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Oppo: The big winner

Dominik Bärlocher
Zurich, on 06.04.2022

The strategic partnership with OnePlus finally gives Oppo what the company has been missing for years.

Oppo was the holy grail for a long time. Oppo, the brand we absolutely wanted to see at digitec. The product management, because they hoped to make big money from the almost mythical phones from China. Me, because I really wanted to test the fabulous specs. The hunt was on at MWC 2017. Oppo was there. So were we. The deal never materialized, the test device was in the infinitely distant future.

Two years later, an email arrives at my door. Oppo Switzerland invites to London to test the Oppo Reno 2. Oppo Switzerland?! My time had come. The Oppo Reno 2 has arrived. It quickly becomes clear: The Reno 2 can keep up with everyone, fights at the top. ColorOS, Oppo's user interface is boring, but the camera rocks.

With this, Oppo's rise in Switzerland has begun. From a global superstar with no presence in Switzerland, Oppo has become the company that has cleared the title of my personal "Phone of the Year" twice in a row.

What Oppo has lacked: strong names as partners.

BBK makes the right decision

In June 2021, Oppo and OnePlus will be merged by parent company BBK. The question marks pop up immediately: What does Oppo want to get from OnePlus? The former underdog in the smartphone market has nothing to offer the titan Oppo, which dominates the Chinese market. So things can only go downhill, right?

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Actually, I should have known. Because while I was raving about the fantastic pictures from the Oppo Find X3 Pro, the phrase "If only Oppo had Leica lenses" often comes up. Because no matter how hard rival Huawei is fighting US sanctions right now, the Leica lenses in their smartphones automatically catapult the cameras into the top league. No other phone takes pictures with more clarity. My favorite smartphone photo of all time to date was taken with the Huawei P40 in the early days of the pandemic.

Mein liebstes Smartphone-Foto, aufgenommen am 27. März 2020, während einer Pause im Corona-Fahrdienst auf dem Huawei P40 Pro.
Mein liebstes Smartphone-Foto, aufgenommen am 27. März 2020, während einer Pause im Corona-Fahrdienst auf dem Huawei P40 Pro.

The Oppo Find X3 Pro rivals it a year later. The rich colors, the play of light. Wow.

Die Nummer #2 meiner Smartphone-Favoriten, aufgenommen am 2. März 2021, während dem Kameratest des Oppo Find X3 Pro.
Die Nummer #2 meiner Smartphone-Favoriten, aufgenommen am 2. März 2021, während dem Kameratest des Oppo Find X3 Pro.

But as good as the picture is and as much color depth the new 10-bit images in HEIC format offer, the Huawei picture is still a bit better. Better bokeh, better contrast values and sharper edges when you enlarge the picture.

Since Oppo wants to go from being a manufacturer that "generally makes pretty good phones" to a camera giant, BBK's subsidiary lacks the big name. Leica is at Huawei, Zeiss at Nokia, Hasselblad at sister brand OnePlus.

That's changing. In January 2022, images emerge that make me say "Yup, Oppo wins. Battle over."

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Hasselblad is coming to Oppo devices.

Things can only go up

It is the strategic partnership with OnePlus - or rather, the decision of the joint parent company BBK - that will catapult Oppo to new heights. For where OnePlus gets Oppo's SuperVooc fast charging technology, Oppo gets the piece of the puzzle that will help the manufacturer earn a reputation as a camera giant. Oppo gets Hasselblad.

Granted, so far it's just Hasselblad software, just like OnePlus, but the future looks bright. Oppo, or BBK, has dealt cleverly - snatching its best unique selling point from its sister, which is also a competitor. Hasselblad hardware is likely to follow. Better lenses still make a lot of difference despite all the artificial intelligence (AI) in a smartphone camera system. Coupled with 10bit images and strong AI, it's actually clear that Oppo will stomp the competition with relative ease.

While OnePlus is now somewhat disoriented in the smartphone market, Oppo not only has a clear direction, but also finally what the company wanted: a strong name as a partner.

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Journalist. Author. Hacker. A storyteller searching for boundaries, secrets and taboos – putting the world to paper. Not because I can but because I can’t not.


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