The Oppo Find X2 Pro with its vegan leather back finish.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Samsung’s just-released Galaxy S20 Ultra, a phone with specs and numbers so stuffed beyond Samsung’s previous offerings that it felt like a response to Chinese phones, which had barged their way to the international phone scene by offering more of everything.
Because Chinese phones aren’t officially available in the U.S., the S20 Ultra’s maximal “kitchen sink” approach sticks out even more in the limited American mobile industry of modestly-spec’ed phones. Apple’s got a 12-megapixel camera with 4GB of RAM; Samsung is offering 108-megapixels and 12GB. Google’s latest and biggest Pixel is powered by a 3,700 mAh battery; Samsung’s running on a 5,000 mAh cell.
But in Asia and Europe, Samsung’s S20 Ultra needed to go all out because Chinese challengers were just around the corner. One of these, the Oppo Find X2 Pro, is already here.
Polish and practicality over radical style
Oppo pumps out phones at a breakneck pace, to the point that a single series (the Reno) can debut in May of 2019 and by January 2020 be on model number three. But the Find X series waited a year and half before this sequel. That shows the pedestal on which Oppo places the Find X series—it takes time to develop because it is special.
The previous Find X, released in mid-2018, was special due to a radical design that appeared to have no camera module, at least from the outside. The camera system was instead hidden inside the device’s body, only elevating and exposing itself to the world when need. This design allowed the Find X to appear to be a seamless, smooth slab, almost like a piece of jewelry.
It looked amazing and had my vote for the most beautiful phone of 2018. But it wasn’t exactly practical to use due to the need to constantly pop the camera module up and down; and a very slippery form factory due to having no camera bumps.
The Find X2 series—which includes a standard model and a Pro model—by comparison doesn’t have an outside build that will drop jaws or turn heads. It looks like several other handsets that are already on the market. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing—this is a tried-and-true design that’s arguably the most useable and practical right now.
The Find X2 Pro’s front is rather familiar.
Instead, Oppo seems to have spent the past year and half fine-tuning features so they can all be crammed into this device.
As powerful as Android gets
I’m testing the higher-end Pro model of the Find X2, and the specs and features here are powerful to the point of overkill. Here’s a rundown: 6.7-inch curved OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch sampling rate; Snapdragon 865 with 12GB of RAM; dual 48-megapixel cameras for standard and wide-angle shots, plus a “Periscope” zoom lens that can do almost lossless 10X zoom and 60X digital zoom. 65W fast-charging that pumps 3% to 4% of juice per minute.
These specs mostly match or surpass what Samsung is offering with the S20 Ultra. Samsung can say they claimed a win with its 108-megapixel sensor, but I’m not convinced a 108-megapixel sensor is of much use in mobile (I am also testing the S20 Ultra right now). The only area the S20 Ultra can say it clearly won is battery size: 5,000 mAh to the Find X2 Pro’s 4,260.
Here’s the thing: Samsung’s S20 Ultra costs $1,400. Oppo has not announced pricing as of press time, but it will almost certainly be priced lower.
The colors are vibrant and pop off the screen.
The screen is a stunner
But let’s get back to the screen. It is a curved OLED panel with a max resolution of 3,168 X 1,440 (even higher than what is known as “Quad HD”), with a wide color gamut that covers 100% of Hollywood’s P3 standards. It also refreshes at 120Hz, twice as fast as 60Hz panels that make up 99% of screens we encounter everyday, from iPhones to TVs to work computers.
The latter is the most important part: the 2X faster refresh rate allows Oppo to cram more animations into a second, which translates to animations that appear to our eyes as twice as smooth or fluid. Use this screen for a couple hours and jump back to a 60Hz panel on an iPhone 11 or 2019 Samsung phone, and the difference is noticeable.
The Oppo Find X2 Pro’s screen (left) seems, to my eyes, every bit as good as Samsung’s Galaxy S20 … [+]
Running the Find X2 Pro screen at its max potential—120Hz with Quad HD+ resolution—is going to drain the battery heavily (from my usage, it couldn’t even last half a day), so I’d suggest lowering resolution to 1080p, which drastically improves battery life. To be honest, most human eyes will not be able to see the difference between 1080p and Quad HD+.
The Find X2 Pro’s screen is tied for best screen I’ve ever seen, along with the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s, which also refreshes at 120Hz.
The display is curved, but not drastically so.
All the little things, too
The rest of the hardware has nice little touches that was lacking in previous Oppo phones. The Find X2 Pro is rated IP68 for water resistance—the first Oppo phone to get this rating—it has loud stereo speakers; a much improved haptic vibration motor engine; and either a ceramic or leather back finish, both of which are welcomed to stand out from the sea of glass-backed phones.
The only things missing are the headphone jack and wireless charging support.
There is no headphone jack, but you get very loud stereo speakers.
Cameras: versatile and capable
Two years ago, I was having coffee with a person working at Oppo, and he conceded to me that even though Oppo phones were a top-two best seller in China and beginning to get good reviews from international press, they needed to improve on camera and software performance. It was refreshing to hear a company rep concede there are areas in need of improvements, and Oppo’s camera performance has been on a steady climb the past year. I’d say last year’s Oppo Reno 10X Zoom was the first great Oppo camera, and the Find X2 Pro naturally progresses on that.
The triple camera module of the Oppo Find X2 Pro.
The “Periscope” zoom lens tech that Oppo pioneered (and which Samsung is using in its S20 Ultra) makes a return, but it is now second-gen hardware with better algorithms.
For those unfamiliar: the Periscope lens utilizes a unique hardware design that places a lens sideways inside the phone’s body, so that images captured by the lens have room to travel through a series of magnifying lenses before reaching the image signal processor. This is the trick that allows the Periscope lens to capture significantly sharper zoom images than a traditional setup on, say, an iPhone.
A pair of 10X zoom photos captured by the iPhone 11 Pro and Oppo Find X2 Pro.
The Find X2 Pro’s 2X and 5X zoom are lossless. 10X zoom—this is where other phones go wonky—can still appear almost lossless.
And while 60X zoom becomes blurry and noisy, it can still be useful in a pinch. In the sample below, I used the 60X zoom to read a parking sign across the street without moving from my seat.
I can see the parking sign across the street without moving.
In general, I find the Find X2 Pro’s zoom shots slightly sharper than those by the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. In the below 30X zoom samples, I think the Find X2 Pro’s image is less compromised.
Two 30X zoom shots with the Oppo Find X2 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.
A wide-angle and a 30X zoom shot, both taken from exact same spot.
The other two cameras are good, too. The main lens uses a variation of Sony’s new IMX689 sensor, which Oppo says was custom-built for the Find X2 Pro to use a larger than usual sensor size of 1/143-inch. Combine this with pixel-binning technology and the Find X2 Pro shoots with what is equivalent to a 2.24 micron pixel size.
The larger the sensor size, the more light the sensor can capture, and the Find X2 Pro is among the best at pulling light out of nowhere. In fact, the main lens can already grab so much light that it’s made Oppo’s night mode (the computational trick mode that resembles long-exposure photography) redundant. Still, the phone suffers from the same Samsung problem of tending to over-expose bright lights unless the user manually dials it down. But the below samples are really vibrant, yet well-balanced night shots, captured in automatic mode.
Two night photos captured by the Find X2 Pro.
The wide-angle camera being also a 48-megapixel sensor helps it from keeping a relatively consistent image as the main lens. So for the most part, the wide-angle images here do not seem out of place when viewed side-by-side with a standard image, the way some LG or Vivo photos do.
A standard image captured by the Find X2 Pro.
A wide-angle image captured by the Find X2 Pro. Notice the image quality is consistent with the main … [+]
A wide-angle image captured by the Find X2 Pro.
Video recording has also improved significantly, especially in low light situation. Using A.I. algorithm and data from multiple sensors, the Find X2 Pro artificially dials up ISO in videos. In the below sample, I took the Find X2 Pro and the Galaxy S20 Ultra for a walk in a relatively dark alley, and Oppo’s video wins quite convincingly.
Software: rise of ColorOS
When it comes to Android skins from Chinese brands, I have been very critical in the past. While Huawei’s EMUI and Vivo’s FunTouch are still not great, Oppo and Xiaomi have made great strides with its ColorOS and MIUI, respectively.
A few months ago, I’d rank Xiaomi’s MIUI as my second favorite Android skin, but ColorOS has climbed ahead with this latest version 7.1 update. Oppo’s added several little touches that make the phone much more easier to use. For the first time on an Oppo phone, you can now pull the notification shade by swiping down anywhere on the screen, instead of needing to reach all the way to the top of the screen. As phones get increasingly taller, this is almost a must-have feature in my opinion, and Huawei, Apple and Vivo still not giving us that option make their software harder to use with one hand.
ColorOS 7.1 is highly customizable.
There’s customization options galore: I can change the shape and sizes of icons, and set shortcut gestures to launch apps from a locked phone. Animations are fluid and look pleasing, especially on a 120Hz refresh rate.
The only nitpick I have is the one-hand mode that was previously available on Oppo phones seems to have disappeared. Other than this, this is almost a flawless software experience. The only reasons I rank OnePlus’ OxygenOS ahead still is because it has more color customization options and the ability to store apps in a hidden part of the phone.
Performance: endurance is only concern
There’s a Snapdragon 865, with 12GB of RAM, so do we really need to talk about whether this phone can perform daily smartphone tasks fine? I have used this device heavily and experienced no hiccup, no stutter. Any game, any app, will run fine.
The only concern here in performance is battery life. As I mentioned, running this phone at max potential (120Hz, Quad HD+) will have this phone running out of power before dinner time. Lowering screen resolution will be enough to get the phone back to normal battery drain time, but it is a compromise. I wish Oppo had gone with a larger battery here, something closer to Samsung’s 5,000 mAh cell.
But this phone can be charged at the fastest speeds in the industry, thanks to Oppo’s proprietary fast charging tech. If you can find a socket and spare time to plug in the phone for even 15 minutes some time in the late afternoon, you will almost certainly guarantee enough juice to go into the wee hours of the night.
Conclusion: the most polished Chinese phone
Chinese smartphones have always given us more power and more specs than the usual Apple, Google and Samsung fares. But they were usually lacking polish here and there. Even Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro, which at the time of release trumped every single smartphone on the market in terms of power and camera capabilities, suffered from sub-par software and janky video recording. And while OnePlus phones gave the best software experience, its phones usually lacked a flagship feature here and there, not to mention its cameras were usually good but not great.
The Oppo Find X2 Pro, with Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra.
To me, the Oppo Find X2 Pro is the most polished phone yet. In terms of software, I have to nitpick to find a complaint. For performance, it is, at worst, the second most powerful Android right now. In photography, Oppo’s climbed enough that I think this phone can hang with the big boys. Whether it’s software animations to display brilliance to hardware feel in hand, this is a polished product, the signs of Oppo learning from past mistakes.
Pricing of the Find X2 Pro will vary from region to region, and they haven’t been announced yet at time of this writing. But in Europe, expect this to cross the $1,100 mark. In China and Southeast Asia, it should go for cheaper. Either way, the Find X2 Pro should cost less than Samsung’s $1,400 S20 Ultra. Making this a great alternate to Samsung’s latest and baddest.