Oppo N3 review: Smartphone ups ante in selfie game with swivel camera

Last year Oppo brought us the quirky N1 range, the first smartphones in the world with a single, swivelling camera.

Not resting on its laurels, the Chinese manufacturer has just launched the N3, the first smartphone with a single, swivelling (higher quality) camera that is fully motorised.

As before, the idea is that instead of a high-quality rear camera and lower-quality front-facing unit, the N3 sports a single 16MP camera that rotates to let you take images and videos from both the front and the rear.

While the N1 obliged you to swivel the camera manually, the N3 is now fully motorised, enabling you to alter the camera’s angle merely by dragging up and down on the display.

After a little getting used to, it is a neat feature. A cool option allows you to balance the handset (albeit a little precariously) on its side and take a full panoramic photo at the touch of a button.

The N3’s other main upgrade is its rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, a very welcome new feature that essentially lets you unlock the phone merely by picking the phone up.

Other changes are a little less welcome. With a 5.5-inch IPS display, the N3 takes the unusual step of offering a smaller screen than its predecessor, shaving 0.4 inches off.

It’s a puzzling decision, but the 5.5 inches won’t have you squinting too much. Its 403 pixels per inch resolution delivers a natural-looking colour palette, even if it does not deliver the wow factor of higher-end models such as the LG G4.

The other odd change is the decision to place the headphone jack on the right side of the display rather than on the top or bottom, making it sit awkwardly in the pocket when using headphones.

The N3 has a recommended retail price of Dh2,399, making it a little cheaper than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Apple iPhone. It may not have the brand cache or high specs of such models, but its quirky camera is a unique feature that makes the handset worth considering.

q&a freebie for a selfie

John Everington reveals more about the new Oppo N3:

Now that I’ve got my shiny new motorised N3, what if I want to use two SIM cards or beef up the memory?

On the plus side, both are possible. On the downside, you can’t do both at the same time, as the second SIM slot also doubles as the MicroSD slot.

What other special features does the handset come with?

A very nice touch is a thumb-shaped device called the O-Click, a Bluetooth device that does things such as trigger the camera remotely or helps you find your phone. Not a revolutionary device, but a freebie from Oppo, which could easily have charged you extra for it.

That’s sweet of them! Speaking of which, KitKat or Lollipop?

I’m guessing you’re talking about Android versions? The N3 comes pre-installed with KitKat, the slightly older version, which is a bit of a pity. What’s more, it’s actually ColorOS, a version of Android that’s been popping up on a lot of Chinese handsets.

And what does that mean for me?

Not a lot. It’s a different Android experience that what you may have experienced on Sony or Samsung phones, but pleasant enough and not lacking in functionality.

Given the camera on top of the N3 is now motorised, could this be described as the ‘Motorhead’ handset?

No, please don’t call it that. It’s better for all of us if we keep Lemmy out of this. Even at the age of 69, he’s a pretty scary chap.


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John Everington

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