Now here, now on test, the new OPPO N3

The OPPO N3, the world’s first smartphone with a servo-swiveled camera was introduced last November at a sleek launch in Singapore with pitches on the compelling features of the phone done in monologues by cool casual brand champions.  And finally, on January 10, at the start of the new year and right after the holiday hump, the new N3 made it to our shores. 

The timing could have been better for OPPO if they had come in December but, come to think of it, the new N3 is best considered calmly while retaining the normal inhibitions that seem to go poof around Christmas time.  When I first saw the N3 in November I immediately wanted to test it, not from a consumer’s perspective, not just, but from our particular one, on the job, on the motoring beat.  (See our Cross Roads story in the C! December print issue:  Of Stevenotes and Swivel Camera Smarthphones.)  Several months have passed, I've had two months to be circumspect, and I'm still eager to try the N3 on my news beat.  That should say something about the N3's potential. 

The advantages are obvious.  If the N3 can deliver the optics and imaging we normally look for on DSLRs, as New York photographer Brian Derballa had pitched for OPPO at the November launch, we’d be leaving our big go bags behind and instead be going subtle with the innocuous smartphone in our pockets. 

The Schneider-Kreuznach optics mated to a cutting edge sensor with OPPO’s proprietary Pure Image 2.0 plus processing technology promises 16mp images free of the artifacts, poor gradients and insufficient saturation typical of smartphone cameras with small 1/2.3” sensors.  At least for ambient light photographs without need for bounced or otherwise diffused strobe setups, the N3 could theoretically produce print-quality images good enough for our monthly issues on glossy paper stock.

On the other hand, while OPPO brandished the N3’s servo-swivelled camera as the new phone’s defining edge-cutting feature, the thing that could be trivialized as a draw for the selfie-absorbed, instead had me thinking: “hey neat, that’ll come in handy for documenting our test drives from inside the car!” 

Swivelled with a swipe on the screen or with the bundled oClick remote controller, the camera can be made to pan up or down (left to right if the phone is held wide) through a 206 degree arc.  So picture us mounting the phone wide on the inside of the front passenger window, and from that vantage point, have it record video.  Then we’d have clips for our C! Inside short videos that would show views of the road through the windshield which then pan smoothly left and show our erstwhile test driver at the wheel, putting the car through its paces. 

Of course, this would entail the phone’s software metering on the fly from shots of the road to those of the car’s interior, not to mention shifting its focus points.   And there’s the matter of the phone being able to swivel the camera while capturing video in the first place—this isn’t explicit in its specs, far as I can tell.   Lots of stuff to test … as I said, good that the N3 arrived January 10 and we now have calmer times to review it in.  As good as it looks on paper, while it promises to be a good phone to gear up with, the N3 with an SRP of PhP29,990 would not be an impulse buy for most, but rather a well studied investment.