- What’s good? Uninterrupted, large 6.5-inch display; camera can capture daytime photos that can match flagships; ColorOS version 6 is attractive to look at and easy to use; relatively low price
- What’s bad? Its got tough competition from sister brands Vivo and Realme; micro-USB charging port!
The 48-megapixel camera movement is in full force with mid-tier Chinese brands. Following the Honor View 20, Xiaomi Redmi Note 7, and Vivo V15 Pro — which all rocked a 48-megapixel main camera sensor — comes Oppo’s F11 Pro with that same megapixel count sensor.
Though, to be fair, the F11 Pro, like the Vivo V15 Pro, is a 48-megapixel sensor in name only; the chipset they run on (Helio P70) doesn’t quite have the horsepower needed to fully handle 48-megapixels image processing (unlike Honor and Redmi’s phones, which run on more capable processors), so photos are really upscaled 12-megapixel photos even when shooting in “48-megapixel mode”. But that doesn’t really matter, to be honest. Megapixel count is not the end-all, be-all in determining photo quality. In mobile handsets specifically, image processing algorithm play a much more important role in determining photo quality, and the F11 Pro is in capable hands because Oppo, like sister brands OnePlus and Vivo, has gotten quite good in this department.
In fact, during the day, photos taken by the F11 Pro can absolutely go toe-to-toe with “expensive” flagships. At night, the F11 Pro obviously falls short of the top dogs if shooting normal shots with no post-processing trickery, but is still way more impressive than other mid-tier phones like the Sony Xperia 10 Plus. I mean, just check out the samples below, of a night shot captured by the Oppo F11 Pro and Sony’s similarly-priced Xperia 10 Plus.
Notice that the Xperia 10 Plus’ image overexposes the lights inside the structure; the shutter speed is so slow that cars appear blurry; and the photo has an overall lack of clarity. Oppo’s image, by comparison is clean and sharp. These two phones are similarly priced!
I’ll get back to the cameras later, let’s go over the rest of the hardware quickly: the F11 Pro has a 6.5-inch LCD display that’s uninterrupted by cut-outs. The selfie camera instead is hidden inside the phone, popping up into view only when needed.
The gradient-colored, unibody casing is crafted out of either glass or plastic, meaning it feels a bit less dense and smooth than other glass-backed phones, but at the same time the texture feels a bit more premium than plastic. I can’t quite tell what it is, and no one has been willing to confirm with me. Let’s just say the feel of the phone sits somewhere between a premium glass-backed iPhone and an entry-level budget Realme 3. You do get a headphone jack, located at the bottom of the phone, next to the single bottom-firing speaker grille and the micro-USB charging port.
I’m disappointed that Vivo and Oppo seem to think only flagship phones should use USB-C tech while as all the other devices use micr0-USB, but at least the F11 Pro can charge relatively fast thanks to the VOOC tech developed in-house by Oppo. If you want to know more about the tech, check out my feature about it here.
Inside running things is a Helio P70 processor from MediaTek, 6GB of RAM, and a 4,000 mAh battery. The P60 is not a flagship chipset, so it can’t do certain things such as shoot video in 4K/60fps, or capture true 48-megapixel photos, but day-to-day usage should still be fine for most people. It handled graphically intensive games such as Hero Hunters without much issue, and couldn’t be slowed down despite having dozens of apps opened in the background.
That large battery cell can push the phone all day with no issues too. It helps that the phone runs ColorOS version 6, which as I covered in my Realme 3 review already, is excellent and much better than previous Oppo software.
Not all about numbers
So back to the main camera set-up: as mentioned earlier although the F11 Pro has a Samsung 48-megapixel sensor, the reality is the phone doesn’t really take 48-megapixel images due to limitations of the P7o processor. But the default shooting mode outputs 12-megapixel photos anyway — that 48-megapixel sensor uses Quad Bayer technology — and the images are very, very good. I already showed you some samples earlier of the F11 Pro completely laying the smack down on the similarly-priced Sony Xperia 10 Plus, And while it’s easy to poke fun at Sony, that was more a case of the F11 Pro punching way above its price class than Sony being that bad. Don’t believe me? Here’s the sub-$400 F11 Pro holding its own against the $1,000 iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy S10 too.
Now, in more challenging shooting conditions — low light with selective bright lights or really dark scenes, then the expensive flagships can achieve superior exposure by a bit, as seen in the samples below.
Notice that for the most part, the F11 Pro’s image is fine, the only area that fell apart was the blown out lights of the 7-11.
But Oppo has a trick up its sleeve: night mode. This is basically like what Huawei and Google introduced last year, in that the phone takes three to four images and then stitch them together for one shot that’s extra bright and balanced. Once I shoot with night mode, the F11 Pro catches up to the S10.
Obviously, there’s a lot of digital trickery going on here; the F11 Pro’s night mode images are artificially sharpened. If you blow up these images to pixel peep, you’d still find that the S10’s image is “better”, but if you’re just posting straight to social media? The F11 Pro’s image may come out on top in a poll among friends. Below is a side-by-side of two F11 Pro shots, one shot normally, one in night mode, for reference.
Here’s one more set — this time a macro shot during the day — for reference. The F11 Pro loses the most focus outside of center-frame, but in terms of the areas that need to be in focus, it does a solid job. I think I prefer the iPhone’s image here the most, however. But keep in mind the price difference again…
As for that selfie camera — it’s fine. I find the software-only bokeh mode to be a bit artificial, and the beauty mode heavy-handed, but turn both off and you’ll find little to complain about with selfies. That pop-up camera feels sturdy and pops up fast too; I have encountered no issue with it yet.
Larger is better
So that 6.5-inch display is an LCD panel with resolution a bit north of 1080p. I think it looks good mostly, with bright colors and enough brightness to use under the sun. Of course it can’t compare to an OLED panel found in flagships, but just by sheer size alone, the F11 Pro’s screen is immersive and a joy to look at. Instagram Stories, in particular, look great on the notch-less, hole-punch-less screen.
Got to admit it’s getting better all the time
So I’ve been testing the Oppo F11 Pro on-and-off with the Samsung Galaxy S10, and while I am not going to pick the F11 Pro over the S10 as my daily driver, I can say that most of the reason has to do with me being a superficial tech geek. I want the most power possible — even if the benefits of using a Snapdragon 855 vs a Helio P70 is noticeable maybe one instance every other day — and I want the best in-hand feel possible.
Those are almost all superficial reasons. If I were objectively judging these two phones, then other than the vastly superior OLED display, there isn’t much the S10 can do that the F11 Pro cannot. And that’s what I’m getting at: mid-range Chinese phones are getting so, so good. You can see the photo samples with your own eyes — for most people who just use a phone for chatting with friends, browsing Instagram, taking food photos and watching NetFlix, the F11 Pro can more than handle the job.