The smartphone industry has changed dramatically over the past couple of years. In Australia, Sony and HTC left the market, with LG recently doing the same, while Huawei experiences their own issues. OPPO has taken up the mantle, increasing market share on the back of a solid few years in Australia, and their flagship range for 2021 is the Find X3 series. Scott checked out the Find X3 at launch, and now it’s time to give the Find X3 Neo a look.

In terms of comparisons the Find X3 Neo has all the hallmarks of a flagship phone, be it one from last year. It runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor (as opposed to the SD888 in the Find X3) and has a smaller 6.5” screen, but comes with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage making it a very respectable piece of hardware and a big 4,500mAh battery.

Priced at $1,199 the phone is still up in the higher end of the phone scale in Australia though it’s priced well under the $2,000 mark that seems to define the higher end category these days.

It’s last year’s tech, but there’s a lot of it included and it’s priced well, so is it worth your hard earned dollars? Well, I spent 2 weeks with the OPPO Find X3 Neo and here’s how it went.

Design and Hardware

The OPPO Find X3 Neo is a svelte device, with a slim profile that feels light and comfortable in the hand. The screen has a slight bevelled edge around the sides that slopes into a flat rear panel that sits flat on the desk, except for the camera island at the top left that houses a quad-camera array.

The phone looks, and feels amazing. It has a textured, matte finish which doesn’t show up fingerprints and makes it easier to hold. I also love the Galactic Silver option which flashes through the colours of the rainbow as you move it in the light. If you’re after something more traditional though, the Starlight Black model may be more suited to you.

The camera island does leave the phone prone to rocking if you lay it flat on a desk, but the included clear TPU case in the box lines it up nicely and protects the phone as well.

It’s a fairly standard layout with the power button on the right and volume rocker on the left, and the USB-C port, SIM tray and single down firing speaker on the bottom – it has stereo sound thanks to the ear-piece, and it sounds pretty good with impressive volume, though the speakers are still quite small so they distort at high volume.

The screen is bright and easy to see though a little dark in direct sunlight. There’s a tiny punch hole notch housing the 32MP selfie camera located fairly unobtrusively in the top left corner. There’s a little bit of bezel at the sides, with more at the top which helps stop any phantom touches when you grip the phone but also can make the ‘back’ Android gesture a little hit and miss.

The screen supports HDR10+ so colours look vibrant, and a 90Hz refresh which makes scrolling and gaming noticeably smoother. You can tune the colour temperature (Cooler to Warmer) of the display, or as well switch down to 60Hz refresh to save a little battery.

The display also houses a fingerprint scanner, and like most OPPO phones it’s fast and easy to use. There’s also the option for face unlock which is equally fast, though without IR face mapping, it’s not quite as secure as the fingerprint sensor so use it at your own risk.

It’s a good looking phone, and also pretty powerful. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor is a workhorse which powered the flagships of 2020, and there’s nothing wrong with the processor except it’s last years model, so If you can get past that, you’ll be happy. The SD865 is a great mobile platform, including a powerful core setup as well as fairly up to date ISP for cameras, and all the connectivity options including 5G.

I didn’t feel the phone lagged at all when using it, likely due to the 12GB of RAM on-board which smooths out a lot of multi-tasking issues. There’s also a bunch of storage on-board thanks to the 256GB of storage – though note you can’t expand the storage.

Battery

As far as battery life goes, the Find X3 Neo offers a full 24-hours battery, with at least a bit of leeway to get you into day 2. I averaged around 6-7 hours of screen on time doing a fair bit of work on the phone including using productivity apps like Gmail, Outlook and Drive, as well as the usual podcasting and games.

Overall it’s a respectable battery life, but it excels when it comes to charging. The Find X3 Neo includes support for SuperVOOC 2.0 charging, which comes from the 65W charger included in the box. The copy reads that it can get to 100% full in 35 minutes – and it’s impressively accurate in real life, making it easy to charge the phone to full before heading out.

There’s no wireless charging on-board, but you can reverse charge with the phone which is a neat trick if you’re ever in need of it.

Camera

The camera system includes five sensors, four on the rear and a single selfie-cam on the front:

Rear:

  • 50MP Main Camera: f/1.8; FOV 84°; Closed-loop Focus Motor
  • 16MP Ultra Wide-angle Camera: f/2.2; FOV 123°; Fixed Focus
  • 13MP Telephoto Camera: f/2.4; FOV 45°
  • 2MP Macro Camera: f/2.4; FOV 89°; Fixed Focus

Front:

  • 32MP (f/2.4); FOV 80°

OPPO has used pixel-binning for their 50MP main sensor, with the final stacked image around 12.5MP. The sensor utilises AI to grab the best settings for you which is handy – though you can go full Pro mode and snap a full 50MP shot using the manual mode. The shots on auto are quite good with improved HDR and low-light getting a nice AI assist to make the image brighter but not too noisy.

Ultra-Wide and Telephoto are excellent inclusions, however the 2MP macro sensor didn’t quite live up to the Macro sensor included in the full Find X3.

OPPO has stacked their camera app quite well, it’s easily laid out with Photo, Video and Portrait modes easily accessible, as is the Night Mode. There’s also a heap of options in the ‘More’ section including the text scanner which is handy to have when you need it.

Software

The Find X3 Neo comes with ColorOS 11.1 based on Android 11, with the February 2021 security update. OPPO has just updated to the May 2021 update, in June, so it’s a little behind. OPPO generally delivers quarterly updates, so a new update should be along in another couple of months.

The ColorOS software that OPPO has developed over the years has come ahead in leaps and bounds. The current state of ColorOS is that it’s functional, and offers a lot of features and functionality like Quick Launch for apps, improved Dark Mode controls, and even an impressive Personalisation system that lets you customise your Always-on Display, Icon Styles, app layout, Themes, Colours and even an edge lighting notification system.

There are rough edges though, Android Auto is hit and miss, and I’ve not been able to add Google Home Smart Controls to the power menu. But these are niggles on the whole, with ColorOS surprisingly robust as an OS, and adds some interesting new features.

OPPO includes a few apps like Music Party O Relax, Soloop and WPS Office, as well as more simple tools like local music and video players, audio recorder and compass, as well as a very intuitive and helpful game management system, Game Space.

Overall, ColorOS is doing pretty well in 2021 and OPPO is also keeping up with security updates, so it’s a pretty secure and consumer friendly OS all round.

Should you buy this phone?

The Find X3 is a heck of a smartphone, with a fantastic camera, battery life, screen and basically all the features, but it’s a little rich for a lot of people. The Find X3 Neo offers a nice mid-point for customers between the smashingly great value Find X3 Lite, and their aspirational flagship.

The Find X3 Neo includes great hardware, and a mature and feature rich operating system, but it is missing a few of the flagship features I like to see at this end of the market like wireless charging and IP68 dust/water resistance.

All that said, the OPPO Find X3 Neo is a compelling phone to use with its slim profile and doesn’t disappoint when it comes to performance. It’s also packing that 65W charging system and a good camera system to snap photos in a range of different conditions.

If you’re in the market for a great phone which won’t break the bank the OPPO Find X3 Neo is a great option to check out.