The Oppo K1 was launched recently with a host of new features which technically became a segment first considering the price that Oppo was charging. The year 2019 has just entered its second month, and almost all manufacturers have already adopted a lot of features which were mainly seen on flagships last year. Bezel-less displays, fast charging, in-display fingerprint sensors, dual-cameras and a lot of techs which found a place in a lot of affordable smartphones. Phones which launched under Rs. 20,000 in the lower mid-range segment now sport a lot of features which features in the yesteryear flagships of last year.
The Oppo K1 seems to have broken the trend of higher flagship specs restricted to smartphones which cost above Rs. 30,000. The K1 gets a segment first in-display fingerprint sensor which signifies that flagships specs are coming down to affordable smartphones. To put in numbers, the Oppo K1 is the cheapest smartphone in the market right now which gets an in-display fingerprint sensor which makes the K1 stand out from the competition
However, is the beauty and bling just skin deep or there is more to the blue-pink waterdrop notch styled in-display fingerprint smartphone? Let's find out.
In-display fingerprint sensor
Decent Build quality
Micro-USB charging port. Oppo why?
Camera lens housing feels crude
Bloatware with useless notifications which cannot be disabled
Oppo K1 Review: Looks, build, design, and display
The first impressions we had of the Oppo K1 are the bright and blingy back. Our review unit came in the Astral Blue colour variant. The K1 first made its market appearance in China when it was launched last year in October. The design looks a bit dated considering the design seems a bit similar to the Oppo F9 Pro, Oppo F9, and the Oppo A7 as well.
The Oppo K1 gets a 6.41-inch, full-HD+ display alongside Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top. The in-display fingerprint scanner meant Oppo had to use an AMOLED display panel, which is again a segment first. We did feel little colours were washed out, but we found watching movies and playing games decently well considering the AMOLED display sported deep blacks and bright colours.
The Oppo K1 gets a waterdrop notch display with not very massive bezels and a normal chin at the bottom which is not that thick either. Oppo gave a miss to the notification LED considering the notched display gathered a space crunch on the display area. There is a single shooter on the front and a dual lens shooter mounted on the rear. The Oppo K1 gets a 10W adapter as well.
However, the plastic-glass body build of the Oppo K1 feels premium, and the Astral Blue colour looks electric. However, we liked the Piano Black more considering that looked more at home in our hands, complete with a premium finish and all. However, the Astral Blue did look premium but also did manage to garner a lot of attention with the electric blue, purple, and deep purple gradient.
The colour looks scintillatingly charming when held against the light. However, the rear of the Oppo K1 is a fingerprint magnet. We would often see ourselves reaching for our clothes to wipe the back of the phone clean.
The buttons on the Oppo K1 have an excellent tactical feel to it, does not feel it it's about to come off after a few presses. There is a SIM card tray on the left. The phone gets dual-SIM card layout with support for microSD storage expansion of up to 256GB. Talking about connectivity, the Oppo K1 supports 4G VoLTE connectivity and gets a speaker grille at the bottom. It also retains the 3.5mm headphone jack. However, the micro-USB port is a major downer in a phone at this price range with such impressive specs. But let's not dwell on that.
Oppo K1 Review: Software and performance
Oppo has not been thrifty with the specs and because the smartphone is the most affordable one with an in-display fingerprint sensor. The Oppo K1 is powered by the tried and tested Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset running on eight cores. The same octa-core Snapdragon 660 series have already performed well on the Xiaomi Mi A2, Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2, Vivo V11 Pro, Nokia 7 Plus, Vivo V9 Pro, and the Realme 2 Pro.
Oppo has launched the K1 in the Indian market in just one variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of native storage. The Oppo K1 still runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with ColorOS 5.2 based on top. We found this okay considering the price point at which the K1 is being offered in the Indian market. The K1 has been launched in only one variant in the Indian market - 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. However, there was bloatware. Oppo had provided its apps alongside Google apps. There is no separate app drawer. The apps are on the home screen with the standard wallpapers, and the display colours look a little washed out on the AMOLED display.
The Oppo K1 supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v5, USB OTG, GPS, and sensors like a compass, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, and an accelerometer. There is no FM Radio in the K1 though. Basic software performance was a breeze, and we did not notice any significant lags. Even during heavy usage, there were no major lags, although we did see a bit of lag during app switching.
Gaming is decent on the Oppo K1. Of course, you cannot play heavy end games like Real Racing 3, Nova 3, PUBG Mobile at high-end graphics. But you can very well play high-end games at medium level graphics. There is also something called Game Space which has been upgraded. The Game Space gets Oppo's Hyper Boost game optimisation feature which, according to Oppo, delivers a 'boost' to the game loading times, gameplay, and the performance. We played Real Racing 3 and PUBG Mobile with the Hyper Boost but did not notice any massive changes to the gameplay. Of course, network speed and availability is a major variable here as well. However, during intense gameplay sessions, the K1 was able to withstand without the phone heating up.
Oppo has also bundled in some additional features on the K1 such as Smart Scan which lets you do multi-lingual translations, ORoaming which makes a virtual SIM card with data packs if you fly out of the country. So no more rummaging around for a SIM card then. Also, there is a Smart Sidebar which is a pop-out tray for app shortcuts. The notch can also be hidden if its distracting you.
One issue we face with the Oppo K1 is that Oppo's default internet browser and Oppo's native app store keeps spamming the notifications drop down with many alerts and useless ads. We disabled the app store spamming at the first go, but the internet browser seems like it did not get the memo. The browser still sends spam alerts after disabling it. Oppo needs to work on it.
We performed benchmark tests on the Oppo K1 which returned a score of 1,27,994. The AnTuTu ratings depend on variable factors like available RAM, internal storage, network, and processor core clocking speed.
Coming to security, Oppo has a PIN, Pattern, Face Unlock, and in-display fingerprint sensor. Speaking of general security features, the PIN and Pattern unlock system were pretty tight. The Face Unlock was pretty fast too. However, we are going to talk about the in-display fingerprint sensor which is the cherry in the cake that is Oppo K1.
We at first really impressed with the fact that Oppo had managed to bundle an in-display fingerprint scanner at a low price. Upon using it, we understood that the fingerprint scanner was not that fast. At least our review unit took around 0.87 to 0.92 seconds to unlock which is more than double of what current generation smartphones are using. But we did not have many complaints, considering this is the only phone at this price to provide an in-display fingerprint scanner.
The Face Unlock was pretty fast, and we preferred the face unlock feature more than the fingerprint unlock. The main reason here could be that Oppo has not gone for the standard capacitive sensor. The finger has to be inclined adequately with the fingerprint icon for around a second until it authenticates. The face recognition worked better and was decent in low light conditions too. We found the 6.41-inch display decent for watching videos. Blacks are deep while other colours look resoundingly bright on the Oppo K1. The speakers are loud enough for one person; however, there is no stereo speaker in the K1. Gaming sounded okay, but we wish the speaker had more pump.
Oppo K1 Review: Camera
In the camera section, the K1 sports a dual-camera setup mounted on the back. The dual camera setup includes a 16-megapixel sensor alongside a secondary 2-megapixel depth sensor. The selfie shooter is a 25-megapixel sensor with f/2 aperture value. The selfie camera comes with an AI beautification system. Users can choose what level of beautification they were wanting. The result is more or less the same as other AI beautification techniques on other smartphones. The AI smoothens out the skin texture, depending on the degree of beautification you have chosen. However, make sure you do not turn it all the way up, considering it will look like some major filter was being used in the picture. For users who do not want AI interference, they can turn it off.
We found turning off the AI did brought in noticeable changes to the image when taken in daylight. The skin textures looked more natural, and the colours seemed very accurate. Oppo had also provided background blurring feature. However, the blur around the edges looked way too artificial.
In low light conditions, selfies looked decent enough, but there were problems with detecting edge blur for the subjects in the images. The K1 also sports 'Auto HDR' for the front camera which puts in exposure correction when shooting against a bright light source.
Since the rear camera has a 16-megapixel shooter with f/1.7 aperture value, we had assumed that the photos in low light conditions would be decent enough considering the F/1.7 means more light on the sensor. The Ki, however, manages to do decently well with the photos showing considerably less noise. However, there was a problem with texture gain and blurry subjects which were placed far away from the lens.
In daylight conditions, the K1's camera performed quite well with decent detailing and pretty close-ups. Edges looked more refined than low lighting conditions and colours looked quite nice. Wide shots looked detailed enough with the HDR automatically balancing the exposure which was also good.
The Oppo K1 camera gets a 2x zoom option; however, the zoom is just a digital zoom and not optical. The camera interface has been made nicely with all the needed options right there on the screen. However, rapid photo shoots seemed a bit hard since the K1 took a few seconds to click and process the image. This feature, if you are used to clicking pictures quickly, will get you irritated.
The secondary lens is a 2-megapixel sensor which is only utilised for edge detection while in portrait mode. The image samples look decent enough, but the photos did not manage to look good all the time. The camera also took a while to focus while shooting in focus mode, even with good lighting conditions. The camera on the K1 also gets other features like Panorama, AR Stickers, and an Expert mode which allows you to adjust the ISO, focus, and the shutter speed. We did not utilise the Expert mode often considering the standard mode was more than enough.
The Oppo K1 gets the ability to shoot videos up to 4K resolution, with Continuous autofocus. We found the colour composition and the white balance a little off during taking the video. Shooting videos in the daytime resulted in the video turning in a large shade of yellow with the Kelvin value over 5500K. Colours looked oversaturated, and this host of issues magically went away when we switched to 1080p shooting where the white balance was decent, and the footage looked stabilised instead of blurry shots.
Oppo K1 Review: Battery
The Oppo K1 gets a 3600mAh battery which for us lasted a good day. However, we did watch ourselves reaching out for the charger by the end of the day. The battery took well with normal usage, calls, texts, light gaming and video. However, we would recommend carrying the charger just in case you have plans to win the occasional chicken dinner (PUBG intended).
The battery standby time is over four days, and we generally were not worried about the battery dying on us considering our usage was quite reasonable. We were disappointed because the K1 did not get Oppo's VOOC fast charging feature. However, the Oppo K1 comes bundled with a 10W charger in the box. Considering there is no fast charger, the phone takes around 120-150 minutes to charge fully. Overall, we found the battery capacity for the Oppo K1 decent enough to get through the daily routine.
Oppo K1 ratings
Oppo K1 Review: Price in India and verdict
The Oppo K1 was launched in India recently for Rs. 16,990. The price may seem a little steep considering other rivals in the same segment are priced way lower. However, one major point to note here is that the Oppo K1 is the only affordable smartphone in this price range which offers an AMOLED display panel, and an in-display fingerprint sensor. However, the extra features seem a little bit hard to justify because there are other Snapdragon 660 chipset smartphones which we noted earlier and are also priced below the price of the Oppo K1 - something like the Realme 2 Pro, Mi A2, and the Vivo V9 Pro.
Other things we missed on the K1 was that Oppo gave a miss to USB Type-C charging port, fast charging capabilities, as well as better software performance with lesser bloatware. Oppo needs to work on the ColorOS software concerning spam alerts which crop up now and then. Other bits and fixes that Oppo needs to look at are low light camera shooting quality, 4K video shooting, and light exposure to the images.
However, the good parts are many. Gaming performance felt increasingly decent, watching videos was good considering the K1 has an AMOLED panel, a good selfie camera, and an in-display fingerprint sensor. All-in-all, the Oppo K1 looks like a good buy if you are one of those early adopters.