In 2013, Oppo came up with the powerful, albeit quirky N1, a beast of a phone whose main claim to fame was it swiveling camera. For the second generation, the N3, Oppo took the concept and refined it, turning the often unwieldy N1 into a device that is easier to handle, but every bit as interesting and powerful as its predecessor.
Design and build
Oppo seems to have taken to heart the criticism about the N1 being a bit too large, as the N3 has been shrunken down significantly. That’s at the cost of a slightly smaller display of 5.5-inch, compared to 5.9-inch on the N1. The N3 is shorter, narrower, and about 20 grams lighter than the first-gen, albeit a millimeter thicker.
Around the device, you’ll see a lustrous steel frame, while the swiveling camera features a design touch that we’re less impressed by – faux leather and faux stitching, just like on the white Note 3 from last year. Some users will surely like it, but we can see why it could be a turn off as well. On the back, the marquee feature is the touch-based fingerprint scanner, which is surrounded by a metallic frame.
At the bottom, the unique Skyline notification light has been made visible from both sides of the phone, so you won’t miss any notifications even when the phone is lying on its screen.
Oppo N3 specs and features
5.5-inch AMOLED, Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 403 ppi
GPS, microUSB 2.0, WiFi a/b/g/n, 5GHz, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0
Android 4.4 Kitkat, Color OS 2
161.2×77×9.9mm, 192 grams
The Oppo N3 doesn’t feature the current cutting-edge processing package, but the Snapdragon 801 chip and 2GB of RAM should still be more than enough to ensure a smooth user experience.
The 5.5-inch screen is a Full HD LCD of 403 ppi, again, not best-in-class, but probably still good enough for most users. The device comes with 32GB of storage, which is something we appreciate given how easy it is to fill out 16GB these days, and a microSD card slot for expansion.
The battery is a great 3,000 mAh, and Oppo’s VOOC fast charging technology makes a return, but in an easier to use form, as the special charger has been shrunken down.
The fingerprint scanner on the back lets you skip the lockscreen with a simple touch, and it works quite well. Unlike the Galaxy S5 or Note 4, you don’t need to swipe your finger over the sensor, which makes it much easier to use.
The Oppo N3 comes with its own O-Click remote, which has been souped up and given the ability to control music playback and the swiveling camera. From finding your phone, to snapping a shot, to changing tunes from a distance, we see this little gizmo becoming very useful to N3 users.
While the exterior of the N3’s swiveling camera doesn’t give it away, there’s actually a tiny motor embedded in the phone that lets you control the rotation with a simple tap on the screen. You won’t have to worry about having both hands free to manually swivel the camera (though you can still do that). The O-Click comes in very handy here – pressing the left/right buttons instantly rotates the camera, while the up/down buttons let you move the camera in small increments.
The camera itself is a 16MP unit, with an f 2.2 lens and a variety of software features, including HDR, GIF Mode, HD Picture, Double Exposure and more.
On the software side, you get Color OS 2.0 (based on Android 4.4 KitKat), which doesn’t bring many visual changes compared to the previous version, but does refine and adds some new features. Things like on-screen gesture shortcuts make a return – more about it in our hands-on.
Oppo N3 price and availability
Oppo announced that the Oppo N3 will be available from $649 in the following months. We will update this post when we learn details about the N3’s availability by country – from past launches, we think the N3 will be available in China and other East Asian markets, as well as in the West, through Oppo’s online store.