Oppo Find X3 Pro review: the Chinese phone to beat

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You may know Oppo as a company obscurely related to OnePlus, but it recently became the leading smartphone maker in China – the beneficiary of Huawei’s sanctioned drop in sales even in the home market. As such, the new flagship Find X3 Pro is a major handset for the company, offering an opportunity to solidify its place as a major player in premium smartphones.

And this time Oppo is not keeping the Find X3 Pro in China. The company still doesn’t sell phones in the US, but international models with Google services are available in countries like the UK, where it starts at £ 1,099 (about $ 1,500). If you have the option and are looking for a high-end phone, it’s worth checking out as this is one of the sleekest Android devices you’ll see this year.

From the front, the Find X3 Pro looks almost identical to the OnePlus 9 Pro. Both phones have a 6.7-inch 1440p 120Hz curved OLED display with a selfie camera in the top left corner; since Oppo and OnePlus share a supply chain, it’s almost certainly the same Samsung panel.

Flip the Find X3 Pro over, however, and it looks nothing like the OnePlus – or any other phone, really. The camera bump is somewhat reminiscent of the iPhone 12 Pro in the arrangement of three lenses in a rounded square, but the bump is part of a single piece of glass that rises smoothly to accommodate the cameras. Combined with the mirrored finish, this makes the phone look like something off the shelf Terminator 2 – at least until you get your fingerprints all over it.

The Find X3 Pro feels relatively light and thin for a 2021 flagship phone, measuring 193g and 8.3mm in thickness, and the total lack of sharp edges anywhere on the device makes it very comfortable to hold. I’ve also used it with an included Kevlar style cover that retains almost all of the device’s thinness which is a relief as this is a phone I wouldn’t want to drop.

The Find X3 Pro has a microscope camera with a built-in ring light.

Just like the OnePlus 9 Pro, the Find X3 Pro has a very good screen. However, Oppo wants to differentiate it with what it describes as the first full-path 10-bit color management system for Android, which allows you to capture and view over a billion colors, as opposed to the 16.7 million on other devices. The Find X3 Pro software even includes eye tests to help the screen compensate for various forms of color blindness.

I haven’t been able to see a huge difference between these and other displays in general use, but we don’t live in a 10-bit world yet. In all likelihood, you will only use this capability by creating your own content with the Find X3 Pro’s cameras, and even then, the benefit will seem niche.

As for the cameras themselves, the Find X3 Pro has a respectable array of hardware. At the heart of the system are two identical 50-megapixel Sony IMX 766 sensors for the main camera and the ultrawide; it’s not the biggest sensor out there, but it more than holds its own against flagship competitors. Oppo’s color matching and HDR format is relatively understated, and it’s both unusual and refreshing to have an ultra-wide camera that performs just as well in terms of resolution and dynamic range as the primary camera.

There is also a 13-megapixel 2x telephoto camera, which doesn’t match the performance of the other cameras. This is a bit disappointing from Oppo, which did more than any other company to popularize periscope telephoto cameras. Granted, zooms are never the best optics on a smartphone, but this feels like a step back from the 5x unit on last year’s Find X2 Pro. You could argue that a 2x zoom is more versatile as it improves the quality of recordings between 2x and 4.9x, but why not include both?

I can ask the question “why not both” with a fair amount of honesty, as Oppo chose to allocate much of the camera bump to a bizarre microscope instrument. The three-megapixel sensor has a lens in front of it that Oppo says is capable of 60x magnification, and there’s even a ring light around the glass to illuminate subjects that would otherwise be obscured by the phone’s shadow.

Is this cool? Admittedly, yes. It’s quite difficult to get subjects in full focus due to the extremely shallow depth of field, but you can capture absolutely ethereal images you’ve never seen from a smartphone by holding the Find X3 Pro against threads, food, or OLED screens. But is it useful? Maybe this is a lack of imagination on my part, but I think I would take the periscope zoom. If you can think of a bunch of reasons why you might want a microscope-class camera on a phone, be sure to enjoy this one.

Jeans.

An iPhone 12 mini screen.

A bottle of moisturizer.

A desk.

The Find X3 Pro’s overall performance is as good as you’d expect from any other Snapdragon 888-equipped flagship. Oppo’s ColorOS skin is much smoother than it used to be, to the point that OnePlus is now using it itself for phones in China. The 4,500 mAh battery doesn’t quite make this a two-day phone, but I’ve never had a problem getting through a day of heavy use.

Battery life is aided by the fact that Oppo has finally put wireless charging on a flagship phone. This was by far my biggest complaint about its predecessor – it might not be an issue for everyone, but if you’re used to wireless charging, the lack of it is definitely a deal breaker. Oppo’s 30W wireless system is said to be able to charge the Find X3 Pro to 100 percent in 80 minutes, although I don’t have the necessary charger of my own to test that. The wired charger, meanwhile, is 65W and provides a 40 percent charge in ten minutes.

The Find X3 Pro is very similar to the OnePlus 9 Pro at the front.

It sounds small, but the addition of wireless charging was really all I needed to be happy with the Find X3 Pro as an everyday phone. I’ve been using it daily for about six weeks now and have few complaints. I could have done without the microscope camera, but Oppo is now as good as any other Android manufacturer at handing in legit high-performance, high-performance phones.

However, don’t think you’re getting it with the kind of brand discount that OnePlus has made a name for itself with. The UK’s starting price of the Find X3 Pro is just £ 50 less than Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra. I think the Find X3 Pro is a fair competitor to that device, but I don’t see too many people choosing it over the larger and more trusted brand.

Still, the Find X3 Pro is an excellent merit-based device, and it confirms Oppo as a company worth looking out for. This should come as no surprise, but the best phone from one of China’s biggest players is one of the best phones you can find anywhere.

Photography by Sam Byford / The Verge