In the pursuit of bezel-less smartphones we have seen manufacturers take three different approaches to accommodating front-facing cameras — the notch, the hole-punch display, and the pop-up module. While there has been wide adoption of notches from every phone manufacturer, it seems as though hole-punch and pop-up designs are slowly gaining steam. The Oppo F11 Pro is the newest smartphone to sport a pop-up selfie camera, and it is priced considerably lower than some previous examples such as the Vivo Nex (Review) and the Oppo Find X (Review). Should that be the only reason for you to consider buying this smartphone or is there more to it? We review the Oppo F11 Pro to find out.
Oppo F11 Pro design
Oppo has released some well-designed phones, and has recently been using gradient finishes for most of its models. The Oppo F11 Pro isn't an exception, and is available in Thunder Black and Aurora Green. Our unit was the Thunder Black variant. The rear panel is dark blue on one side and purple on the other, fading to black in the centre. It reminds us of the Oppo Find X, which had a similar finish. When you look at the device, the front is nearly all display with thin bezels at the top and the sides, though the bottom chin is relatively thicker.
The display of the Oppo F11 Pro measures 6.5 inches and this phone claims to have a 90.9 percent screen-to-body ratio. It does not have any kind of notch. Instead, the selfie camera has been moved to a motorised pop-up module at the top. This module only houses the selfie camera and pops up every time you launch it or use face recognition. Since this is a motorised module, we aren't sure how reliable it will be in the long term. A couple of drops could damage the mechanism. This phone also sports a secondary microphone and has its ambient light sensor on the top.
Right above the display is the earpiece, which is long and narrow and is positioned between the frame and the display. The proximity sensor is to the left of the earpiece and is neatly hidden. Oppo seems to have pre-applied a screen protector on the display, which is a thoughtful addition considering that third-party screen protectors could cause an issue with the proximity sensor. The company also ships a protective case in the box which works well with the pop-up selfie camera.
At the bottom, the phone has a Micro-USB port which is disappointing considering that even budget smartphones such as the Nokia 5.1 Plus (Review) and the Samsung Galaxy M20 (Review) have moved to the modern USB Type-C standard. Alongside the Micro-USB port are a 3.5mm audio jack, a microphone hole, and a loudspeaker grille.
The frame of the Oppo F11 Pro seems to be made out of plastic but it does not feel flimsy. Oppo has positioned the power button on the right while the volume buttons are on the left. All three are well positioned and are easy to reach. The hybrid dual-SIM tray is placed just above the power button.
This phone has a dual camera setup at the back positioned in the centre, on a slightly raised strip. The capacitive fingerprint scanner is just below the cameras and it is easy to reach.
The Oppo F11 Pro has curved sides that make it comfortable to hold, though at 191g it is heavier than average. In the box, Oppo ships a pair of earphones as well as a 20W VOOC fast charger which should help you charge the phone's 4000mAh battery quickly.
Oppo F11 Pro specifications, software, and features
The Oppo F11 Pro stands out from other smartphones in the sub-Rs. 25,000 market thanks to its pop-up selfie camera. The hardware that it has is acceptable, but not extraordinary. Powering the smartphone is an octa-core MediaTek Helio P70 SoC with four Cortex-A73 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores. This processor is paired with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Strangely, the Oppo F11 which was launched alongside the Pro model gets 128GB of storage, but not the Oppo F11 Pro. You do have the option to expand storage using a microSD card instead of a second SIM.
Oppo has opted for a 6.5-inch LCD screen with full-HD+ resolution (1080x2340 pixels). It is crisp and has good viewing angles. You also get the option to tweak the colour output of the display as per your liking. Connectivity on the Oppo F11 Pro includes dual 4G as well as VoLTE, WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS/A-GPS.
The Oppo F11 Pro ships with ColorOS 6 running on top of Android 9 Pie. This is a significant change compared to older versions of ColorOS based on Android Oreo. The new UI is minimalistic and has a clean look.
Pull the notifications shade down and you will see oversized toggle buttons which are easy to recognise. The screen brightness slider is at the bottom so it's within reach when using the phone with one hand. Hit either volume button to change the volume and you will see oversized sliders as well right next to the buttons on the display. These look similar to Xiaomi's implementation in MIUI 10.
Oppo has also made a few tweaks to UI navigation. You can choose between the traditional three-button navigation layout or a two-button navigation system similar to stock Android 9 on the Google Pixel 3 (Review) series. When using the latter, you will have to swipe up on the pill-shaped home button to switch between recently used apps.
We found quite a few apps preinstalled on the Oppo F11 Pro including Oppo's own AppStore, Theme Store, Music Party, and ORoaming, as well as Facebook, UC Browser, PayTM, Wynk Music, Dailyhunt, Webnovel, NewsPoint, Amazon Shopping, and ShareChat. There are apps called Hot Apps and Hot Games which look like folders at first glance but are actually a part of the Oppo AppStore. Google apps also come preinstalled. The amount of bloatware is high but most of it can be uninstalled to declutter the smartphone.
Just like older Oppo smartphones there's a Smart Driving mode which turns on on automatically when the phone is paired via Bluetooth to a car's head unit, while Riding mode seems to be a new addition. This puts everything on mute except for incoming calls. Gestures are available as well and you can launch apps by drawing alphabets on the screen when it is off.
Oppo has also implemented different power saving modes in the Settings app. They work by preventing apps from running unnecessarily in the background. A Super High Power Efficiency mode is available which closes some background apps, disables automatic data syncing, turns vibration off, and lowers the screen brightness to use as little power as possible. There's also a Sleeping mode that helps reduce battery drain when the device is idle.
Game Space has a new look. This is one place where all the games installed on the smartphone show up. This app also claims to optimise your games' performance by clearing up RAM before launching them. You get the option to block banner notifications as well as calls while gaming. It also has three modes — High Performance, Balanced, and Low Power Consumption. These dictate how much resources the phone allots when you play games. PUBG Mobile is compatible with Oppo's Game Engine and we saw a banner notification stating that the phone has been optimised for gaming.
Clone Apps lets you run two instances of supported apps including WhatsApp and Facebook. Our review unit was running the February security patch which is quite recent.
Oppo F11 Pro performance, battery life, and cameras
We have tested the Helio P70 processor in the Realme U1 (Review) as well as the recently launched Realme 3 (Review). The Oppo F11 Pro is priced significantly higher than these two smartphones, and there isn't a huge difference between them when it comes to performance. You won't notice lag or stutter when scrolling through the menus of while multitasking. The 6GB of RAM helps the F11 Pro keep background apps in memory which helps when you are jumping between multiple apps.
We were curious to see how face recognition would work considering the camera module has to pop up every single time you'd want to unlock the phone. In our experience it took only a little over a second for was the selfie camera to slide out, scan our face, and slide back down.
There are two options for Face Unlock, one that activates it the moment you hit the power button, and the other that requires you to swipe up from the lock screen first. The phone also bumps the screen's brightness up in dark surroundings to ensure a proper face scan.
The fingerprint scanner on the Oppo F11 Pro is fast and is able to unlock the smartphone quickly.
To see how the Oppo F11 Pro fares against some of the other smartphones in its price range, we ran a couple of benchmarks on it. In AnTuTu, the Oppo F11 Pro managed to clock 1,47,303 which is lower than the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro's (Review) 1,78,570. The F11 Pro scored 1,544 and 5,937 in Geekbench 4's single-core and multi-core tests respectively. These scores are also lower than those of the Redmi Note 7 Pro, which managed to score 2,389 and 6,593 respectively. The Oppo F11 Pro scored 37fps in GFXBench's T-Rex graphics test and managed 7.4fps in the Car Chase test.
We played PUBG Mobile as well as Asphalt 9: Legends to gauge performance. The smartphone defaulted to the Medium settings for PUBG Mobile with the graphics set to Balanced and frame rate set to Medium. With these settings the phone could play the game without any noticeable lag or stutter. Bumping the quality up introduced a bit of stutter. Asphalt 9 ran at the default settings and was playable but we did notice occasional stutter in a few racetracks.
The loudspeaker is loud enough to enjoy gaming on and for watching videos.
The big 4000mAh battery is here to serve a purpose, and does it well. In our HD video loop test, the phone managed to go on for 20 hours which is impressive. With our usage, which consisted of having an active WhatsApp account, playing PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 Legends for a total of 30 minutes, running a few benchmarks, navigating for two hours using Google Maps, and taking a few photos, the phone still had 46 percent left in its battery at the end of 24 hours. We had the smartphone running with all power-saving functions switched off. You can get even better battery life by enabling some of them. After playing two quick matches in PUBG Mobile that lasted for around 11 minutes, we noticed a battery drop of just 3 percent.
Oppo thoughtfully ships a 20W VOOC charger in the box, which helps to charge the big 4000mAh battery quickly. After completely exhausting the battery in our video loop test we plugged it into the charger. The F11 Pro went up to 46 percent in 30 minutes, and took close to 1 hour 45 minutes to charge completely. We observed that the charging speed slows down after the battery reaches the 80 percent mark.
The 48-megapixel primary camera on the Oppo F11 Pro is much advertised, and we wanted to see how well it lives up to Oppo's claims. This camera has an f/1.7 aperture and is paired with a 5-megapixel secondary shooter.
Oppo's camera software is minimalistic and the mode selector is at the bottom of the screen while quick toggles are positioned on the top. Photo, Video, and Portrait modes are easily accessible while the Pano, Expert, Time-Lapse, Slo-Mo, and Nightscape modes are tucked away in a sub-menu. The new Chroma Boost feature has a quick toggle and so does HDR, which we left at Auto. The camera app also has AI Scene Recognition which is switched on by default. Beautification is available and you can set the level of beautification you like, or switch it off entirely.
While Oppo touts the 48-megapixel primary rear camera, it is set to capture 12-megapixel shots by default. If you do switch to the full resolution, you will miss out on features like Chroma Boost, HDR, filters, beautification, AI Scene Recognition, continuous shooting, and even zooming. Apart from having a higher resolution, we didn't notice any significant difference in quality.
While shooting, the phone was quick to meter scenes for light and lock focus. Daylight shots taken with F11 Pro were crisp and had good amounts of detail. The AI scene recognition was fast at detecting what we were shooting and could set the camera up accordingly. When shooting against the light, the camera did enable HDR automatically. Macros had accurate colour and were quite detailed. The portrait mode puts the secondary sensor to use to distinguish between subjects and backgrounds, and adds a good bokeh effect. There is no customisation available to let you adjust the level of blur.
Photos taken at night had very low noise and the output wasn't grainy. The phone did manage to capture good amounts of detail, and objects at a distance were recognisable. We found that the Oppo F11 Pro took longer to lock focus at night and at times required us to tap to focus. The Nightscape mode is handy in low light and takes shots using longer exposures. This gives brighter results but we saw a loss in detail when photographing landscapes. Chroma Boost is said to improve the dynamic range of photos and is best used when shooting against the light. We did see a boost in colours, but shots also looked a little artificial in a few scenarios.
Selfies taken with the pop-up 16-megapixel front camera had accurate colours and good details. When taking shots against the light we noticed that the F11 Pro would occasionally overexpose the background. Video recording maxes out at 1080p for both the primary as well as the selfie cameras, which is a little disappointing since most phones at this price point tout 4K video recording. Thankfully, image stabilisation is available and helps deliver video without a lot of shakiness.
The Oppo F11 Pro's pop-up camera liberates space at the top of the display for a sleek, modern look. Yes, it is a moving mechanism and could get damaged by drops or by dust and grime getting into it, but it's also a great talking point. The battery life of this phone is impressive, and the VOOC fast charger does help topping the battery up quickly.
Apart from the pop-up selfie camera and the good battery life there is nothing that really stands out about the Oppo F11 Pro. The company could have shipped this phone with 128GB of storage to make it better value for money.
The Realme U1 (Review) offers the same processor and now starts at Rs. 10,999. Xiaomi's Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) offers a much better processor and similar battery life at Rs. 14,990. If these options weren't enough, the F11 Pro competes in the same price range as the Poco F1 (Review) and the Asus ZenFone 5Z (Review), both of which offer a lot more value for your money. So if the pop-up camera isn't really that important to you, there are plenty of other options worth considering.
Do pop-up selfie cameras justify the prices of the Oppo F11 Pro and the Vivo V15 Pro? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.