Highlights

  • Snapdragon 680 4G chipset
  • Micro-lens camera for microscope-like shots
  • Priced at ₹22,999 for 8GB+128GB model

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Oppo F21 Pro Review: microscope camera on a budget!

Oppo's new F21 Pro is the brand's latest attempt at making mid-range phones interesting again, in a way that no one else is doing.

This is the Oppo F21 Pro. It's Oppo's latest attempt at making mid-range phones interesting again, in a way that no one else is doing. What do I mean by that? Well, let's just say that with this phone, it's all about attention to detail.

Design and Display

Oppo always focuses on design, so let's begin there for the F21 Pro. I've received the Black colour variant of the phone, that features a really nice matte textured back and completely flat finish. In fact, it's so flat, that this is probably the first phone I've ever used that flatter on the back than it is on the front, which took a bit of getting used to , with regards to in-hand feel. It lends a very premium look to the device, and I appreciate Oppo not skimping out in this respect, like a lot of other brands tend to do at this price point.

Also watch: Oppo Reno7 Review: Oppo's best Reno yet?

Flip the phone around and you'll see its large 6.43-inch AMOLED 90Hz display. Colour levels are punchy and made for a good viewing experience across different content consumption apps. The display get adequately bright indoors, but if you're using it in direct sunlight, it's not the best in the business. Still, it comes with Gorilla Glass 5 protection which is good to see. The 90Hz refresh rate also isn't the fastest we've seen in the segment, but it provided a smooth enough user experience.

Cameras

Now the reason I was cryptic in my introduction of the F21 Pro is because it has a major trick hidden up it's sleeve. It gets a 64MP primary sensor, along with a 2MP depth sensor, both of which are fairly standard in this price range. What isn't standard is this third 2MP micro-lens. What it essentially let's you do is get really up close and personal with objects and get microscope-like results, something that barely a few phones in the world can do, one of them being Oppo's own flagship Find X3 Pro. To show you what I mean, here's some side-by-side examples of objects I shot using this crazy lens. Safe to say, the F21 Pro encourages you to be more creative, but does leave you wanting a bit more for versatility, especially since there's no ultrawide lens here.

That aside, images captured with the main sensor came out decently, with nice colours and ample detail. HDR was a bit overdone in some outdoor shots though, and image processing wasn't always consistent. Indoor shots were slightly better balanced in terms of dynamic range, and managed highlights and shadows well enough.
Portrait images lacked colour accuracy in certain shots but offered respectable edge detection thanks to the dedicated sensor. There's also nifty presets like the Bokeh Flair Portrait to make portrait shots look more dynamic.

Also watch: Oppo Find N first impressions: the best foldable smartphone?

It's worth mentioning at this point that there's no optical image stabilisation here, which did make taking stable and steady night shots a bit harder.

On the front, there's a 32MP Sony IMX709 RGBW sensor which Oppo claims is able to capture 60% more light than standard RGGB sensors. It does a good enough job with HDR and colour accuracy. The portrait mode also works quite well, and the front fill light feature makes low-light selfie much easier to take.

Performance & Software

Now the Oppo F21 Pro comes fitted with a Snapdragon 680 4G chipset, that offers just about enough power for day-to-day tasks and medium to low graphic settings gameplay on COD mobile. It's not a powerhouse, but for basic smartphone operations, it should do just fine. That being said, this chipset at this price point is a bit of a confusing choice. Manufacturers launching phones in this segment usually either go for less powerful 5G chipsets or more powerful 4G processors, but Oppo seems to have done neither of the two. I'm presuming that the ongoing chip shortage and the inclusion of other higher-end features like the micro-lens camera and premium design meant that Oppo had to make a trade-off in the chipset department. There's 128GB of internal storage on this device I've got, which is expandable. Plus, there's 8GB of RAM with support for 5GB worth of RAM expansion.

On the software front, the F21 Pro ships with Android 12 and Oppo's ColorOS 12.1, so you get a nice and simple interface with large, minimal buttons and plenty of customisation options for the user interface.

There are quite a few pre-loaded apps here, which isn't all that surprising at this price point, but I still don't love it.

However, I do love that Oppo is promising two years of Android updates to the F21 Pro, and four years of security updates, which means good things for longevity.

Also watch: Oppo ColorOS 12 Review: Top Features!

Battery and Utility

Battery life on the Oppo F21 Pro is not too shabby thanks to its 4,500mAh unit, and gave me over a day's usage even with moderate to heavy usage patterns. Charging is not the slowest but also not the fastest with the included 33W charging adapter, and it took around 70 minutes for the phone to go from flat to full.

In terms of utility, the F21 Pro is fully loaded--there's a 3.5mm headphone jack, an in-display fingerprint scanner and a full-size SIM tray with space for two nano SIM cards and a microSD card. It even gets an IPX4 rating for splash resistance, which is good to see in this price segment.

Verdict

Considering its price point, the F21 Pro is fairly well equipped, and the user experience is bolstered by Oppo's promise of 2 future Android OS updates. Add to that its cool micro-lens camera and premium-looking design, and the F21 Pro shapes up to be a pretty well-rounded package.

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