Posts with «author_name|richard lai» label

Realme's latest flagship phone apparently feels like paper

It was only a matter of time before someone other than Fairphone delivered a sustainability-themed smartphone (which is a good thing, of course). Realme, the sister brand of Oppo and OnePlus, announced that its upcoming flagship GT 2 Pro features an eco-friendly bio-polymer material on its back cover — apparently a first in the mobile industry. Better yet, Realme has once again collaborated with Muji and Infobar series design icon Naoto Fukasawa, who finished the GT 2 Pro's design with a textured paper feel on the body. They call this "Paper Tech Master Design."


This bio-polymer material, supplied by Saudi Arabia's SABIC, is based on paper pulp, and it has obtained International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (or ISCC in short) to prove its environmental friendliness. The Realme GT 2 Pro's packaging also uses much less plastic than its predecessor — from an overall plastic ratio of 21.7 percent down to a mere 0.3 percent.

The phone itself packs some surprises, too. For one, it's one of the first devices to be powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, following the Moto Edge X30. The GT 2 Pro is also the world's first smartphone with a 150-degree ultra-wide camera (most are at around 120 degrees), which offers a unique fisheye camera mode for some fun photography. 

There are also some noteworthy features on the radio side. In Realme's "Antenna Array Matrix System" here, there's the "world's first" ultra-wide-band antenna switching technology, which lets the phone switch to whichever of the 12 antennas has the best signal strength. In addition, this system consists of a symmetrical Wi-Fi antenna which apparently boosts signal stability by up to 20 percent. 


But the most interesting feature here is perhaps the "360-degree NFC," which is achieved by hooking up the NFC module to the top two cellular antennas as well as its own, thus forming an "NFC 3 antenna array." This allows the upper part of the GT 2 Pro to read NFC on either side, which should make the likes of contactless payment and Bluetooth pairing easier.

For now, the Realme GT 2 Pro is only slated for a China launch at 7:30PM local time (6:30AM ET) on January 4th, 2022, but a company spokesperson confirmed that it will eventually go overseas. Given the brand's track record, this device will likely be competitively priced, but we're just eager to check out Fukasawa's latest mobile design in person — especially the supposedly paper-like texture. Stay tuned for more technical specs, prices and our hands-on.

Oppo’s Find N foldable phone has a more practical landscape screen

Samsung's three generations of foldable phones put it in a leading position in the field, so much that Huawei and Xiaomi eventually followed the same double-screen form factor. Having already shown a foldable prototype a couple of years ago, it was only a matter of time before Oppo, the world's fourth largest smartphone brand, would join the scene. After a teaser from earlier, today the Chinese company unveiled the Find N, which features a 5.49-inch external display and unfolds into a 7.1-inch flexible "Serene Display."

What's special about this design is that Oppo went for a landscape aspect ratio — 9:8.4 (1,920 x 1,792), to be exact — for the flexible AMOLED screen, which offers a more practical split-screen usage. A bit like Microsoft's Surface Duo 2, except this is across one single panel. Similarly, the Find N's external AMOLED screen comes in a more familiar 9:18 aspect ratio (988 x 1,972), as opposed to something like the narrow 9:24.5 on Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3. The shorter body should also make the device more pocketable than its competitors.


Oppo added that thanks to its special water-drop flexion hinge design, it's able to widen the angle of the flexible panel's fold, thus reducing the crease — "up to 80 percent less noticeable compared with other devices," which is apparently certified by TÜV Rheinland. The same mechanism allows for a no-gap design when folded. As for the flexible screen itself, its 12-layer structure apparently lets it withstand over 200,000 folds — even at temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius or -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Alas, there's no IP rating for the Find N, but Oppo reassures us that the device has passed the company's own humidity and splash tests.

To our surprise, the Find N is powered by Qualcomm's slightly older Snapdragon 888, as opposed to the upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or the existing Snapdragon 888 Plus. Oppo explained that this is due to the longer development cycle of this project. To be fair, this 5G chipset is still plentiful, plus the phone also comes with up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage, along with ColorOS 12 based on Android 11, which should keep things running smoothly on that 120Hz flexible screen (though the external screen is capped at 60Hz).

Sanji Feng / Engadget Chinese

Other goodies in this 275g device include a 50-megapixel f/1.8 main camera (Sony IMX766 sensor; same as the Find X 3 Pro), a 16-megapixel (IMX481) f/2.2 ultra-wide camera plus a 13-megapixel (Samsung S5K3M5) f/2.4 2x telephoto camera on the back, and a 32-megapixel (IMX615) f/2.4 punch hole selfie camera on both the external screen and the inner screen. There's a 4,500mAh battery which supports 33W SuperVOOC rapid charging and 15W AirVOOC wireless charging; you can also use the phone for 10W reverse charging.

Unlike many recent flagship Androids, unlocking is done with a side-mounted fingerprint-scanning power button, rather than an under-display fingerprint reader, which makes sense since it'd be a bit ambitious to work that sensor into the large flexible screen.

Sanji Feng / Engadget Chinese

On the software side, this version of ColorOS 12 comes with a "FlexForm Mode" which lets you use the Find N in the form of a mini laptop. This applies to use cases like video calls, taking notes, taking 4K time-lapse photos of the sky and more. Likewise, you can use the external screen as a selfie viewfinder, though this is nothing new in the world of foldables.

Sanji Feng / Engadget Chinese

My favorite feature here is perhaps the split-screen gesture: simply use two fingers to swipe down the middle of the flexible screen, and you'll instantly split the screen into two. You can also tap the three dots in the middle of this virtual divider to create a shortcut for the current app combo. If needed, you can also use four fingers to pinch the large screen to turn the current app into a floating window. 

Last but not least, there's a "seamless relay" feature which lets you easily go from the large screen to the smaller external screen. As soon as you fold the Find N, the external screen will offer a five-second window to let you swipe up and activate it.

Sanji Feng / Engadget Chinese

The Find N comes in black, white and purple, with the purple offering being exclusive to its higher-end model. In China, this new phone is immediately available for pre-ordering ahead of its December 23rd launch, with the base model (8GB RAM and 256GB storage) asking for 7,699 yuan (about $1,210), and the higher-end model (12GB RAM and 512GB storage) going for 8,999 yuan (around $1,410). That's surprisingly affordable — even more so than Xiaomi's Mix Fold. 

Sadly, Oppo doesn't plan on bringing its first-ever foldable to outside of China just yet, but our review unit did just land on my doorstep a few hours ago. I'll be spending the next few days figuring out whether this device lives up to its hype (and whether I can even run Google services on it), so stay tuned for our further impressions.

Oppo Air Glass is a modernized Google Glass for China

There hasn't been much update on Google Glass since the wider availability of its Enterprise Edition 2 back in early 2020, but on the other side of the world, Oppo believes now is the time to launch a direct competitor — albeit in the China market only. Following last year's Oppo AR Glass concept, the Oppo Air Glass will become available to Chinese consumers in Q1 2022 for a yet-to-be-announced price. It'll come in two parts: a detachable monocle waveguide device (in black or white) and either a silver half frame or a black full frame. And no, you won't be able to attach this 30-gram device to your own glasses.

Much like Google Glass, Oppo Air Glass is designed to deliver simple information for use cases such as navigation, translation, teleprompter, calendar, weather, fitness tracking and more. Oppo calls this "assisted reality," which keeps the package portable yet practical and accessible. This is achieved using a power-efficient "Spark Micro Projector," which comes in at roughly the size of a single coffee bean, and it houses a Micro LED chip to project a bright 640 x 480 image onto a waveguide display — one that's larger than that of Google Glass.


Oppo Air Glass is driven by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100, which is similar to the chip inside some of the latest Fossil smartwatches. Once paired with an Oppo phone (with ColorOS 11 or later) or smartwatch, you can toggle notifications by tapping the Air Glass' slim touch bar or simply by nodding your head, and then tap again or shake your head to close them. To switch between apps, simply swipe the touch bar.


In the case of the teleprompter app, you can upload your speech, set your text size and scrolling speed via the smartphone app, and then tap the touch bar to scroll manually if needed. Oppo is also testing hand gesture tracking via the Oppo Watch for a supposedly more intuitive control here.


If you happen to have two Oppo Air Glasses and are struggling to communicate with a foreigner, you can pair them up and get your partner to wear one for instant translation — your device will translate the other person's voice on your screen, and vice versa. However, only Chinese, English and Japanese are supported at the moment, with Korean to follow soon.

For the navigation app, Oppo worked with Baidu to integrate Baidu Walk & Bike Navigation as well as Explore Nearby. Don't expect any sophisticated AR graphics here; users will simply see step-by-step navigation based on one's location and orientation, and voice command is supported (presumably only in Chinese).


An Oppo rep added that the Air Glass is the result of two previous designs, which allowed the company to work with developers to build up an ecosystem. In addition, the Chinese company will soon release a Smart Glass SDK to let more developers — potentially those from overseas as well — into the party.

Considering how other companies such as Meta, Bose, Amazon, Snap and Razer have been focusing on either audio- or camera-based smartglasses, Oppo's strategy with its Air Glass is certainly a bit of a surprise. For now, this is all rather experimental for Oppo, as the device will only be launched in China in a limited quantity, with each labelled with a unique edition number on its package.

OnePlus' 2022 flagship will share a unified Android 13 system with Oppo

Following OnePlus' integration into Oppo in June, co-founder Pete Lau — who has been appointed Chief Product Officer for both brands since May 2020 — is ready to share more on what to expect from his expanded team, aka "OnePlus 2.0." 

We already knew about the upcoming unified OS, which will apparently bring the best of both worlds — the smoothness and lightness (no ads!) of OnePlus' OxygenOS, combined with the reliability and smartness of Oppo's ColorOS. In a recent group interview, Lau added that this yet-to-be-named system will be based on Google's upcoming Android 13, and it'll be featured on OnePlus' 2022 flagship device — likely dubbed "OnePlus 10" — due out first half of the year. Some existing devices will also receive this update, though no specific models were mentioned. (Lau said the Nord 2 already features an early version of the integrated codebase, so there's a good chance that it'll get the full upgrade.)

Given that the shared OS would reduce differentiation between Lau's two brands, one might wonder which would more likely produce the "perfect" flagship smartphone? Never one to give a direct answer, Lau implied that he doesn't believe such a device would ever exist. He referred to an internal demographic map featuring 20 user categories, each of which tied to a combination of different needs — down to the level of product size, specific photography features, charging modes, weight and more. 

Lau's basic definition of OnePlus users is "tech enthusiasts," but he added that based on this mapping, it's still impossible to satisfy everyone's needs with a single device. As such, the exec thinks the market is big enough for his two brands to avoid friendly fire. For the same reason, OnePlus' Nord line will continue to co-exist with the Oppo Reno series (and Realme, for that matter), though the similarity of their designs is still questionable. (Lau insisted that each brand has a dedicated design team, even after the merger.)


Another area which OnePlus may benefit from the integration is photography. Lau pointed out that what used to be a camera team of around 100 people is now some 700, which may allow OnePlus to take better advantage of its relationship with Hasselblad, especially with their ongoing work on color science this year. The exec added that he can't say OnePlus currently has the best camera performance, but he's certain that it's "definitely" among the top in the industry.

Lau admitted that with his expanded role, even if he had 48-hour days, it'd still be impossible for him to personally pick on every single detail on every product like he did before (let's just say it'd be unlikely that he'd throw a fit over a minor design issue on a logic board, as he once famously did back in his Oppo Blu-ray player days). Instead, Lau had been spending a lot of time teaching his "never settle" philosophy to his new Oppo teammates over the past year or so, in the hopes of changing what used to be a leader-driven mission to true team work. It'll be a while before we get a real taste of this fruition, but Lau is "confident that this new unified OS won't disappoint."

Vivo's X70 Pro+ does optical stabilization on all four rear cameras

The Vivo brand may not immediately ring a bell in the West, but its recent mobile photography ambitions are worth paying attention to. The company's latest flagship, the X70 Pro+, is the world's first smartphone to feature optical image stabilization (OIS) across all four of its rear cameras. Like the previous model, these all have Zeiss optics and Zeiss T* lens coating, but the main camera is further enhanced by an SLR-grade high-transmittance glass lens to reduce chromatic aberration.


Vivo continues to offer one of the more versatile sets of cameras I've seen lately. The X70 Pro+ comes with a 48-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, which is further stabilized by Vivo's now-signature micro gimbal; a 50-megapixel f/1.57 main camera powered by a large Samsung GN1 sensor (as featured on the X50 Pro+); a 12-megapixel f/1.6 portrait camera with the much newer Sony IMX663; and an 8-megapixel f/3.4 5x zoom periscopic camera. 

All four rear cameras support electronic stabilization for video shooting, and if you really want to, the main camera can film at up to 8K resolution. The X70 Pro+ also packs Vivo's very own "V1" AI imaging chip for better noise reduction in low-light video recording, as well as more efficient motion smoothing in video playback and gaming.

I don't usually spend much time in the camera filter section, but Vivo's selection of bokeh effects look fun, as they were apparently meant to mimic classic Zeiss lenses. The X60 series already introduced the "swirly" Biotar filter, and with the new X70 series, you also get the "anamorphic" Distagon, the "genuine" Planar and the "creamy" Sonnar. Apparently Zeiss took part in developing these bokeh effects, so that should speak for their faithfulness.

On the other side of the X70 Pro+, you get a 32-megapixel f/2.45 punch-hole selfie camera at the top of a 6.78-inch screen. This 3,200 x 1,400 AMOLED panel offers better colors (10-bit or 1 billion colors) and brightness than before, thanks to Samsung's latest E5 LTPO tech. It also delivers a refresh rate of up to 120Hz and a touch sampling rate of up to 300Hz, which should deliver some silky smooth scrolling and gaming.


The Android 11-based X70 Pro+ comes with many other flagship elements, namely a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ processor, fast LPDDR5 RAM, IP68 dustproofing and waterproofing, stereo speakers and a dedicated Hi-Fi chip. There's even an infrared remote feature to let you control home appliances the old-fashioned way.

As for charging, the 4,500mAh battery here supports Vivo's 55W FlashCharge and 50W Wireless FlashCharge. The latter requires a special charging stand, which packs two coils to handle both portrait and landscape orientations. You can also use any Qi pad, with the trade-off being a slower charging rate, obviously. The phone itself does 10W reverse wireless charging, should you need to revive other phones, smartwatches or wireless earbuds.


The X70 series includes two other models: the quad-cam X70 Pro and the tri-cam X70. Both models are powered by MediaTek's Dimensity 1200-vivo chipset, and their smaller 6.56-inch AMOLED screens (2,376 x 1,080, 120Hz) translate to smaller batteries as well. But hey, you still get an infrared remote on either model.

While the X70 Pro and X70 also receive the Zeiss treatment, they baked the micro gimbal into their main cameras (50 and 40 megapixels, respectively) instead of their 12-megapixel ultra-wide cameras. It's also worth mentioning that their 12-megapixel portrait cameras lack OIS. Given their missing V1 imaging chip, it'll be interesting to compare their low-light shots with the X70 Pro+.

Vivo X60 Pro and X60 Pro+.

For what it's worth, the version of the X70 Pro sold in China will be powered by a Samsung Exynos 1080, and it also includes a V1 chip.

Outside of China, Vivo's X70 series will initially roll out in markets like India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates, among others. There's no word on a European launch just yet, but Vivo might want to plan one soon to keep up with the likes of Oppo and Xiaomi. Meanwhile, stay tuned for our upcoming X70 Pro+ hands-on.

Oppo promises 5-axis OIS is coming to its phones soon

Never one to shy away from showing off its latest developments, Oppo is now teasing more upcoming mobile camera tech. The most interesting bit is perhaps the 5-axis optical image stabilization, which uses both lens shifting and sensor shifting for maximum effect — apparently three times the angle than that of conventional optical stabilization, according to Oppo. If true, this would compensate for greater shakiness, thus allowing for faster capture and better low-light performance, even when handheld.


This kind of implementation is nothing new in the professional camera world, but the challenge here is to miniaturize the solution and fit everything into the little remaining space on a phone. The lens, driven by ball-bearing motors, serves as the primary stabilization tool for light vibrations. For bigger movements, both the lens and sensor kick in to achieve 5-axis stabilization, with the latter's shifting and rotation controlled by shape memory alloys.


Oppo admits that incorporating extra moving parts means increasing the number of potential failure points, so it will continue to conduct various drop tests and reliability tests before beginning mass production. The company is targeting Q1 2022 to launch its first phone equipped with this feature.


In addition to its 5-axis optical stabilization tech, Oppo teased its next-gen RGBW sensor, which the company claims can take in 60 percent more light and achieve a 35 percent reduction in noise. This will arrive in an unspecified Oppo phone sometime in Q4 of this year. The company is also working on an 85-200mm continuous optical zoom module to offer greater flexibility. It's unclear when exactly that might become commercially available.

Oppo isn't the only phone maker trying to further differentiate itself with obscure camera tech. To name a few, Vivo has been using its impressive micro gimbal camera since its X50 Pro last year, while ASUS is well into its third-gen flip camera on its aptly named Zenfone 8 Flip. Xiaomi even tried a shape-shifting "liquid lens" camera on its Mi Mix Fold, before picking up the latest-gen under-screen camera for its Mi Mix 4. And it now seems we'll see even more attempts in this arena in the coming months.

Xiaomi's Mi Mix 4 packs an under-screen camera in a ceramic body

Just days after Oppo unveiled its latest under-screen camera solution, Xiaomi is now launching a new flagship phone with a similar, if not the same, feature. The Mi Mix 4 is the Chinese company's slimmest ceramic unibody smartphone yet, featuring a 6.67-inch 2,400 x 1,080 screen that stealthily hides a 20-megapixel selfie camera underneath a near-indistinguishable patch of pixels — it's the same 400ppi density as the rest of the panel, albeit with smaller pixels and transparent circuitry thanks to advancements in AMOLED production.

If the selfie photos on the Mi Mix 4 turn out to be just as good, if not better, than Oppo's samples from last week, then it's no surprise that Xiaomi went with this under-screen camera tech. The Mix series has always been about pushing the boundary of form factor design, with the firsttwo models — both designed by Philippe Starck — offering super slim screen bezels along three sides. They were some of the first ceramic smartphones, too. 

With the Mi Mix 3, Xiaomi finally got rid of the chin by moving the selfie camera to a slide-up module. I wasn't a fan of that design, though, as it felt more fragile.


Now that the under-screen camera is seemingly reaching maturity, it serves as a sensible evolution path to the Mi Mix 4. Still, CEO Lei Jun added that if you really care about your selfies, you should stick to phones with punch-hole cameras; but for him, the under-screen camera is good enough.

The screen itself is otherwise very much the same as what many other recent flagships are offering: 10-bit color, P3 gamut, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, 120Hz refresh rate and 480Hz touch sampling rate. It's protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus. Like many recent Xiaomi phones, the Mi Mix 4 provides stereo sound tuned by Harman/Kardon, which should go well with that vibrant screen.


The Mi Mix 4 also happens to be the first smartphone sporting Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 888+ 5G processor, taking the clock speed up to 3GHz while being cooled by several layers of graphene and graphite. LPDDR5 RAM options range from 8GB to 12GB, whereas UFS 3.1 storage goes from 128GB to 512GB.

Much like the iPhone 12 series, the Mi Mix 4 also packs UWB (ultra-wide band), but instead of tracking tags, Xiaomi is using this for a feature dubbed "Point to Connect." Simply point your Mi Mix 4 to a compatible Xiaomi smart device like a TV, smart speaker (like the freshly-announced Xiaomi Sound) or air conditioner, and the relevant app will show up. 

The company will also offer a small UWB hub for existing TVs, and this will launch via a beta program in China on August 20th. But if you prefer the old-school way, this Android phone also has an infrared remote feature — as is the case with some Chinese smartphones these days.


The rear cameras are impressive on paper. There's a 108-megapixel main camera (HMX sensor with optical stabilization), an 8-megapixel 5x optical zoom camera (with optical stabilization) and a 13-megapixel 120-degree ultra-wide camera (with free-form lens). Still, Lei admitted on stage that he's saving the better camera components for his main flagship line.

The Mi Mix 4 houses a 4,500mAh which is relatively standard these days, but it supports 120W wired charging, which goes from zero to 100 percent in 21 minutes by default, or in just 15 minutes if you enable "Boost Mode." There's also 50W wireless charging, which normally takes 45 minutes for a full charge, or just 28 minutes in "Boost Mode."


Xiaomi will be selling the Mi Mix 4 in China starting from August 16th, with colors including white, black and a new gray option. Prices start from 4,999 yuan or around $770 for the 8GB RAM + 128GB storage model, and capping at 6,299 yuan or about $970 for the 12GB RAM + 512GB storage option. We'll have to stay tuned for international availability, but we'd be surprised if the world's second largest phone maker doesn't plan on taking the Mi Mix 4 outside of China.

Oppo's latest under-screen camera may finally be capable of good photos

Until recently, there was only one smartphone on the market equipped with an under-screen camera: last year's ZTE Axon 20 5G. Other players such as Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi had also been testing this futuristic tech, but given the subpar image quality back then, it's no wonder that phone makers largely stuck with punch-hole cameras for selfies.

Despite much criticism of its first under-screen camera, ZTE worked what it claims to be an improved version into its new Axon 30 5G, which launched in China last week. Coincidentally, today Oppo unveiled its third-gen under-screen camera which, based on a sample shot it provided, appears to be surprisingly promising — no noticeable haziness nor glare. But that was just one photo, of course, so I'll obviously reserve my final judgement until I get to play with one. Even so, the AI tricks and display circuitry that made this possible are intriguing.


In a nutshell, nothing has changed in terms of how the under-screen camera sees through the screen. Its performance is limited by how much light can travel through the gaps between each OLED pixel. Therefore, AI compensation is still a must. For its latest under-screen camera, Oppo says it trained its own AI engine "using tens of thousands of photos" in order to achieve more accurate corrections on diffraction, white balance and HDR. Hence the surprisingly natural-looking sample shot.


Another noteworthy improvement here lies within the display panel's consistency. The earlier designs chose to lower the pixel density in the area above the camera, in order to let sufficient light into the sensor. This resulted in a noticeable patch above the camera, which would have been a major turn-off when you watched videos or read fine text on that screen.

But now, Oppo — or the display panel maker, which could be Samsung — figured out a way to boost light transmittance by slightly shrinking each pixel's geometry above the camera. In order words, we get to keep the same 400-ppi pixel density as the rest of the screen, thus creating a more consistent look.


Oppo added that this is further enhanced by a transparent wiring material, as well as a one-to-one pixel-circuit-to-pixel architecture (instead of two-to-one like before) in the screen area above the camera. The latter promises more precise image control and greater sharpness, with the bonus being a 50-percent longer panel lifespan due to better burn-in prevention.

Oppo didn't say when or if consumers will get to use its next-gen under-screen camera, but given the timing, I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be the same solution on the ZTE Axon 30 5G. In any case, it would be nice if the industry eventually agreed to dump punch-hole cameras in favor of invisible ones.

Realme's 'MagDart' is an Android take on MagSafe, but faster

Ever since Apple's MagSafe made its grand return by way of the iPhone 12 series, it was only a matter of time before other phone makers came up with similar — and maybe better — solutions. Realme, the sister brand of Oppo and OnePlus, has announced its very own "MagDart" magnetic wireless charging system as part of its latest concept phone, the Flash.


Not only is MagDart the first of its kind in the Android world, it's also more powerful than Apple's MagSafe, with its maximum output rated at 50W instead of just 15W. This 50W magnetic charger leverages Realme's speedy 65W SuperDart charging tech — a rebranded version of Oppo's SuperVOOC and OnePlus' Warp Charge 65 — and has its own air-cooling system for maximum performance. Realme claims that the charging speed here is almost on par with its 50W SuperDart wired charger. Specifically, for the 4,500mAh battery inside the Realme Flash, it'll go from zero to 100 percent in under an hour.

The downside of this 50W MagDart charger is its bulkiness, but Realme will also offer a slim 15W MagDart charging pad — one that's a tad thinner than Apple's MagSafe charger. This design is mainly thanks to having the circuit board tucked away in the plug, which also keeps the charging coil cooler for higher efficiency. For the same phone, this will take about 90 minutes to go from zero to 100 percent.

Naturally, the MagDart ecosystem offers a few other snap-on accessories as well. There's a MagDart power bank which one-ups the MagSafe Battery Pack by doubling as a wireless charging stand, so you can charge or grab both the phone and the power bank simultaneously.


There's also a MagDart Beauty Light, which is a flip-up ring light — consisting of 60 mini LEDs, with adjustable brightness and color temperature — to keep your selfie game strong. Interestingly, this kit is powered by the phone's reverse wireless charging feature.

Another handy accessory here is the self-explanatory MagDart Wallet, which holds up to three credit cards in its vegan leather pockets. Though unlike the MagSafe version, this one adds an aluminum kickstand to your phone as well.

Last but not least, existing Realme GT users can get a special case to make their phone MagDart-compatible, though this will add a slight bulge near the bottom on the back side.

There's no word on when we will see the first MagDart-compatible devices on the market just yet, but when that happens, chances are future products from Oppo and OnePlus will get to share the love with Realme (unless Apple gets in the way, of course). But if you use a pacemaker, then you'll probably want to avoid those also.

Oppo's Find X3 Pro has a 30x 'microscope' camera

Following the teaser way back in November, Oppo is finally launching the Find X3 series today, starting with the flagship Find X3 Pro. The main focus of this Snapdragon 888-powered device is photography. It packs the same flagship sensor in both the main camera and the ultra-wide camera, as well as the addition of a rare 30x "microscopic" camera.

Oppo calls this the "Billion Color Phone," as it supports 10-bit color across the primary cameras and display for more faithful color reproduction. While we've seen this combo on some high-end phones like the iPhone 12 Pro, it goes without saying that this is an upgrade from the 16.7 million colors of most smartphones.

The front side of the Find X3 Pro is very much a carbon copy of its predecessors', featuring a 6.7-inch curved LTPO AMOLED panel with a sharp QHD+ resolution (3,216 x 1,440), a 120Hz variable refresh rate, 1,300-nit peak brightness and 100-percent coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut. You'll also find a 32-megapixel f/2.4 selfie camera in the top-left punch hole here, as well as an in-display fingerprint reader in the usual spot. Everything here is, as you'd expect nowadays, IP68 rated for water and dust resistance.

Things get a lot more interesting on the back. Rather than cutting out a corner to form a "camera island" like most phone makers do these days, Oppo crafted a single piece of glass — a 40-hour process per piece, apparently — that flows naturally over the camera bump and tapers into the metallic frame. The "Gloss Black" unit I got does look elegant, and the curvature of this 8.26mm-thick body feels good in hand, though the glass is also a huge fingerprint magnet. Good thing the phone comes with a soft case.

The camera bump contains four cameras, three of which are laid out in a similar manner as the recent flagship iPhones, but mirrored. When I pointed out this awkward similarity, Oppo explained that a triangular arrangement is the most efficient way to place the cameras as close together as possible, which is key to seamless zooming and accurate portrait mode. The spokesperson added that he believes more manufacturers will eventually follow this practice.

Building on top of the impressive cameras on the Find X2 Pro, Oppo stuffed a new flagship sensor — the 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 — into both the main camera (f/1.8, with optical stabilization) and the ultra-wide camera (f/2.2, 110 degrees) on the Find X3 Pro, so that they would perform similarly and support 10-bit color capture (HEIF format only).

Many of my 10-bit sample shots from both cameras look very realistic on the phone's screen, to the point where close objects such as food and ornaments almost pop out. But even when viewed on other devices, photos still benefit from Oppo's natural color reproduction. Low-light performance is also pretty good, though I wish the phone went a little easier on the noise reduction to better preserve fine details.

The beefed up ultra-wide camera also came in handy when I wanted to record my friend's singing recital in a small hall. To my surprise, the 4K video came out nicely with accurate colors and little distortion, as if it was taken with the main camera. This is also thanks to the freeform surface lens and anti-reflective coating, both of which reduce distortion and color fringing.

The third big camera on the hump is a rare 3-megapixel f/3.0 microscopic camera, which does 30x magnification natively (Oppo's "60x" claim here applies to the 2x zoom) and supports FHD video recording. Since the focal distance is between 1mm and 3mm only, this camera is equipped with a small ring light to illuminate your subject.

I was surprised by how much fun I had with this pocket microscope. Despite the relatively low resolution, the photos turned out sharp, so long as I kept my hands steady. I was able to capture impressive shots of the sub-pixels on my laptop's LCD, my phone's OLED screen, flowers, wooden blocks, sponges and more. I'm not sure how useful this microlens comes into our daily lives, but if you have children, this feature may keep them entertained for a while.

Richard Lai/Engadget

For reasons unknown, Oppo ditched its 5x periscopic telephoto camera in favor of a 5x hybrid zoom shooter, and the results were disappointing. Like before, hybrid zoom often washes out fine details, namely text on one's badge, lines on hair and patterns on clothes. In those cases, I'd rather use the main camera's 2x digital zoom to shoot, and then use my fingers to zoom into the photos. Had the Find X3 Pro kept a 5x optical zoom camera or, better yet, a 10x version like the Huawei P40 Pro+, then it'd easily cover all bases.

As with other Oppo phones from recent years, the Find X3 Pro supports VOOC fast charging. Using the bundled 65W SuperVOOC charger, the 4,500mAh battery takes just 10 minutes to go from zero to 40 percent. It also supports AirVOOC wireless charging, with a 30W output being able to fully charge the battery in 80 minutes. The phone itself can do 10W reverse wireless charging as well, should you need to help a friend out.

Richard Lai/Engadget

On the software side, the Find X3 Pro comes preloaded with the Android 11-based ColorOS 11.2, which feels well oiled thanks to the 120Hz display and lean coding (a source told Engadget that OnePlus' software team had been helping Oppo since the Find X2 Pro). This build offers some new wellness features, including Oppo Relax 2.0 which helps you unwind using sound and games, plus a comprehensive built-in color vision test for color vision enhancement.

One last thing to talk about is a bit unexpected: A set of ringtones and notification sounds created by award-winning composer Hans Zimmer, who was quoted by Oppo as saying that "ringtones should not bring anxiety." These will arrive at the end of the month in an OTA update, and should be quite interesting, considering Zimmer's dramatic film scores in the likes of Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy.

Given Oppo's track record in recent years, chances are the Find X3 Pro won't be headed to the US, but the company has announced that it'll be available in the UK on April 14th starting at £1,099, which is around $1,250 before sales tax. The company also said it'll have more information on global availability early next week.