluid, my game NEVER lagged, and I was only held back by my own stupid gameplay mistakes. It is prudent to note that it does heat up significantly if you’re using 5G while you play. It also had a case on it while I played and that may have contributed to the heating but it wasn’t to the point where I couldn’t hold the phone anymore.

OPPO’s Game Assistant is also pretty darn helpful and easy on the eyes. I’m a huge fan of how it looks and how it delivers notifications. Instead of showing up as banners interrupting your game, notifications show up as tiny ticker-like text on your screen. It makes you notice it without demanding too much attention.

Media consumption 

I may have not said this enough up to this point but the display on the Find X3 Pro is absolutely gorgeous to look at without straining your eyes. The 120Hz refresh rate, contrast ratio, and peak brightness all contribute to a screen you wouldn’t mind being stuck with.

My jaw absolutely dropped watching TWICE Momo’s first solo Performance Project video on this screen.  It only has a speaker grille at the bottom but it gets significantly loud without distorting the audio.

Even when you hold it and accidentally cover the speaker, the sound doesn’t get too muffled that it becomes incomprehensible. Re-watching the United States of Smash moment by My Hero Academia’s All Might was just as impactful as when I first watched it on a TV screen.

Is the OPPO Find X3 Pro your GadgetMatch? 

Prized at SG$ 1,599 (which is around US$ 1,200), it’s actually a tad more affordable than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (SG$ 1798) and the iPhone 12 Pro Max (SG$ 1969). But is it a worthy alternative against those two? The answer is a resounding YES.

Third time is indeed the charm for OPPO as they absolutely nailed everything about the Find X3 Pro. Notice how we didn’t hesitate to mention it in the same sentence as Samsung and Apple? That’s where OPPO is at now with this smartphone. They deserve a seat in the premium flagship table.

There’s always room for improvement. But the Find X3 Pro is as solid a foundation as any. OPPO only needs to stay the course now to completely overtake Huawei and claim its spot among the titans of the industry.

Accessories

The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset now sports Midnight Black

Nicely paired with the DualSense controller and your “Midnight Black” PS5

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Pulse 3D Wireless

Back in June, Sony announced two additional colorways for its next-generation DualSense controller. Apart from the classic white, the PlayStation 5’s newest controller also received a Midnight Black and Cosmic Red. This time around, they’ve extended the invitation to another PS5 peripheral, the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset.

Much like the DualSense controller, the headset will also come in Midnight Black. Other than this, everything else is pretty much the same for the Pulse 3D Headset. In essence, it still gives you deeper, more immersive 3D sounds to games that fully take advantage of this. It’s just that now, you have other color options to choose from. Whether or not this also comes in Cosmic Red, Sony has yet to announce that.

It’s worth noting that included in the PS5’s second major update is an equalizer for the 3D Pulse. It adds another layer of control for players. This lets them enjoy the game precisely the way they want to. But if tweaking isn’t your thing, there are also three presets: Standard, Bass Boost, or Shooter.

The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset in Midnight Black will be available on October 29 for PhP 5,590/ SG$ 149 / MYR 469/ DR1,699,000 / THB3,490 / VND2,699,000.

SEE ALSO: How to use the DualSense controller with PC, Mac

 

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Apple reveals the new iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max

A more refined iPhone 12 Pro series

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iPhone 13 Pro

Apple finally unveils the new iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max series. And just like how the leaks suggested, most of the rumors turned out to be true — minus the Rose Gold color option.

Same design language

Of course, Apple has to keep its flat-edge design from last year’s iPhone 12 and 12 Pro series. The iPhone 13 Pro series still feature a surgical-grade stainless steel frame resistant to abrasion and corrosion. Aside from the usual Graphite, Gold, and Silver color options, both models feature a new Sierra Blue colorway.

The Ceramic Shield found on the iPhone’s front is still here together with a matte glass texture at the back. IP68 water and dust resistance also stays in the new iPhone Pro lineup.

Faster display and smaller notch

Apple has kept the same notch from 2017’s iPhone X for three years. Today, Apple changes that with the new iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro series.

It now has a 20 percent smaller notch with an improved TrueDepth camera system. But the icing of the cake has got to be its Super Retina XDR with an adaptive 1oHz to 120Hz ProMotion display — a feature that should’ve been in last year’s iPhone 12 Pro series.

This makes the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max the first iPhones with an ultra-fast display. For the record, the iPad Pro from 2018 was the first Apple device to feature such high refresh rate.

Display brightness also goes up to 1000 nits for better sunlight legibility. Don’t expect a screen size increase as both models still have a 6.1 and 6.7-inch displays respectively.

Redesigned internals

The design outside may look almost identical to last year, but its internals got an overhaul. The new iPhone 13 Pro series feature an A15 Bionic Chipset with 6-core CPU and 5-core GPU that’s based on a 5nm process. This means smaller yet more power-efficient on the fly. Both CPU and GPU performance are improved to 50 percent.

Also, its newer 16-core Neural Engine is capable of having up to 15 trillion operations per second which enables faster and better machine learning in features like Live Text as well as ISP improvements in noise reduction and noise mapping.

iPhone 13 Pro

But the biggest news in this section has got to be the improved all-day battery life. The iPhone 13 Pro last 1.5 hours longer than last year’s iPhone 12 Pro. Meanwhile, the iPhone 13 Pro Max has 2.5 hours longer battery life compared to the iPhone 12 Pro Max. This also makes it the most power-packed iPhone to date.

5G support is also here to stay but with more 5G bands that has better support and coverage in more locations around the globe. With a new feature called Smart Data mode, it intelligently saves battery life by automatically shifting to LTE when 5G isn’t needed.

Even better Pro cameras

Speaking of the new A15 chip camera improvements earlier, the Pro-grade cameras from last year got even better.

On paper, both the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro series have a brighter f/1.5 Wide camera. The ultra-wide camera was also changed to an even better sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and a new AF (Autofocus) system.

Lastly, there’s also a newer 77mm telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom — equivalent of a 6x optical zoom range on the camera system. For the first time in any iPhone, the telephoto lens now supports Night mode.

iPhone 13 Pro

Image from Apple

Newer camera features include Macro Mode for shooting something closer than ever before. This feature is also applicable to Slo-mo and Time-lapse camera modes.

There are also Photographic Styles which are different from applying the usual presets. This allows users to bring their photo preferences directly to the camera app and still preserve Apple’s multiframe image processing altogether. Paired with Smart HDR 4, users can see improvements in the new iPhone’s dynamic range.

Last year’s Deep Fusion, Apple ProRAW, and Portrait Mode with Portrait Lighting also stay in this year’s iPhone.

Cinema-grade video

The new pair of Pro series phones has several video improvements including the new Cinematic Mode. This records videos of certain moving subjects or static objects with a depth effect and automatic changing in focus. This brings professional cinematography quality right in your hands.

Users can adjust level of bokeh in Photos or iMovie in iOS. This feature is also coming soon to Final Cut Pro and iMovie for macOS. Cinematic mode records in Dolby Vision HDR format.

What makes the new iPhone 13 Pro series distinct from the new iPhone 13 series is the support for Apple’s new ProRes video codec. This is the same format used in commercials, feature films, and even TV broadcasts that offer better color fidelity yet less compression.

To top all of these features, the iPhone is the only smartphone in the world that provides end-to-end workflow.

Pricing and Availability

The new iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max still have the same base price as last year’s iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max at US$ 999 and US$ 1099 respectively.

In Singapore, the iPhone 13 Pro starts at SG$ 1649 (SG$ 69 a month for 24 months) and SG$ 1799 (SG$ 75 a month/24 months) for the iPhone 13 Pro Max variant. The base storage still starts at 128GB but goes all the way to 1TB — also a first on any iPhone.

In the Philippines, the iPhone 13 Pro retails for PhP 63,99o while the iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at PhP 70,990.

Both models will be available in the Apple Store app and Apple Store locations with pre-orders starting on Friday, September 17 in the United States, United Kingdom, India, China, Japan, Singapore, Canada, Australia, and 30 more countries in the list. Availability in other countries have yet to follow.

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iPhone 13 adds Cinematic Mode, better performance

Design is mostly same as last year

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iPhone 13

The new iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini mostly keeps the look and feel of the iPhone 12. The improvements come in overall performance as well as a video shooting feature that could prove useful for mobile filmmakers.

Getting some the minute details out of the way first, the notch is a tad smaller but that really isn’t a highlight. What your eyes should focus on is the improved Super Retina XDR OLED display. Yes. OLED. Apple says it’s brighter outdoors and is more power efficient.

Speaking of power, the iPhone 12 mini was famously lacking in the long-lasting battery department. Naturally, Apple says that will no longer be the case with the iPhone 13 mini. Along with the OLED display and the brand spanking new A15 chip, the iPhone 13 mini should last up to two and a half hours longer than its predecessor. Same is true for the iPhone 13.

A15 Bionic chip

The A15 Bionic chip is predictably described as being a more badass chip than the A14. It’s the same tune year after year but we never get tired of hearing it do we? (Cue Olivia Rodrigo’s “deja vu”). The A15 Bionic not only affect power efficiency, it’s also directly responsible for the new iPhones’ overall performance.

With it, the new iPhones’ advanced machine learning algorithms kicks into high gear and unlocks what could be the biggest addition this year — Cinematic Mode.

Cinematic Mode

iPhone 13

We imagine this to be the feature that most people will play around with, especially mobile filmmakers. Cinematic Mode records videos of people, pets, and objects with a depth effect. But it doesn’t stop there. It comes with automatic focus changes. This means anyone can capture cinema-style moments, even if they aren’t a professional filmmaker.

For those who require a more creative control, the focus and level of depth can be manipulated after capture in the Photos app and iMovie for iOS. The same will soon be available to iMovie for macOSS and Final Cut Pro.

This makes the iPhone 13 lineup the only devices to be able to edit the depth-of-field or bokeh in video after recording.

What’s even more impressive is that Cinematic Mode is also available on the front-facing TrueDepth camera. An update we’re sure plenty of TikTokers will be happy about.

Elsewhere on the iPhone 13

Everything else on this new model is the par for the course upgrade you’ve come to expect. The graphical performance for gaming is better and the dual-camera system Smart HDR 4 through computational photography.

5G coverage has also been expanded with Apple partnering with over 200 telecommunications companies to make sure the iPhone 13 series deliver the best in next generation mobile connectivity.

What’s new though are the storage options. Apple has finally decided that 64GB just isn’t enough. The starting model now has 128GB. With it are two other storage options — 256GB and 512GB.

Price and availability

iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini will be available in pink, blue, midnight, starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED. The iPhone 13 starts at US$ 799/ SG$ 1,299/ PhP 50,990. Meanwhile the iPhone 13 mini starts at US$ 699/ SG$ 1,149 / PhP 44,990.

Pre-order starts at 5AM PDT on September 17. Availability begins on September 24. This covers the following countries: Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, the UK, the US, and 30 other countries.

In Turkey, availability starts on October 1. In Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand and nearly 10 other countries, availability starts on October 8.

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