Smartphones are cool tech gadgets, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be breathtakingly beautiful as well.
It has been a long time since smartphones crossed the line between geeky devices to everyday must-haves. They have gone past being something that only grownups used for serious work to become a reflection of one’s lifestyle. Along with those changes in objectives, smartphones have also changed a lot in their designs over the years. Few, however, managed to successfully strike a balance between form and function, uniformity and identity. That’s part of why the OPPO Find X5 Pro piqued our interest because of its particular attention to design, earning the top spot in our Best of MWC 2022 awards list. That said, we take it for a good spin to see if it’s more than just a pretty face and if it offers enough to make it stand out from a market dominated by giants like Apple and Samsung.
Unless you’re a smartphone aficionado, smartphone designs probably won’t speak to you. Although they have shed their polycarbonate shells of the past, most smartphones today are plagued by large warts on their backs known as camera bumps. Many phone makers seem to have just given up and have, instead, decided to actually highlight those large structures in sometimes obnoxious ways. They dominate the visual center of the phone’s design, but in some cases, they look and feel almost simply slapped on rather than being an integral part of the device.
The OPPO Find X5 Pro’s design distances itself from that crowd in two notable ways. The most important is also the most obvious, the fact that it doesn’t have a camera bump in the traditional sense. Yes, there is still a raised area to house the inevitably big camera hardware, but it is seamlessly integrated into the body of the phone. Rather than a separate bump made of metal, the Find X5 Pro’s array gently rises out of the phone’s back, more like a dune on the soft sands of the desert.
Even the cameras themselves lie flush against the flat surface of that mound. If it weren’t for the black rings around the lenses, it would almost look like they’re actually part of the back cover. This creates a visual continuity that’s often taken for granted in designs, especially in smartphones. There is nothing that forcibly calls attention to itself, generating a more pleasing aesthetic that lets the eyes gently flow over the phone’s back.
The OPPO Find X5 Pro also stands out as one of the very few to use ceramic in a regular, mass-produced edition of a phone, though it is only used on this “Pro” variant. Given how hard it is to work with the material, most manufacturers only apply ceramic on the back of more expensive limited editions. Ceramic is notoriously difficult to shape into specific forms, like the one that this phone has, so it’s a testament to OPPO’s skills that it is able to make it available to a wider audience at a more accessible price tag.
The decision to use ceramic instead of typical glass goes hand in hand with its “futuristic” fluid design. Ceramic feels warmer in the hands, as opposed to cold glass, but also dissipates heat better. It also has a bit more grip even when compared to matte glass, making it less likely to slip from your hand. It has almost the perfect texture to complement the Find X5 Pro’s smooth form, generating a sense of calmness when holding and looking at the phone. Overall, the OPPO Find X5 Pro’s design feels more “human” than any other phone out there, offering a product that almost stands out like an oasis amidst the chaotic world we live in today.
As a tool, it’s not enough for the OPPO Find X5 Pro to be good to look at. It also needs to be good to hold and use, especially for something that stays in the hand most of the time. Fortunately, the phone does meet ergonomic standards, though probably less perfectly than its visual design. It’s comfortable to hold and settles into your hand securely, but it could prove to be a bit tiring after long periods of use.
The ceramic back is smooth but not slippery, especially compared to AG frosted or matte glass. There’s almost a slight stickiness to it even, though not exactly in a gross kind of way. Along with its natural warmth, the material makes the Find X5 Pro a joy to hold. And depending on how you hold the phone, you might even find yourself unconsciously brushing your index finger against the soft curves of the camera bump, almost like a fidget toy.
The phone, however, is also slightly heavier than most of its peers. It’s not uncomfortably hefty, mind, and you’ll only realize that fact when you try holding other phones as well. It might not matter much, but if you’re the type who tends to hold your phone for long periods of time, you might find your hand, wrist, or arm tiring more easily with the phone.
Unfortunately, the Find X5 Pro can’t escape being a fingerprint magnet, especially with the black finish where smudges are more visible. It takes a simple wipe to banish those marks, though, but sticklers for tidiness might want to grab the white one instead. Fortunately, that doesn’t get easily smudged and embodies the purity and serenity of the phone’s design even better.
We’re not going to bog you down with specs and numbers, mostly because the OPPO Find X5 Pro is a powerful machine that can stand head-to-head with the best that the smartphone market has to offer this year so far. It comes with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor and up to 12GB of RAM, but there’s no support for storage expansion, so you’ll have to make an upfront choice of what configuration you need when you buy it. There are a few standout details worth mentioning, though, that really make the phone shine.
The 6.7-inch 2K screen, for example, is bright and vibrant even under the sun. It boasts 1 billion colors, which will really make your photos pop, which goes perfectly well with its cameras. Designers and artists will appreciate how accurate the colors are, which is critical when trying to take photos and videos for reference.
In terms of specs, the Find X5 Pro’s crowning glory is really its camera system. On paper, the 50MP main camera might not sound like much, even if it has optical image stabilization. But thanks to the company’s new MariSilicon X chip, which was designed in-house, the images that its cameras produce look too good to be true. Fortunately, they really are.
Photos come out crisp and detailed, no matter the lighting condition. Of course, Night Mode has special tricks to make the scene look perfect, but nighttime photos, with just enough lighting, still look sharp even without that special mode. There’s no loss of detail when switching to ultra-wide because it has a similar 50MP sensor as the main camera. The 13MP telephoto camera, unfortunately, tells a slightly different story. With only 2x optical zoom, you might actually feel it’s not worth the loss in quality and stick to the main camera anyway.
In terms of software, the OPPO Find X5 Pro already runs the latest Android 12 with the company’s ColorOS 12.1 on top. It tries to stick as close to the vanilla Android experience, just with a few embellishments on top. Of course, there are also some major features you won’t find in Google’s version of Android, mostly around themes and customization. There are also your usual pre-installed apps, some of which can be uninstalled, thankfully. One, in particular, is quite interesting in how it meshes well with the overall theme of the phone. The new O Relax app uses a variety of sounds, including those associated with bustling cities, to create a relaxing audio space. Together with its design and ceramic material, this makes the OPPO Find X5 Pro one of the most calming phones on the market.
The Find X5 Pro scores high on most of our marks, but this is one area where the phone is sadly just like any other. Although the smartphone market is slowly taking steps towards more sustainable practices and materials, the Find X5 Pro doesn’t exhibit those efforts just yet. Just like many phones before it, it is a beautiful and high-performance phone that wasn’t designed to be easily repaired and recycled.
Admittedly, ceramic is a more sustainable material compared to plastic, but its costs will mean that repairs and replacements will be much higher as well. The phone is also sealed shut, making repairs more difficult. OPPO, of course, has its authorized service centers, but there is also a new trend these days where the likes of Apple, Google, and Samsung are opening their doors to third-party service providers. Other companies have yet to catch up to these, especially smaller brands that might not have the margins to afford that kind of business strategy.
To its credit, OPPO tries in its own small ways to at least prolong the life of its phones and delay their inevitable fate in garbage dumps. In particular, its battery health engine tries to preserve lithium-ion batteries for as long as it can, even going as far as “healing” them over time. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s still a step in the right direction.
As a high-end phone, the OPPO Find X Pro is nearly perfect. It has powerful hardware that cuts through your daily tasks like a hot knife through butter. Its cameras are among some of the best we’ve seen in the market, proving the wisdom of the company’s investments in its own imaging processor. It has snappy and useful software that truly offers added value, though we could do without most of the bloatware.
In terms of product design, the phone scores even higher. Its seamless and fluid design is a strong statement against current design trends in the market. With its choice of ceramic and the new O Relax app, OPPO boldly embraced a theme that guided its overall design, offering an oasis of calm in your hands in the middle of chaotic times. As with its design, the Find X5 Pro looks and feels like a more holistic product than yet another phone with a laundry list of must-have features.
The one catch to its overall value is its availability. At $1,300, it is on the more expensive end of the price range, but the real problem will be availability. OPPO’s phones aren’t present in all markets, and the Find X5 Pro is even less so. But for those who do have a chance to get one, it’s almost a steal.
Almost all smartphones, especially those from Samsung and Apple, talk heavily about the design process that goes into making their latest models. Few can actually claim to deliver something that will tickle the aesthetic taste buds of those with design inclinations. Although it’s not completely new, the design language that OPPO perfected in the Find X5 Pro this year definitely stands a chance in that area. It has won many awards, in fact, including our Best of MWC 2022.
It isn’t just a pretty face, though. Unlike most of its peers and rivals, the OPPO Find X5 Pro actually has a story to tell and a message to get across. Its seamless design, its choice of materials, and even its software all point to a single theme, one that puts design thinking and attention to detail on a pedestal. In effect, the Find X5 Pro has graduated from being just another premium phone or even just a product. It has become a lifestyle choice.
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