“The Oppo N1 Mini is exactly that – a mini version of the N1”
The trend of introducing mini or compact iterations of flagship smartphones isn’t hardly new, and many, including Samsung, HTC, and Sony have done in the past. With the Oppo N1 Mini, this Chinese brand has also boarded the same bus, though we’d still have to wait and watch how it works out. Launched today in New Delhi, the N1 Mini, to put it crudely, is almost exactly like what its name suggests – a miniature, shrunken-down version of its more accomplished sibling, the Oppo N1 (review). The N1 Mini is physically smaller in size, of course, and retains the same design, though it isn’t really a true mini version of the N1 since it cuts down on the specs quite a bit.
We went hands-on with the lovely-looking device at the launch event, and here’s a look at its design and build, along with our first impressions.
Looking at the N1 Mini from a distance, it’s easy to mistake it for its big bro – the two look pretty much the same except for the size. Also, it’d be really hard to ignore that swivel camera on top – since that’s the first thing about the design that stands out. This is good from Oppo’s standpoint, since the swivel camera is really its mainstay and the one feature that really sets it apart from the others.
The N1 Mini comes encased in a plastic unibody, just like the N1… and feels quite sturdy in the hand. We had the mint variant in our hands, but it’s also available in white, and a Lumia-esque yellow will also be landing soon. The swivel camera mechanism was responsible for the N1’s large dimensions, and it’s the same in the Mini’s case too – the new smartphone feels larger than most other 5-inch smartphones.
The said swivel mechanism also sports the earpiece and sensors at the front, and the camera lens and LED flash at the rear. Apart from the swivel camera and the 5-inch 720p display, the fascia also includes three capacitive keys at the bottom. We did notice though that the backlighting on the keys was quite dim and barely visible, though it should suffice in dark environs like cinema theatres.
The micro-USB port, audio socket, and phone speaker are all crammed together at the bottom, while the power key is placed on the left. The right spine includes an ejectable micro-SIM tray, along with a volume rocker. Do note that there’s no microSD card slot for memory expansion, but the device does support USB OTG. Out of the 16GB internal storage, roughly 12GB is available to use.
The N1 Mini uses Android 4.3 as the underlying base, but runs Oppo’s custom ColorOS on top. Just like Xiaomi’s MIUI and Gionee’s Amigo OS, ColorOS is Oppo’s own custom ROM and includes support for a variety of gestures as its main highlight. There’s a dedicated gesture panel for launching apps of your choice via custom gestures, while the device also allows you to use a few specific ones straight from standby – launching the camera by drawing a circle, for example.
The 13-megapixel swivel shooter also has quite a few tricks up its sleeve, including a loaded app that boasts quite a few features. There’s a special UltraHD mode that allows it to generate 24-megapixel images by combining multiple images shot sequentially, just like the Find 7 (review in pictures), which uses the same technique to output 50MP images. While we thought that feature wasn’t really too great, the N1 Mini’s snapper does look quite capable in regular auto mode based on a few pictures we shot during our hands-on.
With the innards graced with a 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip and 2 gigs of RAM, the proceedings are quite smooth too. As usual, you can expect the complete lowdown in our full review, coming up shortly. With an asking price of Rs 26,990, we think the Oppo N1 Mini is priced high for the specs it offers, but if you’re a selfie junkie then it’s one of the very few options that can give you 13-meg images of your mug. For some, that just might tilt the balance in its favour.
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