Oppo Find X3 Pro Review: Oppo Overkill



The Find X3 Pro sees Oppo pick up right where the Find X2 Pro left off, emphasising a colour-accurate 10-bit display, equally (and exceptionally) capable primary and ultra-wide cameras, and super-fast charging.

Throw in a microscopic lens and curved glass camera module and you have a phone that builds on the best of what came before while still carving out its own identity.

And yes, at £1,099 it’s expensive, belonging to the new class of super-flagship alongside the likes of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and ROG Phone 5 Ultimate. But if you can afford a phone of this calibre, then right now the Find X3 Pro is the one you should buy.

Design & build

I suspect it’s no exaggeration to suggest that the Find X3 Pro will go down as the most memorable phone design of 2021, even if it doesn’t win everyone over.

While most high-end phones are slabs of glass with camera lenses protruding awkwardly from one corner, Oppo has instead curved the glass itself to meet the lenses where they sit, incorporating the module seamlessly into phone’s back panel.

I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t a fan of what felt like an ungainly solution to the design problem, but over the last week the X3 Pro has won me over. Much like the tiered module favoured by Vivo in the X60 series, the curve has the effect of making the whole phone feel sleeker and slimmer. More than that though, it’s a design choice that simultaneously draws the eye while making the camera feel like an essential part of the phone, rather than an extra component bolted onto the rear.

That’s especially exaggerated on the Gloss Black model I’ve been reviewing, on which light shimmers and warps around the curved lens mount. It is a horrendous fingerprint magnet though, so if you prefer, there’s a matt blue model available too, with white and orange leather variants also on offer in some markets – though not in the UK.

The lenses here sit almost flush – the main and ultra-wide sensors each project by a millimetre or so – and in fact, the whole phone is pretty slender at just 8.26mm thick – though it’s closer to a centimetre at those lenses. That makes it thinner than the otherwise similarly sized S21 Ultra, but more importantly, at 193 grams it’s more than 30g lighter, which is a huge difference that means the phone is actually comfortable to use one-handed.

All that curved glass hasn’t gotten in the way of durability, with IP68 water and dust-resistance, and Gorilla Glass 5 found on both the front and back of the phone – though admittedly it’s not the newer and tougher Gorilla Glass Victus.

That’s really the only compromise you’ll have to make from a design perspective here, so long as you don’t mind the sheer size of the thing – somewhat of a necessity if you want the roomy 6.7in display, despite Oppo’s best efforts to save space elsewhere.

Display

Speaking of that display – what’s on offer is a curved 6.7in AMOLED panel with a dynamic refresh rate up to 120Hz, a QHD+ resolution and 10-bit colour depth.

That latter spec is what Oppo wants to highlight, emphasising that the Find X3 Pro can display over 1 billion colours. The company included a 10-bit panel on the Find X2 Pro as well, but this time around it’s supporting the display with that it calls a “full-path 10-bit Colour Management System.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that in addition to the display, the camera system is also capable of 10-bit colour photography, and the phone is able to encode, store, and decode the resulting shots with 10-bit colour too. That means there’s no loss of colour accuracy or range at any point in the process – at least until the photo leaves your phone.

Of course, that mostly matters when it comes to your own photography, and in terms of Instagram or Netflix, or files from elsewhere, you’ll still be limited by their native bit-rates; meaning this is one of those features that remains overkill for most users.

Interestingly, Oppo is trying to deliver colour accessibility too. The phone offers various colour palette options to improve visuals for different types of colour-blindness, and a colour vision test to help deliver a personalised colour profile to best suit your vision.

Everyone will benefit from the HDR10+ certification for compatible media at least, and in addition to 10-bit colour depth, there’s 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut, so you’re getting phenomenal colour range. Meanwhile, a 0.4 JNCD rating guarantees professional-grade colour-accuracy too. Again, this is mostly overkill, but at least you know the X3 Pro has got it when it counts.

Besides, you can’t argue with Oppo’s display prowess elsewhere. The adaptive refresh rate – from 5Hz to 120Hz – keeps the phone smooth and snappy when it needs to be, and conserves power the rest of the time. It runs simultaneously with the 3216×1440 QHD+ resolution too.

Last year, Oppo delivered the best phone display ever in the Find X2 Pro. This year’s panel is even better. Need I say more?

Specs & performance

From a design and display perspective the Find X3 Pro is fairly unique, but on the inside, I’ll admit you will find a device that’s pretty much par for the course for a 2021 flagship.

The Snapdragon 888 chipset is here, of course, paired in this case with 12GB of DDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. There’s only the one setup available, and it’s also worth noting that there’s no support for expanding the storage via microSD.

Between the chipset and the RAM, there’s a lot of power under the hood here, though curiously the X3 Pro slightly under-performed in CPU-focussed Geekbench tests; with results closer to some of last year’s Snapdragon 865 flagships than this year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra and Xiaomi Mi 11 – though it held its own better on the graphical tests that best indicate gaming performance.

The issue seems to be one of temperature management – as tests go on performance seems to degrade, and the chassis itself gets a little warm to the touch.

I haven’t noticed this sort of over-heating in day-to-day life, only while benchmarking, and similarly, the phone has never felt sluggish in normal use. I do worry that intense gaming sessions would produce the same thermal throttling though, and it does seem notable that right now this phone isn’t quite matching other Snapdragon 888 rivals for pure performance.

Beyond processing power, the 888 means 5G, with 13 5G bands covered guaranteeing near-global support. It’s also a dual-SIM device, with support for both physical and eSIMs. Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and NFC are also all supported.

As for security, fingerprint unlock is handled by an under-display optical sensor that’s been both fast and reliable in my testing, though face unlock is also available.

Battery & charging

This is another area where Oppo has decided to build on what’s come before, rather than take any radical steps.

Like its predecessor, you’ll find 65W fast-charging included in the Find X3 Pro, which is fast enough to deliver 96% of the phone’s battery back in just half an hour in my testing.

Unlike its predecessor, it’s paired with support for wireless charging. It’ll go at up to 30W speeds using a compatible Oppo AirVOOC charger (sold separately) but works fine on standard 5W and 10W Qi chargers too. You also get 10W reverse charging for other phones or accessories.

The 4500mAh battery is actually a little larger than last year’s, and according to Oppo battery life has been improved further by the dynamic refresh rate display.

The result is a phone that’ll last a day comfortably, and usually a little over. It’s not exactly exceptional battery performance, but it’s commendable for a flagship – which normally suffer in this area, thanks to the higher power components – and there’s little reason to complain here.

Camera

If the display and design are two of the key pillars of the Find X3 Pro, then the camera is the third – and inextricably intertwined with both, as it lies at the heart of that curved glass design and 10-bit promise.

Those are far from the only noteworthy points about this camera setup though. Let’s start with the main shooters: Oppo is pitching this as a ‘dual primary’ camera system, where both the standard lens and the ultrawide are on equal footing.

Both use the same 50Mp sensor – Sony’s IMX766, a 1/1.56” sensor – and both use All Pixel Omni-Directional PDAF, which helps find focus points even in dim lighting. The idea is that photos taken from either lens should not only be of comparable quality but also match in tone, exposure and colour.

Things aren’t quite so simple though, as the two lenses use different apertures – f/1.8 on the standard and f/2.2 on the ultrawide – and only the regular lens supports OIS. That means that slight disparities do begin to creep in when lighting is worse, especially in night mode where that stabilisation really counts.

Still, in good lighting the results are impeccable. Colour consistency between the two lenses is the best I’ve seen on a phone yet, and those colours are punchy but natural. There’s also almost no lens distortion at all on the ultra-wide, the result in part of using a freeform surface lens.

In low light, the two cameras do pull apart a touch, but honestly, even here you would have to go looking for problems to find them. With its narrower aperture the ultrawide struggles just a touch to expose low light images properly, and the main camera’s optical stabilisation helps that camera’s night mode shots come out ever so slightly crisper.

Both cameras hold their own in low light though, even using the camera app’s standard shooting mode. The dedicated night mode is there for when conditions are really dark or when there are bright spots of light interrupting a mostly dark environment. It will even out those bright spots, but like many night modes, it tends to over-expose dark areas like the night sky, with the regular shots sometimes striking a better balance.

You can take photos in 10-bit colour across both of these cameras, along with the telephoto, from either regular photos or night mode, though you’ll have to turn this on in your phone’s settings. The resulting shots will be saved in HEIF, and labelled as 10-bit in the phone’s gallery.

Of course, I can’t helpfully show you any, because unless your display is also 10-bit you won’t be able to see the difference – and that’s before I get into the compression they’d go through in uploading. That’s as good an example as any of how niche this functionality really is – for a select few people it’ll really matter, but most of us won’t see much benefit until 10-bit support improves elsewhere.

I mentioned the phone’s telephoto. Last year Oppo included a 5x optical zoom telephoto on the Find X2 Pro – at the time a relative rarity – and with this year’s S21 Ultra moving up to 10x optical you’d think Oppo would try to keep pace.

It’s thus a little surprising to reveal that instead the phone ‘only’ has a 2x optical telephoto camera, which goes up to 5x hybrid zoom, and caps at 20x digital zoom. Results remain good – exceptional 2x, good at 5x, and decent enough beyond that – but it does seem unusual that just as the arms race for periscopic zoom lenses is heating up, Oppo seems to have dropped out of the fight.

The company told me that this was to make space for the dual primary lenses; there’s only so much camera one can fit in without making the module itself unreasonably large. It’s hard not to wonder instead though if it’s the new microlens that’s squeezed the periscope out.

This is something undeniably different, for better and worse. A 3Mp, f/3.0 microscopic camera that can take shots at up to 60x magnification.

You’ll have to press the camera itself right up against your subject – the focal distance is measured in millimetres – and the lens has its own tiny ring light to make up for blocking out all the light. Alternatively, you can always take shots at a distance for some extremely blurry light shows.

For lack of a better word, this camera is ‘cool’. I’ve taken shots of individual LEDs on my computer monitor, or the structure of the cells on a plant leaf, that I never would have imagined a phone could capture. You’ll have to shimmy the phone around a little each time to find the focus, but once you get it right the results are phenomenal.

Of course, I do have to ask the obvious question: will you actually use it often? Probably not. Perhaps you’ll use it more than you would have used a 10x zoom camera, perhaps not – they’re both fairly niche. Either way, I wouldn’t let your purchasing decision hinge on the microlens, fun as it is to play around with.

Swing around to the front and you’re presented with a 32Mp, f/2.4 selfie camera. This, too, delivers excellent results in good lighting but struggles more in dimmer conditions. It also supports both portrait and night modes, but the latter is limited by the narrow aperture, so don’t expect results comparable to the rear setup.

Video is another strong point, especially for those confident enough to dive into the dedicated Film mode, with enhanced settings and controls. Support for 10-bit colour and HDR extends to video too, with BT.2020 colour gamut and log recording options for pros.

The only curiosity is that recording caps at 4K at 60fps – more than most people need, to be sure, but not the 4K at 120 we’ve seen some rivals off, and there’s no support for 8K recording at all.

Software

The Find X3 Pro ships with Android 11 and Oppo’s own ColorOS 11.2.

After a rocky start, ColorOS has become one of the best Android skins available. I’ll admit that the aesthetic isn’t my favourite, but on pure functionality, it’s hard to knock Oppo.

You get most of the best features of the stock Android experience, along with extras like improved multi-tasking options, quick launch options from the fingerprint scanner, and an extremely customisable always-on display.

Despite that feature creep, usability isn’t impaired; the OS as a whole is clean, sleek and easy to navigate.

Unlike some rival brands, Oppo doesn’t yet promise a set number of Android version updates or a set number of years for security updates, so future software support is not guaranteed.

Price & availability

The Find X3 Pro will go on sale in the UK from 14 April, the global rollout beginning earlier on 30 March – though don’t expect the phone to launch in North America.

It will cost £1,099 – the exact same price as the X2 Pro was last year – and you’ll be able to order it from Oppo, Three, or EE in the UK, with pre-orders starting on 31 March. If you order before 27 April you’ll also get a free Oppo Watch 46mm, AirVOOC wireless charger, and a protective case for the phone.

£1,099 certainly isn’t cheap, but it is actually a little less than the £1,149/$1,299 Galaxy S21 Ultra, which is perhaps the closest comparable rival – and that phone goes up further to £1,199/$1,349 for the same 256GB storage. This also gets you an impressive 10x zoom periscopic camera, but of course, you’ll miss out on Oppo’s microlens and ‘dual primary’ setup.

On the other hand, the Xiaomi Mi 11 costs just €799 (UK pricing to be confirmed) for a 256GB model and offers similar core specs – albeit with a less versatile camera and no IP rating. The OnePlus 9 Pro is expected to land around a similar price point, and even Oppo’s own Find X3 Neo shares many of the core specs from just £699.

Ultimately, there are diminishing returns past that sort of price, but if you can afford to pay top dollar for waterproofing, a striking design, or a top-tier camera and display setup then the Find X3 Pro certainly seems to offer slightly better value than Samsung’s offering.

Check out our full guide to the best phones we’ve tested to see a few more of the Find X3 Pro’s biggest rivals.

Verdict

The Find X3 Pro is a flagship’s flagship, a phone that’s deliriously expensive and not ashamed of it. But hey, if you can afford to drop more than a grand and want to invest in the device you probably spend half your time staring at – and all your time carrying – then more power you.

And if you are willing to spend that kind of money, then right now this is where I would spend it. The display is the best around, the charging speeds and battery life are both exceptional, and the core specs are hard to fault – though I’m hoping firmware updates will shore up the shaky thermals a little.

The camera will be a large part of the appeal here, and for the most part, I think Oppo’s struck a smart balance. The main lens and the ultrawide are the two lenses most of us use the most, so I appreciate the move to make these the best they can be. I’m sure some will miss the periscope, but the included telephoto is still great at lower zoom levels.

My only real hesitation is the microlens – a fun toy to play around with, but you do have to wonder how much it adds to the overall cost of the hardware, and how often you’re really likely to use it.

All in all though, there’s far more to like here than dislike. Yes, a lot of it is overkill, but at this price that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?

Specs
Oppo Find X3 Pro: Specs

Android 11 w/ ColorOS 11.2
6.7in, QHD+, AMOLED, Dynamic 120Hz, 10-bit curved display

In-display fingerprint sensor

Gorilla Glass 5 (front & back)

Aluminium alloy frame
IP68

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

12GB LPDDR5 RAM

256GB non-expandable UFS 3.1 storage

50Mp, f/1.8, 1/1.56″ main camera with All Pixel PDAF and OIS

50Mp, f/2.2, 1/1.56″ ultrawide camera with All Pixel PDAF

13Mp, f/2.4 2x telephoto camera
3Mp, f/3.0 microlens camera
Up to 4K @ 60fps rear video

32Mp, f/2.4 front-facing camera
Up to 1080p @ 30fps front video

Stereo speakers
Dual-SIM

5G

WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.2

4500mAh battery

65W fast charging

30W wireless charging

10W reverse wireless charging

163.6 x 74.0 x 8.26mm

193g

Launch colours: Gloss Black, Blue



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